Asleep with the Fishes FAQ

Please read through these FAQs so that you are prepared to have a great time at your overnight!

Please note that dinner is not included with your ticket. Guests may purchase food from the Bubblenet Café during the event or have dinner before entering. Outside food is not permitted unless arranged ahead of time. Breakfast and a late-night snack are included for guests who spend the night.

Click here to download these questions as a PDF.

REGISTRATION

How do I register my family?
You can purchase tickets online here. If you are purchasing more than 10 adult tickets and/or 10 child tickets, please email us at overnights@sheddaquarium.org to make sure your family is placed together for sleeping assignments. To purchase tickets by phone, call (312-939-2438 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., seven days a week. Along with your name, phone number, email and address, please be prepared to give us your method of payment. You will also need to tell us how many adults and children are in your party.

How do I register my group?
You can purchase tickets online here. If you are purchasing more than 10 adult tickets and/or 10 child tickets, please email us at overnights@sheddaquarium.org to make sure your group is placed together for sleeping assignments. To purchase tickets by phone, call 312-939-2438 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., seven days a week. Along with your name, phone number, email and address, please be prepared to give us your method of payment. You will also need to tell us how many adults and children are in your party. Please have your group name and group leader’s name ready.

All group leaders are asked to send a roster to overnights@sheddaquarium.org before their event. The roster includes the name of each guest and if they are an adult or a child, as well as email contacts for the adults so that we can provide important event information the week of the overnight program.

Can I add participants to my reservation if there is space available?
Yes. After purchasing the ticket(s), please contact us at overnights@sheddaquarium.org to ensure that we know who is in your group. Once an event is sold out, no additional participants will be registered.

What information should I prepare to register my group?
Please have your group name, your leader’s 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 and on what date you want to attend.

Can I request to sleep near friends or family who purchase tickets separately?
Yes, if you email us at overnights@sheddaquarium.org, we will assign your sleeping area near others in your party who have purchased their tickets separately.

What is the refund policy?
Shedd Aquarium reserves the right to cancel the event at any time. If your event is canceled, 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) before your overnight date. A refund of 50 percent will be given if your cancellation is received 60 to 89 days before your overnight date. No refund will be given for cancellations made less than 60 days before your overnight date. 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 5 years old to stay overnight. Participants 4 and younger are invited to attend for the evening-only portion for a discounted rate. Please note that activities are geared for children ages 5 to 12 years. You must register and pre-pay for all the people who will be attending.

How many adults or children may attend?
We require at least one child to attend for every three adults in your party. Please contact us if you have a request for an exception.

We strictly require one adult to attend for every five children. A child is anyone 12 years old or younger. An adult is anyone 18 years or older.

Adults with children ages 4 and younger are invited to stay for the evening portion of the event at a discounted rate.

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

ARRIVAL, CHECK-IN AND DEPARTURE

What time does the event start?
Doors open for check-in at 6 p.m. Guests who arrive early will not be able to wait inside the aquarium.

Can I arrive late?
Check-in is from 6–8 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 lot between the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium lot. Parking is around $25, cash only, and subject to 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 can park your car before the event begins, but there is no guarantee that you will be let into the aquarium before the 6 p.m. event start time.

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. Saturday morning. After 9 a.m., the lot may charge you a $45 fee, give you a ticket, or tow your car. Street parking on the Museum Campus is not permitted past 11 p.m.

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. Please note: Guests are responsible for transporting their gear during their time at Shedd. Please do not pack more than your party can carry.

Can we leave before 8:30 a.m.?
Guests are welcome to depart at any time. All doors, except at the Kovler Hall main entrance, are locked throughout the event. Guests who leave will not be able to re-enter the building unless they enter through the Kovler Hall main entrance. Security staff members will be stationed at 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 at a later time.

FOOD AND BEVERAGES

Please note: For the safety of our animals and guests, no outside food or beverages are allowed. Please contact overnights@sheddaquarium with questions, concerns, or dietary needs.

What food is served for snack and breakfast?
Please note that dinner is not included with your ticket. Guests may purchase food from the Bubblenet Café during the event or have dinner before entering. Outside food is not permitted unless arranged ahead of time. Breakfast and late night snack are included for guests who spend the night. A sample menu is included below. Milk and your choice of fountain beverages are included. 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.

Sample overnight menu
We can provide gluten-free meals when requested in advance.

Late-night snack 10 p.m.
Goldfish crackers and fish fruit snacks

Saturday Breakfast from 7–8:30 a.m.
Individual wrapped medium-sized muffins
Whole bananas, apples and oranges
Assorted individual containers of low-sugar cereals (V)
Note: Chex cereal available for gluten-free needs
Individual cartons of 2% milk for cereal
[Soy milk upon guest request]
Orange juice and apple juice
Coffee

What can you do to accommodate a food allergy?
We try our best to accommodate food allergies, but we are not always able to do so. If you have concerns about any allergy during the event, please email us at overnights@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 and water bottle-filling station 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 while supplies last. 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 and beverages are not allowed during the event. Snacks and drinks will be available to purchase for some of the evening. If you are concerned about the menu for medical or allergy reasons, please contact overnights@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.

