Tennessee Aquarium Holiday Celebration To Coincide With Arrival Of 25 Millionth Guest

Monday, November 12, 2018 - by Thom Benson

As host to millions of guests, the Tennessee Aquarium and its many animal ambassadors have created millions of photo opportunities and forged millions of cherished memories over the years.

With the imminent arrival of the holidays, the Aquarium is thankful for the opportunity to have touched — and to continue to touch — so many lives. In the coming weeks, however, several guests’ visits will be extra-memorable as the Aquarium celebrates hosting 25 million visitors since opening in 1992.

The Aquarium projects it will pass this incredible milestone during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend: Thursday, Nov. 22, through Sunday, Nov. 25. During the preceding week, a “prize patrol” will award six randomly selected guests with gift shop certificates, vouchers for a Chattanooga hotel stay and tickets for a return visit to the Aquarium.

Additionally, one grand prize recipient will receive a lavish prize package valued at more than $1,000.

The 25-millionth guest will receive complimentary tickets to the Aquarium and IMAX 3D Theater, $250 gift certificate to the Aquarium gift shops, a special behind-the-scenes tour, VIP pass to more than 20 Chattanooga-area attractions, and voucher to return to Chattanooga and stay in the new Edwin boutique hotel.

“We’re excited to be passing this incredible milestone at such a special time of year,” says Tennessee Aquarium President and CEO Keith Sanford. “This is a remarkable place, where so many people have created memories together. We’re grateful for the community support that has helped us become one of the world’s best aquariums.”

The 25 millionth guest’s arrival coincides with the annual return of the Aquarium’s Holidays Under the Peaks celebration. From Nov. 16 to Dec. 31, the Ocean Journey and River Journey buildings will be filled with the kind of seasonal cheer only an Aquarium can offer. Every day, guests can take advantage of a packed slate of special seasonal events, including:

Daily animal programs

During Holidays Under the Peaks, educators will lead daily special programs that offer insights into animals like romping River Otters, toad-ly awesome amphibians and the Bearded Dragon, a lizard so fast it could be a walk-on for Santa’s sleigh team.

Nov. 16-30

·         Otter enrichment (North American River Otters)

·         Hoppy Holidays (various frog and toad species)

Dec. 1-15

·         Sandy Claws (Bearded Dragon)

·         Stars & Bells (Sea Stars and jellyfish)

Dec. 16-31

·         Colorful Chameleons (Panther Chameleons)

·         Octopus Enrichment (Giant Pacific Octopus)

[A full list of the Aquarium’s year-round Extraordinary Experiences is available at tnaqua.org/animals-exhibits/extraordinary-experiences.]

SCUBA Claus

Yes, in addition to defying the laws of time and space to bring joy to the entire world in a single night, St. Nicholas is also SCUBA-certified. During Holidays Under the Peaks, visitors will get to see the Jolly Old Elf achieve neutral buoyancy — no mean feat with a belly like that! — while diving in the Nickajack Lake and River Giants exhibits. This year, you can catch Santa’s underwater adventures on Saturdays and Sundays from Nov. 17 to Dec. 23:

·         Nov. 17 — Nickajack Lake (11 a.m.)

·         Nov. 18 — River Giants (2 p.m.)

·         Nov. 24 — River Giants (11 a.m.)

·         Nov. 25 — Nickajack Lake (2 p.m.)

·         Dec. 1 — Nickajack Lake (11 a.m.)

·         Dec. 2 — River Giants (2 p.m.)

·         Dec. 8 —River Giants (11 a.m.)

·         Dec. 9 — Nickajack Lake (2 p.m.)

·         Dec. 15 — Nickajack Lake (11 a.m.)

·         Dec. 16 — River Giants (2 p.m.)

·         Dec. 22 — River Giants (11 a.m.)

·         Dec. 23 — Nickajack Lake (2 p.m.)

[Dive schedule subject to change. Check for dates and times at tnaqua.org/holidays.]

(Virtual) Reality Check

The holidays aren’t just a time of cheer and good will; they’re also an opportunity to think back on and celebrate the past. This year, guests visiting the IMAX 3D Theater can take a page from Ebenezer Scrooge’s book and engage in a bit of time travel— albeit much further into the past than Charles Dickens had in mind.

In the theater’s lobby, guests don special headsets to embark on a Prehistoric Dive, a new virtual reality experience. Participants are placed in the digital boots of a team of explorers who are mysteriously catapulted through time into the harrowing waters of a primordial ocean.

During the adventure, the headsets transmit realistic 3D imagery that changes based on where guests are looking, and the platform on which they are seated moves in response to the onscreen action. Combined, these elements make for an experience that’s completely immersive. This optional paid experience is $8 for members/$10 nonmembers.

Additional Events and Attractions

·         For more than a decade, Polar Express 3D has been shown on the enormous, six-story screen at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Theater. These screenings have become a bona fide holiday family tradition for many and will return to the theater this year on Nov. 23.

