As they observe the vibrant exhibits of aquatic life inside the Miami Seaquarium, many guests don't realize that they are walking through a movie set and a hospital. In the onsite lagoon, bottlenose dolphins swim through waters once traversed by Flipper, who filmed several television episodes and films at the venue. The Seaquarium is also recognized as a manatee critical care facility. Its staff has accomplished several historic treatments, including monitoring the conception and arrival of the first manatee born under human care and conducting the first manatee neurological surgery.
These facets of the Seaquarium—along with its many conservation efforts, educational programs, and shows—underscore a united commitment to wildlife consciousness. The animal attractions enable visitors to witness the allure and fragility of oceanic fauna up close, whether they are petting the back of a stingray or washing a dress shirt on the rough back of an 8-foot nile crocodile. Special encounters decrease the distance even further, sending patrons on underwater Sea Treks through the reef display or helping them to lead marine-mammal training routines.
It's hard to pinpoint the biggest personality inside the Seaquarium tanks, but Lolita the killer whale—who performs daily alongside pacific white-sided dolphins—claims the title of heaviest, period. On the other end of the scale, macaws and cockatiels perch around the Tropical Wings section of the park, and endangered sea turtles lounge at Discovery Bay. Elsewhere, a watery playground and three-story ropes course keep legs from growing too wobbly after a trip to Shark Channel or a smooch from a sea lion.
For twenty terrifying nights this fall, the normally tranquil confines of Watson Island will be visited by an ancient evil and the malevolent modern forces that awakened it. Designed by the frightmasters that brought you the award-winning Festival of Souls?which was voted the scariest haunted house in Florida by HauntWorld.com?Terror in the Jungle transforms Jungle Island into a massive, interactive haunted experience. Visitors enter a jungle beset by toxin-infused beasts, shambling zombies, and wrathful gods bent on punishing any mortal who dares wander the undergrowth. After navigating five acres of dense pathways, visitors arrive at the main event: the Ruins Pyramid Haunted House, a 10,000 square foot temple of unimaginable evil and bone-chilling scares.
Like a great scary movie, Terror in the Jungle comes with a back story that sets up the fright within. The story begins on 12/21/2012, a day purported to mark the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar. As the world woke to yet another day on Earth, the prophesy manifested itself in an unexpected way. In the skies above Mexico, a cargo plane transporting hazardous materials from a government research lab faltered, crashing into the ruins of an ancient, forgotten city. The toxins on board seeped into the surrounding environment, mutating plants and people alike. Locals entreated the old gods for help, but found only retribution; insulted by mankind's disregard for life and nature, the deities unleashed the Hunter, a demon bent on wiping out any human in its path.
It is now 2014. The Mexican government, desperate for answers about the crash and its aftermath, has uncovered rumors of ecological unrest deep within a remote jungle. Now, government officials and Hazmat containment specialists are gathered at the entrance to the jungle, preparing to clean up their catastrophic mess. Little do they know that these trees conceal overgrown beasts, risen undead, and a supernatural force more powerful than anything they've ever encountered.
The Patricia and Philip Frost Museum has spent most of its life outgrowing its digs. It debuted in 1949 as a children's museum, which took off quickly and soon expanded into the Museum of Science and Natural History in 1952. In 1960, it again needed more space and moved to its current site, and now an even larger space is being built, set to open in 2016.
But throughout all its physical changes, its mission remains the same, "We inspire people of all ages and cultures to enjoy science and technology, in order to better understand ourselves and our world."
Size: as of now, the site stands at 48,000 square feet; plans for the new space will expand that to 250,000 square feet over five levels
Eye Catcher: tour the Wildlife Center, where the staffers care for injured wildlife?specifically majestic birds of prey?and release them back into the wild
Permanent Mainstay: the Planetarium, where PBS's Jack Horkheimer: Star Gazer was filmed, boasts a 65-foot-diameter domed projection screen
Don't Miss: in the late afternoon, the planetarium hosts Legends of the Night Sky Laser Show, which teaches kids how to find constellations using lasers and Greek myths
Hands-On Experiments: in Nano, kids manipulate large-scale mechanisms as they familiarize themselves with the principles behind nanoscience
Special Programs: the museum?s Sea Lab features beautiful underwater creatures and coral reefs. Guests can get up close and personal as they reach out to touch a starfish or a sea urchin or have a cleaner shrimp nibble at their nails
Giant toy soldiers clothed in thousands of colored lights wave at passersby as glowing reindeer take off into the dusk. Towering Christmas trees topped with stars glimmer and glisten with blue and green fiber optics. At Santa's Enchanted Forest, one of the world’s largest Christmas-themed amusement parks, holiday spirit and festive music fill the air long before the end of December. Visitors laugh and shriek on a multitude of carnival rides, including whirling swings, bumper cars, tower drops, and roller coasters, whipping through the air until their cheeks are as rosy as old Saint Nick’s. Traditional carnival games are also on hand, such as dart tosses and soccer-ball kicks, to complement more unconventional carnival amusements such as giant plastic balls to roll around in and a rock-climbing wall to scale. Wee visitors, meanwhile, can make the acquaintance of small livestock in a petting zoo or draw a portrait of their favorite goat in royal costume on a wall-size coloring-book mural. Carnival food, such as barbecue, pizza, and cinnamon donuts, fuels guests as they conquer rides or take in the Cats of the World Tiger Show, the Cirque Equinox, or the Sea Lion Splash Spectacular.
Though roller skating may be symbolic of life in the '50s, the staff at Super Wheels Skating Center has incorporated the tunes, TVs, and technology of today to bring this American pastime in to the 21st century. DJs spin a choice of more than 400,000 songs through the rink’s digital sound equipment, serenading guests as they show off their moves and finally embrace their wheel transplant. In order to offer more than just skating, the staff created a super arcade filled with interactive games and sprinkled the facility with 20 high-definition TVs and five giant screens that broadcast entertainment as well as live texts from guests and overprotective mothers.
Outside of open-skate hours, the rink puts on a range of events, including private parties, beginning and pro skating lessons, and special times for skaters 11 and younger. The facility’s concession stand offers food for all ages, including futuristic Dippin’ Dots, fried appetizers, Latin pastries, and pitchers of O’Doul's.
The Gold Coast Railroad Museum began in 1956, when train enthusiast William J. Godfrey chanced upon the miles of abandoned railroad track snaking through the pineland of University of Miami’s southern campus. He imported a newly retired steam engine to the premises, and a tribute to railroading history began.
Now in a new location in Miami proper, the museum continues to honor trains’ role in American history, with nine exhibits on locomotives, passenger cars, and the Richmond’s Naval Air Station’s fleet. Visitors can hop aboard a full-size diesel locomotive passenger coach, or take a ride a miniature children’s railroad that’s ideal for transporting shipments of Lincoln logs. Alternatively, they can run motorized or free-wheeling trains through a model railroad, which zips through mountain tunnels and circles around to-scale landscapes.