Inside each of the pyramids, visitors will find entertaining, informative and educational opportunities that fascinate and delight:
1. Rain Forest Pyramid. Unfortunately, this wasn’t open when we visited. A major enhancement project is underway, which will be revealed in multiple phases beginning summer 2010.
2. Discovery Pyramid. Offers traveling exhibits from around the country and interactive demonstrations showcasing the world of science. One of the current exhibits is Forgotten Gateway: Coming to America through Galveston Island. It chronicles the Port of Galveston’s largely forgotten history as a major gateway to American immigration from 1845 to 1924.
3. Aquarium Pyramid. The Moody Gardens Aquarium allows visitors to discover four different oceans of the world: the North Pacific, South Pacific, South Atlantic and Caribbean. The 130,000 square ft blue building holds 1.5 million gallons of water and more than 10,000 marine animals, including everyone’s favorites: seals, sharks, sting rays, and penguins.
If you’re like us, you can stand and watch the penguins all day. These well-dressed feathery creatures look at you in such an inviting way; it seems they want to communicate with you somehow. Not that penguins are all that social with our species, but some have breached the divide between man and animal and happily interact with us in Moody Garden’s Penguin Experience.
This is a 45-minute activity where up to 16 people go behind the scenes into the chilly exhibit, to learn more about penguins. A biologist/handler explains penguin biology, conservation, training, enrichment, and care while you are sitting in the penguin’s “custom” kitchen.
A word of caution. Yes, penguins appear neat and clean. Yes, penguins have the aura of little “butlers” all spiffed up and at your service. And yes, they are cute little birds just like the family parakeet. However, your first impression upon entering the private penguin place is the aroma. Penguins STINK!
After the surprising, initial introduction (Whew!) you get up close and personal with the little guys and gals, watching them eat the scientifically prepared meals and interacting with their handlers, all of whom love their work. The handlers have all been working with this group of penguins for years and really know their birds’ quirks and personalities.
The highlight of the Penguin Experience is getting to meet a penguin. We were so excited when Mo waddled across the room to see us. We weren’t sure how to react, but after a minute she allowed us to pet her back and head, and Dennis was able to hold her. All the time this adorable creature kept her eyes fixed on her handler. She clearly loved Rebecca, and would shuffle after her wherever she went in the room. This was pretty funny. As Rebecca stroked her, Mo would happily raise her neck and squawk (We don’t know WHAT to call the noise she made! That was another surprise, how loud and vocal these adorable looking birds are).
The finale of the Penguin Experience is the artistic portion, in which a penguin paints a picture for one lucky human. Penguin painting? How do they hold a paintbrush? Well, actually, Mo waddled on a paint-saturated sponge and then she happily marched over a canvas on the floor, leaving different colors in her footprints. Our one-of-a-kind penguin masterpiece now proudly hangs above the dog’s water bowl.
Our Penguin Experience was the highlight of our Moody Gardens visit and is cheerfully recommended for everyone. They also offer a six-hour Penguin and Seal Experience, as well as IMAX theatres, the Colonel Paddlewheel Boat, and other special programs and events. There is so much more to see and do at Moody Gardens you should call or check their interesting website (and watch the live penguin cam) for details and pricing. The Penguin Experience is $40 per person, and well worth it.
Moody Gardens is much more than just a place to learn, explore and play with penguins. It is a complete travel destination that includes the first class Moody Gardens Hotel Spa and Convention Center and the Moody Gardens Golf Course, which recently underwent a $16 million renovation.
Driving out of Galveston, we again passed the three pyramids, prominent on the northwest landscape of the Island. We commented that having spent all our time at the Aquarium Pyramid, we can’t wait to return to Moody Gardens – to see what’s in store at the Discovery and Rain Forest Pyramids!
One Hope Boulevard
Galveston, Texas 77554