Friday, June 11, 2010

The Morton Arboretum

Another midwest (Chicagoland) attraction is the Morton Arboretum, located in suburban Lisle, Illinois on 1700 acres off of Route 53. This land was apparently the estate of the Morton family (of Morton Salt riches), and is now a not-for-profit botanical gardens, emphasis on trees. A tree museum, in other words.

I really enjoy botanical gardens in general. They seem so relaxing to walk through. This one is fun for kids, too. There is a "Children's Garden" with ponds and water features, climbing "tree houses" and pumps and gadgets the kids can work. The tadpole pond, literally teeming with the little immature frogs, is a highlight; kids can take off their shoes and socks and wade in the pool, and reach in to touch the tadpoles if they can catch them (which is not easy, so not too much danger to them).

Directly across from the Children's Garden is their Maze, constructed of various hedges, high enough that a nearly 6 foot tall adult can't see much over the tops of the hedges. It eventually leads to an elevated viewing platform, the payoff for traversing the maze. My kids LOVED this maze.

Currently they feature a sculpture collection called Steel Roots, a collection of large works depicting actual root systems of trees, cast in metals. The artist, Steve Tobin, has created something visually striking and totally in sync with the environment.

They also feature concerts during the summer months, by various local and national musicians.

I've blogged about the types of things that could be part of a theme park or entertainment complex, and I'm always looking at things with an eye on which things might work well integrated into my own (thought experiment) theme park. I think there are things found in this botanical gardens that could work in either an indoor or as an outdoor adjunct to such a development. I think it would be an excellent addition to Disney World, actually...something for adults who are not with children (or are with older children) to do for possibly a low additional admission fee. It is something I think my wife and I might do at times, rather than going to Animal Kingdom, something that could be part of making the hotels more of a destination in and of themselves, for those who might not want to visit theme parks every day.


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