I find it rich that the aquarium is one of the most expensive museums in Chicago. It costs as much as a trip to Europe and yet every day during the summer there are long lines waiting to get it. Forget Spring Break—you’d need to start lining up in February when the wind whips in off the lake and freezes you as you walk down Roosevelt Avenue from the train. It could easily cost a family of 4 $200 for same-day admittance.
Hard to believe that when I first visited the Shedd in the early 80s it was free. Truly you could not pay someone to go there. The place was always empty, and smelled like a chlorine pool, one with a little bit of mold growing in it.
This was before the addition of the Abbott Oceanarium. Back when I went the niftiest thing was when a guy or gal in a scuba diving outfit entered a tank to feed the sharks. The divers burbled around while the lazy sharks lay at the bottom totally uninterested in fresh meat. I just checked the website: $89.95 for adults; $80.95 for children; $54.00 for members.
Dive deeper into Wild Reef—and experience mealtime with the sharks—during this new 90-minute guided exploration . . . Really?
The aquarium was dark and dingy with a couple of galleries full of fish tanks. I remember dark paneling as if it were your parent’s basement. The fish were colorful and exotic, but all they did was flit about.
The new Shedd is definitely a step up from the old days, yet as much as I love the new displays I miss the old prices—when Chicagoans could actually afford to see the displays. So now it’s either you can buy a new car or a ticket to the aquarium, or as things keep evolving a can of soda pop.