The new Regnier Family Wonderscope Children’s Museum of Kansas City is an incredible addition to family attractions in the Kansas City area. It is located at 433 E. Red Bridge Road in Kansas City, Missouri (just south of 435 off the Holmes exit). For several years, we’ve taken trips to other areas like Omaha, St. Louis, and Northwest Arkansas to visit their top notch children’s museums, but now Kansas City has its own.
The former Wonderscope in the retired school building in downtown Shawnee will always hold a special place in my heart, but I can’t wait to make new memories at the huge new location where they are able to offer so much more to families through their expanded exhibits and programming. The Kansas City Mom Collective team got to have a sneak peek before the grand opening so I’ve got all the details to share with you before you visit!
There are nine exhibit areas with lots of fun activities packed into each one. Crossroads of Past and Future, WonderMart, Creation Station, WaterWorks, Kansas City Cafe, On the Move!, the Wonder Climber, Kid City, and outdoor activities in NatureScape. Each area has Kansas City tie-ins if you look for them: murals on the walls, BBQ in the cafe, and of course a twister (keep your eyes peeled for the Wicked Witch of the East)!
Is there much for babies and toddlers to do?
Yes! There are soft play areas in multiple parts of the museum including the tot spot, kid city, the sports area, and below the WonderTower. The grocery carts in the WonderMart are the perfect size for toddlers as well! You’ll have plenty to keep your little one entertained til nap time.
What about for big kids?
The new Wonderscope was designed with kids up to age 10 in mind. Older kids will love exploring the WonderClimber, playing in the sports area, giant chess, and lots of activities in the design space including using real tools and playing with circuits. Honestly, I think big kids will enjoy many of the things you may think are only for little kids. My 8 year old still likes to play pretend, play with water, and dig in a sand box. I know she’ll have tons of fun when I take her and will complain when it’s time to go home.
While the timing for Wonderscope’s re-opening isn’t ideal due to the pandemic, they are taking many precautions to help families feel comfortable during their visit. Masks are required to be worn by everyone ages 3 and up. You must buy your tickets online for either the morning or afternoon session (members must also reserve a session). The sessions run from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. There are a max of 250 visitors allowed per session. Once inside, you will find hand sanitizing stations throughout, boxes for any “mouth toys” that need sanitizing, and staff throughout the space sanitizing things throughout the day. Each night, the museum receives a deep cleaning.
Wonderscope worked closely with Variety KC to make the museum accessible for all children. In their outdoor space, Variety KC sponsored the treehouse, which has a ramp and multiple communication boards. The outdoor surfaces are also wheelchair friendly, with no mulch or dirt paths. Inside, you’ll find the “relaxation station” in the tot spot area. It is a cozy spot inside a tree trunk where kids can take a break if they get overstimulated. Bathroom accessibility is so important, and the bathrooms are fitted with adult changing tables, making them suitable for kids of all ages. All of their exhibits are accessible except for the WonderClimber since it has stairs to get to the upper levels.
For those thinking ahead to birthday parties, Wonderscope has a spacious party rooms with kid and adult size tables, a fridge and sink. Different party packages are available and are discounted for members.
Wonderscope has a variety of memberships for sale, from their Playtime Mini for 3 people to their Sustaining which includes a birthday party! They also have $5 Wonder Fund memberships for families that qualify. All memberships include invitations to special events, guest passes to share with friends, and a 10% discount on birthday parties. The top two tiers of their membership packages will also get you discounted admission at other children’s museums around the country.
Wonderscope has daily programming that is included with all memberships and general admission tickets. The variety of programming includes story time, music and movement, art, as well as specialized groups for kindergarten readiness, sensory playgroups let by an occupational therapist, and a “parenting with play” group as well. Programming is not starting immediately, so check their website for information about dates and times.
Details Parents Will Love
I’m always on the lookout for those extras that make outings easier for parents! Wonderscope has a nursing/baby care nook and stroller parking in the Tot Spot, a coat closet near the entrance, and an indoor/outdoor picnic area with kid size tables as well as vending machines (outside food IS allowed). Other things I loved: smocks for the art and water areas, benches for adults to sit down in many of the exhibits, and a bathroom right by the water area since it seems like all kids have to do is look at water and realize they need to go to the bathroom RIGHT AWAY!
I made so many memories with my oldest daughter at the old location and can’t wait for both her and my youngest to enjoy the new museum. I know we’ll be recommending it to out of town guests when they visit and brag about it when people ask about what Kansas City has to offer families!