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An Epic Adventure Playground Set to Open Fall 2025

It is time to remake and reimagine the landscape surrounding Exploration Place.

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Press Release

Exploration Place unveils Textron Aviation Flight Adventure as centerpiece of playscape expansion project

March 20, 2024

WICHITA, Kan. — Today, Exploration Place announced Textron Aviation as naming sponsor of the central and largest attraction at the heart of the museum’s expansive new outdoor “destination playscape” project, the Textron Aviation Flight Adventure. The new exhibition, anticipated to open in the fall of 2025, seeks to inspire the dreams of residents and visitors in aviation, STEM and the freedom of flight.

For more than 95 years, the employees of Textron Aviation Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, have harnessed their collective talents to design and deliver the best aviation experience for customers through the iconic Beechcraft and Cessna brands.

“This expansion is an extraordinary investment in Wichita and the state of Kansas,” said Adam Smith, President and CEO, Exploration Place. “Textron Aviation’s support will help inspire a deeper interest in science and technology with this signature play area that will serve as a living tribute to Wichita as the Air Capital of the World.”

The Textron Aviation Flight Adventure features a Beechcraft Staggerwing biplane sculpture atop a towering control tower and an explorable Cessna Citation business jet, not only designed for climbing and play, but also to ignite visitors’ imaginations and foster a sense of wonder in aviation. The aircraft serve as a testament to the state’s rich aviation heritage and promise of a continued bright future in advanced aviation manufacturing.

In 2023, Exploration Place welcomed 403,543 visitors. With the arrival of the envisioned destination playscape spanning across 6.5 acres, it is anticipated that Exploration Place will soar to an annual count of 1 million visitors, amplifying the impact and reach of Textron Aviation.

“This sponsorship represents our dedication to the city of Wichita and our belief in the power of inspiring the next generation of innovators,” said Ron Draper, President and CEO, Textron Aviation. “By supporting this signature play area, we aim to deepen interest in science and technology while paying tribute to the generations of people in our community who have contributed to Cessna and Beechcraft’s rich heritage and legendary accomplishments.”

The destination playscape includes an awe-inspiring combination of 10 meticulously designed and landscaped individual playgrounds. The project is driven by a multifaceted set of objectives, each aimed at enhancing the fabric of Wichita’s community. By elevating the quality of life for its residents, fostering an environment conducive to tourism, attracting and retaining top-tier workforce talent, and bolstering the availability of STEM education resources, Exploration Place seeks to leave a mark on the city’s landscape.

The Textron Aviation Flight Adventure has been designed by the globally renowned play manufacturer Monstrum. This collaboration pays homage to the illustrious history of Wichita, a city steeped in aviation heritage.

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    About Exploration Place

    The mission of Exploration Place, Kansas’ premier science center, is to inspire a deeper interest in science and technology through creative and fun experiences for all. Exploration Place is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and through 8 p.m. on Thursday evenings. For more information, visit exploration.org.

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    About Textron Aviation

    For more than 95 years, Textron Aviation has empowered our collective talent across the Beechcraft, Cessna and Hawker brands to design and deliver the best aviation experience for our customers. With a range that includes everything from business jets, turboprops, and high-performance pistons, to special missions, military trainer and defense products, Textron Aviation has the most versatile and comprehensive aviation product portfolio in the world and a workforce that has produced more than half of all general aviation aircraft worldwide. Customers in more than 170 countries rely on our legendary performance, reliability and versatility, along with our trusted global customer service network, for affordable, productive and flexible flight.  For more information, visit txtav.com | defense.txtav.com | scorpion.txtav.com.

Step inside the playground and experience a first-person point of view with this 360° virtual tour. Swipe up, down, left and right to explore the full Textron Aviation Flight Adventure for yourself!

EP2 Expansion FAQ

  • What is the timeline for this project?

    The Wichita Foundation Amphitheater is scheduled to open in Fall 2024, and the Destination Playscape is scheduled to open in Fall 2025.

  • How did the vision come about?

    Current operations at Exploration Place take place almost exclusively indoors, in the galleries, theaters and classrooms of a museum. When developing its most recent five-year strategic plan, Exploration Place interviewed 58 leaders across industry, government, education, and community; and emailed a survey to 11,600 museum visitors. A strong consensus emerged that Exploration Place should extend its mission outdoors into its 20-acre riverfront property. Exploration Place thus embarked on a bold vision to create a one-of-a-kind tourist attraction capable of drawing 1 million visitors each year.

  • Who is designing the playscape?

    The playscape is being designed by Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects, Kansas City, with support from Schaefer Architecture, Wichita.  Significant play experiences are being designed by Monstrum (Denmark), Kompan (Denmark and US), Richter Spielgeräte, (Germany) and Fluidity Design (US).

  • What can I expect to see in the playscape?

    There will be 10 unique and themed play areas including: 

    1. Textron Aviation Flight Adventure
    2. Junior League Water Play Cascades
    3. Cargill Agriculture Overlook
    4. Bison Hill 
    5. Foggy Flint Hills
    6. Prairie Play 
    7. Sensory Garden
    8. Slide Hill
    9. Sunflower Meadow
    10. Treetop Climber
  • Will there be a play area just for younger children?

    Yes! The Sunflower Meadow is a dedicated play area tailored specifically for children aged 0-5 years old. While other sections of the playscape will incorporate features suitable for this age group, the Sunflower Meadow will be entirely devoted to our youngest visitors.

  • Will the playcape be accessible for all?

    Exploration Place is working closely with an accessibility consultant to help ensure guests of all abilities can enjoy this new addition.

  • How can I support the project?

    For sponsorships and donations to the EP2 campaign, contact [email protected].

  • Do you need volunteers?

    Exploration Place is always looking for dedicated and passionate volunteers and this expansion will create many new roles and opportunities. a. Anyone interested in volunteering should apply here.

  • Private Events and Rentals

    Interested in renting our facilities? Please reach out to our rentals team at 316-660-0642.

  • Will the playscape be in a secure environment?

    Our goal is to create a safe and enjoyable space where families can feel confident about their children’s safety while they play and explore. The playscape will be staffed and fully fenced with controlled access points to ensure children cannot wander off, providing peace of mind for parents.

  • Will there be a charge to access the playscape?

    The playscape will be included with regular Exploration Place admission, free for members, and included in other free admission programs such as Sunflower Summer, Museums For All, Blue Star Museums and Library Memberships. We’re not introducing a separate upcharge for the playscape, and are not planning any significant price increases. Consider it an added benefit to the Exploration Place you know today.

  • What if I have a question not answered here?

    If you have additional questions, please email [email protected].