Here are our answers to some of your most frequently asked questions.
Ticketing and Visit Planning Questions
Are reservations required? Can I buy tickets on-site?
You are strongly encouraged to make advanced reservations via our website or the phone by calling (617) 973-5200. Walk-up visitors will be able to use a QR code to purchase tickets on their phone. The Box Office will also be open for walk-up visitors who can’t use the QR station, need assistance, or want to use cash. Certain ticket types can also only be accommodated at the Box Office, and we are committed to making the Aquarium accessible to all. PLEASE NOTE: Availability for walk-up purchases is not guaranteed. If you arrive without pre-booking and your desired time or full day is sold out, we will offer you the opportunity to purchase a ticket for another available time or day.
How far in advance can you purchase/reserve your timed ticket?
You can purchase tickets for up to 180 days in advance of your visit.
When is the last entry time of the day?
The last entry time is one hour and twenty minutes before closing.
Will you accept cash?
We strongly encourage you to pay in advance online or over the phone. However, cash transactions can be made at the Box Office.
Will you accept Aquarium gift cards?
Yes, however Aquarium gift cards cannot be accepted online, so they must be used over the phone by calling Reservations or presented at the Box Office.
However, gift cards are available to purchase online.
What if I am late for my assigned time slot?
The building capacity for each time slot is limited. We ask that all guests make every effort to arrive on time. We cannot guarantee immediate entry to guests who are late for their time slot. We strongly encourage you to arrive up to 10 minutes prior to your assigned time slot.
Please note: Due to current capacity limits, Aquarium tickets are non-refundable.
Will members of a group who arrive later than others be allowed immediate entry upon arrival?
Capacity within time slots is limited. We ask that all guests make every effort to arrive on time. We cannot guarantee immediate entry, even if other members of your party are inside the Aquarium. We strongly encourage you to arrive 10 minutes prior to your assigned time slot.
Once I enter, is my time limited or restricted?
Your time in the Aquarium is not limited or restricted, and you are allowed to take as long you would like to enjoy the Aquarium.
Can I leave and come back in?
Yes, you may leave the Aquarium and come back in.
Is there a limit to how many people are allowed into the Aquarium at one time?
We are currently operating at limited building capacity but are steadily increasing capacity as we resume normal operations after May 29.
Will I have to wait in line?
We are doing everything we can to streamline entry, but you may have to wait briefly while we scan your ticket. Please arrive 10 minutes before your scheduled time to make entry as easy as possible.
Am I required to wear a face mask?
Per CDC recommendations and City of Boston guidelines, face coverings are required at the New England Aquarium for all guests over the age of two, regardless of vaccination status.
If I have a medical condition that precludes me from wearing a mask, can I still visit? Do I need to provide proof?
Guests with medical conditions that preclude them from wearing a mask are allowed to visit and strongly encouraged to wear a face shield. We will not ask you to provide proof of your condition, but we will work with you to make sure we can keep the visit safe for you and others. We have a limited number of face shields available at the information desk for those who cannot wear masks.
Does my unvaccinated special-needs child or family member need a mask?
The Aquarium is committed to being accessible to everyone. If a visitor is unable to wear a mask due to a sensory need, we ask that they or a family member wear a sensory lanyard and/or sensory bag, available from the Information Desk, so that staff and other visitors know that they cannot wear a mask.
Will sensory bags continue to be available upon request? How are you cleaning these bags?
Sensory bags and all items in the bag will be cleaned with antibacterial wipes between every use. You will also be offered disinfecting wipes, so you can choose to re-sanitize the bag before using it.
Will there be exclusive hours for vulnerable populations?
Unfortunately, exclusive hours for vulnerable populations will not be available at this time.
Will parking validation be available? What if I forget to validate my parking before exiting?
Parking validation for the Harbor Garage is for members only. The member parking validation is available at the Information Desk or at the Box Office. To obtain validation for other garages with which we have parking validation programs (see: https://www.neaq.org/visit/parking for more information), please visit the Information Desk. If you forget to validate your parking, you may re-enter the Aquarium.
If I only want to visit the gift shop, do I need a timed-entry ticket?
No. You can walk up and enter just to visit the gift shop.
If my phone’s battery dies, where can I go to “get” my reserved ticket?
If you are unable to access the tickets on your phone for any reason, you can go to a ticket booth window for a printed ticket. You can also call Central Reservations at (617) 973-5206, and they can to re-send the email with the ticket to someone else in your party who has a functioning phone/email. Both cashiers and reservationists can re-send barcoded tickets to a new email, so that everything remains contactless.
If I am a library coupon holder, do I need to purchase my ticket in advance?
