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Indulge in Easter Delights: Brunch, Buffet, and a Spectacular 3D Journey Through Jerusalem!

Happening March 29th to March 31st in The Gardens Restaurant and the Frances Anne Moody Ballroom

Easter Bunny standing in front of the Aquarium Pyramid announcing Easter brunch and buffet at Moody Gardens on March 29th through March 31st.
“Hare Ye, Hare Ye!! Easter Brunch and Buffet at Moody Gardens.”

Moody Gardens is excited to announce a lineup of festive activities for the upcoming Easter weekend. Planned events include Breakfast with a Bunny, an Easter Buffet, an expansive Easter Brunch, and a themed Hotel Package fun for the family.  

Lasting memories can be made at Moody Gardens Hotel with a family-friendly, Easter-themed Hotel Package that includes a one-night stay, two Easter baskets, and a fun family Easter scavenger hunt.

To See Brunch and Buffet Packages & Reservations: Click Here

French Toast dusted with sugar along with cranberries and strawberries. Specially prepared for Easter brunch in the Gardens Restaurant
French Toast dusted with sugar available in The Gardens Restaurant

Moody Gardens Visitor Center

Guests are invited to begin their Easter celebration by having Breakfast with the Easter Bunny, available beginning Friday, March 29 at 10:00 a.m. or Saturday, March 30. Seating options on Saturday are 9:00 and 10:30 a.m. Guests can indulge in a delectable breakfast buffet at The Garden Restaurant inside the Visitors Center, featuring a variety of mouthwatering dishes such as eggs, bacon, fruit, yogurt, and a sweet affair of French toast dusted with sugar, croissants, Belgian waffles, and more. The event also includes a souvenir photo, an Easter Bunny meet and greet, a Moody Gardens animal presentation, and a train ride. Tickets are priced at $42 for adults and $28 for children aged 2-12.

The Easter Bunny and Scarlet the Moody Gardens McCaw Mascot during the Easter Brunch in the Gardens Restaurant
Easter Buffet in The Gardens Restaurant

On Easter Sunday, March 31st, visitors can don their best Easter attire and head to Moody Gardens for brunch. Guests will have two delicious dining options. The Garden Restaurant located in the Moody Gardens Visitor Center, will offer a delicious Easter Buffet from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Buffet options include a selection of cold salads, chef-carved Smoked Ham and Texas Rope Sausage, a Pasta Station, Seafood options, and variety of delectable desserts. Prices for the Easter Buffet are $50 for adults, $40 for seniors, and $30 for children aged 4-12.

The Frances Anne Moody Ballroom

Guests may also enjoy an elevated and expansive Easter Brunch in the Frances Anne Moody Ballroom at the Moody Gardens Hotel. A menu crafted by Chef Bobby Ross includes an assortment of indulgent breakfast selections which include homemade baked croissants and pastries, made-to-order omelets, and other breakfast favorites. Additionally, guests may feast on a variety of savory salads, seafood, and entrée options. Menu offerings that include Braised Leg of Lamb with Mint Jus, Roasted Prime Rib, or Seared Red Fish in Citrus Butter, will please any foodies’ pallet.

Easter Brunch in the Frances Anne Moody Ballroom

Seating times for the Easter Brunch will be between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Tickets for the Easter Brunch are $90 for adults, $80 for seniors, and $40 for children aged 4-12. A full menu for the Breakfast with the Easter Bunny, Easter Buffet, and Easter Brunch can be found at www.moodygardens.com/easter when purchasing event tickets.

Moody Gardens 3D Theater

Guests are also invited to watch the movie, Jerusalem 3D which will be available during the Easter Weekend as a special showing in the Moody Gardens 3D theater. Check out the trailer below for details.

