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Extraordinary Experiences

Are you looking for a Shedd experience that’s a little more special, more personal, more in-depth? Whether it’s a guided tour behind the scenes or a fabulous sustainable seafood dinner, we’ve got experiences you’ll never forget.

What kind of experience are you looking for?

Animal encounters
Special tours
Family or group overnights
Travel with Shedd experts

Animal encounters

 Beluga Encounter

Meet the belugas where they live, in Shedd’s newest extraordinary experience! Your beluga encounter begins as Shedd’s animal experts lead you through an informative orientation about training and animal care, the beluga you’ll meet and the best way to have a safe and fun experience. Then you’ll pull on waders to enter the fully accessible Grainger Beluga Encounter Habitat. Standing side by side with a trainer on an underwater ledge, you’ll be face to face with a whale! You’ll touch the beluga’s skin, try a few training techniques and enjoy some surprises. At the conclusion, you’ll receive a framed photo to remember this experience – as if you could ever forget it!

$250 a person
Members discount: $225 a person
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
Morning and afternoon sessions are available.
Each session is limited to 6 people and lasts 90 minutes.

Participants must be at least 12 years old and 60 inches tall. Children ages 12-15 must be accompanied by a participating paid adult. No photography or video recording.

To reserve, call 312-692-2730.
E-mail extraordinary@sheddaquarium.org with questions. We are unable to take reservations by e-mail.
To take your encounter, meet at the Northern Trust Suite on the day of your reservation.

Please review our refund and cancellation policy.

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Beluga Encounter Proposal Experience

Shedd introduces a uniquely engaging beluga encounter for two, complete with a private poolside moment that is perfect for popping the question. An upgrade adds a romantic repast of champagne and strawberries afterward at a private table overlooking the Oceanarium.

Guided by a Shedd trainer, the couple will learn all about beluga whales as they wade into the waters of the Grainger Beluga Encounter Habitat. After some up-close-and-personal time with a beluga, there will be an opportunity for a proposal as only it can happen at Shedd Aquarium! A professional photographer will capture the once-in-a lifetime setting and moment—one that the couple will surely share with family and friends for years to come.

$500 ($450 for members) for two people
Add a champagne celebration for $100.
Beluga encounter proposal experiences are scheduled on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 10 a.m.

To reserve a proposal experience, call 312-692-2730.
E-mail extraordinary@sheddaquarium.org with questions. We are unable to take reservations by e-mail.

Please review our refund and cancellation policy.

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Penguin Encounter
During Shedd’s 30-minute penguin encounter, you’ll be introduced to one of our outgoing penguins, getting close enough to touch its sleek, slick feathers. You’ll learn fascinating facts about Shedd’s penguin population and even take part in a training session.

Prices: 68.95 for adults, $58.95 for children*
*Children must be at least 4 years old, and children 4 to 11 must be accompanied by a paying guardian. For the well-being of the birds, one chaperone is required for each 4- to 6-year-old. 

Penguin Encounters are offered all year long on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. From the last week in June through Labor Day weekend, they are offered daily.
Each session is limited to 8 people.
You can purchase this experience through Ticketmaster.
(Please note that if the ticket says "Not Available", that day is sold out.)

Please bring a pair of socks; we will provide you with rubber boots for the encounter.

Includes 30-minute penguin encounter, a 4x6 photo of you and your new penguin friend, all-access admission with express entry, tickets to the aquatic show and admission to the Jellies special exhibit.
 
Additional photos will be available for purchase. Observers may not be in the penguin encounter space. Encounters are conducted behind the scenes but not in the penguin habitat.
(Please note that this is not a feeding program. Photography and video are not permitted during the encounter or anywhere behind the scenes of the aquarium. Penguin costumes of any kind are not allowed during the program.)

Please review our refund and cancellation policy.

