Page 1

RO C K Y T O P R E S P I T E S |

C A S T S A C RO S S T H E U S A

| G E T YO U R N YC F I X

GROUP THE

TRAVEL LEADER

TOURS

Made America IN

JUN

17 E 20


When your group is inspired by a legacy of strength, courage and nonviolence.

Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site | Atlanta, GA

Indulg Indulg encen e ce

Music ven nary ues, Musicculi del , andvenues culinar retail ights, y delight the and retail theraps, rapy y

ER

Amazing mrsazin ExA nsg Ecu xcurio sions

Inspiring itine raries for road trips Inspirin Georgia road ing itinerari trips in Ge es for orgia

Get your copy of the 2017 Group Tour Planner at ExploreGeorgia.org/ROAM

Historic Ritz Theatre, Schaefer Center, Toccoa EXPLOREGE

EXPLO

ORGIA.ORG

Histo Thea tre, ric Ritz Cent Schaefer er, Tocc oa

REGE

ORGI

A

C1

s P lu

de thri everyth rs, man-made lls, thrills, ing and in bet and everything in between ween

PLANN

als stiv t fe ate grea e st th elve Tw ound ar

Film locatioliterary tions, ns, literary haunts black haunts, and hist black history , andory site s sites

Recre ation Recrea Natura tion l won ders, Natural man -ma wonde

us Pl

Culture Culture Film loca

IAL GEOR THE GIA GROUP TOUR OFFIC PLANNER IAL GE ORGIA GROU P TO UR

als stiv e t fe at ea e st e gr d th elv Tw aroun

RRooaamm THE OFFIC

Make your next group tour in Georgia an inspiring one. Learn something new, expand your horizons and see how the mission of nonviolent social change at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site is marching on, and that is Pretty. Sweet. Plan a truly enlightening group tour today at ExploreGeorgia.org/travel-professionals.


Photo by Lindsey Best © 2017 Blue Man Productions, LLC.

TURN YOUR TRIP INTO A TRIP. ELECTRIFY YOUR TRAVELERS AT THE SPECTACULAR COLLISION OF COMEDY, THEATER, ROCK CONCERT AND DANCE PARTY ALL ROLLED INTO ONE. An unforgettable adventure awaits your groups, with exclusive ticket rates, incredible talkbacks and behind-thescenes experiences, transportation and dining packages, and so much more. And since it’s performed with no spoken words, Blue Man Group is perfect for all ages, languages and cultures. Join us in New York, Las Vegas, Orlando, Boston and Chicago, and experience the phenomenon that has captivated over 35 million people in 20 countries worldwide.

1.800.BLUEMAN | blueman.com/groupsales NEW YORK | LAS VEGAS | ORLANDO | BOSTON | CHICAGO


GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LEADER T H E

E V O L U T I O N

O F

G R O U P

THE

C H A R T I N G

DEPARTMENTS 6 EDITOR’S MARKS

JUN

T R AV E L

table ofCONTENTS VOL 27 | ISSUE 6

17 E 20

L I V E T H E AT E R

GUIDE

12 C H A N G I N G H O R I Z O N S

N E W O N B R O A D WAY D I N N E R T H E AT E R S

8 FA M I LY M AT T E R S 10 I N D U S T R Y N E W S

O N TH E COVER

The Statue of Liberty is an enduring symbol of hope and the American Dream. Photo by Antonino Bartuccio

SEE HOW AMERICAN CLASSICS ARE MADE ON THESE FACTORY TOURS.

FEATURES

14

TENNESSEE The Volunteer State is brimming with Americana.

24

MISSISSIPPI

SPOTLIGHT

18

LOVING NEW YORK

EXPLORE WEST VIRGINIA

44

.

MAC T. LACY CHARLES A. PRESLEY BRIAN JEWELL HERBERT SPARROW DONIA SIMMONS DAVID BROWN

Founder and Publisher Partner Executive Editor Senior Writer Creative Director Art Director

TY 4

ELIZA MYERS CHRISTINE CLOUGH SAVANNAH OSBOURN ASHLEY RICKS KELLY TYNER STACEY BOWMAN

Online Editor Copy Editor Staff Writer Circulation Manager Director of Sales & Marketing Advertising Sales Director

888.25 .0455 KELLY@GROUPTR AVELLEADER.COM

The GROUP TRAVEL LEADER is published ten times a year by THE GROUP TRAVEL LEADER, Inc., 301 East High St., Lexington, Kentucky 40507, and is distributed free of charge to qualified group leaders who plan travel for groups of all ages and sizes. THE GROUP TRAVEL LEADER serves as the official magazine of GROUP TRAVEL FAMILY, the organization for traveling groups. All other travel suppliers, including tour operators, destinations, attractions, transportation companies, hotels, restaurants and other travelrelated companies may subscribe to THE GROUP TRAVEL LEADER by sending a check for $59 for one year to: THE GROUP TRAVEL LEADER, Circulation Department, 301 East High St., Lexington, KY 40507. Phone (859) 253-0455 or (859) 253-0503. Copyright THE GROUP TRAVEL LEADER, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of editorial or graphic content in any manner without the written consent of the publisher is prohibited.


S

New York City and North American Tour

©Disney

New York City and North American Tour

Contact a Group Sales Representative today to book your group! DisneyTheatricalSales.com


mark

EDITOR’S T HE

othing amazing happens by accident. Sure, there are sometimes unexpected events that lead to happy outcomes or coincidences that result in pleasant surprises. But anytime you buy, experience or participate in something that leaves you impressed, you can be sure a lot of thought, planning and hard work went into that success, maybe a lot more than you think. The older I get, the more I realize how important this principle is. It applies to every area of life: personal and professional, business and pleasure. It’s there with your family. It’s there with your friends. It’s there in the places you shop, the food you eat and the events you attend. It’s certainly there when you travel. As savvy travelers, we prepare ourselves for times when things go wrong — airlines, I’m looking in your direction. Sometimes those happen for reasons outside of anyone’s control. But the kinds of trouble we run into while traveling often boil down to poor planning, mismanagement or lack of communication. And all too often, catastrophes occur not because of one major system breakdown, but rather because of a series of small mistakes and oversights that balloon into big problems. Terrible things happen by accident, but amazing things never do. Carelessness can lead to failure but

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER

BY B R I A N J E W E L L

V

never to success. Bad luck might be partly to blame for unfortunate events, but good luck is never the sole reason things go fantastically right. As a travel planner, you’re in an advantaged position that allows you to see this principle at work in both directions. You buy a lot of travel services, transportation, meals, tours and more, and you rely on the companies and people that provide those services to make your trips run well. At the same time, you’re involved in planning, packaging and selling travel experiences for your groups. The amount of work and planning you put in ahead of time can make an enormous difference in the success of a trip. And whether a trip goes well or poorly, it all reflects on you and your organization. There are two major takeaways from this lesson. First, when you are on the receiving end of great service, a great product or a great experience, don’t take it for granted. That exchange wasn’t awesome by accident — it was fantastic because the people you were doing business with put a ton of thought, planning and hard work into making it fantastic. When that happens, you have a terrific opportunity to show your appreciation to those people by telling them that you recognize their effort and appreciate it. You might make somebody’s day. Second, be aware that wowing your travelers isn’t just your suppliers’ job — it requires a lot of thought from you, too. Putting together a good trip is no cakewalk, and planning a memorable one requires extraordinary effort. Creating amazing experiences might demand more research, more time and more investment than you think it should. But the alternative to putting in the work is leaving things to chance. Don’t just hope for the best. Think the best. Plan the best. Do the best. Be the best.


We’d like to be your custom publishing partner. The Group Travel Leader Inc has two decades of expertise in working with industry partners to produce stunning print pieces. We write, design, sell, and mail your finished magazine. You’ll be surprised by how easy and affordable it can be.

WE DO ALL THE WORK, YOU GET ALL THE CREDIT!

CONTACT KELLY OR STACEY TO DISCUSS YOUR CUSTOM PIECE. S TA C E Y @ G R O U P T R AV E L L E A D E R . C O M

888.253.0455

K E L LY @ G R O U P T R AV E L L E A D E R . C O M


FAMILY MATTERS OBU Y FO INTERN JOINS AGRITOURISMWORLD

P CT O H A

GLOBUS’ EXPANDED NORTH AMERICAN PRODUCT LINES TAKE GROUPS TO SOME OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES IN THE COUNTRY, SUCH AS THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS.

Courtesy Globus

Grayson Anderson

SALEM, Ohio — Grayson Anderson has joined the Group Travel Family as an intern in the AgritourismWorld division. “As an Ohio State University student majoring in agribusiness, Grayson will be spending her summer as our intern,” said AgritourismWorld founder Charlie Presley. “Helping to expand the AgritourismWorld business and build the website for the public will be part of her job in the company.” AgritourismWorld is an organization of 3,500 farms and markets that welcome public visits. It is a division of The Group Travel Family, which counts 25,000 travel clubs among its members. While Anderson is a part of the company, she will be working to register farms to the AgritourismWorld Summit, build the farm listings for the AgrtourismWorld database and identify farms that are agritourism friendly. Anderson grew up on an Ohio farm and has a working knowledge agriculture. She will utilize her knowledge and experiences in the agriculture industry to help expand the AgritourismWorld outreach. W W W. AGR I T OU R ISM WOR LD.COM

8

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER

SALEM, Ohio — Globus takes groups to discover the wonder of North America, from sea to shining sea. On the heels of one of the biggest and best years for North America travel, the company is unveiling a large selection of North America vacations that includes new special event getaways and Mexico and Cuba itineraries. “My favorite new tour for 2017, hands down, is our 10-day Oregon’s Coast, Cascades and Craft Beers,” said Steve Born, vice president of marketing for the Globus family of brands. “Travelers will kick off their vacation with a beer tasting at Redhook Ale Brewery in Seattle. Itinerary highlights include several park visits, such as Fort Clatsop National Historic Park, Cape Mears State Park and Crater Lake National Park. There will be a dune buggy ride in Florence, a Hood River orchard visit and beer tastings in Newport, Bend, Hood River, Portland and more.” Other tour itineraries, such as Tournament of Roses with San Diego, are built around special events. Globus is also expanding its Mexico offerings in the new year, including Mexico’s Copper Canyon vacation and the Wonders of Mexico’s Yucatán itinerary. In addition, Globus is expanding its Cuba itineraries with the 13-day Cuba Panorama. On

I CA

this people-to-people program, travelers will explore the beautiful island nation to take in its compelling history and rich culture while also being immersed in Cuba’s everyday life through captivating activities like joining and discussing life and the arts with the dancers of the worldrenowned Camagüey Ballet Company, joining a mojito-making demonstration and walking through Old Havana with an architect. For groups hoping to enjoy the beauty and wonder of America’s beautiful landscapes, Globus is once again offering dozens of GoParks! tours. For the first time, when groups book a Globus GoParks! U.S. national parks vacation, the company will donate to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps families of firefighters injured or killed in the line of duty. As part of every vacation, Globus provides groups “local favorite” moments in North America with experiences such as touring the spectacular Antelope Slot Canyon with a Native American guide, visiting Washington wine country to sample some of the region’s best wines, spending time with an Amish family when visiting its country store and farm, and touring the Gloria Ferrer wine caves and tasting its sparkling wines “Our outdoor escapes, those vacations featuring America’s natural landscapes, are among our most popular vacations,” said Born. “And now, with 16 Globus GoParks! tours to 43 national parks, we’re not only giving our groups oases where postcard views meet life-altering experiences, we’re helping ensure the ongoing conservation of our national parks.” On all of Globus’ North America tours, groups are privy to expertly designed, inclusive land programs that feature world-class accommodations, guided sightseeing, engaging lectures and VIP access to key destinations. Globus also invites groups to stay connected, even on the road, with free Wi-Fi on every motorcoach. For more information, travel planners and group organizers can visit www.globusjourneys.com.


