VIA Aquarium FAQ

How long does a visit to VIA Aquarium take?
We recommend giving yourself 90 minutes to 2 hours to get the full experience, but tickets are good for the entire day of purchase so guests are encouraged to take advantage of that.

 

How long are memberships good for?
Memberships to VIA Aquarium are good for 365 days from the day of purchase.

Is VIA Aquarium accessible?
Yes, all of our exhibits are accessible.  However, some of our add-on programs like Behind the Tanks Tours and Stingray Feedings may not be accessible for all.

Do you offer wheelchairs?
We have some transport chairs available to borrow for free from the Admissions Desk on a first come first served basis.  VIA|Port also has traditional wheelchairs available at their Guest Services desk.

Do you have strollers available?
We have a couple foldable umbrella strollers available to borrow, but we recommend bringing your own.

 

Are food and drinks allowed in VIA Aquarium?

For the safety of our animals and exhibits, as well as safety of other guests, we do not allow food, drink, or gum inside VIA Aquarium.  The only exceptions are special events hosted by VIA Aquarium.

 Do animals in the aquarium ever have babies?

YES!  Our Seahorses and African Chiclids in particular have had multiple batches of offspring.  If you’re lucky, you may even be able to catch some of the babies or juveniles out on display.

 

How do you prevent the sharks/gar/piranha/etc. from eating other fish?

Keeping the animals fed on a regular schedule helps the most with this.  If an animal isn’t hungry, there are
very few reasons for them to attack another animal.  Not to mention, being fed is much easier than catching your food.  Wouldn’t you rather spend every meal with a chef and waiter preparing everything for you instead of having to do it yourself?

 

So there are never any attacks in the aquarium?

While we would love to say yes, that isn’t true.  Even in a perfect world, animals will attack each other to show dominance, establish territory; even some mating behaviors can leave wounds on the partners.  So unfortunately despite anyone’s best efforts, injuries can occur.

 

What do you do when an injury occurs?

We take the health and safety of our animals very seriously.  When an injury does occur, we assess to see what is best for the animal to heal.  For some animals, healing on display is much less stressful than catching the animal, moving it to quarantine, and moving it back out to exhibit.  Other times, it is better to bring the animal off exhibit to heal in more specialized conditions.

 

If an animal is off exhibit does that mean it’s injured or dead?

No, there are many reasons to take an animal off display.  They may be sick, pregnant, too big for their current exhibit, or may need a break from daily interactions.  Sometimes we have the opportunity to show a new exhibit, like the Chain Sharks that were hatched by Berlin High School, and we will move an animal to the back temporarily to allow room for the new exhibit.

 

But didn’t you used to have a (or different) octopus, lobster, trigger fish, etc.?

Very possibly.  And just like we’d love to say injuries never occur, we’d love to say the same for deaths.  Unfortunately some of our favorite animals, like cephalopods (octopus and cousins) don’t have very long life spans.  This means that by the time they are generally big enough to be put on exhibit, they have already lived half or more of their life.

 

Other times, some animals are just too big for our exhibits and we need to find them new homes with other aquariums.  Our nurse sharks are actually an example of an animal getting too big for their exhibit; that’s how they came to be with us!

 

Does being in a touch tank hurt the animals?

When treated with care and understanding, no it doesn’t.  As long as guests follow the instructions of our Educators, there should be no harm to the animals or our guests.

 

There have even been recent studies that say Stingrays in touch tanks are no more stressed than stingrays in the wild, and many seem to actually be less stressed and happier!

 

Isn’t it wrong to take animals out of the wild from our pleasure?

It certainly can be.  We do everything we can to work with companies that captive breed and/or sustainably harvest their stock to ensure minimal impact to the environment.  Some animals, like the Lionfish, are actually incredibly invasive species and are routinely culled to save the ecosystem. By putting them on display, we are actually saving them. We also participate in programs such as the Grow and Release Program through the DEC.  In this program, a hatchery born lake sturgeon is placed in our care until it is big enough to thrive in the wilderness.

