Sightseeing in Atlanta
Capital of the state of Georgia on the east coast of the USA.
It is most famous as the home of CocaCola, and also known for being the headquarters of the Cable News Network (CNN) and the Road to Tara Museum - official home of Margaret Mitchell, author of the iconic Gone With The Wind, a massive tome of 1,037 pages, which was made into a movie starring Clark Gable as Rhett Butler and Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara. There are other attractions for tourists in Atlanta, such as Zoo Atlanta, Georgia Aquarium, Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Stone Mountain Park, Shri Swaminarayan Temple and much more.
For first-time visitors like us, the Atlanta City Pass is very convenient – easy to buy, with discounted tickets and priority entry bypassing queues. We collected our passes from Zoo Atlanta and visited four other attractions at our convenience without any restriction about any particular order to be followed:
1. The CNN Center and Studios
2. Georgia Aquarium, claimed to be the # 1 in USA 3. The World of Coca-Cola 4. The FernBank Museum of Natural History
A visit to CNN center the world’s largest news network works out of headquarters of the Cable News Network (CNN) located at 190 Marietta St NW. The studios are inside the multi-storied building at One CNN Center at the corner of Marietta Street and the Centennial Olympic Park Drive.
The CNN was founded by Ted Turner on 1 June 1980. It is the world’s first 24-hour news network. It prides itself on starting with facts, and only facts first, not opinions.
The tour of the Studios:
The tour gives an exclusive, behind-thescenes access to the world headquarters of CNN. It is a 50-minute walking tour with a guide for a group of 20 to 45 persons through
Our group members assembled at the base of the world’s longest “officially amazing” freestanding escalator which is nearly 59 metres (or more than 193 feet) long, as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records, with the date of commissioning recorded as 6 October 2016.
the halls of CNN Center. It provides an inside look at how a live broadcast is produced and sent to viewers all over the world. It gives an in-depth look at how the world’s largest news organisation operates. From the historic first newscast to the now living legacy, visitors learn how CNN became the worldwide leader in news collection and broadcasting. The tour was started in 1987 and now caters to about 300,000 visitors every year. Tours run every 20 minutes on all days from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
After an airport-like strict security check by personnel of Turner Security, who are very courteous but very thorough – even requesting visitors to discard food and beverages before entering, as no eating and drinking is allowed – our group members assembled at the base of the world’s longest “officially amazing” freestanding escalator which is nearly 59 metres (or more than 193 feet) long, as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records, with the date of commissioning recorded as 6 October 2016. Live CNN broadcast could be seen on TV monitors mounted on either side of the escalator. It took us right up to the eighth floor for the start of the tour.
After a photo-op where we posed with hand-held microphones standing behind a podium like newscasters or anchors, we were shown the various steps in the preparation of broadcasts on a giant screen, with glimpses taken from four differently placed cameras and also from four spy-cameras. Our wellinformed and cheerful tour guide, Kevin, briefed us on the steps and sequencing involved, such as Preset, Program, Commercial Break, Break, etc. We were ushered out of the minitheatre and down a flight of steps to the next floor below for another glimpse – this time about weather forecast being broadcast. Our tour guide played the role of the announcer.
So it went from one hall to another, as we went down floor by floor, passing through or by the HLN newsroom and a studio prepared and awaiting broadcast of the next programme, till we finally arrived at the ground floor to another mini-theatre where a film was shown about the many correspondents who travelled far and wide to report live on events as they happened. After the brief show we came out into the CNN store to browse and
buy collectibles and merchandise items as souvenirs.
Near the exit from the store was a counter named “Photo Gallery”. Our photo taken at the beginning of the tour had come out very well, as could be expected since it was taken by a professional photographer of CNN. But to our surprise it was exorbitantly priced at USD 30 for the print alone, and another USD 10 for the print to be mounted in a colourful folder!
Outlets of many food chains cater a variety of vegetarian and nonvegetarian items in the food court on the ground floor. We enjoyed a typical burger, fries and cold drink lunch from BurgerFi at the food court before leaving the building with happy memories.
