Thursday, June 21, 2012

Houston's Downtown Aquarium

Once again it is 100 degrees in Houston so I decide to make an outing to another venue that will be - at least in part - outdoors.  This time, I have time to go to the hotel first and change clothes but realize I really didn't pack to be outside (since I would usually avoid that at these temperatures).  So jeans it is.

You may recall from the last post that I was feeling motion sick after the Led Zepplin show at the planetarium.  So, even if I had been remotely tempted (I wasn't and wouldn't be) to ride the Ferris Wheel here at the amusement area outside of the Downtown Aquarium, I didn't.  Plus, just like the museum, everything here costs extra.  

You pay extra to ride the Ferris Wheel, when I took this image, it was completely empty.

As was the game midway (also extra).

I was vaguely tempted to play this fishing game since my grandbaby has the miniature version at my house.  I am frequently encouraged to play so I am pretty good at it.  However, I was self-conscious about walking around by myself with a blow-up spiderman doll. you see an employee in the booth?  I don't.

The sea creature carousel - you guessed it - costs extra.  Not something I was willing to do with no child in tow.  Especially when I would have been the ONLY person riding.  I would have totally picked a seahorse though.

Look! People!  I am not here alone as it may have appeared.  This is also not in my plans and it costs extra.

I don't like to be in wet clothing so whether this costs extra or not, moving along.

There is one outdoor activity that I will take part in: the 360 degree shark tank.  For this activity, which costs extra, you ride a small train around the park and through a tunnel filled with small sharks.

To ride the train you line up, outside, in the heat, to wait.  I may end up wet after all as I soak my clothes with sweat standing here.  Fortunately a train comes every 10 minutes.  I don't realize until later that this is the same train over and over.  I paid an extra $5 for this so that is $1 for every 90 seconds of sweaty, fun-filled, pre-recorded excitement.  To get my money's worth, I went around twice.

As we leave the "station" we pass this plastic strung-up shark.  This exhibit is supposed to be about shark conservation?

The tunnel goes through the old waterworks building.  One of my customers says this building was an eye-sore before so repurposing it was a good thing.

As with all rides at amusement parks, we are told to keep our hands, arms and other body parts inside the train at all times.  The two men in front of me there totally ignore this and completely exit the train to take a photo next to the glass.  The train comes to a complete stop inside the tunnel for about 2 minutes.  The conductor starts to leave when he realizes they aren't on the train.  He doesn't say anything, he just waits for them to get back on.

The recording discloses that technically, this isn't a shark swimming in the 360 degree shark tank.

As we exit the tunnel, the recorded voice tells us that during the last flood in Houston, one of the sharks escaped and has not been recaptured even though the "scientific staff" have searched high and low.  We should be on the lookout they say.  Rumor is it might still be in the local area (despite the rigorous search).

We are then led to believe that this plastic animatronic shark that I think was used in the original Jaws movie is the escaped shark.  Even the small children on the train are not scared or impressed.

At this point, I am starting to notice a couple of themes.  Boredom and plastic.  These themes continue inside the aquarium. 

I like this alligator's ingenuity.  He was in need of a nap and created a pillow out of a  passing turtle.

A napping regular-sized snake.

A gigantic napping python.

A napping lizard of some sort.

A tarantula that didn't move so I assume he was napping.

Dorrie!  At least she was moving though she probably doesn't remember where she is going or why she is here.

A napping white tiger (really, look way to the right of the image) and a very strange Buddha-like figure who is either meditating or napping.

I did get to watch a video tape right outside of the tiger room of the two tigers moving around.  Wait!  There are two tigers? 

The tiger(s) are the end of the exhibit.  From beginning to end it took me a total of 20 minutes to see it all, including the "petting zoo".

My one finger stayed dry since this tank was empty.  They did have a bigger tank, manned by a single employee who didn't talk.  That tank had some small rays and a few other things with what I believe were all of the children under 5 in the building crowded around splashing in the water with multiple fingers.

If only I weren't alone I could have my picture taken inside this fake, plastic diver suit.  You can have your photo taken posing with a fake white tiger by a member of the staff, for an extra fee.

I did find someone outside to take my picture with plastic Bruce from Finding Nemo.

All of the foliage throughout the aquarium is plastic as far as I can tell.  And there was a lot of plastic foliage, in planters, stapled to the ceiling, everywhere.  I didn't see a real plant anywhere.  I think they should change the name to The Downtown Aquarium and Plastic Foliage Museum.

Because the facility is owned by Landry's, there is, of course, a Landry's restaurant on the property.

The restaurant surrounds a huge tank of fish.  As the waiter showed me to my seat, he asked if I wanted to hear more about it.  I said no.  He seemed relieved.

So, I order from the largely seafood menu and eat my seafood while I watch seafood swim around the tank.  This seems inherently wrong.  I am self-conscious.  I look at the fish and think - Am I eating your sister/mother/brother/father/friend?

I am so stressed, I don't finish my food.  The waiter brought the dessert tray for me to review anyway.  It has an example of all of the yummy things you can order.  Molded in plastic.


  1. The photo of the alligator and turtle cracked me up! Not something you see every day :)

    1. I agree, I got a good laugh out of that one! I was really surprised the turtle wasn't pulled completely into his shell but he was just hanging out like it was no big deal.