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National Enquirer Opens the Latest in Interactive Family Attractions in Branson
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Enquiring minds want to know – the National Enquirer tabloid is counting on that, with the opening of not one but two new interactive family attractions as immersive museum “experiences.”

To be called National Enquirer Live, the attractions are opening in two locations in late spring: in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and Branson, Missouri. At approximately 20,000-square-feet, the Pigeon Forge attraction will be entered through a camera lens shaped entrance; the exterior structure will have the illusion that another building has fallen on top of it. In Branson, the attraction will be 30,000-square-feet of all the news that may or may not be fit to print.

The Pigeon Forge location will open in late spring; FrontPage Attractions, the company behind National Enquirer Live, will open the Branson, Mo. location later this year. Some $25 million has been invested by the company in both attractions.

National Enquirer Live tells the story of the sensational tabloid as first on the scene, with the first news helicopter in the sky, and the first tabloid paper to be stocked in grocery stores. It will now be the first tabloid to have an immersive museum attraction.

According to the company’s press release, the museum allows visitors to see the story behind the paper’s shaping of the tabloid that “created an industry." Guests can also play reporter and create their own tabloid-style headlines; the latter they will be able to share online.

FrontPage Attractions partner Robin Turner attests that “People have shown that for nearly 100 years, they just can’t get enough of the storytelling in the National Enquirer …we’re excited to take those stories off the page and bring them to life.” Turner is the co-founder of WonderWorks, an edu-tainment attraction with five locations, including one in Pigeon Forge. WonderWorks was arguably on the forefront of interactive entertainment attractions in the area. 

At National Enquirer Live, guests will examine National Enquirer exclusives, including the JFK conspiracy, insider stories about the British Royal Family, celebrity lives, and crime stories.

 “While print publications across the country are downsizing, the National Enquirer brand is as strong as ever,” Turner adds, predicting a rousing opening for the attractions.

The Pigeon Forge location is scheduled to open in May; FrontPage Attractions is looking at other potential attractions similar to the National Enquirer Live model.

He suggests that other major media outlets could be “brought to life in a similar manner.” In short, the immersive museum experience is here to stay in entertainment, and is a central part of the amusement industry in Pigeon Forge.

At the Gatlinburg Pinball Museum, the tag line is “the history of a museum meets the fun of an arcade.” Packed with a vast collection of pinball and retro-style games, the museum is both a game-playing experience and a way for guests to “share their love and passion” for pinball itself. Admission is $15 for adults and $12 for children ten and under. There’s a variety of limited edition pinball machines going back to the 1960s, including classics and oddities such as Medieval Madness, Attack From Mars, Lord of the Rings, Metallica, Dialed In, The Addams Family Gold Edition, The Walking Dead, the classic Gottlieb Sky-Line. PR for the museum attests that “the best kind of museum” is one where you can play all the games.

Not exactly a museum but billed as an immersive attraction in Pigeon Forge is Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Adventure. Guests watch the adventure unfold and then compete themselves in the High Woodsman Challenge or Loggersports areas. There are eleven competitive events in all, including axe throwing, speed climbing, and log rolling. These are aimed at adults, but kids have their own competitions too. What this has to do with Deen’s buttery cooking empire is anyone’s guess, bit hungry lumberjacks might enjoy a meal. 

The Alcatraz East crime museum, open for two years, has proven a popular if slightly grim attraction, educating and entertaining guests with stories of major crime. From Al Capone to O.J. Simpson’s car chase, there’s a taste of the macabre in the attraction, which nonetheless caters to both adults and kids, with adult admission at $24.95, and kids’ admissions at $14.95. The exterior was designed to resemble the San Francisco island prison of Alcatraz morphed with the 1898 Tennessee State Prison. 

Of course, the earliest example of this type of immersive “museum” interactive experience in Pigeon Forge is FrontPage Attraction’s own Wonderworks. Located inside a structure that resembles an upside-down mansion, there’s a show titled The Wonder of Magic, but also a bevy of different wonder-inspiring areas in the 35,000-square-foot attraction. The press release for Wonderworks calls it an “amusement park for the mind.” It features over 100 hands-on exhibits from a once top secret laboratory in the Bermuda Triangle to an inversion tunnel, sound and light exhibitions, space discovery, natural disasters, and an “imagination zone” among the attractions and experiences.

Other new attractions are also scheduled to debut in Pigeon Forge this year, with summer openings planned for a new Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show with acrobatic competitions and pirate battles; and the opening of the August Moon Drive in, an indoor drive-in movie experience that is touted as having 50 classic cars, full size trees, a faux but vast starry sky, and a “stunning moon glowing orange and red.” As for the main attraction, the drive-in’s screen is said to be the largest non-IMAX screen in North America. From simulated chirping crickets and a year ‘round warm summer night vibe to luxury seating, the drive-in will provide its own immersive experience, while showing both classic films and brand new releases to guests. 
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