Birding at the Rainforest Pyramid

As you explore the Rainforest Pyramid, be on the lookout for some of these birds:

Visit moodygardens.org for tickets & hours

Rainforest Birthdays: Cooper & Davita

It was a day for celebration at the Rainforest Pyramid today as we celebrated not one but two very special birthdays!

COOPER THE OCELOT TURNS 6 YEARS OLD

Cooper joined Moody Gardens when he was just 18 months old! Ocelot’s are carnivores and in the wild, they eat small mammals, birds and fish. Ocelots are listed as endangered by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services (USFWS). Once abundant in many areas throughout the southwest United States and Mexico, today the animal has almost disappeared. It is estimated that as few as 120 ocelots survive in Texas alone. In Central and South America, the ocelot is still hunted for its fur and captured for the pet trade.

Fun Fact: Cooper LOVES cinnamon and peppermint! Trainers use these spices as a form of enrichment when working with this amazing animal.

DAVITA THE GREEN ANACONDA TURNS 30 YEARS OLD

Davita is a very special resident of the Rainforest Pyramid. She first lived at the Bronx Zoo then the Indianapolis Zoo before she ended up here at Moody Gardens. She’s about 14 feet long and weight anywhere between 90-115 lbs. Anacondas are slow on land but in the water, they are swift and stealthy hunters. They eat birds, mammals or other reptiles.

Fun Fact: Davita enjoys swimming through wheat grass! So much so that MG staff ordered her some specially for her birthday.

The Birthday Bash

MG Sweetheart Scavenger Hunt!

With its peaceful foliage in the Rainforest Pyramid and beautiful marine life in the Aquarium Pyramid, Moody Gardens is a great place to spend this Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart or family.

VDAY_ScavengerHunt_2015While you are at Moody Gardens, you can participate in the Sweetheart Scavenger Hunt. Learn about the intricate relationships and courtships that take place in the animal kingdom with this scavenger hunt. And best of all, you could earn a family 4-pack of Moody Gardens tickets by participating.

Here are some of the facts you will learn while participating in the scavenger hunt:

  • Humans aren’t the only ones that give presents when they are wooing a lady. Male penguins give their potential love interests a pebble. They search for the smoothest rock, and if the female accepts, she puts it in her nest and parenthood soon follows.
  • When piranhas find themselves in love, they turn almost completely black to discourage others from courting. Think of it as a clear sign of “Hey, I’m taken.”
  • Some women wish men would experience the ups and downs of pregnancy. In the seahorse kingdom that’s exactly what happens, as the male delivers the babies. Scientists aren’t 100 percent sure why it occurs – maybe it is to help make more babies or just share some of the load from females – but it certainly is one of the most unique relationships under the sea.
  • A scarlet ibis believes in true love. When a male successful woes a female, they will remain partners for life.
  • Harbor seals flirt by rolling and bubble-blowing. You can read about our Moody Gardens harbor seal couple, Porter and Presley, here.

Learn about these and the other animals at Moody Gardens when you visit on Valentine’s Day weekend. Be sure to download the Sweetheart Scavenger Hunt and get your cameras ready to win a great prize!

And don’t forget to dive into a romantic underwater dining experience at the Aquarium Pyramid with the Sea of Love Valentine’s Dinner on Feb. 13 or 14.

Enjoy a special menu created exclusively for the Sea of Love Dinner. You can reserve a table with a view of one of the unique locations throughout the Aquarium Pyramid.

Dinner for two is $140 on Friday and $180 on Saturday. It also includes rose for her, souvenir photo and Aquarium Pyramid admission. Saturday’s dinner also includes a bottle of wine or champagne. Biologists will also be in attendance to answer any questions you may have about the spectacular residents of the Aquarium Pyramid.

To reserve your spot, please call 1-800-582-4673 ext. 4368. Reservations are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Calls will be answered and returned daily. RSVP by February 11. Click here for menus.

Sweethearts of the North Pacific: Presley and Porter

Porter-&-Presley

One of the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid’s most famous couples is Porter and Presley. These harbor seals met in 2006 and immediately became inseparable.

porter
Porter, male Harbor Seal

Porter, who was rescued as a pup off the coast of Maine after being abandoned by his mother, made his home at Moody Gardens in 2001. He had excellent care by the staff at Marine Animal Lifeline Rehabilitation Center, where unfortunately an infection caused him to lose his eye.