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Trainer for a Day

Pull on a pair of our tall rubber boots and go behind the scenes to experience what it’s like to be a marine mammal trainer. You’ll assist a trainer with daily routines and experience several training and feeding sessions. From the Abbott Oceanarium kitchen, where meals for five dozen animals are prepared every day, to reserve areas, to poolside in a habitat, you’ll see what it takes to care for the belugas, dolphins, sea otters, sea lions and penguins. This behind-the-scenes opportunity is a whale of an experience! 

Ages 12 and older. Children ages 12 to 15 must be accompanied by a paying adult.

$350 a person for 4 hours 
Members: $325 a person for 4 hours
Fridays and Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Each session is limited to 3 people.

No photography or video recording. To reserve, call 312-692-3224.
E-mail extraordinary@sheddaquarium.org with questions. We are unable to take reservations by e-mail.
Participating guests should meet at the Northern Trust Suite on the day of their reservation.

Please review our refund and cancellation policy.

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Extraordinary Experiences Club

Join the club and do it all—the tour, the belugas and penguins, and the training sessions—and enjoy a 25 percent discount on the total retail value of the four extraordinary experiences.

When you join the Extraordinary Experiences Club, you’ll receive
• A behind-the-scenes tour for you and a guest; all-day admission to all of Shedd’s exhibits; admission to the 4-D Experience; and VIP seating for our aquatic show
• A penguin encounter for you and a guest; all-day admission; 4-D Experience; and VIP seating for the show
• A beluga encounter for you and all-day admission, plus 25 percent off the regular program price for a friend 
• Trainer for a Day session for you and all-day admission, plus 25 percent off the regular program price for a friend

Please note: Club registrants must participate in all four experiences within one year of purchase date. Several programs have minimum age and height requirements; see individual listings on this page for details. Experiences are subject to availability. Not redeemable for cash. Not valid toward previous purchase. Void if copied or transferred.

For more information and to join, call 312-692-3224.
E-mail extraordinary@sheddaquarium.org with questions. We are unable to take reservations by e-mail.
Participating guests should meet at the Northern Trust Suite on the day of their visit.

Please review our refund and cancellation policy.

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Special tours

Behind-the-Scenes Tour

See Shedd from the perspective of our animal care staff during a 50-minute guided behind-the-scenes tour. At the animal healthcare center, you’ll see how preventive care and innovative water-quality practices keep the animals healthy. Then you’ll go behind the galleries to view the aquarium from a new angle, see where nutritious meals are prepared for some of our 32,500 animals and witness Shedd Aquarium at work. Participants must be 55 inches or taller. Children must be at least 10 years old. Children ages 10 to 15 must be accompanied by a participating adult.

Tours are available all year long on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
From the last week in June through Labor Day weekend, tours are offered daily at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Behind-the-Scenes Tour and Admission Package
Includes a behind-the-scenes tour, express entry and admission to all exhibits, a ticket to the aquatic show and the special exhibit, Jellies.
Prices: $51.95 for adults, $41.95 for children
Each tour is limited to 10 people. 

Book your reservation online.

Participating guests should meet at the Northern Trust Suite on the day of their visit.

Please note: Photography and video recording are not permitted behind the scenes.

Please review our refund and cancellation policy.

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Feeding Tour: Behind the Scenes in Wild Reef 

Dive deeper into Wild Reef—and experience mealtime with the sharks—during this new 50-minute guided exploration into how Shedd’s experts care for one of the aquarium’s most diverse and fascinating animal groups. First, you’ll visit the exhibit, meeting reef residents from corals and sea stars to sharks and rays. Your guide will share details about how each one eats and avoids being eaten. Then you’ll go behind the scenes to where the aquarists work above the 400,000-gallon shark habitat to experience a “feed.” You’ll see what’s on the menu for the sharks and rays, and you’ll witness how each species has been trained to come to its own visual and audible “dinner bell”—enabling aquarists to give every animal an individually balanced diet.

You’ve never seen Wild Reef like this before.

Buy your tickets online.
For dates May 11th, and beyond, please call 312-692-2723 to reserve!

