Overnights FAQs

If you still have questions after reading the FAQs, please contact us at overnights@sheddaquarium.org.

Registration and refunds

How do I register? What information should I prepare in order to register?

You can purchase tickets online here. To purchase more than 10 adult tickets and/or 10 child tickets, please call 312-939-2438. Please have your name, phone number, email, address and method of payment ready. You will also need to tell us how many adults and children are in your party. If you are registering for a group overnight, please have your group name and group leader’s name ready.

Questions? Please contact our reservations department at 312-692-3333.

Can I add participants to my reservation if there is space available?

Once an event is sold out, no additional participants will be registered.

What happens if Shedd needs to cancel the event?

Shedd Aquarium reserves the right to cancel an 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. Your refund method will be based on your original method of payment.

What happens if our group needs to cancel? What is the refund policy for overnights?

For overnights, no refunds will be issued unless Shedd Aquarium cancels the program.

Are there discounts available for members?

We offer an exclusive rate for Shedd Aquarium members. If purchasing online, please login first to receive your special pricing. If purchasing over the phone, be sure to mention that you are a Shedd Aquarium member.

Age and chaperone policies

What ages are permitted to attend?

Participants must be at least 5 years old. Please note that activities are geared for children ages 5 to 12.

Do adults need to come with our group?

Yes, adult supervision is required for overnights. We require one adult chaperone for every five children who register.

Arrival and departure

What time does the event start?

Check-in for the overnight begins at 6:00 p.m. Guests who arrive early will not be able to wait inside the aquarium.

Can I arrive late?

Check-in is from 6:00 to 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 the event staff so that you can be accommodated to the best of our ability.

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 members 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.

Can we leave before 8:30 a.m.?

Guests are welcome to depart any time they need. All doors, except at the main entrance, are locked throughout the event, and any guest who leaves will not be able to re-enter the building except through the main entrance. Security staff members will be stationed in the main entrance to ensure only event guests enter. Please inform an event staff member if you or a guest needs to leave the event and return later.

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.


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 can 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 arranged to have the lots open starting at 5 p.m. You may 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 a.m. on Saturday. After that time, the lot may charge you for an additional day of parking, give you a ticket or tow your car.

Food and allergies

What can you do to accommodate a food allergy?

Please email us at groupovernights@sheddaquarium.org with a list of food allergies. We try our best to accommodate food allergies, but we are not always able to do so. We will contact you if there are any issues. 

Can I bring my own food and drinks in a cooler?

Outside food and drinks are not allowed during the event. Dinner, a snack and breakfast are included in the price of each ticket.

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.

What's included

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.

Do we get to see an aquatic presentation?

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

What movie is shown? Is it in 4-D?

Guests will have the opportunity to see our current 4-D experience, in addition to a standard format late night movie.

Sleeping arrangements

Where do we sleep?

Guests will sleep in the Waters of the World galleries. Sleeping is prohibited in Amazon Rising and the Abbott Oceanarium.

VIP guests will have the opportunity to sleep in the Caribbean Reef and Wild Reef exhibit areas.

Will our group be able to sleep in the same area?

To ensure that there is enough space for each group, we assign sleeping spaces based on group size. Aquarium staff members will inspect sleeping bag arrangement and might ask you to adjust your gear to maintain state-required emergency exit corridors.

What should we bring?


  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Camping pad (for added comfort)
  • Toothbrush and paste
  • Clothes to sleep in (guests must wear pants and shirts at all times, shoes must be worn when walking around the aquarium) 
  • Extra money for the gift store (optional)
  • Only VIP guests will be allowed to bring an air mattress. Please note the aquarium does not rent air mattresses or pumps to inflate them.

What SHOULDN'T we bring?

  • Personal coolers 
  • Outside food (exceptions permitted for allergy/medical needs)
  • Alcohol is strictly prohibited—no exceptions
  • Tents 
  • Flashlights, laser pointers, glow sticks, etc.
  • Sleeping cots are not permitted

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. Only VIP guests may bring air mattresses to the event. Some good alternatives to air mattresses include inflatable pool mats or camping pads.

Is it very dark after lights out?

We turn off all unnecessary lights after lights-out. For animal and human safety, some lights will remain on during 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 you maintain a comfortable sleeping temperature.

Can we use flashlights?

Flashlights and flash photography are not permitted. Bright lights and flashes can cause stress in many of our animals, and animal safety is a top priority for us. Flashlights might be used by staff members for guest and aquarium safety reasons if necessary.

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. 

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. If you need help at any time during the event, please contact the nearest staff member and we will assist you.

Are shoes required at all times?

For everyone's safety, shoes or rubber-soled slippers must be worn while guests move around the building.

Where can I smoke cigarettes?

In keeping with 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.

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.

Other questions

Will my scout earn any badges at this event?

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 Scout’s merit plan. 

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.

Can I buy overnight t-shirts or patches at the event?

Shedd Aquarium gift stores will be open during the event and have overnight themed T-shirts and patches.

Can I order overnight t-shirts or patches for my group?

If you would like to order these items in advance, please call our gift store at 312-692-3285 and ask for a manager or director.