It arrived on the eve of Y2K to teach generations of readers how to get out of life’s stickiest jams, and it returned earlier this year with an eye toward the problems of the new millennium. Now, in the midst of its 20th anniversary celebration, "The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook" is becoming an immersive, interactive experience, debuting in Philadelphia before hitting the road next year. 

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Experience at The Franklin Institute - entrance
The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Experience opens in Philadelphia this month. Image © the Franklin Institute

Opening at the Franklin Institute on Oct. 19, the Worst-Case Scenario Survival Experience comprises a series of “hands-on, minds-on” immersive challenges inspired by the bestselling book. In the exhibit’s Survival Gymnasium, daredevils can learn how to jump from a moving train, survive an avalanche, or try their luck against ten other challenges – with the help of detailed instructions, expert advice, and in-depth training, of course. 

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Experience at The Franklin Institute - ball pit with slide and lifeguard chair
One of the exhibit's 13 challenges. Image © the Franklin Institute

Per a press release announcing the show, “The exhibit is designed to help develop the fundamental skills that are used in all worst-case scenarios: staying calm, thinking logically, using creativity, and being prepared.” To that end, there are graphics showing how to identify anxiety and fear, exploring how stress, physical exhaustion, and disorientation can be an impediment to survival. 

Lending a soothing tone is a man known for getting himself out of trouble with ease – or in entertaining fashion, at least. Burt Reynolds voiced the original audiobook, and excerpts on advice and how-tos will play at listening stations around the room. There’s also a hall of fame gallery, filled with testimonies from real survivors of often-terrifying encounters, and a collection of everyday items that can be pressed into service in case of an emergency.

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Experience at The Franklin Institute (12).jpg
The exhibit is based on the 1999 bestseller of the same name,  which was updated and rereleased for its 20th anniversary earlier this year. Image © The Franklin Institute

“We are living in tense times – these are times of intense disconnectedness from each other, of global unrest, of extreme imbalance with nature, of political and economic imbalance,” coauthor David Borgenicht told Budget Travel back in April. “Most of our fears come from a feeling that we lack control over our lives, and sadly, most people feel like we have even less control than we did twenty years ago.” 

If all goes according to plan, the exhibit should go a long way toward giving visitors the skills that’ll put them back in the driver’s seat. “Josh and I always dreamed of turning Worst-Case Scenario into an interactive experience,” Borgenicht said in a statement. “Adults and kids will have a great time testing their limits, facing their fears, and learning to survive life’s sudden turns for the worst.” 

The Worst-Case Scenario Experience runs through April 19, 2020; tickets are on sale now, starting at $20 for adults and $15 for children. For more information, visit

Explore related stories