I was watching a late-season snow falling outside my office window when I got the email from Sarah.
She wrote, “I am contacting you on behalf of Scottsdale Resort and Conference Center, who has recently partnered with Butterfly Wonderland to provide families from across the country a unique vacation package.” The email went on to inform me that the package includes a night at the resort plus two adult passes and one child’s pass to Butterfly Wonderland. She went on to ask if I would be interested in a stay.
I looked out the window and composed my reply: “Yes, please!”
We drove out of Flagstaff on a Saturday afternoon with more snow coming down. Two hours later we drove up to the bougainvillea dripping resort, a warm sun above us. Within the hour we were in the swimming pool. It was heaven. The kids didn’t want to leave the resort even to eat, so we ordered in for dinner and lay abed watching a movie together until past all our bedtimes.
In the morning it was back to the pool for more sun and fun. Then we gorged on the lavish Sunday champagne brunch, enjoying the best strawberries we’ve had since we lived in Hawaii. The tables were groaning with gourmet goodies.
After checking out, we drove to Butterfly Wonderland, about five minutes away. Butterfly Wonderland bills itself as “America’s largest butterfly atrium.” But it’s more than just butterflies. Visitors walk in a loop experiencing first an amazing 3-D film about Monarch butterflies.
The film, “Flight of the Butterflies” runs about 15 minutes and is beautifully filmed and chock full of interesting information. The small theater was nearly full with visitors from babies to the elderly — and everyone was fascinated.
The first stop after the film is the Butterfly Emergence Gallery, where we got to see metamorphosis in action. Hundreds of chrysalises hung from tray after tray behind lighted viewing windows. The size and variety of the chrysalises included tiny metallic-looking chrysalises and huge brown, fabric-y-looking ones. Watching closely, we observed some shaking. From others, butterflies were emerging. Each row was labeled with a name and photo of the butterfly that would eventually emerge. It was mesmerizing.
After a long stay in the emergence gallery, we lined up to enter the main atrium. Guests are allowed in small groups after hearing a few rules. Don’t touch the butterflies (although they may touch you), watch where you step (they like to land on the ground). Inside, the atrium really was a wonderland. It was muggy and tropical, full of flowering plants. And everywhere we looked there were butterflies. Brown ones and blue ones and yellow ones. Black and red ones. Big ones and small ones.
They flitted around, landing on flower after flower and on several delighted guests. Kids squealed with joy while their attendant adults snapped hundreds of pictures. After about a 45 minutes of walking around and enjoying the spectacle, we moved out of the atrium. The next stop was the snack bar where we stopped for water. The room after the snack bar featured Southwestern critters including a tarantula and scorpions. There was also a honeybee display with a series of active beehives behind glass.
The penultimate room was the aquatic display. This room was lined with fish tanks full of fish and small sharks. In the center of the room was a large, open stingray tank. Visitors were allowed to put two fingers in the tank and wait for the rays to swim up and investigate. After watching the rays for a while we moved on to the last room: the gift shop.
The gift shop had every kind of butterfly gift and goodie imaginable. After less than two hours we emerged back into the sunlight happy and ready to head home.