Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium
Though I moved around a lot as a young child and teen, I consider the Springfield area my chosen home. There is always plenty to do in this area indoors or out at affordable prices or for free. Bass Pro is one of the few places I never tire of visiting and their new museum is top on my list of places to visit again ASAP, though it is NOT free. Check out http://www.wondersofwildlife.org for hours and admission prices.
Last week, I took my seventeen year old daughter and my three year old grandson (not the 17 year olds child) and met up with my mother, my oldest son, and his two year old daughter. This was plenty of people to help with corralling children and keeping an eye on their safety. The museum opened at 10 a.m. and we went in through the store instead of the main museum entrance. The store also has free exhibits separate from the Wildlife Museum and Aquarium that outline their local history as well as the growth of the different projects owner Johnny Morris has built over the years including Dogwood Canyon and Top of the Rock, both in the Branson area. They are also on my list for a visit this year. Another free exhibit is their racing history hall, full of cars including the one that Austin Dillon crashed in the Coke Zero 400 in 2017 and the motorcycle that Orange County Choppers built for Bass Pro Shops.
Of course, being 2 and 3 years old means that famous art, priceless Indian artifacts, and beautiful examples of taxidermy of all types of animals from around the world were boring and to be bypassed as quickly as possible. The tank full of penguins on the other hand was a hit and we spent quite a bit of time with them. The aquarium is beautiful and well thought out. Different tanks hold a variety of fish and live animals including a snake tank in the floor and a walk through hall with fish swimming overhead. There are also tanks the children can enter and stand in which had a place for their heads to stick up inside and see the fish from a completely immersed view. Blue stairs light your way to different levels with escalators and elevators also available. My granddaughter was much impressed by these and we almost lost her to the elevators several times. Staff is on hand in all areas for assistance and to make sure small hands stay off priceless works of art.
Feeding the stingrays was a treat for the little’s-getting up close and personal to these, frankly, odd looking and slightly scary fish. Be prepared for your child to get wet. Older kids will like the stingrays and the interactive computer that uses their artwork of fish projected onto the wall, swimming around through make believe kelp.
Parts of the exhibits are dark and take some twists and detours, so having a few people to assist with children under 6 is a good idea. The walk through, even at our quicker pace through the museum part, took 3 hours. That is a long time for 2 and 3 year olds, but neither wanted to sit in a stroller. They slept well that afternoon or so their parents told me. As for me, my mom and oldest son-we are already making plans to return and walk through at a more leisurely pace.