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Odysea Aquarium: Everything You Need to Visit this Scottsdale Attraction

The Odysea Aquarium is a wonderful living museum and is the largest aquarium in the southwest of the USA. It features more than 30,000 animals, many of which are rare and endangered. It's located on the Arizona Boardwalk in Scottsdale, AZ. 

We love the set up of this aquarium. The exhibits offer you viewing areas where you can clearly see the animals. They also offer the animals plenty of space to swim around! 

In addition to the animal exhibits, they also have a 3D movie screen, touch ponds, and an overhead tunnel where the water life floats above and around you.

One of their most special exhibits is the Odysea Voyager. It's a one of a kind 360 degree rotating "submarine" that allows you to see 4 different 46 foot glass walls of different sea life.

Odysea Aquarium Fast Facts

  • Located at the Arizona Boardwalk at 9500 East via de Ventura, Scottsdale
  • Tickets are $41.95 for adults and $31.95 for kids ages 2 to 12. If you buy your tickets after 4:30 pm, they are $27 for all ages. They give a military discount with ID. You can also book the audio tour for $5.
  • There are discounts for combo tickets when you bundle them with other attractions.
  • Open 7 days a week and on all holidays.
  • There are numerous hands-on and touch pond areas.
  • Usually takes about 2 to 3 hours to walk through the aquarium.
  • This aquarium is perfect for all ages.

Everything You Need to Know to Visit the OdySea Aquarium in Scottsdale

A shark swimming around at the OdySea AquariumA shark swimming around at the OdySea Aquarium

What are the hours? What days is the OdySea closed? What holidays is it open? Does the OdySea offer free days?

How much does it cost to go to the OdySea Aquarium? Are there any discounts or discounted passes?

What are the best times to visit? How long should I plan to visit it?

What types of animals are in the aquarium?

What are the "must-see" exhibits?

Are the tours self-guided? Are there guided tours? Do I need a reservation?

Are there other experiences that I can purchase?

Can I bring toddlers? Can I bring in a stroller or rent them?

Can we bring in our own food or water? Can I bring in pets?

Is it ADA accessible? Do they have wheelchairs?

Is there parking nearby? Is it free?

Are there other attractions, shopping or restaurants near the aquarium?

Are there hotels nearby?

Can I take photos?

What are some fun facts?

More information on the OdySea Aquarium.

Aquarium Hours

The OdySea Aquarium is open 7 days and Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 7 am. One Sundays they are open from 9 am to 5 pm. Last entry is 60 minutes before closing.

The aquarium is open 365 days. It does not close for any holidays.

The OdySea does not offer free days.

Prices & Discounts

You will see these cool "mini-aquariums" overheard when you walk into the OdySea AquariumYou will see these cool "mini-aquariums" overheard when you walk into the OdySea Aquarium
  • Adults (13 and up): $41.95.
  • Children (2 to 12): $31.95.
  • If you visit after 4:30 pm, it is $27 for any age.
  • It has timed ticket entry, so it is best to purchase them online or in advance.
  • There is military discount with ID presented at the door.
  • Depending the season, there are may be discounts, but you will want to check ahead to see if you qualify.
  • You can purchase a self-guided audio tour for $5.
  • There are also combination tickets depending on how many of the 4 major attractions located on the Arizona Boardwalk you want to experience during your visit.

Best Times to Visit

The best time to visit is first thing in the morning. The late afternoon/evening is also a good time, plus you can take advantage of their after 4:30 pm discount.

Saturday is the busiest day of the week. Sunday is the second busiest day. If you can, we recommend visiting during the week when there are fewer people in the aquarium and more space to move around. 

One downside of the weekday visits is that this is usually when you will find larger groups such as class trips. However, they usually stay together, so you can easily pass them or head to a different section to avoid overcrowding. 

Most people spend about 2 to 3 hours here. If you like to stop and take a look at every animals, then make sure to plan for at least three hours. 

Types of Animals

Two tiny alligators hanging out in their poolTwo tiny alligators hanging out in their pool

One of the reasons the Odysea Aquarium is so popular is that you will find more than 500 species here. These are just a few of the types of animals at this Phoenix aquarium:

  • sharks
  • turtles
  • numerous types of otters
  • sting rays
  • penguins
  • clownfish
  • alligators and crocodiles
  • and so many more.

Must See Exhibits

Make sure to see how you "measure up" to a penguin or two beside Penguin Point.Make sure to see how you "measure up" to a penguin or two beside Penguin Point.

