Have you ever wanted to see behind the scenes of a live tv broadcast? The CNN Center tour does just that.  The tour is 50 minutes and walks you through the broadcast process.  You get to see studios, green screens and all the equipment that goes into making a show.

About the CNN Center

The CNN Center is located in downtown Atlanta near many other tourist attractions.  The tours started in 1987 and provide behind the scene access to the world headquarters of CNN.  This is a very popular tour that has about 300,000 visitors each year from all over the world.

There are 3 different tours to choose from with the most common being the behind the scenes tour.  There is also a VIP tour and a Morning tour with Robin Meade.

The behind the scenes tour is what we took. You start by going up the world’s longest freestanding escalator to get to the top of the center.  It is 196 feet tall, 8 stories high and recognized by Guinness World Records. You exit on the top at the world globe.  This escalator was actually part of The World of Syd and Marty Krofft, one of the first indoor theme parks.  It was only open for five months but closed due to high cost and low attendance in 1976.

The Tour

Once the tour starts, the guide gives you detailed information about the history of Ted Turner and the CNN center as well as walks you through the production process.  We got to see a green screen and one person actually read lines on local weather. You then see the final product with the background map added.  It was interesting.

You see different areas like Studio 7 and the teleprompters the announcers look at to read lines.  The guide explains the various cameras and lighting equipment used on sets.  On the tour, you also see the working area of CNN employees.

CNN center green screen
CNN center employees
After the tour, you end at the CNN store and exit out to the main CNN center area.  There are a lot of shops and places to eat here.  We enjoyed going into the Atlanta Braves shop and the Cartoon Network store.  They had lots of fun items.  The crowds were pretty large, but there were plenty of places to sit so it was not too bad.
Braves store
Cartoon Network

Overall impression

The CNN center is impressive with all the shops and of course the world’s longest escalator.  The actual tour seemed a bit outdated to me.  It was not interactive at all.  You mostly walked behind a tour guide and quickly saw different areas.  I think if they had interactive screens or more opportunities for the crowd to play with the green screen it would be more fun.  The crowd is pretty big so I guess they can’t do too much due to time constraints.

When you go to the other attractions nearby like the College Football Hall of Fame, which is extremely modern and interactive, and then go to CNN center it is a bit of a letdown.  I think it is worth seeing at least once if you are going to the other big attractions that are within walking distance.  If you have limited time, I would recommend seeing other attractions over this one.  The top ones being: World of Coca Cola, GA Aquarium and the College Football Hall of Fame (this one is so much fun). I think if the CNN tour was modernized and more interactive it could be a lot more fun.

 You can never quit. Winners never quit and quitters never win

– Ted Turner

Rating (3 stars):

Pros: Chance to see behind the scenes, fun shops

Cons: Crowded, not interactive, not modern

Priority: Low – if you are seeing the other sites nearby it is worth going

Cost: $15 per adult for base behind the scenes tour

Savvy Tip: Get a City Pass as there are so many other attractions right next to it.

Website: CNN Center