A visit to Atlanta Zoo
At 800, Cherokee Avenue SE, the infrastructure was in place, but not the inmates! As the authorities had forewarned at the top of the zoo guide-cum-map, “PLEASE NOTE : Due to health, weather, exhibit maintenance & staffing, all animals may not be visible at all times. All activities and rides are weather and staff permitting. SCHEDULE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE.” Many animals had huddled indoors, like the turtles and the giant aldabra tortoise.
We had chosen to go to the Zoo on Christmas Eve, despite it being a cold day. We were thrilled at the sight of pink Chilean flamingoes in the Flamingo Plaza just inside the entrance. We walked past lions and African elephants with really big ears, through the African Rain Forest area to view gorillas in the Conservation Center and on the Gorilla Deck, then through the Asian Forest with orangutans and otters. At the northern peripheral boundary were Giant Pandas in their greenhouse to keep warm, frolicking about on tree branches, chewing bamboo shoots or rolling an empty barrel on the ground.
We passed through the exclusive area for birds with many exotic species on display – cassowarys, blue cranes, ground hornbills,
owls, vultures and several others. Children were enjoying themselves in the Kid Zone on the Endangered Species Carousel, the Treetop Trail and having a ride on a train which ran from Outback Station to Critter Crossing and back. A visit to the gifts and souvenirs shop near the exit was a must. It was a relief to return to the comfort and warmth to our room at our place of halt.
A visit to Fernbank Museum of Natural History
The Fernbank Museum of Natural History (FMONH) was established in 1992. It is located at 767 Clifton Road NE. It is a museum that presents exhibitions and programming about natural history that are meant to entertain as well as educate the public. The mission is to encourage a greater appreciation of the planet and its people.
The Fernbank Museum was designed by architects Graham Grund. It has a number of permanent exhibitions: Giants of the Mesozoic, on display in the atrium, features a 123-foot (37 m) long Argentinosaurus, the largest dinosaur ever classified, as well as a Giganotosaurus. The permanent exhibition, A Walk Through Time in Georgia, tells the twofold story of Georgia's natural history and the development of the planet. Fernbank Museum has won several national and international awards for one of its newest permanent exhibitions, Fernbank NatureQuest, an immersive, interactive exhibition for children that was designed and produced by Thinkwell Group.
Outdoor exhibits include Wildwoods – a 10-acre area located directly behind the museum with trails and
The Fernbank Museum was designed by architects Graham Grund. It has a number of permanent exhibitions: Giants of the Mesozoic, on display in the atrium, features a 123-foot (37 m) long Argentinosaurus, the largest dinosaur ever classified, as well as a Giganotosaurus.
interactive exhibits — and the newly-restored, 65-acre Fernbank Forest.
In the Rankin Smith Giant Screen Theater — formerly an IMAX theatre to which upgrades were completed in February 2017 including a digital 4K 3D laser-illuminated projection system – we could see a documentary Incredible Predators, produced by the BBC. It reminded us of the famous and very popular movie series, Night at the Museum, starring Ben Stiller.
A visit to the “World Of Coca-Cola”
When Dr John S. Pemberton, a pharmacist of Atlanta, created in 1886 a flavoured syrup to which bubbles got added accidently, he probably had not imagined even in his wildest dreams that his invention would become an icon which would be recognised all over the world. His partner and bookkeeper, Frank M. Robinson, named the beverage “Coca-Cola” and also designed the trademarked, distinct script, still used today. “Coca-Cola”, which has fondly become known as ‘Coke’, was introduced as a distinct tasting soft drink which could be sold at soda fountains at the princely sum of 5 cents at its launch. It has become the second most popular drink after mother’s milk. Indeed, Coca-Cola followed by many imitations made ‘cola’ so popular that milk has been re-named “The UDDER cola” !