Embark on a journey through one of the most cherished cities globally, understanding its sanctity to three predominant religions through the tales of diverse families residing in Jerusalem. Accompanied by eminent archaeologist Dr. Jodi Magness, delve into the city’s profound mysteries, gaining unparalleled access to the sacred sites and witnessing the rarely seen aerial vistas of the Old City. Narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch

Explore the Spring 2024 “Sustainable Tourism” Edition of the ‘Island Soul Visitor Guide’

Cover page of Galveston's Island Soul focused on Sustainable Tourism: Help keep our Island clean, green and pristine
The Spring 2024 Island Soul Visitor’s Guide featuring “Sustainable Tourism.”

Find out more about the Moody Gardens Conservation Fund, Coral Reef Lab, Animal Encounters and ongoing conservation efforts

In this Spring “Sustainable Tourism” issue of Galveston’s ‘Island Soul’ magazine produced by Visit Galveston, the tourist guide takes a deeper look at the ongoing environmental and conservation efforts taking place on the island. In this edition, you’ll discover special coverage spotlighting Moody Gardens’ role in sustainable environmental practices.

At Moody Gardens, conservation and research form a cornerstone of our mission, driving our efforts to educate the public about nature, wildlife, and the environment while serving as a focal point for all our activities. These efforts include the establishment of the Conservation Fund[PDF] which is maintained through Penguin & Otter Encounters; the Penguin, and Seal Experience; along with selling prints of penguin art.

To learn more, download a free PDF copy of ‘Island Soul’ via the link below:

This issue of ‘Island Soul’ written by Crai S. Bower (Instagram: @travelcrais & X / Twitter: @craisbower) and provided by VisitGalveston.com

The Lone Wanderer: Cattle Tyrant’s Texas Tale

“Reflections on Isolation and Resilience in Nature”

North American Cattle Tyrant small bird with brown features and a yellow chest. Photo by Greg Whittaker

The North American Cattle Tyrant in downtown Corpus Christi
Photo credit: Greg Whittaker

It was a strange rare bird chase as I walked a 6-block area in downtown Corpus Christi with binoculars and camera last Friday.  Circling back towards the corner of North Chaparral and Lawrence, I saw it!  A medium sized bird, gray on top, yellow below, catching bugs off the windows of a building and hopping on the sidewalk just as most previous eBird pictures and reports reflected. 

I took several pictures and walked back to the pizza joint to meet the other three non-birdnerds visiting the coastal bend on this long weekend camping trip.  I was beaming as I showed the grainy pictures on my cell phone and announced this as my species number 401 for Texas. 

I mention that not because it’s a particularly grand achievement amongst birders, but mainly to emphasize the relative unimportance of assigning a number.  My thoughtful wife pondered why birders flock to see a single, wayward individual bird and celebrate an encounter.  No one seems to care that this lost bird is destined to die alone in an unfamiliar place.  The focus on animal well-being is core to both of our professional lives, and her questions prompted my own curiosity.

At a Houston Audubon event this week I took the opportunity to ask several avid world birders if they’d ever seen a Cattle Tyrant in its native range and habitat.  A couple commented that their numerous encounters in Panama and Brazil involved birds hopping around on sidewalks in downtown urban centers plucking flies off buildings and dumpsters.  To which I thought to myself, well at least this new Texan has located its essential habitat.  I commented that it would probably suffer from the cold temperatures this past week and it was pointed out that the natural range has similar conditions. 

Satisfied that this visitor could survive, and perhaps physically thrive in its new home, I was troubled by the species description listing it as a social species often found in flocks.  Isolation of a social species is the opposite of thriving when we look through the animal well-being lens.  The North American Cattle Tyrant saga will continue to play out, and this individual bird will attract thousands of avian gawkers before disappearing mysteriously, or even sadder, to obscurity when the newness wears off.

Stepping back to explore the odd concept of listing in the birdwatching realm, I’ll state up front, that I’m a lister.  It would take some analyzing to determine why its important for me to have a metric assigned to my time outside enjoying nature, but it’s there, it’s real and eBird is the enabler. 

Likely the same neurochemical explosions associated with the dinging sound of increasing “likes” on a tik-tok post (if that’s even a thing).  The inherent narcissism of making me and my sightings more important than the subject matter itself. 

