Pennsylvania’s elk visitors center changing Story Theatre presentation

After nine years of operation, the Elk Country Visitors Center in Bennezette, Pa., is changing its multimedia Story Theatre presentation.

About 215,500 people have gone through the original presentation, according to Carla Wehler, operations manager at the Elk County facility. She noted that the new presentation would be rolled out in April.

The old presentation, which was designed by a team that included a retired Disney “imagineer,” immerses the visitor in the sights, sounds and smells of a mixed hardwood forest. It shows the natural world of the elk, the native wildlife and the heritage of the region.

The new presentation will take guests inside the elk herd, while touching on the importance of habitat management and conservation for the health of Pennsylvania’s elk.

If you haven’t seen the original presentation, don’t fret, Wehler said.

“We will be able to switch back and forth between the two, so folks can see both programs,” she said. “The interesting thing about the theater is, as many people as we get each year, there are still thousands of people who have not seen the original show yet. So we didn’t want to get rid of that original show when so many people still would like to see it, and it is so well done.”

The video of the river rescue of an elk that had a tire swing tangled in its antlers, that has been shown in the entrance, will continue to be offered, Wehler pointed out.

“I think our theater is unique for Pennsylvania because it talks about a variety of things,” she said. “It featured wildlife generally and elk specifically and their habitat, it talks about conservation efforts both past and present — it doesn’t focus on one specific thing but rather concentrates on how everything comes together.”

The Elk Country Visitors Center, a public-private partnership between the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the nonprofit group Keystone Elk Country Alliance has proven to be quite a draw.

The center has logged nearly 3 million visitors since it opened its doors in 2010. About 470,000 people visited the center in 2018,  most traveling to Winslow Hill hoping to see at least a few of the elk in the state’s estimated 1,000-animal herd.

Categories: Pennsylvania – Jeff Mulhollem

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