Recently, my friend Traye and I drove to Wakita, Oklahoma to see the Twister the Movie Museum. Wakita is a remotely-located little farm town that sits north of Enid, OK and is best-known as one of the filming sites for the 1996 blockbuster film, Twister. The film starred the late Bill Paxton (who died in February 2017 at age 61) and Helen Hunt, and depicted the adventures of storm researchers who were trying to capture the internal readings inside a tornado using a newly-built device-in-a-canister that had to be placed directly in the path of an oncoming tornado. In the hunt for the most ideal weather conditions, the team becomes bonafide storm chasers and tornado wranglers.
The film was a blockbuster-quality success, and garnered a strong fan following, which ultimately benefited Wakita. After the throughout around the town, and bequeathed a number of pieces to the town. This helped substantiate the town’s venture to form a small museum to commemorate the film and Wakita’s participation in it. Even Bill Paxton continued to stay in touch with the museum long after the film was complete, and Paxton donated personal items, including his personal commemorative Twister pinball machine, produced and bestowed to him by the Sega Corporation. In fact, while there, I played a round or two on it, as museum visitors are welcome to partake. I hadn't played on a pinball machine in years!
Wakita, like many small farming towns in Oklahoma, is largely devoid of commercial interests aside from local diners, feed and seed stores, a small bank, and perhaps a local grocery store and pharmacy. For Wakita, any opportunity to garner more attention via an attraction is a chance to promote helpful tourism and prospective commerce flowing into its coffers. In fact, even today, the town’s sole restaurant is a humble diner called “The Twister Café” that is operated by a welcoming couple.
Unfortunately, while the museum has been visited by thousands of people over the years, it typically garners only a handful of people on most days. Given the film’s dated heritage, and our society’s fascination with “all things new”, it’s not surprising that the progressively sagging interest in the museum will only continue. The curator told me that she and other townspeople volunteer their time to man the facility, as well as the cash register at the small cashier’s desk, where you can purchase some commemorative knick-knacks or t-shirts. I was told the earnings from donations and merchandise does pay for the utilities and operating costs, as well as modest upkeep. It’s both charming and impressive that the town still hosts and supports the museum, and it was an engaging experience that I enjoyed.
I posted some photos (above) that I hope you’ll find interesting. Leave a comment, and, of course, please let me know if you’ve ever visited the Twister Museum in Wakita.
Until later, enjoy life; be kind to those around you, and Happy Reading! Peace.