The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center opened its new Restless Planet exhibit November 21, 2009, and with that has come a surge in attendance. Since its opening, nearly 78, 000 guests have visited the Aquarium, a 48% increase over last year’s attendance during this period. December and January alone proved to be the highest attendance record in ten years.
“These opening statistics certainly move us ultimately towards our long term goal of reaching a million visitors a year, ” said Executive Director Lynn Clements. “Even throughout the three year construction process, the Aquarium’s attendance held its own and, in some months, surpassed prior numbers, ” she continued. “This also reaffirms the community’s positive commitment to the Aquarium and we are most appreciative of their allegiance.”
Restless Planet is the cornerstone of the $25 million renovation which was supported by the City of Virginia Beach, the Commonwealth of Virginia and 1300 private donors. The new 12, 000 square foot exhibit features four unique habitats that provide a glimpse of Virginia’s distant past. The new galleries not only include some of the world’s most endangered animals but the Aquarium’s total collection grew by 6, 000 animals (over 300 new species). In anticipation of increased attendance, by as much as an additional 100, 000 visitors in both 2010 and 2011, the lobby area (1900 sq. ft.) and restrooms (660 sq. ft.) were also improved. The admissions area and Water’s Edge Store exchanged places and were redesigned to accommodate their new spaces and a smoother flow for guests.
About The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, whose mission is conservation through education, is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums whose mission is conservation through education. The Aquarium is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach. For more information on exhibits, movies, boat rides and special events call (757) 385-FISH (3474), (TDD 385-4305) or visit www.VirginiaAquarium.com.