Moody Gardens is an educational tourist destination, with a golf course and hotel in Galveston, Texas which opened in 1986. The non-profit destination uses nature to educate and excite visitors about conservation and wildlife.
Moody Gardens features three main pyramid attractions: the Aquarium Pyramid, which is one of the largest in the region and holds many species of fish and other marine animals; the Rainforest Pyramid, which contains tropical plants, animals, birds, butterflies, reptiles, and a variety of other rainforest animals including free-roaming monkeys and two-toed sloths; and the Discovery Pyramid, which focuses on science-oriented exhibits and activities.
Another major attraction is Palm Beach, a landscaped white sand beach with freshwater lagoons, a lazy river, tower slides, and splash pad play area for children. Moody Gardens also has a RideFilm Theater with motion-based pod seating, the MG 3D Theater features the largest screen in the state of Texas, 4D Special FX Theater, paddlewheel cruise boat, a hotel, golf course and a convention center.
The complex attracts many local tourists from the city of Houston and its outlying suburbs. The owners commissioned a landscape design from Geoffrey Jellicoe. It is described in Gardens of the Mind: the Genius of Geoffrey Jellicoe by Michael Spens (Antique Collectors Club, 1992).
Moody Gardens Corpse Flower
|Location||Galveston, Texas, United States|
|Land area||242 acres (98 ha)|
|No. of animals||over 9,000|
2 million per year|
(open 365 days)
|Memberships||Association of Zoos and Aquariums|
City of Galveston,|
run by Moody Foundation
This blue pyramid opened in 1999 is approximately 12 stories high. The massive pools that are contained in this pyramid contain approximately 10,000 marine animals from fish, sharks, seals and penguins. Each representing different regions of the sea: North Pacific, South Pacific, South Atlantic and Caribbean.
Moody Gardens' Rainforest Pyramid
|Operated by||Moody Foundation|
|Visitors||2 million per year|
|Status||open 365 days|
|Plants||trees, bushes, flowers|
1,000 plant species|
|Collections||exotic plants, plus otters, monkeys, alligators, bats, ocelots and birds|
This clear pyramid opened in 1993 and reaches the height of 10 stories. After Hurricane Ike, a $25 million enhancement project brought nature closer to visitors. The multi-level Rainforests of the World project focuses on education, conservation and possible future breeding with new rare and endangered animals. Giant Amazon river otters, saki monkeys, ocelots, and a wide range of other animals, birds, reptiles make up more than 1,000 species of exotic species showcased the diversity of the rainforest environment.
The rainforests of Asia, Africa, and the Americas are featured through the popular bat caves, crashing waterfalls, and Mayan Ruins. The warm, humid interior simulates the climate of rainforests on warm days.
The Discovery Pyramid opened in 1997 and features traveling exhibits and the ride film (motion simulator). In May of 2015, Moody Gardens added a permanent exhibit to the bottom level of the Discovery Pyramid, the SpongeBob SubPants Adventure ride. In this amusement ride, the audience "dives into adventure on a submarine voyage along with SpongeBob and all his Bikini Bottom friends!" The upper level of the huge deep pink colored Discovery Pyramid is currently featuring JAM REMASTERED: THE SCIENCE OF MUSIC, an experience that explores the connection between music, science and mathematics (Summer 2018)
Palm Beach opened in 1988, initially with a constructed white sand beach and later expanded to a full use water park. The water park features Aquarium Adventure, a group of slides with a dump bucket, a wave pool, a lazy river, Tower Slides (two water slides), and Splashpad, the toddler section of the water park. The artificial beach is made with white sand and is situated in the Galveston Bay.
In May 2014, Moody Gardens opened the tallest steel ropes course on the Gulf Coast. The five-tier Sky Trail Ropes Course (or "challenge course") is five stories tall – standing at 81 feet (25 m) tall – and features 48 obstacles (or "elements") with the obstacles gradually getting harder with each tier. The Moody Gardens Zip Line is 500 feet (150 m) long and is connected to another steel tower located at the far end of Palm Beach next to the wave pool – suspending visitors 60 feet (18 m) above Palm Beach, allowing them to get a bird's eye view of the Moody Gardens pyramids and tropical gardens. The ropes course and zip line was manufactured, installed, and is serviced by Ropes Courses Inc. The ropes course and zip line is open year-round during the weekend and the weekdays during school holidays and the weekday evening during Festival of Lights.
Moody Gardens also features the Sky Tykes Ropes Course for those under 48 inches (120 cm) tall. It has 9 obstacles (or "elements") and is situated on one level. The open course design allows for easy parent participation for any level of assistance needed. Parents can also walk alongside their child.
Each participant (adult and child) is outfitted with a full body harness and a safety lanyard or sling line. This unique system also allows participants to choose their path through the course while going at their own pace with the ability to pass other participants at each platform.
In 2007, the Moody Foundation signed an agreement with the City of Galveston to completely rebuild the city's municipal golf course. The course reopened in June 2008 under the moniker Moody Gardens Golf Course. The $17 million comprehensive renovation, included the addition of new turf grass, green complexes, elevations, irrigation, drainage, cart paths, greens and a full clubhouse renovation.
The new course was designed by Peter Jacobsen of Jacobsen Hardy Golf Course Design and was constructed to keep historical features of the course while improving certain holes and course flow. The par 72 course measures 6,900 yards from the back tees, with 5 sets of tees to accommodate all playing abilities.
Each November and December Moody Gardens hosts the Festival of Lights. A mile long trail features one million lights themed to holiday music with live entertainment and an outdoor ice rink. Additional attractions include holiday films at the MG3D Theater, 4D Special FX Theater and Ridefilm Theater. A holiday buffet is featured in the Garden Restaurant and the Colonel Paddlewheel Boat offers evening cruises.