I realized this morning as I listened to the territorial call of an American Robin establishing a nest in my neighborhood and seeing the head of a Red-shouldered Hawk peering over the edge of last year’s nest that everyday encounters with the wildlife around us should be more important than a “first”.  Listing is important, and the valuable data that researchers access through the aggregate of all of our eBird lists is critical to understanding species population trends, range shifts, migration timing and many other questions that we haven’t even asked yet. 

While you’re out there chasing those rare birds, take time to notice everything else.  Collectively we may start talking a little more loudly about the reduced numbers of common species, or the seemingly smaller numbers of species we’re seeing throughout the year, or the lack of a species during a migration, or two, or a decade.  Since we all care about the birds we see, hopefully we’ll care as much about the ones we don’t.

Whooping Cranes at Goose Island State Park
Photo credit: Greg Whittaker

If you want to see the first ever North American record of the Cattle Tyrant, go to the corner of North Chaparral Street and Schatzell Street in downtown Corpus Christi and watch for the pretty yellow-bellied bird hopping along the sidewalk catching flies off the side of a building. 

On the way down, treat yourself to a drive by the Big Tree at Goose Island State Park to see some of the 536 living Whooping Crane that continue to visit Texas every November through February.

Photo of Greg Whittaker, Animal Husbandry Manager at Moody Gardens

Greg Whittaker is Moody Gardens’ General Curator and a birding enthusiast. He chairs the Galveston County Audubon Group and serves on the Houston Audubon Board of Directors.

Audubon Christmas Bird Count – Joyful Citizen Science!

On Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank Chapman, an early officer in the newly formed Audubon Society, proposed a new holiday tradition – a “Christmas Bird Census” that would count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them.  In the 123 years since, the annual CBC as we now call it, has grown from 27 birders tallying a mere 90 species, to just under 80,000 participants across Canada, the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean and Pacific Islands surveying more than 2600 fifteen-mile diameter circles to record 2244 species, plus 432 hybrids.  The citizen science data produced from these collective efforts helps inform conservation strategies around avian population trends.

Galveston boasts 2 circles monitoring our Island; TXGA and TXWG.  The older TXGA circle is centered just off the northwest edge of Pelican Island and encompasses habitats from just east of Rettilon Road on Bolivar Peninsula to the west end of Sportsman’s Road (Bay) and Beach Pocket Park #2 (Gulf) here on the Island.  The circle extends approximately 3 miles off the seawall and wraps around to include most of Texas City, Bayou Vista, and Tiki Island.  This circle was established in 1978 by Dick and Dwight Peake, and we just completed its 46th count on Tuesday, 19 December.  It was a resurrection of an earlier CBC circle (TX1W) that was centered about 2 miles west and collected data from 1946 through 1970.  TXGA has more water than land and a limited amount of wooded area, but still produces species diversity in the top 20 of all US circles.  The picture above was taken at sunrise from the observation platform overlooking Galveston Bay Foundation’s Sweetwater Nature Preserve where our visiting Sandhill Cranes spend their nights.  We were there to count them as they woke up to start their day.

Galveston’s West End CBC will be conducted on Tuesday, 2 January, 2024.  This newly formed effort is in it’s 5th year under the watchful eyes of Kyle O’Haver and Cynthia Hughes.  This circle is centered just northwest of Jamaica Beach in West Galveston Bay.  The eastern edge captures Laffite’s Cove Nature Preserve and the western edge is just offshore of the westernmost point of San Luis Pass.  A full third of the circle is within the Gulf waters off Galveston Island, and the northern arc of the circle captures a generous swath of mainland agricultural land, marsh and coastal prairie habitat split between Galveston and Brazoria Counties.  The circle encompasses most of West Galveston Bay, the mouth of Greens Lake, much of Hall’s Bayou and Chocolate Bayou.

