Page 1

Volume XXXIX, Number 4 • March/April, 2018

Railroads page 4

Student & S e n i o r To u r s page 12

ELDs page 28

C h i c a g o ’s N e w Bus Ordinance page 30


MARCH/APRIL 2018 Volume XXXIX, Number 4




Editor & Publisher . . . . . . . . . Larry Plachno Business Manager . . . . Nancy Ann Plachno Bookkeeping . . . . . . . . . . . . Dianne Billquist Typesetting/Page Layout . . . . Sherry Mekeel Office Asst.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nicole Fehler Editorial Assistant . . . . . . . . . Tiffany Wilken


Bus Tours Magazine 9698 W. Judson Road Polo, Illinois 61064-9015 (815) 946-2341 Fax: (815) 946-2347 Web site:


12 Features 26



ELECTRONIC LOGGING DEVICES Electronic logging devices are not just the future; they are the law of the land, so learn how they can affect your bus tours.

CHICAGO’S BUS ORDINANCE The party is over in Chicago. Chicago’s local Brian Whitaker explains how the city’s effort to make “party bus” travel safer has changed bus travel for everyone.

ESCAPE TO THE SOUTHEAST Discover why armadillos became the mascot for a musical movement, and then get ideas for your next bus tour to Mississippi’s Gulf Coast region.

And More 19







by Catherine Heeg

by Clairemarie Owens


Guides 4




ALL ABOARD With antique streetcars, classy dinner trains and murder mystery events, these tourist railroads carry nostalgia full speed ahead.

GAMING Win, lose or draw, these casinos offer conveniences tour groups cannot complain about – delicious dining, luxurious lodging and sumptuous shopping.


LIVE ENTERTAINMENT THEATERS These live entertainment venues perform material ranging from the musical to the biblical.

STUDENT & SENIOR TOURS Harmon Museum & Art Gallery shares its hidden gems; Mt. Washington Cog promises spectacular views and informative tours, gaming of a different sort is available at Carlisle Sports Emporium and tour guide Jim Dykes expains why he stays abreast of New York’s culture.

Advertising Central/International – (815) 946-2341 West – (815) 946-2341 Midwest – (815) 946-2341 Northeast – (815) 946-2341 Southeast – (815) 946-2341


Children and adults enjoy their trip abroad New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Cog Railway. At 6,288 feet, Mt. Washington is the highest mountain in New England. Students will particularly appreciate riding trains that utilize either coal-generated steam or biodiesel and the accompanying tour that explores the region’s history and climate. The Mount Washington Cog Railway. BUS TOURS MAGAZINE (ISSN 0199-6096) is published six times annually by National Bus Trader, Inc., 9698 W. Judson Road, Polo, Illinois 61064. Subscriptions, $15 (in US funds) annually, Canadian & International $20 (in US funds). Printed in U.S.A. Periodicals postage paid at Polo, Illinois 61064 and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to BUS TOURS MAGAZINE, 9698 W. Judson Road, Polo, Illinois 61064. Change of Address: Please send old mailing label (or old address and computer number) as well as new address. Advertising: Display advertising rates sent on request. Advertising deadline is the last day of the second month preceding publication. Founded in 1979, BUS TOURS MAGAZINE is the oldest independent magazine in the bus and group tour market. Circulation includes bus and group tour planners in the United States and Canada regardless of affiliation or whether commercial, private or corporate or group leader. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced either in whole or in part without the written consent of the publisher. The name BUS TOURS MAGAZINE and the logo incorporating the passengers, bus and destinations are trade marks of National Bus Trader, Inc.

Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018 • 3

All Aboard

Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad tylish travelers eating delicious lunches,


Most of the M&H Railroad is built on the

times available for charter. After their train

murder mysteries, train robberies and

towpath of the Union Canal, so passengers

ride, many bus groups have lunch at Alfred's

gorgeous countryside, perhaps Golden

riding the present day M&H Railroad can still

Victorian Restaurant in Middletown, but a

Era Hollywood and Agatha Christie are to

see a canal lock and remains of the canal

“hobo lunch” on the train can also be

blame, but trains are romantic. If you like your

itself. The conductor provides a brief history

arranged. Restrooms and a gift shop are

escapes nostalgic, intimate and on the move,

of the canal and the railroad as the train

located at Middletown Station, originally

then consider these locations.

makes its 11-mile journey. The train passes

constructed in 1891 as a freight station. For

Horse Thief Cave, given its name because

more information, phone (717) 944-4435 or

Middletown & Hummelstown

thieves allegedly hid stolen horses in the cave



until they could move them out of the area

Middletown, Pennsylvania

under the cover of darkness. Much of the rail-

The Rip Van Winkle Flyer on the

Buses traveling the Pennsylvania Turnpike

road is located along the banks of the

Delaware & Ulster Railroad

will find the Middletown & Hummelstown

Swatara Creek, an Indian name meaning

Arkville, New York

Railroad a very convenient tourist railroad

"Place of the Eels," and since the railroad

A trip aboard the Rip Van Winkle Flyer on

to visit. It is located approximately five miles

crosses the creek on a 30-foot-high bridge,

the Delaware & Ulster Railroad is a trip back

from exit 247, the exit for Hershey and Lan-

the view is rather spectacular.

to the golden age of passenger trains. A Clas-

caster. The history of the Middletown & Hum-

The railroad operates regular trains on

sic Streamliner, it evokes an era of travel

melstown Railroad dates back to 1888, the

Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays during

when great care went into the dining car

year it was incorporated by a group of local

the summer months, and then on weekends

operations of our nation's railroads.

businessmen. The M&H Railroad was pre-

in September and October. However, trains

While aboard, guests will enjoy some of

ceded by the Union Canal, which originally

can be chartered for other days of the week.

the finest dining car selections in the country,

connected the Philadelphia area to Hummel-

Approaching Christmas, the railroad oper-

all while enjoying a 2 1⁄2-hour excursion

stown and Middletown but had gone out of

ates daytime Santa Trains and evening Polar

through the magnificent Catskills landscape

business in 1884. Industries in Middletown

Bear Trains on the weekends. Each child

along the east branch of the Delaware River.

needed stone for their foundries, stone that

receives a present from Santa and can have

On many trips, bald eagles or great blue

was available only by railroad. After com-

his or her picture taken with Santa. There

herons can be seen, and as the seasons

pletion in 1890, the railroad was sold to the

are also Easter Bunny Trains and Pumpkin

change, trips feature continually evolving

Philadelphia & Reading Railroad and became

Patch Trains. Murder Mystery Dinner Trains

scenery and glimpses of assorted wildlife,

a branch of that system.

operate on certain Saturdays and are some-

including birds, beavers, deer and other

4 • Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018


Guide: Railroads


Delaware & Ulster Railroad

Ri Van Rip Va V Winkle Wi Win Wink Winkl W Fl Fly Flye Flyer F

is available for motor coach tours. We have ample comfortable parking and can accomodate motor coaches.

Rolling along from late spring to late autumn, the Rip Van Winkle Flyer can be booked for special runs. Our regular schedule is posted on the calendar at Our trains and the Rip Van Winkle Flyer operate from May until early December. Come see the spectacular scenery in the famous Catskill Mountains.

Van Winkle Flyer to be the crowning jewel of a Catskill Mountains visit.

Delaware & Ulster Railroad

The Rip Van Winkle Flyer offers a wide selection of dining options to its passengers, including its signature three-course lun-

meal choices. Menu options change with the season and time of day. All meals are served

Come aboard the Rip Van Winkle Flyer and travel on our train to an era when railroads were noted for their fine dining and service. Traveling on our Classic Steamliner, you will enjoy some of the finest Dining Car selections in the country all while watching the magnificent Catskill Mountain scenery. Your tickets are all inclusive for a two and one half hour train trip with a luncheon selection of your choice. The Delaware &  Ulster Railroad is located not far from Cooperstown and Albany, and a short ride from the New York State Thruway at Kingston, New York.

RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED and can be made by contacting us at or calling (845) 586-2929

native animals. This is why many find the Rip

cheon, as well as brunch and other informal



43510 Route 28 Arkville, NY 12406 (845) 586-2929

in dining cars that are fully climatized for the season, and each table is furnished with a crisp tablecloth and fresh flowers. Many passengers choose to ride in the Vista-Dome, also known as the "Grand Hotel," which provides a near 360-degree view of the passing scenery. In addition to the Rip Van Winkle Flyer, Delaware & Ulster offers traditional excursions with open-air cars and coaches. It also operates a steam locomotive during weekends in the spring and September, along with popular Train Robbery Barbeques. The Rip Van Winkle Flyer can be booked for group trips and charters from May to November. The Delaware & Ulster Railroad is located three hours north of New York City via the New York State Thruway. The station and other facilities are fully accessible with ample parking for motorcoaches, buses and automobiles. Delaware & Ulster’s staff is committed to delivering a memorable trip for every guest. For more information or

10.5 Mile Round Trip Train Ride Along Swatara Creek Historic Narration By Conductor

Near Hershey and Lancaster, Pennsylvania PA Turnpike Exit 247 136 Brown Street Middletown, PA 17057 (717) 944-4435 •

Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad

Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018 • 5

Guide: Railroads reservations, phone (845) 586-2929 or

crews are knowledgeable, sociable and take

and why the Museum is located in Kenneb-


special pride in hosting groups. They provide

unkport. After the Exhibit Hall, guests enjoy

Seashore Trolley Museum Kennebunkport, Maine

an experience that is both entertaining and

a 30-minute narrated ride on the Museum’s


private railroad through the Maine woods

The “typical” tour takes roughly 1½

in a restored early 20th century streetcar.

