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FAQ about 2020, Coronavirus, Season Passes and more

Friday, March 20 2020 7:06 PM
By Matt Fouts

To proactively address some of the more straightforward coronavirus questions that were being asked, Tanganyika has posted a frequently asked questions page. This answers some of the most common questions, and we will continually update this page so everyone will have access to the questions and answers as we can identify and address your concerns.

We would also encourage you to be as calm and patient as possible. Also, please keep in mind that this remains an evolving situation. Not every single Tanganyika team member has been apprised of all details regarding this closure, which came fast. For your own sake, we would stress patience and calmness. For the sake of those with whom you interact, kindness will be the ultimate virtue.

While we play a critical role in the quality of life for many families, we play a bigger role in the well-being of our animals. Their food, health, exercise, overall keep, is 100% dependent on our amazing team of keepers. For this reason, while we are closing the park to the public, Tanganyika will continue paying its keepers during this closure. Please keep this in mind when speaking to us on the phone, in-person, or over email. Not only is our team as concerned, stressed, scared, as you are, but we are working tirelessly to provide the care our animals need. We are all in this together.

As of right now, we have categorized the overarching questions into these categories:

  1. Tanganyika Falls Splash Park expansion
  2. Lemurs on the Lap
  3. New for 2020
  4. Season Pass Guarantee
  5. Park Reopening & Coronavirus

Tanganyika Falls Splash Park expansion

When will the splash park be built at Tanganyika? If the weather is our friend, we expect it to be ready by June 15th, if not earlier. We started as early as the winter would allow us, but the ups and downs of the rain and snow have kept us from having a certain opening day.

Will the season passes and general admission include access to the splash park? Yes, in 2020, everyone who has access to Tanganyika will have access to the splash park. We will determine if they have separate access for 2021, but the good news, yes, everyone gets to get wet this summer.

Can you give me some insider info on the splash park? The $1.3 million expansion is called Tanganyika Falls and encompasses nearly 1 full acre of fun, fountains, and (water)falls.

As an adult, all you’ll need to know is nearly 4,000 square feet of shade and seating and a new bar with frozen drinks and draft beer. A multi-purpose building is being built to support the splash park featuring stylish bathrooms with animal exhibits attached, family changing rooms, and a VIP lounge for guests that do behind the scenes tours or animal meet and greets. We will be putting in a stage for live music, corporate events, birthday parties, and a courtyard area for yard games. Can you corn-hole with your right hand while holding a local Wichita wheat ale in your left? [BEER EMOJI BEER EMOJI... that's the best we could do]. Now, I got your attention.

As a kid, all you need to know is it’s a highly themed, 5,000 square foot splash pad with 1 twenty-foot giraffe, 2 tipping buckets, 3 water slides, 5 water cannons, and over 30 sprays.  Oh, and did we mention multiple waterfalls, spitting penguins, a lighted fountain show, and tons of fun?  As a reference point, 5,000 sq ft is larger than every other splash pad in the Wichita, and while it's not the YMCA it does have more animals than any other splash park in KS.

What does the playground extension include? Tanganyika has had a pretty impressive playground for several years now, but some thought it was not ideal for toddlers. So a new tower is being constructed specifically for the 2 to 5-year-old age group. Also, we will be replacing one of the larger slides (known by adults as the hip-buster) with a two-story twisty slide. Plus, additional seating for families… and some more shade of course.

Why are you building a splash park? I will answer your questions with a question.  Why would we not build a splash park? Happy kids = happy moms = happy dads = happy families. It is the least we could do for those who have supported us for the past decade.

Is there going to be a bar for adults at the splash park? The Fouts family have their priorities for 2020.  To become the best wildlife park in the Midwest. Best starts with the letter 'B,' and beer and booze start with 'B.' It might seem like a coincidence, not to the Fouts family.  Plus, it gives Jim a chance to offer his signature drink... the Jungle Jim (patent pending).


Lemurs on the Lap

Is the Lemur-on-your-Lap truly back? Yes, very much so. We might be serious when we care for our animals, but we do not take ourselves seriously, as you can see (below) in the video when our Assistant Director, Matt Fouts, decides the old lemur island barriers ought to come down in a very big way. Kids beware: there are chainsaws in this video. Guests will be able to closely interact with the lemurs on lemur island by sitting down with them, feeding them, and inviting them to walk across their laps. Top secret, insider news, only for those of you reading this entire paragraph: the bar at the splash park will have an adult cocktail called 'Lemur Island Tea.'

