In May 2013 Butterfly Wonderland opened in Scottsdale, Arizona. Located on Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community land, it is one of several attractions, entertainment venues, retail stores, and restaurants in a development there called OdySea in the desert.
Butterfly Wonderland boasts that it is "America's Largest Butterfly Atrium," home to thousands of butterflies. But be patient -- there are things to do before you even get to the atrium. First, be sure to watch the 3D film, "Flight of the Butterflies." This version has been edited from 44 minutes to about 15 minutes, so most children will be patient enough to sit through the film.
After you watch the film, you'll enter the Butterfly Emergence Gallery. Here you will see the third stage of butterfly metamorphosis in action. Some people in the room thought it was a staged or fake exhibit, but it is not. If you are observant, you might see a butterfly hatching right before your eyes.
The Butterfly Conservatory
The butterfly conservatory, the highlight of any visit to Butterfly Wonderland, is 10,000 square feet of rainforest, complete with a koi pond and a butterfly bench for family photo opportunities. Here is where you'll spend the most time during your visit unless you discover that your youngster has a fear of flying insects. Yes, it happens. There will be plenty of little ones, squealing with delight as they spot butterflies resting in the foliage, eating from fruit bowls, or even landing on their heads. Keep the camera at the ready!
After you've enjoyed the conservatory, stop in the cafe for a snack or beverage, and then continue on to see a bee colony, ant farms, some desert creatures, fish from the Amazon, and a stingray touch tank.
Your last stop will be in the colorful and well-stocked gift shop. Good luck getting through there without buying something for the kids -- or for yourself!
Butterfly Wonderland tidbit: Special closed-captioned Spanish 3-D movie showings of "Flight of the Butterflies" have been introduced for people who would like Spanish translation.
10 Things to Know
When asked about the relationship of the fish, bees, ants, and stingray touch tank to butterflies, the man who was the visionary behind the project offered that the other mix of displays was a tribute to the importance of nature's creatures to the Native American community.
10 Things to Know Before You Go
- The only information you'll receive about the butterflies in the atrium is in the brochure you are given at the entry. There are more than 30 butterfly varieties shown on that brochure. Butterflies in the atrium may or may not be included in the brochure, and, of course, not all butterflies in the brochure are in the atrium. Resident butterflies change, depending on what the butterfly suppliers are able to provide.
- There is a lack of interactive technology at Butterfly Wonderland. Not a computer screen or tablet to be seen, no educational games or activities for the kids. Maybe that's not a bad thing -- an attraction that is simply for natural, visual and sensory enjoyment -- but there seemed to be an obvious dearth of educational interaction.
- The butterfly atrium itself is warm and humid. It is temperature controlled, so you can expect it to be that way year-round. It's for the butterflies! Be prepared for hair frizz.
- There is a logical progression to a visit to Butterfly Wonderland: entry, restrooms, film, emergence gallery, butterfly conservatory (atrium), cafe, ants/bees/fish, gift shop. You are welcome to skip any parts of the attraction that don't interest you, but you are encouraged to take the same circular route during your stay. That means that you have to go through the gift shop to get to the restrooms again!
- Try to go early in the morning, shortly after opening. It is likely to be less crowded (unless there are school fields trips that day) and, most importantly, the butterflies will be more active than later. In the late afternoon, they have a tendency to be quieter and rest.
- The price of admission is steep. If you believe that you'll be visiting more than a couple of times each year, an annual pass may be your best bet.
- Tickets purchased online must be purchased for a specific date. Online tickets are not discounted.
- The IMAX movie shown at the beginning of your visit is about 15 minutes long, and 3D glasses are provided. It's a lovely film.
- Depending on how enthralled your kids are, and if you stop to eat in the cafe, you might spend 1-1/2 or maybe even 2 hours. Of course, if you are a professional photographer looking for that perfect butterfly shot, you are welcome to stay all day.
- The gift shop will please any butterfly lover. You'll find items here in all price ranges and for all ages. It's a great place to shop for unique gifts.
The first thing you'll see when approaching the entrance to Butterfly Wonderland is a beautiful statue, entitled Las Mariposas. Taking nearly a year to complete, Las Mariposas is considered to be the largest known butterfly sculpture in the world; the sculpture stands at 45 feet tall, with the butterflies extending 25 feet from base to wing. It's a wonderful place to take a photo of any butterfly lover!
According to the artist, the Las Mariposas sculpture is constructed of marine grade stainless steel and features an elaborate interior method that allows the structure to literally float on its own weight while being able to weather even the worst environmental conditions.
The structure is outside the attraction, so there is no charge to see and enjoy it. Parking is free at Butterfly Wonderland.
Pictured here, posing for a photo, is Janet Johnson of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (left) along with New Mexico-based artist Robert Romero (right) who created the sculpture.
Butterfly Wonderland is open seven days per week, 365 days per year.
9500 E. Via de Ventura
Scottsdale, AZ 85256
Ample free parking is available onsite.
Annual passes will save you some money if you or your family intend to visit often. They also make great gifts! There are family passes, grandparent/grandchild passes, as well as individual passes for adults, seniors, students, and military. They are all basically priced to make it a worthwhile deal for those that intend to visit more than twice per year. Keep in mind that the annual passes are assigned to individuals and are not transferable. That means that if you have a family pass, only the four people assigned to the pass when it was purchased are admitted under the pass for the year. Your visiting guests and relatives will have to pay the admission charge if they were not named on the application.
Next door to Butterfly Wonderland, you'll find the sister attraction, OdySea Mirror Maze. Can purchase a combination pass for both at Butterfly Wonderland. Combination passes include one Butterfly Wonderland Admission, one All-Day Mirror Maze Admission, and 1 Laser Maze Challenge Walk Through.
All dates, times, and offerings are subject to change without notice.