Located at 195 Log Cabin Road in Ken-

hours to complete. Fifteen minutes are

After the ride, guests can spend 30 to 60

nebunkport, Maine, the Seashore Trolley

allotted to the “History in Motion, Connect-

minutes touring the exhibit barn, which

Museum offers streetcars from nearly every

ing Maine Communities” Exhibit Hall. Here,

showcases the Museum’s collection of

major U.S. city that has had a streetcar ser-

guests learn the history of the Seashore

restored trolleys. If time permits, guests can

vice, as well as vehicles from around the

Trolley Museum, the importance of its col-

visit the Restoration Shop and learn about

world. The Museum’s volunteer operating

lection, where the streetcars come from

the restoration projects in progress. The tour concludes with 15 minutes in the Museum Store, which sells collectibles, videos, books, postcards and souvenirs. The Seashore Trolley Museum opens the first Saturday in May and stays open through the last Sunday in October, and then re-opens for the first two weekends in December. Daily hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the first group tour of the day begins at 10:30 a.m., the last at 3 p.m. Group rates for the 2018 season are $9.50 per person, and advance reservations are

6 • Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018

Guide: Railroads required. Free admission is offered for one

on the time a group has available, the

guide and one driver per tour. A meal ser-

Museum can customize the tour experi-

vice can be provided with advance notice

ence. To schedule a group tour, e-mail

and enjoyed inside the Visitor Center or at or phone (207) 967-

outside seating areas located throughout

2800 ext. 111. For more information, visit

the surrounding grassy campus. Other


amenities include coffee and snacks, ample bus parking and plenty of restrooms. Based

Seashore Trolley Museum

Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018 • 7

Live Entertainment Theaters

Paramount Theatre


eon marquees, velvet curtains and

repair, the historic building was rescued in

mount’s shows are staged with elaborate

glowing footlights herald some-

the 1970s and restored to its original glory,

sets, gorgeous costumes and a 20-piece pro-

thing truly special is about to hap-

replete with eight silk hand-painted murals,

fessional orchestra. The high quality and pro-

pen. Anticipation hushes the crowd, and

fluted columns, gilt relief and hand-painted

fessionalism of the productions have cap-

then the players step forth. The audience

ceilings, along with many other elegant,

tured the attention of the influential Chicago

sits spellbound, transfixed by the glint of

carefully reproduced or restored appoint-

theatrical community. Since its inclusion

sequins or the pathos of a well-acted drama.

ments. It was added to the National Register

three years ago, the Paramount has domi-

When the performance ends, the sound of

of Historic Places in 1980.

nated the Jeff awards – Chicago’s equivalent

applause reverberates. If you would like to

Just 40 miles from downtown Chicago

of the Tony Awards – with dozens of nomi-

add the magical experience of live enter-

in Aurora, Illinois, the Paramount Theatre

nations and winning Best Large Musical three

tainment to your tour itineraries, consider

is the perfect place for bus tour groups to

years in a row.

these theatrical venues.

enjoy top-notch, Broadway-quality musical

The 2018/19 Broadway series kicks off in

theater away from the congestion and has-

September and features Legally Blond, The

Paramount Theatre

sles of the big city. This 1,888-seat art deco

Wizard of Oz, The Producers and a pre-Broad-

Aurora, Illinois

venue has transformed the musical theater

way premier of the new musical August Rush.

Originally tagged as the Venetian, the

entertainment scene in Chicago. Its four-

Located at 23 E. Galena Boulevard, along the

87-year-old Paramount was designed as a

show Broadway series, launched in 2010,

Fox River in the heart of downtown Aurora,

movie palace with a Venice theme by

has grown from 550 subscribers in that first

the Paramount is within walking distance of

Chicago theater architects Rapp & Rapp.

year to more than 30,000 for the upcoming

a wide selection of restaurants, offering up

Purchased by Paramount Studios and


everything from pizza and pub fare to ethnic

renamed prior to its 1931 opening, the lav-

Attracting high caliber talented artists

cuisine and fine dining options. Tour groups

ish venue also hosted vaudeville acts and

from first-rate Equity actors and directors to

can also indulge in a bit of gaming at Aurora’s

circus performances. After falling into dis-

creative designers and technicians, Para-

Hollywood Casino or enjoy award-winning

8 • Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018

craft beers, house roasted coffee and elevated pub fare at Two Brothers Roundhouse. The Paramount also offers matinee lunch packages at the Mayer Ballroom, which is directly across the street from the theater.

Dancing Horses Dinner Theatre

Special: Theaters

With advance notice, bus groups can arrange for tours of the historic theater for an extra fee. The Aurora area is home to a large number of other historic sites and structures that are on the National Register and available for tours, like Mies van der Rohe’s minimalist masterpiece, the Farnsworth House. Group discounts for Paramount’s Broadway series and non-Broadway shows are offered, and a variety of bus parking options for the theater are available; ask for details when reserving tickets. For more information, visit online at; for custom packages, phone Pete Garlock, director of sales, at (630) 256-3194 or e-mail

The Dancing Horses Dinner Theatre Delavan, Wisconsin Shows at the Dancing Horses Dinner Theatre are all about magic.

formances are those celebrating the holiday season, held from November to January.

The costumes, scenery and music set the tempo for an exhilarating

The Theatre’s Exotic Bird Show is rated among the top three shows

show that will entertain the entire family. This 90-minute, Vegas-

in the United States. The birds have appeared in commercials, been

style spectacular is a must-see for any animal lover and a break

on Animal Planet and performed on “America’s Got Talent.” Guests

from the ordinary that guests will want to enjoy again and again.

can hear Echo the parrot sing and watch him and his fellow exotics

Programs change regularly, and possibly the most elaborate per-

play, paint and ride bicycles.

Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018 • 9

Special: Theaters Dancing Horses offers groups with 20 or

Theatre is open year-round and provides free

intermission. A Behind The Scenes Tour (by

more people their choice of performance

parking and a step-on tour guide to groups.

donation) is available at 6:30 p.m. The Front

package. Each package includes a meal, the

For more information, visit thedancing-

Set Tour begins at 7 p.m. and is included

Dancing Horses show, and the Exotic Bird and To

with admission. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. The

Show, but price, menu items and added value

schedule a reservation, phone Joyce at (262)

Living Word does have theme nights every

activities vary with each package. There is


night of the season and special discounts are available throughout the summer. All

also the option of purchasing backstage passes ($5 per person), which admit guests

The Living Word Outdoor Drama

major credit cards are accepted, as are

to an up-close look at how the Theatre trains

Cambridge, Ohio

checks from tour bus operators or

The Living Word Outdoor Drama, pre-

Churches. Reservations for large groups

In addition to the Theatre, guests can

sented in a beautiful southeastern Ohio

should be made in advance, but tickets can

spend an entire day at the 40-acre Animal

amphitheatre, is preparing for its 44th season,

be purchased the day of the drama once the

Gardens Petting Zoo, open from May through

which begins Friday, June 15 and runs

box office opens at 6 p.m. All seats are gen-

October. Unlike a zoo, Animal Gardens pro-

through Saturday, September 29. The Living

eral admission, but there are 450 perma-

its horses.

vides an opportunity to connect with animals

Word Outdoor Drama was founded in 1974

nent stadium-style seats. The amphitheatre

in a variety of hands-on experiences, such

by Biblical Dramatist Frank Roughton Harvey.

is handicap accessible.

as wagon, train and pony rides. When groups

This nationally recognized drama brings to

Buses will be greeted at The Welcome

are hungry, they can eat the picnic lunch they

life the passion of Jesus Christ. The 450-foot

Center and visitors may be dropped off at the

brought or buy from on-site concession

panoramic set was researched and designed

front entrance. Parking is free and buses may

by the founder – making it an authentic rep-

park anywhere in the expansive lot. The Liv-

resentation of Old Jerusalem.

ing Word offers a group rate of $15 per person

stands. Located





Illinois/Wisconsin border, near the resort

The Living Word Outdoor Drama is

area of Lake Geneva, the Dancing Horses

approximately 2½ hours, with a 15-minute

10 • Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018

for 20 or more visitors. The driver and escort will be admitted free.

Special: Theaters The concession stand opens at 6:30 p.m. Wally’s pizza, chicken sandwiches, hamburgers, bratwursts, hot dogs, meatball sandwiches, Sloppy Joe’s, nachos, root beer and orange floats, ice cream, sodas, water, tea, lemonade and more are sold during show nights. The gift

more information, phone (740) 439-2761 or visit

Living Word Outdoor Drama

shop, which features t-shirts, hooded sweatshirts and more, opens at 6:30 p.m. The Living Word Outdoor Drama encourages you to come and be a part of its mission this summer. For

Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018 • 11


hether your target market is young or old, seeking high culture or high adventure, these destinations will make great additions to your student and senior tours.

Harmon Museum & Art Gallery Lebanon, Ohio Like music and chocolate, everyone likes art of some kind. Search the Internet for museums in any city or state and most likely you will get a list of art museums. Art is accessible. It does not require much study or facts or strong opinions. It can entertain or inspire, make us laugh or even make us cry. Since its founding in the spring of 1940, the Warren County Historical Society has been blessed with consistent donations of works of art. However, until recently, the art collection has taken a back seat to the historical and decorative arts collections. The Historical Society’s staff members are historians, and though they appreciated the art collection, their focus has been on the history of the community. Consequently, interest in the art collection was relegated mainly to the portraits of historic persons, but in 2015, two retired art teachers (and painters) and a college professor with a doctorate in Fine Arts teamed up with the Historical Society to inventory the art collection. They

“Apple Crisp” courtesy of Chris Brian

found the collection includes paintings, drawings and sculptures by such artists as Charles T. Weber, T.C. Lindsay, Marcus Mote, Eli Harvey, Vernon Jones, Alberta Kinsey and Henry Mosler. Once the new art curatorial staff presented their evaluation regarding the strength of the collection to the Historical Society’s Board of Trustees, a major shift in the mission of the Warren County Historical Society took place. The Warren County History Center changed its name to Harmon Museum & Art Gallery, two new art galleries replaced history exhibits and the new art curatorial staff solicited living artists for donations of their works so that the collection could continue to grow. The Harmon Museum is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4

Student & Senior Tours

p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Glendower Historic Mansion, also owned and operated by the Warren County Historical Society, is noted by architectural historians as one of the best examples of residential

in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, six miles from the grand

Greek Revival architecture in the country. Built in 1845, the Mansion

Mount Washington Hotel. In operation since 1869, The Cog has a

showcases furniture, paintings, textiles and decorative arts from the

long history of innovation and was designated as a National Historic

19th and early 20th centuries. Glendower is open for guided tours from

Engineering Landmark in 1976.

