AAA Editor Notes
Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay is at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino (3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S.). Fearsome creatures of the deep—and no, we don't mean the bleary-eyed souls hunched over the craps table—reign at this aquarium, which has three major exhibit areas: Jungle, Temple and Shipwreck. Jungle highlights include a tank of piranhas (usually encircled by camera-toting tourists waiting for an elusive baring of razor-sharp teeth), a Komodo dragon residing in a glass-walled pen and an eating machine otherwise known as the golden crocodile.
The Temple has an Indiana Jones adventure theme—walkways lined with exotic foliage and faux stone walls. It's entered via the walk-through Reef Tunnel, with see-through Plexiglas offering views of tropical fish and some small sharks and rays. Here you'll find a touch pool inhabited by the usual suspects (anemones, urchins, crabs, starfish), a very cool moon jellyfish tank, a giant Pacific octopus and beautifully bizarre-looking lionfish.
The Shipwreck exhibit looks like the cargo hold of a sunken pirate ship, with glass walls looking into a 1.3-million gallon tank filled with all kinds of sharks, big schools of ocean-dwelling fish, endangered green sea turtles and barracuda giving you the evil eye. This is a top-of-the-line facility and a great place to take the kids for a couple of hours when it's too hot to sightsee. Animal encounter programs are offered for an additional fee.
Note: The aquarium entrance is inside the hotel, near the convention halls and swimming pool area.