After more than 50 years, the Oregon Undersea Gardens in Newport is closing their doors for good. According to their post on social media, they will be open for free public tours until Sunday, September 8.
“It has been a great journey, but it is time to move on,” the Facebook post read.
The public is invited to tour Undersea Gardens for free from Sept. 3 to 8, though the last dive show was September 2. The gift shop is to remain open until Oct. 11.
Opened in the summer of 1966, Undersea Gardens is the last survivor of four nearly identical attractions built by the late Charlie White (The other three were in Seattle, British Columbia, and Santa Barbara). The tank is interestingly also a copy of the Pacific Undersea Gardens, which opened in Victoria, B.C. in 1963 and closed in 2013 – due to the expensive upkeep, and a change of local tastes.
Undersea Gardens is essentially a big aquarium sunk in Yaquina Bay with a floating room — actually another tank — nestled inside. Guests are able to walk 15 feet down into the room, peer through its outside windows into the murky water, and, hopefully, see the beautiful fish in the outer tank. Charlie called it, “an aquarium in reverse.”
When he wasn’t building underwater tourist attractions, Charlie White (1925-2010) found time to invent the “Son of Hibachi” portable barbecue, and claimed to have pioneered the publishing of TV listings later copied by TV Guide.
According to The Oregonian, ownership said the closure aligns with upcoming renovations to Mariner Square’s other two popular attractions, Ripley’s Believe it or Not! and The Wax Works. There were no details announced at this time including much else, as far as the reonivations go.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium, which was built in 1992, gave the Undersea Garden a run for it’s money when they opened their doors across Yaquina Bay. The aquarium which attracted tourists worldwide, especially gained fame when it hosted Keiko, the orca who everyone loved in “Free Willy,” before he was shipped to Iceland to be released back into the wild.