EVENT DETAILS

Will we get to see all the exhibits?
All the exhibits, including the Abbott Oceanarium, Wild Reef, Waters of the World and Amazon Rising, will be open for specific periods 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 activities to enjoy throughout the evening. Here is a tentative itinerary for an overnight event:

6-7 p.m. Check-in and time to explore the Abbott Oceanarium

6-8 p.m. Dinner available for purchase in the Bubblenet Cafe

7 p.m. Event orientation and aquatic presentation

7:30-9:15 p.m. Planned activities in the aquarium galleries, time to explore Wild Reef

8:15-9:15 p.m. Movies in Phelps Auditorium

9:30 p.m. Caribbean Reef dive presentation

10 p.m. Sleeping space setup, late-night snack, movie and game room activities

11 p.m. Lights out!

6:30 a.m. Wake-up, time to explore aquarium galleries

7-8:30 a.m. Breakfast

7:30 a.m. Time to explore the Abbott Oceanarium

8 a.m. Time to explore Wild Reef

8:30 a.m. Departure

Do we get to see an aquatic presentation?
During the event, there is a guest orientation and aquatic presentation. The animals that are part of the presentation are on a rotating schedule, so each show is different. This presentation begins after the event orientation, around 7:40 p.m. This is the only aquatic presentation scheduled for the event.

What movie is shown? Is it in 4-D?
We currently show a rotation of Shedd’s 4-D movies.

Will my Scout earn any badges at this event?
Because the overnight events are open to all kinds of visitors, including groups and families, 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. Please contact us if your Scout group needs to fulfill a badge requirement; depending on what it is, we might be able to accommodate!

SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS

Where do we sleep?
Guests will sleep in the aquarium galleries (also called the Waters of the World exhibits), and VIP sleeping areas include the Caribbean Reef exhibit, Wild Reef exhibit, and Oceanarium underwater viewing for select events. To ensure that there is enough space for each family and group, we assign sleeping spaces based on the number of guests. Aquarium staff members will inspect sleeping bag arrangements and might ask you to adjust your gear or location to maintain state-required emergency exit corridors. We try to accommodate groups that want to sleep in the same area, but please note that other guests or groups may also be sleeping in the same area as your group.

Can I bring my air mattress?
Guests who are not sleeping in VIP areas may not bring air mattresse
s. Guests are encouraged to bring camping pads or inflatable pool mats for comfort. Guests who purchase VIP tickets are permitted to bring one twin-sized air mattress per one or more people OR one queen-sized air mattress per two or more people. These restrictions allow all guests to have the best overnight experience possible.

Can I request to sleep near friends or family who purchase tickets separately?
Yes, if you email us at overnights@sheddaquarium.org, we will assign your sleeping area near others in your party who have purchased their tickets separately.

Can I bring a tent?
Tents are strictly forbidden during your Overnight Adventure due to fire safety hazards.

Is it very dark after lights out?
We turn off all unnecessary lights at 11 p.m. For animal and human safety, some lights will remain on during the night. Lights in the Oceanarium VIP area turn on at 6 a.m. If you require complete darkness to sleep comfortably, consider bringing an eye mask.

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

Is the aquarium quiet at night?
We recommend bringing ear plugs just in case our animals or other guests make noise during the night.

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 at Shedd Aquarium. Flashlights may be used by staff members for guest and aquarium safety reasons if necessary.

Are electrical outlets available in the sleeping areas?
Electrical outlets are available in some sleeping areas. If you need an outlet throughout the night for medical equipment, please contact us at overnights@sheddaquarium.org.

Is the aquarium quiet at night?
We recommend bringing ear plugs just in case our animals or other guests make noise during the night.

GIFT STORES

Can I buy overnight T-shirts or patches at the event?
Shedd Aquarium gift stores will be open on the Saturday morning of the event and sell overnight themed T-shirts and patches.

Can I pre-order overnight T-shirts or patches for my group?
If you would like to pre-order these items, contact us at overnights@sheddaquarium.org.

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. All bags will be checked by security upon entry to the overnight.

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 and to 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.

ACCESSIBILITY

At Shedd Aquarium, we believe there should be no boundaries to your experience. If you have an accommodation request related to a disability, please contact us at overnights@sheddaquarium.org. We look forward to assisting you.

Please visit Shedd Aquarium’s Accessibility Guide to learn more: https://www.sheddaquarium.org/plan-a-visit/visitor-guide/Accessibility/.

Is this event a nut-free zone?
We cannot guarantee that this event will be a nut-free zone.

What can you do to accommodate a food allergy?
We try our best to accommodate food allergies, but we are not always able to do so. If you have concerns about any allergy during the event, please email us at overnights@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.

Can I use an electrical outlet for medical equipment during the night?
Electrical outlets are available in some sleeping areas. If you need an outlet throughout the night for medical equipment, please contact us at overnights@sheddaquarium.org.

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 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 on Saturday is included in the overnight package.

Where can I park if we stay to explore the aquarium on Saturday?
Your parking payment gives you access to the parking lot until 9 a.m. Saturday morning. After 9 a.m., the lot may charge you for an additional day of parking, give you a ticket, or tow your car.

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. Standard-sized paid lockers are available to guests for use after 8:30 a.m.

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.

HAVE OTHER QUESTIONS?
If you have other questions, please contact us at overnights@sheddaquarium.org.