June through August and weekends in December. Groups of 20 or more

Privately owned for the last 30 years, the Cog has remained a key

may tour the house with advance reservations. The Harmon Museum

icon of New Hampshire’s heritage and has maintained its historic

is handicap accessible; however, the Glendower Historic Mansion is

roots by allowing passengers to take the three-hour round trip ride

not. For group reservations, contact Vicky at

in a historically inspired coach powered by a 1908 vintage coal-fired

For more information, phone (513) 932-1817 or visit

steam locomotive. For visitors interested in learning more about the Cog’s technological advances, trips with modern and eco-friendly

Mount Washington Cog Railway Marshfield Station, New Hampshire

biodiesel engines, built on-site, are available. No matter what motive power a passenger chooses, one cannot help

The Mount Washington Cog Railway is the first mountain-climbing

experience a sense of adventure and history as the train begins its spec-

cog railway in the world, and the only cog railway east of the Rocky

tacular climb up a three-mile-long raised track to the 6,288-foot summit

Mountains. The Cog is in Bretton Woods village, a popular destination

of Mount Washington. Along the way, lively commentary is given from

12 • Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018

Special: Student & Senior Tours Mt. Washington Cog Railway

Observatory Deck, visitors take in the spectacular


view, which spans the peaks above the clouds and the mountains and valleys of New Hampshire all the way from the Atlantic Ocean to Canada. Before or after their trip up the rails, guests can the brakemen about the many points of visual

take in the authentic railway station atmos-

interest, the incredible history of the railway

phere at Marshfield Base Station. Many choose

and the various climate zones passengers will

to enjoy lunch while watching the train oper-

travel through on their journey to the top of the

ations from indoors or out. The new Cog Rail-

highest peak in the northeastern United States.

way Museum, located in the upper level, tells

As the train reaches the summit, the Sher-

visitors the fascinating story of how the historic

man Adams Visitors Center comes into view.

railway came to be and offers media presen-

This hearty mountaintop facility houses a win-

tations and interactive exhibits. Visitors can

ter weather exhibit, cafeteria, gift shop and

also peruse the gift shop full of local and custom

restrooms. There is an hour to visit the 1853

items to find that perfect Cog gift or souvenir.

Tip Top House, the original hiker’s hotel, enjoy

The Mount Washington Cog Railway expe-

a snack and explore the rocky summit. On the

rience is a must-do New England adventure.

Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018 • 13

Special: Student & Senior Tours Open May through November, The Cog Railway is located at 3168 Base

sylvania. Located off Interstate 81 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike,

Road, Marshfield Station, New Hampshire, just six miles from historic

it is just minutes away from Camp Hill, Harrisburg, Hershey, York,

Bretton Woods and three hours North of Boston (six hours north of New

Gettysburg and Lancaster. Specializing in parties, track rentals

York City). For deals and rates, information and train schedules, phone

and group outings of any size, the Place to Play offers multiple

(603) 278-5404 or visit

meeting spaces and activities for all ages, as well as the ability to host bus groups and tour groups. Enjoy pizza, wings, boardwalk

Carlisle Sports Emporium Carlisle, Pennsylvania Carlisle Sports Emporium is central Pennsylvania’s year-round,

fries, chicken tenders, etc. on site, or contact group sales for further catering options. General admission and parking are free. Fees for individual activities vary, but value packages are available;

indoor and outdoor interactive entertainment complex. Known as “The

prices and offerings vary with package. For more information,

Place to Play,” it is the perfect destination for all ages and every occasion.

phone (717) 258-4741 or visit

The Carlisle Sports Emporium shopping mall of interactive fun includes indoor and outdoor go-kart tracks, two 18-hole castle- and western-themed miniature golf courses, a 7,500-square-foot, two-story LASERTRON laser tag arena, batting cages with adjustable heights and speeds, a roller skating rink and the largest arcade in the area. With 20,000 square feet dedicated to the arcade, pieces include an indoor rock climbing wall, Lazer Frenzy Spy Maze, carnival games, video play games, card pushers and much more. The Carlisle Sports Emporium is easily accessible from all the major highways of south central Penn-

14 • Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018

Carlisle Sports Emporium

Learning is not just for students Jim Dykes shares his insights for giving informative, entertaining tours

s a New York City licensed tour


Along with current information, Dykes

guide who has been giving groups

will always try to include a bit of history. For

step-on and walking tours for more

instance, when he is touring people in the

than 25 years, Jim Dykes’s tour information

Flatiron District, he will mention the famous

is constantly changing, depending on the

skyscraper itself and also the fact that

headlines of the day and the most interesting

Chelsea Clinton and Jennifer Lopez both have

information he has recently discovered.

spacious condos across the street. “People

Sometimes he will overhear a younger guide

are always fascinated with celebrities,

giving their tour information and think to

whether living or deceased, and New York

himself, “I used to tell my groups that tidbit

City is jam-packed with celebrity sites and

of info years ago – until I discovered more

residences,” Dykes explains. “Of course, this

interesting information.” This happens con-

information is constantly changing as celebri-

stantly, and Dykes believes a really informed

ties like to buy and sell and move around.”

guide must stay up with the times, constantly

Dykes has observed almost every dreary

reading books, Web sites and the daily news-

commercial double-decker bus tour goes by

papers. As a really good guide, he says, “You

the 1040 Fifth Avenue residence of Jackie

must be a good tourist, and I love to travel.”

Kennedy Onassis, but most do not elaborate

He was in London recently for a friend’s

on the fact that she lived (and died) in a 15-

wedding and took several tours. One tour on

room penthouse on the 15th floor (Apt. 15A).

have had scenes in Sex and the City and the

the history of downtown London sounded

An interesting tidbit Dykes notes: she paid

super hero movie The Avengers, which shot

intriguing, but Dykes found the guide to be

$286,000 in 1964. When Caroline sold it one

inside Grand Central.” The late comedienne

deadly dull. His final verdict on the guide: “This

year after her mother’s death in 1994, she

Joan Rivers had Dykes as a guest on her local

guide had probably been giving this tour for

received $9.7 million. It has since been

New York show several times, and she nick-

decades, and the tour information was staid

bought and sold several times for more than

named him The Celebrity Tour Guide of New

and dry as dust, and the guide did not make

$30 million. Dykes loves to show people the

York City because he was able to mix New

any efforts to make his delivery more colorful.”

fancy apartment building where Jackie was

York architecture and history with personal

Another tour he took, a walking tour of

raised, 740 Park Avenue, which is just a few


the Bloomsbury neighborhood, was lively

short blocks from Caroline Kennedy’s resi-

“I have been on tours where guides fill up

and charming and bristling with fun historical

dence. Dykes recommends a fascinating

the tour with personal information, which is

tidbits. The guide referred to various books

book about the elegant building written by

boring and not good,” Dykes warns. “Per-

and articles she had read (which Dykes does

Michael Gross.

sonal information from a guide should be

also) and invited the group to make notes and look up this reading material. Dykes says, “My tours of New York have

Dykes is also an actor and has worked in

carefully sprinkled into the tour dialogue only

small parts in TV commercials, TV shows

when it is appropriate, and you must be able

and movies shot all around New York City,

to take your cue from the group’s interest

changed over the years; now I include various

so he is able to mention various sites on his

level. In short, Dykes thinks it is important

tidbits such as the residences of Harry Hou-

tours when it is appropriate and when it gives

that a guide remembers his main job: to give

dini and Alexander Hamilton (Both houses

his tours a more personal touch. For example,

a tour, keep information current and relevant,

are on my Harlem tour.). I have also

he says, “I had a small role in a Meryl Streep

and keep the tour moving along.

expanded my tour information on the various

movie shot in the Guggenheim Museum on

Jim Dykes is on Trip Advisor, Facebook

real estate properties of the Trump family.

Fifth Avenue. When I worked on Boardwalk

and Twitter. For more information, visit

Since he has become the 45th president, he

Empire, we shot scenes in the Brooklyn Navy If you would like to retain

has gone from just a slight mention on my

Yards, and on Law & Order SVU, we shot

Jim Dykes services, contact him at (212)

tour to a person of interest.”

downtown in one of the NYC courthouses. I

928-1640 or

Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018 • 15

Mohegan Sun

such as Swarovski, Tommy Bahama, Sephora, Godiva Chocolatier and Robert Graham, as well as exclusive Mohegan Sun boutiques. Mohegan Sun dining options are certain to satisfy a busload of hungry passengers. Its restaurants offer up everything from familiar favorites like Jersey Mike’s and Chik-Fil-A, popular ethnic choices and pub fare to fine dining, a buffet and snacks. Celebrity-owned choices include Michael Jordan’s Steak House, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville and Tom’s Urban. Tour groups will find plenty of nightlife at Mohegan Sun. They can feel like high rollers at VISTA Lounge at Wombi Rock, featuring a state-of-the-art sound system, an intimate dance floor and blackjack tables. They can keep up with their favorite teams at two sports bars or hang out at the upscale Comix Comedy Club and Craft Beer Bar, offering stand-up comedy and offbeat shows. The Wolf Den, inside Casino of the Earth, has full beverage service, intimate seating and free performances by entertainers such as MC Hammer, America and Blue Öyster Cult. Bringing your motorcoach group or charter to Mohegan Sun is worry-free, with single day and overnight trips for groups of all sizes. Located less than three hours from New York City and Boston, and within an hour’s drive of Hartford and Providence, it offers easy access from all points. Mohegan Sun caters to bus groups, with special incentives and an enclosed bus entrance. Upon arrival, your group will be greeted by a representative who will explain all of the resort’s offerings and distribute key packets, coupons and other comps. Incentives for groups with a five-hour stay include food vouchers for Seasons Buffet and gaming


vouchers for select games. Group leaders are also provided with special incentives, including vouchers and Momentum Dollars. Packages for shorter stays can also be arranged with a representative. Drivers park at the free, 24-hour on-site parking facility, relax in the lounge located next to the bus lobby and grab a bite using their


he only high greater than winning is the one that comes from

free supplied food voucher. Overnight groups consist of 10 or more

winning at a game of chance. However, even when one loses,

rooms available Sunday through Thursday year-round and can be

they can win at these casinos, which also offer shopping,

reserved with a deposit two months prior to arrival. Rooms are booked

dining, entertainment, adventure and wellness.

in advance to assure availability and a contract is generated. Groups that reserve 20 or more rooms will receive one complimentary double

Mohegan Sun Uncasville, Connecticut

room, and Mohegan Sun offers valuable rewards to group leaders with 35 or more passengers.

