Spring time, fling time.
Soon enough, the weather will warm and you'll be excited again to get out of the house.
What's there to do? Plenty -- from touring productions to new thrill rides, there's no shortage of opening attractions in the city and suburbs. Below are nine new shows, exhibits and more coming our way in the next two months:
1. "Dinos & Dragons" at Brookfield Zoo
Dinosaurs are roaring back to life at Brookfield Zoo. This spring, they return bigger than ever -- and they've brought along some mythical dragon friends.
The "Dinos & Dragons" exhibit, which runs from May 6 through Sept. 17, features 17 animatronic creatures, including the T-Rex and Chinese dragon. Along a winding outdoor path, guests can explore the origins of myths and legends through culture, literature and paleontology. Zoo-goers can get up-close views of live reptiles, including a 6-foot-long Komodo dragon, seen for the first time at the zoo.
There are also hands-on activities, including a dinosaur dissection lab, dino dig boxes and an excavation site. A live theatrical show featuring animatronic dinosaur raptors takes place daily at the Stage-o-saurus Theater. For information and tickets, visit czs.org/brookfield-zoo.
2. "Origami in the Garden" at The Morton Arboretum
Origami art heads to the Lisle tree museum this spring.
An exhibit featuring large-scale metal sculptures inspired by the Japanese art of paper folding runs May 19 through Oct. 22, with family activities, lectures and workshops to accompany the exhibition, including an opening weekend celebration.
Twenty-five displays will be showcased throughout the arboretum's east side, including "Master Peace," which features 500 stainless steel origami cranes soaring 24 feet above a reflective granite base. The piece's reflection evokes the Japanese tradition of folding a thousand cranes as a meditation and prayer for peace.
Each sculpture started with a single piece of folded paper created by some of the world's most noted origami artists. "Origami presents a simple metaphor: We all start with a blank page and what we do with it is up to us," said Kevin Box, creator of the exhibit. "We created 'Origami in the Garden' to inspire people with the possibilities of what can be created from one simple piece of paper."
For information and tickets, visit mortonarb.org/origami.
3. Broadway in Chicago's "Aladdin"
Soar off to a whole new world when Disney's "Aladdin" arrives at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago. The musical fantasy adventure comes from the producer of "The Lion King."
The show runs April 11 through July 2 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre and features all the favorite songs from the movie soundtrack, as well as more written for the stage.
For information and tickets, visit broadwayinchicago.com.
4. The Joker at Six Flags Great America
Ready for a thrill ride? Six Flags Great America in Gurnee unveils its new free-fly coaster, The Joker, this spring. The ride features innovative magnetic technology and swiveling vehicles, allowing riders to soar outside the confines of the track in wing cars facing other riders. The ride lifts guests up a 12-story, 90-degree hill and flips them at least six times along a weightless journey. The park opens April 29.
"The Joker is undeniably one of the greatest supervillains of all time," says park President Hank Salemi. "This free-fly coaster will perfectly capture the essence of the warped and unpredictable nature of The Joker. It will take our park to the next level of thrills."
For information and tickets, visit sixflags.com/greatamerica.
5. "The Rolling Stones' Exhibitionism" at Navy Pier
The Rolling Stones' first major exhibition makes its Chicago debut at Navy Pier on April 15.
Telling the story of one of the most influential rock bands in history, "Exhibitionism" allows visitors to experience the group's journey from its early days living together in a tiny flat to headlining the biggest stages in the world.
The Chicago showing brings more than 500 rare items together in an immersive, 3-D exhibit that runs through July 30. It's the first time in history that the band has unlocked their private archives.
Guests can see a recreation of a Stones' recording studio complete with original instruments, a guitar gallery and a "backstage" area.
For information and tickets, visit stonesexhibitionism.com.
6. "Odysseo" by Cavalia at Soldier Field
Cavalia brings its new $30 million live theatrical production, "Odysseo," to a massive tent in Soldier Field's south lot from April 1 through April 23.
"Odysseo" marries the equestrian arts and stage performances with multimedia and special effects, integrating acrobatics, dance, aerial stunts and live music. Often called an equestrian ballet, Cavalia was created by one of the co-founders of Cirque du Soleil.
The show features 65 horses and 48 artists, and it focuses on the relationship between humans and horses as they discover some of the planet's most unforgettable landscapes together.
For information and tickets, visit cavalia.com.
7. "Guardians of the Galaxy" return
Gamora the assassin, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket the wisecracking raccoon, Groot the chatty tree and Star Lord himself, Peter Quill, are back in this Marvel offshoot tale of intergalactic derring-do.
The 2014 science-fiction comedy racked up an astonishing $773 million at the domestic box office. Analysts predict James Gunn's "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" will zap up an easy $160 million on its opening May 5. Watch for Kurt Russell performing the role of Peter's dad Ego, apparently a living planet capable of creating avatars of itself, looking suspiciously like Russell.
8. Bison's Bluff
Celebrate Earth Day with the opening of a new nature playground in Schaumburg.
Bison's Bluff Nature Playground will host its opening party from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 22. The custom-designed play area includes nature-themed structures and features that replicate a rock bluff, cliff face, fallen logs, stream, beaver lodge and more. The celebration will feature on-site tours, kids' activities and refreshments.
The $2.5 million Schaumburg Park District facility aims to inspire kids to remain active and is a throwback to previous generations of children who grew up wandering fields, forests and streams. The 1-acre play area, which is free and open from April 1 through Oct. 31, is located at Spring Valley Nature Center & Heritage Farm, 1111 E. Schaumburg Road.
For information, visit parkfun.com/facilities/spring-valley/bison%27s-bluff.
9. Opening of the American Writers Museum
The only museum of its kind in the nation, the American Writers Museum celebrates and explores the influence of famous writers on our country's history, identity and culture. The museum's grand opening takes place May 16 at 180 N. Michigan Ave.
"This museum will make America's mark on the literary legacy of the world," says museum President Carey Cranston. "It will provide an exciting and unprecedented opportunity to showcase our great writers and their works in one of the nation's most culturally rich cities."
The facility showcases personal stories and literary works from writers including Mark Twain and Dr. Seuss. Guests can join Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck on their literary travels, visit writers' homes and see sites such as "Cannery Row" and "The House of the Seven Gables." The interactive, high-tech museum is expected to draw up to 120,000 visitors a year.
For information and tickets, visit americanwritersmuseum.org.