 

It is our mission to connect people to the world beneath the water and the best way to do that is by seeing and feeling that world in real life.  We do our best to ensure our animals are healthy and well taken care of so more people will grow up to care about these animals and their environments.  If that means a guest grows up to believe that having animals in captivity is wrong, we understand their beliefs.  If they became that passionate about sea life because they fell in love with it at VIA Aquarium, we will gladly take that as a compliment.

WHAT DOES MY FIELD TRIP TO VIA AQUARIUM ENTAIL?
After being greeted by our education staff your school group will participate in a self-guided tour of the aquarium grounds. Students are encouraged to engage in our interactive displays and various touch tank areas. Groups who choose to add a reptile program should expect to spend an additional hour within the aquarium. If your group needs extra assistance of any kind please let us know ahead of your visit.

WHAT TIMES ARE AVAILABLE FOR FIELD TRIPS?
Online bookings are available every 45 minutes between 9am and 1:30pm, Monday through Friday. Reptile presentations may be reserved online at 9:45, 11:15, and 12:45. If these times do not work for you or appear unavailable please give our reservationist a call or email at 518-280-5100 x102 / reservations@viaaquariumny.com – we will do our best to find a time that works!

ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS ON GROUP SIZE?
To receive the school group rate field trips must have 15 or more individuals. There must be at least 15 students to book a program. Groups of over 125 individuals will have to be split into separate bookings, or otherwise arranged directly through our reservationist.

WHAT GRADE LEVELS ARE MOST APPROPRIATE FOR A VISIT AND/OR PROGRAM?
VIA Aquarium is perfect for students of all ages!  While self-touring the aquarium guests will have the opportunity to learn both beginner and advanced information about the vast biodiversity of our planet’s aquatic ecosystems! Our reptile program targets grades 3+ and is tailored to be age/grade appropriate in its educational content.  Stay tuned for updates as we develop more programming across various age ranges.

HOW DO I SCHEDULE A FIELD TRIP TO VIA AQUARIUM?
You can book a reservation here, just hit the link!
You can also contact our reservationist at 518-280-5100 x102 or reservations@viaaquariumny.com.

HOW FAR IN ADVANCE SHOULD I SCHEDULE A FIELD TRIP?
We recommend scheduling field trips with a program no less than 2 weeks in advance and self-guided trips at least 1 week in advance. Online dates become no longer available within a week of the visit date. For late bookings please contact our reservationist directly.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BRING MY CLASS TO VIA AQUARIUM?
School groups may tour VIA Aquarium at the discounted rate of $10 per student, $12 per non-faculty chaperone, and teachers are free. One free bus driver is allowed for every 20 students. College group visits are $12 per student on weekdays and $15 per student on weekends. Including a program adds an additional $4 charge per person (excluding teachers). Children under 4 years old are always free.

WHAT FORM OF PAYMENT IS ACCEPTED WHEN BOOKING A FIELD TRIP?
VIA Aquarium accepts cash, all major credit cards, and checks made out to “VIA Aquarium.” When booking online you will have the choice to pay in full with a credit card or to be invoiced before your visit. Payment is required on or before the day of your trip. Group admission must be paid in one (1) transaction.

MAY STUDENTS BRING A LUNCH?
Students may bring a lunch but eating is not permitted within the Aquarium. Rooms may be available for group lunch within the nearby VIA Entertainment at no additional cost – please let us know ahead of time if you hope to use this space. As the aquarium is within the ViaPort Mall there are also tables available at the food court a short walk away.

IS THERE A PLACE FOR OUR STUDENTS TO PLACE THEIR COATS / LUNCHBOXES / ETC?
Yes – we will provide bins with which students can store their belongings until the end of the trip.

How soon should I book my birthday party?

We recommend that all parties be booked at least 6 weeks in advance to secure your preferred party date.  Anything within 2 weeks may not be able to be accomodated.

 

 

What dates are available, and how do I book?

Visit https://viaaquarium.com/birthday-parties/ to view available dates and book your party. All available dates and times will be listed on our availability calendar. All parties in blue are available to be booked. All parties reserved through our website must be paid in-full at the time of booking.

 

 

What will happen after I book?

