Mandalay Bay Shark Reef Aquarium: Meet The Exotic Animals Of Las Vegas

Discover a whole new world at Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay, where the only thing standing between you and an ocean filled with vicious predators is a wall of glass (or plexiglass in this case). Interacting with these creatures will give you an adrenaline rush similar to ziplining on the Strip with far less wind.

There are an entire world of animal available to see, meet and pet. The experience is better than wading into Lake Las Vegas and trying to find some animals on your own as these creatures are both rare and safe for guests.

The aquarium houses more than 2,000 animals including sharks in 14 exhibits devoted to dangerous aquatic predators. The 90,560-square-foot aquarium holds nearly 1.6-million gallons of fresh and seawater. If you haven’t visited the Aquarium yet, imagine an “Indiana Jones” adventure teeming with sharks. 

Jungle – Reptiles and Land Animals

A turtle swimming in the water
Time to shell out for some aquarium tickets, on the strip

Begin your journey in a jungle where you will encounter an Australian freshwater crocodile, also called a Johnstone’s crocodile. This terrestrial animal has 68 to 72 sharp teeth. Fortunately, the relatively small crocodiles are not known as man-eaters. The rare Komodo Dragon you’re about to meet, on the other hand, is the deadliest of all lizards. Speaking of killers, don’t miss the tank of piranhas or the Burmese python hanging out near the entrance to the ancient sunken temple.

Ancient Temple Slowly Sinking

Walk inside the stone temple and come face-to-face with the most highly feared fish in the ocean. Sharks propel right past the window for an up close and personal view, while schools of fish fill the tank with color. On the way to the underground tunnel, visitors take a short walk through a jungle draped with lush foliage.

Underwater Tunnel

Visitors step through an acrylic underwater tunnel with a nearly 360-degree view of sharks and exotic and endangered sea creatures. Don’t be surprised to see a scuba diver in the water cleaning the windows or maintaining aquarium tanks. Just before Christmas, Shark Reef Aquariums’ “Diving Santa” has been spotted underwater in the tunnel and in Neptune’s Cave. A diver with a pumpkin on his head has been known to make an appearance underwater in the tunnel on Halloween. Similar to SeaQuest, the experience is unique and one that most guests remember long past their departure.

A group in an aquarium tunnel
Deeper than deep. get under the water in Las Vegas

Immortal Jellyfish

At the end of the tunnel is a group of tanks containing a giant pacific octopus, lionfish, giant stingrays, starfish and the weirdest animal in the aquarium – the jellyfish. With an almost transparent jelly-like body and tentacles, jellyfish have no brains, blood, bones, lungs or heart and are made up of 98% water. Even stranger, scientists believe one species of jellyfish can live forever.

Known as the immortal jellyfish, when a Turritopsis dohrnii is threatened, starving, sick or old, he undergoes cellular transdifferentiation. It’s a process a little like the way Doctor Who regenerates every time she dies, only these jellyfish create younger versions of themselves. Could these alien-like creatures of the deep who, despite their name, aren’t even fish, be the key to the fountain of youth? Only time will tell. If so, great. If not, you can find spurts of youth at any of the spas on the Strip, if you want to give yourself a touch-up.

Stingray Touch Tank

At the halfway point, an interactive exhibit that mesmerizes children is equally irresistible to many moms and dads. Around a dozen baby stingrays are floating in a shallow pool for visitors to lay a finger on. The stingrays are said to be soft and silky, and their barbs have been trimmed so visitors won’t get stung. Participants are advised to be gentle and to only touch a stingray with one finger. They’re also told never to touch a stingray’s eyes or tail.

An aquarium tank full of stingrays
Time to get some rays, on the strip

Neptune’s Fury Shipwreck

The highlight of the tour, Neptune’s Fury, is a sunken shipwreck at the bottom of the ocean much like the infamous Titanic among Las Vegas’s hidden treasures. The exhibit finds you on the deck of a sunken ship in shark-infested waters. Marine life including blacktip and whitetip reef sharks, sand tiger sharks, green sawfish and tropical fish swim around you in every direction. Huge windows are carved into the decaying ship’s worn out wood walls, floor and ceiling. For a total sensory experience, sights, sounds and mist combine to bring the perilous scene to life. 

Undersea Explorer VR Experience

The newest addition to the aquarium, an immersive virtual reality theater opened in 2020. Guests can experience diving among tiger sharks and hammerheads and swimming with a humpback whale. Take an underwater voyage to the depths of the sea at the 360-degree theater with dynamic motion seating. Undersea Explorer is included in the admission to Shark Reef Aquarium. Participants must be at least five years old to engage in the Undersea Explorer virtual reality experience.

