A painstakingly detailed, immersive recreation of our planet
At first blush, this might sound like the American National History Museum on ’roids. But the Wonders of Wildlife is more immersive than that. Avid conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris has achieved the most ambitious and impressive re-creation of our environments ever attempted. WOW lets visitors experience the world’s vast ecological diversity in one day, in one space -- in Springfield, Missouri. Which, if you’re on the coasts might as well be the Arctic, but worth the trip all the same.
Over a mile and a half of trails wind through the African savannah, the Arctic, the Himalayas, and other far corners of the globe. And each area is designed to give all five senses the sensation of really being there. The air is precisely controlled to simulate various temperatures and humidity levels, and scents and soundtracks mimic the noises and smells one might find in a particular region.
OK, so they don’t quite crank the AC down to 20 below or scent the air with rancid animal smells; this is still a tourist attraction, after all. But the level of detail is nonetheless remarkable.
“My background is Disney and the Georgia Aquarium. Nobody has theming like we have here,” says Mark Schafer, World of Wildlife’s executive director. “When you go through the Amazon and feel that thick jungle around you, and you see the piranha and the neon tetras... or you go to Africa and smell the dirt in the air and feel the heat. You see these magnificent animals like lions and giraffes just two or three feet away from you. Nobody has attention to detail like that.”