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An Epic Adventure Playground Is On The Way!

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

WaterCascades News
Press Release

Junior League of Wichita Celebrates 100 Years with $2 Million Gift to Exploration Place

June 4, 2024

WICHITA, Kansas — In honor of its 100th anniversary in 2025, the Junior League of Wichita has raised an extraordinary $2 million gift to fund the creation of the Water Play Cascades, a centerpiece of Exploration Place’s planned outdoor expansion.

The Junior League of Wichita Water Play Cascades will offer an incredible multisensory learning experience promoting teamwork and collaboration. Many of the pumps and water wheels must be activated by children and adults working together to achieve their full effect, providing an engaging and educational environment for visitors of all ages.

Designed by Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects and Fluidity Design Consultants using equipment manufactured by Richter Spielgerate, the Water Play Cascades will be part of Exploration Place’s “destination playscape” – a $25 million project spanning 6.5 acres and comprising 10 beautifully landscaped individual playgrounds.

“We are thrilled to celebrate our centennial by giving this extraordinary gift to the community,” said Ami Schlader, president of the League. “The Water Play Cascades exemplify our commitment to advancing women’s leadership and fostering meaningful community impact through collaborative action.”

Longtime Junior League of Wichita members Cindy Carnahan and Lynn Ward led the fundraising campaign. The $2 million gift is comprised of donations from more than 200 individuals and other entities to date.

“We deeply appreciate this exceptional investment by Junior League of Wichita,” said Adam Smith, Exploration Place’s president and CEO. “We know how popular water play is from our indoor exhibits, and we can’t wait for our families to work together in such a fun and creative environment.”

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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 Junior League of Wichita

    Junior League of Wichita is an organization of more than 600 women committed to advancing women’s leadership for meaningful community impact through volunteer action, collaboration and training. For more information, visit jlwichita.org.

The Time for Boldness Has Come Again

The Junior League of Wichita Water Play Cascades is one part of a bigger plan to reimagine the Wichita riverfront. The EP2 Initiative, which includes a 1,500-capacity riverfront amphitheater and 6-acre destination playscape, will transform the museum’s 20-acre riverfront property into a world-class educational attraction that draws more than 1 million visitors per year.

EP2 Expansion FAQ

  • What is the timeline for this project?

    The Wichita Foundation Amphitheater is scheduled to open in September 2024. The Destination Playscape has broken ground and an opening date will be announced in late 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].