Cost: Free! They can validate parking for the parking garage, too.
Crown Center’s Under the Sea Adventure is a brightly-colored play area with an underwater theme. As you enter the door to the exhibit, you’re greeted by a giant pink octopus. There’s also a sunken pirate ship, a submarine, a whale, an underwater cave and a variety of other structures for kids to run around on. There are tunnels to crawl through, nooks to climb into and different types of doorways to navigate.
Unlike some other exhibits held in this space previously (the fairy-tale village comes to mind as a particularly egregious offender), there’s actually enough space that an adult can follow his or her child fairly easily. There are some tight fits, and there are some areas that I avoided attempting to enter altogether, but all in all, it’s not too difficult to keep an eye on your kiddo. Efrit and I checked out the exhibit on our own on a Saturday, then I came back with Peanut on a Monday evening. My conclusion? Skip the exhibit on the weekends if you’ve got a vision-impaired kid: it’s a MAD HOUSE. It wasn’t quite as busy on Monday, which made it much easier for both Peanut and me to deal with.
Although there are some buttons to push for different sound effects, a variety of surfaces to walk on, and some interesting textures to explore, this is an overwhelmingly visual exhibit. Virtually everything is painted in bright colors with ‘busy’ images: there’s sand, fish, plants, etc. making a lot of visual noise. It might be overwhelming for some kids, especially if you go on a weekend when it’s overflowing with children.
The Under the Sea Adventure exhibit runs through May 1st. In March, you can meet a “mermaid princess” on Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. in the Atrium. The flyer says that “professional photos [will be] available for a fee, or you may take your own.” In April, you can join in on the “Pirate Puzzle Treasure Hunt” by picking up an entry form at the Level 1 Showplace or Level 2 Customer Service. There’s a display with prizes in the exhibit itself; I’m not sure how VI-friendly the treasure hunt itself will be (I believe it’s a scavenger hunt, but don’t quote me on that.)
Monday – Wednesday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
Closed Easter Sunday, April 24.