SAFET Y IS KEY WHEN YOU CHARTER SMARTER SALEM, Ohio — Today’s motorcoach travel is not your old, boring bus trip. Many companies are offering free Wi-Fi, bring-your-own-device onboard entertainment and first-class seating options. Travel planners are embracing the latest technology and, as a result, finding new and younger members. For millennials and boomers alike, bus travel offers an economical option that is environmentally safe, avoids airport security hassles, lets passengers enjoy the scenery rather than fight the traffic and, most important, allows for personal interaction with fellow tour passengers. Best of all, buses are among the safest ways to travel. While most operators take pride in safety, there are a few companies that cut corners. Fortunately, there are easy ways to check out bus companies before you sign a contract and take your group on tour. Before choosing a bus company, you should know three key things about it: First, is it authorized to operate? All commercial bus operators that carry passengers across state lines must have a USDOT (U.S. Department of Transportation) number and be authorized by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to operate. Next, does it regularly inspect, maintain and repair its fleet for safety? Every company should perform regular inspections of all its buses, complete required maintenance and repairs, and ensure that all safety equipment is present and working properly. Third, does it hire well-qualified, properly licensed drivers with good safety records? And does it ensure they are medically fit to drive and obey all safety laws and regulations? But how could you learn all that about a bus company? There’s an app for that. Travel planners, group leaders and travelers can download the convenient SaferBus mobile app to research bus companies at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/ lookbeforeyoubook. The FMCSA brings its message of responsible motorcoach charter to all Group Travel Family events; they include seven national group travel conventions and 30 TravelTalks meetings annually. W W W.FMCSA.DOT.GOV/LOOKBEFOREYOUBOOK

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER

9


INDUSTRY NEWS NFL EXPERIENCE TIMES SQUARE WILL BE IMMERSIVE FOOTBALL ENCOUNTER NEW YORK — Visitors to New York will be able to get a firsthand feel for what it is like to be a National Football League player when the NFL Experience Times Square opens in November. The state-of-the-art interactive attraction, created by Cirque du Soleil in partnership with the National Football League, will combine 4-D cinema and other multimedia effects to transport visitors from the season-opening kickoff through the playoffs, and ultimately, the Super Bowl. Among the immersive experiences is the film “Gameday” in a 185-seat theater designed to evoke the feeling of being in a packed football stadium that takes visitors through an NFL season from the perspective of the players. Fans can test themselves against the pros in a simulated NFL team workout facility, suit up in the uniform of their favorite NFL team

using enhanced visual effects, receive instruction from a hologram of an NFL coach, call plays in a huddle, pass a real football to their favorite receiver during the Super Bowl and be immersed in the pomp of a Super Bowl winning celebration from the players’ view through augmented reality. “NFL Experience Times Square is the next level of entertainment for new and life-long football fans alike,” said Danny Boockvar, president of NFL Experience Times Square. The four-story attraction will be located on 44th Street at 7th Avenue. W W W. NFL E X PER I E NCE .COM

Courtesy NFL Experience VISITORS WILL BE ABLE TO TRY ON VIRTUAL UNIFORMS AT THE NFL EXPERIENCE TIMES SQUARE WHEN IT OPENS IN NOVEMBER.

PRESIDIO’S NEW VISITOR CENTER MAJOR LANDMARK IN TRANSFORMATION TO PARK SAN FRANCISCO — The Presido’s new $5 million William Penn Mott, Jr. Visitor Center, which opened in late February at the north end of the Main Parade Ground, is a major milestone for the Presidio’s transformation from a major military installation guarding the Golden Gate to a 1,500-acre national park. The new center, a partnership among the Presidio Trust, the National Park Service and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, is the jumping off point to a day in the Presidio, orienting guests to its current activities and features. The historic 1900 building, a former guardhouse overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, was refurbished to offer an information desk and interactive exhibits to help tell the story of the Presidio through interactive touch-screen panels, a video wall, audio presentation and a room dedicated to revealing the four areas of the park: Main Post, Golden Gate, Crissy Field and the Southern Wilds. W W W.PRESIDIO.GOV/PRESIDIO-TRUST

10

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER


Tour

SOUTHEAST INDIANA

LOUISVILLE’S JIM BEAM URBAN STILLHOUSE OFFERS COCKTAIL MIXOLOGY CLASSES

Twilight Tour Progressive Mansions Dinner

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse in downtown Louisville has launched a new interactive experience that expands its sampling of Beam bourbons to include mixology lessons on creating hand-crafted cocktails. The tableside experience combines select Jim Beam bourbons with a trio of nonalcoholic mixers, garnishes and glassware to help guests craft classic and contemporary cocktails. Featured bourbon cocktails will rotate monthly, presenting visitors with a variety of traditional and modern options showcasing the entire Jim Beam family of brands. The 30-minute lessons are offered seven times a day at the top of the hour in a dedicated place. Located 25 miles from its flagship distillery in Clermont, Kentucky, the Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse operates as a small working distillery showcasing a small copper pot still with a rectifying column and see-through glass vapor condenser along with interactive visitors’ experiences and a tasting bar crafted from reclaimed wood.

Venture down the Ohio River Scenic Byway to tour and dine in historic Aurora, Indiana’s landmark estates – Hillforest Victorian House Museum and Veraestau Historic Site.

“Great Hospitality, Great Dining!” - Tours for You, Bardstown, KY

W W W.JIMBEAM.COM

THE PORTLAND JAPANESE GARDEN RECENTLY UNVEILED A $33.5 MILLION EXPANSION.

Guides in costume, Hillforest

Courtesy Kengo Kuma & Assoc.

Delicious desserts, Veraestau

PORTLAND JAPANESE GARDEN EXPANSION FEATURES CULTURAL VILLAGE PORTLAND, Oregon — Portland Japanese Garden’s $33.5 million expansion, which opened to the public April 2, features a new Cultural Village to provide a more immersive experience of traditional Japanese arts and culture. Emulating monzen-machi, Japan’s “temple towns” surrounding sacred shrines and temples, the Cultural Village features an authentic medieval castle wall 185 feet long and 18.5 feet high. Built with traditional hand tools and techniques under the supervision of Suminori Awata, a 15th-generation Japanese master stonemason, the wall incorporates 800 tons of Oregon granite. The garden’s other new structures include the Umami Tea Café by Ajinomoto, designed to “float in nature,” and the Garden House, constructed to host horticultural workshops. Outdoors, the Tateuchi Courtyard features seasonal performances and demonstrations and three new gardens: an entry garden with cascading ponds and a water terrace, a small urban garden and a bonsai terrace. The private Bill de Weese chabana garden — the first in North America — will grow flowers for tea ceremonies and the International Institute for Japanese. The garden expansion is the first public commission in the United States for renowned architect Kengo Kuma, who is also heading the design of the National Stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. W W W.JAPANESEGARDEN.COM

OHIO Indianapolis

INDIANA

1

Cincinnati

KENTUCKY

Lexington

Louisville

South of I-74 & west of I-275, 20 minutes west of Cincinnati

www.TOURSoutheastIndiana.com 800-322-8198

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER

11


Changing T H I RT Y A M E R I C A NA FAVO R I T E S

BY B O B H O E L S C H E R

12

HORIZONS

ince this is our Americana theme issue, it’s only appropriate that I provide our many readers with a listing of some of the classic Americana attractions and experiences that I’ve especially enjoyed during my 47 years in the travel and tourism industry. Although I could easily come up with many more, here are 30, listed alphabetically, that I’d like to invite you to add to your personal must-do list. • The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas: Famed shrine of Texas independence, at the center of a delightful city. • Arthur Bryant’s BBQ , Kansas City, Missouri: The American mecca for countless devotees of barbecued pork, beef and poultry. • Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee: Home and shrine of the blues, but don’t forget to also visit A. Schwab’s amazing dry goods store. • Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, Wyoming: A world-class museum of the American West, along the road to Yellowstone. • Central Park, New York: The country’s most magnificent city park, guaranteed to prove to you the genius of Frederick Law Olmsted. • Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia: Unquestionably America’s finest historic restoration and re-creation. • Cooperstown, New York: Not just the Baseball Hall of Fame but also the Fenimore Art Museum, Farmers’ Museum and more make this small upstate town a real charmer. • Fort Worth Stockyards, Fort Worth, Texas: This colorful historic district will keep you well fed and entertained at what was formerly a huge center of livestock sales. • Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco: Walk across the bridge for incredible views of the City by the Bay. • Harold Warp Pioneer Village, Minden, Nebraska: Although some is just stabilized junk, here you’ll find an enormous collection of diverse items Americans used and abused. • The Henry Ford, Dearborn, Michigan: The automaker’s great tribute to America includes Greenfield Village, the Museum of American Innovation and the massive Rouge Plant.

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER

• Knott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park, California: Yes, they have an Independence Hall replica and thrill rides, but they also have Mrs. Knott’s recipe for America’s best fried chicken. • Luckenbach, Texas: Near Fredericksburg, this tiny hamlet, celebrated in song, is rural Texas to a “T.” • Mackinac Island, Michigan: Return to an earlier age on this charming Victorian resort isle, where motor vehicles are not allowed and fudge is king. • Manito Park, Spokane, Washington: Some of the most beautiful public gardens in the country and is free to visit. • Natchez, Mississippi: The South’s renowned repository of splendid antebellum mansions. • Philly Cheesesteaks, Philadelphia: Whether you prefer Pat’s, Geno’s or another city favorite, you’ll enjoy an authentic Philly treat not duplicated elsewhere. • Pike Place Market, Seattle: Lots to see and buy, including large salmon and halibut tossed to those keeping the seafood counters filled. • Presidents’ Homes, Virginia: Washington’s Mount Vernon, Jefferson’s Monticello, Monroe’s Highland and Oak Hill, and Madison’s Montpelier. • Red’s Eats, Wiscasset, Maine: Situated right on U.S. 1, there’s always a line at this modest roadside stand, known nationwide for its delicious lobster rolls. • San Diego Zoo, San Diego: Not inexpensive to visit, but likely the bestknown and arguably the best of America’s fine zoos. • San Miguel Chapel, Santa Fe, New Mexico: I’ve been to many of the world’s iconic houses of worship, but none is more inspiring than this small mission church. • Sarasota Jungle Gardens, Sarasota, Florida: Founded in 1939, this is what classic Florida vacation attractions were like before the arrival of massive theme parks. • Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, Vermont: New England’s little Smithsonian, filled with a wide variety of Americana. • Smithsonian Institution, Washington: Truly one of the world’s greatest museum complexes, and free of charge. • The Strip, Las Vegas: If you don’t want to gamble a nickel, you’ll still be astounded by the massive casino resorts that line Las Vegas Boulevard. • Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, St. Louis: The place to go after a Cardinals baseball game; mobs of people show up here nightly for a frosty “concrete.” • Ten-Mile Ocean Drive, Newport, Rhode Island: Come see the summer “cottages” of America’s historic rich and famous. • Tombstone, Arizona: The Old West comes alive at the home of the O.K. Corral shootout and nearby Boot Hill Cemetery. • Wall Drug, Wall, South Dakota: It’s hokey, yes, but a Western classic, and you still get free ice water.


PLANNER EDUCATION

.

