Have You Seen Her? Finding Dory: Family Fun At Monterey Aquarium
Finding Nemo exploded onto the big screen back in 2003. The movie’s legendary quote, “Fish are friends, not food”, made for a teachable moment. Fans asked, “Who are our friends under the sea?” Aquariums were filled with kids squealing, “Nemo!!” as they came across the orange with white striped clownfish.
Pixar’s long-awaited sequel Finding Dory will be in theaters June 17 once again starring our favorite fishy friends along with new fun characters. This is Dory’s story! Monterey Aquarium was the perfect destination to learn more about the film. Monterey is one of my favorite destinations so I was thrilled to spend time there with other bloggers and the creative team at Pixar.
My back story, I grew up on the Waterfront in Boston within steps from the harbor. One of our monthly family outings was a visit to the Boston Aquarium. A 10-minute-walk brought us to a world of sharks, penguins as well as sea lions. It almost sounds strange to say that I can’t swim but I’ve always found the ocean and it’s inhabitants fascinating. Living on the West Coast, I spend time on whale watches, exploring tide pools and visiting wonderful aquariums such as The Monterey Aquarium. The aquarium is an extension of the pacific ocean sitting above the Monterey Bay. The majority of the animals featured here are native to this area. The exhibits are beautiful and educational. The aquarium fights for the ocean’s rights with their conservation efforts.
One of my favorite sections of the aquarium is the Great Tide Pool. I seize the chance to sit, take in nature and…relax. This is where I had front row seats to watch a mom Sea otter and her baby. Read about the sea otter mama and baby pair that I saw here.
The Monterey Aquarium is a wonderful experience for families. There isn’t a shortage of things to do! As I walked around the aquarium I thought about games families could play while at the museum. What about a game of ‘Where’s Waldo” but swap with “Where’s Dory” or “Nemo”. The entire family can get in on the search. Research what fish you want to find prior to your trip. Then, print out the list and explore the aquarium or bookmark this post as a reference once you’re there.
Have You See Them?
Where’s Dory? Dory is a Blue Tang fish and I’ll give you one hint. She’s in the Splash Zone area! One fun fact is that there are 80 species of Tang. There’s another Tang in the first movie. Her name is Bubbles and she’s a Yellow Tang.
Where’s Nemo- Clownfish or Anemonefish were put on the map by Pixar. After Finding Nemo, we saw these fish everywhere. Where is Nemo and his dad Marlin? Hint, they are on the second floor. Will this clownfish have a joke to share?
Pearl- Remember how cute this tiny octopus was? “Aw, you guys made me ink”. She’s a pink flapjack octopus and she’s back in Finding Dory! In Finding Dory we meet another Octopus “Hank” who helps Dory find her family. The Aquarium has a fabulous Tentacles exhibit. Can the kids spot the octopus? This exhibit has wonderful facts about these creepy yet fascinating creatures. I’ve touched one (more to come on that later).
Peach- Remember that Starfish at the dentist’s office in Finding Nemo? Have the kids look out for starfish in the touch tank. There’s actually a funny scene in Finding Dory regarding touch tanks. Make sure to use a gentle two fingered touch!
Bob and Sheldon- Can you spot the father and sea horses? I’ll give you a hint- the sea horses at the Aquarium live close to Dory. Did you know that sea horses do not have stomachs?
Crush and Squirt- These dudes are the coolest sea turtles around! Head to the Aquarium’s largest exhibit the Open Sea. This is where you’ll spot Green Sea Turtles. Check with staff for Open Sea Feeding Times. Also, both films feature sharks, so while you’re here try to count how many sharks you see.
Another attraction that your kids will love is the Sea Otter exhibit. Keepers feed them a few times a day so make sure to check on the times. They’re really playful and “utterly” adorable! I could watch them for hours. We had a behind-the-scenes talk with sea otter keepers. Abby, Gidget, Ivy, Kit and Rosa were all rescued as pups and were declared non-releasable. Fun fact: Sea otters are the only marine mammal without a layer of blubber! Thankfully they have the densest fur to keep them warm!
The all-new Viva Baja! Exhibit features animals from Baja desserts and waters. I got a sneak-peek during my visit. There are fun interactive stations for kids. Like this painting station. I had fun painting my fish! This exhibit is colorful and another place to spot sea horses. Pacific Seahorses are the only sea horse found along California Coast!
Arrive early for an upfront view of a penguin feeding. It’s 15 minutes of penguin fun. Learn about how the penguins are cared for.
Bring a notebook on your trek. The kids can take notes of facts they learn and then draw their favorites!
The Aquarium has a ton of interactive features include touch-pools! The Splash Zone was created for kids under 9. Lots of crawling and discoveries are here!
Another aspect that I enjoy are the gift shops! There are four of them! I took home a cute bracelet for my daughter. The sterling silver jewelry is beautiful. I’ll have to save up for my next visit.
You must be hungry by now. We usually dine in the Cafe and order brick-oven pizza or burgers. We grab a seat near the windows and we’re often entertained by the wild otters in the bay. Not a shabby way to spend lunch.
Your kids will be engaged from beginning to end! Did you Find Dory?
Disney/Pixar hosted this amazing trip!