‘Oppenheimer’ mania pushes Army to warn of long tourist lines at Trinity atomic test site

A photograph of the 16 July 1945 first atomic bomb test is displayed along a fence at Ground Zero at Trinity Site, at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico 05 July 2005. The crater which the blast created has long since been filled it, leaving only a modest stone obelisk, a few historic photos and explanatory panels, and chain-link fence to mark the spot which ushered the world into the atomic age.

Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army said its upcoming open house of the Trinity Site is expected to receive “a larger than normal crowd” due to the overwhelming popularity of Universal’s “Oppenheimer.”

The Trinity Site on White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico is where the world’s first atomic bomb was tested.

The film “Oppenheimer,” which premiered Friday and earned $82.4 million over the weekend, tells the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the American physicist who oversaw the Manhattan Project that produced the bomb and launched the world into the atomic age.

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“Due to the release of the movie, Oppenheimer in July, we are expecting a larger than normal crowd at the 21 October open house,” the U.S. Army wrote on its White Sands Missile Range website.

“If you are not one of the first 5,000 visitors, you might not get through the gate prior to its’ closure at 2 p.m.,” the statement said, adding that wait times are expected to reach up to two hours.

Twice a year the U.S. Army allows visitors to tour the site where the “Gadget,” a six-foot sphere with a grapefruit-sized powerful plutonium heart, was detonated. Following the open house in October, the U.S. Army will allow visitors again on April 6, 2024.

The bomb was born out of the Manhattan Project and launched under the codename “Trinity” — selected by Oppenheimer, who was inspired by British poet John Donne.

At exactly 5:29:45 a.m. on July 16, 1945, the most powerful weapon ever created – at the time – was unleashed. Less than a month later, the U.S. military dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing more than 100,000 people and ending World War II.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.

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