Are you looking for the best exhibits to check out during your visit to the Odysea Aquarium? These are a few of our favorites. 

The Touch Pools: There are 4 different exhibits including the Russian Sturgeon, the Stingray Shores, the Stingray Bay, and the Tidal Touch. Each of these touch pools have different animals that you can touch and watch up close. Don't worry, the stingrays are safe.

Penguin Point: Who doesn't love watching penguins waddle around and swim circles in their pool? The beauty of Penguin Point is that you will be able to see them up close. People love that not only will the penguins swim near you, but they will also see you and come up to the window and look at you. There is also an underwater porthole so you can see what it looks like directly underneath them.

The OdySea Explorer: This is a one-of-kind experience. The experience starts by entering the a movie theater type setting. You grab a seat, listen to an overview of what you will see and then the fun begins. The entire interior with seating moves in a circle while you sit and take in the action. On this 20-minute experience, you will visit four different areas to see animals such as turtles, sharks, and other sea creatures. You'll stop at each section for a few minutes and listen to the narration about what you are seeing in each aquarium section. Entry into The OdySea Explorer if free with your ticket into the aquarium. 

Other Exhibits and Experiences

The OdySea Aquarium has a number other experience that we think you will enjoy as well. 

The first of these include the Penguin Encounter. Since the African black-footed penguins are so cute, you might want to get a true up-close encounter with them. This encounter lets you play with them and learn more about them from personal trainers.

Each encounter is limited to 8 people and usually lasts about 45-minutes. Guests must be 8 years or older and accompanied by an adult. You have to book in advance and the extra fee of $59.95 in addition to your entrance fee if bought online.

The SeaTREK Helmet Diving experience will let you dive into the deep and pretend like you are in the sea. There really is nothing like this since you are safe, and the certified guides will help you swim among loads of sea life and touch them as they move around you.

This experience lasts about 1-hour and is limited to 8 people. You need to book in advance and the minimum age is 9 years old. Children 9 - 14 years of age must be accompanied by an adult. It costs $64.95 in addition to the normal ticket price if bought online.

If you, or your kids, are shark lovers, then the Shark Behind the Scenes Tour is perfect for you. You will get to go up to the top of Shark Waters and get right up to the edge of the pool. You will also be able to go by the kitchen for the sharks and see what a shark eats and how they take care of them.

Each tour is limited to 12 people and last about 30 minutes. Children must be 6 years or older and accompanied by an adult. The tours cost $9.95 in addition to your entrance fee if bought online.

The Sloth Encounter is one of our favorites since you get to see these magical creatures up close. You will meet the lovely, "Squidney," who is a two-toed sloth, and learn all about it. It is $59.99 when purchased online

Self-Guided and Guided Tours

Information on the Audio and self-guided tours at the OdySea AquariumInformation on the Audio and self-guided tours at the OdySea Aquarium

The Aquarium is a fully self-guided attraction. You can rent a Audio Tour for $5 which can be shared by two people. It will give you more facts and fun stories about the animals and adventures.

If you plan to visit with a group of more than 15 people, you can also book a self-guided tour in advance. There is a slight discount per ticket with this option. You'll want to call them directly for details. 

At this time, they don't offer any other guided tours.

Toddlers and Strollers

Stroller, wheelchair, and ADA accessibility informationStroller, wheelchair, and ADA accessibility information

The OdySea Aquarium is a wonderful treat for toddlers. They suggest a minimum of 2 years of age, but you are welcome to bring kids of any age. You are welcome to bring single or double strollers. Wagons are not permitted in the aquarium because of space limitations.

The aquarium also has strollers that you can borrow. They are available on a first come, first served basis at the Concierge Desk on the first floor.

ADA Accessibility, Service Animals & IBCCES

The OdySea Aquarium is 100% ADA accessible. It has elevators that will take you between its two stories.

Service animals that are allowed include dogs and miniature horses. They must be on the leash and at all times.

The aquarium also reserves the right to stop service animals from entering the premises or going to certain areas depending on the actions of the animal.

Wheelchairs are located at the concierge desk on the 1st floor at the Aqua Lobby. They are first come first serve and cannot be reserved.

The aquarium was certified in July 2019 by the International Board of Credentialing and Continued Education Standards (IBCCES) to be a Certified Autism Center (CAC). This allows children with autism, or other sensory differences, to have feel comfortable and not overwhelmed when they venture inside and around it.

