Tourists flock to Michael Jackson sites; tour buses adjust their routes

Crowds of Southern California visitors, already mourning the death of Michael Jackson at popular tourist spots all over Los Angeles, are expected to salute the King of Pop all weekend on tour buses and vans, in museums and at Hollywood landmarks.

At the new Grammy Museum in the downtown entertainment center LA Live, a steady stream of visitors checked out an exhibit of Jackson's sparkling wardrobe Friday, and more were expected today.

Friday was "one of our biggest days," museum spokeswoman Katie Dunham said. "I think this weekend is going to be big for this exhibit."

The effect on tourism in Hollywood began to grow Friday at Jackson's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, near Grauman's Chinese Theatre, where so many fans gathered that some couldn't get close enough to see it. There were so many television crews at Jackson's Holmby Hills home that police temporarily closed off Carolwood Drive to tour buses.

A family of seven from Frederick, Md., tried to leave a bouquet of wildflowers at Jackson's star but were turned away by mourners and security officers.

"We wanted to pay our respects," said Alma S. Perkins, the matriarch of the group. "We are all big fans."

Dearly Departed, a tour bus company that offers a Hollywood Tragical History Tour, plans to include a stop at the Holmby Hills home where paramedics were called Thursday to try to revive Jackson.

The tour now includes stops at Hollywood's Viper Room, where actor River Phoenix died of a drug overdose in 1993, and the Beverly Hills home where mob figure Bugsy Siegel was slain in 1947.

Scott Michaels, owner of the tour company, suspects that the calls for a Jackson stop on his tour will increase as tourists recover from the shock of the death. "Right now, people are just reeling from it," he said.

A bus for Starline Tours, Hollywood's largest tour company, had stopped in front of the Holmby Hills home Thursday just as paramedics were transporting Jackson to UCLA Medical Center. The home had been a regular stop on the tour.

Driver Wendy Harris said a passenger got a phone message that Jackson had died. When the bus arrived at the home, encircled by police and reporters, Harris said she knew the news was accurate.

"I always play [the song] 'Billie Jean' when we arrive at the house and everybody knows it, no matter where they are from," she said. "This time, the mood was really somber. It wasn't the usual exciting, upbeat mood."

Starline spokesman Klaus Ritter said business jumped after the news of Jackson's death. "I wish we had more buses," he said. "These sort of things happen pretty quickly."

At the Grammy Museum, an exhibit of Jackson's wardrobe, including the suit he wore on the cover of the "Thriller" album, was scheduled to close but instead was extended.

"The Grammy Museum is excited for this rare chance to share this material with our visitors," Chief Curator Ken Luftig Viste said. "Michael Jackson is undeniably one of the most significant entertainers in pop music history."

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