MOODY GARDENS EMBRACES ENVIRONMENT, EDUCATES THE YOUNG, INSPIRES THE DISABLED AND LOOKS TO THE FUTURE
GALVESTON, Texas. — Imagine… the Houston areas number one tourist attraction and family destination, a non-profit organization encompassing 242 acres on Galveston Island chock full of some of the most exotic subtropical landscaping in the United States. According to City Search- the Best of Houston, 36 percent of the voters selected Moody Gardens as the most enjoyable tourist attraction. Moody Gardens is a fun-filled, educational, non-profit destination.
Add a 10-story glass Rainforest Pyramid, a sprawling conference center, white sandy beach and IMAX 3D Theater. Then add a second pyramid housing unique traveling interactive educational exhibits and a futuristic movie ride. Finally, add a third pyramid that houses one of the largest aquariums in the world.
These fantastic attractions, along with two unique therapy programs, are all part of the vision that is Moody Gardens, a highly ambitious project established by the Moody Foundation in 1982. The Foundation is a philanthropic organization launched by W. L. Moody, Jr. and his wife, Libbie Shearn Moody, in 1942.
Hope Therapy: The Cornerstone
Hope Therapy at Moody Gardens was inspired by the son of Foundation Trustee Robert L. Moody, who sustained a head injury in an automobile accident and who subsequently discovered the healing benefits of therapy utilizing animals and nature. Opening in January 1986, Hope Therapy became the cornerstone of Moody Gardens, an internationally-recognized program offering rehabilitative horseback riding, hippotherapy, to mentally and physically disabled individuals.
Today’s Hope Therapy offers Horticultural Therapy, through which individuals with disabilities can improve sensory awareness and motor abilities, regain confidence and learn new skills to prepare for employment opportunities. These special clients tend the massive greenhouse and Rainforest Pyramid at Moody Gardens in large part.
Vocational Training, or Supported Employment also is an important part of the program. This provides the opportunity for individuals with disabilities to develop the necessary skills to gain and maintain a job. Moody Gardens employs many of these individuals on a full and part-time basis. Job coaching is provided as needed.
Attractions That Embrace The Environment
The Moody Gardens complex is set in a subtropical environment. An estimated 20,000 plants and treeshave been carefully planted to reflect seasonal varieties and a veritable rainbow of hues throughout the year and pathways invite the walker and biker to fully embrace this environment.
In 1987, Palm Beach was established, a white-sand, blue-lagoon entertainment center, open throughout the summer. Waterfalls, Jacuzzis, volleyball courts, paddleboats, Aquatic Adventure playground, concessions and more make Palm Beach a great place to cool down in the summer. Docked behind Palm Beach is the 800-person-capacity Colonel Paddlewheel Boat, an authentic reproduction of an 1800s paddlewheel that offers daily cruises on Offats Bayou.
In 1991, the 60,000-square foot Moody Gardens Convention Centerwas opened with design and furnishings that literally bring the outdoors within. The tropical atmosphere of Galveston Island is further reflected by dramatic fountains and waterfalls accenting the rich gardens.
In March of 1993, Moody Gardens opened its spectacularRainforest Pyramid, a one-acre rainforest sitting within a 10-story glass pyramid, showcasing the exotic flora and fauna of Asia, Africa and the Americas. Since its opening, the rainforest has developed a 55-foot tall canopy, exotic vines and vibrant, lush greenery throughout. Visitors will find tropical birds and fish as they explore the Rainforest Pyramid, the Mayan Colonnade and freshwater ponds.
Opening simultaneously with the pyramid was Americas first IMAX 3D Theater, a multi-media facility capable of two- and three-dimensional film viewing, conventional cinema and slide shows.
A Visitors Center, Garden Restaurant and Gift Shop, housed within the same complex as the Rainforest Pyramid and IMAX 3D Theater, offer detailed information about Moody Gardens; tasty, well priced meals; and a variety of special gifts.
Then in March 1996, Moody Gardens broke ground on a 303-roomhotel, a second Discovery Pyramid housing a unique educational museum and a Ridefilm Theater, and a third, spectacular Aquarium Pyramid that would showcase the worlds oceans. The Discovery Pyramid, featuring traveling interactive educational exhibits and the Ridefilm Theater both opened in June of 1997. The giant, 1.5-million-gallonAquarium Pyramid, offering a splashy tribute to the North Pacific, Caribbean, Tropical Pacific and Edge of the Antarctic oceans, opened in the summer of 1999.
The 303-room Moody Gardens Hotel opened January 1999 and offers all the conveniences and features of a big-city meeting destination nestled among breathtaking gardens and majestic pyramids. Flexible spaces to accommodate any group size, a 15,000 square foot ballroom, elegant and casual dining, spa, exotic pool and swim-up bar, and a host of luxury services make the Moody Gardens Hotel the ideal meeting and vacation destination. Located next to the existing conference center, the Hotel will further complement Galveston Islands ability to serve Texas growing convention market.
In 2004, expansion to the Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa and Convention Center was completed adding a new wing and 125 new guest rooms as well as three new spectacular hospitality suites featuring spacious parlors, perfect for private meetings or small gatherings. Room amenities include refrigerators, color TV, robes, hairdryers, ironing boards and irons, coffee makers, 24-hour room service, Sony Playstation, in-room safety box, high-speed internet access, additional phone lines and great views of the Moody Gardens attractions and Offats Bayou. An enclosed five-story, 1,000-car parking garage with connected, covered walkways was also constructed, and the Convention Center Exhibit Hall was expanded to 60,000 square feet. In 2005, the 4D Special FX Theater opened. All senses like smell, touch, hearing and sight, come alive as hi-def digital 3D projection, audio and show control systems put audience in the middle of the action.
Education And Research
Through its expansion phases, Moody Gardens has continued to focus upon education and research, working to inspire young people to protect their environment, and to assist researchers in the arenas of medicine and entomology.
The Learning Place was opened in 1994 as an educational center offering a wide variety of opportunities for children of all ages. Grades K-12 visit The Learning Place in school field trip programs that offer access to educational gardens, animals to see and touch, presentations from the Rainforest Trunk, and more. The Learning Place also offers day and overnight camps, Boy Scout merit badge days and an exciting and educational place to have birthday parties.
Equally exciting are two ongoing partnerships designed to aid medical research into curing certain diseases and to replace pesticides with natural insect control. The Medicinal Plant Program is a cooperative initiative led by Dr. E. Arthur Bell, former curator of KEW Gardens in London, Moody Gardens and the University of Houston School of Pharmacology. The Horticulture Department at Moody Gardens collects and grows vegetation from rainforests that might prove useful in controlling diseases or viruses, particularly cancer and AIDS, and sends cuttings to University of Houston for research. As plants with healing properties are discovered, Moody Gardens nurtures the species during the research process.
In an intriguing team venture between Moody Gardens and Texas A&M University, the entire Rainforest Pyramid has been protected from harmful insects through a Beneficial Insect Program that has replaced pesticides with natural insect control.
The Moody Gardens Mission
Moody Gardens is a public, nonprofit educational destination utilizing nature in the advancement of rehabilitation, conservation, recreation and research. It is funded through the generosity of The Moody Foundation of Galveston.From Houston, take I-45 South, exit 61st Street. Right on 61st Street and again on Seawall Blvd. Right on 81st Street to Jones Drive. Left on Hope Blvd. For more information about Moody Gardens call 800/582-4673, or visit our website at www.moodygardens.org.