SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- We've heard it and heard it and waited and waited. Now, a wonder-ful thing is about to open in Springfield.
Wonders of Wildlife has announced it's latest projected opening date. The big screen on the front of the aquarium, and the new TV ads announce WOW is opening in September.
The facility has been closed and under redevelopment for almost a decade. Johnny Morris, founder and chief executive officer of Bass Pro Shops, has stated the project has taken so because it requires a lot of time to construct an aquarium and wildlife museum the caliber of WOW.
"Johnny Morris says it is going to happen, we think it'll happen," said Sean Dixon, Assistant Marketing Director at Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau. "We have seen him pull off some pretty large feats of magic in the past."
Many other target dates have come and gone in recent years. An announcement by WOW earlier this year predicted the place would be open by this month- March. While waiting and wondering, the community has watched the construction with anticipation.
"We have been waiting but we haven't been waiting blindly," said Dixon. "We have been getting in there and seeing what Johnny is doing and seeing what they are working on."
So, how do we know this time it'll happen? As a sign of how sure Mr. Morris is, WOW has set an exact opening date- September 21st. An exact date has never been announced before, only general timeframes. September 21st happens to be National Hunting & Fishing Day; Johnny figured it made sense to have a grand opening on that day.
"Dixon said, "It is going to be a very big deal for us and a very big boon for the area particularly for travel and tourism"
Those in the tourism industry are looking forward to what they've long called this game-changing attraction. Visitors coming to town will help the economy by spending on hotels, food, and shopping. The Convention & Visitors Bureau plans to ramp up its marketing in the coming weeks and months
"We are very thrilled that this is happening and we are going to be able to share this with the world," said Dixon.
From the official press release from Wonders of Wildlife:
Johnny Morris, founder and chief executive officer of Bass Pro Shops, on Wednesday announced the all-new Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium will celebrate its grand opening on National Hunting & Fishing Day, Sept. 21, 2017.
“I am proud and excited that this special facility dedicated to those who love the outdoors will open in the heart of America in our hometown, Springfield, Missouri,” said Morris. “We are deeply grateful to the many remarkably talented individuals and world-class conservation organizations that have come together for the past nine years to help make this vision a reality. It is our shared hope that the tremendous investment of time, energy and resources will have a profound, positive long-term impact on the future of hunting, fishing and conservation in America.”
Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium will be the largest, most immersive fish and wildlife attraction in the world.
“Wonders of Wildlife has the opportunity, like no other attraction before it, to have a positive national impact on wildlife and conservation,” said Colin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, a key partner organization. “Johnny’s investment in this not-for-profit facility through the Johnny Morris Foundation will establish one of the most valuable and respected conservation and education centers in the world.”
Wonders of Wildlife consists of an all-new 1.5-million-gallon aquarium adventure showcasing 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles and birds, and an immersive wildlife museum that brings visitors eye-to-eye with the greatest collection of record-setting game animals ever assembled. Located adjacent to Bass Pro Shops National Headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, the 320,000-square foot experience celebrates people who hunt, fish, and act as stewards of the land and water.
In conjunction with the grand opening a national conservation summit will highlight a series of celebrations and commemorative events with leading conservation partners, special guests and dignitaries from across the nation. The events will honor the positive role hunters and anglers play in wildlife conservation and help inspire the next generation of outdoor stewards.
National Hunting and Fishing Day honors the most effective grassroots efforts ever undertaken to promote conservation. More than a century ago, hunters and anglers were the earliest and most vocal supporters of conservation and scientific wildlife management. Recognizing that rapid development and unregulated uses of wildlife were threatening the future of many species, sportsmen and women called for laws restricting commercial harvest, established hunting and fishing licenses, and lobbied for taxes on sporting equipment to fund state conservation agencies. The movement, led by notable sportsman President Theodore Roosevelt, soon helped populations of iconic North American wildlife species recover including white-tailed deer, elk, antelope, wild turkey, wood ducks and many more.
The grand opening coincides with several significant conservation landmarks in September including the 80th anniversary of President Franklin Roosevelt signing legislation establishing an excise tax on firearms and ammunition to fund wildlife conservation. Referred to as the Pittman-Robertson Act, this little-known bill has generated billions of dollars from sportsmen and women to fund vital state wildlife conservation activities. It also marks the 80th anniversary of Ducks Unlimited, one of the foremost conservation organizations in the world and a key museum partner. Additionally, September 2017 is the 211th anniversary of the completion of the historic Lewis and Clark expedition, which will be one of many milestones featured inside Wonders of Wildlife.
Key components at Wonders of Wildlife include:
-- A 1.5 million-gallon aquarium adventure
-- More than a mile of immersive trails and exhibits spanning 320,000-square feet
-- 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles and birds representing 700 species
More than 70,000 square-feet of immersive wildlife galleries and dioramas
The Boone and Crockett Club’s National Collection of Heads and Horns
The International Game Fish Association’s (IGFA) Fishing Hall of Fame
The National Bass Fishing Hall of Fame
The NRA National Sporting Arms Museum
The National Archery Hall of Fame
Partnerships with 34 of the world’s foremost conservation organizations
Additional details to be unveiled soon
Officials are planning to share more details about Wonders of Wildlife including plans for the grand opening celebration events, pricing, hours of operation and key features in the coming weeks and months. For more information visit www.wondersofwildlife.org.