Pets, Food & Water

Pets, other than service animals, are not allowed in the aquarium at any time.

Food and water are not permitted in the aquarium. However, if you have little ones with you, you are allowed to being in formula. Also if you or your kids have food allergies, you can bring in snacks for them.

If you are hungry, or need something to drink, the aquarium has the Lighthouse Café. It offers a full menu including pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and more. Something special about this restaurant is that you also get a view of the aquatic displays.


There is a free parking lot that allows for easy access to the Odysea Aquarium and everything the Arizona Boardwalk has to offer. The parking lot can get quite busy depending on the season and day that you visit so plan ahead.

More Things to Do at the Arizona Boardwalk

More things to do at the Arizona BoardwalkMore things to do at the Arizona Boardwalk

Jill and I love that the Arizona Boardwalk has so much to do in such a small and intimate area. This includes a bunch of other attractions that you will love here. Being that there are so many attractions, you might want to check out the combinations tickets so you save a little cash at the same.

  • The Butterfly Wonderland
  • VR Xtreme: A World of Immersive Adventures
  • The Laser + Mirror Maze
  • Surprise Your Eyes: Step into The Illusion
  • Pangaea: Land of the Dinosaurs
  • Polar Play Ice Bar: The Coolest Place in The Desert
  • Other exhibits depending on the season

Restaurants at the Boardwalk

Johnny Rocket's restaurant at the Arizona BoardwalkJohnny Rocket's restaurant at the Arizona Boardwalk

Something that Aram and I love when we go to the Boardwalk is that we can spend all day going to all the exhibits and shops. Of course, since there is so much to do, we get hungry but don't want to leave the area. So, thankfully, the Arizona Boardwalk has pretty much anything you desire depending the day. These include: 

  • Coffee Cove
  • Frozen Penguin Ice Cream
  • Johnny Rockets
  • Nekter Juice Bar
  • Pangaea Dinosaur Grill
  • Pizza Time
  • Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
  • Sugar Drop Candy Shop
  • Polar Play Ice Bar: The Coolest Place in The Desert

Shopping at The Boardwalk

Just like the exhibits and restaurants, the Boardwalk does its best to satisfy all your shopping needs. Some of the shops include: 

  • Arizona Territory Trading Post
  • Butterfly Treasures
  • Fours Peaks Mining Company
  • OdySea Treasures
  • Vitality Oxygen Bar & Aqua Massage

Hotels Near the Boardwalk

There are a number of nice hotels near the Arizona Boardwalk if you want to spend a night by it and relax. Since the OdySea Aquarium allows for same day in and out privilege, you might want to go the hotel and rest up then return for more fun.

Here is a list of some of our favorite hotels nearby:

  • Hampton Inn & Suites
  • Days Inn & Suites
  • Talking Stick Resort
  • Home2 Suites by Hilton
  • Tru by Hilton

Photos & Videos

You are welcome to take photos and videos when you are visiting the OdySea Aquarium. However, you are not allowed to use a flash or strobe light. You are also not allowed to bring in any selfie sticks or tripods.

The aquarium also has photographers who will take your photo in front of backgrounds of the aquarium. You can purchase them as you leave the gift shop.

Fun Facts

Their shark bathroom was voted #1 in the whole USA!Their shark bathroom was voted #1 in the whole USA!

You must visit the bathrooms on the first floor. Why? Because in 2017, they won the "Best Restroom in the USA" award. We'd tell you why they won it, but that will ruin the fun and surprise. And, yes, they really do have a bathroom competition every year and it is sponsored by Cintas.

When you enter, and look up to the ceiling, you'll see the "Aqua Lobby." This where there are 9 globe-shaped aquariums. Each of these massive globes are supposed to represent a "drop of water' which the Earth needs to survive and make oceans. Each of them weighs over 1,000 pounds with water life and plants inside them.

Information on The OdySea Aquarium

More information on the OdySea Aquarium at the Arizona BoardwalkMore information on the OdySea Aquarium at the Arizona Boardwalk

The OdySea Aquarium covers more than 200,000 square feet and holds more than 2,000,000 gallons of water. For those that love the water life and want to see as much a possible, there are over 50 exhibits, with 500 species and more than 30,000 animals!

This Phoenix museum is the largest aquarium in all of the Southwest of the United States and has endangered and rare species that you won't see anywhere else. It is used to help breed and keep these animals alive and thriving since they may become extinct in the wild.

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