If you’ve always wanted to explore the ocean but you’re not too keen on becoming shark bait, Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino has an attraction for you.
Opening in mid-March, the Ocean Explorer Virtual Reality (VR) Theater will provide you with a simulated underwater voyage as part of your Shark Reef admission. You’ll feel like you’re swimming within a few feet of tiger sharks and a humpback whale, and you won’t even get wet.
Adrienne Rowland, director of animal care at Shark Reef Aquarium says the immersive, interactive and educational VR exhibition, created in partnership with Immotion Group, allows guests to “discover and appreciate our oceans and animals in a whole new way.”
Up until now, swimming with sharks has been limited to Scuba-certified guests over the age of 18. This real-life shark diving program as well as separate stingray, shark and sea turtle feeding programs are available for an added fee.
As for the new VR experience, you’ll sit in a 36-seat theater and enjoy two live-action films. Swimming with Humpbacks is a tale of mating and migration for mother humpback whales and their calves. Shark Dive takes you on a journey from your theater seat on the Las Vegas Strip to a mythical underwater strip teeming with the world’s largest apex predators like tiger sharks and hammerheads.
“We think our attraction, with its interactive pre-show and motion-platform theater, builds on what Shark Reef Aquarium already offers and adds another exciting dimension for visitors,” said Rod Findley, commercial director for Immotion Group. “With our immersive VR technology, we’re offering guests that kind of bucket-list experience.”
Shark Reef, the only Nevada institution accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), is home to more than 2,000 underwater creatures including sawfish, stingrays, green sea turtles, piranhas, moon jellies and a golden crocodile. The animals comprise 14 exhibits including two walk-through tunnel exhibits, a 1.3-million-gallon shipwreck and a touch pool.
Shark Reef is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday.