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Moody Gardens History

How We Became The Premier Getaway in Galveston

Moody Gardens is a public, nonprofit educational destination utilizing nature in the advancement of rehabilitation, conservation, recreation, and research. Moody Gardens was founded in 1986 as a horse barn and riding area. The purpose was to begin a Hippotherapy riding program for people with head injuries. Today, Moody Gardens is one of the premier education recreational facilities in the South.

  • The convention center opened in 1986, originally as the Hope Arena, and expanded to 60,000 square feet in 2004.
  • In 1988, tons of Florida sand was barged in across the Gulf to create an exotic family beach with an ADA accessible yellow submarine for kids. In 2011, Palm Beach was greatly enhanced with the addition of a lazy river, water slides, wave pool, and splash pad. Open seasonally, this family friendly water park's admission is included in the room rate for all hotel guests and their families. The Learning Place also opened and became the home of educational programs.
  • In 1990, The Production Area was built, including two greenhouses used to propagate most of the plants seen on our grounds and for our Medicinal Plant Program. In 1993, the Rainforest Pyramid opened, as one of the most authentic rainforest recreations in the world, featuring more than 1,000 species of exotic plants and animals. In 2011, the Rainforest Pyramid reopened after a $25 million renovation.
  • In 1994, an authentic replica of an 1800s-style Paddlewheeler, the Colonel Paddlewheel Boat opened. The 800-passenger boat takes guests year round on cruises in Offatts Bayou.
  • In 1997, the Discovery Pyramid opened with the exhibit, "Living in the Stars." Today, it houses spectacular traveling science exhibits.
  • In 1998, Moody Gardens Hotel and Spa opened. The hotel includes 418 guestrooms, 23 suites, and 23,000 feet of flexible meeting space. The hotel underwent a full renovation in 2014.
  • In 1999, the Aquarium Pyramid opened with 1.5 million gallons of water and 10,000 marine animals.
  • In 2004, the new Moody Gardens Convention Center opened, with 60,000 square feet of exhibit hall space. The updated conference center became Galveston's premier meeting and event venue.
  • In 2008, the Moody Gardens Golf Course -- formerly the Galveston Municipal Golf Course -- opened after a substantial redesign.
  • In 2015, the hotel underwent a full renovation.

We look forward to future enhancements and new features.