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The Time for Boldness Has Come Again

Exploration Place represents a bold vision and the collective will to unite and harness world-class excellence right here in Wichita. For more than 20 years, Exploration Place has stood as a wonder that inspires a deeper interest in science and technology through creative and fun experiences for all.

Today, the time for boldness has come again. It is time to remake and reimagine the landscape surrounding Exploration Place. It is time to bring new experiences to Wichita that will inspire the people of our great city for years to come. 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.

Do you want to be involved in the project?

Contact us to learn more about sponsorships and donations for the EP2 expansion.

Laura Roddy

Vice President for Advancement
[email protected]

Kimberly Cronister

Campaign Director
[email protected]

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Project Impact and Key Goals

  • Improve quality of life for Wichita residents; increase tourism; help attract workforce talent; improve STEM education resources.
  • Grow Exploration Place attendance from 403,000 per year to 1 million visitors per year.
  • Increase the economic impact of Exploration Place from $21 million per year to $66.7 million per year.
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Wichita Foundation Amphitheater

Description of the space

  • Located northwest of the property, a 1,500-capacity, open-air, riverfront amphitheater will showcase the nightly Keeper of the Plains fire pots experience and be a venue for year-round outdoor programming.

During construction

  • Construction on the amphitheater will begin in early March 2024. During this time, parking may be limited. There is additional free parking available along McLean between 2nd St. and Douglas, on the upper level of the River Vista parking garage and at the Advanced Learning Library. In addition, guests should look out for directional signage to help navigate through the site.
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Textron Aviation Flight Adventure

Textron Aviation Flight Adventure is an epic adventure playground that blends the thrill of aviation with the joy of discovery. Designed for families to explore together, it celebrates Wichita’s rich aviation heritage and the promise of a continued bright future in advanced aviation manufacturing.

  • The playground will be anchored by a towering climbing structure, themed around the majestic Beechcraft Staggerwing.
  • At ground level is an explorable Cessna Citation business jet that includes a live radio connection from its cockpit to the nearby air traffic control tower.
  • A large climbable rocket, suspension bridge, viewing platforms, themed slides, swings and carousels will be additional interactive elements to explore.

The whole playground is being designed with accessibility in mind for guests of all ages and abilities.

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Junior League of Wichita Water Play Cascades

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.

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].

BizTalk 351: The background behind the expansion campaign at Exploration Place

Join Exploration Place President, Adam Smith, as he talks with the Wichita Business Journal about the $22-million project that will construct an amphitheater on the northwest corner of the Exploration Place and a massive playscape on the southeast side of the 24-year-old science center and museum.