Planning a trip to Las Vegas? Want a good all-ages activity?
I'd seen ads for Shark Reef Aquarium lots of times as we visited or drove through Las Vegas and always wondered what it was like. On our most recent trip, we moved it to the top of the list.
We thought that Shark Reef was fun! My kids were ages 11 and 14 when we visited, and my son especially likes aquariums. This is an activity that can work well for young children, teens and adults.
Shark Reef is located in the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the famous Las Vegas Strip. It's similar to aquariums we have visited elsewhere in the United States. It felt small, but it has high-impact exhibits focused on sharks and other “glamorous” sea creatures.
Here's what you can expect at Shark Reef Aquarium, plus tips for saving money and parking.
Visitors begin by walking down through a lush indoor rain forest. Watch for a komodo dragon, golden crocodile, python, piranhas and other animal exhibits along the way.
Next, walk through the shark tunnel. You'll be surrounded by sharks, fish and other sea life as you walk through their habitat. We've seen tunnels like this at other aquariums, and they never disappoint.
Take your time in the next room. It has a variety of animal exhibits including octopus, jellies, lionfish, sea stars and more. This area has a touch pool filled with soft, rubbery rays.
Finish at the 1.3 million gallon Shipwreck Exhibit. This aquarium has floor-to-ceiling windows where you can watch sharks, rays, sawfish, sea turtles and schools of colorful fish for as long as you like. It's especially fun to watch young children at this exhibit. They're full of wonder, and it's contagious.
It's easy to cruise through the exhibits quickly, but take your time. Even the most leisurely visitors won't spend much more than an hour at Shark Reef Aquarium.
Polar Journey is an interactive, high-tech activity adjacent to Shark Reef. Visitors can virtually experience Earth’s polar regions and the animals that call them home. This activity includes eight interactive scenes that include films, touch walls, teaching robot penguins, simulated ice flow and a 270-degree CGI film with motion simulator.
Our time was limited, and I was under the impression that it cost extra, so we skipped it. Now I wish we hadn't.
Polar Journey is included with regular admission to Shark Reef Aquarium. As far as I can tell, it is also included with the 3-for-$57 bundle pass we used (see below). Polar Journey is available for a limited time.
Bring Your Swimsuit
Your Shark Reef admission gets you a free day at Mandalay Bay Beach, even if you are not a guest at the resort. Beach admission is available Monday-Thursday, within 48 hours of your visit to Shark Reef Aquarium.
Mandalay Bay Beach is an 11-acre fun zone with a wave pool, lazy river, lagoon and sandy “beach.” We could not take advantage of this offer, but I'd plan around it on a return trip to Shark Reef.
Related: Our Review of Tahiti Village Resort
Want to swim with sharks or feed sea turtles? Shark Reef Aquarium offers upgraded animal encounters for an additional fee. These include
- Swimming with sharks
- Shark feeding
- Sea turtle feeding
- Stingray feeding
Animal Encounters at Shark Reef typically include admission, photos, and other special services. Learn more at http://www.sharkreef.com/.
Related: Tips for Visiting Hoover Dam
Ways to Save
The current price for Shark Reef Aquarium is $25 per adult. Kids cost $19 for ages 4-12. Polar Journey is included with admission.
There are several ways to avoid paying full price. Here are a few reliable ways to get discount tickets to Shark Reef Aquarium.
MGM Resorts 3 for $57 – This is the option we chose. It included several activities that we wanted to do and it's the least expensive bundle-and-save option. Most of the activities are within walking distance of each other. Learn more at https://www.mgmresorts.com/en/offers/3-for-57-attractions.html
Go Las Vegas Card – Save up to 60% at 30+ popular attractions, including Shark Reef Aquarium. Choose from two options – number of days or number of attractions. You'll save at least 20% at Shark Reef, even if you choose just that one activity with the Build Your Own option. Learn more at https://gocity.com/las-vegas/en-us
Nevada Residents with valid ID save $3 per adult and $2 per child.
Related: 9 Ways to Do Las Vegas on a Budget
Shark Reef Aquarium is located inside Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. It's the last resort on the south end of Las Vegas Boulevard, AKA The Strip. Traffic is usually heavy on Las Vegas Boulevard, so I avoid driving here if I have a better option. Other options might include a resort shuttle, Uber or the Las Vegas Monorail.
We did not have a better option, so we drove to Shark Reef in the morning when traffic was light. We parked at the Shoppes at Mandalay Bay between Mandalay Bay and Luxor. Valet parking is free here. Tips are expected and appreciated.
Self parking is available at Mandalay Bay. The first hour is free, but you will probably need more time. Two or more hours currently cost $9-15.
Good to Know
Where: 3950 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, Nevada. Inside Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the far south end of the Strip.
When: Open every day, starting at 10 AM. Polar Journey opens earlier.
How Much: $25 per adult. Discounts for children and seniors. Kids under age 4 get in free.
How Long: 1-2 hours
Amenities: Restrooms, Gift Shop, Restaurants. Restaurants are outside the aquarium, but there are lots to choose from. We enjoyed the weekend brunch buffet afterward.