For those of you coming to Atlanta next week for the Romance Writers of America conference, things are looking up. Way up. On Tuesday, July 16 Skyview Atlanta—a 200 foot Ferris wheel will become operational at the South end of Centennial Park, next to the landmark Tabernacle concert hall. The wheel is almost 20 stories high with 42 gondolas that will be able to hold up to 6 people. Don’t worry, each gondola is equipped with a panic button for those who find the height too, well, high. They’re also climate controlled with A/C in the summer and heat in the winter. Each “flight” is four revolutions and lasts approximately fifteen minutes. Ticket prices vary with discounts for seniors and military personnel. Adults are $13.50 and kids fly for $8.50. The wheel, which originally operated in Paris, across from the Louvre art museum before being moved to Bern, Switzerland, then to the United States, promises to provide riders with outstanding views of the Atlanta skyline. We’ve had steady rain here for the past two weeks, though, so let’s cross our fingers for better weather so we can take advantage of the great view.
Not into heights? There’s always Atlanta’s trifecta of tourist attractions: The Georgia Aquarium with its dancing dolphins; the World of Coca Cola with all the caffeine you can drink; or, the CNN center where you can tour the studios or simply take your picture next to a cardboard cutout of Anderson Cooper in the gift shop. (Cheesy, but your friends will never know.)
Too touristy? Then why not explore what Atlanta is quietly becoming famous for: movies and television production. That’s right, thanks to a generous film tax incentive, Atlanta, and the state of Georgia for that matter, is quickly becoming known as the Hollywood of the south. According to the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Office, more than 330 feature films, TV movies and shows, commercials, and music videos were filmed statewide in 2012, which translates to more than 25,000 jobs. The city’s most prolific production house, Tyler Perry Studios in southwest Atlanta, boasts 200,000 square feet of studio space, five sound stages, a post-production studio, a back-lot and a 400 seat movie theater. Perry’s studio has produced sixteen movies and five television shows. Other television shows such as USA Networks’ Necessary Roughness, CW’s Vampire Diaries, AMC’s Walking Dead and LifeTime’s Drop Dead Diva, to name a few, are filmed in and around Atlanta.
A few movies you might have heard of have been filmed here, too. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Blind Side, Identity Theft, Borat, Waiting for the Curve, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and Parental Guidance are among the more recent movies to have scenes filmed in Atlanta. This year, we’ve already seen some heavy hitters like Jon Hamm, Robin Williams, Anthony Hopkins, Tommy Lee Jones, Meryl Streep and Reese Witherspoon filming around town. (Okay, Reese was appearing in front of cameras she might not have wished to, but we won’t go there.) Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore are scheduled to film a movie at Lake Lanier just north of Atlanta later this summer.
Wanna see where it all happens? Atlanta Movie Tours (www.atlantamovietours.com) offers a variety of tours including a Zombie Tour for all you paranormal aficionados. Definitely a great way to spend an evening!
Whatever you decide to do, I hope you enjoy your stay. Welcome to Atlanta, y’all!