When the Jacksonville Zoo first opened in 1914, it had only one attraction––a red fawn. Today, nearly a century later, it’s home to more than 2,000 rare and exotic animals and 1,000 plant species, and welcomes an ever-changing lineup of visiting exhibits. Guests stroll along the boardwalk in a large, open environment called the Plains of East Africa, where cheetah, antelope, and warthogs roam in environs that simulate their native habitat. The African loop also includes Elephant Plaza, where elephants stir up tidal waves playing marco polo in a 275,000-gallon pool. Visitors can also pet and feed stingrays, stand eye-to-eye with a giraffe, and head to the award-winning Range of the Jaguar exhibit to roam a replica of an abandoned Mayan temple. During summer months, kids get wet at the Play Park and Splash Ground, where they can climb into a treehouse or peer through an underwater window to see penguins swimming overhead.
After guests explore the wildlife, rest and relaxation await within botanical gardens such as the Asian Bamboo garden, where patrons cross a traditional moon gate to see a tranquil waterfall, komodo dragons, and an interactive bamboo mist forest. The zoo also features a carousel, train rides, and several restaurants where humans can tap into their own wild instincts by hunting their natural prey—the sandwich.
Uniquely residing indoors, the marquee at Fabian 8 Cinema evokes nostalgia with its towering lights and brick façade, even as it flashes the current features in digital print. Within the actual theaters, viewers recline in high-backed rocker seats, arranged in extra-wide stadium configurations for maximum comfort and cowering space during scary scenes. Serving eyes a veritable feast of motion pictures, first-run features spring from the latest in digital cinema technology, augmented by digital and 3-D technologies.
Hawthorne Theater was established in 1927, making it one of the first movie houses established in the area. And though at almost 90 years of age the space is older than most buildings in North America, it's recently undergone major renovations to keep up with modern technology. According to an interview with owner Jack Sayegh at NorthJersey.com, the fully digital five-screen cinema was outfitted with new carpeting and chairs, Real D and 3-D movie equipment, Dolby Surround Sound in all theaters, and human ticket-takers to replace the outdated robot ones. The article also cites that the theater––which has been independently owned since 1980––is maintained by Jack's father, uncle, and cousin, reinforcing its family-friendly nature.
Gatherings blossom into full-blown galas under the ministrations of Fun-4-All Entertainment’s party accoutrements, such as balloon artists, live bands, and cotton-candy machines. The party supply service’s portable miniature golf courses let putters perfect their strokes anywhere, and its vast inflatable screens hook up to DVD-players or gaming consoles to furnish outdoor movie nights or gaming tournaments. Further party accessories nestle in Fun-4-All’s supply shop, which includes a range of items from noisemakers and rainbow-hued hats to sunglasses ideal for the best party activity of all, safely staring into your favorite lamp.