TREAT THESE GROUPS LIKE ADULTS BY B R I A N J E W E L L

f you work for a museum or other attraction, your groups department probably handles two main types of bookings: student groups and adult groups. And although both types of groups often arrive on buses, the needs of students and adults can vary widely. Unless you are in a popular student tour destination like New York or Washington, D.C., the student groups that visit your attraction likely come from schools located around your region. The students themselves, probably thrilled to get out of the classroom for a day, may care less about the particulars of your attraction and more about the fun they can have with their friends there. But adult groups represent a more discerning audience with more options at their disposal, and giving them engaging and memorable experiences can require more thought and planning. Here are four keys to keep in mind when you’re marketing your attraction to adult groups.

2

I

1

A D U LT S N E E D A VA R I E T Y O F A C T I V I T I E S .

Students are accustomed to following the leader and going where they’re told, but adults value their autonomy, which means you can’t always count on their sticking with a docent tour. Although guided tours appeal to some travelers in a group, others will want to explore on their own and should have the freedom to do so. Adults have a variety of travel personalities and like having options when they travel, so don’t assume everyone in a group wants to experience your attraction in the same way. The more activities and approaches you offer, the better.

A D U LT P L A N N E R S N E E D M O R E T H A N J U S T G R O U P R AT E S .

Sure, everyone loves a discount, and offering a price break to groups of a certain size is a universal practice. But when group tour planners call, they want more than just a rate quote — they want your help in planning an experience that will be memorable for their travelers. Today, that means special treatment, interactive programs, behind-the-scenes tours and VIP access. So, make sure that you and your team have a menu of interesting and engaging options to offer. You can even charge more for some of these optional extras.

tour planner or the individual travelers in the group. Giving group travelers a coupon for a discount at the restaurant will make them more likely to eat there, and offering tour planners a price break or added benefits by scheduling a group meal at your attraction will help make your restaurant more attractive. You can drive more retail spending by offering similar incentives in your gift shop.

A D U LT S L O V E I N C E N T I V E S .

Student groups eat when and where their teachers tell them to, but adults are choosier. If your attraction includes a restaurant, you can’t assume tour groups will take advantage of it. But you can increase the chances of that by offering some kind of incentive, directed at either the

4 A D U LT S A P P R E C I AT E CONVENIENCE.

The older people get, the more likely they are to appreciate — and be willing to pay for — convenience. So, the more convenient you can make a group visit to your attraction, the better. That means eliminating hassles that come with parking and waiting in lines, etc. You can also win a lot of favor with travel planners by offering conveniently packaged tour options that combine elements of what your attraction offers. If you work well with other tourism organizations in your destination, you can take this one step further by putting together packages with other attractions, and even hotels and restaurants. This will make it easy for group planners to arrange a sizable portion of their trip in one or two phone calls.

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER


Iconic

Courtesy Ben & Jerry’s

IN T E R ACTI ON S by BRIAN JEWELL

Some of America’s favorite brands have been produced for a century or more, and seeing the places where they are made helps travelers learn the stories and appreciate the impact of these products and reminisce about their own experiences with them. Tours of these factories, workshops and other attractions offer groups an inside look at what it takes to create Americana and, in many cases, give them opportunities to take home a piece of culture for themselves. Check out some of these highlights for an up-close look at Americana on your group’s next trip.

JUN

17 E 20

Courtesy Hillerich & Bradsby

A

mericana is created every day in iconic places around the U.S.A. Many of our ideas of classic Americana are rooted in experiences with consumer brands that have become mainstays of the national culture. Whether it’s Coca-Cola, John Deere, Airstream or Louisville Slugger, a well-loved product can become as much a part of our national identity as a historic event.

Courtesy


T H E S E B R A N D S E N T E RTA I N G RO U P S

LOUISVILLE SLUGGER FACTORY LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY From the Little League to the major league, baseball players nationwide step up to the plate wielding Louisville Slugger bats. The company was started back in 1884, and today its factory is a landmark in downtown Louisville thanks to a 120-foot-tall baseball bat leaning up against the side of the building. That building is also home to a museum, which has artifacts related to the history of baseball and Louisville Slugger.

UP CLOSE: Standard tours of the museum walk guests through the bat-making process, during which they’ll see plain dowels of wood turned on a lathe and carved into baseball bats, and then branded with the classic Louisville Slugger logo. Participants get free minibats to take home.

ENHANCED EXPERIENCES: In addition to the standard tour, Louisville Slugger offers two private All Star Experiences. These include visits to the factory’s bat vault and up-close looks at baseball memorabilia from the museum archive. NEARBY FUN: Louisville Slugger Field is home to the city’s minor-league baseball team, the appropriately named Louisville Bats. WWW.SLUGGERMUSEUM.COM

ANHEUSER-BUSCH BREWERY ST. LOUIS More than 150 years of history — as well as a track record of savvy marketing — has made Budweiser perhaps the most iconic brand of beer in America. Budweiser and its associated products are made by Anheuser-Busch, which got its start in St. Louis near the banks of the Mississippi River in 1852. Today, the St. Louis brewery is still one of the country’s largest producers of beer, and visitors can choose from a variety of tours of the campus, which includes three National Historic Landmarks.

UP CLOSE: Brewery tours give visitors an overview of beer-making, introducing them to the ingredients and taking them to various places in the factory to see the machines and techniques used today. Tours include a variety of tasting opportunities. ENHANCED EXPERIENCES: Groups can see the famous Budweiser Clydesdales, who live in stables at the museum, and opt for a specialized beer school experience.

NEARBY FUN: The Gateway Arch, another iconic symbol of Americana, has undergone significant improvements and offers a variety of exciting tour opportunities. WWW.BUDWEISERTOURS.COM

BEN AND JERRY’S FACTORY WATERBURY, VERMONT In 1978, two Vermont hippies took a correspondence course in ice-cream-making and opened a scoop shop in a renovated gas station. Ben and Jerry’s quickly grew to become one of America’s favorite sweet treats, known for high-quality products and fun flavor names. A stop at the Ben and Jerry’s Factory is a highlight of a trip to Vermont for many travelers. UP CLOSE: Standard half-hour tours of the factory introduce visitors to the company’s core values, show them how ice cream is made and include ice cream tastings.

ENHANCED EXPERIENCES: Make sure you leave time in your schedule for some of the popular visitor options at the factory that aren’t official parts of the 30-minute tour, including a visit to the full-service Scoop Shop and time to browse items such as icecream-flavored lip balm in the on-site gift shop.

NEARBY FUN: Food lovers can find a number of other sites to enjoy in Waterbury, including the Green Mountain Coffee Café and Visitor Center, the Cabot Cheese Annex and the Cold Hollow Cider Mill. WWW.BENJERRY.COM

OPPOSITE PAGE TOP: THE BEN AND JERRY’S FACTORY TOUR INCLUDES PLENTY OF OPPORTUNITIES FOR ICE CREAM TASTING. OPPOSITE PAGE BOTTOM: A 120-FOOT-TALL BASEBALL BAT MARKS THE HOME OF LOUISVILLE SLUGGER.

Artwork by Donia Simmons

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER

15


JOHN DEERE FACTORY TOURS WATERLOO, IOWA Anyone who has spent time in rural America is familiar with John Deere, the leading manufacturer of tractors and other large farming implements. Since it was started by a blacksmith in 1837, the company has become an intrinsic part of the agricultural lifestyle around the country. Deere has numerous manufacturing facilities throughout Iowa that offer tours, including the Tractor Cab Assembly Operations plant in Waterloo.

JELLY BELLY FACTORY

JOHN DEERE’S TRACTOR CAB ASSEMBLY IN WATERLOO

UP CLOSE: On 90-minute guided tours at the Tractor Cab Assembly Operations plant, visitors can walk alongside the assembly line, where workers put together four different kinds of tractors. There’s also a gift shop on-site.

ENHANCED EXPERIENCES: A tour of the tractor cab plant pairs well with a visit to the John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum, also in Waterloo. NEARBY FUN: The Waterloo CVB can help group leaders arrange visits to an extensive, privately owned collection of tractors and steam and gasoline engines. WWW.DEERE.COM

Courtesy John Deere

JELLY BELLY FACTORY FAIRFIELD, CALIFORNIA Jelly beans have been a staple of the classic American candy store since the 19th century, and the product got a big boost of visibility when President Ronald Reagan talked about his love of them in the 1980s. The country’s most famous jelly bean company, Jelly Belly, has been around since 1866, and groups that visit the Jelly Belly Factory in California can learn all about the history and manufacturing of this chewy, fruity candy.

UP CLOSE: The basic tour at Jelly Belly is a selfguided excursion along a quarter-mile catwalk above the factory floor. The tour includes high-definition videos, interactive exhibits and numerous free samples.

ENHANCED EXPERIENCES: Sweets lovers will want to plan time for a Jelly Belly University tour at the factory, in which they will suit up in lab coats, gloves and hairnets and venture onto the factory floor. NEARBY FUN: Fairfield is also home to an Anheuser-Busch brewery that offers tours, as well as numerous small wineries and farm stands. WWW.JELLYBELLY.COM

Special Summer Pricing for Groups Full-day excursions departing daily from two locations: Chama, New Mexico & Antonito, Colorado

· · · · ·

Mid-May to Mid-October Group Friendly Restrooms Lunch Included ADA Accessible Bus Parking

Group Sales Office: 1.877.890.2737

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER

www.cumbrestoltec.com/groups

AIRSTREAM FACTORY JACKSON CENTER, OHIO Almost immediately after it was created in 1929, the Airstream trailer was in high demand for its functionality and its sleek, aluminum styling. Airstream trailers came to define the luxury camping experience in midcentury America, and the company continues to manufac-


ture its signature campers in a variety of sizes. At the Airstream Factory in Jackson Center in northwest Ohio, groups can hear the company’s story and get an inside look at how trailers are made today. UP CLOSE: The Airstream Factory tour is free and takes between 90 minutes and two hours. Participants walk about a mile along the factory floor. The first half of the tour focuses on the construction of the classic Airstream trailers, and the second half showcases the assembly line that is used to create full-scale touring vehicles.

We Cover

All the Bases for Group Tours

ENHANCED EXPERIENCES: The factory doesn’t have a showroom to display finished Airstream products, but it does have a small gift shop that sells Airstream apparel. BILTMORE’S FESTIVAL OF FLOWERS

Courtesy Jelly Belly

Courtesy

NEARBY FUN: The Jackson County Chamber of Commerce offers a self-guided architectural walking tour that features homes built in the early 1900s. WWW.AIRSTREAM.COM

HARLEY-DAVIDSON VEHICLE OPERATIONS YORK, PENNSYLVANIA Born in Milwaukee in 1903, Harley-Davidson is the oldest surviving motorcycle manufacturer in the country, and its bikes, as well as its brand, have become enduring symbols of attitude and freedom on the American road. Today, the company assembles many of its vehicles at a plant in York, Pennsylvania, where travelers can get a firsthand look at the work that goes into crafting these powerful machines. UP CLOSE: Visits start at a tour center, where exhibits detail the factory’s manufacturing and assembly, and where visitors can sit on finished motorcycles and shop for souvenirs. Then guests proceed onto the factory floor, where they see people and machines in action fabricating Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

ENHANCED EXPERIENCES: The tour center offers an enhanced experience called the Steel Shoe Tour, which includes behind-the-scenes access to “employee only” sections of the factory, as well as commemorative pins and safety vests. NEARBY FUN: York is home to numerous other factories that offer tours, such as Bluett Bros. Violins and Martin’s Potato Chips.