You don’t need to be an expert birder to participate, and all eyes are valued in seeing, counting and tallying what we encounter.  It’s a great way to meet folks, see some new and interesting places you might want to bird, and learn a little about identification tips and tricks, photography, compare birding equipment, or who knows where the conversations lead.  If you’re interested in spending time enjoying nature while identifying, counting and recording local birds with teams of volunteer citizen scientists, don’t hesitate to send an email to gwhittaker@moodygardens.org.  I’ll gladly send you information on these, or other local CBC circles where you might find interest.  The Christmas Bird Count season runs from 14 December through 5 January, and there are 26 of them in our local region.  Most CBCs wrap up the day with a countdown event where count compilers, area leaders and participants share stories of the day’s adventures, best birds and generally just catch up with fellow birders to celebrate the season.  I’ll leave you with our sunset over the same marsh where the Cranes were returning to roost after their day enjoying our Island.

Save Big and Make Unforgettable Memories This Holiday Season at Moody Gardens!

The holiday season is upon us, and here at Moody Gardens, we’re excited to offer you fantastic ways to save while creating lasting memories with your loved ones. From early Black Friday hotel deals to special themed nights and exclusive packages, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So, let’s dive into the festive fun and explore how you can make the most of this holiday season without breaking the bank.

  1. Early Black Friday Hotel Sale – Save 30% on Stays!

Start your holiday adventure early with our exclusive Black Friday Sale on hotel stays. Book your room now through November 27th and enjoy a fabulous 30% off your stay. It’s the perfect opportunity to plan a relaxing getaway or a family vacation without the hefty price tag.

  1. Value Days – Buy One Get One Free Admission and Discounts!

Join us on select nights for our Value Days, where you can enjoy incredible savings on admission. Take advantage of buy one get one free admission on select nights or enjoy discounted rates on other evenings. Check out our themed nights:

– Groovy Night 🕺

– Super Hero Night 🦸

– Ugly Sweater Night 🎅

– Pajama Night 🌙

– Dickens Night 📖

– Bring Your Dog Nights 🐶

– Food Drive Thursdays 🥫

  1. Explore Exclusive Package Deals

Make your visit to Moody Gardens even more special by booking one of our exclusive package deals:

– Holiday in the Gardens Package: Bundle admission to all our attractions for a truly immersive experience. You’ll save while giving your family the opportunity to explore all that Moody Gardens has to offer. It’s a one stop shop for all things Holidays.

– Breakfast with Santa Family Package: Share a meal with Santa himself and create cherished memories with your family. The package includes breakfast for two adults (ages 13+) and two children (ages 4-12), a luxurious guest room, a souvenir photo, costumed character meet and greet.

– Polar Express Package Experience: Embark on an enchanting journey inspired by the classic holiday tale. The Polar Experience package includes your luxurious guest room, four tickets to Ice Land: Ice Sculptures Rainforest Holiday, the Festival of Lights trail at Moody Gardens, and transportation to and from the Galveston Railroad Museum for The Polar Express Train Ride!

– Holiday Dinner Cruise and New Year’s Packages: Celebrate in style on the Colonel Paddlewheel Boat. This package includes a guest room for one night, tickets for two for the Holiday sunset dinner buffet.

 

  1. Try It and Buy It – Your Gateway to Membership

Discover an exclusive opportunity with some of our “explorer” package deals- featuring a unique “Try It and Buy It” offer! When you book “explorer” packages, your stay becomes more than just a memorable experience; it becomes a pathway to membership. Apply the cost of your stay towards a membership within 30 days after your visit. To claim the offer, visit Member Services in person at the Visitors Center, call us at 409-683-4200, or send an email to memberships@moodygardens.org. Don’t miss out on turning your stay into a lasting membership with Moody Gardens.

