How Indoor & Outdoor Spaces Are Accommodating Families During Summer Heat

Malls and museums are seeing a surge in crowds looking to beat the heat, while theme parks and zoos are helping people stay safe and cool outdoors

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It has been so hot lately in North Texas, that outdoor activities have been almost impossible.

That’s why families have been flocking to indoor spaces like malls and museums to beat the heat.

Still, outdoor activities like zoos, gardens and theme parks are still bringing in visitors through special perks, discounts and methods to keep people cool and safe in the sweltering temperatures.

Many people are still braving the heat to attend events that are outdoors like visiting the zoo or going to Six Flags Over Texas, NBC 5’s Alanna Quillen talked to a few venues about how they try to keep people safe during our triple-digit heatwave.

Here’s a look at how some of the most popular destinations in North Texas are accommodating guests this summer:


The Dallas Zoo is busy keeping both the animals cool and their guests cool.

"This has been a hot one. We give access to [cooling areas] for the animals at certain temperatures, depending on the species, in Texas heat. That's usually about 2 p.m. or 3 p.m.," said Keith Zdrojewski, mammal curator for the Dallas Zoo. "But this summer, sometimes it's at like 11 a.m. in the morning when the heat index is where they should have access inside just to help beat the heat."

Zoo officials said they typically see less people coming in during the summer. During this heatwave, attendance is only about 1,000 on the weekdays and 2,000 on weekends – compared to tens of thousands on their busiest days.

Thursday this week is different. The zoo welcomed a crowd of about 12,000 expected throughout the day for “Dollar Thursday”, which allowed admission for $1 per person. The zoo does the discounted fare every year but opted for an online pre-sale for tickets this year in order to control the crowds.

Before the event, the zoo already sold out tickets. The next Dollar Thursday on August 11 is also sold out, which shows that people are willing to save money despite the heat.

Either way, if you’re planning to visit the zoo this summer, bring a refillable water bottle to refill at water stations and restaurants. You can also buy water for $2 a bottle.

Misters and fans are set up throughout the property, along with several "Retreat from the Heat" stations to help people cool down inside air conditioning.

Alanna Quillen NBC 5

Zoo staff are also keeping animals safe. The critters have access to their own cooling areas, too.

"Most of our animals here are designed for this climate,” said Zdrojewski. "You kind of get used to it. I believe like after 100, it's just hot. So if you're going do something – come early. The animals come out at about 9 a.m. in the morning and are more active in the morning."

Many animals like elephants and tigers have access to pools to take a dunk in the water. Zoo staff will also spray cool water on the elephants in the afternoon.

"And then we have hot rocks for the winter in different areas where the animals can get warmed up," said Zdrojewski. "So we have to think of the extremes and then adjust the animals to their comfort levels."


Six Flags Over Texas is still having a stream of guests coming in, despite the temperatures.

The lines for roller coasters are shorter which is good news if you're into that.

"We've been able to introduce our new Pirates of Speelunker cave ride. And one of the great things about that is that it is indoors and has awesome AC. So that's a great ride," said Six Flags Over Texas spokesperson Brad Malone. "Another great way to cool off is through one of our water rides. So we do have the world's first log flume ride as well as Roaring Rapids. That's a great way to kind of get your thrills in and cool off at the same time."

The park normally doesn't allow outside drinks but guests are allowed to bring in a sealed bottle of water.

Misters and fans are also set up throughout the park, in addition to areas where you can get free cups of cold water.

"We do have our new cooling stations. So those are going to be throughout the park. Some offer shaded areas, some offer air conditioning,” said Malone. “And then every cooling station as well as all of our restaurants that serve fountain drinks – you can get a complimentary cup of water to stay safe while you're out here.”

There's also an EMT crew on site in case of trouble. Parkgoers are encouraged to take breaks after every ride.

"Just make sure that you keep a tab on yourself while you're out here to make sure that you're doing OK, feeling OK, and staying hydrated,” Malone said. "Just keep tabs on yourself because you're going to be the best monitor of how you're feeling."


