Education

Group Overnight FAQ

How do I register? Can I add participants to my reservation if there is space available?
What information should I prepare in order to register?
What is the refund policy?
Are there discounts available for groups?
What ages are permitted to attend?
Why does Shedd need the e-mail addresses of all adult participants?
What time does the event start?
Can I arrive late?
Is parking available for the event?
Can we park in the parking lot early?
Will I be able to leave my car in the parking lot while we explore the aquarium on Saturday?
Where do we enter and check-in for the event?
Can we leave before 8:30 a.m.?
What food is served for dinner, snack and breakfast?
What can you do to accommodate a food allergy?
Will bottled water be provided?
Is alcohol allowed at this event?
Will we get to see all the exhibits?
What will we be doing at the overnight?
Do we get to see an aquatic show?
What movie is shown? Is it in 4-D?
Will my scout earn any badges at this event?
Where do we sleep?
Are electrical outlets accessible in the sleeping areas?
Can I bring my air mattress or tent?
Is it very dark after lights out?
Does the aquarium get cold at night?
Can we use flashlights?
Can I buy overnight t-shirts or patches at the event?
Can I pre-order overnight t-shirts or patches for my group?
What are the supervision requirements for children? Can I leave my child unattended during the event?
What precautions are taken to ensure our safety?
How many aquarium staffers will be present during the event?
Is Shedd accessible by public transportation?
Where can I smoke cigarettes?
Where will our gear be stored during the evening activities?
Can we stay at the aquarium for the rest of the day on Saturday?
Where can we store our gear while we explore the aquarium after the event?
What can I do to “go green” for the overnight?

Registration
How do I register?  Can I add participants to my reservation if there is space available?
Please contact our group reservations department at 312-692-3333 for information.  Once an event is sold out, no additional participants will be registered.

What information should I prepare in order to register?
Please have your group name, your leader’s name, phone number, e-mail, address and method of payment ready. You will also need to tell us how many adults and children are in your party and on what date you want to attend.

What is the refund policy?
Shedd Aquarium reserves the right to cancel the event at any time. If your event is cancelled, you will be notified by phone, and a full refund will be made within 30 days.

Group Refund Policy
To receive a 90 percent refund for your entire group, we must receive your cancellation 90 days (or more) prior to your overnight date. A refund of 50 percent will be given if your cancellation is received 60 to 89 days prior to your overnight date. No refund will be given for cancellations made less than 60 days before your overnight date.

Individual Refund Policy
Refunds will not be given for individual cancellations within your group. If an individual in your group cancels, it is the responsibility of the group to find a replacement. 

Are there discounts available for groups?
We offer a price reduction for Shedd Aquarium members.  Please be sure to mention that you are a Shedd Aquarium member when you register.

What ages are permitted to attend?
Participants must be at least five years old. Please note that activities are geared for children ages 5 to 12 years. You must register and pre-pay for all the people that will be attending.

Why does Shedd need the e-mail addresses of all adult participants?
As a service to you, we send out updated information and important notices relating the event you registered for. E-mail is the fastest and easiest way we can communicate with all program participants.

Arrival, Check-In and Departure
What time does the event start?
Check-in for the overnight begins at 6:30 p.m. Guests that arrive early will not be able to wait inside the aquarium.

Can I arrive late?
Check-in is from 6:30–8 p.m. If you will be arriving after 8 p.m., please call aquarium security at 312-692-3308. Let them know you are a program participant and they will contact event staff so that you can be accommodated to the best of our ability.

Is parking available for the event?
For the overnight events, there are two parking lots available: the East Lot between The Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium lot. Parking is around $19, cash only, but this price may change at any time. Shedd Aquarium does not own the parking lots and does not control the cost.

Can we park in the parking lot early?
We have pre-arranged to have the lots open starting at 5 p.m.  You can park your car before the event begins, but there is no guarantee that you will be let into the aquarium before 6:30 p.m.

Will I be able to leave my car in the parking lot while we explore the aquarium on Saturday?
Your parking payment gives you access to the parking lot until 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. After 9:00 a.m., the lot may charge you for an additional day of parking, give you a ticket or tow your car.

Where do we enter and check-in for the event?
Guests can drive into Shedd’s bus turnaround where they will be greeted by aquarium staff and volunteers. Here, they can unload any sleeping gear and enter through the registered group entrance (up the ramp behind the bus turnaround). Drivers should then park their cars in the appropriate lot. Check-in occurs in the South Lobby/Group Entrance.

All group leaders are asked to send in a roster and signed behavior contract prior to their event. The roster includes the name of each guest and if they are an adult or a child, as well as e-mail contacts for the adults so we can provide important event information the week of the overnight program. The behavior contract is an important document reviewing all of the rules and policies for the event.

