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6 Abandoned Aquariums

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Aquarium visits are a staple of many a childhood, and most of us can remember at least one day spent with our faces pressed up against the cool glass, marveling at the brightly colored fish swimming through the waters. A trip to the aquarium is often one of the earliest exposures children have to marine science—not to mention the joys (and horrors) of school field trips.

Perhaps the association with childhood is one of the things that makes aquariums feel so forlorn when things go wrong. The mold and decay contrasts with the cheerful colors of the peeling paint, and it’s easy to imagine the laughter of ghostly schoolchildren echoing down the hall. Here are six abandoned aquariums from around the world.

1. Coral Island Marine Park // Bahamas 

When it opened in 1987, the Coral Island Marine Park in the Bahamas drew throngs of tourists to its marine museum, underwater observatory, shark pools, snorkel trails, and secluded "villa hotel." But when Hurricane Floyd swept through in 1999, it caused massive damage, and the marine park was closed. Today the park’s ruins still sit against the turquoise waters of the Bahamas, but they’ve mostly been forgotten—tour guides sometimes claim the observatory is an old lighthouse or research station.

2. Old Cleveland Aquarium 

The original Cleveland Aquarium opened in February 1956 on the site of an old bathhouse and trailside museum. The building was converted by a group of volunteer tropical fish enthusiasts working under the auspices of the Cleveland Aquarium Society. (Their adorable motto: "Fish, Fun, Friends.”) The attraction featured 50 freshwater and marine exhibits, including swordfish, octopus, and corals, as well as rarer species such as Australian lungfish and red-bellied piranhas. A new wing added in 1967 tripled the aquarium's size. Yet despite drawing crowds, the aquarium suffered from financial and structural problems. It closed in 1985 and became a K-9 training facility for the Cleveland Police Department. Cleveland didn’t get a new aquarium until 2012.

3. Atlantis Marine Park // Two Rocks, Australia 

The Atlantis Marine Park in Two Rocks, Australia, about an hour north of Perth, opened to great fanfare in 1981. Hundreds of thousands of visitors came to watch the trained bottlenose dolphins, swim in the pools, ride the pedal boats, and marvel at the giant limestone sculpture of a jolly-looking King Neptune. The park was a major feature of Australian businessman Alan Bond's ambitious Yanchep Sun City, in which he planned to turn an old sheep station into a massive resort. Bond had big dreams for Atlantis, but financial issues forced the park to shut down after only nine years. (As it happens, Bond was jailed in 1997 for one of Australia’s biggest cases of corporate fraud; he died earlier this month.) Today the ruins are a popular spot for dog walkers. Local crayfishermen say they sometimes spot the park’s dolphins off the marina.

4. Sea-Arama Marineworld // Texas 

The 25-acre Sea-Arama Marineworld once boasted dolphin shows, a ski lake, a 50-foot aquarium, and men wrestling alligators. When it opened in 1965, it was one of the first ocean theme parks in the nation. But after the flashier and much larger SeaWorld opened in San Antonio in 1988, the crowds dwindled, and the owners were loathe to put money toward much-needed revitalization. The park closed in 1990 and fell into ruin, becoming a haven not for sea life but for local teens and graffiti artists. It was finally demolished in 2006. 

5. Saikaibashi Public Aquarium // Japan

It's tough to find detailed information in English on the Saikaibashi Public Aquarium, but a directory of museums in Japan says it was open by 1960, and urban explorers who have visited the ruins say it had fallen into decay by the mid-1990s. The two-floor museum wasn't known for extravagance, but did boast several dolphin shows each day. Today, the elements have taken their toll, leading to rust, dust, and cracks, and many of the structures are in danger of collapse. Watch out for dolphin ghosts. 

6. Lalbagh Gardens // Bangalore, India 

The centuries-old Lalbagh gardens in Bangalore, India, once included a glasshouse modeled on London's Crystal Palace (built in 1889 to commemorate a visit from the prince of Wales), as well as a popular bandstand, menagerie, tropical garden, and aquarium. Edward Lear once called it "the Kew of India." These days, travelers say it's more of a public park than a garden, and the abandoned aquarium building is a decrepit shell of its former self.

Bonus: the abandoned shopping mall that became an aquarium 

The New World shopping mall in Bangkok, built in 1982, went up in flames due to suspected arson in 1997, after which it was abandoned. Without a roof, the basement remained under water year-round. At some point in the early 2000s, a resident (his or her identity is unclear) began introducing koi, catfish, and tilapia into the water, perhaps to keep mosquito populations in check. The fish multiplied and the place transformed itself into an unexpected urban aquarium, with catfish swimming among the escalators. Sadly, this past January workers cleared out the fish and drained the water. At last report, the building was set for demolition.

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Want Priority Boarding On Your Alaska Airlines Flight This Holiday Season? Wear an Ugly Christmas Sweater
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Between steep fares and crowded terminals, flying during the holidays isn’t fun. But on Friday, December 15, a special Alaska Airlines promotion will ease boarding stress and transform packed planes into mile-high ugly sweater parties, in honor of National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. As the Los Angeles Times reports, the airline will offer free early boarding to travelers willing to don their holiday worst at the airport.

The promotion is good for all Alaska Airlines flights in the airline’s 115-city network, and for flights offered by Virgin America and Horizon Air (both of which are operated by Alaska Airlines). In addition to escaping the waiting crowds, passengers who share the most festive knitted looks will be featured on Alaska Air's social media pages if they tag their photos and videos using the hashtags #UglySweaterDay and #MostWestCoast. And since no plane aisle-turned-catwalk is complete without a soundtrack, “festive holiday-themed boarding music will play all month long to help get guests into the holiday spirit,” according to a press release.

Worried you’ll be the only person on the plane wearing a sequined Rudolph cardigan? Even if other passengers don’t get the memo, airline crew will also be wearing ugly sweaters—so feel free to unleash your inner Chevy Chase from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

[h/t Los Angeles Times]

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Here Are the Best and Worst Days for Christmas Travel
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Flight delays are always a hassle, but the holidays add an extra layer of stress. No one wants to be stuck at the airport while their family is digging into Christmas dinner. And even if you fly long before the holiday itself, airports are always more hectic during the holiday season. Between the high volume of travelers and the whims of winter weather, getting off the ground doesn’t necessarily feel like a given when you leave for the airport.

But not all airports and days are equally prone to flight issues, according to U.S. Bureau of Transportation data from the last five years, as analyzed by the electric supply company Elite Fixtures, which previously analyzed the worst airports for Thanksgiving travel.

A green chart lists travel delays and flight cancellation statistics by date.
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On average, you’re less likely to be delayed if you’re traveling the week before Christmas or on the holiday itself, the data shows. December 25 has actually had the lowest percentage (18 percent) of delayed flights over the last five years, giving you a good excuse if you want to flee to the airport directly after your family’s holiday meal. Traveling December 18 and 19 is also a good idea, since only 26 percent of flights are typically delayed on those days.

A red chart details travel delay and cancellation statistics by date.
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Beware the 22nd and 23rd of December, though. On those days, an average of 32 percent and 34 percent of flights get delayed, respectively. The few days after Christmas are also likely to stick you with an annoying delay—33 and 34 percent of flights are delayed on the 26th and 27th.

A green-and-gray U.S. map highlights the 10 best airports for holiday travel with plane icons.
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Airlines don’t encounter flight difficulties in equal measure across all airports, though. If you’re flying through one of the airports above, congratulations! The likelihood of getting delayed is less than at the Houston or Oakland airports, both hubs with the highest rates of holiday flight delays in the U.S.

Unfortunately, no matter what day you fly and where you fly from, there's no way to really predict whether your flight will leave on time. You'll just have to hope that Santa brings you the seamless holiday travel experience you put on your Christmas list.

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