Our birthday party coordinator will reach out to you either by phone and/or email to give you an overview of our party process and to work out details.

 

 

What happens if my guest headcount changes before the party?

We understand that guest headcounts frequently are in flux and may move up or down. On the day of your party we will take a final headcount and either refund or bill for any differences.

 

 

What happens if I want to reschedule my party?

Any rescheduling of your parties date or time within two weeks of the event date will result in a $50 rescheduling fee. This will be due at the time of the rescheduling. Please note that a specific date and time cannot be guaranteed when rescheduling.

 

 

What happens in case of inclement weather?

In case of inclement weather, please watch our social media feeds to see if VIA Aquarium is closed. If the aquarium does close we will reschedule your party at no additional fee. Specific dates or times cannot be guaranteed but we will do our best to work with you in rescheduling.

 

 

What happens if I need to cancel my party?

Should you cancel your party fewer than two weeks before the scheduled date, your deposit will not be refunded.  If you’ve paid in full, VIA Aquarium will refund 80% of your party fee.  

 

 

When should I arrive?

Your party will start promptly at the time you have booked. Our staff will have everything set for you so you only have to show up 15 minutes prior to start time.

 

 

Where should I tell my guests to go when they arrive?

Your guests should meet at the VIA Aquarium admissions lobby. Please ask them to arrive promptly so that the party may start on time. Our staff will direct them towards our Party Room.

 

 

Do I have to pay for all of my additional guests?

All guests over the allotted 10 free children for your party are an additional fee ($15 per adult, $20 to $50 per child depending on package). The birthday child, parents, and any siblings of the birthday child do not need to be included in the party headcount.

 

 

If I have guests who are members, do they get in for free?

Parents that are members are allowed in for free.  Any child members, will be discounted the cost of admissions. 

 

 

How will the timeline for my party look?

A typical birthday party beginning at 1:15PM* includes:

                ● 12:50-1:00: Party family arrives and is taken down the Party Room

                ● 1:00-1:15: Guests arrive and are shown to the Party Room

                ● 1:15-1:25: We do an introduction

                ● 1:25-2:00: Guests explore the aquarium, if there is a stingray feeding or mermaid add-on it

                                      may happen during this time

                ● 2:00-2:05: We will conduct a birthday parade

                ● 2:05-2:30: Time for pizza, cake or any other food

                ● 2:30-3:15: Additional time for exploration, or if there is an add-on like a reptile presentation it    

                                     may happen during this time

 

Parents are responsible for getting all of their party items to their car after the party. VIA Aquarium is not responsible for holding gifts after each party.

 

* Please note that this is a general party outline and each party may look slightly different.  Your co-ordinator will work with you on the details.

 

 

Can I decorate the party room?

We provide and set up basic decorations, tablecloths, utensils and all related paper products. Plus and Premium party packages allow for us to provide themed décor. You may bring additional decorations – if you want to drop off your own within a week of the party we will have those ready by your arrival. When dropping off please have them in a bin or box labelled with your child’s name and the party date.

 

 

We do not allow balloons within the aquarium (they’re a safety hazard for our animals and exhibits). Candles are permitted and we do have a lighter on hand)

 

 

 

Can I bring additional food and drinks?

We do not allow outside vendors for hot food, i.e. pizza. Cakes, cupcakes and other desserts are allowed to be brought in from the outside. We will provide juice, water or soda for children, and coffee or tea for adults. Please contact us if there are any food related allergy concerns.

Who are sleepovers available to?

Any group that meets the minimum requirements; birthday parties, Scout Groups, Camps, families, etc.

 

Are sleeping materials provided?

No, for hygienic reasons, we don’t provide sleeping mats, sleeping bags, or blankets.

 

Where do guests sleep?

We highly recommend sleeping in front of our exhibits, but some groups choose to sleep in our theater.  Depending on group size, it can be up to the guests.

 

What movies are available?

The licensing company we work with has a wide variety of titles available, from recent DVD releases, to classic films, and educational features.

 

Is there a discount for VIA Aquarium members?

 

Yes!  For guests that are members we discount the cost of admission.

We will continue to edit, add, and update these sections