You don’t have to be a baseball fan to love Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory — we’ve got something for everyone. Tour the actual factory where we make bats for baseball’s greatest. We can customize your tour based on your group’s interests, and everyone gets a free mini-bat. Our Museum Store has a winning lineup of unique souvenirs, including personalized bats. And since we’re walking distance to other fantastic attractions, we offer package deals to some of Louisville’s best museums. Don’t miss our special exhibit:

Now thru January 7, 2018

Contact Us groupsales@sluggermuseum.com 502-588-7227

WWW.HARLEY-DAVIDSON.COM

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER

17


STATE SPOTLIGHT

MISSISSIPPI

5 OXFORD

2 CLE VEL AND

4

INDIANOL A

3 J AC K S O N

E JUN

1 BILOXI

18

2 01 7


BY B R I A N J E W E L L

F

rom institutions that

predate

World War II to

high-tech, highly anticipated ven-

ues opening later this year, Mississippi

enjoys a rich diversity of distinctive museums. Groups traveling through the state can enjoy art, history, culture and music at many museums from the Delta to the Gulf Coast. In the Delta region, two museums will

give music lovers plenty of experiences to sing about. The B.B. King Museum and

Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola presents the story and sounds of the world’s

most legendary blues musician. And the Grammy Museum Mississippi, opened earlier this year in Cleveland, highlights great moments in all types of music. In Oxford, home of Ole Miss, the University of Mississippi Museum fea-

tures collections of American art, as well as interesting historical artifacts from the country’s history. In Jackson, two new

museums opening in December will tell the story of Mississippi’s statehood and

its role in the civil rights movement. And the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art on the coast in Biloxi is an homage to a distinctive Mississippian who made a name for himself as an inventive potter.

Courtesy MS Gulf Coast CVB

1 MISSISSIPPI’S MAD POTTER You may not expect to find the work of a world-renowned architect in a small city on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. But at the OhrO’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi, multiple buildings on the campus were designed by avant-garde architect Frank Gehry. And that’s just the beginning of the brilliance on display there. The museum was created to honor George Ohr, whose ceramic work in the late 1800s and early 1900s earned him a reputation as the Mad Potter of Mississippi. Visitors to the museum learn about Ohr’s personal life and professional development, and can see examples from his extraordinary body of work. Gehry designed the stainless steel “pods” of the four main buildings on the museum campus to stand in contrast with the surrounding live oaks. Construction began in 2004 but was curtailed after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The museum finally opened in 2010 and now offers a number of tour and experiential opportunities for groups, including pottery demonstrations and ceramics classes. W W W.G E O RG E O H R.O RG

19


Contact Ashley Gatian, Sales Manager for planning assistance. 800-221-3536 • ashley@visitvicksburg.com

Courtesy Grammy Museum Mississippi

AMERICAN~HISTORY Mississippi Music ~ Southern Charm

2 GRAMMY DOWN SOUTH Until earlier this year, music fans interested in learning about the history of the Grammy Awards had to go to Los Angeles to visit the Grammy Museum. But in March, the museum opened a second location in Cleveland, Mississippi, which is a testament to the monumental influence of the Mississippi Delta on modern American music. Opened on the campus of Delta State University, the new 28,000-square-foot museum has more than 25 exhibits that explore numerous aspects of music. In addition to providing information on the blues heritage of the Mississippi Delta, the museum galleries feature music of every genre, from rock ’n’ roll to hip-hop, country, classical, Latin, R&B and jazz. The museum’s greatest strength is its interactive experiences: Guests can write and record their own songs in “producing pods,” with guidance from artist Keb’ Mo’, learn dance moves from throughout the years from Grammy winner Ne-Yo on an illuminated dance floor or play electronic instruments in the Roland Room. W W W.G R A M M Y M US EU M M S.O RG

THE MUSEUM GALLERIES FEATURE MUSIC OF EVERY GENRE, FROM ROCK ’N’ ROLL TO HIP-HOP, COUNTRY,

VisitVicksburg.com 20 /VisitVicksburg

Scan this QR to visit our mobile site and get your keys to Vicksburg.

CLASSICAL, LATIN, R&B AND JAZZ.


Courtesy MS Dept. of Archives and History

662-423-0051 info@tishomingo.org www.tishomingofunhere.org

3 A DUAL DEBUT Mississippi is celebrating its bicentennial throughout 2017 with events scheduled in various parts of the state. But the festivities will culminate in December in the capital city of Jackson, where two new museums will open to tell the story of statehood, as well as Mississippi’s role in the civil rights movement. The two museums will sit adjacent to each other in a 200,000-square-foot center that has been funded with more than $107 million of public and private money. The Museum of Mississippi History will tell the comprehensive story of the state, beginning with the area’s Native American inhabitants and continuing through slavery, statehood, the Civil War and Reconstruction, as well as events of the 20th and 21st centuries. Thousands of people around the state have donated artifacts to the museum, including a rare 20-star American flag that commemorates Mississippi’s entrance into the Union as the 20th state. The second institution, the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, will feature seven thematic galleries that tell the story of African-Americans’ struggle for freedom and justice in the state between 1945 and 1976.

Elvis Presley Event Center Elvis Presley Birthplace

Elvis at 13 Bronze Statue State-of-the-Art Theater

W W W.G IV E 2 M I S S I S S I P P I M US EU M S.C O M

21


B.B.’S PLACE When Riley King worked at a cotton gin building in Indianola in the 1940s, he probably had little idea that he would become the world’s most famous blues musician or the building he labored in would one day house a museum in his honor. But the man, better known by his stage name, B.B. King came to define the sound of the blues, and the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center is a must-see destination for music fans in the region. Exhibits highlight the cultural and historical happenings that took place in pivotal times and places, such as the 1930s in Mississippi; the 1950s in Memphis; and the 1960s, with the worldwide growth of King’s fame alongside the civil rights movement. Visitors will also see plenty of King artifacts, including several of his guitars, all famously nicknamed Lucille. Interactive stations use video and sound to tell stories from King’s life. King died in 2015 and was buried in a memorial garden at the museum. W W W.B B KI N G M US EU M.O RG

Courtesy B.B. King Museum

4 B.B. KING CAME TO DEFINE THE SOUND OF THE BLUES, AND THE B.B. KING MUSEUM AND

Festivals and fun. Grand historic homes. Birthplace of America’s greatest playwright, Tennessee Williams. Run or bike along the scenic Riverwalk, winding around and over the Tombigbee River. Shop, dine, and savor in the ultimate Southern destination.

DELTA INTERPRETIVE CENTER IS A MUST-SEE DESTINATION FOR MUSIC FANS IN THE REGION.

Daily Historic Home Tours | Birthplace of Tennessee Williams Annual Spring Pilgrimage | Home to The W, historic public liberal arts college Tombigbee Bridge and Riverwalk | Home to Columbus Air Force Base Over 135 Restaurants and 1500 Hotel Rooms and quaint B&Bs Go to www.visitcolumbusms.org for attraction and event listings. Tennessee Williams Home & Welcome Center • 800-920-3533

22


MISSISSIPPI 1 8 1 7

2 0 1 7

LAND OF PLENTY, PAIN, AND PROMISE T H E A N N I E L AU R I E S WA I M H E A R I N M E M O R I A L E X H I B I T I O N S E R I E S

Courtesy University of MS Museum

5 OLE MISS MUSEUM The University of Mississippi, better known to many as Ole Miss, is the intellectual and cultural center of Oxford, a town in the north-central part of the state. It is also home to one of the area’s most diverse and comprehensive museum collections: the University of Mississippi Museum. The museum got its start in 1934 when a local art fan left her collections to the university, and art remains a significant part of its appeal. Strengths include its holdings in Southern folk art, Greek and Roman antiquities, American modernism and other artwork. Later acquisitions and expansions added historical items, such as 19th-century scientific instruments and American Revolutionary War documents, such as letters written by George Washington, John Hancock and John Adams. The museum complex also includes Rowan Oak, a historic building that was once the home of Nobel- and Pulitzer-winning author William Faulkner, as well as the Walton-Young Historic House, which was home to critic and satirist Stark Young. M US EU M.O L E M I S S.E D U


Sign

ME UP!

Courtesy Rock City Gardens

24

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER


GROUPS ARE HEADED TO THE

V OL UNT EE R STAT E BY B R I A N J E W E L L

JUN

F

VISITORS CAN SEE UP TO SEVEN STATES FROM THE LOVER’S LEAP OVERLOOK AT ROCK CITY GARDENS NEAR CHATTANOOGA.

17 E 20

rom the great Smoky Mountains on its eastern border to the sounds of Memphis in its southwestern tip, Tennessee is packed with classic Americana from end to end. A road trip through the Volunteer State can take groups to some signature spots that have been important parts of the American travel landscape for decades. Generations of travelers have stopped outside Chattanooga to see Rock City, flocked to Nashville to see the stars of country music at the Grand Ole Opry and made pilgrimages to Memphis to pay homage to the king of rock ’n’ roll at Elvis Presley’s Graceland. Combine these classics with a stop at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge and a patriotic celebration in Clarksville, and you’ll make a great Tennessee tour that will have your travelers reveling in the American spirit.

LEGENDS OF THE SMOKIES Located along the border that Tennessee shares with North Carolina, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is said to be the mostvisited national park in the country. And though the park was the first attraction for visitors to the area, a bevy of others have made the towns of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville some of the most beloved tourist destinations in the American Southeast. Groups that visit the Smokies will find lots of area culture and tradition, along with plenty of Americana experiences, at Dollywood. The theme park, owned in part by local hero and music legend Dolly Parton, uses rides, shows and other features to tell the stories of Dolly’s childhood and the Smokey Mountain experience. “This park is so representative of true Americana and the history of the Great Smoky Mountains that was so key in the history of the South,” said Pete Owens, Dollywood’s director of media and public relations. “It’s not all about Dolly here. It’s about the spirit of the Smokies and her history here, because she is the most colorful and well-known character to come out of the great Smoky Mountains.” Among signature Americana attractions at the park are the show “My People,” which tells the story of Parton’s siblings and cousins and their life in the Smoky Mountains, and the new wooden roller coaster, the Lightning Rod, which is inspired by the hot rod culture of the 1950s and 1960s. Many groups also enjoy a ride aboard the historic Dollywood Express. “We’re the only remaining theme park in America that has a full-size coal-powered steam train,” Owens said. “All of the engines we have now were built in the 1930s, and you can ride the train like the settlers did here until coal was phased out of the railroads in the ’40s.” The park hosts a number of annual festivals,

Artwork by Donia Simmons

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER

25


including Barbecue and Bluegrass in late May and early June, which features performances by nationally known bluegrass music artists.

A DOLLYWOOD CRAFT DEMONSTRATION

DOLLYWOOD’S FIRE CHASER EXPRESS Photos courtesy Dollywood

SEEING ROCK CIT Y In the 1930s, the owner of an outdoor park and garden in Chattanooga had a brilliant idea: He would send a painter around the country offering to put a fresh coat of paint on roadside barns provided that the barns’ owners would allow him to paint “See Rock City” on the roof in large white letters. The marketing campaign took off — at one time there were more than 900 Rock City barns around the country — and cemented Rock City as an iconic American tourist attraction. Today, there are still 62 Rock City barns in the country, as far north as Michigan and as far south as Texas. But groups that make the trip to Rock City on Lookout Mountain, just six miles from downtown Chattanooga, will find that the experience is about much more than quirky marketing. “We have very unique botanical and geological formations — huge, massive rock formations,” said Meagan Jolley, public relations manager for Rock City. “It’s 13 acres, and there are more than 400 species of flowers and plants. It takes about an hour and a half to walk through at a leisurely pace.” A walk through Rock City will treat visitors to some extraordinary sights and experiences. Besides seeing the gardens and rock formations, guests can walk across the Swing Along Bridge, which spans 200 feet over a chasm, and stand at the base of a 140-foot-high waterfall. Perhaps most famous is the lookout point at the top of the mountain, affectionately known as Lover’s Leap, where up to seven states are visible on a clear day. Rock City features several gift shops, a fudge kitchen, an indoor restaurant at the beginning of the trail and an outdoor restaurant near Lover’s Leap, which features modern Southern cuisine.

