Check out the latest youth travel industry updates.


U.S. Capitol to reopen in phases

WASHINGTON — A phased reopening of the U.S. Capitol is being considered beginning March 28 after shutting down the complex to the general public since March 12, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A draft plan for the reopening lays out a three-phase plan for reopening the U.S. Capitol to visitors and the general public.

U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.
Credit: Washington.org

The first phase would begin March 28, and it would allow for the return of staff-led tours, with a limit of 15 people per tour. Capitol tours for K-12 students would resume between the hours of 10 a.m. ET to 2 p.m. ET on weekdays, with a total of eight tours per day for groups limited to a maximum of 50 students.

The second phase would tentatively begin May 30 and would involve a limited reopening of the Capitol Visitor Center.

The third phase is expected to begin on Labor Day, Sept. 5. It would involve the reopening of the entire Capitol complex for business as usual. Masks mandates were lifted for the Capitol on Feb. 27.

“For meeting attendees and visitors coming to Washington, DC, being able to visit the U.S. Capitol, the most recognizable symbol of our democracy, anchors the American experience,” said Elliott L. Ferguson, II, president and CEO of Destination DC. “To be able to spend time inside the Capitol and other iconic venues on the National Mall brings the Washington, DC experience to life and makes for an unforgettable event.”


New attraction offers New Orleans history with a ‘Vue’

Vue Orleans, New Orleans, La.
Credit: Vue Orleans

NEW ORLEANS, La. — New Orleans’ newest attraction, Vue Orleans, is officially open and features the city’s first 360-degree view of the Mississippi River and the New Orleans landscape. This breathtaking panorama isn’t reserved just for geography — exhibits and interactive experiences also give visitors a robust view back in time, covering 300 years of history and the diverse people and groups that created the city’s unique culture and continue to shape it today.

Vue Orleans is a one-of-a-kind observatory and exhibit located at the foot of Canal Street in the newly renovated Four Seasons high-rise building. Touchless interactive exhibits feature legendary New Orleans figures, such as the Soul Queen of New Orleans, Irma Thomas, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and even more of the city’s famed culture bearers.


Alcatraz East Crime Museum unveils temporary John Dillinger exhibit

Alcatraz East Crime Museum, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Credit: Alcatraz East Crime Museum

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — Alcatraz East Crime Museum opened a temporary exhibit earlier this month that focuses on the anniversary of one of the most infamous prison escapes in American history. Titled “The Beginning of the End: John Dillinger’s Final Jail Break,” the exhibit features information and artifacts about the gangster’s final prison break. The exhibit will run for one year in the prison section of the museum.

The temporary Dillinger exhibit at Alcatraz East Crime Museum includes the FBI’s wanted poster; escape “gun;” Crown Point prisoner’s record; and Dillinger’s famous death mask, which was created 12 hours after his death at the Cook County Morgue. “The Beginning of the End: John Dillinger’s Final Jail Break” exhibit will run through March 3, 2023.


Six Flags Wild Safari Drive-Thru Adventure to debut new animals and guest enhancements

JACKSON, N.J. — Six Flags Wild Safari Drive-Thru Adventure, one of the largest drive-through safaris outside of Africa, will open for the 2022 season March 19. The 350-acre wildlife preserve will debut new animals, memorable guest enhancements, increased capacity and streamlined park operations.

Sawyer the the Southern white rhinoceros, Six Flags Wild Safari Drive-Thru Adventure, Jackson, N.J.
Credit: Six Flags Wild Safari Drive-Thru Adventure

Spring animal additions include: Sawyer, the Southern white rhinoceros; three reticulated giraffe calves; two sable antelope calves; two red lechwe calves; and two Asian water buffalo calves. Throughout the spring, guests can expect to see additional babies including American bison, zebra, aoudad, kangaroo, dama gazelle, blackbuck and more.

This year, student groups can experience updated Safari Education Programs. Six Flags Academic Adventures programs were developed by the park’s New Jersey state certified teacher and tailored to the appropriate age groups while following New Jersey state learning standards. Six Flags offers five programs that have been updated for 2022, including a new, off-road experience. The fun and educational tour on a giant, off-road vehicle features a personal tour guide and driver, and an opportunity to feed giraffes and meet small exotic animals up close.

Science on Safari is a contactless safari experience that features a special Academic Adventure audio tour, grade-specific guidebook and optional visit with an animal educator. More education information can be found online at sixflags.com/safari and by emailing SafariPrograms@sixflags.com.

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Courtney Birchmeier oversees the editorial department at Group Tour Media. With half a decade under her belt in the group travel industry, she's eager to connect tour operators and group leaders with new destinations. It's a great day at the office if her dog, a chow/lab mix named "Kiwi," is in tow. In her free time, she enjoys reading (for fun, with no red pen in hand), sampling craft beer (New Holland Brewing's "Dragon's Milk," anyone?) and adding new destinations to her travel bucket list (like Salzburg, Austria).