They told me I could spend four or five hours inside Springfield’s newest blockbuster attraction, Wonders Of Wildlife.  Of course, I rolled my eyes having heard that a time or two about other museums.   One thing you should probably know about me – I visit a lot of them.  If a museum can keep my attention for an entire hour – I call it a huge success.

The plan was to do a short on-camera interview and shoot some video for an episode of The Roundabout.  

Five hours later, I was back at my car and finally leaving the place USA Today readers voted the “best new attraction of 2017”.

If you’re a fan of the great outdoors, and even if you’re not, Wonders Of Wildlife is nothing short of amazing.  It’s divided into two sections – a massive aquarium and an animal museum that features all sorts of wild scenes from around the world.  The detail of each animal will make you second guess that the creatures aren’t actually real.  The sounds, temperature and even smell can change to make you feel like you’re truly in the animal’s appropriate habitat.

The attraction is located within the Bass Pro Shop complex in Springfield, Missouri.   If you’ve never been to Bass Pro, plan on adding another hour or two to your schedule.  Bring comfortable shoes, you’ll do a lot of walking.

The aquarium was probably my favorite of the two sections.  It’s certainly on par with other great major aquariums like those in Atlanta or Chattanooga.  The displays are well designed, giving visitors the opportunity for close encounters and maximum visibility.

Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris wanted to have a first class destination easily accessible to most of the country, which is why Springfield was selected as its location.  (Most of the country can drive there in less than a day.)

Mr. Morris is a true believer in conservation and has put his money where his passion lies.  He believes that visitors who experience the beauty of wildlife in the museum will take on extra consideration to nature and all of the animals that inhabit the planet.

Judging by the cars in the parking lot, his plan is off to a good start.