Advance reservations are no longer required for library patrons with coupons. Library patrons should present their coupons on-site at the Aquarium ticket booth. Once tickets are issued, library patrons will be admitted to the Aquarium. Please note: Coupons to the Aquarium will be valid only on the date printed on the coupon.
Will the bathrooms be open?
Yes, the first-floor main bathrooms will be open. The hand dryers have temporarily been replaced with paper towels. Changing tables are available in both bathrooms. The family restrooms on the 2nd level is not yet open.
Will food be available?
Central Snack Bar, which serves sandwiches, salads, hot dogs, and snacks, is located on Central Wharf Plaza and is open:
- Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
- Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Snack items also are available for purchase in the Gift Shop. The Aquarium’s main Café is currently closed.
Can we bring our own food?
You can bring your own food and eat at the blue picnic tables outside. For the safety of our animals, you cannot eat in the Aquarium exhibit areas.
May I drink out of the water fountains or use the bottle refill stations?
Yes, water fountains and bottle refill stations are available. Canned water is also available for purchase at Harbor View Café and at vending machines located on the plaza, in Simons Theatre, and in the gift shop. You may drink water while in the Aquarium’s exhibit areas, but no other food or beverages are allowed.
How will elevator access and capacity be monitored?
If a visitor with mobility issues or a stroller wants to access the top of the Giant Ocean Tank, or if a visitor needs to exit quickly, the elevator will be available. Individuals with mobility issues will have priority for elevator use, and we strongly encourage others to leave their strollers at home or in their car.
Will there be an area for me to nurse my baby?
Nursing is allowed wherever you feel comfortable. The First Aid/Lactation Room is also available for visitors who would like privacy – please see the Information Desk to access this area.
Do you have wheelchairs available?
We have a limited number of wheelchairs available to borrow. Wheelchairs are thoroughly cleaned before and after each use.
Is the entire Aquarium still wheelchair accessible?
Yes, the Aquarium is still entirely wheelchair accessible. To access the top of the Giant Ocean Tank, any person in a wheelchair will need to use the elevator. Elevator access is being prioritized for individuals in wheelchairs or with other medical needs that make stairs difficult. Visitor Experience staff members are located in this area to assist you.
Do you have strollers available to borrow or rent?
We do not have strollers available to borrow or rent. While strollers are welcome in the Aquarium, we strongly recommend that you leave your stroller at home or in your car. To access the top of the Giant Ocean Tank, any person with a stroller will need to use the elevator. Elevator access is being prioritized for individuals in wheelchairs or with other medical needs that make stairs difficult. Visitor Experience staff members are located in this area to assist you.
Will I be able to check my stroller?
Unfortunately, the stroller check area will not be open at this time.
Will the lockers be available?
Yes, lockers are available for use. Small lockers are $5 and large ones are $7. There is a kiosk for locker rental, but each locker also has QR code so they can reserved on your phone or device as well.
Are all of your exhibits open?
While the Edge of the Sea touch tank is closed to visitors right now, all the other exhibits are open. There will be no presentations at this time, but visitors will still be able to ask questions of our knowledgeable educators and watch Animal Care staff care for our animals in the exhibits. Please note: The Shark and Ray Touch Tank opens 9:30 a.m. Saturday-Thursday, and closes to visitors 15 minutes before the Aquarium closes every day.
Is the Simons Theatre open?
Yes, the Simons Theatre is open.
Will you be having presentations?
In order to prevent crowding, we will not be offering our regular schedule of talks and presentations. You will be able to converse with our knowledgeable educators during your visit and see Animal Care staff caring for our animals on-exhibit. If you are interested in a more in-depth virtual experience, please visit At Home Events and Activities, Virtual Encounters, or contact Central Reservations at (617) 973-5206.
In light of the switch to a number of single-use items (e.g. paper towels vs. hand dryers), how is the Aquarium upholding live blue values?
As a global conservation organization, the protection of human lives is at the core of our values. While we are doing everything we can to eliminate single-use items and to minimize waste, during the pandemic we prioritized the safety of our staff and visitors.
Simons Theatre FAQs
Are reservations required for the Simons Theatre? Can I buy tickets on-site?
You are strongly encouraged to make advanced reservations via our website. The Box Office on the plaza will also be open for walk-up visitors who need assistance or want to use cash.
What movies are currently showing?
Encounter the wonders of the southern sea through Ocean Odyssey. Accompany a pod of humpback whales as they embark on an underwater journey, migrating 2,000 miles from the Great Barrier Reef to their feeding grounds off Antarctica. Learn more about our global network of ocean currents that are crucial to both life in the sea and on land.
