Review: Newport Aquarium and the Penguin Encounter

Review of The Newport Aquarium and the Penguin Encounter. 

I was granted free admission for the purpose of this review. 

Over the last few years my family and I have visited the Newport Aquarium in Newport, KY several times and we love it every time! This time was a bit different than the usual aquarium experience for my kiddos. They didn’t know it upon arrival, but we had the opportunity to be involved with the penguin encounter

If you haven’t been to the Newport Aquarium, I highly recommend it. At 10:15 in the lobby of the aquarium there is a penguin parade, a child from the audience gets to be the grand marshall, today they chose a little girl who was there celebrating a birthday. 

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An employee starting the parade

After the parade, we headed downstairs into the actual aquarium part. Today the crowd at the aquarium was just right for my family. It was easy to navigate and all of the exhibits were easily seen by my little guys.  

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My kids got their faces painted. A very special treat! 

The newest exhibit is called Turtle Canyon, which is an exhibit that featured several different kinds of turtles and even had a place for kids to touch the different turtles that were on display for that day. My youngest is a huge turtle fan so we had trouble getting out of that exhibit!

We finished up our aquarium tour with about 45 minutes before it was time to arrive for the penguin encounter, so we went out and across the Newport Levee area to Tom + Chee.

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After an early lunch it was time for our Penguin Encounter, I might have been more excited than my kids! The group we were in had a total of 15 people. We met in the lobby right outside of the gift shop, and we were greeted by our tour guides right at 12:30 (the start of our tour). They tell you to arrive 10 – 15 minutes before the tour because they don’t grant late admission or reschedule the tour if you missed the group.

Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable, sharing nonstop penguin facts from the time he took us in to the penguin house until the very end. I wish that we had been given a fact sheet with all of the information we were given!

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Here is how the actual penguin encounter worked, we had 20 minutes to visit with the penguins and we were taken to a room that housed the penguins we were visiting. It wasn’t cold in that room, the penguins we got to hang out with are African penguins and don’t require the frigid climates.

While you are in the room they ask you to remain seated on the benches that line the perimeter of the room. A staff member brought several different penguins around to let us pet them, and at one point they rolled a plastic ‘rock’ for the penguin to stand on for a photo opportunity (taken by the staff) and available for purchase. Very quickly our time was over, and we were guided out to where we met as a group before the tour started.

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It was a very neat experience, but if it was up to me I would only do that tour if 1) I had a HUGE penguin lover in my life or 2) I had a big discount like the one that is going on currently. However, we were told that a large percentage of the cost goes to the Wave Foundation.

Additionally I would say that this is the type of extra where I would recommend the youngest child in your group be 5 years old. My 3 year old sat the entire time and was very good, but I have to tell you that I was shocked that he tolerated sitting there with minimal hands                                                       on activities happening.

We had a great time and we love going to the Newport Aquarium! If you decide to go tell them Kentucky Family Fun sent ya!