Contact: Bob Ross, SVP of Marketing & Communications
Topeka, KS -- Visit Topeka is encouraging spring travel to Topeka in 2022 through the creation and promotion of a four-month-long exhibition that will span various family-oriented venues across the city, drawing visitors from throughout the Midwest.
This multi-organization campaign, dubbed "Topeka Dino Days," unites Visit Topeka, The Topeka Zoo & Conservation Center, the Kansas Children's Discovery Center, Shawnee County Parks and Recreation, Downtown Topeka Inc., and the Topeka Lodging Association, resulting in three core experiences and other exhibits that could bring up to l 00,000 additional visitors to area attractions in spring 2022. Visit Topeka estimates those visitors may inject $4 million to $5 million in the local economy over the course of their stays, through lodging, dining and retail.
"This collaboration and campaign are huge for Topeka and Shawnee County," said Sean Dixon, president of Visit Topeka. "Our local tourism partners have been working hard to pull this together, and we believe it will result in some extraordinary experiences for local families, as well as tens of thousands of expected visitors. We can't wait for families and dinosaur enthusiasts alike to see Topeka put on a show of prehistoric proportions."
One of Topeka Dino Days' core exhibits will include a fully articulated cast of SUE, the largest Tyrannosaurus rex specimen ever discovered. The cast of SUE, which is on loan to Topeka from Chicago's Field Museum, will be on display at Great Overland Station. The exhibit will also feature touchable fossil replicas, scent stations and a naturalistic soundscape, creating an immersive, multi-sensory experience.
"As the icon of the Field Museum, SUE has sparked curiosity about science in millions of visitors," said Jaap Hoogstraten, the Field Museum's head of exhibitions. "We are thrilled to share SUE with Topeka for a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
"My fellow commissioners and I couldn't be more excited to see Shawnee County involved in standing up this attraction," said Shawnee County Commission chair Kevin Cook. "When the county assumed ownership of Great Overland Station last year, we had no idea an exhibit like SUE would find a home there. We're proud to partner with Visit Topeka and others to make it happen."
In addition to Great Overland Station, The Topeka Zoo and Kansas Children's Discovery Center are also expected to feature core exhibits. Full-size robotic dinosaurs will join wildlife at the zoo for a roaring good time. Meanwhile, the discovery center will allow patrons to learn more about dinosaur eggs, nests and babies through a colorful, hands-on, interactive exhibit that will include a collection of real dinosaur eggs. Those preserved eggs come from all over the globe, from each of the major herbivorous and carnivorous dinosaur groups.
"We are so excited to be a part of this Dino Days campaign and can't wait for visitors of all ages to experience the discovery center's Tiny Titans: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies exhibit," said Dene Mosier, president and CEO of the Kansas Children's Discovery Center. "Dino Days is such a unique collaboration that will have people far and wide talking about our capital city."
"The Topeka Zoo's full-size robotic dinosaurs will be an outstanding addition next year to the zoo's wildlife and attractions," said Brendan Wiley, zoo executive director. "We're looking forward to the dinosaurs' arrivals and can't wait for this collaborative project to be fully realized."
Beyond the city's core exhibits, Visit Topeka will host a full-size cast of an Allosaurus skeleton in the downtown visitors' center, with help and underwriting from Downtown Topeka Inc. Visit Topeka and its tourism partners expect activation of the city's various Topeka Dino Days exhibits to lead to additional events and displays that may join the mix as development of the campaign continues.
Topeka Dino Days is expected to kick off in late January, with the Great Overland Station's "SUE: The T. rex Experience" opening to the public Feb. 1. Dino Days should run through the end of May 2022, with some exhibits, including the zoo's, lasting well into the summer.
"What a cool experience this will be for Topeka," said Mayor Michelle De La Isla. "Topeka Dino Days is sure to be a boost for our local economy, as visitors from across Kansas and around the region travel to our capital city for exciting family fun. It is incredible to see so many local organizations working together to stand up this expansive attraction, and a special thank you goes out to the Field Museum for its support. The bar is being set high for the future of tourism in Topeka."