Animal Crossing Comes to the Seattle Aquarium - Anime News Network
Animal Crossing Comes to the Seattle Aquariumby Caitlin Moore,
From October 7 through December 31, the Seattle Aquarium is collaborating with Nintendo to bring the iconic creatures of Animal Crossing to their exhibits. As a Seattle resident and a longtime lover of the aquarium, I decided to go check it out.
Once past the admission line, the first addition was blindingly obvious: a huge backdrop with Pascal, Isabelle, Blathers, Tom Nook, and CJ lined up. My party and I declined the souvenir photo that everyone was required to take as they entered the aquarium and saw that the backdrop was two-sided, with a cute scene from Animal Crossing: New Horizons emblazoned on it. This was put up with the intention of people taking photos in front of it, but as I soon discovered, the bright lighting of the sign, combined with the room's relatively dim, mostly natural light, made it nearly impossible to get a good picture. I did manage to get a selfie with Isabella, though!
We progressed to the touch tank area. It was crowded, with plenty of families thanks to the holiday weekend, but also some adults who I could only guess were taking a side trip from Geek Girl Con, held a few blocks away at the Seattle Convention Center. The touch tanks teemed with anemones, sea urchins, and sea cucumbers. A few feet away, that rascal Tom Nook stood in front of a ring of circulating moon jellies. ( Princess Jellyfish collaboration, anyone?) I paused to tell him exactly what I thought of him and his dirty landlord ways but was distracted by an information card from Blathers about the jellyfish peacefully drifting through the water. The room is also home to the aquarium's current giant Pacific octopus, a lovely lady named Queso, who was fast asleep at the bottom of her tank. Also fast asleep? Gulliver, perched on top of the tank.
In the dimly lit Pacific coral reef section, each tank has a screen identifying the different kinds of fish. For the collaboration, the screens had Blathers info cards added to them about one of the species of fish. The downside to this, I realized as I moved to snap a photo, is that each cycle takes about two minutes. If you don't look at just the right time or read too slowly, it's easy to miss information. Sadly, the tropical Pacific area was closed, so we moved on to the outdoor exhibits.
The outdoor exhibits are, without a doubt, the best part of the Seattle Aquarium. As nice as fish are, they don't have half the charm of marine mammals or shorebirds. We were lucky enough to catch the sea otter feeding, joining the guests cooing over the ocean's fuzziest friends doing barrel rolls in exchange for silvery fish from the staff. There were also no Animal Crossing characters to be found… or so I thought. As I admired the puffins in their dark winter plumage, I saw Isabelle flash across the screen, listing the aquarium's daily events. After waiting about three minutes for the image to cycle back around, we found it showed a QR code for a special bingo game. My friend and I scanned it and downloaded… a static image of a 5 x 5 bingo card that was identical for both of us. This was the only place in the aquarium where we saw this code the whole time, and it was extremely easy to miss.
But, we did manage to catch it, as well as a lecture from Blathers himself underneath the salmon window as we descended to the underwater dome and Puget Sound fish exhibit. My friend happily filled out her card, but I noticed something strange: I've been to the Seattle aquarium a few times, but I'd never seen quite a few of the species there, like spotted garden eels and manta rays. Were those from the VR adventure we decided not to pay $9 for? That didn't seem entirely fair.
But with that, we had seen everything there was to see and decided to make the classic exit through the gift shop. There was a stand of exclusive Animal Crossing merchandise, squishy pillows in the shape of the featured characters' heads.
All in all, the Animal Crossing collaboration was cute but a bit underwhelming - it all came down to a few cardboard standees, some themed info cards here and there, and a bingo card that I can only guess a small minority of guests were able to know about. The Seattle Aquarium is a lovely place and always a nice way to spend an afternoon, especially since I went with two of my favorite people in the world, so I didn't mind the excuse to go. However, I might have felt a bit frustrated if the aquarium had been more out of my way rather than an easy bus ride to a highly-touristed area. According to the press release, more themed activities will come, but I had higher hopes for its opening weekend.
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