Rubin Stahl wants everyone to experience Costa Rica, without even having to fly there.
Calling it "one of the natural wonders of the world," Stahl drew inspiration from Costa Rica's landscape and wildlife to create what he calls the Butterfly Palladium, a new, $25 million entertainment attraction in Buena Park.
"I'm replicating Earth. I want people to have the experience of walking through Costa Rica, seeing the volcanoes, the rain forest, everything," the creator said.
Stahl's sanctuary will be home to an expansive greenhouse housing bees, hummingbirds, and over 8,000 butterflies. There will also be a jellyfish aquarium, which upon completion will be the country's largest.
The 53,000 square foot structure is set to open next summer at 7711 Beach Blvd. It is part of an initiative to promote economic development in Buena Park.
"We want Beach Boulevard to make Buena Park a destination for tourists and locals," Ruben Lopez, economic development administrator for the city, said.
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The city of Buena Park recruited Stahl to build a new entertainment attraction on the 8.7 acre lot 18 months ago, and have since been "very involved" in the process. The lot, which previously housed the Movieland Wax Museum, was sold to Stahl last year for $2.5 million dollars.
Stahl is best known as the creator of Canada's West Edmonton Mall, thought to be one of the world's largest. He then moved to Scottsdale, Ariz., building Butterfly Wonderland, the world's biggest butterfly conservatory. The Butterfly Palladium, when opened, will beat that record.
Stahl employed an architecture firm, Brissette Architects, to create a facility that is modern, open, and engaging.
One of the firm's partners, Ron Brissette, said the designs for the attraction were based not only off of the landscape of Costa Rica, but also the characteristics of Stahl's favorite animal.
"We were inspired by the form and colors of, of course, the butterfly. The design is whimsical and colorful," he said.
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Other features of the attraction include a 3-D movie theater, restaurant, retail shop, and a 10,000 square-foot atrium designed for special events.
Nearby to other attractions, like Knott's Berry Farm Amusement Park, Stahl believes his Palladium will "complement" other entertainment destinations in Buena Park. Lopez expects one million visitors next year to Beach Boulevard.
Many of these visitors stepping into the predominantly glass structure will be families and school groups, according to Brissette. A number of educational aspects have been incorporated into the sanctuary to make it appealing to students.
Stahl said the experience of visiting the Palladium would be "like no other," and the attraction will have people coming back once, even twice a week.
"This is one of a kind. You'll walk into the aquarium and will be immersed in the ocean. You'll walk into the butterfly pavilion, and a butterfly lands on your shoulder, or head. It's a unique experience you can never forget," he said.