Phx Biz Journal – OdySea Aquarium planned near Scottsdale on Salt River land

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The group behind the Butterfly Wonderland near Scottsdale plans to break ground this summer on a new large-scale aquarium project that’s being dubbed as “Sea World meets Disneyland.”

Construction on OdySea Aquarium is slated to begin this summer off Loop 101 and Via de Ventura Drive on tribal land next door to the Butterfly Wonderland attraction that opened last year. The 200,000-square-foot aquarium will include 2 million gallons of water for its numerous exhibits and myriad species.

“OdySea Aquarium is a unique kind of attraction that will change how marine life is looked upon by the general public,” said Amram Knishinsky, one of the principal partners on the project.

Guests will be able to travel up and down escalators and elevators surrounded by transparent acrylic tubes and sides, allowing them to view the marine life as they travel through the two-story attraction.

Even the bathroom fixtures such as the counters and sinks and commodes will be built to provide views into the shark tanks, Knishinsky said.

“If you go to the bathroom, you come out and you’ll say to your friend … you gotta go see the bathroom,” he said. “Nobody would have ever thought of something like that. We have an opportunity to deliver that.”

Unlike Sea World, OdySea will not feature mammals, Knishinsky said, but will feature more than 1,000 marine species. Also, the aquarium will have trained penguins perform parades daily in a public square-type setting.

OdySea Aquarium is the third stage of a $175 million project that began with construction of Butterfly Wonderland and continued with OdySea Mirror Maze on the same parcel of land owned by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

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