The Aquarium is committed to welcoming all guests to experience and enjoy our aquatic world. To ensure that you have a wonderful experience, a variety of services are available for individuals with disabilities.
Access to Services
Express Entry and Early Entry
Visitors with special needs and their parties may purchase tickets at the Members/Accessible entrance and gain immediate entry to the Aquarium, thereby avoiding long lines and the chance of a wait if tickets are purchased at the main ticket center.
The First Saturdays & Sundays program allows all visitors with disabilities and their guests to enter 30 minutes before the Aquarium opens on the first Saturday and the first Sunday of each month, for a leisurely, crowd-free visit. Enter through the Members/Accessible entrance.
Visitors may be dropped off at our circular bus drop-off spot in front of the Aquarium. The nearest parking garage, Lockwood Place Garage, has designated accessible parking spaces available. This garage is located directly across Pratt Street, approximately 300 yards from the Member/Accessible Entrance. Get information about this garage and discounted parking here.
Also, visitors with disability license plates or placards displayed are entitled to park at a meter for free for double the allotted time printed on the face of the meter (not to exceed four hours).
Bus and oversized vehicle parking is available at Camden Yards. Please contact the Maryland Stadium Authority at 410-347-9330 for prices, directions, and other information.
Service animals are allowed in all public areas of the Aquarium.
All restrooms have wheelchair-accessible stalls. A family restroom is located on the ground floor of Pier 3 near the stroller check.
A private space is available for any visitors who need a quiet moment away from the crowds. The Guest Relations Room is located on Level 1 of the Pier 3 Pavilion, behind the bubble tubes. This room contains a TV and a microwave, as well as coloring supplies for children. The room is always unlocked and available for guests who need a quiet or private space; there is a sign to hang on the door when the room is in use.
A first aid room and trained first responders are available to provide assistance. Refrigeration for medication is available. Aquarium security and staff are trained to assist you in the event of a fire evacuation or other emergency.
Specially trained guides, translators and interpreters can be provided to accompany your group with two weeks' advance notice. For more information, contact the special customer liaison prior to your visit.
Visitors with Limited Mobility
Wheelchair/Stroller Use in the Building
The Aquarium is fully accessible to visitors using wheelchairs, including all entrances, exhibits, theaters, restrooms, and elevators.
Strollers for children and parents with disabilities are the only strollers allowed in the building. Pick up a wheelchair tag at the stroller check, located on the ground level, to display on your stroller while touring.
A companion Accessibility Guide and Map is available for those who follow the specially designed wheelchair/stroller route. This can be obtained from the ticket taker and at the stroller check, as well as at all information desks. Download Accessibility Guide (.pdf)
Due to safety concerns, only seated assistance devices—manual and electric—are approved for use inside the Aquarium.
Guests may obtain wheelchairs free of charge with the deposit of a driver's license at the stroller check, located on the ground level and across the hall after entering through the Members/Accessible entrance. These manual wheelchairs are available in limited numbers on a first-come, first-served basis for use inside the Aquarium.
Elevators displaying the wheelchair accessibility symbol have been designated for use by visitors who use wheelchairs while touring.
Reserved Accessible Seating
Reserved accessible seating is available in both the dolphin amphitheater and the 4D Immersion Theater. Staff at the theaters will be on hand to direct you to these seating locations.
Reserved seating areas in the dolphin amphitheater provide you and your guests with a magnificent view of these marine mammals. At the 4D Immersion Theater, you will receive express entry into the theater to access the reserved seating. These seating areas are filled on a first-come, first-served basis, so plan to arrive early to your scheduled shows, and speak to the staff for assistance.
Services for Visitors Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
Deaf Awareness Days
The Aquarium celebrates two Deaf Awareness Day events every year. During these events, sign language interpreters are onsite to narrate public presentations, dolphin shows, exhibit dives, and animal encounters. Representatives from deaf advocacy groups will be available to meet with visitors and discuss their activities in the community. Discount coupons are available for this event; please contact the special customer liaison for more information.
