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Adventure Aquarium lets you sleep over with their program 'Deep Sleep'


A night at the Aquarium…


Calm, serene fish glide by. A solemn, intense-looking shark swims leisurely past. Stingrays happily float past my window in a relaxing blue-green light.

Where am I?


Why I'm resting comfortably at the Adventure Aquarium, and these are the sights I see as I am about to fall asleep on my overnight at one of the coolest places in the area. My photographer and I (as well as her daughter) were able to get up close with every exhibit in the aquarium (except the hippos, they were sleeping!) and it was quite an adventure.


Partnering with the New Jersey Academy for Aquatic Sciences, the aquarium is able to offer this fun and educational event every week in the winter. It’s titled the Deep Sleep, and allows children and adults to have an experience like no other..


The night started with a quick check-in, dropped our gear (toothbrush, air mattress, sleeping bag, pillow and clothes for the next day) in the cafeteria area, and then started a creative scavenger hunt all over the aquarium, bringing us to see the newest exhibit- the sea turtles! They were preparing for the nation’s largest alligator outside of Florida: Meet 800 pound Mighty Mike!


We decided to check out the Please Touch Pool where we saw little sharks, horseshoe crabs, crayfish, even a blue lobster! We went on to the stingray pool to touch the smooth, strong and super-friendly stingrays. After that, we did a behind-the-scenes tour which took us above the giant tanks! Then Kristi, Allison and I wandered into the main halls, eyeing the seahorses and some muralists painting for the new exhibit. We also got to view the sea turtles exhibit up close- these creatures are amazing: beautiful and gentle and wild. All the kids and adults were able to get some refreshment before continuing on in the back stages of the adventure aquarium.


All of the adventure aquarium associates were extremely helpful and answered questions. They showed us around and it was like having our own private guides all night. Their enthusiasm was unfailing and unflinching. We also sat in on some of the shows on the sharks- such cool creatures.


At 11 o'clock, they rounded everybody up to go to sleep and announced our sleeping assignments. We figured that we would be along with another group but since it was just the tree of us, we had our own special place to sleep! Our ‘quarters’ were at the bottom of the amphitheater with the two-story high wall of glass looking in to the ocean realm- home to stingrays, fish, sea turtle Bob, and sharks! We were so excited that we began jumping up and down! We couldn't believe that we had our own sleeping area to look at the fish all night long!


It was finally time for lights out, so we all climbed into our sleeping bags and the lights and music were turned off. I wasn’t sure how I would sleep, but I slept until 5am, when I got cold (wear warm clothes if you sleep over, I grabbed my extra sweatshirt). I just stared at the sharks, stingrays and fish gliding before me in the blue green light: it was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever participated in. I got up and I walked around the aquarium a little bit, which was such a treat, nobody was awake (and children are not allowed to be unescorted at any time)! In about an hour or so the lights came on at 7:30am, and we woke up with the fishes!


Breakfast was wonderfully organized. We were called by group, where we had a nice spread: coffee, juice, cereal, yogurt, danish. We ate and then had another two hours to wander about the aquarium uninterrupted. This was even better because it was not such a huge rush to get it done, so we wandered along.


The main point to this field trip is to educate the children in such a fun and exciting way that they are learning and soaking up a rare event to remember: a night at the Adventure Aquarium!


The Deep Sleep begins on weekend night- check in is between 6-7pm, and runs to 9:30am the next morning. The cost is $60 per person, and is for kids ages 6-12, with an adult or a group.


Pre-registration is required. Please visit www.njaas.org or call 856-361-1018 for available dates, more information or to register.


Special thanks to Kristi Blazi Lado for the amazing photographs of our Deep Sleep experience, and Sharon Morrell, Academic Programs Manager, New Jersey Academy for Aquatic Sciences.

Christine Tarlecki is a P2P writer from the Phoenixville area and can be reached on twitter and FaceBook under engchik, and at engchik@comcast.net.

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