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Orlando Aquarium

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After about 15 years of living in Orlando, I think this is the first time I've given any thought to a city aquarium-- or rather, why Orlando does not have one and why we never may. Most other major cities have their own aquariums, as they have zoo's and museums, but Orlando is not like any other city. For residents of The City Beautiful, our aquarium has been Sea World and our [relatively] new zoo is Disney's Animal Kingdom. Now I know a public zoo exists out there somewhere but personally don't know anybody who has ever been to it.

While the zoological parks put together by the likes of Anheiser Busch and Disney are probably a metric crapload better than anything the city would likely put together, they are extremely expensive and not the easiest places to access in the metro area.

I was just pondering whether Orlando would ever have an aquarium of its own or if it would simply defer all aquatic interests to SeaWorld. I definitely don't see the city pushing for one anytime soon with so many other more important projects requiring full attention right now, but will there ever be an aquarium in town as long as SeaWorld is around? Or for that matter, as long as the Florida Aquarium in Tampa is still an hour and a half away? Perhaps by the time there is enough interest to warrant an aquarium in Orlando, there will be high-speed rail to take school kids to the one in Tampa in ~40 minutes.

I think I might have just answered my own questions but I am curious as to what others think about this issue.

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When Disney announced Animal Kingdom, I thought we were getting a world-class zoo comparable to San Diego, or St Louis. But Disney now says "itsnatazu," and that really pisses me off. The zoo in Sanford is OK (for Sanford) but not for a metro this size.

Orlando hasn't done well with their science endeavors. The science center is a money pit. My kids love science and I took them there right after it opened. They were like 12, 10, and 7 then. They all said this is for little kids, there nothing here we didn't learn in first grade. We never went back. And I'm the type that can spend a whole day in the Museum of Natural History in DC. It's a shame.

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As far as zoo's go, I think we're pretty fortunate in Central Florida. There's the fourth largest zoo in the country in Busch Gardens down the road, and we have Animal Kingdom here at home. Disney may not call it a zoo, but I would. It may not be a zoo in the traditional sense, but it's educational and has a ton of animals.

As far as the Science Center goes, I agree. I remember there being a ton of buzz when it first opened, and that was the first and last time I visited it. I think even the public schools took students to EPCOT over the Science Center for field trips.

It'd be great to have something like the Exploratorium at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco for the kids. I'd also like to see the city make a significant investment in a world-class art facility to to add some culture to the city and show outsiders that there is much more going on here than theme parks. A large fine arts museum or modern art museum downtown could do a lot for Orlando's image.

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It's a fact that the city of Orlando cannot compete with the tourism of Orlando. They couldn't do it with nightlife and won't do it with entertainment. As much as most of us city dwellers would love to see this, it just isn't going to come.

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Valid points all! I believe there was a regional effort among Orlando/Orange County to consider building a Zoo similar to MetroZoo Miami or Zoo Atlanta. Or maybe that was talk of expanding the Central Fla Zoo? Either way, the Zoo discussion was there, but I don't remember where it went. I believe Orlando will see a Performing Arts Center before a new Zoo and the city Aquarium idea is a long shot, mainly because of Sea World. The city of Orlando considers the theme parks to be in their turf, and looking at outside & International opinion, the parks are looked at as city ammenities.

Better art galleries & museums won't happen unless there's more of a local movement to bring such organizations here. As it stands now, that movement is very small, but growing.

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IMO Seaworld is much better than any aquarium I know.

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Yes, but it's also a heck of a lot more expensive!

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IMO Seaworld is much better than any aquarium I know.

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Agreed.

Yes, but it's also a heck of a lot more expensive!

Also true, sadly.

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Seaworld is great. I've been to both the Orlando and San Diego, and enjoyed both very much. But I don't know if I'd say it's better than any aquarium out there. The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago is amazing. And Scripps Institute of Oceanography's Birch Aquarium in San Digeo is fascinating as well.

So while Seaworld undoubtedly provides educational value, it is primarily focused with entertainment as it is commercially driven. Obvioulsy, the "traditional" aquariums are more driven towards the educational aspect.

I, personally would love to see Orlando build a world-class aquarium. But I doubt it would happen. Orlando has bigger fish to fry at the moment... no pun intended :thumbsup:

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