The largest butterfly atrium in America is now open in Scottsdale, Arizona. When I first heard about the new Butterfly Wonderland I knew instantly my daughter would want to visit daily. I was right, our family has already enjoyed the attraction several times.
I attended a media event at Butterfly Wonderland prior to bringing my daughter for a visit. I learned the history behind the attraction and spent time observing the beautiful butterflies.The attraction is housed on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and with out attending the event, I likely would not have understood the relevance. The admiration and respect for the natural world played a major part in the construction of the attraction. From the color scheme to the design of the structure, Butterfly Wonderland beautifully represents the community.
The Butterfly Wonderland experience begins as you arrive. Beautiful butterfly art surrounds you as you begin your journey through the attraction.
Before ever seeing the real butterflies, you can learn about the life of a butterfly while watching a 3D film. I felt like a child wanting to reach out and touch the butterflies while watching the film. The specially edited version of Flight of the Butterflies in 3D left me amazed by the long migration journey of the monarch butterfly.
Next you move to the butterfly emergence gallery where you observe the process of metamorphosis. Approximately 1,500 chrysalids from various parts of the world are imported to the attraction each week. There are large viewing windows for guests to see them in various stages. Watching the chrysalids wiggle was very exciting as we anticipated the arrival of the butterflies.
The butterflies and moths are moved to the atrium after their wings dry. I was amazed by the size of the Atlas Moth.
Your next stop of the experience is in the conservatory. The 10,000 foot atrium mimics the rainforest and is full of tropical plants and trees. The koi pond with waterfalls and light music offers a very relaxing environment for guests observing the butterflies. We had the opportunity to observe many different types of butterflies and moths.
The butterflies enjoy fruit in the atrium and certainly don’t mind all the excited guests.
Leaving the atrium, you can stop in the cafe for a quick snack and drink or a full meal. All of the fruit for the butterflies also comes from the cafe.
Next you make your way into the live ant colony and honey bee extravaganza area. We watched as ants worked together to tunnel their way through several different environments. The other side of the exhibit has an area to watch ants build a mound and tunnel to different areas of their community.
The large beehive exhibit offers visitors the opportunity to watch honey bees in action. The queen is marked with a large green dot so guests can identify her. These bees are able to fly outdoors and return to the hive through a large tube.
The last exhibit of the attraction is the rivers of the Amazon aquatic life. Here you are able to observe colorful fish and eels from the Amazon. There is also an interactive stingray touch tank where guests can touch spotted stingrays.
Leaving our media tour, I was very excited to go home and tell my daughter about the amazing attraction. I knew we would be visiting just a couple of days later. As predicted, she couldn’t wait to see the butterflies.
The following Saturday my husband, daughter, and I went to Butterfly Wonderland for our first family visit. I knew we would come back often so we took advantage of the founder’s lifetime membership. For less than what we would spend on just five visits as a family of three, we purchased a family membership that will allow us unlimited lifetime visits.
My daughter wanted to see the chrysalids first. We were there for just a few minutes before we witnessed a butterfly carefully climb out of a chrysalis. We were all completely amazed by the emergence that seemed to last just a few seconds.
We then moved right into the conservatory where butterflies instantly landed on my daughter. She was so excited.
My husband also had a few butterflies land on his green shirt.
By the end of our hour long experience in the conservatory, I had made a few butterfly friends too.
Just before we left the conservatory, a butterfly landed on my daughter’s nose. This was, by far, her favorite part of the entire experience. The butterfly stayed on her nose for several minutes before fluttering away.
Our first family visit lasted several hours. The next day my daughter and husband returned for their second visit in just two days. She enjoyed seeing the butterflies the second time just as much as the first.
Overall, I am beyond impressed by the attraction. It brings a great family friendly experience to Arizona just in time for our extremely hot summer. We have several family friendly places we love to visit but don’t get the opportunity to see during the summer. I know we will be spending a lot of time at Butterfly Wonderland over the next few months.
To prepare for your visit with preschool aged children, remind them we are not allowed to pick up the butterflies on our own. The life span of the butterfly is short and Butterfly Wonderland does everything possible to make it comfortable. We all enjoy butterflies landing on us but the rule is simply to let the butterflies come to you. This was a bit challenging for my daughter. Parental supervision is definitely important when you visit the conservatory.
Butterfly Wonderland is open for groups and activities, including birthday parties and corporate events. I anticipate my daughter celebrating her next birthday with the butterflies.
When planning your visit, you may consider purchasing an annual membership. If you anticipate visiting the attraction frequently the Lifetime Membership is an excellent deal. Until June 15, 2013, you can purchase a lifetime family membership for only $249. For my family, the lifetime membership definitely made the most sense.
To learn more about Butterfly Wonderland, connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.
What are most excited to see on your first visit?