The animal kingdom encompasses species from every continent on the planet. But Cherokee Trace Drive-Thru Safari cuts down on the need for excessive travel by bringing an eclectic array of exotic species to the heart of East Texas. The 300-acre preserve houses 36 exotic and endangered species in open areas similar to their native habitats. This allows visitors to see these majestic creatures firsthand while driving along the miles of roads that weave throughout the preserve's hills and savannahs. Over the course of the self-guided tour, visitors will have the opportunity to spot animals such as an alligator, Canadian wood bison, Arabian camel, red kangaroo, zebra, and holographic dodo, all from the safety of their vehicle. In addition to providing one-of-a-kind wildlife photo ops, the preserve also allows groups to feed some of the animals by dropping food pellets onto the ground.
At Witherspoon Ranch, it's not just about getting students into the saddle. Before tender-footed equestrians mount up, instructors work to lay the foundation, teaching fundamental horse-care and handling skills. Beginning by catching, grooming, and learning to saddle and bridle the horse, students become comfortable working around the animals, and build a solid basis from which to advance. But lessons aren't just for beginners; the trainers at Witherspoon also trot into more advanced, specialized territory, such as calf-roping and barrel racing, which can be put to use during their regularly held rodeos.
The trusty team of Quarter Horses at Broken Bow Ranch escorts visitors over the sprawling pastures and winding trails that grace the 1,400-acre working cattle ranch. Their owner, Gay Leigh Bingham, draws upon 25 years of experience when teaching new riders the subtleties of proper horsemanship. During private and group riding lessons, she aims to teach riders the proper way to confidently command a horse so they can ride comfortably on trails or help equine companions practice self-control when trotting through apple orchards. Not content to stop at the saddle, Ms. Bingham also invites visitors to enjoy her land for such pastimes as dove and duck hunting.
At The Gentle Zoo, youngsters feed pigs, pat ducklings, and interact with the other fuzzy residents. Elsewhere on the zoo’s 10 acres, guests can leap about on the bounce house, blast corn from the corn cannon, navigate the maze, or enjoy a leisurely ride on the tractor train. Such attractions enthrall kids at onsite birthday parties, while the mobile petting zoo’s 12–15 staff-supervised animals offer nuzzles and create memories in children's minds. The creatures also hit the road for the animal-encounters program, which combines hands-on animal contact with educational 45-minute presentations. The Gentle Zoo donates its proceeds from the program to its Creature Connection, Inc. nonprofit, which rehabilitates rescue animals before they participate in outreach programs for foster children and at-risk youth.
Starplex Cinemas Forney Stadium 12 adds a little extra shine to every screening with modern technology and screening rooms. Viewers are thrust right into the action of the film by 3-D projectors. Plush chairs—stacked stadium style—envelope audience members in comfort while also providing them with the unobstructed sightline required to see every production assistant’s name in the credits. Other welcome amenities include wall-to-wall screens, digital surround sound and projectors, and a concession stand that serves the theater’s signature $1 hot dogs.