Mohegan Sun makes a perfect stop for motorcoach groups trav-

Mohegan Sun’s overnight group lobby area is located next to the

eling in or near the Constitution State, whether for a few hours, an

hotel’s elevators and main lobby. The property is ADA compliant and

entire day or overnight. Tour passengers can indulge in every expe-

fully accessible to tour passengers with disabilities, with elevators

rience and feel full of life at three world-class casinos (Earth, Sky and

and handicap-accessible restrooms located throughout the property.

Wind), with more than 350 table games and 5,000 slots; a 10,000-

Wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and elec-

seat Arena; 1,600 deluxe hotel rooms and two spectacular hotel tow-

tric scooters are offered for rent (reservations recommended).

ers; 80 shops and restaurants; 26 bars and clubs; 18 holes of golf and two luxury spas. Shopping options for bus passengers range from jewelry and clothing to cosmetics, accessories and specialty items, and feature top brand-name retailers 16 • Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018

For more information on day or overnight charters, visit or contact Stephen Olender at (860) 862-8988 or For all other inquiries, phone Mohegan Sun Bus Marketing toll free at (888) 770-0140.

CHARTER NEW POSSIBILITIES Sign up your group for a bus charter today

BONUS $30 CASINO INCENTIVE PACKAGE* Monday – Friday Package consists of: One $15 Meal/Retail Credit and One $15 Free Bet Coupon Meal/Retail credit can be used in any restaurant, a full buffet or shop at Mohegan Sun.

BONUS $25 CASINO INCENTIVE PACKAGE* Saturday – Sunday Package consists of: One $15 Meal/Retail Credit and One $10 Free Bet Coupon Meal/Retail credit can be used in any restaurant, a full buffet or shop at Mohegan Sun.

Group Leaders receive an additional $30 PACKAGE Contact Stephen Olender at 860.862.8988 or or visit to get your next outing on the road today. *In order to receive package, bus group must stay for a minimum of 5 hours. Packages and offer subject to change without notice.

Guide: Gaming Inn of the Mountain Gods

upon request, and checking in and out is a fast and easy process,

Resort & Casino

handled by one of the booking professionals at the hotel front desk.

Mescalero, New Mexico Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino is conveniently located

Group incentives vary and may be available at the time of booking. For more information about Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino,

in the mountains just above Ruidoso, in unforgettable Mescalero,


New Mexico. Overlooking the Mescalero Apache Tribe’s sacred Sierra









Blanca and offering cooler temperatures than the desert below, Inn of the Mountain Gods is truly a Southwestern oasis in the sky.

Presque Isle Downs & Casino Erie, Pennsylvania

There is an abundance of seasonal recreational options, including an indoor pool and workout facility, horseback riding, hiking, paddle

Your group will have a fantastic time at Eldorado’s Presque Isle

boating and kayaking. Soar through the air on the Apache Eagle

Downs and Casino — you can bet on it. Guests can try their hand at

ZipRider at Inn of the Mountain Gods and the Apache Wind Rider Zip-

table games like craps, blackjack, roulette, Let It Ride, Pai Gow Poker,

Tour at Ski Apache, both offering an exhilarating experience with

Spanish 21 and Texas Hold ’Em. Your group will also find penny slots

breathtaking views. Winter months bring snow to the surrounding

to $100 games and everything in between, including the latest pro-

Sierra Blanca, inviting guests to enjoy a day of skiing and snowboard-

gressives for winning action. The excitement of live thoroughbred

ing at Ski Apache, conveniently located less than an hour away from

racing can be found every May through September, and simulcast

the resort.

racing from tracks across the country is offered year-round.

Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino

Your tour group can also partake of amazing dining experiences at Presque Isle Downs. The Backstretch Buffet is more than just a buffet – it is an experience, featuring made-from-scratch comfort foods that will leave mouths watering for more. Fun is what is on tap at The Brew Brothers, a newly renovated restaurant located on the second floor overlooking the mile-long oval track. Enjoy great food, the happiest Happy Hours and the best in weekend entertainment. If guests are looking for an intimate setting with culinary creativity at its best, then LBV Steak & Pasta is second to none, offering a sumptuous menu of steaks, Italian cuisine and seafood. Presque Isle Downs & Casino, located at 8199 Perry Highway, just off Interstate 90 at Exit 27, welcomes all groups, small and large. A day or night at Erie’s premier casino is the perfect way for your tour group to have a fun-filled entertainment experience. Presque Isle

Well equipped to handle any group, Inn of the Mountain Gods pre-

Downs offers a variety of competitive packages, and groups can enjoy

sents award-winning accommodations with 273 luxurious guest

free parking and admission. Group leader incentives are also available.

rooms and suites, where breathtaking views come standard. Inn of

To arrange for your group’s visit, phone the Group Travel Team at

the Mountain Gods offers a variety of dining establishments including

(814) 866-8775.

the eclectic Gathering of Nations Buffet; casual Big Game Sports Bar; Apache Tee, where guests overlook the golf course; and the sumptuous Wendell’s Steak & Seafood Restaurant, offering an extensive menu with exquisite dining options. In addition to award-winning accommodations and dining, Inn of the Mountain Gods offers a full calendar of entertainment ranging from comedy shows at the Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club to concerts from the likes of Chase Rice, Foreigner and Aloe Blacc. All bus groups are greeted by a casino representative upon arrival. Overnight buses can drop off and pick up at the hotel porte-cochere, and daytrip buses can drop off and pick up at the designated bus entrance located close to the Player’s Club. Buses park for free at the resort’s designated bus parking area. Free bell service is provided 18 • Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018

Presque Isle Downs & Casino

knowledgeable guide show them around. As such, it has been a constant goal and challenge to many bus and bus tour operators. Many bus operators, tour planners and bus tour passengers have discovered that it requires special and considerable knowledge to put together an Alaska tour beyond the ordinary. Those who know Alaska will tell you that most tours will only cover the major highlights. There are people who say that 80 percent of Alaskan tours only cover 30 percent of the state. Many of the best places to go are not included on popular tours but are in smaller towns and in out-of-the-way locations. Moreover, some of the most interesting scenery is best viewed from a boat or train and not a bus. Hence, if you really want to see Alaska, you need to work with an expert who specializes in Alaskan tours. This is why John Hall’s Alaska has become popular in providing customized Alaska tours for bus companies and tour planners or in selling seats on their own tours to smaller groups. What makes John Hall’s Alaska the go-to people for Alaska tours includes a unique combination of experience with Alaska, hospitality,

Keystone Canyon

John Hall’s Alaska by Larry Plachno

buses and tours. The Alaska experience of John Hall Sr. started way back in 1955, when he accompanied his father driving up the Alaska Highway to deliver fresh eggs to the Piggly Wiggly in Fairbanks. John says that this trip sparked his interest in Alaska and its rushing waterfalls, moose and bear and other unique attractions. Some of John’s background included the hospitality industry. Three prior generations on his mother’s side ran hotels in Wisconsin and Minnesota. In 1976, he continued this heritage by purchasing the old family hotel, The


laska” is the Russian version of the Aleut word “Alak-

shak,” meaning great lands or peninsula. In 1867, U.S.

Anderson House, in Wabasha, Minnesota. The move into the bus business came in 1983, when John purchased

Secretary of State William Seward made arrangements

a bus to take guests of The Anderson House on local trips, including

to purchase Alaska from Russia, adding 586,412 square miles to the

sporting events. Initially, these included home games of the Minnesota

United States. At the time, the area was primarily known for fur hunting

Vikings and the Minnesota Twins. As time went on and Anderson House

and trapping and had only a few smaller communities other than its

Tours became better known, the trips went to other destinations within

native population. Russian leaders sold it to the U.S. because they feared

Minnesota. Then, as the motorcoach fleet expanded, trips were offered

that in the event of a war, particularly with England, their military would

to all 50 states as well as most Canadian provinces. They included

be unable to defend this massive but somewhat remote area.

warm-weather destinations as well as Alaska tours.

Although the U.S. Congress approved the purchase, some critics

In 2001, John Hall Sr. sold The Anderson House but continued to

referred to it as “Seward’s Folly.” As time went on, it became increas-

run Anderson House Tours. It soon became obvious that the company

ingly obvious that Alaska had several major merits, including its value

was having particular success with Alaska tours. The obvious reason

in defense, its impressive natural resources and its scenic beauty.

is that there was a shortage of good tours to Alaska because no com-

Alaska became the 49th state in 1959. It is also the largest of the

pany concentrated on Alaska or put in a special effort there. Hence,

states, with a size approximately two and half times that of Texas.

that became their company goal and the reason for the name change

Alaska has become one of the most-requested escorted tour des-

to John Hall’s Alaska. The operation soon became a real family busi-

tinations since it appeals to people for several reasons, including its

ness, as the three Hall children decided to join the company. All had

beauty, wildlife, remote location and uniqueness. It boasts eight

been raised at The Anderson House and hence were familiar with

national parks, including the four largest in the U.S.: Wrangell-St.

the hospitality industry and in running tours. They all shared a love

Elias, Gates of the Arctic, Denali and Katmai.

for Alaska and its unique features.