Great White Shark
Get ready for a shark’s-eye view as you plunge straight into the underwater world of nature’s most renowned predator in Great White Shark. See the science at work behind that fearsome, toothy grin and discover the importance of this spectacular species. The whole family will enjoy an exhilarating experience that demonstrates how great white sharks are perfectly adapted hunters that play a crucial role in maintaining the health of our oceans.
Follow the incredible journey of a spry young green sea turtle as it encounters astonishing ocean creatures on the adventure of a lifetime! From hatching along sandy Australian beaches to gliding along ocean currents, watch as this remarkable reptile traverses thousands of miles of open ocean—and then migrates with mysterious precision back to the very beach where it was born. Russell Crowe narrates as researchers trek through these same aquatic wonderlands, encountering the majestic corals of the Great Barrier Reef and breathtaking breaching whales. Turtle Odyssey reminds us just how interconnected we all are with the ocean.
How long are the movies?
Each movie is ~22 minutes long.
Will I be able to visit the Aquarium, leave to see a movie, and then go back into the Aquarium?
Yes, you may. Please keep your tickets accessible (hard copy or electronic) so you may show them upon reentry.
Will the concession stand be open?
The concession stand will not be open at this time. No outside food or drinks are allowed in the theater.
Can I spend as long as I want at my favorite exhibit? If yes, then how does that work with the new capacity limits and pathway?
Your time in the Aquarium is not limited or restricted, and you are allowed to take as long you would like to enjoy the Aquarium.
Health and Cleaning Questions
Will it be “necessary” to touch shared surfaces (doors) at any point?
We have taken many steps to reduce the necessity to touch any surfaces. Sculptures and interactive installations have been removed and we are asking visitors not to touch the exhibits.
Will there be additional handwashing stations? Is it possible to wash my hands on the way out?
Handwashing will be available on the plaza and in the first-floor restrooms. There will be hand sanitizer available at an abundance of locations throughout your visit.
What if I have a medical emergency?
First responders are available on-site to respond to any medical emergency. Please contact a staff member or the Information Desk by calling the phone number on signage throughout the facility. First responders will call emergency medical services at their own discretion.
What if a visitor seems to be showing COVID-19 symptoms or asks for a first responder because they are sick?
As with any medical emergency, first responders will be deployed for any visitor who becomes ill or injured. Visitor Experience staff will help manage the scene while the first responders provide care. First responders will have been provided with additional training to handle first-aid emergencies while minimizing risk of exposure to COVID-19. Guests are being asked to self-monitor. If you are displaying any symptoms, we ask you to not enter the building.
If I forget or lose my face covering, can I buy one at NEAq?
Fabric face coverings will be available for purchase in the gift shop, but should not be worn immediately, as they need to be washed first.
Disposable masks are available at the Box Office, scanning stations, and Information Desk for any visitors who forget or lose their masks.
If my face covering falls off and lands in an exhibit, or breaks, will I be given a replacement?
Disposable face coverings will be available at the Box Office, scanning stations, and Information Desk for any visitors who lose their face coverings during the course of their visit.
Will hand sanitizer be provided?
There will be hand sanitizer available at an abundance of locations throughout your visit.
What type of air filtration system do you use?
Our air conditioning system blends fresh, outside air with recirculated air that is then heated (or cooled) and passed through pleated filters. We dilute the recirculated air with as much outside air as possible while maintaining the comfort of the people and animals. The filters capture the particles that might contain a virus but do not kill airborne viruses. The fresh outside air dilutes any indoor pollutants.
Can animals get sick with COVID-19? Can they transmit it to humans?
Current expert understanding is that SARS-CoV-2 is primarily transmitted person-to-person. Since COVID-19 first appeared last fall, New England Aquarium and the world zoological community has been closely following the virus and taking precautions to protect our guests, staff, and animals. At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading SARS-CoV-2. Based on the limited data available, the risk of animals spreading the virus to people is considered to be low. New England Aquarium will continue to take every precaution to protect our staff and animals.
Has COVID-19 been found in any wild animals?
Our scientists study wild fish, marine mammals, and reptiles. So far, there has been no evidence of COVID-19 in these species.
Could COVID-19 be in the water (if the touch tanks eventually open)?
There has been no evidence to date to indicate that SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted by water. There are no detailed studies yet regarding the survival of SARS-CoV-2 in salt water, but based on data for other viruses, the warm, disinfected salt water that we use at New England Aquarium is not a likely source of the virus.
I heard that a tiger had COVID-19—can marine mammals catch it? What are you doing to keep your mammals and other animals safe?
We have been following the state and city guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19 from the very beginning (wearing masks, social distancing, and increased cleaning/disinfecting). All of these measures will ensure the safety of our staff, animals, and visitors.