Can we leave before 8:30 a.m.?
Guests are welcome to depart any time they need. All doors, except the Kovler Hall main entrance doors, are locked throughout the event and any guest who leaves will not be able to re-enter the building unless they enter through the main entrance. Security staff will be stationed in the main entrance to ensure only event guests enter. Please inform event staff if you or a guest needs to leave the event and return at a later time.

Food and Beverages
What food is served for dinner, snack and breakfast?
Dinner consists of a chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese, vegetables and apple sauce. Milk and your choice of fountain beverages are included. Snack is a packet of goldfish crackers and fruit snacks, water and coffee. Breakfast is continental-style with mini bagels and muffins, choices of cold cereals and fresh fruit. Coffee, milk and juice are also served with breakfast.

What can you do to accommodate a food allergy?
We try our best to accommodate food allergies, but are not always able to do so. If you have concerns about any allergy during the event, please e-mail us at groupovernights@sheddaquarium.org with a list of food allergies. We will do our best to accommodate your needs, but will contact you if there are any issues.

Will bottled water be provided?
Beverages included in the program price are provided at dinner, bedtime snack and breakfast.  Water fountains are available in the aquarium for your use at any time.  Bottled beverage products are available from on-site vending machines at your own cost. We encourage you to bring your own reusable water bottle to refill as an alternative to purchasing bottled water. Can I bring my own food and drinks in a cooler?
Outside food or drink are not allowed during the event. Dinner, snack and breakfast are included in the price of each ticket. Snacks and drinks are also available in vending machines in the building. If you are concerned about the menu for medical or allergy reasons please contact the program coordinator at families@sheddaquarium.org

Is alcohol allowed at this event?
Alcoholic beverages are strictly prohibited with no exceptions! If anyone in your group is caught with alcohol the entire group will be escorted off the premises, per the behavior contract.

Event Details
Will we get to see all the exhibits?
All of the exhibits, including the Abbott Oceanarium, Wild Reef, Waters of the World and Amazon Rising, will be open for specific amounts of time during the event. Some exhibits do close for animal care and safety during the event. These times are marked on the itinerary guests receive upon checking-in. Guests have the option of staying the following day, after an overnight, to view the exhibits if they would like to spend more time with the animals.

What will we be doing at the overnight?
Guests are free to explore any of the open exhibit spaces throughout the event. We also have scheduled events to enjoy throughout the evening. Here is a tentative itinerary for an overnight event:
6:30-8 p.m.  Check-in, dinner and explore the Abbott Oceanarium
7:30 p.m.  Event orientation and aquatic show
8-9:30 p.m.  Planned activities in the aquarium galleries, explore the Wild Reef
9:30 p.m. Caribbean Reef Dive Presentation
10:00 p.m. Set up sleeping space, late night snack, movie and game room open
11:00 p.m.  Lights out!
6:30 a.m.  Wake up, explore aquarium galleries
7:00 a.m.  Breakfast
7:30 a.m.  Explore Abbott Oceanarium
8:00 a.m.  Explore Wild Reef
8:30 a.m.  Depart

Do we get to see an aquatic show?
During the event, there is a guest orientation and presentation of an aquatic show. The animals that are part of the show are on a rotating schedule, so each show is different. This presentation begins after the event orientation around 7:30 p.m. This is the only aquatic show scheduled for the event.

What movie is shown? Is it in 4-D?
Currently we are showing the film Blue Planet: Ocean Deep. It is shown in standard DVD format and is not in 4-D.

Will my scout earn any badges at this event?
Because the overnight events are open to all kinds of groups, the activities are not designed for scouts to earn badges. Check with your scout leader to see how the overnight’s activities fit into your scouts’ merit plan.

Sleeping Accommodations
Where do we sleep?
Guests will sleep in the aquarium galleries, or Waters of the World exhibits, and around the Caribbean Reef exhibit. Sleeping is prohibited in Amazon Rising, Wild Reef and the Abbott Oceanarium. In order to ensure there is enough space for each group, we assign sleeping spaces based on the number of guests. We try our best to keep the groups separated by sex, but understand that this is not always possible. For example, if we can, we will assign all Cub Scout packs in one area and all Girl Scout troops in another area. Aquarium staff will inspect sleeping bag arrangement and might ask you to adjust your gear in order to maintain state-required emergency exit corridors. If there is not enough space in your designated sleeping area, guests with air mattresses (see below for details on air mattresses) may be asked to relocate, which may be away from the group and animal exhibits.

Are electrical outlets accessible in the sleeping areas?
Electrical outlets are available in the sleeping areas. Please ask a staff member or volunteer for assistance.

Can I bring my air mattress or tent? 
Tents are strictly forbidden during your overnight adventure due to fire safety hazards. You may bring an air mattress with you to the event, but you will be charged a $15 convenience fee for each air mattress that you bring along. You must pay in advance when you register for your overnight experience. Some good alternatives to air mattresses include inflatable pool mats or camping pads.