This holiday season, come and celebrate with us at Moody Gardens, where you can save big, have a blast, and make unforgettable memories with your friends and family. We can’t wait to share the spirit of the season with you! 🎄🌟

Book your stay and explore our amazing offers today. Visit our website or contact us for more information and reservations. Happy holidays from all of us at Moody Gardens! 🎁❄️

Making Moody Gardens the Coolest Destination on the Gulf Coast

When you think of holiday destinations, visions of snow-covered landscapes and ice sculptures might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But at Moody Gardens, we’ve turned that notion upside down by transforming our Gulf Coast paradise into a winter wonderland that rivals the coolest destinations in the world. Join us on a journey to uncover how Moody Gardens became the Gulf Coast’s ultimate holiday hotspot.

A Cool Idea Inspired by Tradition

Our story begins with an idea that took inspiration from a time-honored tradition—the Annual Ice Festival in Harbin, China. This extraordinary event, dating back to the 1960s, bringing together over 3,000 talented ice carvers who compete to create the world’s most massive and intricate ice sculptures, all in the frigid depths of winter. It remains the largest ice and snow festival globally, attracting visitors from far and wide.

From Harbin to Galveston: A Grand Challenge

Bringing this captivating festival to the sunny shores of Galveston presented a unique set of challenges. After all, how do you recreate an event that typically unfolds in a country with bone-chilling temperatures as low as -31 degrees Celsius?

This was the question faced by our remarkable partners at the Gilbane Building Company. They were tasked with creating an enormous tent capable of withstanding hurricane-force winds, all while maintaining an interior temperature of just 9 degrees. The result? A colossal temporary structure that signals the arrival of the holiday season each year.

The Art of Crafting Colored Ice

Now, let’s dive into the fascinating process of creating the stunning ice sculptures that grace Moody Gardens’ ICE LAND. All of the ice used for this breathtaking display comes from our partner in Bryan, Texas, the Flying Penguin.

The ice undergoes a meticulous transformation to achieve its vibrant colors. First, reverse osmosis is employed to create crystal-clear ice blocks. Then, the magic happens as the ice is matched to the artist’s palette using a mixture of tempura paint and milk. Each design is laid out to scale, ensuring that the precise amount of ice and colors required are calculated well in advance.

Precision Carving and Artistry

With the ice prepared, it’s time for the real artistry to take center stage. The carving process involves dedicated teams working in shifts, devoting over 1,000 hours to their craft in just 45 days. Every detail is meticulously crafted to bring the magnificent scenes to life.

Overseeing this incredible journey is Kun Lu, the US president of the VYA Ice Carving Team from China. His expertise and watchful eye ensure that the transformation from blocks of ice to intricate sculptures unfolds seamlessly.

Moody Gardens has succeeded in turning a dream of winter enchantment into a reality, creating a destination on the Gulf Coast that is unlike any other. With ice sculptures that rival those from the coldest corners of the world, we’ve truly earned our place as the coolest holiday destination around.

Experience the Wonder

Experience the wonder for yourself at Moody Gardens, where tradition meets innovation, and winter comes to life on the Gulf Coast like never before. Don’t miss out on this unique holiday adventure and book your experience today: https://www.moodygardens.com/holiday_season/

National Marine Sanctuary Day: Celebrating America’s Treasured Waters

Today marks a historic moment as we celebrate the very first National Marine Sanctuary Day. This day is a nationwide celebration of our protected marine environments in the oceans and Great Lakes, which safeguard America’s maritime and ecological heritage. National marine sanctuaries serve as a vital response to the pressing challenges of our time, including climate change, biodiversity loss, and systemic inequity. They are not only essential for ecological protection and restoration but also contribute to sustainable economic development in coastal communities. Most importantly, these sanctuaries belong to all of us, offering increased access to nature and its myriad benefits.

The establishment of National Marine Sanctuary Day launches a campaign of sanctuary stories that inspire innovative solutions. These stories come from voices united by their connection to sanctuaries, where they’ve discovered shared maritime heritage, embarked on scientific pursuits, found their livelihoods, and glimpsed the future. Coastal communities and local economies share stories of discovery, enjoyment, and lifelong connections with these remarkable places. The tales woven throughout the National Marine Sanctuary System illustrate that conservation, economic prosperity, and human well-being are deeply intertwined in our national character.

