WOW fans watch award announcement at the Great Barrier Reef Exhibit

Johnny Morris Wonders of Wildlife Awarded Best New Attraction

America’s Best New Attraction

Blue stairs lead to Great Barrier Reef Exhibit at Wonders of Wildlife
Crowd gathers to hear announcement at the Great Barrier Reef Exhibit

USA Today readers vote WOW America’s Best New Attraction 2017 – No Surprise There!

I was on the staircase, Jan. 5, 2018, all ears when Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Parson announced USA Today readers voted Wonders of Wildlife, America’s Best New Attraction in 2017.

Quite the feat since WOW opened to the public on Sept. 22, 2017. Two months on the books, and it received more votes than any other new attraction 2017 AND in the history of USA Today in that category.

Of course, I hoped to spot Johnny Morris among the dignitaries at the announcement, but he was traveling, fishing for Goliath Groupers with pro-fisherman Bill Dance. Parsons read a letter from Johnny, who wrote of his gratitude for the award and his thanks to the public who voted for and embraced this work of conservation.

The award announcement came with a donuts-and-coffee-bar and great fanfare. A banner dropped the length of the 37-foot aquarium at the Great Barrier Reef Exhibit to announce We did it! Inside the tank, a diver held a sign, “America’s Best New Attraction,” while curious fish swam by, no doubt thinking, “We did it!”

We were voting down to the last day to be named America’s Best New Attraction

I was among many fans voting daily. On some days WOW was #1 and sometimes #2. I was curious about Morgan’s Inspiration Island in San Antonio, Texas, who kept bumping us out of the #1 spot. And so was Johnny Morris. It was apparent that Inspiration Island had many devoted fans. When Johnny Morris learned that Inspiration Island is a fully-accessible, non-profit, water park, he was inspired to salute their efforts and donate a 40th Anniversary Tracker Spirit boat for their fund-raising gala.

I saw the boat from the staircase and wondered, Whazza boat doing near the speaker’s lectern? Then the announcement, Johnny Morris was donating the boat to support to work of Inspiration Island, where people with disabilities can enjoy the great outdoors at its splash park.

Wonders of Wildlife is located in Bass Pro Shops at Springfield, Missouri

Wonders of Wildlife gives you one more reason to make Springfield a travel destination. Springfield is the corporate headquarters of Bass Pro Shops and within a 2-hour radius of countless events, institutions, and attractions in the Ozarks. Do yourself a favor. Check these out if you want a to-do list for your next road trip:

    • Silver Dollar City: Ozarks at their best. Turn back time. Ride rides, shop, see shows – visit at least twice a year to see all of its charm, once in the summer months and once at Christmas time.
    • Top of the Rock: a PGA sanctioned, 13-hole golf course; hosts the annual Legend’s of Golf Tournament; site of the Johnny Morris famous Sinkhole; Ozark Chapel; dining; Lost Canyon Cave tour; and the best-ever museum of natural history in the world, Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum. Hats off, Johnny!
    • Mountain Top: a new Gary Player 13-hole course in Branson with an incredible view and memorable dining.
    • Big Cedar: it’s my favorite place to vacation because I like the great outdoors with luxury accommodations. See some video footage on Big Cedar at Vimeo.
    • Paradise Point: a Bluegreen timeshare luxury property with access to Big Cedar attractions. Attended a summer party there with boating and swimming, and loved their accommodations, especially the infinity pool.
    • The Cliffs at Long Creek: a Bluegreen timeshare property for people who travel first class – incredible spaces with access to Big Cedar attractions.
    • Golf: quickly becoming a golfing destination with a number of regional courses, plus five Johnny Morris golf properties in the Branson area (Top of the Rock, Buffalo Ridge, Mountain Top, Tiger Woods Payne Stewart Course (opens 2019), and Ozarks National, a Coore-Crenshaw designed, 18-hole course, opening in 2018.)
    • Wilderness Club: a Bluegreen property at Big Cedar. Book through your timeshare if there are openings. It’s a pretty hot ticket.
    • Fun Mountain, new in 2017 at Big Cedar – a mega indoor family amusement complex with technology at its finest – plus dining.
    • Add to that:  Branson shows and attractions, Table Rock Lake, White River, Buffalo River, etc.

    There are more, but these are tops on my list because I’ve been to all.

Springfield is a small, big city.  “Living in Springfield,” by Jules is my kind of town.

Springfield is nestled in the mountains and enjoys lakes, rivers, creeks, and wildlife habitats. Enjoy the great outdoors with us!

Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium was dedicated to conservation on Sept. 21, 2017, with a day-long celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony that included two “fishing” Presidents [Jimmy Carter and “W”], celebrities, conservationists, donors, sports men and women, and VIPS.

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Patricia Wiskur

My love for art comes from years in the studio of Wiskur Productions, with my husband, Darrell Wiskur, a designer and photographer. Also, I was an editor and photographer in the real world for 17 years ... all the while, thankful for an artful life and cherished memories. Photos are ©2018 Darrell D. Wiskur