Sept 25 - Calm Waters: Extended Hours for Guests with Disabilities
Calm Waters is an exclusive event for guests with disabilities to explore Shedd Aquarium’s exhibits and experiences in a comfortable and accepting environment. Modifications for this event will include limited capacity and streamlined entry with advance registration. Family members and companions are welcome. Learn more here.
Before You Visit
Sensory Friendly App
Prepare for your visit with Shedd Aquarium’s Sensory Friendly App. Designed for guests with autism and sensory processing disorders in mind, the app helps make Shedd more accessible to all guests. You can download it from iTunes or Google Play.
Where to park
The small parking lot between Shedd and the Field Museum, as well as the Soldier Field parking garage, offer accessible parking. If you’re driving and would like to drop off a passenger, our bus turnaround will get you closest to the sidewalk-level accessible entrance. Please check our traffic alerts page for up-to-date information about parking at Shedd.
Where to enter
Our accessible entrance is located on the southwest side of the aquarium. Look for the statue of a man holding a giant fish.
Aquatic presentation warning
The aquatic presentation contains flashing lights which may not be suitable for people who experience migraines, have epilepsy or other photosensitive conditions. Viewer discretion advised.
Paper straws are available upon request.
Wheelchairs and rollator walkers
Wheelchairs and rollator walkers are available for free checkout at the information desk on a first-come, first-served basis with photo identification. Our behind-the-scenes tours, penguin encounters and shark feeding tours are all accessible for guests who use wheelchairs.
Accessible restrooms can be found throughout the aquarium. Family/companion restrooms can be found throughout the aquarium as well, including guest amenities off the main foyer, Wild Reef, Polar Play Zone.
Adult changing tables are located in the last family restroom in the amenities hall off the main foyer and in the family restroom in the Bubble Net food court hall.
Designated wheelchair accessible seating and companion chairs are available in the Abbott Oceanarium amphitheater for the aquatic presentation. Please see a Shedd staff member upon arrival at the presentation for assistance.
Sound-reducing headphones are available at the information desk, the 4-D Theater and the Rice Ampitheater for free checkout on a first-come, first-served basis with photo identification.
Please feel free to nurse anywhere you are comfortable. A private nursery is located off the main foyer.
Located in the Northern Trust Suite off the main foyer. Available Thursday through Sunday. Features include comfortable seating, adjustable lighting, weighted lap pad, sound reducing headphones and a prayer rug. This space may be used as a calming room, prayer room or place to privately recharge mobility devices.
Automated external defibrillators
Automated external defibrillators (AEDs)are located throughout the aquarium.
Resources for those who are Deaf or hard of hearing
American Sign Language interpreters
American Sign Language interpreters can be arranged at no additional charge for guests who are deaf or hard of hearing. We require two weeks’ notice to make arrangements. To request this service, please contact us by emailing [email protected] or calling 312-939-2438 (voice call to Shedd) or 1-800-526-0857 (relay service).
Assistive listening devices
Closed captioning is available for the 4-D Experience (Phelps Auditorium). Please request a captioning device before entering the theater.
Resources for those who are blind or have low vision
Audio-described aquatic presentations
Live audio-described aquatic presentations are available upon request with two weeks’ advance notice. To request this service, please contact us by emailing [email protected] or calling 312-939-2438 (voice call to Shedd) or 1-800-526-0857 (relay service).
Recorded audio description
Recorded audio description is available for the 4-D Experience (Phelps Auditorium). Please request a listening device before entering the theater.
Tactile models can be found throughout the aquarium. When touched, the model of a seahorse (seahorses exhibit in the Oceans gallery) or a penguin (Penguin Playscape in Polar Play Zone) plays back identifying information about that body part.
Access the free offering with your smartphone by downloading the app, available for both iOS and Android, creating an account and connecting with a highly trained sighted live agent through a video call that allows them to see what is in front of or near you. For 30-minute intervals, the agent can assist with guiding you through the purchasing process, wayfinding to the nearest dining area, shop or restroom, describing the exhibits with details about size, number of animals, signage and more. If you would like to continue beyond the allotted time, you can call again for a new agent.
Care attendants and service animals
Personal care attendants policy
Visitors with severe disabilities may be accompanied by paid personal care attendants (PCA) at no additional cost during their visit to Shedd Aquarium. This applies to all ticketed events, admission, Extraordinary Experiences and special events that the visitor is attending. This also applies to membership, complimentary admission and group sales.
Visitors with severe disabilities who wish to purchase advance tickets for ticketed events, admission, Extraordinary Experiences, special events, membership and group sales should contact 312-939-2438 (option 9) to request complimentary companion tickets for a paid PCA. These tickets must be picked up in person by the visitor and the paid PCA at the point of entry.
Service animal policy
Service animals are always welcome at Shedd Aquarium. They are defined as dogs or miniature horses that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.
Service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.
Shedd Aquarium is home to many animals, some of which may have a strong negative reaction to the presence of unfamiliar animals. For the health and safety of your animal and ours, service animals are restricted from the following areas:
- A portion of Amazon Rising: tiled portion at the rear of the exhibit.
- Coastal Walkway within the Abbott Oceanarium during training sessions and aquatic presentations. Service animals must remain in the upper half of the amphitheater seating during aquatic presentations.
- Certain areas behind the scenes visited for Extraordinary Experiences. If you are signing up for one of these programs, please contact 312-692-2723 so we can prepare for your visit.
Service animal relief areas are located outdoors, on any of the grassy areas surrounding Shedd Aquarium.
Emotional support/comfort animal policy
For the health and safety of your animal and ours, emotional support/comfort/therapy animals and pets are not permitted within Shedd Aquarium.
If you have other questions or would like information about additional accommodations, please contact Shedd at [email protected] or 312-939-2438.