A huge thank you to Skeletons: Animals Unveiled museum in Orlando for helping me share their awesome attraction with you by providing tickets for us!
Orlando has grown quite a bit since I last lived there 6 years ago. We have SunRail now, our own MLS team (#GoCity!), and quite a few new attractions. One area I really wanted to check out while I was in town was the new (to me! It’s been there over a year now) I-Drive 360 group of attractions that includes the Orlando Eye (kinda like the London Eye, but more Orlando-y), an aquarium, a Madame Tussaud’s wax museum, some cool looking restaurants and bars, and a really unique attraction called Skeletons: Animals Unveiled. I only got around to visiting the last one on that list this time, but hopefully I’ll get to visit the others soon after I move back to FL!
As you might guess from the name (Clever girl!), this is a museum that features a whole lot of animal skeletons. It’s fascinating if you’re interested in science-y things, and definitely educational. I can see a lot of kids LOVING this place, but if you’re not sure if your kids will be into it or freaked out, I suggest a stop in the gift shop first, since they have a few skeletons on display there and you can see how the kids react.
Just chillin’ with a former elephant.
One note before we get started – I was a little worried at first about how the skeletons used in the museum were obtained. (I think we’ve all heard the creepy rumors about the sources for the human bodies used in human anatomy exhibits). I was relieved to learn that the Skeletons museum isn’t out hunting hippos and giraffes for their skeletons – all of the bones on display were donated by zoos and rescues after the animals died natural deaths. Kinda like humans donating their bodies to science, I guess? Good to know! (The museum contains a few human skeletons, which I’m guessing WERE donated to science, rather than maybe coming from a zoo with a really terrible retirement plan.)
The museum contains over 400 different animal skeletons, most of which are displayed in natural poses; for example, bird skeletons might be perched on limbs, while a cheetah is shown mid-sprint. Not only do the poses bring the skeletons “to life”, so to speak, but I think it’s much more interesting to see how a spider monkey’s skeleton supports its body as it hangs from its tail than to just have hundreds of skeletons in neutral poses.
Each animal has a sign like the one pictured with the raccoon above that tells you a little bit about the animal, as well as any unusual anatomical features you might be able to spot as you’re looking at it. There are SO. MANY. different animals here! I think that pretty much every animal you’d see on a day over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom can be found here in the museum. (The two would make an awesome combination of a day if you have kids that are fascinated by animals or science!) There were even a handful of animals on display that I’d never heard of! (I visited with my friend Megan, and I think she caught me telling an animal “Wow, I had no idea you existed! Uh… sorry you died?)
Want a fancy word to impress people with? The eye rings that you see on a lot of bird and fish skeletons, as well as our buddy the Komodo Dragon here, are called Sclerotic Ossicles! They reinforce the cornea and help the eye focus. Kinda jealous that we don’t get to have them, but then I realized that I accidentally stab myself in the eye with mascara often enough that I probably would have broken one by now, and that seems super painful.
The signs claim this is some kind of seal, but we were 100% sure it was a mermaid.
One of the most fascinating things for me was learning about the visible differences in male and female skulls. Somehow, I never knew they could be so dramatically different, even though I’m a total anatomy nerd and grew up wanting to be a vet!
This guy, for example?
DEFINITELY a dude!
Another cool skull comparison: Alligators vs Crocodiles!
The animal skeletons in the museum are grouped into “themes” (for lack of a better word), so you’ll find a display of farm animals, one of reptiles, one of primates, and one full of all of the new African animal friends you met on safari at Disney yesterday. (Hi, guys!)
As a proud Cat Lady, you can probably guess which section I nerded out over the most.
Hello, kitty! I saw this mountain lion from across the room and his posture was just so feline that I was instantly like “KITTIES!!”
I wish I could have somehow captured how HUGE this African lion was. Big, BIG kitty.
Various other meowers. The one on the bottom left is your average domestic cat. You know, because the internet always needs more cat photos! (I may have talked to it and seriously considered petting it. I’d been away from my cats for over a week at this point, so…)
Although most of the exhibits feature full animals in their natural states, there are a few that showcase unusual skeletons…
…or share more info about individual body parts.
Am I the only one who had no idea flippers had bones in them??
Very fancy job of using my hand to show you how huge elephant teeth are.
There is one opportunity for a good “Ewwww!” inside the Skeletons museum: Flesh eating beetles.
You’re welcome for taking this pic from a distance. 😉 Yup, this is how the museum gets a donated animal from “Oops, I died!” to “You may now take selfies with me!” (Okay, I’m pretty sure there are quite a few other cleaning and sanitizing steps involved, but you get the idea.) If you’re curious about how it all works, you can watch a video of the process and see a bit of it right before your eyes in this display. If you, like me, are a little more into the already nice cleaned up and posed skeletons, you can do a quick “Oh, yup, those are totally flesh eating beetles in there!” glance and move on. Props to the museum people for figuring out a very “natural” way to get their skeletons cleaned up that saves the human employees a lot of dirty work! (I’m guessing that the beetles think they have a pretty sweet gig, too!)
The Skeletons museum is much larger inside than I expected – 8,000 sq ft! At one point I thought we had seen just about everything, but then we rounded a corner and there was still like half a museum to go! I’d say the average visitors will spend around 90 minutes here. You could definitely spend longer if you stopped to read every sign (they’re interesting!). Although we visited in the evening, I think the Skeletons museum would be an awesome choice for the middle of a crazy hot summer day so you can cool off for a while, or during one of Florida’s infamous afternoon thunderstorms.
One cool thing I learned is that they have resources available if you’re visiting with a school group or even just your own kids that want to dive deeper into the educational aspects of the exhibit. There’s also a scavenger hunt available at the entrance filled with questions for kids to find the answers to through out the museum.
If you’d like to see more of the Skeletons: Animals Unveiled museum, I definitely recommend their Instagram account, which is full of fun facts an interesting info, as well as a peek at many of the exhibits. You can also find them on Facebook, and purchase discount tickets on their website!
I’m curious – is the Skeletons museum the kind of attraction you’d be into checking out when you visit Orlando? I’d love suggestions on what kind of Florida things you’d like to see on my blog!