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.
Imagine standing eye level with a giraffe, holding out your arm for parrots to land on, or touching the head of an endangered rhino. At Zoo Miami, these experiences happen every day, fulfilling the institution's mission of encouraging the conservation of wildlife. More than 2,000 animals?from chimps to tigers to koalas?populate the African exhibit, Asian exhibit, and Australian exhibit. Many of the individual exhibitions don't use cages, but are instead bound by moats throughout more than three miles of walking trails. This setup allows guests to get closer to animals as they romp in their habitats. More than 1,200 plant species populate these habitats, which are re-creations of the animals' native environments.
Guests can use free WiFi to download a free mobile app for iPhones and Androids. The app then delivers functions such as location beacons so that family members keep track of one another, show times, and GPS-enabled maps that show the nearest dining venue or restroom. Transportation options within the zoo range from an air-conditioned monorail to tram tours, which provide insights such as which animals have recently had babies, what they named the babies, and each baby's first word. Developed specifically for kids, a children's zoo offers camel rides and a playground.
For 17 years, Flamingo Gardens has gathered plant experts, landscapers, and other gardening connoisseurs to its annual festival. This year, the Broward Bonsai Society joins in the fun with an exhibition of the varied shapes and levels of perfection its miniature trees can hold. Displays from Alexander Farms, Greenhouse Orchids, and other vendors entice the eyes while guests wander about, taking in colorful performances from butterfly stilt-walkers and West African drummers. At the Butterfly Encounter, guests learn lepidopterist lore from expert Mike Rich while feeding live butterflies and teaching them about the updated food pyramid.
Wee ones, meanwhile, can head to the Kids Gardening Zone to decorate their own pots and plant a seed or romp through the gardens on a scavenger hunt. Plant experts also hold classes and demonstrations, including "Mounting Orchids & Basic Orchid Culture," and take guests on guided tours through the botanical gardens.
In the 1920s, one man accomplished a feat so seemingly impossible that scientists, engineers, and scholars are still mystified by it today. This man, Ed Leedskalnin, actually carved 1,100 tons of coral rock to create Coral Castle. Thanks to Ed's ultra-private, night-owl work habits, the methods he used to do so remain mysterious to this day.
Part museum, part sculpture garden, Coral Castle features a hand-carved 9-ton gate, a Polaris telescope, and a sundial with seasons—all carved from coral rock. Visitors can explore the site through guided tours, which delve into the history and science behind the structures, as well as a love story. Afterward, they can grab a bite at Coral Castle Café.
The highly ranked TripAdvisor attraction has been referred to as a modern megalith and compared to such ancient megaliths as the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge. Some even consider it one of the Wonders of the World, and it has been featured on everything from the History Channel to the Travel Channel. In 1981, the TV show In Search Of with Leonard Nimoy profiled Coral Castle.
Rocky the tiger, Chewy the camel, and a literal rescue of other animals such as alligators, chameleons, owls, and wolves are just a few of the critters that take up residence at the nonprofit Everglades Outpost Wildlife Refuge and Rescue. Though their pasts aren?t necessarily happy?all of the facility's animals are taken in due to neglect, improper care, or injury?the staff of loving volunteers ensures each story ends happily and each tail continues to wag as they revive and nurse native and exotic animals from all walks of life back to health. In addition to the refuge, which is open to the public, the Everglades Outpost Wildlife Refuge and Rescue also conducts educational events and outreach programs.
At Everglades Alligator Farm, airboats zip nearly 4 miles through shallow "rivers of grass," splashing visitors as they catch glimpses of wildlife between fast spins and hairpin turns. On the shore, alligator handlers lead demonstrations with the animals—injecting humor along the way—before letting audience members hold and take pictures with a baby alligator. Snake handlers help brave visitors pose for snapshots with a snake draped around their shoulders. Audiences craving more wildlife after the shows and tour can also explore the farm's nature path, check out the captive collection of pythons and crocodiles, and watch alligators in a feeding frenzy over the last bag of Fritos at lunchtime.
It's a "compact adventure" in the Everglades, says CEO Matthew Thibos, whose family bought the farm in the '90s from a Baptist preacher who originally raised alligators off the side of US-1. Today, the staff keeps up to 2,500 gators on 200 acres of everglades wetlands, close to the entrance of Everglades National Park. "It's an off-the-beaten-path little gem that most people enjoy," Matthew says. "Kids love it—they have a fantastic time." Matthew stresses that the farm is a great place for pictures; National Geographic has been known to drop by, and the likes of Bill Nye the Science Guy and Bobby Flay have filmed there on-location. The farm sees plenty of visitors from the area, as well as domestic and international travelers, including the 2008 Miss Hong Kong contestants.