The California Academy of Sciences is such a wonderful place; it's really hard to say anything negative about it. However, on our first visit there since the museum re-opened, we all agreed that it wasn't what we'd been expecting.
We expected a lot of extinct animal bones and dioramas. There were a few of these around, but only a very few. Live animals have replaced most of the bones. I see now why they no longer call it the Museum of Natural History. The focus is much more on current events, and less on history. There is a large section devoted to global warming, for example. Although maybe calling it the California Academy of Biological Sciences, or Natural Sciences would be more accurate. Biology, Zoology, Evolution, and other such sciences are well represented, but not so much Physics or other sciences.
It was a little too much information for our kids, since they're so small, but they were also free to get in, so that's fair. In a few years, they could really get a lot out of a visit. As it was, they really loved the aquarium especially, and we had trouble dragging them away from a few tanks.
We spent a little bit of time in the "Explorer Cove" that is a special area just for kids under 6 years old. There are some puzzles, but there isn't much 'exploring' to be done there. It's really just a dedicated play area. The kids loved it in there, playing with stuffed animals, and climbing around, but I may have skipped it for other exhibits if I'd know there weren't any kid displays inside. Or at least saved it for when we needed a break. We made the mistake of heading there first.
We almost skipped a visit into the Rainforest because the line looked intimidating. I'm glad we decided to go anyway. It looked like a long wait, but the staff does a great job of keeping the line moving quickly. Traveling through the rainforest layers, while butterflies flutter past your head is well worth the trouble to get inside.
I was not quite prepared for the crowds. We visited on a Sunday, and the place was packed. Wall to wall. If you aren't a fan of crowds, you may want to try visit on a weekday, although I hear that it gets crowded then too, but I imagine it must be better, right?
One other mistake we made, was waiting until we'd browsed around awhile before asking about the planetarium show. By then all the tickets for the day were gone. So be warned: if you want to see the show, go early, and ask for tickets as soon as you're in the door. If anyone reading this has seen the show, let me know what you thought of it in the comment section, okay?