THIS PARK IS SO REPRESENTATIVE OF TRUE AMERICANA AND THE HISTORY OF THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS THAT WERE SO KEY IN THE HISTORY OF THE SOUTH — PE T E O W ENS, DOL LY W OOD

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER


AL FRESCO DINING AT ROCK CITY’S CAFÉ 7

A SUMMER WEEKEND MUSIC PERFORMANCE AT ROCK CITY

RHODODENDRON TRAIL AT ROCK CITY GARDENS Photos courtesy Rock City Gardens

SEE THE BEST OF NASHVILLE Catch the new stars, superstars, and legends of country music at the world’s longest running radio show, the Grand Ole Opry. Shows run every Friday & Saturday, plus Tuesdays in March through December.

Tour the Opry House and go behind the scenes of the show that made country music famous. Tours available daily.

Tour the Ryman, known as The Mother Church of Country Music. The history of this National Historic Landmark comes to life as never before with the state-of-the-art “Soul of Nashville” pre-tour experience and new multi-media exhibits. Tours available daily.

Enjoy a cruise, meal and show aboard the General Jackson Showboat. Midday and evening cruise options available March through December.

call today to book your Nashville eXPErieNCE! JAMIE LYNN THOMPSON

Artwork by David Brown

TOURISM SALES MANAGER 615.882.5439 | jthompson@opry.com

SANDY JUSTICE

GROUP

TOURISM SALES MANAGER 615.882.5345 | sjustice@opry.com TRAVEL LE ADER T HE

27


RYMAN AUDITORIUM, PART-TIME HOME TO THE GRAND OLE OPRY

A PHOTO OP ON THE OPRY STAGE Photos courtesy Grand Ole Opry

C OUNTRY’ S CAPITAL Nashville is the undisputed capital of country music, that most American of music styles. The city’s influence in the development of country music can be traced back to one singular phenomenon: the Grand Ole Opry. “We like to say that the Opry is the show that made country music famous,” said Wayne Chandler, director of sales and group services for the Grand Ole Opry. “The Opry is celebrating its 92nd year, and it has such a varied history. When you see old pictures of a family sitting around listening to the radio, they were listening to the Opry. We’re still carried live on the radio, but we’re also on satellite radio and have online distribution, so there are 1.5 million people listening to each one of our shows.” Opry shows take place year-round on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights, either at the Opry House or at the historic Ryman Auditorium downtown, where the show got its start. Each show features a lineup of numerous artists, which often include country superstars as well as upand-coming artists. Groups that visit the Opry should take advantage of the fantastic backstage tours, available whether or not there is a show that night. On

28

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER


the tours, guests see the area where technicians and musicians work and get to step inside several of the themed dressing rooms that have been used through the years by their country-music heroes. “Tours end by going onto the stage,” Chandler said. “In 1974, when we built the Grand Ole Opry house, we cut a six-foot circle of wood out of the Ryman stage and placed it in the center of the stage at the Opry house. So, they are the same boards that Elvis Presley and Patsy Cline and Hank Williams Sr. and all the legends stood on. Groups can come and stand in that circle after touring the backstage area.” HOME OF THE KING Since his arrival on the scene in the 1950s, Elvis Presley has personified American cool for generations of young people. Elvis died in 1977, and soon after, visitors began flocking to his Memphis mansion, Graceland, to pay their respects and reminisce about this singular entertainer. “We opened the doors in 1982, and since then, we have welcomed 20 million people through the front door of a place that meant quite a lot to Elvis,” said Kevin Kern, director of public relations for Elvis Presley Enterprises. “Graceland is really a time capsule, and the whole experience tells the story of the roots of rock ’n’ roll and the birth of music in this area.” So the museum not only covers the lives of Elvis and the Presleys at Graceland but also tells the story of rock ’n’ roll, he said. Self-guided tours of Graceland showcase the home much as Elvis left it, complete with 1970s decor, original furnishings and cherished family

WE START AT CHAPTER 1 OF THE ELVIS STORY WITH SUN STUDIOS. WE HAVE ABOUT 30 OF HIS JUMPSUITS ON DISPLAY, AND FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, WE HAVE ALL OF HIS GOLD RECORDS AND GRAMMY AWARDS ON DISPLAY. — K E V IN K ERN, ELV IS PRE SL E Y EN T ERPRISE S

let’s meet

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER

29


A SELFIE AT THE NEW GRACELAND FACILITIES

A KING SUITE AT THE NEW GUEST HOUSE AT GRACELAND

A DISPLAY AT ELVIS PRESLEY’S MEMPHIS

Photos courtesy Graceland.com

mementos. To give additional insight, each guest is issued an iPad that is preloaded with details about various aspects of the house, along with family photos and videos that help bring the mansion to life. If you have serious Elvis fans in your travel group, consider treating them to the Ultimate VIP Experience, a private, docent-led tour of the home that includes lunch or dinner, as well as the opportunity to put on white gloves and interact with some Elvis artifacts. Groups of up to 15 can participate. Of course, touring the mansion isn’t all there is to do at Graceland. This spring brought the opening of Elvis Presley’s Memphis, a new 200,000-square-foot museum and visitor center. “The crown jewel is our exhibit ‘Elvis the Entertainer,’” Kern said. “This is where the added space allows us to go further with our storytelling. We start at chapter 1 of the Elvis story with Sun Studios. We have about 30 of his jumpsuits on display, and for the first time ever, we have all of his gold records and Grammy awards on display.” Also new is the Guest House at Graceland, a $92 million, AAA Four Diamond resort with 450 guest rooms and two restaurants.

VISIT

PRESS PLAY RECORD

For half a century the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum has shared in the joy of telling the story of country music. This year, as the Museum celebrates its 50th anniversary, we pause to remember the role it has played in preserving and interpreting that story. Spend a day with us, and discover our original song.

#PressPlayRecord • #CMHOF50 • @CountryMusicHOF Downtown Nashville • CountryMusicHallofFame.org

GRACELAND

®

IN MEMPHIS

GROUP RATES AVAILABLE

Featuring an All-New, Immersive Entertainment Experience

GRACELAND.COM/GROUPS • 800-238-2010 © EPE. Graceland and its marks are trademarks of EPE. All Rights Reserved. Elvis Presley™ © 2017 ABG EPE IP LLC

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER


L E ’S C L A R K SV I L ING HOMECOM

C

larksville, a town 50 miles northwest of Nashville, is as patriotic a destination as you’ll ever visit. As the gateway to Fort Campbell, home of the Army’s famous 101st Airborne Division, Clarksville is full of service members and the people who support them. And for one weekend each year in September, the community comes together to thank and celebrate those who have served defending America. The Welcome Home Veterans celebration takes place over National POW/MIA Remembrance Day and features three days of special events to honor all veterans of the U.S. armed forces. The festivities this year will take place September 13-16. Welcome Home Veterans gets underway on Thursday evening with a POW/MIA remembrance ceremony. The next day will bring a luncheon and a speech by a former prisoner of war, as well as entertainment that will feature a 1967 Bob Hope “Tribute to the Troops.” And the highlight of the weekend will come on Saturday afternoon, when downtown Clarksville hosts a Welcome Home parade and concert. Groups get reserved seating at the parade, and members of the groups who are veterans can march in the parade.

CLARKSVILLE’S WELCOME HOME VETERANS CELEBRATION Courtesy Clarksville-Montgomery Co. CVB

Don’t Miss Out on GROUP ADMISSION DISCOUNTS Call 423-573-1927

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER


BY E L I ZA M Y E R S

E N J O Y I C O N I C A M E R I C A N A in the

BIG APPLE All photos courtesy NYC & Co. By Julienne Schaer TOURISTS TAKE PICTURES OF THE STATUE OF LIBERTY FROM ABOARD THE STATEN ISLAND FERRY.

JUN

17 E 20

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER

T

he first face to greet throngs of dreaming immigrants tired from their long journey across the sea remains one of the most recognizable images of America: the Statue of Liberty. The colossal robed lady symbolizes American values at their purest for many people but is far from the only American icon in New York City. The Big Apple offers many iconic images recognized across the world as quintessentially American. Travelers can glimpse the country’s tradition of entertainment at Coney Island, its architectural advancement at the Empire State Building and its musical innovation in Harlem. Groups nostalgic for historic and culturally relevant attractions can tour numerous well-known New York City sites beyond a quick photo op. Instead of speeding past Grand Central Station or Central Park on a driving tour, groups can enjoy walking tours outlining their historic significance. Travel planners seeking an itinerary packed full of impactful Americana attractions need look no further than historically and culturally significant New York City.


A gift from France, the Statue of Liberty, which was dedicated in 1886, stands as a symbol of American democracy. Its long history began in the 1870s in France. Guests touring the site can learn the difficulties of building the 305-foot statue and how it welcomed 12 million immigrants entering the United States through Ellis Island. Groups often tour the neoclassical sculpture alongside the neighboring Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. To avoid a long wait for a ferry, groups can choose a private tour with priority boarding, in which a guide leads a tour of the Statue of Liberty Museum for insight into the statue’s original torches and other rare memorabilia. Participants then view panoramas of the city’s skyline from the statue’s observation deck before heading on a ferry to Ellis Island. The island served as the United States’ main immigration entry point for 62 years. Many U.S. citizens have at least one ancestor who passed through the immigration checkpoint. In the Great Hall, visitors can learn how to trace their family there. Other exhibits detail going through Ellis Island as an immigrant through personal stories, artifacts and family photos.

By Tagger Yancey

THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING IS AN ICON OF THE NEW YORK SKYLINE.

By Julienne Schaer

S TAT U E O F L I B E R T Y AND ELLIS ISL AND

THE ELLIS ISLAND NATIONAL MUSEUM OF IMMIGRATION OCCUPIES THE CHECKPOINT WHERE MILLIONS OF IMMIGRANTS ENTERED THE UNITED STATES.

CONEY ISLAND

E M P I R E S TAT E B U I L D I N G

Whether it’s thrills aboard the famous Cyclone roller coaster or the nostalgia of walking down a historic 2.7-mile-long boardwalk, Coney Island is in the business of doling out plenty of fun. More than a century ago, Coney Island stood out among the country’s most popular seaside resorts. The “People’s Playground” suffered during the Great Depression, but in 2010, the area’s famous Luna Park reopened to its former splendor, along with new restaurants and bars. The revamped amusement park retains its oldtime carnival feel from the period when New York visitors flocked to the beach for its bathing pavilions, resorts and thrilling coasters. The island now features several separate amusement parks, including the original Luna Park, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park and the New York Aquarium. The Coney Island Museum recently reopened after a year and a half of renovations. Guests can now learn about the park’s heyday with exhibits and displays such as distortion fun house mirrors, vintage bumper cars and rare 1900s postcards. Groups can explore the brightly colored beach getaway on their own or with a two-hour guided walk with New York Local Tours. During the tour, guides point out sites of interest, like original Nathan’s Famous, while regaling participants with tales of the notorious characters tied to Coney Island. Each June, crowds turn out for the Coney Island Mermaid Parade to celebrate the beginning of the summer season. The parade pays homage to the Coney Island Mardi Gras parades of the early 20th century.

