Greg Charbeneau is the president and managing director for OdySea Aquarium/Arizona Boardwalk. He’s dedicated the past 36 years of his career to the zoological operations, hospitality, and entertainment industries, working at nationally acclaimed aquariums, theme parks, and resorts. Here, he chats with us about Arizona Boardwalk, what makes it unique, plans for the new 48-acre parcel, and things you’d be surprised to know about him.
Tell us a little about Arizona Boardwalk …
Arizona Boardwalk is Scottsdale’s one-of-a-kind entertainment destination that features nine marquee attractions—OdySea Aquarium, Butterfly Wonderland, UFO Experience, Ripley’s Believe It or Not!®, Laser +
Mirror Maze, Museum of Illusions, Pangaea Land of the Dinosaurs, Cyber Quest and Johnny’s Playground—in addition to multiple dining, shopping, and amusement venues. The outdoor courtyard regularly hosts a variety of free events and family entertainment throughout the year.
What do you feel makes it such a unique place?
AZ Boardwalk is incredibly unique and appealing because it has nine indoor, family-friendly attractions in one location conveniently located in Scottsdale, giving guests of all ages and interests memorable experiences with a variety of immersive, interactive, and engaging experiences. Arizona Boardwalk showcases the anchor attractions Butterfly Wonderland, which has the largest indoor butterfly conservatory in the country, and OdySea Aquarium, which is the largest aquarium in the Southwest! The passion and commitment of the team members that work at the destination is what makes it so remarkable. They strive every day to take great care of the guests, each other, and all the animals under their care.
Do you have a favorite destination?
Outside of Arizona Boardwalk? Sandy Toes Rose Island, Bahamas. At Arizona Boardwalk, I am partial to OdySea Aquarium because I started when the building was barely built and now it is a thriving, world-class aquarium.
For OdySea Aquarium, what sets it apart from other aquariums?
Team members! They are incredibly talented, committed, and passionate about their role. The leadership team is tenaciously dedicated to the success of the team they coach, guide, and mentor. I am very fortunate to get to work with such an amazing team. OdySea Aquarium is the only aquarium in the world to have hanging aquarium globes in the “aqua lobby,” America’s voted best restroom with views into the shark exhibit, and the world’s only rotating theater experience to see amazing animals and hear from the actual team members who passionately take care of them.
Anything you can share about the new 48-acre parcel that is being developed?
Plans are underway to build a beautiful Hyatt Place hotel showcasing 155 rooms, a swimming pool, meeting spaces, and an inviting lobby area for gathering. We have designed Paradise Earth, one of the largest indoor rainforests in North America, with unique, beautiful free-flying birds, living as they do in nature. Currently, we are navigating through preliminary approvals with the local government authorities. In addition, concepts and designs are being considered to create additional synergies and expand upon the success of Arizona Boardwalk. The newly acquired land will make Arizona Boardwalk even more entertaining and exciting for guests of all ages.
When you’re not at Arizona Boardwalk, what would we find you spending time doing?
Hanging out with my family, boating, mountain biking, golf, tennis, Orangetheory Fitness classes, and enjoying great food and beverages with my friends.
Any favorite locales around Scottsdale?
It really depends on the time of day and my mood. Love to hit Eggstasy for brunch, All American Grill Market Street for their French Dip, Bourbon and Bones for a steak, and The Sicilian Butcher for the meatballs.
One thing people would be surprised to know about you:
I’m a five-time Ironman, including competing in world championships in Kona! I am also a Black Belt in Kenpo Karate, and love being a girl dad!