While travelers become interested in its unique sights and expe-

The eldest son, John Hall Jr., is now the company vice president of

riences, the fact that it is so different causes them to prefer to have a

marketing. He is a specialist in Alaska and runs company operations in Anchorage. Joseph Hall is now the operations manager and in charge Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018 • 19

John Hall’s Alaska of the motorcoach fleet. The only daughter,

pany or have them

Elizabeth Hall, got involved with the company’s

develop one specifi-

tour office when she was in the ninth grade.

cally for your group.

Today she is responsible for the entire Alaska


operation including all tour programming.

include boats and



What makes John Hall’s Alaska different is

trains as well as buses,

that it is one of very few tour operators that

to make sure that

have become experts by concentrating on one

groups get to see all

particular area. The company has staff in

kinds of things and

Alaska as well as at the home base in Min-

places. The options

nesota, and its leaders are constantly working

are virtually endless,

on planning and improving their Alaska tours.

but here are some of

In addition to buses, their tours can include

the more obvious

boat trips to see things you cannot see from

attractions that John

a bus. They even include some flying on cer-

Hall’s Alaska offers in its tours.

Alaska can boast of having eight different

tain tours. The result is that the tours provided

Scenery is one of the top choices of visitors.

national parks, and each has a slightly dif-

by John Hall’s Alaska include a lot of things

Alaska is the home of several glaciers, many

ferent personality. Denali National Park is

not normally found on most Alaska tours,

of which are best seen from coastal cruises.

the largest national park in the United States

including smaller communities and out-of-

The Columbia Glacier is known particularly

and offers great scenery and wildlife.

the-way places. John Hall’s Alaska tour man-

for its blue icebergs. At 20,310 feet, Denali is

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is located

ager is a resident of Alaska, and its guides are

the highest peak in North America. You can

near former mining cities. At Kenai Fjords

people familiar with Alaska and who know

go to Kodiak Island and see the Katmai volca-

National Park, you can see glaciers and

the area. You get to see more of Alaska, and

noes and glaciers. You can even cross the Arc-

marine wildlife from a boat cruise, or con-

not just what the regular tourists see.

tic Circle and visit the shore of the Arctic Ocean.

sider going bear viewing at Brooks Falls in

John Hall’s Alaska provides its own higher

Travelers are also impressed with the Northern

Katmai National Park. Those looking for

quality coaches for its tours. None has 50

Lights, officially the Aurora Borealis, which are

something really unique can go north to cross

seats, because the company likes to limit

seen at certain times of the year.

the Arctic Circle to the Gates of the Arctic

groups to about 42 passengers to make sure

If your group is interested in wildlife, there

they are not crowded. The coaches have a

are numerous opportunities. Whale and other

You can visit numerous cities, each with its

National Park.

galley and even custom upholstery, and their

ocean inhabitants are seen along the coast.

own attractions. Larger ones you might know

drivers are Alaska experts who know the

The grizzly bears at Kantishna are well-

include Anchorage, Fairbanks, Ketchikan,

sights along the way.

known. Different types of bears and other

Juneau, Skagway and Seward. When you get

The prime time for Alaska tours runs from

wildlife can be seen with their young in the

tired of riding buses, you can jump on a boat.

mid-May to late September. June and July offer

early summer. The national parks are good

Coastal cruises, some with fairly large ships,

longer summer days, blooming flowers and

places to view all kinds of animals.

will show you the delights of Alaska’s shore.

an opportunity to see wildlife and the newly born young. Temperatures are usually in the 60s and 70s, with occasional periods in the 80s and occasionally in the 90s. Temperatures are a little cooler in August and September. However, these months provide a chance to see the Northern Lights, the beautiful fall colors and more animal activity. The staff at John Hall’s Alaska works with bus companies, bus tour planners and operators as well as large groups that want a unique and impressive Alaska tour. You can use an existing itinerary offered by the com20 • Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018

There are riverboat cruises in some places and

John Hall’s Alaska even a jet boat tour in Talkeetna. When you get tired of the boats, hop aboard the Alaska Railroad that runs north and south to connect major cities including Anchorage and Fairbanks, or take a scenic ride on the White Pass & Yukon Railroad out of Skagway. Still looking for more? John Hall’s Alaska still has a couple of aces up its sleeve. Consider panning for gold in the Alaska Gold Rush area, or play with the puppies at the Wolf’s Den Kennels Iditarod. Experience or watch the Iditarod snow sled race itself. Visit native villages or even an Eskimo village with John Hall’s Alaska to see the real Alaska that the other tours miss. See the “tallest totem” at Kake. For those who take pleasure in good food, Alaska is hard to beat. The salmon and king crab at Orca Point Lodge is unforgettable, and other impressive foods will be found on every tour. When your groups ask for an Alaska trip, phone John Hall’s Alaska and let them use their Alaska expertise to plan a trip for you.

Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018 • 21

Escape to the Southeast IP Casino Resort Spa Biloxi, Mississippi Winner of the elite AAA Four Diamond Award, IP Casino Resort Spa is the Mississippi Gulf Coast's premier entertainment resort destination. Towering 32 stories over the scenic Back Bay of Biloxi, IP features more than 1,000 elegantly appointed hotel rooms and suites with full amenities, a vast array of live entertainment options, great restaurants and a firstclass spa to indulge your senses. Please your palate at one of two AAA Four Diamond award-winning fine dining restaurants, Thirty-Two and Tien, or grab quick bites at any of the four casual dining outlets. For the Coast’s best buffet experience, be sure to stop by the Back Bay Buffet, featuring seven delicious international serving stations. Come see why IP is the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s live entertainment destination without rival. IP’s entertainment line-up ranges from world-renowned performers in Studio A, to a line-up of first-class local entertainment nightly in Chill Lounge. Enjoy an unforgettable gaming experience in IP’s 70,000-square-foot casino. Open 24 hours, with more than 1,500 slots, 55 table

IP Casino Resort

games and a 10-table non-smoking poker room, you are sure to find your game. Be sure

Mississippi Coast Model Railroad

to get in on the action – you just may be the

Club and Museum Gulfport, Mississippi

next big winner.

The mission of the Mississippi Coast Model Railroad Museum is to bring the spirit of the American railroad back to life. Conveniently

Senses Spa and Salon takes you on a jour-

This enchanting Model Railroad Museum

located on the Gulf Coast, 11⁄2 hours from New

ney far beyond your expectations, so each visit

offers groups 200 years of railroad history.

Orleans or Mobile, it is an easy add-on for

is a serene departure from "the everyday rou-

Club members have a passion for model rail-

groups visiting the South. Free bus parking is

tine." Whether you are seeking a sense of

roads and love to share what they know and

available on-site. The Museum’s group tour

calm, celebrating and connecting with friends,

how they make displays. The museum

specialists are accustomed to working closely

or trying to find your center because life is

exhibits examples of T through G scale model

with group tour organizers from throughout

about to change, Senses Spa and Salon will

trains, the largest LEGO Railroad display in

the United States and are ready to schedule a

help you. Treatments are inspired by nature

Mississippi, outdoor gardens with displays

group tour and discuss menu options and pric-

and are brought to you in a simple, elegant

themed after Jurassic Park and Futurama,

ing. For more information, phone (228) 284-

surrounding. From the Senses Signature Treat-

and four different riding trains that are safe

5731 or visit

ments to its natural and effective skin care

for all ages to ride. Historic pictures are hung

services, everything the spa does is for your

throughout the three museum buildings,

INFINITY Science Center

well-being. For information about how IP can

along with showcases of trains through the

Pearlington, Mississippi

accommodate your group tour, visit

years. 22 • Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018

Located along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, off Interstate 10 and just minutes from


Where we have everything to accommodate a bus or group tour. We are fun and affordable with an amazing mix of year round attractions for all ages. Charter a boat, paddle to the islands, eat fresh Gulf seafood, explore our world class casinos or visit one of our many attractions and museums.  The MS Gulf Coast is your source for everything your group desires. So come see us and enjoy the numerous activities and attractions along the MS Gulf Coast.

Be sure to ask for group pricing and discounts.

Escape to the Southeast NASA’s Stennis Space Center, INFINITY Science Center is a non-profit science museum that encompasses a mix of exhibits and experiential

INFINITY is “Where


programming that seeks to inspire minds and spark imaginations.

Meets Fascinat-

Guests can explore Earth and space through artifacts, tours, memo-


rable experiences, educational programs and citizen science oppor-

also offers an

tunities. It also serves as the official visitor center for nearby NASA

on-site café and

Stennis Space Center.

gift shop. Groups

INFINITY Science Center

of 20 or more receive reduced admission, and bus parking is free. Guests of INFINITY can sign-up for an exclusive tour of nearby Stennis Space Center, which is usually closed to nonpersonnel; ID is required. For more information, phone (228) 5339025 or visit

Mississippi Coast Model Railroad Museum

Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ‘70s at The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum Nashville, Tennessee

INFINITY boasts 35,000 square feet of indoor gallery space enjoyed

In both Texas and Tennessee, the country music of the 1970s was

by more than 75,000 guests each year. From islands of animal-eating

a creative flowering, a confluence of art and revelry, whiskey and poetry,

algae to people-chasing plants, INFINITY’s Carnivorous Plants Con-

so it is no surprise that the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s

servatory will teach guests about the more than 200 species of plants

latest exhibition, Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ‘70s, opening

that give dining a whole new shape. The Hurricane Prediction Lab

May 25, 2018, is highly anticipated. The exhibit reflects the decade’s

unleashes guests’ inner meteorologist by teaching the fundamentals

creative evolution and celebrates what came to be known as the Outlaw

for accurately predicting a storm’s path and its impact.

phenomenon. In assembling the story, the museum has uncovered

For an out of this world experience, step into the newly

hidden histories, unseen artifacts and hipster art that gave way to

redesigned XSPHEREience Theater and enjoy live presentations

cultural provocation. The exhibit also features newly created artwork

ranging from electricity and animal adaptation to walking in space

from those Austin-based underground poster artists who were there

and the history and future exploration of Mars. Upstairs, the Space

– Jim Franklin, Kerry Awn, Guy Juke, Danny Garrett and Sam Yeates.

