Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ripley’s Aquarium plans to expand in Myrtle Beach, add penguin exhibit

July 14, 2014
A new penguin exhibit and larger lobby are part of a planned addition at Ripley’s Aquarium at Broadway at the Beach — the first major expansion of the attraction since it opened 17 years ago.
The attraction plans to grow by about 6,000 square feet by extending the building toward the Broadway parking lot, which will add enough space for the penguins, as well as an upgraded ticket area and plaza that will shelter visitors from rain or the harsh sun — there’s no shelter in that area now — more bathrooms and a new gift shop. The new exhibit and expansion, in the works for a few years, is expected to open by next summer. “We hope that the timing is right now,” said Craig Atkins, Ripley’s general manager. “We are always wanting to make the aquarium more compelling.”

Construction on the expansion is expected to start in September and wrap up in June, just in time for the busy summer tourism season next year. The aquarium plans to stay open throughout the construction, Atkins said. When the work is done, visitors will notice a difference in entering the attraction, with a new ticket area and expanded lobby-plaza.

Officials picked penguins as the new star attraction to add a different element to the aquarium’s offerings — “Everything we have now is pretty much a fish,” Atkins said — and because guests have asked for them, officials said. Penguins also are a popular attraction at the Ripley’s aquarium in Gatlinburg, Tenn.


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