While the final plans have yet to be hammered out, The Phuket News has learned that the popular marine-life centre will include an “Aqua Dome” curved-screen walk-in amphitheatre cinema with fog-screen technology to showcase impressive educational light-and-sound displays.
“We are expanding our facility by adding three more zones for visitors to explore when they visit Phuket Aquarium,” explained Ratree Suksuwan, chief of the facility.
“The building itself, located to the left of the existing centre, has been completed, but we need to make some adjustments to the feature programmes, landscaping, interior design and the drop-off area,” she said.
“Admission for the first three months will be free, after that we will decide how much entry will be,” Ms Ratree added.
On entering the new centre, visitors will pass through a souvenir shop before entering an area with traditional-style displays to educate visitors on a wide variety of marine life.
“The path through the new building will lead visitors to the ocean hall, called the ‘Aqua Dome’. This dome will actually be a walk-in cinema using fog-screen technology that will show people life in the oceans,” Ms Ratree added.
“The visitors will be nearly entirely surrounded by the images and sounds projected within the dome to give them an idea of what it is like to actually be in the middle of the ocean.
The “movies” to be displayed will show many forms of marine life, from micro-organisms and animals such as plankton up to large marine mammals, including whales,” she said.
“The cinema will feature a documentary showing life in the deep ocean, at depths of up to 2,000 metres, and the main feature will show the journey and adventures of sea turtles,” Ms Ratree said.
While the new building receives its finishing touches, the existing centre, built in 1978 and open to public since 1983, will continue to offer its popular educational tours.
“Phuket Aquarium was established in 1983 as part of the internationally renowned Phuket Marine Biological Centre (PMBC), a research and monitoring station within the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR). The aquarium provides means to divulge research results and to promote environmental awareness,” Ms Ratree explained.
“Initially we wanted to open the new centre in June this year, but after the many changes and delays we now hope it will be complete and open by the end of the year,” Ms Ratree said.
Phuket Aquarium is located at the end of Cape Panwa, southeast of Phuket Town. Open 8:30am-4:30pm; entry gates close at 4pm. Entry fees: Foreigners – Adult B180 / Child B100; Thais – Adults B50 (citizens over 60 years old free) / Child B20. *All children under 180cm tall free. See: PhuketAquarium.org/en