Butterfly Wonderland, located in Scottsdale, Arizona, is described as an “indoor rainforest environment featuring the largest butterfly pavilion in America.” With a curious husband and bubbly preschooler in tow, I recently visited the attraction, which opened in May 2013 and is proudly located within the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
Once you arrive at Butterfly Wonderland, which is easy to spot given the big butterfly and large atrium, you're ushered into their on-site theater to experience Flight of the Butterflies in 3D. The movie is a great way to start the experience—and is a favorite among the kids. From there, you go to the Butterfly Emergence Gallery, where you'll see real life examples of butterflies in all their stages of development.
Then, the highlight of the experience: the 10,000 square foot atrium holds thousands of butterflies from all across the world. It's a rain forest-like environment, so be prepared to sweat, but it's completely worth it. One of the highlights of our visit in the atrium was the friendly staff members—one in particular took a sugar stick and had a butterfly land on top of it so my son could see a butterfly close up. Kids are encouraged to ask questions and are rewarded with a special sticker or small favor for doing so! In addition to the fluttering butterflies (which freely land on you), there is a waterfall and large Koi pond, another favorite among the kids.
More than butterflies
Once you experience the atrium, you can see a live ant colony and large beehive. Don't worry—everything is enclosed by glass! Also, there is the Rivers of the Amazon Aquatic Life exhibit, which features freshwater aquariums with colorful exotic fish. There's also an 1,800-gallon touch tank with Motoro stingrays. You can place your hand in the water and—if you're lucky—pet one of the rays. They were shy the day we visited, but we're hoping to pet one next time.
Rounding out the experience is a Butterfly Treasures gift shop, which has some reasonably priced items, especially for a tourist attraction. There's also a small café with some basic items like salads, sandwiches, snack foods, and more.
[squeeze_box]Now through January 15, 2014, Butterfly Wonderland's atrium will be filled with more than 2,000 white butterflies to create a special “winter wonderland” experience. Visit here for more details on this seasonal experience.[/squeeze_box]
Butterfly Wonderland is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Adults: $18.95 + tax
Children (ages 3 to 11): $9.95 + tax
Students, military (with ID) and seniors (62+): $16.95 +tax
Children 2 and under are free
Annual passes, birthday party, group rates, and more are also available see website for more details.