The poker tables aren’t the only places you’ll find sharks on the Las Vegas Strip. For tucked away in the a corner of a busy casino in the Mojave Desert, lies a fun and informative world-class aquarium, that offers a quiet, peaceful reprieve form the action-packed noise and excitement of the Las Vegas Strip just outside its doors.
Since its opening in the summer of 2000, the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay has been a hit for both families looking for fun things to do with kids on the Las Vegas Strip, as well as regular gambling visitors just looking for something different than the typical shows, bars, games, and nightclubs of Sin City. In fact, the aquarium receives around 1 million visitors a year.
This popular attraction is situated on the far south end of Mandalay Bay, near the convention center. It’s a long walk from the casino floor, past the walkway to the events center, and past the Border Grill and the wedding chapel.
Ticket prices for adults are $20 per person.
Once in, it’s a self-guided tour, where you can stroll by the exhibits at your own pace. Inquisitive minds will be entertained by the numerous displays offering up informative tidbits about each of the exhibits – unless you’re like me, in which case you’ll spend your time making sure your 2 year old doesn’t accidentally climb into the piranha tank.
For most guests however, a normal walk through the entire aquarium will take anywhere from 1/2 hour to an hour – depending on how you sit and watch the sharks at the end.
Speaking of which…the sharks are, of course, both the namesake and highlight of this undersea adventure. The aquarium has 15 different species and boasts of having 100 sharks swimming in its giant tanks. In total, the Shark Reef has over 1.6 million gallons of water, not including the bottled Fiji sold in the gift shop.
The self-guided walking tour ends with a stroll through a glass enclosed tunnel, where sharks are swimming both above and below you. It can get crowded, but if you find a spot on the bench, sit there and be mesmerized by these beautiful killers all around you.
The highlight for my 4 year-old was the touching pool, which is sort of like a petting zoo. On this particular day, we got to touch the sting rays.
Other fish and animals at the aquarium (none of whom you can touch), include a golden crocodile, octopuses, jelly fish, sea turtles and a komodo dragon.
Shark Reef Ticket Prices
While prices for tickets to the Shark Reef may appear to be steep, they’re still reasonable for Las Vegas standards. For me, time spent at the Shark Reef is very affordable. It’s financially beneficial for me to be away from the tables as much as possible.
Here is the full breakdown of the Shark Reef Aquarium’s ticket prices:
Seniors: $18 (Must be 65 years or older)
Children: $14 (Ages 4 to 12)
Kids ages 3 and under are free.
They also offer package deals for $32 for adults. This fee gets you into the Shark Reef, along with a souvenir photo and a gift from the gift shop. For children, the package deal costs $27.00. Also note, if you are a local, you get $3 off admission prices when showing a Nevada driver’s license.
You should also know that the red Tix4Tonight booths found prominently on the Las Vegas Strip does not sell discounted tickets for the Shark Reef.
Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay Aquarium Hours:
10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the week.
Fall/Winter/Spring Season (Labor Day to Memorial Day).
Sunday – Thursday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Please note, that regardless of the season, admissions stop exactly one hour prior to the closing time.
The box office to purchase tickets opens at 9:30 a.m. every day of the week.
The Shark Reef’s phone number is: (702) 632-4555.
All-in-all, the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay is beyond just a way to kill time away from the tables or slots. It’s an enjoyable diversion giving you two things you usually won’t experience on the Strip: education and quietness.