The Aquarium is committed to welcoming all guests to experience the wonders of the world's aquatic treasures, and a variety of services are available for guests with special needs.
Please download the Aquarium's accessibility guide before you arrive, or pick up a copy in the building at the information desk on Level 1 of Blue Wonders.
Access and Amenities for Guests With Special Needs
The Aquarium provides express entry to guests with special needs, as well as early entry on the first Saturday and Sunday of each month. Several amenities throughout the building—including elevators designated for wheelchair use and a Guest Relations Room for guests who need a quiet moment—are available as well.
Express Entry and Early Entry
Guests with special needs and their parties may purchase tickets at the Member Entrance and gain immediate entry to the Aquarium.
The First Saturdays and Sundays program allows all guests 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. Please visit the Will Call window for entry.
Guests may be dropped off at Gunther Circle, which is directly in front of the Aquarium. The nearest parking garage, Parkway Lockwood Place Garage, has designated accessible parking spaces available. This garage is located directly across Pratt Street, approximately 300 yards from the Member Entrance.
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 Blue Wonders near the stroller check.
A private space is available for any guests who need a quiet moment away from the crowds. The Guest Relations Room is located on Level 1 of Blue Wonders, behind the bubble tubes, and contains a TV and coloring supplies for children.
A first aid room and trained first responders are available at all times. Refrigeration for medication is available. Aquarium security and staff are trained to assist you in the event of a fire evacuation or other emergency.
Hand stamps are available at exit doors if you need to leave the building for a break and re-enter later in the day.
Guests with Limited Mobility
The Aquarium building is fully wheelchair accessible, and strollers are available for children and parents with disabilities. Wheelchairs are also available for rent, and several elevators have been designated for guests using wheelchairs. Reserved accessible seating is available in Dolphin Discovery and the 4D Immersion Theater.
Wheelchair/Stroller Use in the Building
The Aquarium is fully accessible to guests using wheelchairs; this includes all entrances, exhibits, theaters, restrooms and elevators. Due to safety concerns, Segways, scooters and other motorized, non-seated mobility devices are not allowed inside the Aquarium.
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 of Blue Wonders, to display on your stroller while touring.
The Aquarium's accessibility guide includes a specially designed wheelchair/stroller route and other helpful information for guests with special needs. A printed version of the guide can be obtained at stroller check and information desks, or you can download the digital version.
Guests may obtain wheelchairs free of charge with the deposit of a driver's license at stroller check, located on the ground level of Blue Wonders. 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 guests who use wheelchairs while touring.
Reserved Accessible Seating
Reserved accessible seating is available in Dolphin Discovery amphitheater and the 4D Immersion Theater. Staff at the theaters will be available to direct you to these seating locations. Please note that these seating areas are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
Services for Guests Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
There are several resources available at the Aquarium for guests who are deaf or hard of hearing, including assistive listening systems in our 4D Immersion Theater, presentation scripts and sign language interpreters that are available upon request and with advance notice.
Closed Captioning & Assistive Listening Devices
The 4D 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.
Printed scripts for all public presentations, animal feedings and animal encounters can be obtained at the information desk on Level 1 of Blue Wonders. Scripts for 4D films are available at the theater entrance.
Sign Language Interpreters
An interpreter who is accompanying a guest who is deaf or hard of hearing in order to interpret for that guest is admitted free of charge. Interpreters are available upon request with two weeks of advance notice. During Deaf Awareness Days, sign language interpreters take part in public presentations.
Services for Guests Who Are Blind or Low Vision
The Aquarium offers several services for guests who are blind or low vision, including an audio wireless tour, a Braille tour, a touch bag of tactile items representing Aquarium animals and guides that are available upon request with advance notice.
Audio Wireless Tour
An audio wireless tour highlighting exhibits and providing directional information is available to guests who are blind or low vision. Using an audio device, a guest can travel, in any order, among 22 audio stations positioned throughout the Aquarium. This device is available at stroller check with deposit of photo identification.
A Braille tour of the Aquarium is available at the information desk on Level 1 of Blue Wonders.
Touch Bag and Hands-on Experiences
A touch bag of tactile items representing animals in the exhibits is available to borrow from 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. Staff members are also present throughout the galleries to provide detailed descriptions of the exhibits.
Guests With Sensory Needs
As a certified Sensory Inclusive organization through KultureCity, the National Aquarium is proud to be part of a program that includes a combination of staff training, sensory bags and special signage, all designed to create the best experience possible for guests with sensory needs. We also offer a social story that provides a virtual guide of a typical day at the Aquarium and points out where guests with sensory needs can find resources when visiting.
Guest Relations Room
The Guest Relations Room, located on Level 1 of Blue Wonders behind the bubble tubes, is a private space available for guests who need a quiet moment away from the crowds.
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 the following:
- At the Main Entrance, you will encounter a 35-foot waterfall, with mist and the 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-flying animals. In Australia: Wild Extremes, there's also a sound that mimics the rumble of thunder. Upland Tropical Rain Forest has temperature fluctuations, high humidity, misting and the 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.
- Jellies Invasion has dim lighting and a futuristic soundtrack.
- The 4D Immersion Theater shows 3D films with special sensory effects that are built into the seats and theater environment, such as strobe lighting, seat movement and dramatic sound.
- We offer immersive virtual reality experiences at the Undersea Explorer VR area on Pier 4. These are short immersive programs that include visual, audio and haptic (subtle movement) components that some may find overstimulating.
The National Aquarium has been designated a certified Sensory Inclusive organization through KultureCity. This program is designed to provide the best guest experience for those with sensory needs, and includes a combination of staff training, sensory bags and special signage.
Groups that include guests with special needs will qualify for group pricing for any group of 10 or more guests. Any individuals requiring one-on-one assistance will receive free admission for their aide or nurse. Contact Central Reservations at 410-576-3833 to book your group.