Click here to watch our video of the lemur island barriers break down 


New for 2020

What is the difference between Behind the Scenes experiences and the Meet and Greet experiences? We define the differences in this way:

Animal Meet and Greet – the animal comes to you
Animal Behind the Scenes – you go to the animals

OK, but what does that mean?  Well, it depends on the animal.  For instance, would you rather go to a confined space with 4 or 5 porcupines and hundreds of sharp object pointed at you with a high probability of getting stabbed or have a porcupine come to a room where it has plenty of space to navigate and shake your hand without stabbing anyone?  Or would you rather go to the area of the Park where it all started and feed the black jaguar and lions meat through the fence or have them come to you where the will most likely confuse you for the meat and it is the last experience you ever have?  Ultimately, the type of experience is tailored to the species and making the strongest connection between people and animals.   Most of them include one or more interactions such as feeding, touching, photos and even assisting with training.  Regardless, they are all memory makers and will include access to our VIP Lounge up to 30 minutes before the experience.

Are there going to be birthday bungalows? Try saying those 2 words 6 times in a row fast. We were not all good at math, but if you add water + shade + slides + beer + some privacy for your family… we get amazing bungalows. Yes, we know visitors love having birthday parties at Tanganyika, but we wanted to improve the experience for you. Often, because of the heat, visitors celebrate their birthday in one of our closed meeting rooms. This is nice for the elderly, or adults who simply want to chit-chat while children explore the wildlife park. However, we are aware that everyone would like to be outside if we could air-condition the Kansas sky… but our utility bill would be too high. So, with the addition of the splash park, we are adding bungalows that provide shade, bigger fans for some breeze, which will help kids, adults, grandparents enjoy each other's company throughout the day while the young ones feed a lemur, eat a hotdog, open gifts, all while the rest can enjoy a beer or get their feet wet in the misty slash park. We hope you appreciate the addition. We plan to have 3 bungalows with room to add more so that you can celebrate your anniversary, kid's special cake day, or a small family reunion for those visiting the Wichita area.

What do you mean there is going to be a VIP room? Overtime our local visitors have heard rumors here and there about how Jim Fouts had a crazy dream back in the 80s: connect humans more intimately with the natural world. He has learned so much from the wildlife connection after traveling the 5 continents, his life had been marked forever. His destiny: protect the endangered species through breeding, in the Wichita area, and share how the connection to animals can change our lives for the better. What does this have to do with the VIP room? Jim wanted a special place for those visitors that understand the Tanganyika purpose, those that are booking special tours, animal encounters like our behind-the-scenes experiences, to relive how this dream was born 4 decades ago, right in Kansas. The VIP room will trace Jim and Tanganyika's journeys across the world, helping visitors to understand through audio-visual material how the seeds where planted in our backyard, right here in Kansas.

Are you building a bigger parking lot and improving the entryway? With the growth of our season pass holders, Tanganyika was having to use their overflow lot almost every weekend. Long walks, parking in the adjacent lots with lots of dust in the Kansas winds, unorganized lines making for less-than-efficient parking experiences, and even fighting mud were common complaints that we took to heart when our loyal customers shared their ideas for improvements. So in 2020, we nearly doubled the 2019 parking lot in hopes to accommodate the anticipated increase in attendance. Rounding out the 2020 construction efforts, Tanganyika is upgrading its entry gate and paving the road that is Hawkins Lane—which is currently gravel.

Where can I get last-minute discounts for special access opportunities in 2020?  We send out our special events via an email subscriber list. Do not worry, we won't share your information nor spam you. You can always unsubscribe. Sign up here. Want something highly discounted or live close by so you can come out for a last-minute deal? We will have special animal encounter openings at discounted rates. Sign up for the via SMS right here. Yes, you can and should sign up for both here.


Season Pass Guarantee

What does the Connect and Preserve Promise mean? We are aware that season pass holders for 2020 might not visit the park until the coronavirus has come and gone. For this reason, we created a promise to make sure our locals get value out of their season pass. Simply put, if you aren't able to visit the Park one single time in 2020, you can contact us after the season and ask to have them renewed for the 2021 season.  The promise only applies to the named season passes and not add-ons like the Frequent Feeder pass.

We are thankful for many of you who said you consider your season pass to be your way of helping the animals, whether or not you were able to visit the park during March. As a token of our thanks during this difficult time, we promise to make your season pass even more worthwhile in 2020 by adding a few surprises including freebies and planning special access to parties and events once we reopen.

Will I get a refund because I am unable to visit the park during the coronavirus pandemic?  Our Connect & Preserve Promise guarantees a credit toward 2021 if you are unable to use your season pass this year.  As you probably already know, your season pass plays a critical role in the care for the animals at Tanganyika. We promise to maintain the same premium care whether it is cold, hot, whether there is a pandemic or not, whether visitors can visit us or not. The animals still rely 100% on us to provide food, water, shelter, and veterinary services. So, we ask for extra patience and compassion as we all work to get through the next several weeks together.  In exchange for your commitment and support of the Park, we promise to deliver as much value for you and your family. If you have a scheduled event, we will work with guests who wish to change or cancel tours, animal encounters, and programs reserved during this temporary closure period. As you can imagine, we are experiencing heavy call volume, with a very limited staff, and we appreciate your patience as we work hard to respond to all inquiries. Please email us with your order number and email address with which you made the online order and we will handle your email as soon as we are able.