Whether or not New York City visitors decide to ride up to the 84th floor on the Empire State Building, they can hardly miss this easily recognized landmark. The second-tallest building in the city needs no introduction after being featured in countless movies and television shows and virtually every skyline photo of the Big Apple. This pencil-silhouetted Art Deco building serves as a monument of progress for New York City. Groups can skip the long lines and travel straight up to the Observation Deck to see all the city’s highlights from 1,050 feet high. Maps help onlookers find Central Park, the Hudson River, Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square and more. The open-air deck also offers high-powered binoculars for a closer look. The 360-degree views of the city make it a perfect beginning or end to an itinerary of the city. A multimedia audio tour guides visitors through the exhibits and provides additional background on the building’s history. The evening view of the building also dazzles guests with its dynamic lighting system, which features 16 million colors for almost unlimited combinations to celebrate various holidays and events.

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER


HARLEM

Courtesy

GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL

Visitors can picture the world of early-20thcentury American high society at the grandiose Grand Central Terminal. Constructed at the height of long-distance passenger rail travel, the 48-acre terminal is one of the world’s largest and mostvisited tourist attractions. The jaw-dropping main concourse that stretches 200 feet long, 120 feet wide and 120 feet high uses a twinkling fiber-optic map of the constellations to light up its blue ceiling. Modeled after an ancient Roman public bath, the majestic public space is a stunning example of ornate Beaux Arts neoclassical architecture. Groups can admire the marble floors, chandeliers and sky-themed ceiling on their own or on an audio or guided tour. Orpheo USA, a producer of audio tours, offers an audio history of the terminal that can last from 30 minutes to over an hour for architectural highlights and little-known anecdotes from the terminal. Docent-led tours also tell little-known facts about the terminal. The whispering gallery is one of the favorite points of interest for tours. Guests can listen as sound mysteriously travels across the 2,000-squarefoot chamber. Some groups also stop at the terminal for a meal stop, since its foodie fare varies from the upscale Michael Jordan’s The Steak House N.Y.C. to the classic Oyster Bar.

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER

Groups can use their senses when exploring the influential heritage of Harlem with soul-food tours, live gospel services or jazz concerts. These same streets that innovators like Langston Hughes, Ella Fitzgerald and Bessie Smith frequented are now synonymous with African-American culture. The neighborhood transformed the cultural landscape of the United States, especially during the early 20th century when it became known as the Capital of Black America. Tours of Harlem focus on the artistic, literary and musical contributions of the 1920s Harlem Renaissance, which forever changed the country. Walking tours such as Free Tours by Foot, Harlem Heritage Tours and Big Onion Walking Tours introduce groups to the 400-year history and artistic legacy of the area. All tours pass through 125th Street, which is anchored by the Apollo Theater. The Apollo opened in 1934 and helped introduce the world to the Jackson 5, Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown and other prominent AfricanAmerican musicians. The Abyssinian Baptist Church, Sylvia’s Soul-Food Restaurant and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture also stand out on a Harlem tour. Live gospel services and jazz nightclubs keep the area’s music tradition alive. Groups can attend these events or taste their way through the neighborhood on a Taste Harlem tour. These tours allow groups to sample soul food, Caribbean cuisine and authentic African fare while also learning about the area’s churches, architecture and rich history. Other museums that provide context for a visit to the area are the Studio Museum of Harlem and the nearby National Jazz Museum in Harlem.

THE APOLLO THEATER IS A HARLEM CULTURAL INSTITUTION. By Kate Glicksberg

By Tagger Yancey

GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL IS ONE OF THE COUNTRY’S MOST BEAUTIFUL EXAMPLES OF BEAUX ARTS ARCHITECTURE.


C E N T R A L PA R K

As New York City underwent rapid growth during the mid-1800s, city officials with foresight recognized the need for a public park. Now a National Historic Landmark, the 843-acre Central Park not only sits next to some of the city’s most notable museums but remains a must-see attraction itself. The beloved urban park offers groups many options, from Shakespeare in the Park in the summer to the historic Central Park Zoo. Groups that wander through the park should not be surprised if they recognize much of it, since numerous movies and television shows have been filmed there. The park offers free guided tours to some of the park’s highlights, which include the Dairy, Sheep Meadow, Cherry Hill, the Lake and Literary Walk. These tours allow guests to learn the fascinating backstory of the park, which officially opened in 1873. Guides describe the park’s construction, when more gunpowder was used to clear the area than was used at the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. Stops at the Bethesda Fountain and Bow Bridge also reveal why the park is called a living work of art.

Y CENTRAL PARK IS MANHATTAN’S FAVORITE GREEN SPACE AND THE SETTING FOR MANY MEMORABLE FILM SCENES.

O.

— WWW.NYCGO.COM —

By Christopher Postlewaite

GIVE BETTER TOGETHER

Join forces with 160+ member companies and 13,000+ travel professionals to amplify your giving and marketing, and inspire your employees.

Find out more at TourismCares.org

Ad space generously donated.

a f a m i ly o f br a n d s

200 Tourism Cares donors gave nearly $100,000 to social enterprises to help rebuild Nepal after a tragic earthquake.

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER


DIM THE LIGHTS BROADWAY H AS BLOCKBUSTERS ON TAP

THEATERS

T

B Y S AVA N NA H O S B O U R N

WITH MORE THAN 30 RESIDENT PRODUCTIONS, THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING NEW HAPPENING ON BROADWAY. WHILE “HAMILTON” PREPARES TO DEPART ON A NATIONAL TOUR, OTHER SHOWS ARE TAKING CENTER STAGE IN THE THEATER WORLD, SUCH AS THE HIGHLY ANTICIPATED BROADWAY VERSION OF “FROZEN,” COMING IN 2018, AND AWARD-WINNING REVIVALS LIKE “MISS SAIGON” AND “HELLO DOLLY.” FAMILY FAVORITES ALSO CONTINUE TO PACK THEATERS, FROM THE WHIMSICAL TALE OF A LOST RUSSIAN STRANDED AIRLINE PRINCESS IN “ANASTASIA” TO A BOY WITH A LUCKY GOLDEN PASSENGERS BOND IN TICKET IN “CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOL ATE FACTORY.” AS CANADIAN-BASED MUSICAL, “COME FROM AWAY.” TR AVEL GROUPS WEIGH THESE TREMENDOUS OPTIONS, THEY SHOULD CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING MUST-SEE SHOWS FROM THIS SEASON.

GUIDE

‘C OM E F ROM AWA Y ’

Courtesy Broadway.com

ANDY KARL STARS AS DISGRUNTLED WEATHERMAN PHIL CONNERS IN THIS MUSICAL ADAPTION OF “GROUNDHOG DAY.” Courtesy Broadway.com

Written by husband-and-wife team David Hein and Irene Sankoff, “Come From Away” sheds light on the remarkable true story of 38 planes that were forced to land outside a small Canadian town in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 when U.S. borders abruptly closed. Stranded for five days, nearly 7,000 passengers and flight crew members find themselves at the mercy of the townspeople of Gander, Newfoundland, who rally to house, feed and comfort their unexpected guests. “It’s an amazing story of how these people opened their hearts and homes to complete strangers,” said Stephanie Lee, president of Broadway.com. Over the course of 100 uninterrupted minutes, the audience will laugh and cry with different characters, from the terrified mother trying to reach her firefighter son back home to a pair of passengers who develop an unlikely romance and a Muslim man who must contend with the mistrust and alienation of his companions. With so much turbulence in today’s world, the musical is a refreshing reminder of the human capacity for compassion and resilience in the face of difficult circumstances. “Some people are put off by the idea of a musical about September 11th,” said Lee. “But it’s really a story about September 12th and the days following.” “Come From Away” quickly rose to critical acclaim this year, receiving nominations for seven Tony awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. W W W. C O M E F R O M AWAY. C O M

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER


‘GROU N DHOG DA Y ’ Based on the classic 1993 film starring Bill Murray, “Groundhog Day” centers on a disgruntled weatherman, Phil Conners, as he begrudgingly travels to the sleepy town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to cover the annual Groundhog Day celebration. Due to the sudden arrival of a snowstorm, Phil and his crew are forced to stay the night. To his horror, he wakes the next morning to find himself reliving the same day all over again. As the time loop continues, his comical responses to the situation range from criminal escapades to suicidal attempts and Good Samaritan acts, accompanied by repeated efforts to win the affections of his producer, Rita. The musical opened in London last year to rave critical reception, but the show experienced a rocky transition to Broadway when it arrived in early spring, which the cast and crew weathered with admirable resolve. In Act I of its first preview performance, a turntable malfunction forced the show to a halt, though cast members chose to sing the remaining musical numbers concert style, without staging or choreography. During a subsequent preview show, just three days before its official premiere, lead actor Andy Karl suffered a severe knee injury onstage. In a true display of showmanship, he returned to the stage using a cane for support and completed the performance, and then received an emotional standing ovation at the end. Despite these initial setbacks, the musical proceeded to earn seven Tony Award nominations and continues to captivate audiences. W W W. G R O U N D H O G D AY M U S I C A L . C O M

‘ WA R PA I N T ’

PATTI LUPONE AND CHRISTINE EBERSOLE PORTRAY RIVAL COSMETIC TITANS IN “WAR PAINT.” Courtesy Broadway.com

It is rare to see two historic figures portrayed by equally reputable artists. In the new musical “War Paint,” Tony Award-winning actresses Patty LuPone and Christine Ebersole take on the roles of cosmetic titans Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden, who revolutionized the way the world viewed women in business during the early 20th century. “To see these two actresses playing these characters is a treat — they are Broadway legends in themselves,” said Lee. Inspired by the 2007 documentary “The Powder and the Glory,” the show explores the intense rivalry between these two powerful women, who both spent a lifetime transforming themselves from poor immigrants to household names. What makes this story arc such a feat is that Arden and Rubinstein never met in real life, despite their salons having stood mere blocks from each other in Manhattan. To bridge this narrative gap, the story highlights the parallels between their lives — their masked loneliness, relationship strife and most of all, unwavering resolve — hinting that, perhaps, in another life, these competitors might have been great friends. Rubinstein once said about her rival, “With her packaging and my product, we could have ruled the world.” W W W.WA R PA I NT M US I CA L .CO M

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER


‘A L A DDI N ’

TONY AWARD-WINNING ACTOR JAMES MONROE IGLEHART PLAYS THE GENIE IN “ALADDIN.”

Courtesy Disney Theatrical Group

Now in its third year on Broadway, “Aladdin” transports viewers to the exotic and vibrant world of Agrabah, a fictional Middle Eastern kingdom where a lowly street thief named Aladdin attempts to win the heart of the noble Princess Jasmine with the help of a magic lamp and a flying carpet. This romantic adventure takes flight under the spotlight with lavish costumes and a breathtaking set designed by seven-time Tony winner Bob Crowley. “Aladdin’ is a musical comedy but with that Disney magic that keeps groups coming back to our shows,” said Suzanne Gregory, assistant manager at Disney Theatrical Group. Fans of the 1992 animated Disney film of the same title will recognize many musical numbers from legendary composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman. The dreamy ballad “A Whole New World” emanates magic with glittering stars and a flying carpet that appears to float seamlessly over the stage and audience. As the wisecracking Genie, James Monroe Iglehart offers a zestful rendition of “Friend Like Me,” which includes references to “Beauty and the Beast,” “West Side Story” and other Broadway hits. Jonathan Freeman reprises his role from the film as the sinister Jafar. One of the most noticeable contrasts with the film is the replacement of the animal companions with human counterparts: Iago the sneering parrot becomes a pint-sized henchman, and three thieving pals take the place of Aladdin’s monkey sidekick, Abu. The musical began its first North American tour in April. W W W. A L A D D I NTH E M US I CA L .CO M

THE DRE A M Y BA LL A D “A W H O L E N E W W O R L D ” EM A NATES M AGIC W ITH GLITTERING STARS A ND A FLYING C ARPET THAT APPE ARS TO FLOAT SE AMLESSLY OVER THE STAGE A ND AUDIENCE.

