Shedd Aquarium to Replace Tiered Pricing with Flat Fee

(© Shedd Aquarium / Brenna Hernandez)(© Shedd Aquarium / Brenna Hernandez)

Starting July 1, visitors to the Shedd can experience nearly all the aquarium has to offer for one price. And for Chicago residents, this means potential savings of nearly 50 percent.

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Currently, the Shedd charges different rates based on the exhibits and shows visitors opt to see, and Chicago residents pay just slightly less than non-residents. A Total Pass Experience, for example, which includes access to all the aquarium has to offer, costs just under $37 for an adult resident and about $40 for non-residents. When the organization’s tiered ticket program is replaced with a single general admission fee, the price for Chicago residents will drop to $19.95, while the non-resident price will stay the same, according to a press release.

Under the new fee structure, Chicago children ages 3-11 will pay $14.95, and non-resident children will pay $29.95. All kids under age 3 will be admitted for free. 

General admission will include access to all permanent exhibits, aquatic presentations, “touch experiences” and all 32,000 animals. (Access to the Shedd’s 4-D theater will cost an extra $4.95.)

Visitors who buy same-day online tickets will still incur a $15 per ticket fee.

The Shedd has not changed general admission pricing in more than 17 years, according to a press release. The change was approved by the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners on May 17.

More Free Days, Opportunities for Illinois Residents

Starting next month, the Shedd’s “Discount Days” promotion for Illinois residents will expand to a “Free Days” deal that includes access to the entire aquarium, rather than just the original galleries.

Illinois Resident Free Days will be held 52 days annually, starting with the weekdays of June 5-6 and June 12-13.

Changes to aquarium pricing and access were inspired by the Shedd’s new mission: “Sparking compassion, curiosity and conservation for the aquatic animal world,” according to a press release.

“At Shedd, you can see something you never knew existed, have never seen before and may never get the chance to see anyplace else. Here, everyone is a scientist or marine biologist,” said Shedd President and CEO Bridget Coughlin, in a statement.

“It’s our hope they leave transformed by that experience and inspired to make a difference. Our new mission boldly puts that passion front and center, and will serve as our compass as we continue to shape Shedd and navigate its future.”

Starting July 1, the aquarium will offer free admission to eligible low-income families every day through its partnership with Museums for All, which encourages families of all backgrounds to visit museums.

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, active duty military personnel and up to five family members may visit the Shedd for free as part of the Blue Star Museums program.

Follow Kristen Thometz on Twitter: @kristenthometz

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