NEWPORT, Ky. -- Something big is coming to the Newport Aquarium in 2017, but the fine people there won’t tell us what.
They’ve resorted to Kings Island-style tactics to cryptically tease us with “the biggest attraction since Shark Bridge” and the “most extensive investment in more than a decade.” The aquarium folks sent WCPO a fancy parchment announcement stuffed inside a bamboo pencil holder, along with a tropical-looking flower and a fish hook necklace straight out of that new Disney movie, Moana.
The aquarium's two otters, Porkchop and Neda, recently vacated their Canyon Falls exhibit, which they shared with some lizards, chameleons and turtles, so we can only assume they’ll be filling that space with this mysterious attraction. Since the aquarium staff is staying tight-lipped until the official announcement on Monday morning, here are some of our “best” guesses at what it could be:
1. Surfing lessons
Those fish hook necklaces are squarely within the fashion territory of surfer dudes, so let’s hope the aquarium has recruited a cohort of Californian trainers who are going to start offering professional lessons on some sort of magical indoor wave pool.
2. Fish pedicure stations
Ticklish customers beware, but those fancy spas that offer tiny toothless fish nibbling away your dead podiatric skin cells could be a hit in the Tri-State. It would help us catch up to the Kardashians.
3. The History of Sea Monkeys
The aquatic equivalent of ant farms, this slightly creepy pet-toy hybrid has been around for decades. The aquarium’s new exhibit could bring this hybrid breed of brine shrimp to a brand new generation of nerds.
4. A permanent Finding Nemo viewing theater
Who doesn’t love this Pixar classic from 2003? It’s incredibly quotable and will never go out of style.
5. Great Wolf Lodge of Newport
Turning the otter habitat into a small indoor water park would certainly bring more tourists to the Levee, and it would fit right in with that giant Ferris wheel somebody proposed building next to the aquarium.
6. Hawaiian monk seals
This earless (What’s that you say?) species of seal is endangered and an official mammal symbol of Hawaii, which that fish hook necklace could be hinting at. We suspect the official state mammal of Hawaii, the humpback whale, is just a tad too large of an investment for the Newport Aquarium, but they always say we should dream big.
7. Jonah: The True Life Experience
If they can’t get a whole whale, here’s the next best thing. Building off the success of Northern Kentucky's Noah’s ark replica and the Creation Museum, the aquarium is setting out to recreate the experience of living inside the belly of a whale for three whole days for any fool willing to disobey God and fork over $40 per person (plus $10 parking).
8. Cincinnati streetcar station
To really cater to the millennial crowd and public transportation aficionados, the Newport Aquarium is funding an extension of the streetcar across the Purple People Bridge (taking it back to its 1872 roots as a railroad bridge) and directly into the aquarium building. This also provides convenient access for bar hoppers who want to continue their Over-the-Rhine or Banks pub crawl to the nearby Hofbräuhaus.
9. Otter Olympics 2.0
If you’re wondering why anybody would want to get rid of their otters (maybe that’s just me?), you’re in luck. All this intrigue has been an elaborate ruse, and the otters are merely on vacation. The aquarium is constructing an extreme obstacle course to top its Otter Olympics from August 2016 and challenge any of the ridiculous sets of those game shows “Wipeout” and “American Ninja Warrior.” Well played, Newport Aquarium. Well played.
Learn more about the Newport Aquarium at its website here.