Colorful coral and fish in an aquarium
High noon at the OK Coral. on the strip

Shark Reef Stingray Feed

Arrive at the aquarium before opening for a private tour followed by breakfast for the stingrays. Participants hand-feed shrimp, krill and fish to baby stingrays, ancient horseshoe crabs and other touch pool residents.

The stingray feed takes place daily at 9:15 a.m., excluding Wednesdays. Tickets are $65 and participants must be at least five years old.

Shark Reef Sea Turtle Feed

There’s something about green sea turtles that many of us feel drawn to. A new interactive exhibit gives visitors the rare opportunity to feed the 300-pound gentle giants.

The sea turtle feed is at 1:45 p.m. Monday – Saturday. Tickets are $99 and include admission to Shark Reef Aquarium. Participants must be at least 13 years old. 

Shark Reef Shark Feed

The second scariest thing in Vegas might be the ghosts, but the first is probably the sharks. They have terrified us since 1975, when the blockbuster “Jaws” about a killer shark scared us onto dry land. At Shark Reef Aquarium, brave visitors get up close and personal with these natural predators during the Shark Reef Shark Feed. Learn what they eat, how their food is prepared and how they’re fed. Then, it’s your turn to feed a shark. The sharks quickly devour the large chunks of mackerel presented to them at the end of a long feeding tong. After feeding the sharks at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas bloggers Esther & Jacob reported, “We waited at the signal station for the sharks and handed them mackerel as they came up. You could feel them suck it out of the tongs.” The aquarium uses zebra sharks for the feeding program because they are predictable and easy to feed.

Dive With Sharks

A shark in an aquarium tank
See the sharks on the strip

Most visitors are satisfied looking at sharks through a glass barrier, but for the adventure of a lifetime, certified scuba divers can swim side-by-side with more than 30 predators of the deep and a variety of other creatures. Unlike in the ocean where there’s no guarantee a dive will be a success, divers at the aquarium at Mandalay Bay are in the water with dozens of captive sharks and marine animals. They don’t enter the water in a cage, but as a precaution, the divers are covered head to toe in suits made of shark-proof material. As part of the package, the dive is captured on video as a keepsake for participants to take home.

To participate in the shark feed, you need to be a guest of Mandalay Bay or Delano or a Shark Reef Aquarium Annual Pass holder. The program is limited to two participants and one dive per day. You can book the dive for $650 for a single diver or $1,000 for two.

Seascape Ballroom

Imagine holding your next event in an underwater ballroom. The Seascape Ballroom has four giant, floor-to-ceiling windows with awe-inspiring views of thousands or varieties of sea life, including hammerhead sharks, giant pacific octopus and endangered green sea turtles. Guests at ballroom events are given full access to Shark Reef Aquarium.

A boy looking into an aquarium tank
An underwater dream on the strip

Underwater Proposal

Want to pop the question in a manner she’ll never forget? During your private tour of Shark Reef Aquarium, a diver will surprise the love of your life with an underwater marriage proposal. A photographer will be present to preserve your memories of this life-changing moment. This unique experience costs $150.   

Looking for a different romantic backdrop? We have them here with our guide to romantic spots on the Strip. To continue your Vegas nuptial plans, there are many wedding chapels around the Las Vegas strip to choose.

A couple under water
Tying the knotts, on the strip

Newest Resident at Shark Reef Aquarium

On Sept. 11, 2018, four female Johnston’s crocodiles, commonly referred to as “freshies,” made their debut at Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. The freshwater siblings are native to Australia and are on loan from the San Diego Zoo.

Food and Dining

Border Grill at the aquarium features refreshing margaritas and tasty Mexican food with an all-you-can-eat sit down brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m for $43.99. With views of the beach and pool, Border Grill has an extremely large menu with plenty of vegetarian options. Across from Border Grill, Bbq Mexicana serves fast, casual food on the go. Customer favorites include the 13 hour slow smoked brisket burnt end burrito, Mexican cobb salad with housemade chipotle blue cheese dressing and the breakfast burrito with housemade chorizo.

