National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey (New York City)

A brand new interactive exhibit has hit Times Square in New York City and it takes you into the deep end! Brace yourself for National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey, an immersive underwater experience unlike any other. Let’s take a dive in and see what it’s all about – and be sure to stay until the end to check out my video walkthrough AND how to get a FREE ticket between June 8-10, 2018!

At first glance, Encounter may seem like a “digital aquarium” but it’s so much more than that! Using state-of-the-art technology, National Geographic brings you up close with some of nature’s most amazing moments. These moments, like a shark hunting its prey, cannot be witnessed in a live aquarium and in here it’ll feel like you’re experiencing it in person!

But before you even enter, the exhibit’s already begun! Mist and projections greet you as you make your way down to ticketing. See all sorts of aquatic wildlife swim over the down-escalator but watch out for that incoming shark!!!

The ambiance of the whole exhibit was absolutely breathtaking. The lights, the sounds, and the blue hue all add to the idea that you’re jumping into the deep blue sea.

You might recognize the location as the old Discovery Times Square location, which usually rotated 3 exhibits at a time… so you can imagine how massive this exhibit is!

But what I really appreciated was the guide that accompanied the timed groups as they worked through the different sections. Other exhibits will have signage with blurbs and facts, or offer audio guides for an added fee, but National Geographic sends you along with your own oceanic expert!

After the introductory video, our guide led us into the first room which was already amazing but as he motioned us to start paddling our arms to “swim”, the projection started to expand to the floor as the ocean began to move. It totally caught me off guard and felt more real than augmented reality glasses!

Fish, sea rays, and the sort swam beneath our feet and it even seemed like the projections were reacting to our footsteps!

This view was quite large and comparable to tanks you’d see at some renowned aquariums!

I absolutely loved the next room which was filled with florescent coral reef:

Our guide quizzed us on coral while we interacted with the tank screen and I was quite surprised how much I learned during this visit! He was very informative and was encouraging to wrong answers, which is an excellent trait for young ones who just want to participate.

Without spoiling too much, I will say that some of the sights & sounds you’re guaranteed are a squid fight, a life-size humpback whale, the swarm intelligence of fish, and an interactive sea lion??

Yes! Once you swim through an intense kelp forest (a mirror maze decorated with kelp), prepare to come face-to-face with these interactive stations! Try and see see what motions will cause a reaction from these majestic creatures. This, of course, was again accompanied by a really cool explanation by our guide.

All throughout the exhibit non-flash photos and videos are encouraged and I highly recommend it as well! Everything was executed beautifully and it will surely be a memory you can cherish with your friends and family.

The final section of our guided tour was a 3D show on an enormous screen so that you can encounter a life-size humpback whale. I was half expecting water to spray at us! But it was such a captivating movie and possibly one of my favorite parts of the exhibit.

As our guide bid us adieu, the rest of the exhibit was up to us. Self-paced and chock-full of even more information, walk your way through even more facts and watch videos of National Geographic experts share additional insight!

If you still haven’t taken any photos, here’s your chance: a green screen photo op with props and your choice of background! You can pick up these photos by the Exploration Hall, which is the last room before the Gift Shop. Here you can participate in multiple gaming challenges, learning about how to keep the ocean clean, what helps its creatures, and ultimately how big of an impact you are! Take a look at some of the beautiful art on display (the “Make Your Own Bottle” installation), and puzzle pieces you can take part in by writing or drawing about the oceans:

And, of course, no trip to a museum or exhibit would be complete without taking home your very own souvenir!

I had a lot of fun going through this Gift Shop because there were many items exclusive to Encounter: Ocean Odyssey… from stuffed animals, to apparel, to even bamboo straws to help conserve the environment!

I’ve always been fascinated by the ocean and life underwater and I have to say that this was the perfect way to learn more about it! I would say that Encounter: Ocean Odyssey is perfect for all ages interested in life under the sea. You won’t find a more immersive experience anywhere and for a limited time, you can get a free ticket!

From June 8th through June 10th, buy 1 ticket and get 1 FREE with code SEASAVE online or at the box office!

Click here for more information on National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey and their upcoming events.

National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey is located at 226 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036 and is open Sunday-Thursday 10:00am-9:00pm and Friday-Saturday 10:00am-10:00pm with last tickets sold one hour prior to closing.

(30% of the proceeds from Encounter supports the National Geographic Society’s non-profit work in conservation, exploration, research, and education.)

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