Gallery boasts more than 50 years of NASA history, featuring astro-

“I wanna go home with the Armadillo,” sang Gary P. Nunn, in

naut suits, a moon rock, a life-sized replica of the International

his now-classic “London Homesick Blues.” Nunn was speaking of

Space Station’s Destiny Module and the command module from

Texas, where the homely possum-on-a-half-shell became a signifier

the Apollo 4 mission. Outdoors, guests can embark on a guided tram tour along the Pos-

of an unrestrained scene that bridged rednecks and hippies, oldschool traditions and psychedelic tendencies. “Armadillos and hip-

sum Walk Trail, which is a 45-minute, seven-mile excursion that edu-

pies are somewhat alike, ‘cause they’re maligned and picked on,”

cates visitors on the history of the area, as well as its ecological diver-

said Eddie Wilson, who ran the beer-soaked Austin venue he named

sity. INFINITY’s Biome Boardwalk winds through upland forests and

in honor of the armadillo. “Armadillos like to sleep all day and roam

Bayhead swamps, and two observation decks feature gardens that

at night. They share their homes with others. People think they are

host Monarchs and other butterflies, which stop on their bi-annual

smelly and ugly, and they keep their noses in the grass. They are

migration to and from Central Mexico.

paranoid. But they have one characteristic that nobody can knock:

INFINITY continues to grow, and recent additions include a suite

They survive.”

of exhibits that teach visitors about orbits, the electromagnetic spec-

The movement was real, not just a marketing term, and the phe-

trum, weather prediction and the health of the environment. In Spring

nomenon greatly expanded country music’s audience in the 1970s.

2018, a 7,000-square-foot addition will include a 90-seat 3D immersive

Scenes were bolstered by wild-eyed tastemakers, artists and seekers

theater and additional classrooms. Other upcoming exhibits include

who gathered at off-center locales like Nashville’s Hillbilly Central

a Deep Ocean Lab, an interactive exhibit designed to simulate explo-

and Austin’s Armadillo World Headquarters. Key characters included

ration of the ocean’s layers and an exhibit centered on watersheds

honky-tonk bard Billy Joe Shaver, “Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy”

and the effects of flood inundation in a given area.

David Allan Coe, Kinky Friedman, Cowboy Jack Clement, the hard-

24 • Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018

Escape to the Southeast lars instead of flat on the ground, which allows flood waters to flow through the ground level. With wide porches all around, high ceilings and big windows, the cottage was designed to welcome cooling breezes from the gulf in the days before air conditioning. The Brown family owned Beauvoir for about 25 years. In 1873 Sarah Ellis and her husband Samuel Dorsey moved to Biloxi, Mississippi and into the pleasant seaside house they renamed Beauvoir, French for “beautiful view,” which has remained the estate’s name.

Country Music Hall of Fame’s “Outlaw” Willie Nelson

Jefferson Davis, former president of the Con-


federate States of America, and Mrs. Dorsey

there is also a choice of a Box Lunch tour for

negotiated a selling price of $5,500 for Beau-

$20 per person, a Sweet Tooth tour for $15

voir, but when Mrs. Dorsey died in 1879, she

per person or a Beignets and Coffee tour for

charging Waylon Jennings and a braided Bud-

left all her holdings, including Beauvoir, to

$12 per person. Bus drivers and tour escorts

dha Willie Nelson presided over a glorious

Davis in her will.

are comped. Drivers may drop guests off at

culture-collision that produced some of country music’s greatest recordings.

After Davis died in 1889, his widow,

the main building before parking for free in

Varina, and daughter, Winnie, found it diffi-

the East Field. Deposits are only required for

Outlaws and Armadillos closely examines

cult to maintain the property as their

food tours and must be made 14 days before

the 1970s cultures of corporate-leaning

resources had dwindled. The women moved

the tour. For more information, phone (228)

Nashville and fiercely independent Austin,

to New York City for Varina’s health, and in

388-4400 or visit

and the complicated, surprising relationship

late 1894 Davis suggested she would be will-

between the two. Guests can learn how pace-

ing to sell the home, launching the idea of

setters like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings,

turning Beauvoir into Mississippi’s home for

Bobby Bare and Kris Kristofferson demanded

aging Confederate veterans and their wives

and got greater creative freedom.

and widows. Beauvoir was opened as a Con-

Located at 222 5th Avenue South in the

federate Veterans Home in 1903, and for 54

heart of downtown Nashville, the Country

years more than 1,800 impoverished Con-

Music Hall of Fame and Museum is open daily,

federate veterans, wives and widows called

from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving,

Beauvoir home. A large cemetery behind the

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) and offers

house provides a final resting place for

discounted rates, breakfast and lunch options,

roughly 780 veterans and their wives, along

and special packages for groups. To learn

with the Tomb of the Unknown Confederate

more, phone (615) 416-2001 or visit Country-

and the grave of Jefferson Davis’s father, who

was a soldier in the American Revolution. A tour of Beauvoir also includes the Jef-


ferson Davis Presidential Library, Beauvoir

Biloxi, Mississippi

Museum, Beauvoir Memorial Cemetery, Oys-

The main house at Beauvoir was con-

ter Bayou, Mrs. Varina's Garden and other

structed from 1848 until 1852 and originally

structures built on the 52-acre estate. Large

named “Orange Grove” by its first occupant,

groups, more than 50 people, are divided and

James Brown, a prosperous planter from

rotated between on-site locations. The full

Madison County, Mississippi, who wanted a

tour takes roughly 21⁄2 hours. Groups of 10 or

summer home for his family. Brown wisely

more receive two free admissions and a dis-

planned his house on the beach to be a raised

counted admission rate of $10 per person. A

cottage, placing its foundation on massive pil-

catered lunch or dinner can be arranged, but

26 • Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018

Social Marketing for Tourism by catherine Heeg How to Use Live Video to Market Your Next Group How many times have you stepped into a beautiful scene on your travels that you just know your clients would love? It is those places that we want our clients to know about, but sometimes words fail us. And pictures? They are great, but video is so much richer in quality. Do not be intimidated by the thought that video is difficult. New tools and methods make it so easy for you to engage visually online. Live Streaming Video As fast as video is evolving, live-streaming video is leading the game. The popularity of Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram Live and SnapChat is shaking up the travel industry. Opportunities in this realm are limitless. Grab your phone and jump on board. With live streaming video your audience has the opportunity to chime in with questions and comments while adding to the discussion. Imagine the possibilities for live-streaming; Short link – • Interview visitors at your destination, event or resort. • Travel pros can interview suppliers, resort executives and destination experts. • At a conference or trade show capture the latest info. • Broadcast live from festivals and events. • Live stream from a site inspection; invite your pied pipers to join in and ask questions. • Snapshot of a “day on the road” • Provide destination overviews and showcase top sites. • Showcase your new office, motorcoach, activity, ship, destination, etc. • Interview an industry leader. • Share industry news and updates. • Provide a behind the scenes view of a ship, resort, hotel or restaurant. • Tips and tools here: Short link – • More content ideas here: Short link: –

Marketing your Videos Capitalize on your captivating videos by incorporating them into as many facets of your marketing strategy as humanly possible. This way you will get more bang for your buck (in terms of creation time), and more of your fans will benefit from your knowledge. All this means more business for you. Here is how you can use your new videos after you have saved them to your camera roll: • Embed your video into a blog post. • Post your videos socially. • Do not forget to post videos to Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. • Add video to your Web site. • Embed video into your e-newsletters. • Include video in your e-mails. • Video in an e-mail leads to 200-300 percent increase in click-thru rate. • Incorporate video into your advertising strategy. • Develop video landing pages. • Update your video libraries on You-Tube, Vimeo, and Facebook. • Embed video into your next PowerPoint presentation. • More video marketing tips here: Short link –

Diversifying your marketing strategy with video is the secret sauce in travel marketing. 51.9 percent of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with – link Short ROI: best the Are you generating the best ROI possible? ❑ Be a part of this 51 percent.

Catherine Heeg, international speaker and trainer, focuses on social media marketing strategies for the tourism and hospitality industry. Join the conversation and connect with her at and socially.

Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018 • 27

Android Elog screen

How Will Electronic Logging Devices Affect Motorcoach Tours? by Tiffany Wilken Photos courtesy of J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

(FMCSA), the division of the U.S.


their activities, also known as records of duty

on-duty hours federally allowed and then fal-

Department of Transportation that regulates

status (RODS). These logs featured gridded

sify their logs to conceal their violations.

ongress has ruled the Federal Motor

In the past, bus drivers complied with the

traveled. Therefore, there is an incentive for

Carrier Safety Administration

HOS rule by keeping paper logs that tracked

some drivers to work beyond the amount of

motorcoaches and other commercial vehi-

graphs that allowed drivers to clearly chart

Like all new regulations, it may seem com-

cles, will enforce the use of electronic logging

their activities over time. As technology

plicated and therefore intimidating, but the

devices or ELDs on all vehicles subject to the

changed, an alternative to paper logs

ELD law is being implemented in stages. What

hours-of-service (HOS) rule. The HOS rule

emerged, so many companies chose to make

FMCSA calls “Phase 1” has already concluded,

was originally created as a means to track

use of automatic on board recording devices

so by now bus operators and their drivers

the type and amount of activity a commercial

(AOBRDs). However, under the new ELD law,

should have a thorough understanding of the

driver engages in while working. The law

even these devices will become prohibited.

law. As of December 18, 2017, buses are no

particularly regulates the amount of time

While a motorcoach driver’s activities are

longer allowed to use paper logs unless they

commercial drivers must be off-duty before

tied to a tour’s itinerary, which provides for an

qualify under certain exemptions, such as their

they can resume driving, and how many

ample amount of breaks, over-night sleep and

ELD has malfunctioned, in which case they

hours they may drive before they are required

a consistent driving schedule, other commer-

have eight days to resolve the matter and may

to go off-duty again. Naturally, the biggest

cial drivers, such as truck drivers, sleep in a

use paper logs in the interim. Older buses

concern is driver fatigue, a major source of

bunk located at the rear of their cabs and are

(before model year 2000) also qualify for an

roadside accidents and fatalities.

often paid according to the number of miles

exemption. Operators who have been using

28 • Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018

Electronic Logging Devices AOBRDs are allowed to continue to use this

ELD data is viewable on a digital display

ELD display screen also has to be secured

method during “Phase 2” only if the device

that is connected to a smaller device docked

and placed somewhere near the driver so

was installed before “Phase 1” ended. Once

with a diagnostics port on the bus. According

that it can be seen while in use, even if the

“Phase 2” ends on December 16, 2019, “Phase

to the FMCSA, the ELD has to be manufac-

ELD app is loaded onto a mobile device, such

3” will begin, and all bus drivers will be

tured by a company that has registered its

as a tablet or smartphone. Naturally, drivers

required to make use of an ELD.

self-certified product with the FMCSA. The

should know how to operate their bus’s ELD

Paper log

and be prepared to share information from the device with inspectors. In short, the burden of the new law is on ELD manufacturers, bus drivers and bus operators. That is not to say the law will not affect tour groups, so the answer to how it could affect your tour is this: non-compliance will stop your tour. If after April 1 of this year a bus is subjected to a roadside inspection and does not have an ELD (or pre-existing AOBRD), then the inspector will put the bus out-of-service. If the driver is not compliant but a working ELD or grandfathered AOBRD is installed, then a new driver should be able to resume the tour. In either case, there will be a short or considerable delay to your tour. As a tour planner, you should make sure your bus operator and driver are compliant with the new regulation so that your group reaches its destination. If you are ever uncertain about an operator and would like more information about their safety record, then one tool you can use is the FMCSA’s SaferBus app, which is available for download at the FMCSA Web site (, with links to iTunes and GooglePlay depending on your device’s operating system. The guide for the app, which gives instructions on how to use the app to find records, is available at the following address: Planners interested in learning more about the ELD rule will find many pages on the FMCSA Web site dedicated to demystifying the law. While the additional cost of the ELD devices may have been an unwelcomed burden for many bus owners, the ELD law itself is meant to make record keeping painless for drivers, records more coherent for end users and transportation safer for everyone.

Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018 • 29


hicago, the Windy City, or as Carl Sandburg once wrote, “City of the Big

Shoulders.” When you think of

Chicago, you probably think of places like Navy Pier, Soldier Field, Lincoln Park Zoo and

the Art Institute. You particularly think of the Sears Tower, even though you have been told to call it the Willis Tower. What you do not tend to think of is bus laws, but if you have heard anything about Chicago’s new bus ordinance, then you have likely found yourself thinking too much about that subject lately. BUS TOURS MAGAZINE assumes tour planners are concerned enough to ask the question: How will the ordinance affect my bus tours? Before this question can be answered, it is worthwhile to explore the origins of the ordinance. Therefore, to gain a better understanding of the situation in Chicago, B US TOURS MAGAZINE interviewed Brian Whitaker, director of bus operations for Windy City Limo and Bus. B US T OURS M AGAZINE learned from Whitaker the law came as a result of several acts of violence involving unlicensed party buses or charter buses running pub-crawls in downtown Chicago. After Alderman Brendan Reilly, who represents the 42nd Ward, grew concerned about public safety, he introduced the ordinance to combat the violence. Whitaker says local bus operators were keen from the beginning to share their input and concerns about the proposed ordinance with lawmakers, particularly if it should prove to unduly burden their businesses. One of the things they stressed the most with officials was that they held licenses issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Whitaker says local bus operators were dissatisfied with the ordinance that was passed

by Tiffany Wilken

and worked to have it amended. Eventually, the ordinance was amended but by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office, who changed the law so that it was broad enough to include motorcoaches. In other words, what started as a simple crackdown on so-called “party buses” has quickly metamorphosed into a nightmare for most bus operators. To understand why the law affects so many operators (and how 30 • Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018

Bouncer on the Bus? How Chicago’s “Party Bus” Ordinance is Affecting Bus Tourism

Special: Chicago Party Bus severely) all one needs to do is examine it.

with this view. Whitaker claims many operators

to get most of the tickets they have received

Under the new ordinance, buses transporting

have adopted the policy of challenging the tick-

thrown out by the courts.

15 or more passengers must have a licensed

ets rather than fully complying with the ordi-

So far, mediation with lawmakers has been

security guard and passenger-facing cameras

nance, and while he agrees this policy is like

the opposition’s tactic. In that venture, Chicago

installed whenever guests intend to drink alco-

playing roulette, operators have found inspec-

bus operators have found allies among several

hol on the bus or visit locations that serve alco-

tions to be random. Furthermore, when

bus organizations, including Illinois Limousine

hol. Unfortunately, museums and other cultural

authorities do target an attraction, they tend

Association (ILA), Midwest Bus and Motor-

attractions often serve alcohol, so the law, as

to target sports arenas or events with a lot of

coach Association (MBMCA), American Bus

it is currently written, encompasses motorcoach

bus traffic, not museums.

Association (ABA), Student Youth Travel Asso-

tours and even school fieldtrips.

Still, there are considerable costs associ-

ciation (SYTA), National Tour Association

After the revised law was passed,

ated with the ordinance, whether an operator

(NTA) and United Motorcoach Association

Whitaker and fellow operators contacted the

fully complies or not. Windy City Limo and

(UMA). If changes must come from lawmak-

Department of Business Affairs and Con-

Bus was updating its fleet’s onboard cameras

ers, then there is something encouraging in

sumer Protection (BACP), the local agency

at the time the ordinance went into effect, so

what Whitaker has observed. Whitaker claims

responsible for enforcing the law. Even after

in regards to the ordinance’s surveillance

many alderman and even officials in the

officials had assured DOT-licensed bus oper-

requirement, the impact on the company has

mayor’s office have reacted as though they

ators they would not be targeted, DOT buses

been to install the passenger-facing cameras

were unaware of the full scope of the law and

were subjected to inspections and tickets

now required by the law. As for the body-

thus the amount of trouble it would cause for

despite their federal authority being conspic-

guard requirement, he says clients pay the

operators and thus local tourism.

uous (The DOT requires its licensed operators

cost, which runs to $45 an hour for a mini-

to have their DOT number painted in a con-

mum engagement of five hours.

trasting color on the side of their buses; the

The most annoying cost to the operator

In the end, the most considerable cost of the ordinance will be to Chicago’s tourism industry – a price that will be paid by more

number must also be legible from 50 feet.).

is fighting the tickets they receive and paying

than bus operators and their clients. Already

Because the law is so general (and originally

the tickets they cannot fight. Whitaker

Whitaker has heard from tour planners who

meant to target a different class of bus trans-

explained that under Chicago law bus oper-

have seriously considered canceling their

portation), Whitaker says operators and school

ators are not allowed to represent themselves

upcoming tours to Chicago. Still, there is one

bus associations have received inconsistent

in court, so they must hire an attorney for

good thing that has come out of those threats;

information from the BACP about how the ordi-

every court appearance, which can easily

Whitaker says he and his fellow operators

nance will be enforced. While Windy City Limo

amount to $500 to $1,000. While the tickets

now have a means by which to measure the

and Bus has had no problem with installing

may not always be worth fighting financially

law’s economic impact, which they can share

passenger-facing cameras or placing a guard

(fines range from $250 to $1,000), Whitaker

with officials.

on board whenever clients intend to drink on

concurs principle is a motivation. Then there

BUS TOURS MAGAZINE will provide updates

their buses, they believe a guard is unnecessary

is the time spent making the court appear-

on this story as soon as significant changes

for most tours. They are hardly the only firm

ances. Fortunately, operators have been able


Chicago Skyline

Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018 • 31

20 Tips For Bus Tour Planners by Clairemarie Owens

20 Tips for Dealing

than a list of names, dates and places. Make

sions do not always work. Some buses do not

with the Distance

the history come alive. Tell anecdotes about

have iPod or tablet hook-ups and can play

the area and its inhabitants.

only CDs. Always have a backup plan. Place

between Attractions on Tours A bus tour offers guests the opportunity to

3. Documentaries. Research documen-

your playlist on both an iPod and CDs and

really see the country, to understand the

taries, History Channel and PBS shows for

have a tablet that you can play documentary

topography, to get the lay of the land, in short,

more information on the history of an area or

clips on if the TV is not working.

to really experience a place. The time spent

the events that occurred there. Unlike movies,

6. Books. In the middle of the bus, I

driving between attractions offers this oppor-

documentaries have in-depth information,

keep a crate full of guidebooks, reference

tunity and a lot more. Instead of allowing a

photos and visual aids. They add detail and

books, novels, photo books, maps and

blank to fill the middle of an exciting tour, use

history to an area that can be sparse or hard

brochures about the areas the group will be

the travel time to enrich the tour experience

to enjoy from a vehicle. Look for information

visiting. Include anything that could be useful

for your guests. There are so many ways to

on battlefields, deserts and National Parks.

or interesting on the tour. Use this crate as

add knowledge, relaxation or just “things that

Because documentaries often go very deep

a lending library. Encourage your guests to

make you say, ‘Hmmmm.”

into a subject, consider showing only part of

look at these resources to learn more about

So prepare for those times when it may

a film, a short film, or clips from several films.

any subjects that interest them. Guests are

seem like there is nothing to do (or when the

Most important, documentaries should com-

free to use these resources as they like during

tour is caught in traffic), and you will create

plement not replace a presentation.

the tour. I ask them to return them at the end

an even more memorable experience for your guests.

