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Arrive in the Chicago suburbs, meet your Visit Chicago guide at the Wyndham Garden Hotel. Reassemble in the lobby then depart for the shores of Lake Michigan and the amazing John G. Shedd Aquarium. Your first stop at "The Big Blue", is likely to be the Tropical Choral Reef that's enclosed in a 90,000 gallon tank containing 350 species of tropical fish, but the principal attraction is the spectacular Oceanarium. There, in a painstakingly recreated Pacific Northwest ecosystem, you can watch dolphins, penguins and Beluga whales frolic above and below the surface from literally inches away. Don't miss the dolphin show at 4:30 pm; it's going to be one of the highlights of your entire trip).
Meet your bus and depart for dinner at the original Ed Debevik's a Chicago institution well known for it's home-style food and irreverent service. (The long line at the door attests to the popularity of the place, but don't worry, you won't have to wait.) Anything can happen at Ed Debevik's; don't be surprised if your waiter dances on the table! After dinner, transfer to Navy Pier Chicago's most popular year-round tourist attraction. Upon arrival, you will attend an unforgettable IMAX theatre performance that may take you 3,000 meters under the sea, or on a wild canoe ride down the Colorado River, or on a stomach-flipping flight over the cliffs of the Grand Canyon, or into earth orbit on the space shuttle, or to the top of Mount Everest. After the film, you'll be free until 10:00pm to browse among more than 50 acres of parks, gardens and gift shops for a Chicago souvenir, then meet the bus at 10:15pm and return to the hotel.
Meet the bus and depart for Chicago's incomparable Museum of Science and Industry, one of the most visited museums in the world, where you can see more than 2,000 exhibits, including 800 interactive exhibits that make complex scientific principals understandable. Among other things, you'll get a close-up view of the actual Apollo 8 command module that circled the moon in 1968, a United Airlines 727 jet, and you can walk through a human heart or a captured German World War II submarine. Before you leave you can descend in an elevator into a coal mine (you could get a job in a real one, or maybe stay in school for a while).
After a snack on your own at one of several fast-food restaurants in the Museum, then meet the bus and depart for Chicago's historic Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs (consistently one of the two best baseball teams in Chicago), where you'll attend a home game against a major league opponent. You'll be on your honor to select your own nutritionally balanced lunch at one or more of the stadium's many concession stands. After the game, meet the bus (at about 4:00 pm) and depart for your hotel to freshen up and dress for dinner.
After your Museum of Science and Industry visit, meet the bus and depart for Chicago's Magnificent Mile, the Champs Elysées of the Midwest. Upon arrival at Chicago Place, you'll be free for an inexpensive lunch on your own at one of a dozen familiar fast-food restaurants in the eighth floor atrium food court. After lunch, you can walk two blocks up and down Michigan Avenue, and in a matter of minutes you can visit NIKETOWN, FAO Schwarz, the Sony Electronics Gallery, and the Viacom Entertainment Store, among many, many other stores you won't find at home.
Meet the bus and depart for the Field Museum of Natural History, one of the largest public museums in the United States, and one of the foremost museums of its kind anywhere. Your visit will begin with a brief orientation tour, beginning at the four-story Brachiosaurus skeleton, then you'll be free to explore the museum's nine acres of exhibits that include a Tahitian marketplace, an Egyptian tomb (with 14 mummies) and models of Aztec villages and temples. Before you leave, be sure to visit the Life over Time exhibit that will take you on a high tech journey voyage through 3.8 billion years of the history of life on earth. Meet at the 75-foot-long Brachiosaurus, then return to your hotel to freshen up and dress for dinner.
Reassemble in the lobby then depart for dinner and an evening of sorcery, pageantry and horsemanship in the Spanish castle of Count Don Raimundo II. There, upon arrival, you will take a journey back to 11th Century Spain, in the time of El Cid, where chivalry and knights in shining armor still exist. The evening will begin in the Grand Arena where you will be served a four-course dinner, as eight rare Andalusian stallions perform military drills with rigorous precision. Eventually, your knight will compete on horseback with five other knights from the various regions of Spain in medieval games of skill and accuracy. The games will culminate with an authentic jousting tournament, in which all the spectacularly costumed knights compete (at full gallop) to unhorse each other for the right to choose the Queen of Love and Beauty (possibly you or one of your classmates!).
After dinner, transfer to the Briar Street Theater for an amazing performance of physical stunts, visual gags, art commentary, and audience participation that you will never, ever forget by the Blue Man Group. During the 80-minute performance, you will see, among many other things, three robotic, bullet- headed, blue-colored actors move about the stage, banging away on kettle drums, squeezing paint on the drumheads, and creating volcanic eruptions of color, and you'll see a member of the audience (maybe one of your teachers or classmates) taken back stage and having his or her head encased in a mold of orange Jello. Be sure to volunteer. By the end of the evening, with strobe lights flashing, and electronic music pulsing, you will be engulfed by a tidal wave of crepe paper streaming from the balcony in an all-out sensory assault. Don't try to understand it.
