TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - For the first time in months, Biosphere 2 welcomed guests back inside Friday, Aug. 7.
Well, technically they were outside as a part of the new driving tours.
“We’ve had to think creatively and outside the box as to how we can provide experiences for people but in a safe way,” said Deputy Director John Adams.
Visitors are required to remain in their vehicles during the tour, which takes between 20 and 25 minutes to complete. The admission price of $20 is good for one vehicle with up to six occupants.
Once visitors enter the Biosphere 2 grounds through the main gate, they will follow a well-marked course, guided by an app on their mobile device. Moving at a leisurely speed of about 10 mph, they will work their way down to the core facilities of Biosphere 2. Along the way, the mobile "tour guide" will talk about current research happening at the Biosphere 2 rainforest, ocean and savannah habitats. Other stops include the desert biome and a closeup view of the "lung," a unique feature that was designed to equalize air exchange during the lockdown experiment that made Biosphere 2 famous around the world.
“At each stop we’re going to highlight what people are looking at and you know we’ve tried to mix in a little history and the science we’re doing today,”said Adams.
It’s only phase one to rolling out their reopening, but they hope It leaves a lasting impression.
"Tease them a little bit when we open up the grounds, and then they want to come back again when we open up the inside," Adams.
Phase 2 will be a 17 stop tour on the app, potentially ready in mid-October or in November. Phase 3 will tentatively be in January and allow people back inside.
Right now the driving tours are only Fridays and Saturdays and you have to buy tickets ahead of time.
Days and hours may expand in the future. Tickets must be purchased in advance on the Biosphere 2 website, and there will be a limited number of tickets sold per day.
Tickets can be used anytime beginning at 6 p.m. on the date for which they were purchased, but the last vehicle must be in line at 9:30 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to download the Biosphere 2 app from the Apple Store or Google Play before heading to Biosphere 2, as the signal on site can be spotty.