I avoided Black Friday by taking the boys to the Denver Downtown Aquarium. (I don't really get why they need the word "Downtown" in the name. It's not like there are many aquaria in the metro area.) We had not been to the aquarium since its former incarnation, Ocean Journey, and it has changed dramatically. In fact, although I only went to Ocean Journey a couple of times, there is little of Ocean Journey that I recognize in the new aquarium.
I say that even though the big exhibit tanks, with the sharks, coral reefs, and tigers haven't changed much, and the flash flood simulation is still there. But gone are the large displays of Colorado river life, i.e. 10 kinds of trout. Good riddance.
They have crammed many more revenue-generating activities in every possible area. Balloon animal-makers, palm tree climbing, much larger gift shop, sit-down restaurant, bar, gold-panning, etc. are everywhere. It's a little claustrophobic, but if it keeps this version of the aquarium solvent so that my kids can enjoy it for a few more years, I'm OK with it.
Overall, it's significantly improved, even with all the nickel-and-dime stuff everywhere. We had a terrific time.