Reassemble in the lobby, then return to the Magnificent Mile, where you will meet your guide at the John Hancock Building. 10:15 am There, you will ascend 1,100 feet per minute in the world's fastest elevators (or if you prefer, you can take the stairs), to the 94th floor glass- enclosed observatory, where among other things, you'll get an exhilarating, panoramic view of the lakefront and Chicago skyline. While you're there, you can also have your picture taken on the "window-washer's scaffold" almost a quarter mile above North Michigan Avenue (your friends will never know it's just an optical illusion). Descend almost a quarter mile to street level at 15 miles per hour (the same speed as if you were dropping with an open parachute) then walk with your guide to the River North neighborhood for lunch on your own at your choice of Planet Hollywood, Hard Rock Café, Michael Jordan's, Rock and Roll McDonald's or the Rain Forest Café, all located within about a block of each other (just west of the Magnificent Mile). After lunch, you'll have a few minutes to browse for souvenirs, then meet the bus and depart for home. Arrive at school, exhausted but forever enriched.
Depart for DisneyQuest, Disney's new, five-story, indoor, interactive theme park where you can take a virtual jungle river rafting cruise, fly through the streets of Agrabah on Aladdin's magic carpet, or ride on a roller coaster of your own design at Cyberspace Mountain, to name just a few of its many rides and games. There will be something here to inspire every member of the group, that's a promise! Walk with your guide to the River North neighborhood for lunch on your own at your choice of Planet Hollywood, Hard Rock Café, Michael Jordan's, Rock and Roll McDonald's or the Rain Forest Café, all located within about a block of each other (just west of the Magnificent Mile). After lunch, you'll have a few minutes to browse for souvenirs, then meet the bus and depart for home.
The John G. Shedd Aquarium offers several fun and exciting educational trips each year in regions as diverse as the Volo Bog, St. Lawrence River and Dominican Republic. Find out more about our current field classes and an exciting Shedd Venture on this page. Watch for future excursions led by Shedd Aqurium experts on board the Shedd Aquarium's own custom-built research and collection vessel, the R/V Coral Reef II. Shedd Ventures offer you a rare glimpse of the wild. On one of our specially designed natural history trips you can explore exotic terrains, observe wildlife and have an adventure or two. Share your love of the wild with an intimate group accompanied by Shedd Aquarium staff members and assisted by local experts. Take part in an experience that highlights the fragility of wildlife and points out what must be done to preserve our threatened treasures. Some trips include a tax-deductible contribution to the aquarium to participate in research or conservation projects.
One of the six Australian lungfish in Gallery 6 was obtained in Sydney, Australia, by Aquarium staff in 1933 and has been on exhibit for a record 66 years. To re-create the rocky Alaskan coastline in the Oceanarium's tanks, builders went to the Arizona desert, which was once under water, to take latex molding of rock formations similar to those in Alaska. Concrete was then poured into the moldings and the pieces, like a jigsaw puzzle, were put together along the tank walls and are painted to look like rocks. In 1930, the Shedd Aquarium's first million gallons of salt water arrived from Key West, Florida, in 160 railroad tank cars. Today, the Aquarium mixes its own salt water using Lake Michigan water, salt, 16 additional Ingredients and is supplemented with naturally occurring trace elements from Lake Michigan.
The triple-laminated glass used in the Aquarium's 90,000-gallon Coral Reef Exhibit is two and one-quarter inches thick. A three-story life support system provides a constant supply of air and clean water for the aquatic life in the Aquarium. From reservoirs holding two million gallons of fresh and salt water, water is pumped through 75 miles of pipe to tanks near the roof, flows by gravity to the fish tanks on the main floor and returns to reservoirs in the basement through filters. The total capacity of all the tanks is about 400,000 gallons. John Graves Shedd (1850-1926), the man who generously donated $3 million to the people of Chicago to build the world's largest Aquarium, and for whom the Aquarium is named, was affiliated with the retail firm that would become Marshall Fields and Company for 44 years, eventually becoming Chairman of the Board. Mr. Shedd did not live to see the Aquarium built, he died four years before the Aquarium's official opening in 1930. "Lonely Lindy," the first neon tetra ever on display in the United States, arrived in Chicago in 1936. Collected in South America and shipped to Germany, the lone survivor of six arrived in the United States via the ill-fated airship Hindenburg and was flown on to Chicago to become the first and only fish to fly all the way from Germany to Chicago.
Part of the responsibility of keeping the whales, dolphins, harbor seals, sea otters and penguins in good health is providing them with natural diets. Each day the animals consume 650 pounds of herring, mackerel, pollock, smelt, squid, shellfish and other restaurant grade seafood. This diet costs, on average, $350 per day. As part of an observational study/research project in cooperation with the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, our whales wear stretchable plastic bands on their pectoral flippers. "Flipper bands" like these will eventually be used to identify beluga whales, and their movements, in the wild. Adult sea otters eat the equivalent of 20 to 25 percent of their body weight daily. This amounts to about 17 pounds of food for an average adult male each day. Penguins "fly" underwater using the same wing movements as airborne birds.
Three of the Shedd Aquarium's sea otters are survivors of the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill which Aquarium staff helped to clean up afterward. The pups were separated from their mothers when the tanker spilled millions of gallons of oil into Prince William Sound and did not have the survival skills needed to live in the wild. The Oceanarium habitats contain nearly 3 million gallons of water. That is enough water to fill 100,000 standard size bathtubs! The centerpiece of Go Overboard!, the Aquarium's gift store, is an enormous three-dimensional octopus that weighs 1400-pounds (the head alone weighs 500 pounds), stretches 28 feet across and 10 feet high, and the eyes are televisions screens that continually show eyes of various animals and humans.