The Dallas Arboretum also sees an expected drop in attendance due to the heat. Although it is an outdoor venue, there is plenty of shade to beat the heat.

In the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden, there are 8,000 sq. feet of misting systems throughout as well as interactive water features both in the main garden and the Children’s Adventure Garden. Frozen Fridays are popular with various ice cream and shaved ice vendors.

The plants also get special treatment in the summertime.

“During this heat, you have to make sure your plants are well watered. We water at night and early in the mornings. Watering during the day can cause leaf scorch and burning due to water droplets acting like little magnifying glasses,” said spokesperson Terry Lendecker. “If you have to water during the day, make sure to water towards the base of the plant. Plants might still wilt throughout the hottest parts of the day, this is normal.”

The Arboretum does have to put a pause on planting any new material until the heat dies down to make sure it gets a nice establishment period with cooler weather.

In order to attract more guests during the summer heat, they offer reduced $5 admission during July and $3 admission for the entire of August for “August Dollar Days."

The Arboretum says visiting the garden is always a great way to support them in the summer – as well as becoming a member with member fees going directly to maintaining the gardens and funding activities.


Meantime, the Dallas World Aquarium keeps the temperature the same all year round for the tropical animals.

So they’re also seeing an uptick in crowds, from both families escaping the heat and tourists visiting North Texas. Crowds are pushing 5,000 people per day on the weekends.

Because of this, they've implemented a timed-entry system to help smooth out the process. Visitors are encouraged to buy tickets online and book a time slot.

"Especially over the weekend, we get lots of people so if you don't come early. Expect a line. We are getting very, very busy,” said animal manager Carolina Arruda.


The Galleria Dallas is seeing more people take advantage of the Ice Skating Center, which has temperatures of around 60 degrees or lower throughout the skating area.

"The past month, we've had an influx of people coming -- a lot of skaters and a lot of families that are coming here to have fun," said general manager Chris Pearce. "We're getting feedback, the families saying, 'Oh, this is the greatest place to come because it's nice and cool.'"

Alanna Quillen NBC 5

The rate is $12.00 for admission and $5.00 for skate rental. Skaters are required to bring a pair of socks to wear. A jacket or coat might be needed, too.

“The ice temperature is kept between 12 and 17 degrees. However, when you're skating on it, you of course don't feel that cold but it's nice and cold out there,” said Pearce. “And then we have the beautiful atrium above. So it's really nice."

The ice rink is open every day, but hours vary day to day. There are special skate nights planned for the summer crowd, including a back-to-school skate night in August.


LEGOLAND Discovery Center and SEA LIFE Grapevine Aquarium are also seeing an uptick in families finding refuge during the summer heat.

“We’ve also seen an uptick of families using our Pirate Beach splash pad at LEGOLAND Discovery Center – it’s the perfect combination of being outside just long enough to enjoy the water and then coming inside and enjoying the rest of the attraction,” said marketing manager Amy Estrada. “There are many areas of the center where families can still enjoy being active but in a cool air-conditioned space.”

Much of the aquarium, including the sea turtle rescue center, is inside air conditioning. 


Historically, the Perot Museum welcomes nearly 1 million visitors every year.

The museum sees increases in attendance three times a year: the holiday season, spring break, and summer. A museum spokesperson said many parents are looking for ways to keep kids entertained while school is out.

“Since spring break, we’ve seen very strong attendance. This summer has been no exception to our traditional strong summer visitation,” said museum spokesperson Becky Mayad. “However, given work schedules of parents, weekends tend to be a bit busier than weekdays.”

There are no guarantees, but the Museum often sees lower numbers in the afternoon than in the morning.

The museum currently operated on a timed ticket entry system, so guests can choose what time they would like their visit to begin. Tickets can be purchased in advance by clicking here.

There's also special events this summer, including Thursdays on Tap for those 21 years and older. It runs every Thursday night, between now and Oct. 13. Guests can enjoy live music, drinks and food trucks from local businesses -- with full access to all exhibit halls and traveling exhibitions.

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