Schedule:
Sundays, 9:45 a.m.
Price: $89.95 a person, includes admission to Shedd

Each tour is limited to 10 guests; minimum age is 10. Children ages 10 to 15 must be accompanied by a participating adult.
Tour includes work areas where floors may be wet; wear shoes with nonskid soles—no flip-flops, dress shoes, or heels. For the safety of the animals, you will be asked to remove sunglasses, rings and other jewelry. Food, beverages, photography and video are not permitted.

Participating guests should meet at the Northern Trust Suite on the day of their visit.

Please review our refund and cancellation policy.


Family or group overnights

Chicago Parent named Shedd Aquarium "Best Museum Overnight" for 2013!
See our overnight options below.

 




 


Shedd overnightsAsleep with the Fishes Group Overnights

Grab your pajamas and sleeping bag, and join us for a nighttime aquatic adventure with your favorite Shedd animals. Before snuggling into your sleeping bag, immerse yourself in the underwater world with special experiences, games and hands-on activities. Rise with the sun, enjoy a continental breakfast and check out how your aquatic friends start the day. These programs are geared for young people ages 6 to 12. 

Date: Friday, Feb. 21, to Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014
Time: Friday, 6:30 p.m. to Saturday, 8:30 a.m.
Price: $65 a person ($60 for Shedd members*)
*Membership must be noted on your reservation form to receive the discount.

Download the group overnights brochure (PDF) for more information and to register. Be sure to view the group overnight FAQ page.

Please review our refund and cancellation policy.


Wishes for Fishes Family Sleepover

Grab your pajamas and sleeping bag, and join us for a night of family fun with your favorite Shedd animals. Enjoy themed activities for all ages, animal encounters, dinner and dancing, and an aquatic show. The adventure continues for families sleeping over in our galleries. A late-night snack and continental breakfast are included. Children must be at least 5 years old to stay overnight, and all children must be accompanied by an adult.

Families wishing to come to the party but not stay overnight may do so by registering for the evening-only option. Enjoy all of the festivities without the slumbering!

Dates: Friday, March 28, to Saturday, March 29, 2014
Time: 6:30 p.m. to 9 a.m.
Price: Overnight option: $65 a person ($55 for Shedd members)
Evening-only option (ends at 10 p.m.): $35 a person ($25 for Shedd members)
*Program fee does not include parking. Membership must be noted on your reservation form to receive the discount.
To register: Call 312-692-3333

Due to space constraints, we have a new air mattress policy with fee attached. If you bring your own air mattress there is a charge of $15 per air mattress. This fee will be due at time of registration ($15 per air mattress). Shedd does not supply any air mattresses for use. Good alternatives to air mattresses include inflatable pool mats or camping pads.

Please note children must be at least 5 years old to spend the night.

Check the family overnight FAQ page for more information, or e-mail families@sheddaquarium.org.


Travel with Shedd experts

Shedd Adventures

Shedd Adventures are custom-designed travel programs that cater to your love of nature and the outdoors, your curiosity about wildlife and wild places, and your quest for personally meaningful travel.

Beginning in 2013, Shedd Adventures will offer incomparable opportunities to see and experience your favorite animals — such as beluga whales, sea turtles and rainbow-hued reef fishes — in their pristine wild habitats, with aquarium experts as your guide. Shedd Adventures focuses on animals and regions of the world that have intrigued and inspired you during Shedd visits, such as Mexico, Churchill, Costa Rica and Galapagos.

Gain a deeper connection to the aquatic world — and the memories of a lifetime — with Shedd Adventures.

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General Refund and Cancellation Policy

No refunds will be issued unless Shedd Aquarium cancels the program. Shedd Aquarium reserves the right to cancel the event for any reason. If your event is cancelled, you will be informed via phone as soon as possible. In the event of a cancellation, you will be fully refunded within 30 days. Your refund method will be based on your original method of payment.

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Programs and classes

We offer programs and classes to make everybody in your family happy. Learn about programs for families, adults and kids.

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