To celebrate SeaWorld's 50th anniversary, SeaWorld San Antonio is unveiling what they're calling a "Sea of Surprises." Here's what's in store: * Surprises throughout the day: Visitors will encounter new interactive pathway experiences, more up-close animal encounters, and the Surprise Squad, which treats guests to prizes and special experiences * New seasonal shows: including the nighttime Shamu show, Shamu's Celebration: Light Up the Night, as well as an anniversary-themed ski show
Endangered Asian arowana flash lustrous orange and green scales; a Victorian crowned pigeon shakes its cerulean tufts and spreads its turquoise wings; 16-inch fairy penguins waddle across a forest floor. And that’s all before you hit the admissions booth. The Dallas World Aquarium’s Borneo exhibit greets guests to the zoo and aquarium with a preview of the colorful, exotic wildlife that await them inside. But the animals aren’t just there for visitors’ entertainment—the aquarium plays a large role in conservation efforts not just in the U.S., but around the world, and yhe majority of its residents are endangered or threatened in the wild. Once inside, guests explore each critter’s natural habitat as they delve into exhibits that emulate different global regions, much like the control centers run by evil TV weathermen. The eight-story Mundo Maya’s 400,000-gallon Cenote river teems with sharks, rays, and sea turtles indigenous to the Yucatan Peninsula. In the Orinico exhibit, crocodiles and red-bellied piranhas form a menacing welcoming committee in the water, but residents of the sloth forest remain unconcerned, moseying lazily from branch to branch.
Outside in a mock South Africa habitat aptly named tomato frogs, squat and orange like their namesake, hop around a flourishing botanical garden, alongside Madagascan big-headed turtles and black-footed penguins. And in the aquarium, a 20,000 gallon walk-through tunnel lets guests get up close and personal with hundreds of Indo-Pacific fishes and sea critters, including the blue-dot stingray—named for the blue specks scattered across its yellow coat.
The Austin Aquarium packs an array of aquatic wonders with its 24,000 square feet; its exhibits encompass marine habitats from around the world, housing more than 3,000 species from Oregon to Indonesia in its aquariums and aviaries. Among the activities, visitors can feel the skin of rays or tempt birds or younger siblings with handfuls of nectar. The aquarium also hosts behind-the-scenes tours and sleepovers in which kids can get a glimpse into the ocean at night, when even the mightiest sharks cower in fear from plankton's elongated shadows.
The El Paso Zoo recreates the global animal kingdom with more than 220 species housed in more than 35 acres of landscaped terrain. Like a cell dividing to attend different bio-parties, the zoo splits into three geographic sections: Asia, Africa, and the Americas, with each area containing its native mammalian zebras, reptilian Burmese pythons, and avian screech owls, to name just a few. Recently opened lion and meerkat exhibits in the Passport to Africa habitat display two of the savanna's most frequently animated animals. Zookeepers perform animal encounters with Asian elephants at noon and train California sea lions during "Meet the Keeper" presentations at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Whether traveling solo or with a wee one in tow, the El Paso Zoo provides a diverse and entertaining experience for wildlife lovers of all ages.
Perched on picturesque Galveston Island, Moody Gardens possesses a storied history that complements its scenic surroundings. Next to the sprawling grounds, the Moody Gardens Golf Course boasts multiple holes that run alongside the rippling waters of the Gulf and its intervening waterways, forming intimidating hazards and housing a thriving civilization of merpeople who use golf balls for currency. The tourist destination also thrills families with water attractions, including a wave pool and a lazy river. The restored 10-story Rainforest Pyramid holds more than 1,700 exotic plants and animals from Asian, African, and American rainforests, while the Aquarium Pyramid features a diverse range of ocean inhabitants including sharks and penguins.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center gives kids a little round-headed person's view of the world, surrounding them with blown-up versions of normally miniature plastic environments. At six locations across North America, children ages 3 and older?and their adults?drive all-terrain buggies through a Lego forest in hot pursuit of bank robbers, travel through a dungeon blasting skeletons with laser guns, and build and test their own race cars on a colorful track. At every location, visitors can enter the 4D Cinema, where 3D Lego films are enhanced with in-theater weather effects such as wind and snow. They can also look out over Lego-brick recreations of the local city that feature scale models of landmarks such as Chicago's Navy Pier.
An exploration of the bright world of plastic bricks doesn't have to end at the attractions. To continue the fun at home, shops at each location house hundreds of current Lego sets.