Event Review: Aquarium of the Pacific Aquarium Holidays

What It is:

Special decorations for the holidays around the aquarium. Both Christmas and Chanukah (even Kwanzaa) decorations are out. Plus gingerbread house displays, characters in holiday outfits, and a Santa diver.

**I know this isn’t in Orange County, but I thought it was really fun for kids so I figured I would write about it!

What We Did:

We went the 23rd, so we knew it was either going to be super packed or pretty empty. It really could have gone either way but we lucked out and it was pretty good. It wasn’t empty, but nothing was crazy packed. I think that other weekends were more hectic though.

Side note: we missed the Penguin Walk so I don’t really know what that was. I wanted to make it there in time for this, but it just didn’t work out.

Outside the aquarium they had a small snow area set up. You needed aquarium entry to be able to play there so they suggested that you go in and get your hand stamped to be able to access it. It looked like they kept the number of kids in it pretty low and there wasn’t really a line when we went by it both times, but we decided not to go in since we knew it would make C cold.

Santa in front of a large tank.

Once inside we noticed that Santa was doing pictures. We waited in line for less than 5 minutes and got a picture with Santa. They let us take our own pictures and did take professional pictures too. This worked out really well since in the same area there was supposed to be “snow fall.” So we kind of hung around until the time that was supposed to happen.

That went surprisingly well.

While we were waiting, the otter character came out to take pictures with everyone. We took our pictures and then they started the “snow” so everyone after us in line has pictures with the otter while the snow is falling on them. C was happy either way and we were in a great spot to let him see all the “snow.” (Which was a guy with the soap bubble machine spraying it off the second floor.)

He really wanted to touch it.

They were also doing holiday crafts and a holiday film (The Grinch That Stole Christmas) but we knew C wouldn’t be in to that stuff so we walked around for a bit and then grabbed lunch. Santa was on a break before his next activity and so he was walking around the little restaurant saying hi to the kids which was really nice.

Santa dive!

But then he had to get ready for his dive. That’s right, there was a Santa dive! He talked to everyone while he was doing his SCUBA inside one of the large tanks. There were also 2 elves and a “reindeer” helping him out. What we saw of the show was really cute. C lost interest so we walked around a bit more, but it was actually a really engaging show for older kids and adults. I was pretty impressed.


  • Fun little activities that don’t take a ton of time.
  • Big open spaces so crowds don’t feel like a huge issue.

Not So Good:

  • Parking. I hate that you have to pay to park there, but keep an eye on the price and make sure to validate at the aquarium only if you spent enough time there to make that price worth it!


Adults: $29.95 and kids (3-11): $17.95.

Our Verdict:

C loves the aquarium so this was fun to him. I liked that it wasn’t crazy packed. The Santa diver show was well done. I think this was totally worth the drive. We will absolutely go again next year!

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