Is it very dark after lights out?
We do our best to turn off all unnecessary lights after lights-out. For animal and human safety, some lights will remain on for the duration of the night. If you require complete darkness to sleep comfortably, consider bringing an eye mask.

Does the aquarium get cold at night?
Because we are a living institution, temperatures vary from one sleeping area to another. Dressing in layers will help ensure a comfortable sleeping temperature for you and your group.

Can we use flashlights?
Flashlights and flash photography are not permitted due to the safety and health of our animals. Bright lights and flashes can cause stress in many of our animals and animal safety is a top priority for us at Shedd Aquarium. Flashlights may be used by staff for guest and aquarium safety reasons if necessary.

Gift Stores
Can I buy overnight t-shirts or patches at the event?
Shedd Aquarium gift stores will be open during the event and sell overnight themed t-shirts and patches. T-shirts are $14.99 plus tax for child sizes and $16.99 plus tax for adult sizes. Patches are $3.99 plus tax.

Can I pre-order overnight t-shirts or patches for my group?
If you would like to pre-order these items, you can call our gift store at 312-692-3285, please ask for a manager or director Eric or Alan.

Safety and Security
What are the supervision requirements for children? Can I leave my child unattended during the event?
Children may not be left unattended during the event. We ask that one adult be present for every five children. For example, if you have 22 children in your group, you will need to have at least five adults attend the event. 

What precautions are taken to ensure our safety?
We view your safety as one of our top priorities. We have security staff members on duty 24 hours a day. Event staff will also stay overnight. We will be available to assist you at any hour.

The aquarium has staff trained in first-aid, CPR, and the use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). The building is also equipped with fire alarms and extinguishers.We have evacuation plans in place should it become necessary to leave the aquarium for any reason. If you need help at any time during the event, please contact the nearest staff member and we will assist you.

How many aquarium staffers will be present during the event?
We utilize staff members and trained volunteers stationed throughout the aquarium to help you enjoy your time during the event or address any issues that arise. We adjust our staffing levels as necessary.

Getting to Your Overnight Adventure
Is Shedd accessible by public transportation?
Shedd Aquarium is easily accessed by public transportation. For all transit information, go to http://www.yourcta.com/ or call 312-836-7000.
The Museum Campus (where Shedd Aquarium is located) is served year-round by the CTA's #146 bus. Service hours are until 10:30 p.m. every day.

From State Street downtown, North Michigan Avenue or the north side of Chicago:
Board the southbound CTA bus #146 Marine-Michigan to the Museum Campus (daily) or board the Red or Orange Line CTA train toward the Loop and exit at the Roosevelt Road/Museum Campus station, where you can transfer to the #146 Museum Campus bus.

From O'Hare Airport:
Board the Blue Line CTA train and exit at Washington, where you can board the southbound #146 bus on State Street.

From the south side of Chicago or from Midway Airport:
Board CTA bus #6 Jeffery Express (daily) and exit across from the Museum Campus or board the Orange Line CTA train toward the Loop and exit at the Roosevelt Road/Museum Campus station, where you can transfer to the #146 Museum Campus bus.

Miscellaneous Other Questions
Are shoes required at all times?
For your safety, shoes or rubber-soled slippers must be worn while guests move around the building.

Where can I smoke cigarettes?
In keeping with the Shedd Aquarium’s intent to provide a safe and healthful work environment and in compliance with the Chicago Clean Indoor Air Ordinance of 2005, smoking in the building and within 15 feet of all public entrances is prohibited. Guests can exit and enter through the Kovler Hall main entrance doors at any time during the night, as those doors will remain unlocked and guarded by security.

Where will our gear be stored during the evening activities?
When you arrive, an aquarium guide will greet you and lead you to your sleeping space. Your group will drop off gear in your sleeping space and then proceed to dinner. You will be able to set up your sleeping gear starting at 10 p.m.

Can we stay at the aquarium for the rest of the day on Saturday?
Yes, admission to the aquarium galleries, Wild Reef and Abbott Oceanarium on Saturday is included in the overnight package.

Where can we store our gear while we explore the aquarium after the event?
On Saturday morning, guests will bring gear down to the Group Reception Center for storage while they eat breakfast and explore the aquarium. All gear must be moved out of the Group Reception Center by 8:30 a.m. Coin-operated, standard-sized lockers are available to guests for day use.

What can I do to “go green” for the overnight?
- Bring a reusable water bottle or mug.
- Bring your gear in a reusable bag.
- Borrow a camping pad, sleeping bag or other gear from a friend rather than purchasing it new.
- Carpool or take public transportation to the aquarium.
- Use the recycling bins placed throughout the aquarium.

More Questions
If you have questions that cannot be answered when you register, your contact information will be given to the Education Department so that program staff can contact you once you register.  If you have questions after you register, please contact us at groupovernights@sheddaquarium.org.

 

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