4. Music. Playing music most of the time on a tour is okay, so long as it is not too loud.

1. Movies. Movies, the most obvious

Be certain to allow people to visit with one

of the tour, but if a guest wants to keep one, I will gladly gift them. 7. Introductions. It is a fact: people love

use of a block of time on a bus, are a great

another or catch a few winks. Create a musical

to talk about themselves. This is a great ice-

way to fill time between attractions. When

playlist with music from or about the area you

breaker on the first or second day of a tour.

there are more than two hours of driving, a

will be visiting. For instance, consider Jazz in

Even those guests who seem less-than-enthu-

movie may fit the bill. However, it is easy to

New Orleans, Elvis on Route 66, A Tribe Called

siastic about it end up making friends and feel

get labeled “lazy” if you play them too often.

Red at the Navajo Reservation, etc. I also rec-

much more comfortable when they at least

I recommend one per week for an adult tour.

ommend creating a playlist based on the tour

learn the names of their fellow tourists. Have

It is also critical to choose a movie that is on

and the age and origins of the guests. Do not

everyone go around the bus and introduce

topic for your location that day or the theme

rely on an auto-generated playlist, such as

themselves, say where they are from and

of the tour or both.

Apple Music or Pandora, because you will

answer silly questions like, “What’s your

want to vet the music. Never use music with

favorite kind of cuisine?” or “What are you

inappropriate and offensive lyrics.

looking forward to most on this tour?”. Use

2. Tell a Story (historical, contemporary or personal). Have a few fun and compelling stories to tell about the areas and sites

5. Be Prepared. All buses are different,

you will be visiting. People are more likely to

and some are not in the best condition. Some

8. Games. Any kind of game is a great

feel engaged when they hear a story rather

buses do not have televisions or their televi-

way to spend time on long stretches of road.

32 • Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018

their answers to open up a conversation.

20 Tips Travel-sized versions of games like chess, checkers and Monopoly are always a big hit. A checkers tournament with prizes for winners – and losers – can be fun. Play games that include everyone on the bus, such as a scavenger hunt or your own created version of bingo. 9. Pop Quiz. The easiest and most popular game to play on a


Transform Your Tour Let your riders become...

tour bus is Pop Quiz. Ask the guests a question about something they have seen or learned on the tour so far. The first person to raise

An Electron

their hand gets to answer. If they answer incorrectly, pick someone

Riding a virtual tour of transmission lines

else. The first correct answer gets a prize. Be careful not to make guests giving an incorrect answer feel embarrassed. I like to toss a small candy to everyone who answers and sometimes to everyone who also had the correct answer. It is more fun, and everyone gets involved when everyone wins.

An Engineer Discovering how to power a city with water

10. Create Your Own Bingo Game. Create your own travel bingo cards that feature items that can be seen outside the bus on your tour.

A Geologist

For example: Bridge, Buffalo, a Cowboy, the Route 66 sign, etc. Each

Excavating rock to support a power project

passenger gets a card, and the first one to fill his or her bingo card wins. 11. Scavenger Hunt. Make a list of items and attractions you will see along the tour. Look for items that are unique to the tour or in keeping with your theme, such as farm animals, restaurants, famous attractions and motorcycles. Give each player a copy. Each guest writes what he or she saw on the list. The first one to find everything on the list wins, but do not always limit the game to one winner. Give prizes to those who found unusual items or to any other category of winner you can devise. 12. Name That Tune or Bus Karaoke. For this game you will need a bus that has a working microphone. Like regular karaoke, it is most fun when everyone lowers their inhibitions and gets into it. On pieces of paper write the names of popular songs and place them in a bag. Players from each team take turns pulling songs from the bag and singing the song. The other team will try to name that tune. 13. Stock up on Prizes. If you are going to play games, you are going to need prizes. Dollar and discount stores are great places to find affordable prizes for games that you can play during the tour. They can also be used as photo props or given away as gifts. These prizes are also a great opportunity to incorporate a tour’s theme.

• High tech, interactive science & history exhibits • See largest producer of electricity in New York State

• Stunning Niagara River views • Minutes from Niagara Falls

Reusable water bottles, tote bags, cowboy hats, flags, sports balls and key chains are always a big hit.


14. Free Roadside Attractions. Web sites like and are great resources for locating

Niagara Power Vista

free roadside attractions on your tour route. Stonehenge made out

At the Niagara Power Project

of cars, the world’s largest cow, a hidden waterfall, a famous store

5777 Lewiston Road (Route 104) • Lewiston NY 14092

with an eccentric owner who entertains guest or even a short hike with an amazing view are a few that I have had success with per-

1-716-286-6661 or 1-866-NYPA-FUN

sonally. Try to find places that allow people to stretch their legs and take some pictures. 15. Truck Stops. With restrooms, dining options and souvenir shopping, there is no better place to stretch your legs than a truck


Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018 • 33

12/13/17 10:07 AM

20 Tips stop, and the bigger the better. Many 18-

It definitely requires a tour guide to balance

some time to themselves. They can use this

wheelers are still privately owned by their

the needs of the guests. Be certain to take

time to read, listen to music, talk or nap.

drivers. These owner-operators put time,

into account the age, health and desires of

This quiet stretch of time is best after lunch,

effort and money into customizing and main-

your tour guests when planning stops and

or after happy hour and before dinner. These

taining their big rigs. Have your tour stretch

activities along the way.

are times when it can be hard to get the

their legs while viewing these unique trucks.

18. Happy Hour. The drive from the last

group energized, and a quiet time gives

Most truck drivers are happy to talk, take pic-

day’s activity to the hotel for that night is the

them the opportunity to re-charge for the

tures and even show you around the cabin

hardest drive of the day. Everyone is tired

rest of the day.

if you ask.

and probably a little hungry. A few bottles of

20. Have a Good Time. It is true what

16. Fruit Stands. Fruit stands can vary

wine, or juice, depending on the type of tour,

they say, “Time flies when you’re having fun.”

from a person selling fresh fruit on the side

along with some fruit or cookies are a great

Meaning, if your tour is having a good time,

of the road to a large building with bathrooms

way to help your guests unwind after a long

the trip is going to go a lot faster. Take care

and a small market. In either case, they are

day. Do not forget the cups, napkins and

of yourself. Get rest, eat right and take your

a great place to stop. Most fruit stands wel-

plates. Choose snacks that will not ruin your

vitamins. Being on the road can take its toll

come bus tours with open arms and offer free

guests’ appetites.

samples and discounts. Guests love the

19. Quiet Time. Schedule some quiet

opportunity to get out, stretch their legs and

time at least once a day. Give your guests

on the tour guide, too. Remember, you set the tone for your guests, so you owe it to them to be the best you can be.

enjoy some fresh local produce. 17. Get on the Road. While stops and roadside attractions are nice, and necessary once every two to three hours, do not include too many in the tour. Every time you

Clairemarie Owens was born and raised in Los Angeles. After attending Boise State University, she travelled around the United States and Europe for a few years before returning to Los Angeles. She currently works as a tour operator where she plans bus tours in the U.S., Canada, Cuba and Africa for both American and international clients.

stop you are adding more time on the road.

Advertiser’s Index Anderson/Madison County VB . . . . . .11

Kiln Moonshine Tours . . . . . . . . . . . . .23

Aurora CVB . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

Living Word Outdoor

Beauvoir . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23 Boys Town USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center . .21

Drama Inc., The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23 Middleton Place Foundation . . . . . . . .26 Middletown & Hummelstown

Country Music Hall of Fame . . . . . . . .25

Railroad Company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad . . . .6

MS Coast Model Railroad Museum . .23

Dancing Horses Theatre . . . . . . . . . . .10

Mohegan Sun . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17

Delaware & Ulster Railroad . . . . . . . . .5

Morse Farm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7

Elk Viewing Adventures at

Mt. Washington Cog Railway . . . . . . .13

Thunder Bay Resorts . . . . . . . . . . . . .36

New York Power Authority . . . . . . . . .33

George W. Bush Library & Museum . .14

Potawatomi Hotel & Casino . . . . . . . .35

IP Casino Resort Spa . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23

Redding CVB . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Infinity Science Center . . . . . . . . . . . .23

Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home . . . . .21

Jacksonville Area CVB . . . . . . . . . . . . .21

Seashore Trolley Museum . . . . . . . . . . .6

Jim Dykes – NY Guide . . . . . . . . . . . . .14

Starved Rock Lodge . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11

John Hall’s Alaska Tours . . . . . . . . . . .20

Warren County Historical Society . . . .13

34 • Bus Tours Magazine / March, 2018

Down The Road Coming events of interest to readers of BUS TOURS MAGAZINE. Submissions for the department should be directed to the editor. Unless otherwise indicated, events are not open to the general public. April 18-21, 2018. NTA Contact. Charleston, South Carolina. Register online beginning October 31, 2017 at August 10-12, 2018. Gene Nicolelli Tribute Rally. Hibbing, Minnesota. For more information contact Ross Gabrick at August 19, 2018. Pacific Bus Museum Annual Open House. Freemont, California. See activities.html for more information. November 4-8, 2018. NTA Travel Exchange. The Wisconsin Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. January 26-29, 2019. American Bus Association Marketplace. Kentucky Interntional Convention Center, Louisville, Kentucky. For more information visit


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Bus Tours Magazine March/April 2018  
Bus Tours Magazine March/April 2018