Ok, I just got back and I wanted to share my thoughts about my trip to the Downtown Aquarium.
First, we only spend $16 total for the day. We received wrist bands that let us do the Aquarium, the shark train ride, and the merry go round for $5/person. They charge for kids 2 and older. Self-Parking was $6. Valet was $8. We were really lucky in finding Elizabeth parking right by the entrance. We were in and out in less than 2 hours. I drove around the block and didn't see any street parking, so I felt kinda stuck going with their parking. I don't like paying for parking, just like I don't like paying for shipping. They both are unavoidable sometimes. The aquarium was fun, but short. The highlights were the jellyfish, octopus, alligators, and of course the 2 White Tigers! My advice is to go slow through it. You could be done in 15 minutes if you hurried. We were in it for about 45. Definitely wait for when it isn't crowded or let the crowd pass you so you can see things easily. We caught a presentation about the tigers so that kept our attention. The shark train is a fun choo choo train ride that stops under a big shark tank, and that is pretty much it. The merry go round has sea themed creatures to ride. We saw an african cat near the train ride with a keeper.
The ferris wheel was out of order today. :(
We stayed away from everything else. So, all in all it was good day. Know that going in that this isn't seaworld. It could be fun to do every year or 2. I hear the restaurant is expensive so go after you eat. Bayou place is within walking distance with tons of restaurants and clubs. The downtown aquarium is right next to the theater district. It was easy to get on and off the freeway. It wasn't very far from The Woodlands. We took the Hardy toll road back to avoid traffic.
I could see this place being empty during the week. For some unknown reason, they were giving away free milk at the entrance with coupons. The strawberry milk was fat free with 30 grams of sugar/serving.
When we left near 2 I saw a long line to get in. There wasn't one at noon when we arrived.
I would only go if you had a coupon or a discount, I wouldn't go if it was full priced. Overall, we had fun!
ps. The Houston Zoo has an aquarium near the entrance. It is about the same size. It just doesn't feel like you are at a theme park like this place does. The white tigers were much closer and more active than at the zoo, too. If you are new to Houston and had only a day, I would choose the Zoo. If you are going to Bayou place anyways for the theater, then this could be a nice add on. This could be a good birthday party place if you could somehow keep the whole group together.