Iconic Attractions Group, a San Diego-based management company serving museums, zoos and cultural institutions, has announced a master plan to elevate Miami’s Jungle Island into an iconic landmark for eco-adventure and events. The conceptual plan includes new attractions and sub-destinations that tie in the diverse culture of the 18-acre park’s South Florida surroundings with journeys authentic of the jungle.
“We want our guests to enjoy a real jungle experience in the heart of Miami,” said John Dunlap, CEO of Iconic Attractions Group and President of Jungle Island. “Over the course of five years, our plan is to transform Jungle Island from a zoological attraction into a destination for eco adventures. The goal is to provide immersive, repeatable experiences to visitors who have a shared desire to learn, celebrate, and participate in nature’s wonders.”
Iconic Attractions Group commissioned award-winning experiential design and production firm Thinkwell Group to help form this vision, which is unfolded in the pages of an extensive presentation that highlights the park’s new distinct offerings. For families, young couples, and adventure- seekers, Jungle Island will serve as a place for adventure, animals, discovery and play. Key focal points of the plan include the following:
Immersion into the Jungle oasis becomes instant at the entry atrium. Views of the Magic City skylines are replaced with vine-encrusted gates. Stone columns and balconies peek through brushes of ferns and palms, anchored around the central massive tree supporting landings for Jungle Island’s new zipline system and perches for the park’s colorful bird residents. On the plaza, guests can weave through the open-air souk offering tangible memories to bring home or enjoy a craft beer at Jungle Island’s primary restaurant, the first of the park’s destination dining concepts.
Beyond the flamingo-lined entry pond, a lost lagoon lures guests to enjoy the water for themselves with a series of pools, waterways, falls, and other aquatic adventures. A main walking trail previews a range of activities including rope swings and zip lines, snorkeling, swimming “with” tigers, or simple lazy swimming, all under the peruse of the local wildlife. A sandy beach offers sunny respite from all the activity.
Watson’s Village is the heart of Jungle Island. With an emphasis on being amongst the environment versus merely observing it, the architectural structure matches tribal, natural, and rustic elements with a designer’s keen eye. Human contributions are celebrated here too with art creation programs and revamped performance amphitheater with a diverse line-up of live music, dancing, and other entertainment spectacles. Guests can anticipate a chance meeting with one of the animal ambassadors or picnic next to the orangutan habitat. Children, inspired by these apes, can play like them on the climbing apparatuses, swings and obstacles from the orangutans’ previous Serpentarium stomping grounds. Watson Village is also the site of an open-pit barbecue and one of the park’s other planned destination restaurants, Orang Utan Restaurant.
Guests get to stalk like a tiger through a labyrinth of rugged trails carved within the dense foliage. The recreation of true remoteness is designed to have them feeling as if they were really enveloped in nature, if it wasn’t for the occasional mark of civilization via totem poles, animal sculptures, or connecting boardwalk that opens out to the view of Miami’s cosmopolitan scene across the bay. Ropes and log bridges, swings, and slides offer assistance from the natural hurdles of mud ruts and flowing streams. Animal totems guide the way to various destinations be it the Capuchin grotto, large reptile swamp, or grouping of large feline dwellings.
The furthest tip of the island spans into a recently redeveloped private beach with soft sands and tiki-style accommodations for an easy siesta, though matched with plenty of programming for action-packed days as well. Treasures can be dug up, permanent sand castles can be scaled, and a zip line plunges riders right at the floating aqua park of water stunts and activities. Encounters with the marine wildlife can be found at the nearby inlet offering aqua jets, snorkeling and scuba diving classes. Parrot Cove is also home to another of the park’s core restaurant destinations for open-air dining amongst the beautiful birds that reside there. In line with Jungle Island’s mission to host South Florida’s finest and most unique events, Parrot Cove can be configured for private and special functions on the beach complete with a platform stage with lively performances and full-dinner service.
NEW ANIMAL ENCOUNTER PACKAGES
To complement the master plan, Jungle Island is getting ready to unveil an array of new packages designed to get visitors closer than ever before to some of the world’s most fascinating animals. Among an extensive list of inclusions, each tour features a private guide and assortment of “bucket list” type encounters with rare creatures, such as Mama Cass, the only known tame cassowary on the planet, Australian red kangaroos, Peanut and Pumpkin, the third set of twin orangutans born into captivity, and much more.
Most recently, Jungle Island also announced the completion of its renovation of the Treetop Ballroom and Arboretum to convey the “natural opulence” of the top-tier private events the island is known for hosting. Additional information about the above enhancements and more are to be released in separate, detailed announcements.
Current adventures and offerings by Jungle Island can be found at www.jungleisland.com or by dialing 305-400-7000.