Actor John Goodman is helping to promote a 125,000-square-foot aquarium that is expected to open in 2019 as the centerpiece of a St. Louis Union Station redevelopment.
The developers posted a three-minute promotional video on the aquarium's Facebook page that is narrated by Goodman, 65, who grew up nearby in Affton, Missouri, and went on to star in the TV series "Rosanne" and movies such as "The Big Lebowski," "The Flintstones" and "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
The video begins with three children walking into the grand hotel and looking up in awe at its high ceilings, ornate woodwork, stained-glass windows and historical sculptures.
"There was always something magical about taking the train from Union Station," Goodman recalls in the video. "And while those days seem like an ancient memory, the magic is coming back."
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A boy looks at an old black-and-white photo of the train station packed with passengers and the ghost of a woman from the early 1900s hands a girl tickets. Another girl watches as a mosaic fish comes to life, and the rest of the video is a computer-generated vision of what the aquarium experience will be like for visitors.
"This journey is one like never before," Goodman ends his narrative. "Come with us as the Mississippi takes you below the surface where you will explore the world's great waterways."
The Facebook post also includes a photo of Goodman in a recording studio, apparently preparing to read the video script.
Stephen O'Loughlin, president of Lodging Hospitality Management, which owns the station, could not be reached for comment.
Completed in 1894, St. Louis Union Station is a National Historic Landmark. It was used as a train station until the 1970s then renovated into a hotel and shopping mall in the 1980s. Lodging Hospitality Management bought it in 2012 and announced plans to convert it into an entertainment complex in 2016.
St. Louis Union Station Hotel remains open with 539 guest rooms and suites. The aquarium will be located in the former mall space, housing exhibits with thousands of species and accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
"The aquarium's highlight will be its shark tank, holding one of the largest collections of sharks in the Midwest," according to the website. "And for those souls brave enough to cross over, the exhibit will include a rope bridge suspended only inches above the shark-infested waters."
Outside, the plaza will host live music, festivals, farmer's markets and a 3-D animated light and fire show over a small lake. Visitors also will be able to ride a 200-foot-tall Ferris wheel.
"The existing outdoor space will be reimagined, giving new life to old train cars and steel shipping containers as dining hot spots for burgers, craft beer, wine and sweet treats," the website states.