This tour of the world's largest newsgathering organization is lots of fun and a uniquely Atlanta experience. The CNN Center is headquarters for CNN, CNN International, and Headline News. During 50-minute guided walking tours, visitors get a behind-the-scenes look at the high-tech world of 24-hour TV network news in action.
You'll find the tour desk in the main lobby near the base of an eight-story escalator. While you're waiting for the tour to begin, you can have a videotape made of yourself reading the day's top stories from behind a CNN anchor desk. The tour starts in an exhibit area where you'll find timelines covering the history of CNN and Turner Broadcasting, interactive kiosks where you can surf the CNN websites or access clips from the top 100 stories that CNN has covered, memorabilia from some of those events, and a journalism ethics display. A theater that re-creates CNN's main control room allows you to experience the behind-the-scenes elements of a news broadcast.
Next, you'll enter a special-effects studio and get a glimpse of the technology that goes into the production of global news. Here you'll discover the magic of a high-tech Blue Chromakey system (it's what's used to broadcast that big map behind the weather folks), see how on-air graphics are made, and learn the secrets of the TelePrompTer.
On another level, visitors get a bird's-eye view of the main CNN newsroom from a glass-walled observation station. From here, you'll see the hustle and bustle of writers composing news scripts. If a live broadcast is in progress -- and chances are good that one will be -- you can see CNN newscasters at work. Tour guides are knowledgeable and can answer virtually any question.
The longer, more extensive VIP tour allows visitors to actually step out onto the main CNN newsroom floor and explore production areas not normally accessible to the public.
After your visit, stop by the Turner Store, which carries network-logo clothing and gift items, along with MGM movie paraphernalia. For sports fans, there's the Braves Clubhouse store, featuring the Atlanta Braves logo on every item you can imagine. There are several restaurants and numerous fast-food outlets in the atrium of the CNN Center, as well as a few shops. Remember that the tour includes quite of bit of walking and a very steep escalator ride, which carries you to great heights to begin your visit. Those afraid of heights might want to consider skipping the tour.