The USPs of the most recognised brand in the world are “Refreshing Taste”, “Universal Availability” and “Sustainability”. Variations include Diet Coke, CocaCola Zero, Fanta, Sprite, Dasani, Vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply, Del Valle, Georgia and Gold Peak. There are now more than 500 different beverages being marketed by the company. Several artists, personalities and characters have been associated with the drink to increase its popularity. Perhaps the most beloved character is the Polar Bear. A plethora of merchandise and collectibles have been created and are distributed by the company to expand its popularity further and farther.
Tour of the “World Of Coca-Cola”
A tour of the WOCC is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most visitors, though an annual pass with unlimited visits allowed is also available. WOCC is located at Pemberton Place, 121 Baker Street NW, adjacent to Georgia Aquarium and Center for Civil and Human Rights, near the Centennial Olympic Park. Pemberton Place is a 20-acre site named after John Pemberton, creator of the original Coca-Cola formula. The address is similar to another famous one belonging to the legendary, though fictional master detective, Sherlock Holmes, who shared rooms with his friend and biographer Dr. Watson at 221B, Baker Street in London, England. The original WOCC opened on 3 August 1990 at Underground Atlanta, and was moved to its present location on 24 May 2007.
‘The Secret Formula’ of Coca-Cola is kept in the
vault which we as visitors were allowed to see – only the vault, not The Secret Formula! Legend has it that only two people in the entire world know one-half each of the formula. These two persons never travel together. During our tour, we were not fortunate enough to meet either of them!
A visit to the Georgia Aquarium
Located on land donated by the Coca-Cola company at the same premises as The World of Coca-Cola — viz. Pemberton Place — The GA was the largest till 2012 when it was surpassed by the Marine Life park in Singapore. It is still the number one in the US. It houses more than a hundred thousand animals and represents several thousand species, all of which reside in 10 million US gallons (38,000 m3) of marine and salt water. It was built with a donation of USD 250 million from businessman Bernard Marcus.
The GA is in a multistoried building but, once inside, we felt as if we were in an underwater city. The aquarium's notable specimens include whale sharks, beluga whales, California sea lions, bottlenose dolphins and manta rays. The aquarium's animals are displayed in seven galleries and exhibits: Tropical Diver, Ocean Voyager, Cold Water Quest, River Scout, Dolphin Celebration, Pier 225 and Aquanaut Adventure: A Discovery Zone. Each corresponds to a specific environment.
The first exhibit, Southern Company River Scout, reflects regional environments. It features an overhead river where visitors can see North American fish from the bottom up. In addition to local specimens, this exhibit displays piranha, electric eel and other unusual freshwater life.
Next to River Scout is the AT&T Dolphin Celebration gallery. It houses the indoor dolphin stadium. The aquarium houses 13 bottlenose dolphins. The show lasts for about 20 minutes and includes a video about the dolphins 30 minutes before the show. Admission to the AT&T Dolphin Celebration show was included in general admission.
The third section of the aquarium, Cold Water Quest, features animals from the polar and temperate regions of the world and contains most of the mammal species in the aquarium's collection. This exhibit includes beluga whales in the aquarium's second largest habitat (after Ocean Voyager), sea otters, Japanese spider crabs, weedy sea dragons, and African penguins.
The largest exhibit, Ocean Voyager, contains
6.3 million US gallons (24,000 m3) of water and several thousand fish.
The fifth exhibit, Tropical Diver, featured mainly IndoPacific tropical fish. The largest habitat in the exhibit was a 164,000-US-gallon (620,000 L) reef featuring many species of fish.
The sixth exhibit, SunTrust Pier 225, was for sea lions. The seventh exhibit, Aquanaut Adventure: A Discovery Zone, was GA's newest gallery containing several smaller exhibits and multiple hands-on activities.
The aquarium also featured a 4D movie and a virtual reality simulator which took us on a trip through prehistoric seas.
Logo outside the CNN Center, Atlanta.
Picture of red kangaroos present in the Zoo of Atlanta.
Giant panda at the Atlanta Zoo.
The Fernbank Museum of Natural History.
Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta.
Atlanta, which is also known as the home for Coca-Cola.
Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.