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER


‘ T H E L ION K I NG’ Since its musical debut in 1997, “The Lion King” has thrilled audiences of all ages, drawing inspiration from the beloved 1994 Disney film. The imaginative coming-of-age story follows a young lion named Simba as he explores the colorful and dangerous African landscape; befriends a comical warthog named Pumbaa and a meerkat named Timon; and eventually faces off against his scheming uncle, Scar, who covets his birthright as leader of the lion pride. “‘The Lion King’ is that landmark theatrical event,” said Gregory. “There’s nothing else like it.” The animal kingdom roars to life onstage in the form of towering puppets and vibrant, African-themed costumes, from giraffes portrayed by actors on stilts to mechanical headpieces on the lions. While adding new music and expanded narrative features, the show also brings back the unforgettable songs composed by Elton John and Tim Rice, including “Circle of Life,” “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King,” “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” The Tony and Olivier Award-winning musical takes the crown as Broadway’s highest grossing production of all time, and is the third-longestrunning show on Broadway.

RAFIKI THE SHAMAN SINGS “CIRCLE OF LIFE” IN “THE LION KING.”

By Joan Marcus, courtesy Disney Theatrical Group

W W W. LI O N KI N G.CO M

GOODSPEED MUSICALS Home of the American Musical

Enjoy large-scale musicals featuring Broadway actors in a space so intimate no seat is more than 16 rows from the stage. •Group-friendly restaurant next door—packages available • FREE onsite bus parking

OKLAHOMA! July 14 - Sept 23

RAGS

Oct 6 - Dec 10

A CONNECTICUT CHRISTMAS CAROL Nov 17 - Dec 24

CONTACT KATE MICARI-MILLER: 860.615.0316 groups@goodspeed.org

goodspeed.org GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER


ENTREES AND ENCORES THEATER

T

DI N N E R T H E A T E R S A R E A M E R IC A N A A T I T S BE S T B Y S AVA N NA H O S B O U R N

JUN

GUIDE

17 E 20

DINNER THEATERS ENJOY A STEADY PATRONAGE FROM TR AVEL GROUPS. TO MAKE SURE YOU FIND THE BEST ENTERTAINMENT FOR YOUR GROUP, WE HIGHLIGHTED FIVE DINNER THEATERS WITH REPUTATIONS FOR EXCELLENCE.

C A N DL E L IGH T PAV I L ION DI N N E R T H E AT E R

“JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT” AT CANDLELIGHT PAVILION DINNER THEATER

CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA

Courtesy Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater

LAVISH TABLE PLACE SETTINGS AT CANDLELIGHT PAVILION DINNER THEATER

Courtesy Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater

For over 30 years, Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater has delighted groups with a rare combination of fine dining and Broadway-caliber productions. Guests are encouraged to arrive early to take advantage of the full waiter service and menu, which features a wide selection of wines, hors d’oeuvres, appetizing entrees and homemade desserts. “People can sit down and have a wonderful dinner experience, then turn their chair to have a wonderful theater experience as well,” said Mindy Teuber, who helps run the theater with her brother, Michael Billinger. Though many dinner theaters reside in smaller cities, Candlelight Pavilion caters to the eclectic Los Angeles market and prides itself in presenting a diverse range of shows. “One of the things we’ve accomplished is making sure there’s a musical in every season for every demographic, from something edgy like ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘South Pacific’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ for families,” said Teuber. Candlelight Pavilion produces an average of eight to 10 musicals per year, each running for approximately seven weeks. Other shows on the 2017 lineup include “The Wizard of Oz”; “My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra”; “The Sounds of Christmas”; and “9 to 5,” a female-driven comedy about working in an office. After their father, Ben Bollinger, passed on the business to them, Teuber and her brother worked hard to maintain a family feel within the theater environment. “Mike does a curtain speech every night,” said Teuber. “You’re not just treated as a guest; you’re part of the family as soon as you come here. I think people sense that right away.” W W W.C A N D L E L I G H T PAV I L I O N .CO M

40

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER


CI RC A ’21 DI N N E R PL A Y HOUSE ROCK ISLAND, ILLINOIS Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse occupies a building in Rock Island, Illinois, that has a long history of entertainment. Originally used as a movie theater for more than 50 years, the historic building was renovated and converted into a dinner theater in 1976. Now in its 40th season, Circa ’21 offers professional Broadway productions from seasoned New York directors and producers. From May to July, the theater presents a new romantic comedy called “Snapshots: A Musical Scrapbook,” which blends beloved musical hits from composer Stephen Schwartz’s Broadway productions like “Wicked” and “Pippin” into a heartwarming story about a middle-aged couple rediscovering their romantic connection. Featured July through September, the classic Western romp “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” follows the lighthearted tale of a sister who decides to play matchmaker for her six brothers and inadvertently convinces them to kidnap six brides. Music lovers can catch a performance of “Ring of Fire” between September and November, which pays homage to rock and country music legend Johnny Cash. Theater doors open two hours before the show, allowing groups plenty of time to find a table and enjoy a preshow from the servers, many of whom hold acting degrees. Circa ’21 is one of two theaters in the country that features a performing waitstaff. In addition, each show comes with a distinct five-entree buffet. “We have a wonderful chef who gets really creative with the food,” said Brett Hitchcock, director of audience development. “We always try to take in dietary concerns such as gluten-free and vegetarian.” On the productions’ off nights — Monday, Tuesday and Thursday — the theater often hosts concerts, such as Jimi Hendrix and The Eagles tribute acts. W W W.CI R CA 21 .CO M

“LEGALLY BLONDE” AT CIRCA ’21 DINNER PLAYHOUSE

Courtesy Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse

A TASTY TREAT FROM FIRESIDE DINNER THEATRE

Courtesy Fireside Dinner Theatre

F I R E SI DE DI N N E R T H E AT R E FORT ATKINSON, WISCONSIN The Fireside Dinner Theatre first opened as a restaurant in 1964, later expanding to include the theater. Since then, the third-generation, family-owned company has added four gift shops where visitors can browse specialty items like music and movie memorabilia, home decor, garden accessories and boutique handbags as they wait for shows to start. The theater offers seven shows a week year-round, with matinee performances on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Each production is accompanied by a new story-themed menu; the recent staging of “South Pacific,” for example, featured savory items such as tropical salad, shrimp tempura, Hawaiian rib-eye steak and banana pudding with caramel rum sauce for dessert. “The dining is completely first-rate across the board,” said Julie Nordeen, marketing manager for the company. Starting in June, “Back to the 50’s” pays homage to the decade that gave the world rock ’n’ roll through tributes to artists like Jerry Lee Lewis, Patsy Cline, Nat King Cole and Ricky Nelson. “Elvis Lives” treats fall audiences to performances from finalists of the international Ultimate Elvis Tribute Contest, and “Miracle on 34th Street” opens during the holidays. Any visitor with a religious background will appreciate the goodnatured humor of “Church Basement Ladies,” featured July through September. The comedy musical follows the antics of four well-meaning women in their church basement as they attempt to helm a community dinner, a funeral, a fundraiser and, finally, a wedding, resulting in one misadventure after the next. The Fireside is also one of the first regional theaters to obtain the rights to “Newsies” and “The Little Mermaid” as part of its 2018 lineup. W W W. F I R E S I D E T H E AT R E . C O M

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER

41


DU TCH A PPL E DI N N E R T H E AT R E LANCASTER, PENNSYLVANIA Tom and Debbie Prather produced shows throughout Pennsylvania for more than 20 years before founding the Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre in 1987, allowing them to implement their expertise and create a quality food and theater experience. As the theater flourished, they later opened the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Fort Myers, Florida, as well as the Prather Entertainment Group, which is now on tour performing the acrobatic hit “Pippin.” At the company’s base in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, audiences can look forward to a varied show lineup beginning with “Peter Pan” from June to August; that is followed by “Pippin” until September and “White Christmas” over the holidays, in addition to an original production written by owner Tom Prather called “Second Chances: The Thrift Shop Musical.” Though Dutch Apple generally presents musicals, it occasionally hosts comedies and interactive murder mysteries as well. “We utilize Broadway sets for some of these shows, which is so much fun to work with,” said Denise Trupe, general manager and marketing director for the theater. “To incorporate it into our facilities, we have to step outside the box and reimagine the shows in a way that still captivates the audience.” The theater features an American-style buffet Sunday through Wednesday, with more upscale options like prime rib and specialty salads available Friday and Saturday. On Thursdays, guests can take advantage of a rich four-course meal served directly to the tables by waitstaff. W W W. D UTC HAPP LE .CO M

“RING OF FIRE” AT DUTCH APPLE DINNER THEATRE

Courtesy Dutch Apple Theatre

YOU’RE RIGHT THERE EXPERIENCING THE PERFORM A NCE W ITH THE ACTORS. — PAT RICI A RE T T IG, BEEF A ND BO A RD S

42

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER

Courtesy Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre


BE E F A N D BOA R DS DI N N E R T H E AT R E INDIANAPOLIS Located in College Park near The Pyramids in Indianapolis, Indiana, Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre is famous for two things: classic musicals and mouthwatering hand-carved beef. Groups are asked to arrive 90 minutes before the show to enjoy a buffet dinner in the main auditorium, where the stage is rolled back to provide more dining space. This intimate semicircle holds 450 seats in six rows, so guests are never far from the stage. “You’re right there experiencing the performance with the actors,” said Patricia Rettig, director of marketing and media relations. “We’re able to pull off shows with a little more heart and a little less flair.” Menu options include a salad bar, gourmet desserts, a fullservice bar and the theater’s signature hand-carved beef, though certain foods can be tailored to group preferences with notice. “We’re happy to adjust the experience to the group, so all the group leader has to do is communicate their needs,” said Rettig. During intermission, servers return with drinks and desserts. Coffee, tea and lemonade are included in the ticket. As the theater prepares to celebrate its 45th season next year, it will kick off the 2017 summer program with its first-ever showing of “Shrek the Musical.” “Every year, we do a show right around when school lets out that’s geared toward families,” said Rettig. “Last year, it was “Beauty and the Beast.” In the summer and early fall, the theater shifts toward more traditional productions like “Ring of Fire” and “West Side Story,” followed by “Ghost the Musical” from October through November. “We have a lot of fun with the Halloween season,” said Rettig. “Last year, we did ‘Into the Woods.’” This winter, the annual Beef and Boards Christmas show will mark its 25th anniversary.

Celebrating our 40th Theatre Season!

July 27 - Sept 10

Sept 14 - Oct 29

Nov 2 - Dec 23

2018 Season On Sale Now!

PHANTOM • NEWSIES • 42ND STREET CHURCH BASEMENT LADIES 2 - A Second Helping Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID • GREASE ELF THE MUSICAL

W W W. B E E FA N D BOARDS.COM

Superb Musicals | Memorable Dining Family Hospitality | Spectacular Shops VIEW FROM STAGE AT BEEF AND BOARDS DINNER THEATRE

1131 Janesville Ave, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538 800-477-9505 | www.firesidetheatre.com

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER


A PPA L ACH I A A N D A M E R IC A N A W E S T

V I R G I N I A

I S

R I C H

I N

B O T H

JUN

17 E 20

Photos courtesy Hatfield McCoy CVB THE NOTORIOUS HATFIELD FAMILY CREATED AN ENDURING LEGEND IN THE MOUNTAINS OF WEST VIRGINIA.