Starring Tom Hanks as the conductor of a magical locomotive bound for the North Pole, this Oscar-nominated animated film shines even brighter (and sounds amazing) on Chattanooga’s only IMAX with Laser projection system. For the most magical Polar Expressexperience, however, nothing beats seeing this holiday classic while clad in a pair of your favorite pajamas. 
This year’s PJs and Polar Express special screenings are at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15, and Sunday, Dec. 16. Before watching the movie, guests attending these extra-special holiday events are encouraged to arrive in their jammies — footed or otherwise — to drink cocoa, eat pastries and hobnob with The Conductor. Register for these special screenings in advance at 
community.tnaqua.org. For a full break-down of regular Polar Express 3D showings, visit tnaqua.org/imax/the-polar-express.

Give a Gift of Wonder

Holidays Under the Peaks is an especially magical time at the Aquarium, but the galleries in the River Journey and Ocean Journey buildings offer boundless entertainment throughout the year. To ensure your loved ones have access to more than 10,000 animals, including leaping lemurs, rocketing penguins and the world’s largest collection of freshwater turtles, give the gift of an Aquarium membership this year. 

 Memberships are available for individuals or families and include unlimited Aquarium admission, discounts on IMAX tickets, and access to special members-only events. Aquarium members also receive discounted admission to various regional attractions, including the Creative Discovery Museum, Dollywood and the Nashville Zoo. Learn more about the benefits of gift memberships and purchase one of your own at tnaqua.org/members/gift-membership


No Way Home (For The Holidays): Spider-Man’s Latest, Polar Express Bring Big-Screen Joy To Aquarium’s Seasonal Celebration

PHOTOS: Rock City Opens 27th Season Of Enchanted Garden Of Lights

Scenic Overlook Panels Unveiled, Marks New Designation For Sequatchie Valley Scenic Byway


The holidays are the one time a year when families and friends brave claustrophobic flights and bumper-to-bumper traffic to see one another. The same is true for your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, ... (click for more)

Rock City Gardens has begun its 27th season with its annual Enchanted Garden of Lights that includes over a million sparkling LED lights and 30 scenes. The event opens nightly at 5 p.m. and continues ... (click for more)

Two new interpretive panels were unveiled Tuesday morning in Sequatchie County. Located at the SR-111 overlook near Dunlap and the US-127 overlook near Signal Mountain, these educational signs ... (click for more)



Travel

No Way Home (For The Holidays): Spider-Man’s Latest, Polar Express Bring Big-Screen Joy To Aquarium’s Seasonal Celebration

The holidays are the one time a year when families and friends brave claustrophobic flights and bumper-to-bumper traffic to see one another. The same is true for your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, but Marvel Comics’ wall-crawler probably won’t enjoy the reunions awaiting him in Spider-Man: No Way Home . The third Spidey flick to star Tom Holland as the beloved superhero ... (click for more)

PHOTOS: Rock City Opens 27th Season Of Enchanted Garden Of Lights

Rock City Gardens has begun its 27th season with its annual Enchanted Garden of Lights that includes over a million sparkling LED lights and 30 scenes. The event opens nightly at 5 p.m. and continues through Jan. 2. (click for more)

Breaking News

Watts Bar Unit 1 Completes Scheduled Refueling, Maintenance Outage

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar Nuclear Plant Unit 1 returned to operation on Saturday, after completing a scheduled refueling and maintenance outage, and is again producing reliable, carbon-free energy. At its full generating capacity, the unit creates enough energy to power 650,000 homes. “Throughout the outage, our employees and contract partners maintained their ... (click for more)

Home In Birchwood Destroyed By Fire Saturday Evening

A home was destroyed Saturday evening in the Birchwood area. At 7:25 pm, the Highway 58 Volunteer Fire Department responded to a residential fire at 11306 Birchwood Pike. The first engine on the scene reported a fully involved residential fire. Once firefighters confirmed everyone was out of the house, they conducted a defensive attack to contain the fire to the one structure. ... (click for more)

Opinion

The Plight Of The Homeless - And Response (3)

I work very closely with the homeless population in our Chattanooga area. My son and I take around 50 meals a week to our friends living in the tent cities. On Wednesday at 9 a.m. I witnessed first hand the Tennessee Department of Transportation destroying everything - my friends' homes and all of their possessions. My friends in the tent cities have always told me that TDOT ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Albom On Oxford

I never got to know Mitch Albom back in my sports writer days. We covered some of the same events but other than an occasional “How ya doin’?” the only thing we had in common was he worked at the Detroit Free Press and I was at the Chattanooga News-Free Press. Then Mitch entered our hearts in 1967 with the wonderful book, “Tuesdays with Morrie,” and, man, he was off to the races. ... (click for more)