Looking for a quick pick-me-up? Coffee shops are in abundance in Las Veags and Starbucks is right outside the aquarium, serving hot and cold caffeinated drinks, pastries and more. Parallel to Starbucks, a food court with plenty of cheap eats offers affordable dining options. It’s hard to resist the aroma of hand-tossed pizza, spaghetti and meatballs and chicken parmesan at Bonanno’s New York Pizzeria. It ranks among some of the best Italian food you’ll find in Vegas. If you’re hungry for places that serve all-American burgers and fries, Johnny Rockets will satisfy your cravings. For more options, grab a chili dog at Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs, a Subway sandwich or orange chicken at Pan Asian Express. 

There’s no shortage of upscale dining choices at Mandalay Bay. Italian bistro Lupo by Wolfgang Puck was the celebrity chef’s first Italian restaurant. It has solidified Puck’s place as one of the top celebrity chefs in all of Las Vegas. Specializing in tableside service, culinary creations come to life before your eyes. STRIPSTEAK, a Michael Mina restaurant, offers corn-fed meat, line-caught seafood and fresh, seasonal produce. It’s a modern take on a traditional steakhouse. Libertine Social is a hip gastropub and Aureole is known for its four-story wine tower stocked with thousands of bottles.

If you are looking for the best restaurants you will find them all in our easy-to-follow restaurant guide.

A server pouring sauce on tacos
Get saucy on the strip!

Hotels With Access to Shark Reef Aquarium

Booking a room on the Mandaly Bay property is the most convenient option if you’re planning to visit Shark Reef Aquarium. With large, attractive rooms and plush suites, you can’t go wrong staying at Mandalay Bay. If you prefer something more subdued, Delano Las Vegas is an all-suite hotel with no casino. It’s located within the 120-acre Mandalay Bay resort.

If you’re in the market for a budget-friendly option with easy access to Mandalay Bay and Shark Reef Aquarium, consider Excalibur or the beloved Luxor. Among the lowest-priced hotels on the Strip, as of the time of this writing, Excalibur and Luxor both have weeknight rates as low as $77, including tax and resort fees. The properties are connected through an indoor walkway at The Shoppes at Mandalay Place, and a free tram shuttles visitors between the three hotels every three to seven minutes from 10 a.m. – 12 a.m. daily. The Mandalay Bay Tram Station is 0.5 miles from Shark Reef Aquarium, near House of Blues.

Mandalay Bay Las Vegas (from USD $79 )

When desert sands aren't enough, escape to Mandalay Bay for all of the hallmarks of a tropical getaway, right on the Las Vegas Strip.

Hours and Ticket Prices Shark Reef Aquarium

Shark Reef Aquarium is open daily 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Last admission is at 5 p.m. 

One-Hour Pass

  • Adult: $29
  • Seniors 65+ $27
  • Children 5 – 12 $24
  • Children 4 & under free

Anytime Pass – Good All Day

  • Adult: $36
  • Seniors 65+ $34
  • Children ages 5 – 12 $31
  • Children 4 & under free

Annual Pass

  • Adults $50
  • Children 4 – 12 $30
  • Children 3 & under free

Annual Pass Benefits

  • Unlimited entry to Shark Reef Aquarium
  • 10% off Shark Reef Gift Shop Merchandise
  • 10% off Birthday Party Rentals
  • Access to the Dive with Sharks Guest Dive Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the Shark Reef Aquarium located?

The Shark Reef Aquarium is located in the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino at 3950 S Las Vegas Blvd. Las Vegas, NV 89119. The entrance to the aquarium is inside Mandalay Bay next to the South convention center and the food court.

Does Shark Reef Aquarium offer a local discount?

Yes, Nevada residents get $3 off adult or child admissions. Discounted tickets can not be purchased online. They’re available at the Shark Reef Box Office at Mandalay Bay with a government-issued Nevada ID.

Does Mandalay Bay charge for parking?

Yes, all 13 of MGM Resorts Las Vegas Strip Hotels charge for self-parking.
Self-parking is complimentary for Pearl, Gold, Platinum and NOIR MGM Rewards Members.
Valet-parking is complimentary for Gold, Platinum and NOIR MGM Rewards Members.
Nevada residents get the first three hours of self-parking free. 
A registered guest’s 24-hour parking fee allows him to park at any MGM Resorts Las Vegas destination. These include Mandalay Bay, Bellagio, Aria, Park MGM, Mirage, New York‑New York, Luxor and Excalibur and five others.

Self-Parking Fees:
0 to 60 minutes No charge
Over 1 to 4 hours $15
Over 4 to 24 hours $18
Over 24 hours and each additional day or fraction thereof $18

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