Our nation’s waters have a unique ability to bring us together, and our national marine sanctuaries are the storytellers. On this National Marine Sanctuary Day, we invite you to join us in celebrating these stories.

At Moody Gardens, we are proud to collaborate with the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary through our Aquarium-Sanctuary Partnership for America’s Keystone Wildlife. This partnership aligns our conservation-education messaging and field conservation efforts, amplifying the incredible work undertaken by the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary team. The most recent expansion of the sanctuary’s protection to encompass an additional 14 banks and their diverse biological systems continues to be cause for excitement. We anticipate years of collaborative projects between our aquarium and the sanctuary, all in the service of preserving these natural resource treasures. Moody Gardens’ dive operations will continue to support our Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary partners as we explore new undersea habitats and work diligently to protect the ecosystem. We look forward to continuing to share the discoveries from our own backyard sanctuary with our millions of visitors here in Galveston.

Today’s celebration is particularly significant as it coincides with the anniversary of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act, enacted by Congress on this day in 1972. This landmark legislation laid the foundation for the creation of a system of underwater parks that now spans over 620,000 square miles of our ocean and Great Lakes.

For over half a century, National Marine Sanctuaries have preserved our nation’s history and provided opportunities for you to create your own memories. Sanctuaries are the crown jewels of marine conservation in the United States. For over 50 years, they have safeguarded species, offered opportunities for research, education, and recreation, and protected our maritime and cultural heritage.

Today, on the inaugural National Marine Sanctuary Day, let’s celebrate these vital institutions that are “of special national significance” for conservation, ecology, history, research, education, culture, archaeology, and natural beauty. Today, we invite you to reflect on what the term “sanctuary” means to you. Share it with us in the comments or post it on social media using the hashtag #NationalMarineSanctuaryDay and help us raise awareness for such institutions doing the most amazing work.

Happy National Marine Sanctuary Day!

Harmonizing Mind, Body, and Cosmos: 2nd Annual Yoga Retreat Aligned with a Spectacular Solar Eclipse on October 14

Take a transformative journey towards self-discovery and growth at the 2nd annual Yoga Retreat with renowned yoga guru, Doug Keller, located in the breathtaking scenery of Moody Gardens. This retreat promises to bring new life and energy to your soul from October 13th to 15th, coinciding with an annular solar eclipse, signifying a new season of change and growth.

Awe-Inspiring Annular Solar Eclipse

Have you ever experienced the sheer magic of an annular solar eclipse? This natural spectacle occurs when the moon partially obscures the sun, creating a “ring of fire” along a narrow line on our planet. The upcoming eclipse on October 14th is classified as annular, where the moon appears smaller and creates a dazzling ring around the sun. To fully appreciate this wonder, it’s essential to understand its scale – the moon’s diameter is 2,159 miles (3,476 km) while the sun’s is a colossal 865,000 miles (1.4 million km)!

Stay Safe While Observing the Eclipse

Though this celestial event is awe-inspiring, remember to prioritize safety while observing it. Gazing directly at the sun without proper eye protection can cause severe eye damage. For the annular solar eclipse, certified solar viewing glasses or handheld solar viewers are recommended.

Eclipse Season and Personal Growth

In astrology, eclipse seasons signify transformational moments, bringing significant changes in our personal lives and the energy of the zodiac. The solar eclipse occurring during the new Moon in Libra on October 14, 2023, marks the beginning of eclipse season 2023, creating an opportunity for unique perspectives and shifts in consciousness.

Meditation and Reflection During the Eclipse and Retreat

Immerse yourself in the tranquility of our Yoga Retreat and contemplate the importance of partnerships in your life. Find inner peace and stillness by reflecting on your deepest desires concerning relationships and consider how you can bring about positive changes in your life. Witness this celestial event from any of our ideal vantage points, and connect with yourself and the universe.

