$55M aquarium opens in Branson

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There’s a new visitor on the Highway 76 strip in Branson – a 55-foot tall octopus. This one’s here to stay, as the octopus is the entry point for the Aquarium at the Boardwalk that opened yesterday in Branson.

Los Angeles-based Kuvera Partners Inc. has unveiled the $55 million, 46,000-square-foot attraction, according to a news release. Crossland Construction Co. Inc. broke ground early last year on the project.

“Our husbandry team and the entire staff has been hard at work preparing, and we think visitors will be mesmerized with the beautiful fish and thoroughly entertained by the fun activities throughout the experience," said Tej Sundher, partner at Kuvera Partners, in the release.

The aquarium's features include 400,000 gallons of salt water with more than 250 animal species; a 16-foot view of a coral reef; around 7,200 individual sea animals with plans to grow the number to 10,000; and a 24-foot climbing structure for children.

Denver-based art fabrication studio Demiurge LLC in October began installing the 34-ton sculpture of a giant Pacific octopus on the exterior of the building. Art at the aquarium also includes a 76-foot by 36-foot mural by artist John Pugh.

The aquarium is the first attraction by Kuvera Partners for a development called Branson Boardwalk, with future plans yet to be announced at the site of the former Grand Palace. The aquarium project is in line for $7 million in tax increment financing assistance over 15-23 years, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.