The Depths of Ocean Odyssey are Manifold

By Ingrid Wilkes February 7, 2024

In the world of land and sea, the sea most definitely wins. The Earth’s surface is over 2/3rd water and only 1/3rd land. And the sea is also really deep. Mt. Everest, for example, would fit with room to spare if relocated to the bottom of the Mariana Trench (the deepest trench in the world’s oceans). National Geographic’s Encounter: Ocean Odyssey in mid-town Manhattan is an experience that you will not forget. I’m tempted to tell you all about it, but there are some surprises that would be lessened by a tell-all review. So instead, here are some teasers to get your interest piqued for this very special installation at 226 W 44th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenue).

Times Square is in the heart of the hustle and bustle of New York, but nestled between the historic theaters hosting performances of “Phantom of the Opera” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” you will find a pleasant escape to a serene and tranquil ocean experience. But without animals or water because this is a virtual tour created by National Geographic and SPE Partners (who’s executive Lisa Truitt was a former National Geographic employee for twenty years).

Ocean Odyssey opened in October 2017 and incorporates elements of live theater, video games and theme parks. Being a National Geographic entertainment project, of course, there is a strong educational component to the experience, but it is not heavy-handed and you will not be fatigued by the information presented. The series of scenes and stations takes about ninety minutes to navigate from start to finish depending on how long you linger.

You can look forward to seeing over 10 scenes and stations including:

  • Solomon Islands shallows
  • dolphins
  • manta rays
  • humpback whales
  • interactive sea lions
  • coral reefs
  • kelp forest mirror maze
  • bioluminescent animals
  • 3D-glasses with an 8K video at 60 frames per second (normal film is 24 frames per second)
  • interactive computer screens

From the first moment when you descend on the escalator down to the lobby your kids know that they are in store for a great adventure as you pass through a fog screen displaying underwater scenes. In one of the rooms, the projected video wraps seamlessly from wall to floor, adding to the immersive feeling of being transported to the world of flippers and fins. You can thank the talented folks at Pixomondo for this part of the odyssey who have applied their digital craftsmanship to the film “Hugo” which won them an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 2012.

A historical note about the location of the Ocean Odyssey is that the 3D theater occupies what used to be the printing press room for the New York Times.

My husband and I booked a group of tickets for our son’s sixth birthday. We invited several of his friends, but also made sure to mention that parents (and care-givers) were also welcome and encouraged to join. We planned it for 10:00 am on a Sunday and then went over to the Marriott Marquis on Broadway for a birthday brunch afterward. They gave us an entire section of the lounge behind the Crossroads American Kitchen & Bar having dropped off the cake and goodie bags earlier that morning. The parents enjoyed a mimosa (or two) and the kids had a mixture of chicken tenders, pizza, french fries, cut fruit and burgers.

If you want to plan a group visit, definitely talk with the manager of Crossroads a few days ahead of the date to make sure that they can accommodate your request and party size. I think we had about fifteen in our group.

National Geographic’s Encounter: Ocean Odyssey is open daily at 10:00 am and:

Sunday - Thursday until 9:00 pm
Friday - Saturday until 10:00 pm

Last ticket is sold one hour prior to closing.

  • Recommended age for the experience is 3 years and older
  • Children two and under do not need a ticket to enter
  • Daily Dive Time - $39.50 adults, $32.50 children (3-12), $36.50 senior, $36.50 veteran
  • Ocean Explorer Pass – unlimited VIP access, including merchandise discount, a souvenir poster and complimentary glass of wine or non-alcoholic beverage at Sardi’s Restaurant next door to the exhibit. $59.50 adults, $52.50 children, senior (65+) $56.50
  • Family Fun Pack - $99 for four tickets

Note: a portion of the proceeds from your ticket purchase supports the National Geographic Society’s nonprofit work in conservation, exploration, research, and education.

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