Sight­see­ing in At­lanta

Cap­i­tal of the state of Ge­or­gia on the east coast of the USA.

Alive - - Contents - by Deepak Bha­tia and Sangeeta Bha­tia

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.

Ge­or­gia Aquar­ium in At­lanta.

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