Porter would not hunt the live fish that he was offered, and biologists decided Porter would not be able to survive in the wild. Since he was unable to be released, a search for a new home for him began and Moody Gardens created a home for him at the Aquarium Pyramid.

Young Presley in 2006
Young Presley in 2006

Five years later, Presley joined the Moody Gardens family. After her companion at the Memphis Zoo passed away, caretakers knew the young harbor seal needed a companion. Even though Porter had fur seals and sea lions in his North Pacific Exhibit, the addition of Presley provided better companionship. Two habor seals together provided a more natural situation and made future breeding an option.

In 2011, Porter and Presley had a pup named Riley, after the former President of Moody Gardens Mike Riley. The couple had conceived in the past, but that was their first successful birth.

Presley-&-Rylie
Presley and pup Riley

The newborn seal and first-time mother Presley spent their time together bonding through activities like nursing and exploring their exhibit. Riley has since moved to the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, where she has two young males to hang out with and possibly have pups of her own.

You can visit Presley and Porter at the Sea of Love Valentine’s Day dinner on Feb. 13 and 14. This romantic dinner includes a three-course meal, rose for her, souvenir photo and Aquarium Pyramid admission. The Feb. 14 dinner also includes a bottle of wine or champagne.

For prices, visit www.moodygardens.com/calendar/aqvalentines.

To reserve your spot, please call 1-800-582-4673 ext. 4368. Reservations are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Calls will be answered and returned daily between 3-4 p.m. RSVP by February 11, 2015.

Chinese Lanterns

Eblast_Panda_Lantern

In its 13th year, the Moody Gardens Festival of Lights continues to add spectacular displays for its guests. This year, visitors can enjoy truly unique displays – Chinese lanterns.

In honor of the Chinese Lantern Festival, Moody Gardens has lantern displays of pandas, jelly fish and trees. The lanterns are lined along the new ICE LAND: Ice Sculptures with SpongeBob SquarePants tent for all guests to admire and take pictures with.

The Lantern Festival has been part of Chinese New Year celebrations since the Han Dynasty of Chinese Empire (206 BC- 221 AD). The people of the Han Dynasty believed that fire contained mystical properties that would ward off evil and prevent natural disasters as well as bring blessings such as a bountiful harvest to the people. The first lantern festivals were inspired by these beliefs.

Usually held on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar, the lantern festival marks the end of New Year festivities.

The lantern festival has evolved over the centuries. Today, the modern lanterns come in all shapes and sizes and are featured in elaborate sets of vibrant color, dazzling light and eye-catching design.

Come enjoy these displays and all of the other beautiful displays at the Festival of Lights, open daily until Jan. 3.

Here’s Your 2014 Holiday Itinerary:

PLAN YOUR GETAWAY AT THE COOLEST HOLIDAY DESTINATION IN THE SOUTHWEST

With the opening of ICE LAND: Ice Sculptures with SpongeBob SquarePants and the return of the annual Festival of Lights, Moody Gardens has officially become the coolest holiday destination in the Southwest.

With so many attractions to enjoy, the Moody Gardens Value Passes have been a popular choice among guests. For just $59.95, visitors get entry into ICE LAND, Festival of Lights, Aquarium Pyramid, Rainforest Pyramid, Discovery Museum, MG 3D Theater, 4D Special FX Theater and Colonel Paddlewheel Boat. Those wanting to make a weekend visit can also purchase a Two-Day Value Pass for $79.95 and get unlimited entry to everything Moody Gardens has to offer.

So what’s the best schedule if you are planning a vacation to Moody Gardens? Here is a sample itinerary to make sure you don’t miss a thing:

DAY 1

» 9-9:45 a.m. Breakfast at Moody Brews
Located in the main lobby of the hotel, Moody Brews offers a full line of Starbucks beverages, grab-and-go menu items, retail products, free WiFi, laptop work stations and comfortable seating.

» 10-11 a.m. Rainforest Pyramid
Take a tour of the 10-story glass pyramid that is home to more than 1,000 species of plants and animals. You will experience rainforest life from around the world and encounter free-roaming animals, like the cotton-top tamarins and saki monkeys.

» 11:05-11:35 a.m. Discover the Ice Age
Travel back in time to discover a frigid world, covered in ice and occupied by mammoths, saber-toothed cats, cave people and more. The exhibit features life-sized animatronic animals and real fossils within the Discovery Pyramid.

