This week’s To-Do Tuesday took us to Butterfly Wonderland. We invited our friend Rachel and her darling baby, Jack to join us. You’ll recognize Rachel from one of my favorite maternity sessions, and little Jack from his precious newborn session. I’d been wanting to check out Butterfly Wonderland for awhile, but hadn’t made it across town for a visit yet.
I had mixed feelings about the experience, and in general feel it might be better for older kids (Ollie is one and a half, Jack is 10 months). Here’s my take.
Your adventure starts at the box office, where you’ll pay similar prices to SEA LIFE Aquarium for entry. From the lobby, your first stop is a 3D movie theater and a 14 minute film on the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. It’s a really lovely documentary and super cool to watch in 3D, but it’s FOURTEEN MINUTES LONG. And you have to wear 3D glasses. So, for a toddler, it’s asking a lot. Ollie did think it was cool, and reached out to touch the butterflies flitting in front of his face, but he just couldn’t sit for that long, nor keep the glasses on his face for extended periods of time.
But we survived! From the theater you go into a viewing room where you can see the butterflies in various stages of hatching from their chrysalises. Super cool, if you’re old enough to understand what a chrysalis is. The boys looked for a bit (Ollie got annoyed that we were taking so long and decided to hit and bite his momma), then we headed in to the main attraction, the butterfly greenhouse.
Picture a hazy, light-filled room full of beautiful greenery and flowers, the air filled with the silent flitting of hundreds of butterflies. Then imagine sweating so much you are pretty sure even your eyeballs are sweating. That’s right, a butterfly’s ideal climate is a sweat lodge. It feels pretty humid when we first entered, but by the time we left, I had sweat in my eyes and everywhere else.
Ollie had a grand time. He loved the butterflies and all the walkways, but I spent most of the time running after him saying “DO NOT touch that butterfly!” and “Stop hitting the plants!” and “if you step on that butterfly you’ll be in big trouble!” Again, I think older kids would be better at listening to their mothers. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. But I did love the joy I saw on his face when examining the butterflies up close, and he was pretty stinkin cute when he danced along with a pair of butterflies.
As you exit, you run into the cafeteria. We decided to take a lunch break, and picked up some sandwiches, a salad and fruit. They weren’t bad, but perhaps a little overpriced. The kids needed the refueling, though, as there were still things to see and nap time was rapidly approaching.
From the cafeteria, you could see the next part of the exhibit, an indoor beehive. Ollie loves bees and bugs, and there were also ants, a beetle, a walking stick, a scorpion and a wolf spider. The next room was a mini aquarium, and, as a regular at the SEA LIFE aquarium Ollie didn’t seem too impressed. They have a sting ray tank, but there are just a few, and they weren’t that interested in being petted.
And that’s it. You exit through the gift shop, and you’re done. I thought there would be more to see, but perhaps I wouldn’t feel that way if I could have stood being in the hot house for longer.
Kid rating: Like I said, I think this attraction is a little better for older kiddos, but Ollie and Jack still seemed to have a good time.
Mom rating: If you’re a fan of hot yoga, you’ll really love this place.
9500 E. Via de Ventura Scottsdale, AZ 85256
Admission is, in my opinion, a little steep. $19.95 for adults, $12.95 for kids 3-11. Kids under 3 are free. We didn’t check out the Odysea Mirror maze, but you can buy combination passes for both experiences. They’re also opening an aquarium at the same location next year.
Open seven days a week, 9am-5pm