[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Tim Gallen
Reporter- Phoenix Business Journal

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,” saidAmram 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.

The aquarium will create a couple thousand construction jobs, Knishinsky said, and employ approximately 250 when it’s operational.

While the Valley is home to a number of smaller aquariums such as those at Arizona Mills mall in Tempe and the World Wildlife Zoo & Aquarium near Litchfield Park, Knishinsky said Phoenix is the only major metropolitan area in the country that is not home to a major aquarium.

In addition, Phoenix is a popular tourist destination, so building an attraction such as the aquarium in the region makes sense.
OdySea is expected to draw 1.5 million annual visitors a year, or about 15,000 daily.

“Phoenix gets 18 million tourists annually and 8 million end up in Scottsdale,” Knishinsky said.[/vc_column_text][mk_button size=”medium” bg_color=”#008ec0″ txt_color=”#fff” outline_skin=”#444444″ outline_hover_skin=”#fff” icon=”icon-arrow-circle-o-right” url=”http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/news/2014/01/31/odysea-aquarium-planned-near.html?page=all” target=”_blank” align=”left” margin_bottom=”15″ style=”flat”]View this story on www.bizjournals.com[/mk_button][/vc_column][/vc_row]