I paid $24.99 for my season pass. Can I get a refund? This price is a once-a-year special and does not encompass a refund but they will be considered on a case by case basis. Our Connect & Preserve Promise guarantees a credit toward 2021 if you are unable to use your season pass this year.  Furthermore, your season pass plays a critical role in the care for the animals at Tanganyika. The animals don't know or care if its too cold for visitors or if there is pandemic, they still rely 100% on us to provide food, water, shelter, veterinary services, etc.  Care that our team can't afford without the assistance of season pass holders like you.  So we ask for extra patience and compassion as we all work to get through the next several weeks together.  In exchange for your commitment and support of the Park, we promise to deliver as much value for you and your family.

We will work with guests who wish to change or cancel tours, animal encounters, and programs reserved during this temporary closure period. To ensure we have money to support the animals, we have reduced the hours for our support team, and we appreciate your patience as we work hard to respond to all inquiries. If you would like to 

Your Connect and Preserve Promise is not satisfactory. Who can I talk to request a refund? We are very appreciative of those who are willing and able to see their season pass as their way of supporting both our animals and the critical, daily role of the keepers who care for them at Tanganyika, and we recognize that the Coronavirus is affected all of us in many ways.  If you believe our Connect and Preserve Promise is unacceptable, you can email matt@twpark.com and our leadership team will consider each refund on a case by case basis.  Please bear with us as we get to your request and/or complaint.  We have significantly cut the hours for our support team to ensure there is enough money to care for the animals during this difficult time.

Park Opening & Coronavirus


When will you reopen? We will reopen for the 2020 season May 4th per the guidance of state and local health officials.  Our hours will be from 10 am to 4 pm.

What does "limited" opening mean? We plan to open the Park in phases as we work to put in place extra precautions to ensure the safety of our animals, guests, and team. don’t have the slightest idea. Below are a basic timeline and description of the phases.

Phase 1  (May 4th - May 8th)
We will reopen the park for admission only for named season pass holders and their guest passes.  There will be no encounters stations open.  Also, the pavilion deli, Kangabrew Coffee shop, and the gift shop will be closed.  We know many of you are excited to visit the Park, so we have set up an online reservation system to spread out the visitation times. and limit the number of guests in the Park.  We don't want everyone showing up at 10 am to see our fabulous animals.  The tickets will be free for season pass holders.

Phase 2 (May 9th - TBD)
We will begin selling general admission and encounter passes to the Park for anyone; All-Access passes will still be unavailable.  We will have a few encounter stations open, and we will begin to offer some of our animal experiences (i.e. Penguin Swim, Otter Meet & Greet, etc.)  The pavilion deli will open and the gift shop will be available in some form.  Guests must purchase tickets online in advance of their visit and season pass holders must reserve an entry time via the online reservation system to ensure our guest arrival and visitations are still spread out and that the Park doesn't get too crowded.

Encounter Stations Currently Open - Giraffe Deck, Lorikeet Landing, Tortoise feeding, and Kangaroo Walkabout
Animal Experiences Available - Otters Meet & Greet, Small Cats (Eurasian Lynx & African Serval) Meet & Greet, Penguin Meet & Greet, Lemur Meet & Greet, Sloth Behind the Scenes

Phase 3 (TBD)
All admission levels will be available and all encounter stations will be open.  Park hours will return to normal.  All wildly different experiences will be available.  The gift shop will be fully open as will all food services.  We will continue to use the online reservation system to ensure proper social distancing until further notice. 

Why is the first phase only for season pass holders?  We are opening exclusively for our Season Pass holders as a special thank you for their support through this difficult time.  We know zoos that have had to lay off half their team and even some smaller zoos like us that have had to close permanently.  It's because they chose to purchase a pass and stick with us that we can provide top-notch care for our animals and make it through this difficult period together.   In other words, it's a huge thank you to all of our season pass holders because they are amazing.

What precautions will you be taking?  We will be following the recommendations put forth by the CDC, state, and local health officials.  That is why we are phasing our opening, requiring online reservations, scheduling extra cleanings of bathrooms and public spaces, wearing masks and gloves when appropriate, etc.

How will online reservations work?  We want to avoid everyone showing up at one time and a large crowd forming, so we have staggered the entry times and required everyone to reserve a time.  For the general public, they will purchase tickets online like they normally would.  We have set up a special site for season pass holders, so they can reserve an entry time for the day they want to visit (Please have the primary account holder check their email).  Currently, we are allowing 120 people per 30 minutes to enter the Park.  However, you are allowed to stay as long as you like or until closing, whichever comes first.  As the number allowed increases, we will update this blog.

Previous: Response to COVID-19 (a.k.a Coronavirus)

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