Sunday, March 01, 2009

A Year with the Fishes

Last year, we got a membership at Adventure Aquarium and brought everyone there for Jada's birthday. Yesterday, that membership expired; so I took Aaron and Jada one last time, since we're likely not going to renew.

Including our first visit and yesterday's, we ended up going about a dozen times, with a variety of permutations: sometimes all four of us, sometimes just me and the kids, sometimes with guests. It's a fun way to spend a morning, but if we don't go for another year or two, I think the kids'll be fine.

Another factor is that it's actually kind of expensive to go, even though you get in free. For one, parking is $10, and you only get four $4-off vouchers. So a dozen visits has meant we've paid over $100 on parking alone. Plus we cross into Jersey, so when we cross back, that's $3 on the Ben Franklin Bridge.

Add in wear and tear on the car and you're looking at maybe $180 spent over the past year, plus the $180 membership fee. Still not a bad deal, since we ended up not having to pay for about $800 or so of admission fees.

But compare this with our other membership, at the Philadelphia Zoo. For about $110, you get free membership AND free parking AND it's only a few miles away from our house. So instead of $800 in tickets for $360, every year at the Zoo is something like $700 in tickets for $120. (We even took advantage of the reciprocal relationship they have with zoos around the country and got everyone in for free at a zoo in California while we were on vacation.)

It helps that the zoo is a shorter car ride, and that the zoo's special events are more frequent and more interesting. Still, I think we'll miss Adventure Aquarium a little: a nice view of Center City across the river, gasping every time a big turtle swims by, and hustling past the scary shark exhibits.

I had made note on my calendar that we should soon sign up for membership at Please Touch, since it's nice to have two memberships so you can toggle between the two and not get caught in a rut. But the new location's fantastic digs are strangely a deterrent for us, at least so far, since the place is fabulously crowded on the weekends. Maybe when the hubbub dies down a bit, we'll consider it. For now, we'll have the zoo, and our memories of the aquarium.
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