Why You Should Stay

Our packages offer a full-on immersion into the world of yoga and exclusive access to the relaxing sights and sounds of the Aquarium Pyramid. Get ready to dive deep into the magic of marine life from all corners of the globe. All yoga sessions are included in your stay so you can fully absorb the transformative practices throughout your retreat. But, what’s a yoga retreat without some R&R? We’re offering an 25% discount on our spa services, so you can pamper yourself and find inner peace in the tranquil sanctuary of Moody Gardens. Our goal is to make your stay unforgettable by blending wellness with luxury, ensuring you find the balance and peace you crave. Plus, you’re not just staying at a hotel – you’re contributing to a non-profit, educational destination that uses nature to promote conservation, recreation, research, and rehabilitation. Book your rooms here:  https://www.moodygardens.com/events/yoga-retreat/ 

Eclipse Safety Guidelines

Remember to protect your eyes during the eclipse. For comprehensive eclipse safety guidelines, please refer to NASA’s official resource here: [NASA Eclipse Safety](https://science.nasa.gov/eclipses/future-eclipses/eclipse-2024/safety/).

Join us for a life-changing retreat where yoga and the cosmos come together to inspire personal growth and self-discovery. Experience this extraordinary event with us and embrace change and growth!

Value Days for Festival of Lights and Holiday in the Gardens: New Theme Nights to Get You Into the Groove of the Holiday’s!

Moody Gardens is excited to announce its much-anticipated Holiday in the Gardens, a premier Gulf Coast destination happening from November 18th to January 6th. Select nights have been designated as Value Nights, offering discounted admission on Monday through Thursday, November 27th through December 14th, as well as January 3rd and 4th. Attendees who attend on these evenings can enjoy savings on their entrance to Festival of Lights AND those who participate in the themed nights for these evenings can take advantage of a buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO) ticket offer to the Festival of Lights trail or Holiday Pass which includes: Ice Land, Festival of Lights, four slides on the Arctic slide, train ride, ice rink, Aquarium Pyramid, 3D And 4D theaters starting at 4 p.m. 

  • Food Drive Thursdays is a great way to celebrate the season while helping those in need. Every Thursday from November 30th to December 28th, bring a non-perishable food item and get BOGO admission. All proceeds will be donated to the Galveston County and Houston Food Banks.
  • If you are a fan of the 70s fashion, you will love Groovy Night on November 27th. Bell bottoms, tie-dye, peace signs, and polyester… wear the 70s fashion ensemble that suits you and get BOGO admission.
  • Superhero Night on November 28th is a perfect way to unleash your inner superhero. Dress up as your favorite superhero and get BOGO admission.
  • For those who love Dickens on the Strand, come to Moody Gardens on November 29th and wear a Victorian costume to get BOGO admission and you may even see some familiar faces from the festival caroling on the trail.
  • Angel Tree Night on December 4th is a great way to celebrate the season while helping others. Bring an unwrapped children’s gift for the Salvation Army Angel Tree Project and get BOGO admission.
  • Ugly Sweater Night on December 5th is another fun way to enjoy the Festival of Lights. The uglier the sweater, the better! Wear your ugly sweater and get BOGO admission.
  • If you are a dog lover, bring your furry friend and a pre-packaged donation for the Galveston Island Humane Society on December 6th and January 3rd to get BOGO admission.
  • On December 11th, wear your favorite PJs for Pajama Night and get BOGO admission to the Festival of Lights.
  • Let It Glow on December 12th is a perfect opportunity to get creative. Wear anything that glows, such as glow paint, glow sticks, neon colors, and more, and get a discount with BOGO admission.
  • Lastly, Sensory Night on December 13th is a special evening for those with sensory sensitivities to enjoy the Festival of Lights. Modifications will be made from opening at dusk until 7 p.m. to provide straight lights with no blinking and no music or sound effects along the trail.

Our goal at Moody Gardens® is to provide a unique and memorable experience for you and your family this holiday season. As a non-profit, educational destination, our mission is to utilize the beauty of nature to advance research, rehabilitation, conservation, and recreation. Come and embrace the holiday spirit with your loved ones under the twinkling lights of Moody Gardens®. For more information, please visit our website www.moodygardens.org or call us at 409-744-4673.

