ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The highly anticipated, long-awaited and costly Penguin Chill exhibit at the Albuquerque BioPark is finally open. Zoo-goers waited in long lines Tuesday morning to be one of the first to catch a glimpse.

Thousands of people flocked to get inside the exhibit Tuesday, and when they came out they said it was truly an incredible experience.

These penguins are showstoppers. “The penguins themselves are stars, they really put on a good show for everybody,” said Mayor Tim Keller.

The thousands that came to see Albuquerque’s coolest residents couldn’t take their eyes off of them. “I kind of like to see the penguins, how they can kind of get up on the rock after they’re in the water,” said 12-year-old Diego.

As people waited in long lines to get inside the new Penguin Chill exhibit at the BioPark, some showed off their penguin waddle, others donned the penguin look. It’s all part of the excitement for the opening day of the penguins and their new exhibit, which is unique itself.

The nearly 15,000-square foot exhibit includes a 75,000-gallon tank. The clear glass people walk around gives them a different way to check out the penguins as they waddled, dove and swam around.

The exhibit also features educational components and interactive games. “I like it all, but the selfie thing at the end was really a class act,” Julie and Stuart Martin said.

But most of all, it’s the 31 Macaroni, Gentoo and King penguins that steal the spotlight. “It’s really cool. You get to see the penguins dive and everything,” Diego said.

Getting to this point wasn’t easy. For years, the city struggled with delays to open this exhibit, but people who KRQE News 13 spoke with say after seeing the penguins, it was worth the wait.

The city says it spent a little more than $19 million on the Penguin Chill exhibit, which is a few million more than what they originally budgeted for.

PHOTOS: Penguin Chill opening day