44

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER


A BEACHFRONT FESTIVAL IN WILMINGTON

LOST WORLD CAVERNS

Courtesy Greenbrier Co. CVB

B Y R AC H E L C A RT E R

Much of West Virginia is still wild: Dense forests, rushing rivers and the rolling hills of the Allegheny Mountains lend the state an untamed air. But West Virginia is also home to bustling college cities, quaint small towns and historic luxury resorts. Groups that visit the region should explore the forests of Logan County on a UTV trail ride, tour the formerly top-secret fallout shelter hidden beneath an elegant hotel and sip moonshine made from the Hatfield clan’s recipe. GREENBRIER COUNT Y For 30 years, The Greenbrier hid a secret. A 112,000-squarefoot bunker buried 720 feet into the hillside beneath the historic luxury hotel was built to house members of Congress during a national emergency or a nuclear war. “It was private for 30 years; then the New York Times broke the story that there’s an actual bunker there,” said Kristi

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER

45


THE STUNNING ENTRANCE TO THE GREENBRIER

FOOTHILLS BREWING IN WINSTON-SALEM

Godby, media relations manager for the Greenbrier County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Greenbrier is a National Historic Landmark that has been welcoming guests, including several presidents, to its 11,000-acre resort since 1778. But visitors don’t have to stay at the exclusive Greenbrier to see the fallout shelter. Behind the 1.5-foot-thick door is a military bunker that “is such a contrast with The Greenbrier,” she said. Public bunker tours are available daily, and groups of 15 or more people can schedule private tours. The Greenbrier hotel is a centerpiece of Greenbrier County, but Lewisburg, a town of 4,000, is the county seat. Downtown covers a three-block area with arts, shopping, restaurants and even a Carnegie Hall. “When I came here 17 years ago, I thought Lewisburg was adorable,” Godby said. “It was the first time I was old enough to realize the allure of a cute small town.” Steel baron and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie built Lewisburg’s Carnegie Hall in 1902, initially for the Lewisburg Female Institute. Lewisburg’s is one of only four Carnegie Halls in the world still in continuous operation. Today, the Georgian Revival structure houses a cultural center, and the soaring columns at the entrance welcome visitors to concerts, films and art exhibitions. During the summer, the center has free concerts on the lawn. Groups can also arrange for a

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER

Courtesy Greenbrier Co. CVB

walk-and-talk tour of Carnegie Hall’s three small art galleries before enjoying a private musical performance by a staff member who plays the harp. The mellow Greenbrier River is nice for a float, and the 78-mile Greenbrier River Trail that runs along its banks is another favorite way to experience the river. Greenbrier Outfitters offers kayaking, falconry, geocaching and mountain bike rentals, and both Greenbrier Outfitters and Free Spirit Adventures offer bike rentals and rides along the Greenbrier River Trail. Part of the trail, however, is now closed due to flooding damage. Greenbrier River Campground offers group day trips on the river via canoe, kayak, tubes or river pontoon boats. The Allegheny Mountains are strewn with caves and caverns. Lost World Caverns is a “huge, open cavern with some really beautiful natural features,” Godby said. Stalagmites and stalactites surround the walking path, which offers an easy, self-guided tour that a 5-year-old or a 90-year-old can handle. Organ Cave is popular with both geology and history buffs. The cave was one of the biggest suppliers of saltpeter, a primary ingredient in gunpowder, for the Confederate Army, and visitors can see the preserved Civil War-era equipment in the cave during guided walking tours. W W W.GR EE N BR I ERW V.COM


MORGA NTOW N What makes Morgantown unique isn’t the plentiful rafting, fishing and rock climbing in the surrounding mountains, although there’s plenty of that; it’s that the city is home to West Virginia University (WVU), “and with that brings all types of opportunities,” said Susan Riddle, executive director of the Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitors Bureau. The university is a hub of both student and resident life in the city, as well as a major attraction for visitors. Located on 91 acres, the WVU Core Arboretum has three miles of walking trails between the WVU Coliseum and the Monongahela River. The trails lead through old-growth forest, groomed lawns and wildflower fields dotted with interpretive signs, trailside benches and a small amphitheater. In May, the university also opened the new Falling Run Trail project, 16 newly constructed biking and hiking paths that connect the downtown campus to WVU’s Organic Research Farm. The university also owns and operates its own zip line and aerial adventure course on its research campus. The Adventure WV Outdoor Education Center includes a canopy tour with four zip lines, an aerial bridge, an aerial ladder and a rappel station. Groups can also tackle the challenge course with high and low ropes elements. Zip lining with WVU adds an extra element because guides “teach you about sustainability and what the trees are used for,” Riddle said.

DOWNTOWN LEWISBURG

LEWISBURG’S CARNEGIE HALL Photos courtesy Greenbrier Co. CVB

MAKE YOUR

NEXT ADVENTURE A

MOUNTAINRAIL ADVENTURE!

Six trains, three depots. Trains depart from Elkins, Cass and Durbin.

866.457.3418 • MTN-RAIL.COM

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER

47


A CHARMING BACK ROAD IN GREENBRIER COUNTY

CYCLING IN RURAL WEST VIRGINIA Photos courtesy Greenbrier Co. CVB

The new 2,500-seat Monongalia County Ballpark, which opened in 2015, is home to the minor league West Virginia Black Bears and the WVU Mountaineers baseball teams. On campus, the WVU Art Museum is “wonderful” and another popular stop with groups, said Kay Fanok, the CVB’s assistant executive director. One of the museum’s current exhibitions, on display through October, features the work of street artist and activist Shepard Fairey. Visitors are now adding a new stop in downtown: At the Metropolitan Theatre, they see a new statue of Don Knotts that was unveiled in July. Knotts is Morgantown’s famous native son and WVU alumnus and was best known for his role as Barney Fife in “The Andy Griffith Show.” The Met is home to the Morgantown Community Orchestra, and the West Virginia Public Theater partners with the WVU College of Creative Arts to put on musicals and plays. One of Morgantown’s most popular attractions is its public transit. The Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit system

48

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER

first started running in 1975 as a government-funded pilot program. The system connects WVU’s three campuses and the downtown area, and individual passenger cars that look like small buses run on dedicated tracks powered by electrified rails. Visitors often like to ride the system and learn about its history and engineering, Fanok said. W W W.T OU R MORG A N T OW N.COM

LOGAN COUNT Y The Hatfield-McCoy feud has today become entrenched in American folklore. William Anderson Hatfield, known as Devil Anse Hatfield, was the patriarch of the Hatfield clan during the feud, but he managed to survive it and even helped end it in 1891. The Hatfield McCoy Convention and Visitors Bureau, which promotes Logan County and its three main cities — Chapmanville, Logan and Man — offers a selfguided driving tour map that highlights the significant stops pertaining to the feud, said CVB executive director Debrina Williams. “The Devil is buried in Logan County,” she said, and visitors like to swing by his gravesite, which is marked by a marble statue. Although not the cause of the feud, both the Hatfield and McCoy families were known to make and sell illegal moonshine, and visitors can get a taste of that history today. The now legal Hatfield and McCoy Moonshine Distillery is owned by Chad and Amber Bishop, and Amber is a “direct descendant of Devil Anse Hatfield, so they claim that is Devil Anse’s recipe,” Williams said. Groups can take a behind-the-scenes tour of the distillery, sample the ’shine and browse the gift shop. One could argue that West Virginia is known for two things: moonshine and music. Every Friday and Saturday night at Chief Logan State Park, audiences gather for Pickin’ in the Park. Local musicians get together to jam at an old horse stable that was converted into a music venue, where they can hear some classic country, gospel and bluegrass, as well as take part in a downhome hoedown.


DEVIL ANSE HATFIELD’S GRAVE IN LOGAN COUNTY

“This area is well known for its history with music and sitting on porches in days gone by, playing a fiddle and guitar, and singing,” Williams said. “And every Friday and Saturday, they’ll teach you how to two-step if you don’t know how, and they will highly encourage you to learn.” Also in the 4,400-acre park, visitors will find a museum that features regional historic art and artifacts, such as quilts and Blenko Glass, and a wildlife center that features West Virginia native animals, including bobcats, barred owls, wild boar and two black bears named Mandy and Rascal. In the summer, groups can catch performances at the park’s outdoor amphitheater; this season features “Hairspray” in June and “Grease” in August, with discounted tickets for groups. The Hatfield-McCoy region also has more than 600 miles of off-road trails and roads that crisscross and connect area counties. Most are open to dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and UTVs — side-by-side, off-road vehicles that can

HATFIELD AND MCCOY MOONSHINE DISTILLERY Photos courtesy Hatfield McCoy CVB

seat up to six people — although Bear Wallow Trail in Logan is now open to Jeeps and other four-wheel-drive vehicles. Scarlet Flame Side-X-Side Adventures takes small groups on UTV trail tours, driving fast and slow, through dirt and mud. Twin Hollow Campground and Cabins also offers ATV rentals, and groups can take a picnic lunch with them or simply ride into town, which is legal, to park and grab lunch. “It’s a fabulous day to spend in the mountains,” Williams said. “It’s very scenic, and it’s very peaceful, but it can be a thrill-rushing ride as well.” W W. H ATFI ELDMCCOYC V B .COM

SEE FOR YOURSELF Stop in and browse handcrafted, West Virginia-made products. Grab a bite of our famous fried green tomato sandwich, or stretch your legs in our beautiful courtyard. Tucked in the hills, yet right off the interstate, Tamarack is here to be the favorite part of your journey.

EXIT 45 I-77/I-64 BECKLEY, WV TAMARACKWV.COM 1.888.262.7225

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER

49


sound-off

STAFF H AT A

OU

We are making our annual summer trek to Grayling, Michigan, to visit my parents and go fly fishing and canoeing on the Au Sable River. My kids are also begging me to go to the beach again this year, so hopefully sun and sand are also in our future. — Kelly Tyner, DIRECTOR OF SALES AND MARKETING

This summer, I will be taking a weeklong trip from Vancouver to Toronto on a train. I’ve never been to Canada or spent the night on a train, so needless to say, I’m very excited! — Savannah Osbourn, STAFF WRITER

U

AV Disney. — Stacey Bowman, DIRECTOR, ADVERTISING SALES

I have a new niece in Atlanta that I haven’t met yet, so my family will be taking a long weekend to go see the baby and spend some time with my brother’s family. They are members of the Atlanta Aquarium, so my daughter and his always enjoy taking an excursion to the aquarium together when we are in town. — Brian Jewell, EXECUTIVE EDITOR

A

?

We’re celebrating my husband’s 30th birthday in Georgia’s Golden Isles, where he grew up. He loves sea turtles, so the highlight of our trip will be the “Ride with the Night Patrol” program alongside the Georgia Sea Turtle Center research team; we’ll get to ride along with the researchers and help to map nests and look for sea turtles during the height of the season. — Ashley Ricks, CIRCULATION MANAGER

We’ll be spending a lot of time in western Kentucky on Lake Barkley, a large TVA impoundment that borders Land Between the Lakes. We do long weekends there and may spend the week of July 4th there as well. We have a ski boat, so we visit numerous outdoor restaurants and bars on the lake with family members and friends who come for a visit. — Mac Lacy, PUBLISHER

EDITOR’S NOTE Welcome to Staff Sound-Off, the monthly column where our staff members answer questions about their travel practices and preferences. We hope you enjoy these tips. If you have a question you’d like to see us answer, send it to me and it may appear in a future issue. BRIANJ@GROUPTRAVELLEADER.COM

50

GROUP T HE

TRAVEL LE ADER


Profile for The Group Travel Leader, Inc.

The Group Travel Leader June 2017  

The Group Travel Leader June 2017 issue features group trip ideas for Americana factory-tours, New York City, Tennessee, West Virginia, Miss...

The Group Travel Leader June 2017  

The Group Travel Leader June 2017 issue features group trip ideas for Americana factory-tours, New York City, Tennessee, West Virginia, Miss...