The founder of one of the largest sporting goods companies in the world is set to open up the “Disney World of the Outdoors” just 3½ hours away from Topeka.
Bass Pro Shops founder and CEO Johnny Morris will officially unveil the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum &Aquarium on Sept. 22 in Springfield, Mo. According to a news release, this will be the largest wildlife attraction in the world, with more than 350,000 square feet. Among the attractions at the museum will be the National Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, which will move from its current home in Birmingham, Ala., to the museum.
The attraction will include a 1.5 million-gallon aquarium adventure, more than a mile of immersive trails and exhibits, 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles and birds representing 700 species and the Boone and Crockett Club’s National Collection of Heads and Horns.
In addition to the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, the museum also will house the International Game Fish Association’s Fishing Hall of Fame, the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum and the National Archery Hall of Fame.
The museum also will partner with 34 of the world’s foremost conservation organizations.
“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,” Morris said in a news release. “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.”
The museum will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (5 p.m. on off-peak dates to be announced). Because of the anticipated demand, the museum strongly encourages guests to purchase admission tickets in advance.
Tickets to the wildlife gallery will be $14.95 for adults and $9.95 for children ages 4-11. Aquarium adventure tickets are $29.95 for adults and $19.95 for children’s tickets. Combo tickets are $39.95 for adults and $23.95 for children ages 4-11. Children under 4 get in free of charge to both exhibits. The museum also offers a 10 percent discount for seniors, active military and veterans.
Discounted rates for school field trips will be announced soon at wondersofwildlife.org.
A tribute ceremony will take place Sept. 21, the night before the grand opening, with such celebrities in attendance as former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, as well as actor Kevin Costner.
“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, in the release. “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.”
Annual memberships and admission tickets are now on sale for Wonders of Wildlife.
Individual annual memberships run for $95, with family annual memberships — two designated adults plus children or grandchildren under 18 years old — costing $250. The museum also will offer conservation champion memberships for $300, which comes with the family annual membership plus two transferable guest cards for family and friends.
Cabela’s announced in a regulatory filing last week that it expected its merger with Bass Pro Shops to go through by Sept. 25.
The announcement came two days after the Federal Reserve approved the $4 billion dollar deal on Sept. 6.
Bass Pro is set to pay $61.50 per share to acquire the rival outfitter.