Trip Guide: Sea Life Kansas City & Legoland Discovery Center

Sea Life Kansas City aquarium

On our trips across North America, Central America and the Caribbean, we often seek out zoos, aquariums and other opportunities to get up close with wildlife and sea creatures. So when I heard an aquarium had opened in April 2012 in Kansas City, Mo., I was happy to finally have an aquarium to visit within a three-hour drive from our home in Wichita, Kan.

Then I found out it was a chain … and I have to admit that I was a little deflated. Well, I shouldn’t have been an aquarium snob! While it’s not going to land in the Top 5 of U.S. aquariums, Sea Life Kansas City is a great addition to our region. It allows children and adults to experience regional fresh water displays representing the Missouri and Mississippi rivers along with Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean exhibits filled with sharks, starfish, seahorses, rays and lots of fish, of course.

This summer is the perfect time to check out Sea Life Kansas City at a discount. See the section at the end of the post for coupons that offer buy one get one free admissions.

Just don’t go into Sea Life expecting a full-day experience that you could get at Chicago’s John G. Shedd Aquarium. While you’ll find 25,000+ creatures living at Shedd, you’ll see 5,000+ at Sea Life Kansas City. But that makes it a manageable place to visit when you have as little as 1-2 hours. You can make it a longer visit if you stop to read all of the well-done wall and digital displays, complete the interactive quizzes or catch a feeding or talk.

My visit was with my friend Nikki and two of her daughters: 1-year-old Sara and 4-year-old Rachel. Both girls were captivated with the short viewing levels and underwater tunnels. Rachel loved the touchpool experience where she learned about starfish, climbing in the creative displays that often gave her a view of being in the tank herself and, of course, the playground just before the exit of Sea Life.

Sea Life Kansas City Gertrude Turtle

I enjoyed seeing Gertrude, a young green sea turtle who moved into the main Ocean Tank in February of this year from her home at an aquarium in Florida. She was rescued in 2011 when her two front flippers were found tangled in fishing line causing them to fracture. One flipper had to be amputated and the other is fused, meaning she can’t swim fast enough to flee predators and won’t return to the ocean.

{fun fact: Gertrude is 5 years old and weights 45 pounds. She is expected to live to be 80 years old and could grow to 400 pounds & 5 feet long when full grown.}

Here’s a really sweet three-minute video about Gertrude and her flight on Southwest Airlines to her new home in Kansas City.

Another rarity in the same Ocean Tank is Rhina, a Bowmouth Guitar Shark that has a head shaped like a stingray on a brown body with white spots. Sea Life says there are less than 10 aquariums in the United States that have the species, making it known as the panda of aquariums.

We were told both Gertrude and Rhina don’t always swim in the most visible areas, but we saw both of them every time we walked by the Ocean Tank.

Sea Life Kansas City shark

So about the “chain” issue. There are more than 35 Sea Life aquariums in the world. In addition to Kansas City, other locations in the continental U.S. are: Carlsbad, Calif.; Minneapolis; Phoenix and Dallas/Ft. Worth. Sea Life is operated by European-based Merlin Entertainments, which also operates Madame Tussauds celebrity wax attractions and Legoland Discovery Centers.

That explains the Legoland housed in the same Crown Center location as Sea Life Kansas City. The girls weren’t quite the right ages to fully enjoy Legoland, and it’s not a place I would go without children. There was a really interesting section called Miniland. This was a room made up of miniature versions of 20 landmarks unique to Kansas City, like Arrowhead Stadium and Crown Center, and it had a cool Wizard of Oz display, too.

{fun fact: It took 20 designers and model builders six months to construct KC’s Miniland, which contains 1.4 million Lego bricks in addition to working fountains, moving vehicles and sound effects.}

Legoland Discovery Center Kansas City

Saving money on tickets

Normally, you will receive the best prices on admission to either Legoland or Sea Life or combo tickets by purchasing your tickets online ahead of time. For example, walk-up prices for Sea Life are $20.78 for adults and $16.40 for children 3-12. Online prices are $16.40 adult and $12.03 child.

However, there are a number of coupons out there right now that offer even better deals:

  • The best I currently see is through the Kansas City Star. Through Aug. 25, 2013, you can use the promo code to get buy one full price admission, get one free. You can use the code for up to four complimentary child or adult admissions with four paid adult admissions. The discount can’t be used online or for pre-booked tickets, you have to get the discount at the ticket counter. Here’s a link to the coupon: http://www.kansascity.com/static/images/sales/splash_pages/sealife/sealife_coupon_0613.html
  • KC Parent magazine has a coupon that is valid through Nov. 24, 2013, but the terms are a little different – it’s for a free child ticket with the purchase of an adult ticket at full price. Here’s the link: http://www.kcparent.com/061613_KC_PARENT_MAG_AD.pdf
  • Home Depot is also offering the free child with purchase of adult ticket discount and it’s the only one I see that allows for online ticket purchases. Details are here: http://www.merlindeals.com/thehomedepot

 

For more information visit the aquarium website or they also have news along with contests/promotions on their Facebook page. You can find Legoland at legolanddiscoverycenter.com/kansascity/

Below are more of my favorite photos from the trip.

Sea Life Kansas City aquarium

Sea Life Kansas City aquarium

Sea Life Kansas City aquarium

Sea Life Kansas City aquarium

Sea Life Kansas City aquarium

Sea Life Kansas City aquarium

Sea Life Kansas City aquarium

Sea Life Kansas City aquarium

Sea Life Kansas City aquarium

Sea Life Kansas City aquarium

Legoland Kansas City

Legoland Kansas City

Legoland Kansas City

Legoland Kansas City

Sea Life aquarium Legoland Kansas City

This entry was posted in Friends, Photography, travel.

One Comment

  1. Melinda July 9, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

    FYI: I just read on another blog that you cannot normally get into a Legoland Discovery Center without having a kid with you. They do host monthly adult-only nights though: http://www.legolanddiscoverycenter.com/kansascity/tickets-and-offers/no-kids-allowed.aspx

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