UNION CITY, Tenn. (AP) — As a new $80 million Discovery Park of America nears opening day, officials in western Tennessee hope the attraction helps put the area on the tourism map.
Tennessee Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker told The Paducah Sun (http://bit.ly/1aoVs8o)that adding the park will allow the area on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line to become a tourism destination. Whitaker says the area combines history, education and entertainment in one experience.
"It's really a stunning, man-made achievement ... we want people who are handing you their money to be smiling and to know they had a great experience," Whitaker said.
The 50-acre complex includes a main three-story discovery center building with 10 exhibit halls along with outdoor structures including a 100-year-old church, a school house, six full-sized train cars, building replicas, a farm exhibit and an antique windmill.
Additionally, the park features an interior slide, an interactive wind turbine, historic military vehicles, giant replicas of dinosaur skeletons and a 20,000-gallon aquarium. The center also features special attractions including an earthquake simulator, starship theater and 120-foot glass tower.
The project has been in the works for nearly 10 years. The Robert E. & Jenny D. Kirkland Foundation is financing the park and their efforts represent an $80 million investment thus far with the potential to increase to $100 million.
"It's a piece of sculpture and artwork that changes in color, hue or meaning from different perspectives," Robert Kirkland said. "Across the entire U.S. this building itself is a masterpiece."