We first visited Ripley's Aquarium in March 2004 when our kids were 10, 5, and 1. They had a wonderful time and were in awe of all of the exhibits and sea creatures. At the time, the Titanic exhibit was there, which was a great thing for me, as I am a bit of a Titanic buff! It was fun and educational.
We visited again last week - our kids are now in the upper end of 12, 7, and 3. Our 3 year old didn't remember any of our previous visit so it was fun to see him experience it with fresh eyes. The older two remembered the last visit fondly and were still excited and had great fun! This is not a "one time" place to visit.
The Titanic exhibit has been replaced with a Mars exhibit. Pretty cool! The boys had a wonderful time playing with the remote control land rovers.
The shark and stingray tank is always a huge hit - the kids loved leaning over the edge trying to pet them and laughed so hard when they splashed. The rotating walkway surrounding their giant tank filled with creatures of all sorts was "totally awesome" according to my three year old, who insisted on going around three times (and would have gone again, except the aquarium was closing!)
I love that there are plenty of Purell hand sanitizer dispensers near any exhibit where guests' hands will be in contact with the animals (near the horseshoe crabs and the stingray/shark tank). The restrooms are spacious, bright, and clean.
You will likely have your picture taken when you enter the Aquarium and will have the opportunity to purchase it before you leave. We purchased them on our first visit (at the time it was $12.95 for 2 5x7s) but this time, the photographer was terrible. My youngest child and I were not even FACING the camera and my daughter's eyes were closed. She even checked the picture on her digital camera's LCD before handing us a pick-up slip, so I don't understand why she didn't take another! No worries - the prices were higher now anyway ($12.95 for ONE 5x7) and we politely asked another guest to take our picture for us instead :) Ripley's will put a neat border around your picture if you buy from them, though.
There is a Dippin' Dots cart beside the photo counter and restrooms. You can buy pouches of the tasty treat for $3.50 including tax. Yum!
You have to go through the gift shop to exit (so clever!) The shop is large and has something for everyone. The prices range from very reasonable to outrageous, but I was pleased to find such a wide range of items and price ranges. We were able to indulge each of our children with an item or two so we all left happy. Oh! Don't forget to check the various coupon books around Myrtle Beach for a 10% coupon to use in the gift shop.