Discovery Channel opens store in D.C.

The Discovery Channel opened its flagship store, Discovery Channel Store: Destination, D.C., Saturday in the MCI Center, offering a mix of science class and tourist stop.

The store brings Discovery Communications, Inc. to life – including aspects from each of its cable stations: Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, Animal Plant and Travel Channel.

The store’s four levels are packed with merchandise, interactive learning tools and exhibits. Traveling from the ground floor to the top, a patron moves from underground to outerspace. From the fourth level, one can view all the floors. From this vantage point, the progression is striking.

The most eye-catching piece in the store is the giant Tyrannosaurus Rex cast on the first floor. It recreates the largest skeleton of the species ever found, which is 90 percent complete. Along with this exhibit, an interactive computer game captures the challenge of reassembling the remains.

At T-Rex’s tail rests a permanent display about Conservation International, a nonprofit organization seeking to demonstrate that resource protection is intelligent business. Discovery Communications has formed a partnership with the organization to cement its dedication to the environment. The display contains photos and a rotating collection of artifacts from areas where Conservation International works, such as Madagascar, Indonesia and the tropical Andes.

Another interesting stop is Ocean Planet. Here, a film shows divers exploring the world’s largest steamliner, the Titanic, on the ocean floor.

A live ant farm resides on the second floor in the Wild Discovery section. The World Cultures section houses an array of international artifacts and artistic works. And on the third floor, an authentic B-25 bomber from World War II is surrounded by plaques explaining the development of aviation. The weather station in the Science section is worth a look. Two of the interactive exhibits demonstrate wind storms and cloud formations.

If the only thing the store offered was the film Destination, D.C. it would be worth the Metro ride. Though only 18 minutes long, the piece reveals new information to tourists and long-time residents alike. Fun facts are included like, “Which statue is the only one in the city to get a sex change?” It’s worth the $2.50 for an adult ticket to learn something new when touring people around the city for the umpteenth time.

“Discover Downtown D.C.,” a walking tour, is the product of a partnership between Discovery Communications, Inc. and the D.C. Heritage Tourism Coalition. The tour begins at 10:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. daily and costs $7.50 for adults and $5.00 for children. The tour focuses on John Wilkes Booth, Walt Whitman, Chinatown, Samuel Morse, Clara Barton and Harriet Beecher Stowe – and covers a four-block radius of the MCI Center.

Patrons learn and shop in the store. Everything from key chains and figurines ($5-$10) to 50-million-year-old cave bear skeletons ($75,000) are for sale. Items can be bought from places like Morocco, Ghana and Irian Jaya. Space flight and Feng Shui – decorating for emotional well-being – paraphernalia await. Jewelry ranges from $18 to too expensive to even think about. One necklace is made of fossilized dinosaur eggs.

The Discovery Channel Store is a great place to bring visitors to learn about D.C. and the world, while a host also can be entertained by new things. If nothing else, it’s a perfect store for gift buying.The Discovery Channel Store is located at 601 F St. N.W. in the MCI Center at the Chinatown/Gallery Place Metro stop. Store hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.

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