An Odysea comes to the Valley

The Odysea Aquarium will open its doors next summer


Nicholas Tirella/Scottsdale Chronicle

The Odysea Aquarium, located at 9500 E. Via de Ventura in Scottsdale, will open its doors in July 2016. Memberships are already available through the aquarium's website.

Kara Talayman, Reporter

With less than a year until opening, the Odysea in the Desert experience is going swimmingly and will make a splash in July 2016.

In what is being called an “immersive experience,” visitors will see 7,500-pound sphere-shaped tanks upon entrance – placed right above their heads, of course. These unique tanks are just the start of the planned attractions.

If the ball tanks aren’t enough, visitors can head to the restroom and see a floor-to-ceiling acrylic wall teeming with swimming sharks, just waiting for the next vic – visitor.

After admiring the beautiful fish tanks on the ceiling and finishing business with the sharks, visitors will enter the world of the River Creatures. In this exhibit visitors will travel to all the amazing rivers of the world (not literally, but close enough). This will include the Amazon River, American Rivers, and the Asian Rivers. From the beautiful red-tailed catfish and rainbow trout to the electric eels and Piranhas, there will be a diverse range of creatures to observe and enjoy.

The Shore Experience follows the Rivers of the World. In this section, visitors will be able to see creatures that live in the depths of the tide pools. The youngsters will be exhilarated with the hands-on touch pools, where they will be able to touch the spiny skin of a Forbes starfish and count the legs on a horseshoe crab. The kids may not want to leave so quickly, so parents should be prepared to stay a while.

For the adults and kids over the age of eight comes an experience of a lifetime. These folks will be able to dive into one of the largest tanks at the aquarium with nothing but a swim suit and a helmet. This diving experience, that requires no prior training, takes the visitor on a face-to-face journey with all the fluorescent fish. The qualified divers will lead Seatreks, where visitors will walk on the ocean floor and watch all the sea life swim before their very eyes. The Seatreks provide a great opportunity to take advantage of one of the aquarium’s membership packages.

The next surprise will bring many people out of their seats: the penguins. These well-known creatures (not the hockey team) are loved around the world, and at Odysea, they will walk on the beach, bob at the waters surfs, and swim to the depths of their amazing tanks. Every day, visitors can watch for the March of the Penguins. No, it’s not that sad movie that makes everyone cry, rather it is literally a march of the penguins. They will parade around the halls, greeting the guests and welcoming them to their new home.

No detail has been spared during the construction of this monolith just off the Pima freeway, and that includes the escalators. These escalators have been built around an acrylic tube that runs through a giant tank. While riding these stairs visitors will get to see all sorts of sea life. The escalators slow down for, what says, a “full-submersion experience into the sea life.” For example, a fast-moving shadow could very well be a shark. There is also an elevator built into the tank so visitors don’t have to miss a thing.

Down Under in the Desert allows visitors to see jellyfish, rays, hard and soft coral, hundreds of thousands of fish, sharks, and more (if that is even possible). The Great Barrier Reef is home to a vast amount of species and the Odysea Aquarium has brought them many miles to the desert.

A 3-D theatre experience await those who want to see some of the sea life that the Odysea doesn’t carry (again, does not seem possible). The species that are not featured at the aquarium yet include the dolphin and the whale.

The adventure comes to an end in the final exhibit named the Bizarre and the Beautiful. In this exhibit, visitors will get a closer look at all the bizarre and the beautiful sea creatures – like the name says. This will include jellyfish, king crabs, octopuses and seahorses. After this exhibit, visitors can head down to grab a snack at the Lighthouse Café, which overlooks Seatrek.