Explore Animal Kingdom with the whole family.
This is the second post in a series about the best rides for school-aged kids at Walt Disney World. Check out earlier posts for recommendations on rides in Magic Kingdom and rides at Hollywood Studios.
Before I had kids, I hated zoos. I blame it on the fact that my mother took me to Chicago’s free zoo dang near every weekend when I was little and the over exposure ruined me for all animals. Then I had kids and I realized that my mother might have taken me to the zoo so often not just because it was free, but because there is something really awesome about watching your children discover animals. It is that particular awesomeness that made me fall in love with Disney’s Animal Kingdom the very first time my family visited.
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Voo doo dolls in a New Orleans gift shop
The first time I visited New Orleans it was to attend a conference and hang out with friends. It’s no surprise, then, that I spent a few nights on Bourbon Street and got very familiar with the Crescent City’s reputation for a good party. I had a blast, but I was a little nervous about how my routine visit – one I planned to make with two small children in tow – would compare.
Visiting New Orleans with kids definitely involves fewer hurricanes and mechanical bulls, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had. In fact, most of New Orleans is very family friendly. Read More »
The National Civil Rights Museum is located in Memphis, Tennessee. More specifically, it’s located at the converted Lorraine Hotel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed on April 4, 1968. Knowing this, I expected a visit would provide a detail history lesson on the life and work of the famous civil rights leader. What I got instead was an in depth look at the history of racism and the civil rights movement in the United States, complete with some of the missteps made by well-known leaders. Read More »
Although Graceland is definitely one of the most well-known attractions in Memphis, and its former owner definitely one of the most famous Memphians, many visitors might be hesitant to pay the price of admission if they aren’t big Elvis fans. With tours of the mansion starting at $31 for adults, it’s understandable – but is skipping the potentially cheesy tourist destination a good idea?
My family was provided free tickets for the Graceland Platinum Tour during our recent visit to Memphis. Had we not, I’m almost positive we wouldn’t have shelled out the $87 it would have cost us to visit. With the benefit of hindsight, I can say with confidence that we would have been missing out on an important look at American culture and a musical icon.
The Platinum Tour includes access to the Graceland mansion and grounds, which includes a self-guided audio tour that’s done very well. The audio tour not only explains what you’re looking at, but offers an intimate glimpse at the man who took refuge there. I walked away with a better understanding of a fun-loving man who loved his family and friends, but who was tragically ill equipped in some ways to handle the pressures and privilege of fame and fortune. His apparent obsession with entertaining an entourage, seen from the famous Jungle Room and Billiard Room to the collection of motorized vehicles and makeshift shooting range, seems to hint at a man who was somehow lonely while never being alone.
The house itself is an homage to horrific taste, while the grounds are surprisingly refined and beautiful, with the exception of the family cemetery where Elvis and his parents and grandmother are buried. Originally built as a meditation garden, this living shrine is both reverent and whimsical, a place where plastic flowers and stuffed animals sit among stone angels and an enormous statue of Jesus Christ.
In addition to the mansion and grounds, the Platinum Tour includes access to the Elvis Car Museum and his private plan, the Lisa Marie. You won’t find anything particularly touching or intimate here, but rather an opportunity to gawk at the things that celebrities spend their money on. It’s slightly interesting, yes, but not necessarily worth the price of a ticket upgrade.
Photo: Britt Reints