Smilodon-(1)

» 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. Lunch at Café in the Park at the Moody Gardens Hotel

» 1:30-2 p.m. ICE LAND: Ice Sculptures with SpongeBob SquarePants
Enjoy the coolest new attraction to date when you visit ICE LAND: Ice Sculptures with SpongeBob SquarePants. Being the only holiday ice exhibition on the Gulf Coast, this is a vast and amazing display of 900 tons of towering SpongeBob SquarePants-themed ice creations.

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» 2:15-4:30 p.m. Deep Tissue Massage at the Spa and 9 Holes at the Moody Gardens Golf Course
Send the little ones to a Kid’s Crew activity provided throughout the weekend by the Moody Gardens Hotel and relax at The Spa or play a round of golf at the Moody Gardens Golf Course.

» 5-6 p.m. Festival of Lights Buffet at the Garden Restaurant for Dinner

» 6-6:15 p.m. Pictures with Santa
Be sure to stop by Santa’s Village in the Visitor’s Center lobby and get your picture with Santa Claus!

» 6:15-6:45 p.m. Gingerbread Gardens
Build your own Gingerbread House with the family inside the Visitor’s Center lobby.

» 7-8 p.m. Festival of Lights
Enjoy the mile-long trail of over one million lights and 100 animated displays that winds through the beautiful Moody Gardens property. This is a holiday tradition you won’t want to miss!

FOL-snowman--with-tree-and-lighted-balls

» 8-8:30 p.m. Ice Rink
Grab some rental skates and enjoy the area’s only outdoor ice skating rink.

Day 2

» 8:45-9:45 a.m. Breakfast at Café in the Park

» 10-10:50 a.m. Aquarium Pyramid
Visit four distinct ocean environments in the largest Moody Gardens Pyramid that includes seals, sea lions, sharks, thousands of fish and more than 90 penguins.

» 11-11:45 a.m. Penguin Encounter
Get up close and personal with a penguin during this 45-minute program that takes guests behind the scenes.

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» 12-12:45 p.m. Lunch at the Aquarium Pyramid Food Court

» 1-2 p.m. Colonel Paddlewheel Boat
Take a cruise around Offatts Bayou on this 1800s-style paddlewheel boat.

» 2:30-3 p.m. 4D Special FX Theater
Engage your senses in this theater as you encounter a 20-minute adaptation of Rio 4D or Polar Express 4D.

» 3:15-3:45 p.m. Arctic Ice Slide
Take a slide down this Texas-sized ice slide located outside the Visitor’s Center.

» 4-4:45 p.m. Sky Trail® Explorer Ropes Course
Challenge your agility, balance and strength as you encounter the new five-tier Ropes Course. Children 48 inches and under can also take on an adventure of a smaller scale on the Sky Tykes™ Ropes Course.

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» 4:45-5 p.m. Moody Gardens Zip Line
Snap into the harness, step to the edge of the zip line platform and glide over Palm Beach and the Lazy River 60 feet in the air for a bird’s eye view of the Moody Gardens Pyramids and tropical gardens.

» 5:15-6:15 p.m. Dinner at Shearn’s Seafood and Prime Steaks

» 6:40-8 p.m. MG 3D Theater
Finish out the day watching some holiday favorites, such as Light Before Christmas 3D and Santa vs. Snowman 3D, in the newly enhanced MG 3D Theater featuring the world’s first giant screen 6p laser projector and the largest screen in Texas.

Creating ICE LAND Ice Sculptures: The Team

If you want the best, you need to hire the best! That’s why Moody Gardens traveled to Harbin, China, to recruit the award-winning VYA Ice Carving team.

