Monterey Bay Aquarium reopening: Here's what you need to know before you visit

MONTEREY, Calif. -- The Monterey Bay Aquarium is finally reopening its doors more than a year after COVID-19 forced them to shut down to the public.

The reopening of the world-renowned attraction has been hotly anticipated by families and tourists from around the Golden State and the world.

But there are some changes to how things work at the aquarium.

Here's what you need to know before you plan your visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium:

May 15 is when non-members can start visiting


The Aquarium will only be open to members until the middle of May, but then the general public will be able to come visit. But tickets for non-members will go on sale starting May 5.

You're going to need to make a reservation


Even if you are a member, you're going to need to make a reservation to visit the aquarium so that they can regulate the number of visitors to comply with COVID-19 reopening regulations. The tickets will be for specific days and times. Tickets will NOT be available at the main entrance of the aquarium. Members can reserve tickets for visits through July 31. The general public and book tickets for their visits starting May 5, at 9 a.m. (PST). Click here to make a reservation.

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Really, really try to not be late


Because of COVID restrictions, the Aquarium can't guarantee that they can let you in if you are running late. If you know you are going to be late, they suggest you first try to exchange them yourself online for a later slot that day. If you can't do that, then tickets can be exchanged for a visit on another day.

Visiting hours and days will be limited at the beginning


The aquarium will be open fewer days in the beginning as they ramp up the operation. According to their website, the Aquarium will be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays through the end of May. Starting in June, however, they plan to be open every day. The aquarium will be open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. with the last entry time being at 3 p.m. Members will be able to get in early when the aquarium opens to the general public in the middle of May.

Everyone has to wear a specific type of mask


All guests over the age of 3 will have to wear a mask and the Aquarium is specifying that it has to be a specific type of face covering. "We won't admit guests wearing neck gaiters, scarves, bandanas or face shields," according to their website. "As COVID-19 caseloads decline and the rate of spread slows, we will continue to evaluate our policies, always keeping public health and safety as our top priority."

COVID precautions will remain in place


Along with the mask requirement, the aquarium will have a one-way path through the aquarium that guests are asked to follow, guests will be asked to stay 6 feet apart from each other and staff members, additional hand-sanitizing stations have been installed, and officials are asking that sick people stay home and reschedule their visit. Also, Re-entry will not be permitted once you leave the Aquarium.

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When the Natividad Hospital in Monterey County needed help storing the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine, the Monterey Bay Aquarium stepped up to help their community get through the pandemic.


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Log-on to eat out (at the Aquarium)


The Aquarium has set up an online ordering system for food and says their dining area will have extra space so that people can eat while safely distanced from other guests. The online link for ordering is provided on-site at the aquarium

Past tickets will be honored, for limited time


If you bought tickets from before the aquarium was closed, you can exchange them for use now, but only for the first 30 days post-reopening. The specific deadline is June 13, 2021.

"After that date, those tickets will no longer be valid and we will not process an exchange or refund. You can also donate the value of your tickets," according to the Aquarium's website. You'll need to fill out this form to process an exchange or refund.

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For a full list of visitor FAQ's visit the Aquarium's website.
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