Out of This World: Virgin Spaceport Opens Based to Tours: While test flights at the $219 million site have been put on hold, Spaceport America, home base for the Virgin Galactic space flight enterprise, has opened its facilities for tours. The Spaceport America Experience includes life-size replicas of some of Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft, including SpaceShipTwo, views of the 45,000-square foot terminal’s hangar from a massive “Gateway Gallery,” a ride down the 12,000-foot runway and a “G-shock simulator.” Tours start off at a visitor center a short distance from the actual facility, and then a bus trip takes guests on-site. According to news reports, the move to make Spaceport America into a tourist attraction is largely an attempt to offset costs of running the place, which is located near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, about 150 miles south of Albuquerque. Retail ticket price for an adult is $45. For more information, visit:
http://spaceportamerica.com/experience, or call 844.727.7223.
Warner Bros. Studios Creates New “Script to Screen” Tour: While not as well-known as the neighboring Universal Studios Tour nor anywhere near as popular as the different attractions at Disneyland in Anaheim, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Burbank, California has remained a popular staple for years—particularly for those interested in inside views of the movie-and-television-show production process which, from time to time, might include an actual filming of a scene in the studio’s lot. But now the studio has added a $13 million upgrade—Stage 49: Script to Screen, which will offer visitors a more comprehensive look at production process, from script to casting to visual effects, post-production, sound mixing and on to awards season. Highlights include the Central Perk coffeehouse from Friends and a green-screen setup that let guests fly on Harry Potter’s broomstick. Other enhancements include recorded messages from the stars of 2 Broke Girls, Pretty Little Liars, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The tours have a degree of intimacy to them, as they are conducted in oversized, multi-passenger golf carts, and patrons get off and on at different tour stops in the studio lot. For more information, visit: www.wbstudiotour.com, or call 877.492.8687.
Pedi-Cab Art Among new Experiences available in Philadelphia Next Year: For the summer of 2016, an experiment in kinetic art will be a highlight of the new visitor experiences that Philadelphia will offer “pedicabs-as-art” that will actually be movable, illuminated kinetic sculptures will circulate along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway as the interactive public artwork, Fireflies. The Parkway serves as the major thoroughfare that connects Philadelphia’s cultural collection of attractions, art museums, civic institutions and public spaces.
Specifically, in collaboration with guest curator Lance Fung of Fung Collaboratives and support from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, the Association for Public Art (aPA)—it commissions, preserves, promotes and interprets public art in Philadelphia—a is commissioning artist Cai Guo-Qiang to create Fireflies for an installation on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the summer of 2016.
Fireflies will be made up of 27 glowing kinetic sculptures. Each sculpture will be developed around a pedicab, and those 27 pedicab-sculptures will travel around the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from City Hall to the Philadelphia Museum of Art carrying passengers for free. Participants will be able to view and photograph the Parkway and its environs from a new and unique perspective by taking a ride inside the kinetic sculptures. For more information, visit: http://associationforpublicart.org/, or call 215.546.7550.
Evel Knievel Daredevil Museum to Open in Harley Davidson Dealership in Kansas: Sure to appeal to a slice of the U.S. population that remembers the motorcycle riding daredevil Evel Knievel—he and his souped up Harley-Davidson bikes gained much national attention in the 1970s for his jumps over canyons, fountains, rivers and trucks lined up in a row—an Evel Knievel museum is set to open, likely sometime next year in Topeka Kansas. The new attraction will be situated in a 16,000-square-foot addition to a Harley-Davidson dealership, and will house all sorts of memorabilia, including six of Knievel’s bikes, more than a dozen costumes, pinball and slot machines and other items related to the late dare devil famous for the motorcycle stunts. Knievel died in 2007.
The location of the new attraction grew out of a friendship between Mike Patterson, the Harley-Davidson dealership owner and Lathan McKay, a professional skateboarder and actor, who had acquired Knievel’s custom Mack Truck (used to transport Knevel’s bikes and other regalia around the country) and other items and had been taking them around the country as a traveling exhibit. McKay took the truck to Patterson’s shop for a restoration job and the two bonded. Before long, they made the decision to open the museum. The announcement of the museum was warmly received by Brett Oetting, president and CEO of Visit Topeka, who said, “This puts us right up there with Elvis museum, the Johnny Cash Museum …This could be a very big deal.”
New Kentucky Attraction Features Retired Thoroughbreds: The Georgetown, Ky., Thoroughbred Retirement Facility and the Franklin, Ky. racetrack have joined together to establish Old Friends at Kentucky Downs and have created a tour that showcases retired racehorses, several with a history of running at Kentucky Downs and Kentucky tracks. The tours are coordinated by the Simpson County Tourism Commission. Some of the retired thoroughbreds featured in the tour include:
- Ball Four, the 14-year-old son of Grand Slam who earned more than $730,000 in his 31 starts. His wins included the Kentucky Cup Classic Stakes and the Tejano Run Stakes at Turfway Park.
- Sergeant Bert, who won the 2005 and 2006 Woodford Stakes at Keeneland, where he set a track record for 51/2 furlongs. The bay son of Confide, he earned more than $350,000 in his career.
- Thornfield, a 21-year-old son of Sky Classic, who, was Canada’s Sovereign Award winner and Horse of the Year in 1999.
- Tour of the Cat, a multiple graded-stakes winner of more than $1.1 million.
Other equine retirees are expected to arrive in the fall. In addition to the horse exhibit, an adjoining visitor’s center and an Old Friends gift shop, open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily except Monday, will be housed in a newly-renovated structure in the Kentucky Downs stable area. For more information, visit:
http://www.kentuckytourism.com/simpson-county-tourism-commission/4972/, or call 270.586.3040.