CNN Center is the headquarters of the global CNN news operation. It is located in downtown Atlanta near many other attractions, including the Georgia Capitol building; the Georgia Dome, where the Atlanta Falcons play; Centennial Olympic Park; and Philips Arena, a popular concert venue and where the Atlanta Hawks play. CNN Center is accessible from the Interstate 75/85 Downtown Connector and Interstate 20. MARTA, Atlanta's public transit system, has a train station within the complex and serves the area with bus lines.
CNN, created in 1980, was the brainchild of Atlanta communications mogul Ted Turner. The channel was the first 24-hour news network and changed the way the entire globe viewed the news cycle. Although CNN now broadcasts from New York, Washington and Los Angeles as well as Atlanta, CNN Center remains the bustling headquarters for the bulk of the news operation.
CNN Center offers three different tours:
Inside CNN Atlanta is the main studio tour available to all ages. This tour begins with a ride up the world's longest free-standing escalator into the "Globe,'' a 50-foot globe with kiosks that show famous footage from CNN's history. The tour takes visitors through mock-ups of a control room and a black box studio before culminating in an overlook of the actual newsroom in action.
The Inside CNN Kids Tour offers an interactive tour for elementary school students. The tour is similar to the main studio tour, but it comes with educational materials, including a scavenger hunt in which students listen to discover the answers to questions.
The Inside CNN Morning Express Tour goes behind the scenes of the CNN Headline News show Morning Express with Robin Meade. This once-a-week tour begins with a breakfast reception inside the Globe, visits a mock-up control room and the overlook of the newsroom and ends in a live audience of the show. Visitors get several souvenirs of their tour. Children under 12 are not allowed on the Morning Express Tour.
CNN Center also offers a unique opportunity to host meetings, social functions and banquets. Three venues are available for rental: the Globe, which can accommodate small receptions; the Terrace, an indoor balcony that overlooks the interior of CNN Center; and the Atrium, which holds up to 400 people. Catering is available through several local vendors, and after-hours tours can be arranged for an additional fee.
Another popular destination at CNN Center is the Turner Store. The store offers products affiliated with all of the Turner Broadcasting networks, including TBS, Turner Classic Movies, the Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. The store sells apparel, books, movies and a wide array of souvenirs. Another asset is the food court, popular not only with tourists, but with locals who work in the area.
Visitors who have reviewed CNN Center on several well-known internet travel sites are generally very positive about their experiences. It is called "one of the best tourist spots in Atlanta'' and "one of the most vibrant spots in the Atlanta downtown area.'' The tour is noted as "fascinating, hands-on'' and "very interesting and well worth the price of admission.'' CNN Center is indeed one of Atlanta's unique tourist destinations.