Upcoming Deaf Awareness Days:
Saturday, September 29, 2012, 9 a.m.–3:30 p.m.
Closed Captioning & Assistive Listening Devices
The 4-D Immersion Theater is equipped with assistive listening systems and private seat-mounted closed captioning. CC units and ALS headsets or induction loops are available from theater attendants before entering the theater.
If you have T-switch capabilities, an assistive listening system is available in specially marked seating in Dolphin Discovery. Hearing aids not equipped with a T-switch may obtain a receiver from staff inside the exhibit.
Printed scripts for all public presentations, including the dolphin show, animal feedings, and animal encounters, can be obtained at the information desk in the Pier 3, Level 1 lobby. A script for the 4D film can be picked up from the theater attendant at the 4D Immersion Theater entrance.
Sign Language Interpreters
An interpreter who is accompanying a visitor who is deaf or hard of hearing in order to interpret for that deaf visitor is admitted free. During Deaf Awareness Days, sign language interpreters take part in public presentations. With two weeks' advance notice, interpreters are available upon request. For more information, contact the special customer liaison.
A public TTY phone is located off of the lobby of Pier 3. All public phones are equipped with amplification mechanisms.
TTY Phone Line
Visitors can contact the Aquarium on the TTY line at 410-727-3022.
Services for Visitors Who Are Blind or Partially Sighted
Audio Wireless Tour
An audio wireless tour highlighting exhibits and providing directional information allows blind visitors vastly improved access to the Aquarium’s exhibits. The unobtrusive audio device consists of a receiver, no larger than a cell phone, and an earpiece. Once wearing the device, a guest can travel, in any order, among 22 audio stations positioned throughout the Pier 3 and Pier 4 pavilions. This device can be picked up from the stroller check with deposit of photo identification.
A Braille tour of the main Aquarium is available at the information desk in the Pier 3, Level 1 lobby.
Touch Bag and Hands-on Experiences
A touch bag of tactile items representing animals in the exhibits is available to borrow from the stroller check. Additionally, there are many hands-on experiences throughout the Aquarium. Many of the presentations and education carts in the galleries have interactive elements that encourage touching animals and objects; check the digital message boards throughout the Aquarium for that day’s presentation times. Staff members are also present throughout the galleries to give detailed descriptions of the exhibits.
Guests on the Autism Spectrum
Guest Relations Room
The Guest Relations Room next to the information desk on Level 1 of Blue Wonders is a calm, quiet space available for any guest that needs a private moment away from the crowds.
Hand stamps are available at exit doors if you need to leave the building for a break and re-enter later in the day.
Sensory elements in galleries
Temperature, lighting and noise levels fluctuate from gallery to gallery. Some spaces are quieter than others, and some can be overly stimulating. When deciding which exhibits to visit, please consider:
- At the main entrance you will encounter a grand 35- foot waterfall, with mist and sound of cascading water. Staff can escort you to alternate entrances with a quieter, calmer pathway into the lobby.
- The Australia: Wild Extremes and Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibits have natural light (with light dimming as the sun goes down) and occasional loud sounds from the free-flight animals or, in Australia, the rumble of distant thunder that mimics the flood season. The Rain Forest has temperature fluctuations, high humidity, misting, and consequent dampness of a tropical environment.
- The interactive Living Seashore exhibit contains two touchpools with live animals. Staff have model representations of animals for those who need more sensory stimulation than gentle touch allows.
- The Jellies Invasion exhibit has dim lighting and a futuristic soundtrack.
- The 4-D Immersion Theater shows 3-D films with special sensory effects that are built into the seats and theater environment, such as strobe lighting, seat movement, and dramatic sound
Groups of special needs visitors may be eligible for a reduced admission rate; find out by contacting Central Reservations at 410-576-3833, and begin the booking process at least three weeks in advance. Please inform the reservationist of any special needs of your group or special requests at the time you schedule the tour. Learn more about group pricing.
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