From elegant sit-down dinners and wedding receptions to casual get-togethers and holiday parties, the Oregon Coast Aquarium offers a unique place to hold an after-hours event along with 15,000 sea creatures.
Located just south of Newport, the Oregon Coast Aquarium is named one of the top ten aquariums in the nation by Parade magazine. The Aquarium is also a truly unique place to hold a business reception, social or lunch meeting with delicious food and full catering services provided on site. The lush acreage and well-designed floor space provide an excellent location for a wedding, reception or family reunions and other social events. Dressing rooms are available for bridal parties, with numerous indoor and outdoor locations on the property ready for bands, live entertainment and dancing.
Outdoors, lush landscaping and nature trails provide a relaxing atmosphere as well as plenty of great photo and video locations for recording your special event.
After-hours guests come nose-to-nose with the Aquarium's three sea otters, along with some curious and playful seals and sea lions at the outdoor exhibits, with a giant Pacific octopus lurking in its undersea coastal cave.
Cartoonlike tufted puffins and other seabirds make their homes in one of the largest walk-through aviaries in North America, where special windows allow guests to watch birds "fly" under water as they dive for fish.
"Under the Lily Pad" at the Ocean Exploration Station provides guests with an up-close view of frogs, newts and salamanders as they discover there's more to a pond than scum and explore the role these soggy spaces play in a healthy ecosystem. Guests learn what's lurking beneath the pond's surface as they watch bass and bluegills, compare newts and salamanders, and search for tree and red-legged frogs.
The Touch Pool lets guests discover tidepool animals such as seastars and anemones. And volunteers are always available at Aquarium after-hours events to answer questions, offer special demonstrations and impart unusual tidbits of information.
Immerse yourself in Passages of the Deep and walk beneath the waves through a 200-foot clear underwater tunnel that snakes through three ocean habitats.
Encounter sharks, rays and thousands of other fish swimming around you. Experience an exhilarating sensation when you look around and realize you're completely surrounded!
The Event Room at Passages of the Deep offers an unrestricted view into the "Open Seas" shark exhibit through a floor-to-ceiling acrylic wall, and panoramic vistas of Yaquina Bay from a private, open-air patio. It offers a perfect year-round meeting space with memorable views for your wedding, reception, conference or special event.
The rolling dunes located just outside the Aquarium's bay windows make a relaxing and beautiful backdrop for a reception or seated dinner. Guests will have a memorable dining experience as they enjoy exquisite cuisine prepared especially for them by the Aquarium's full-service caterer. They can even sneak a peek at picturesque Yaquina Bay. For guests' convenience, the Aquarium's gift shop and bookstore offer a treasure trove of gift items, books and jewelry.
The Aquarium's classroom, with seating for 55 people, or the 60-person capacity Passages of the Deep Event Room can be arranged for an informal slide show, luncheon or board retreat. The classroom has a separate entrance and exit to provide guests with privacy during normal operating hours.
In addition, the Aquarium's Qwest Theater provides a perfect after-hours venue for multi-media and slide presentations, lectures or formal meetings.
The 90-seat theater is equipped with a projection room and excellent acoustics.
"It's all about location, location, location," says Kim Spence, Aquarium senior vice president of marketing. "Companies get to hold their corporate event on the beautiful Oregon Coast, with complete and private access to the Aquarium as well as professional on-site catering."
Along with interesting facilities and unique, interactive décor, Nike, Inc., Corporate Events Manager Jane Mannex cites staff performance as a reason for their return engagements. "The service and responsiveness delivered to our group exceeded all our expectations," she said. "I have recommended the Aquarium to my colleagues for its unique facilities, exquisite food and delightful staff."
Oregon Automotive Parts Association's annual conference on the Oregon Coast included an evening at the Aquarium. "Everyone agreed the caterer did a remarkable job with the food stations," OAPA Executive Bill Boyer commented in their newsletter. "The best way to see the Aquarium is a private party (no crowds)."
Inquiring minds get all the juicy details and the inside story during Oregon Coast Aquarium behind-the-scenes tours for an additional fee. Visitors on these 90-minute tours explore off-exhibit areas and life support, looking in on fishes, birds and mammals. Participants experience a shark feeding and learn how to care for a fuzzy puffin chick. From food preparation to the top of Passages of the Deep, behind-the-scenes tours-available for daytime events only-show visitors how the Aquarium works.
After-hour events have access to the entire six-acre property as well as all galleries and meeting space. Daytime event groups may purchase group-rate admissions and enjoy the exhibits all day, outside of their meeting.
Everything you ever wanted to know, but were afraid to ask, about how to run a world-class aquarium is available at the Oregon Coast Aquarium's during daily Keeper Talks. Visitors get the full scoop on how to feed and care for over 15,000 marine creatures, including how to move half a million gallons of water a day! Learn the secrets to keeping all that glass clean and more.
Oregon Coast Aquarium Keeper Talks are included in the price of admission and are scheduled daily in the Qwest Theater. After-Hours Keeper Talks are available for a small additional fee.
Volunteer habitat divers may be arranged for an added dimension of underwater educational entertainment as they tell watching visitors what it takes to handle behind-the-scenes duties at the Aquarium. Guests may communicate with divers in exhibits such as "At the Jetty" or in Passages of the Deep as they feed animals and handle a myriad of life support tasks, bringing a unique element of marine education and personal involvement to after-hours events
Virtual reality at the Oregon Coast Aquarium is in the form of an underwater submarine adventure, where passengers experience deep-water travel without leaving their seat. The 20-seat "Ocean Exploration Vehicle" gives riders the visual effect of going underwater as well as the movement of a real submarine. It features padded, individual bucket seats, surround-sound, high-performance motion and 3-D visuals that are themed to a trip under the ocean. The Aquarium's new "Ocean Exploration Vehicle" is available for visitors during normal operating hours for a small additional charge and is also available for private parties and other after-hours events.
For facility rental prices and more details, visit the After Hours Planner located on the Aquarium's award-winning Web site at http://www.aquarium.org/after_hours.htm or call 541/867-3474, ext. 5211.
The Aquarium is open every day except December 25th. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Labor Day up to Memorial Day weekend.
For additional information about the Oregon Coast Aquarium, surf www.aquarium.org or call 541/867-FISH. - By Pam Mandel, Seattle Correspondent.