Since we went to the Odysea Mirror Maze years ago ( I can’t believe it-I was still carrying Dimples in a Bjorn back then!) and Odysea Aquarium a few months ago, I had been eagerly awaiting an opportunity to go to Buttefly Wonderland. One of the first places in the Odysea complex, Butterfly Wonderland once looked huge off of the 101 but has been dwarfed by the complex of the Odysea complex, Dolphinarius and the shops and restaurants in the “outdoor mall” type venue. The complex is at 101 and Via de Ventura in Scottsdale.
You can purchase tickets online or at the ticketbooth which is to the left of the Butterfly Wonderland.
A large lobby area with an information desk, photo opportunity, gift shop and exit. This is also the area that has the bathrooms, so I highly recommend doing a bathroom stop before going through the rest of the exhibits because this is unfortunately the only bathroom in Butterfly Wonderland. If you are in the rest of the exhibit, you have to go through a few doors or the gift shop in order to get back to this lobby where the bathrooms are, so I highly suggest stopping for a potty break before the 3D movie.
The bathroom had ample stalls and a few big ones for moms with kids and wheelchairs. The bathroom was a wierd shape and a bit awkward if you have a stroller, and I kind of recommend not having a stroller in Butterfly Wonderland if you can help it.
While you are awaiting the 3D movie, you will wait in a long hallway that has pictures of butterflies and information. A few staff members were passing around glass encased (dried) butterflies, chrysalis to look at and other pictures while we waited. The movie is about 15 minutes long, plus you will need time to get in and out of the theater. We went on a non-busy day, so the Theater was more empty than full. There is some wheelchair accessible seating, but a great deal of it is stadium seating. I would say that you can bring strollers in, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
The 3D movie was really cool. My children insisted we sit at the very tippity top of the auditorium, which actually made for great viewing (plus we weren’t bothering everyone else who didn’t want to make the long journey north). My kids LOVE giving me extra opportunities to exercise! The movie was very interesting for me, and my kids kind of understood it, but the 3D kept them engaged. Dimples refused to put on the glasses, but he enjoyed it anyhow. Since he is a very, very, busy almost four year old, I was happy he made it.
Next is the “Butterfly emergence gallery” or, as my kids called it “the hatching room”. This is where all the crysalis turn into butterflies. It was pretty cool to see as they were all at different stages and my kids saw a few peek out while we were there.
The butterflies are shipped in as Chrysalis as they are not “laid” on the plants in the Butterfly pavilion. The plants in the gallery are not the right kind to encourage reproduction. So, they are shipped in from butterfly farms, which was pretty interesting to know. Then, the butterflies hatch and then get released into the pavilion.
The Butterfly Pavilion is where the butterflies roam free. The room reminded me of a greenhouse as it is light and bright with a covered roof and water and misters. There was also a koi pond. Staff will let you in and out of a double door (with a small room separating it ) to make sure no butterflies escape.
This is also the part of the Butterfly Wonderland that I highly recommend you not bring a toddler/preschooler or baby that is grabby or one that may not be gentle with a butterfly (aka try to catch them). There is also a koi pond and a waterfall that might be enticing for some monkeys. My kids were enticed to try to get real close to the water, but I was able to reign them in.
The Butterfly Pavilion was gorgeous. Honestly, I had never seen so many different types of butterflies. My favorite was a huge brown and blue one. I kept trying to get some pictures of it, but it was so fast. There were thousands of butterflies throughout the pavilion. Many would just hang out on the ground or on plants, making them easy to touch (but you shouldn’t) or step on if you aren’t careful. This is also why strollers aren’t really recommended. Some of the butterflies didn’t seem in any rush to move and we had to walk over them. The Pavilion was very serene and reminded me of the Japanese Friendship Garden.
There is also scorpions and a bee hive outside (behind glass). I actually got to see the queen bee, which has a yellow dot on it. Actually, Munchie pointed it out to me!
We exited and went into the cafe, which had 8 tables with four chairs each and a few lunch (warm) items, chips and soda machines and bottles. We had a few bags of chips to get the kids raring to go for the rest of the tour. I swear they ate in the car, but if your kids are like mine and need a little extra food, it is available. We headed to the Rainforest Reptiles, which is their newest exhibit.
The room had quite a few cases of different lizards and snakes, all behind glass, with information on the walls. Since we went there for the beginning of the exhibit, it looked like there were still adding in more informative decorations on the walls.
Unfortunately, many of the exhibits in this room required me to lift my kids up to see what was in behind each of the glass cases.
This area is another “if you have a toddler or preschooler that may be touchy”…you may not want to bring them as this is not a touch table. The shell collection that was displayed on the rolling card also had “do not touch” signs on it, but my kids touched it. I’m not sure why it was out, but my kids touched it gently. I think having the cart out around possible young kids who can’t read with a sign that says “do not touch” is a little bit mis-directed, but the staff was very nice and walked up to my kids and spoke about what they were touching and didn’t not scold them! Phew!
The staff was excellent, informative and very kind. We did have to run back to the bathroom a few times because one child or another had to use the bathroom and one point or another, and the staff members were joking with me about it. The biggest issue was that there was no direct way to get back to the bathrooms unless you went through quite a few doors or the gift shop.
We didn’t wander into the gift shop very far as I saw breakables and grab-ables that could turn into breakables.
Butterfly Wonderland was truly amazing to see all of the different butterflies and the lizards. I really loved the Butterfly Pavilion most of all. I do have to say that while there is a good portion inside, the pavilion where all the butterflies are is pretty much outside and can be very warm and sunny. There are fans and misters to keep the butterflies relatively cool, but it does have a feeling of a greenhouse, so be careful when visiting in the heat!
9500 E. Via de Ventura Scottsdale, AZ 85256
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