The aquarium, which is a nonprofit organization, saw record attendance during the month it played host to the World Famous Mermaids of
Nearly 60,500 visitors came through the
The only time the aquarium has exceeded that attendance for April was in 2001, about a year after it opened, when the attraction saw about 71,000 visitors, said
Also, the aquarium last month saw record sales of on-site concessions, aquarium memberships and gift shop merchandise.
"It's certainly a new trend we've been seeing in aquariums recently," Kampwerth said. "They've all had great success so we're really looking at other markets and paying attention to what has worked elsewhere."
The program was held the same week many schools were on spring break, which likely boosted ticket sales.
"Spring break seemed like an ideal time to really reach a targeted audience, clearly (the mermaids) attract families with small children," Mills said. "It allowed us to introduce a wave of new visitors and perhaps people who hadn't been here for a while to the animals within our care and to the conservation messages that we try to convey."
While the aquarium doesn't have any similar events on the schedule right now, Mills said there will be additions to the visitor experience in the next few years. The aquarium has a six-year plan called the
"We retired our debt a few years ago, and since that time we have been engaged in a variety of long-term planning in terms of how to better serve our mission, better utilize our facility and how to better engage the public," Mills said.
Next spring, the aquarium will launch its Shark Shallows experience, an interactive exhibit featuring sharks native to the area. A new tank will be installed on the terrace facing the
Also, the aquarium will move its sea turtle hospital to the first floor in 2016 so that attendees can view the rehabilitation center. Currently, attendees have to pay an extra fee to tour the hospital.
The sea turtle hospital will replace the
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