On Sept. 27, Moody Gardens gave an official warm Texas welcome to these 31 master ice carvers from China.
On Sept. 27, Moody Gardens gave an official warm Texas welcome to these 31 master ice carvers from China.
The carvers traveled half way around the world to Galveston where they will transform 900 tons of ice into towering and majestic works of art featuring the beloved underwater characters from SpongeBob SquarePants during the holidays.
The carvers traveled half way around the world to Galveston where they will transform 900 tons of ice into towering and majestic works of art featuring the beloved underwater characters from SpongeBob SquarePants during the holidays.
The conception of ICE LAND was inspired several years ago by the world’s largest International Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin.
The conception of ICE LAND was inspired several years ago by the world’s largest International Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin.
Known as the Ice City, over 3,000 of the world’s top artisans create a 100-acre walk-through Ice Park complete with thousands of immense ice sculptures made from millions of pounds of ice.
Known as the Ice City, over 3,000 of the world’s top artisans create a 100-acre walk-through Ice Park complete with thousands of immense ice sculptures made from millions of pounds of ice.
The temperatures in Harbin stay below freezing for almost half the year, so spending approximately 1,080 hours within the ICE LAND tent that is chilled to nine degrees could actually be a warmer option for these professional ice carvers.
The temperatures in Harbin stay below freezing for almost half the year, so spending approximately 1,080 hours within the ICE LAND tent that is chilled to nine degrees could actually be a warmer option for these professional ice carvers.
The VYA Ice Carving Team is led by Mr. Qui Guanghui, one of the top carving artists in the world.
The VYA Ice Carving Team is led by Mr. Qui Guanghui, one of the top carving artists in the world.
Immediately after the welcome ceremony, the team went to work.
Immediately after the welcome ceremony, the team went to work.
In a matter of hours, there was already a ton of progress from these incredible artists.
In a matter of hours, there was already a ton of progress from these incredible artists.

Stay tuned for our next Creating ICE LAND Ice Sculptures blog post where you’ll get a behind the scenes look at the ice carving process.

ICE LAND will be a frosty new addition to the Festival of Lights and other holiday attractions this year as Galveston makes its holiday transition into a Winter Wonder Island. Admission to the exhibit is $26.95 for adults, $21.95 for seniors and $15.95 for children, and will also be included in a Moody Gardens Value Pass that includes admission to the various Moody Gardens attractions and Festival of Lights for $59.95. A two-day pass is available for $79.95. Courtesy parkas will also be distributed to each guest. Visit moodygardens.org/iceland for more information and to purchase tickets.

Creating ICE LAND Ice Sculptures: The Construction

One of the biggest questions people have is how do you make it 9 degrees in Galveston?

The answer is a lot of planning and a lot of hard work under the Texas sun.

A skilled team from the Gilbane Building Company in Houston prepared for the construction of the tent for more than a year.
A skilled team from the Gilbane Building Company in Houston prepared for the construction of the tent for more than a year.
There were four stages to the development process that will be executed by a team of roughly 48 people.
There were four stages to the development process that will be executed by a team of roughly 48 people.
The crew worked all day to make sure tent was ready in time for the arrival of the ice blocks
The crew worked all day to make sure tent was ready in time for the arrival of the ice blocks
The first stage was pouring concrete footers to support the structure.
The first stage was pouring concrete footers to support the structure.
To make sure the space for the tent remained a usable parking lot for guests once the structure is removed in late January, the concrete for the footers was poured flush with the existing concrete so it was less noticeable and ensured that there is no damage to cars.
To make sure the space for the tent remained a usable parking lot for guests once the structure is removed in late January, the concrete for the footers was poured flush with the existing concrete so it was less noticeable and ensured that there is no damage to cars.
The next step was to erect the insulated tent.
The next step was to erect the insulated tent.
The frames of the tent begin to go up
The frames of the tent begin to go up
The Moody Gardens "skyline" beginning to change
The Moody Gardens “skyline” beginning to change
The tent starts to take shape
The tent starts to take shape
Once up, the inside had to be insulated
Once up, the inside had to be insulated
Then the flooring was placed to insulate the tent at its ultimate 9 degree environment.
Then the flooring was placed to insulate the tent at its ultimate 9 degree environment.
The finished product was an impressive 28,000 square foot tent that towered 40 feet into the air.
The finished product was an impressive 28,000 square foot tent that towered 40 feet into the air.

Stay tuned for our next Creating ICE LAND Ice Sculptures blog series! We’ll be getting to know the award-winning VYA Ice Carving team that will be creating the ICE LAND Ice Sculptures.

ICE LAND will be a frosty new addition to the Festival of Lights and other holiday attractions this year as Galveston makes its holiday transition into a Winter Wonder Island. Admission to the exhibit is $26.95 for adults, $21.95 for seniors and $15.95 for children, and will also be included in a Moody Gardens Value Pass that includes admission to the various Moody Gardens attractions and Festival of Lights for $59.95. A two-day pass is available for $79.95. Courtesy parkas will also be distributed to each guest. Visit moodygardens.org/iceland for more information and to purchase tickets. 

