The Wonders of Wildlife Museum opens next Thursday after more than nine years of remodeling, but there's been some sticker shock about the ticket prices. It will cost a family of four at least $127.80 to see the full exhibit, which is among some of the more expensive attractions in the Ozarks.
Museum officials are preaching value.
"Wonders of Wildlife is 350,000 square feet making it larger even than the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History," public relations manager Shelby Stephenson said.
More than half of that square footage is the aquarium, and it makes up for a majority of the ticket prices. They break down like this:
Adults: $29.95 aquarium, $14.95 wildlife exhibit, $39.95 combo
Kids 3-11: $19.95 aquarium, $9.95 wildlife exhibit, $23.95 combo
Memberships: $95 individual, $250 family, $300 for family + 2 guest passes
"We looked at institutions across the country and we wanted to create a national destination here,” Stephenson said. “When we compare it to other large regional attractions and attractions across the country, we really feel that Wonders of Wildlife is going to provide a great value.
“You can come purchase a ticket for the day and then make the decision that, 'I'd like to apply the purchase of my ticket towards a membership because I want to come again and again.'"
The prices are expensive, but it turns out, so are aquariums across the country. Below are several aquariums comparable in size and price to Wonders of Wildlife. Some, like Wonders of Wildlife, offer other attractions besides the aquarium at a bundled rate. We’ve included the cheapest available bundle in addition to solo ticket prices and membership options to see how Wonders stack up.
Size (sqft or acres if available)
Adult aquarium price/adult cheapest combo price
Kid price/kid cheapest combo price
Wonders of Wildlife (Springfield)
Size: 350,000 sqft
Memberships: 95 individual, 250 family
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas (New Orleans)
Size: 58 acres (includes other attractions)
Memberships: 125 individual, 200 family
Ripley’s Aquarium (Gatlinburg, TN)
Memberships: 54.99 adult, 29.99 kids
National Aquarium (Baltimore)
Size: 250,000 sqft
Memberships: 75 individual, 195 family
Tennessee Aquarium (Chattanooga, TN)
Size: 130,000 sqft
Memberships: 120 individual "plus" 175 family
Oklahoma Aquarium (Tulsa)
Size: 72,000 sqft
Memberships: 65 Individual 135 family
Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta)
Size: 550,000 sqft 13 acres
Memberships: 79.95 individual 279.95 family
John G. Shedd Aquarium (Chicago)
Size: 74,614 sqft 10 acres
Memberships: 75 individual 195 family