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Shedd Aquarium Launches Plan-Ahead Pricing for Out-of-Town Guests to Create Greater Choice for Schedules, Wallets

New Tool Will Enhance Visitor Experience for All, Maintain Current, Low Price for Chicago Residents

October 20, 2022

The accessible entrance at Shedd is on the south side of the building near the bus turnaround, and features a large fountain statue of a man holding a fish.

Beginning on Nov. 1, Shedd Aquarium will introduce changes to its admissions program for guests who live outside of the city of Chicago. A new plan-ahead pricing tool will allow non-Chicago residents to pick a date and time to visit that works best for both their schedule and their wallet, with the potential to save money on general admission when they plan their visit in advance. The tool will further improve the Shedd experience for all guests by flattening the aquarium’s attendance throughout the year and giving guests more insights and choice when selecting a date and time to visit.

The Plan Ahead with Shedd model uses attendance data to incentivize guests to visit on historically quieter dates and times throughout the year– resulting in less peak-season crowding. Shedd expects that this change will also allow the aquarium to more equitably utilize its Illinois Resident Free Days and financial assistance programs, and in turn, welcome more guests who truly rely on them. The aquarium currently welcomes more guests for Illinois Resident Free Days than any other Museums in the Park institution in Chicago.

All Shedd guests and members will now have more information than ever before to help plan their visit, with a calendar that will indicate which days will be busier than others. Guests can use these insights to select a day to visit that works best for them based on their needs and comfort level.

“By encouraging guests to plan their visit in advance, we can create an even smoother and more engaging experience for our guests and also for our staff, who can more accurately predict attendance and develop staffing plans that meet the specific needs of our guests on any given day,” said Meghan Curran, Chief Marketing and Experience Officer at Shedd Aquarium. “Shedd Aquarium offers an incredible experience all year round – and no two visits are ever the same. We hope that this new planning tool incentivizes guests to come for a visit outside of our busiest seasons.”

The “Plan Ahead with Shedd” tool will only impact non-Chicago residents purchasing general admission tickets or tickets to certain events like Jazzin’ at the Shedd and Shedd After Hours. Chicago residents will not be impacted by this change and will continue to enjoy a daily low price of $19.95 per adult for admission. Chicago residents are defined as guests who have proof of residency within the City of Chicago. Children do not require proof of residency if they are accompanied by a resident adult with the appropriate ID.

“Shedd is a cultural gem here in the city, and this change to our admissions gives the ‘power of the purse’ back to the millions of visitors who come to Chicago each year,” said Curran. “At the same time, we are still able to keep the experience of visiting the aquarium at the same price as going to a movie for local Chicago residents.”

General admission at the aquarium includes access to all aquarium exhibits, including the seasonal Stingray Touch exhibit, as well as the opportunity to attend Animal Spotlights throughout the day in the Abbott Oceanarium.


Like purchasing plane tickets or passes to a concert, tickets to the aquarium for non-Chicago guests will be cheaper when bought further in advance and may increase in price as the date approaches, based on capacity and the purchasing behavior of guests. Non-Chicago guests who plan their visit in advance and select non-peak days and times could save money on tickets, while those who purchase last-minute or select peak days and times to visit may pay more.

The aquarium expects that annually during peak seasons, 70 percent of days will begin with a starting entry price below the current ticket cost of $39.95 for adults and $29.95 for children three years and older. New pricing for non-residents could go as low as $32.95 for adults - $7 less than current pricing. During off-peak seasons, the percent of days anticipated to begin with a starting price below the current ticket price increases to 90 percent.

At any time, guests can put the cost of their ticket toward a Shedd membership, which remains the best way to access everything the aquarium, take advantage of first to see and know happenings, and make a positive impact on the blue planet. Shedd members enjoy several benefits including complimentary admission throughout the year and first access to special programming and events.

Learn more about how to Plan Ahead with Shedd here:


Alongside the daily low price for Chicago residents, Shedd Aquarium operates and honors several financial access programs to ensure that price is never a barrier to connecting with the aquatic animal world. In 2021, more than 10 percent of Shedd guests came for free or at a significantly reduced cost of admission. This represents more than $13 million in free admission given back to Illinois and Chicago residents, first responders, students, teachers, low-income families, active-duty military and more.

More details on Shedd’s free days and discounts can be found here:

VISUALS:  High resolution photos are available here:
Photo Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Broadcast quality b-roll is available here:
Video Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Sam Cejtin