By Jean Strauber, Travel Editor
Those of you who have cruised with the Disney Cruise Lines (and for those who have always wanted to do so) and would like other vacations with the Disney touch will welcome the new Hello World Adventures by Disney. In their 2012 brochure you’ll find North American Adventures, South and Central Adventures, European Adventures and Africa, Asia and the Pacific Adventures. Most of these tours are planned for the family but several of them are “Adult Exclusive.” Among its North American Adventures, Disney is offering the 8-Day/7- Night “Spirit of America” vacation, which features Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Monticello and Gettysburg.
You’ll arrive in Philadelphia where your accommodations will be at the Hyatt Regency at Penn’s Landing, which is located in the heart of Philadelphia’s historic district. You’ll meet the other families who will become your friends during the next eight days during a welcome dinner hosted by Disney Adventures. A special guest will be Ben Franklin!
Hop on board a trolley for a privately guided tour of the “City of Brotherly Love.” You and your family will see sites that you and they have read or heard about, including Independence Hall and the National Constitution Center and the Liberty Bell. You may also learn why the Senate is called the ‘Upper House.” Not far from Independence Hall is the 250-year-old home of Betsy Ross which you’ll visit and learn how and why Ms. Ross is credited with creating the very first American flag. Other historic sites in Philadelphia that you might want to see include Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest residential street in America; Franklin Court, which features a steelframed outline of Franklin’s home, a museum with a print shop and a working post office; the American Philosophical Society Museum founded by Franklin with friends that today is a museum focused on science, history and art; Declaration House, where Thomas Jefferson rented rooms in 1776 and where he wrote the Declaration of Independence; and The National Museum of American Jewish History with its 20,000 objects that trace the American Jew from the Colonial period to present day. Or, you might want to emulate Rocky and run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Travel to Washington, D.C., your base for the next five nights. Accommodations will be at the historic Mayflower Hotel, which if memory serves me correctly, is just a short distance from the White House. You’ll kayak on the Potomac River past such American monuments as the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and Georgetown University. Tonight why not have dinner at Union Station? Food is reportedly as good as it was when I ate there several years ago.
The day begins with a visit to the 60-foot tall United States Marine Corps War Memorial — which depicts the planting the American flag during the battle of Iwo Jima — with a private tour guide. Then, it’s on to Arlington National Cemetery to witness the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. The former home of Civil War General Robert E. Lee is the final resting place for over a quarter of a million members of the United States Armed Forces and their wives and families. Your included lunch will be some down-home barbecue on the banks of the Potomac River. Did you know the river is over 400 miles long? The afternoon and evening are on your own. I would recommend that the day you book the this tour you write your Congressman or Senator (or if you’re reading this in a foreign country visit the American embassy) and request tickets for a “preferred” White House Tour or tour of the Capitol Building. Or, you might want to take your children to the Smithsonian Museum (really four museums buildings) which includes the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. You might want to take in the Library of Congress with its original copies of the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States, both on display. There’s also the US Mint, the FBI headquarters, the Supreme Court, the National Art Gallery, Ford’s Theatre (where Lincoln was assassinated) and much, much more.
Today finds you traveling to Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. Explore his gardens, which are still a botanic showpiece that includes an experimental laboratory for a variety of plants. In the afternoon you’re on your own. Spend the evening enjoying dinner at the Mayflower, followed by a screening of a Disney film.
After breakfast at your hotel, board a coach for your journey to Gettysburg. You will have lunch at a colonial restaurant, Dobbin House Tavern, which was built “four score and seven years before” the historic Civil War Battle (1776). Today, this home is a colonial restaurant with abundant superior food and gracious service. Why don’t you ask the server about the secret “underground railroad” slave hideout? You’ll discover the history of this city with a guide in costume. Will your guide be one of the many ghosts that have been seen by Gettysburg visitors and residents? You will learn more as President Lincoln stated in his speech, so that we can never forget what they did here and for which so many gave the “last full measure of devotion.” Dinner will be on your own tonight. There are many restaurants, both elegant and fast-food, and your hotel concierge can make many recommendations. Or, buy a sandwich and take a night tour of Washington. Seeing the Lincoln Memorial and Jefferson Memorial at night is awesome!
The morning begins with an excursion to Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. You’ll be taken back into the 18th century way of life as you browse through the estate’s extraordinary collection. Another suggestion is to pay a visit to the tombs of George and Martha Washington. Visit the Donald Reynolds Museum and the Ford Mount Vernon Education Center while you are there. Before returning the hotel you will be offered an optional visit to the Smithsonian. Did you know that the Smithsonian is comprised of 19 museums and a zoo? Tonight’s farewell dinner will be a fun family affair at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel followed by a screening of another Disney film.
Departure Dates: Mar 31- April 7, April 6-13, May 25-June 1, June 8-15, June 19-26, June 29-July 6, July 3-July 10, July 10-July 17, July 13-July 20, July 20- July 27, July 31-Aug 7, Aug 10-Aug 17, 2012. Trip Pricing Adults: $2,879- $3,539; Child $2,739- $3,369. Parties of three can be accommodated in one room; parties of four can be book as two doubles. Other North American Adventures are: “Taming the Last Frontier” (Anchorage, Denali and Kenai Fjords National Parks), “Southwest Splendor” (Sedona Grand Canyon, Arches National Park, Moab), “Roaming the Rockies” (Glacier, Yoho and Banff National Parks), “Backstage Magic” (Hollywood, Walt Disney Studios and Disneyland Resort), and “Quest for the West” (Jackson Hole, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and Brooks Lake). For more information about “Hello World Adventures” by Disney consult your travel professional, Disney Adventures at (877) 728- 7282 or me at trvlwritr2@ aol.com.