World’s First Giant Screen 6P Laser Projection System to Debut at MG 3D Theater

The Moody Gardens MG 3D Theater has always been one of the best large-format screen theaters in the world. It will continue to live up to that status with the installation of a state-of-the-art laser projection system in the coming months.

The world’s first museum-based 4K 3D giant 6-Primary laser projection system will debut on the largest screen in Texas on Nov. 15.

Christie 4K 6P laser projection system

At least twice as efficient as today’s best 3D systems, Christie Digital System’s 6P laser projectors generate a proprietary mix of photoptically-optimized light wavelengths for each eye directly from the source, in effect eliminating the need for a highly inefficient stage of filtering or polarizing the light as it leaves the projector. New Dolby® 3D glasses specifically engineered to exactly match the 6 primary laser light wavelengths will yield nearly 90 percent light efficiency.

OK, what does that mean in layman’s terms for the average movie goer?

Well now audiences will see a picture that is nearly three and a half times brighter and featuring more vibrant colors than normal theaters. Moody Gardens is also replacing the 60 by 80 foot MG 3D silver screen with a white one. The result will be the sharpest picture quality ever seen in a 3D theater.

Along with the theater’s top-of-the-line 11.1 surround sound system, this new laser projection further distinguishes the MG 3D Theater as one of the premier cinema venues, giving audiences the best viewing experience in the world.

The system is the latest collaboration between D3D Cinema and Moody Gardens. In 2011 and 2012, Moody Gardens hosted the annual Digital Cinema Symposium, unveiling new technology from D3D and Christie.

Don Kempf, president and founder of D3D Cinema, said the new laser projection system is “unarguably the future of cinema presentation.”

“The DCI and DIGSS-compliant Christie laser solution, coupled with 6P glasses technology, will be unparalleled in terms of image quality,” Kempf said.The MG 3D Theater will close on Oct. 27 to have the new laser projection system installed. It will re-open on Nov. 15, just in time to show some of the most popular holiday movies during Moody Gardens’ Festival of Lights.

Creating ICE LAND Ice Sculptures: The Ice

One of the first challenges when creating ICE LAND was where to find 900 tons of ice. That’s not exactly something you can make in your refrigerator using an ice cube tray.

To create the ice, Moody Gardens enlisted the services of Flying Penguin Ice in Bryan, Texas.
To create the ice, Moody Gardens enlisted the services of Flying Penguin Ice in Bryan, Texas.
Creating the ice wasn’t a simple process. First the colors had to be mixed in some of the biggest ice cube trays you will ever see.
Creating the ice wasn’t a simple process. First the colors had to be mixed in some of the biggest ice cube trays you will ever see.
After several of days freezing, the ice was removed…
After several of days freezing, the ice was removed…
The color was tested…
The color was tested…
Clear block of ice
Clear block of ice
And it was shaved to the proper size.
Blocks were shaved to the proper size.
They made it as smooth as possible
They made it as smooth as possible
One of the many trucks ready to take ice to storage area
One of the many trucks ready to take ice to storage area
It took several days and 42 truck loads to bring all 6,000 blocks of ice to Galveston.
It took several days and 42 truck loads to bring all 6,000 blocks of ice to Galveston.
Moody Gardens staff unloaded the ice
Moody Gardens staff unloaded the ice
The giant tent was quickly filled with pallet upon pallet of ice.
The giant tent was quickly filled with pallet upon pallet of ice.
By the end, some of the ice was stacked up as high as five levels.
By the end, some of the ice was stacked up as high as five levels.

Stay tuned for our next Creating ICE LAND Ice Sculptures blog series! We’ll be taking a look at how a 28,000 square foot tent is built from the ground up.

ICE LAND will be a frosty new addition to the Festival of Lights and other holiday attractions this year as Galveston makes its holiday transition into a Winter Wonder Island. Admission to the exhibit is $26.95 for adults, $21.95 for seniors and $15.95 for children, and will also be included in a Moody Gardens Value Pass that includes admission to the various Moody Gardens attractions and Festival of Lights for $59.95. A two-day pass is available for $79.95. Courtesy parkas will also be distributed to each guest. Visit moodygardens.org/iceland for more information and to purchase tickets.