 

Working Underwater in a National Marine Sanctuary: Field Notes from Our Recent Adventure at the Flower Garden Banks

Hello, fellow ocean enthusiasts! We’re thrilled to share some exciting field notes from our recent adventure at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Join us as we take a closer look at our “working” trip with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), where we delved deep into the heart of the ocean to perform essential maintenance and explore the wonders of the deep blue.

Our Daring Crew, Boosting Operational Capacity, and Key Triumphs!

Representing the Moody Gardens Dive Program on this incredible journey were scientific divers and dive officers Chris Ledford, Aaron Bouwkamp, and Elisabeth Maxwell. These seasoned divers were more than ready to tackle the challenges that lay ahead. Under the guidance of NOAA, strict commercial diving standards are required to ensure safety and success in our underwater mission.

One thing that didn’t go unnoticed was the significant impact our participation had on the trip’s operational capacity. Our team’s expertise and dedication brought an extra layer of efficiency to the mission, making each dive and task more productive. Though our main goal is to support efforts in a safe and productive manner, we really enjoyed seeing the success unfold!

Now, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of our accomplishments during this unforgettable trip:

  1. Anchors Away: One of our primary objectives was to replace worn out moorings with brand-new mooring buoy U-bolts. We helped successfully install not one, but two, of these essential components, ensuring the mooring system’s reliability and strength. These U-bolts are crucial for securing vessels and equipment during various underwater operations for the sanctuary, as well as providing public access!
  2. A Temporary Solution: In the world of marine exploration, flexibility is key. We faced unexpected challenges, including the need for a “temporary” mooring anchor. With expert precision from the sanctuary team, an implemented and rigorously tested solution was found! Photo 1 in our gallery offers a sneak peek into our ingenious dry-side mockup of the temporary mooring system.

Why are mooring buoys important to the Flower Gardens Banks you ask? First, it’s important to know anchoring in the FGBNMS is strictly prohibited because it is incredibly damaging to coral reefs. Mooring buoys play a crucial role in the health and preservation of ocean environments because they provide a means of accessing a beautiful area like the FGBNMS without having to anchor. This provides a huge protection to coral reefs and established habitats and gives access while minimizing damage, reducing chemical pollution, enhancing safety, promoting sustainable tourism, and fostering environmental awareness. You can learn more about them here: https://flowergarden.noaa.gov/protection/mooringbuoys.html

Diagram of a mooring buoy from the Flower Garden Banks Marine Sanctuary.

Example of an installed u-bolt before the mooring is attached.

Witness the intricate setup of the temporary mooring system. Braided cable, clamped to a broken u-bolt, serves as a necessary attachment point for our mooring line. This line is indispensable for drilling operations when installing new U-bolts.

Dive into the action as Chris Ledford gets geared up and ready to plunge into the depths. Standing by as a dedicated safety diver, Aaron Bouwkamp is always at the ready to ensure the safety of the team.

Discover the hands-on work behind the scenes. Elisabeth Maxwell, Jacque Emmert, and Aaron Bouwkamp join forces to mix and bag cement, a crucial step in securing the new u-bolt anchors firmly in place.

Temporary mooring solution installed on the broken U-bolt!

Teamwork for the Win

Our adventure at the Flower Garden Banks was nothing short of extraordinary. While we faced some unexpected challenges, the spirit of exploration and teamwork prevailed. To date, our dive team has supported 31 missions for NOAA’s FGBNMS since 2013 and has helped with the installation of six mooring buoys  with plans to continue supporting future efforts!

We’d like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the entire Dive Operations team for their dedication and commitment to ocean conservation and exploration. Stay tuned for more thrilling underwater escapades as we continue to explore the mysteries of the deep and work tirelessly to protect our precious marine ecosystems thanks to support like yours!

Until next time, dive deep, dream big, and make waves! 🌊🐟🦑

– Moody Gardens Dive Ops

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