Check out the latest youth travel industry updates.


John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts Opens New Permanent Exhibit

WASHINGTON—In celebration of the Kennedy Center’s 50th Anniversary, the “Arts and Ideals: President John F. Kennedy”—a new permanent flagship exhibit exploring Kennedy’s presidency and commitment to the arts, opened to the public on Sept. 17. The exhibit is housed in the 7,500-square-foot, roof-level JKF Gallery at the heart of the original Edward Durell Stone building. The multimedia exhibit includes archival video recordings of President Kennedy’s landmark speeches, historic footage of musicians and jazz legends, photographs, letters, and other memorabilia.


Santa Barbara Zoo and Other California Partners Commit to Accessible Travel

Santa Barbara Zoo
Credit: Visit California/David Collier

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.—The Santa Barbara Zoo, along with numerous other California-based attractions, including Sesame Place San Diego, Six Flags Magic Mountain, GRAMMY Museum, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord, and Visit Visalia have been leaders in the accessible travel space, creating an Autism-Friendly California Road Trip that features attractions across the state that are Certified Autism Centers. This road trip appeared in the annual 2022 Visit California Road Trips Guide, which launched in July.

In 2018, the Santa Barbara Zoo became the first zoo on the West Coast to be designated a Certified Autism Center by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). Since earning the certification, the Santa Barbara Zoo has made new connections and partnerships with organizations that support the autism community, and strives to host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals to engage and participate fully.

The Autism-Friendly California Road Trip featured in the guide showcases a sensory-sensitive itinerary of six stops across the state where families can travel with confidence. Each of the included destinations are Certified Autism Centers.


Anakeesta Announces Expansion

GATLINBURG, Tenn.—Anakeesta recently announced a multi-million-dollar expansion, which marks its most ambitious and largest development to date. Overlooking Gatlinburg, the mountaintop adventure park is home to some of the most breathtaking views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The expansion will double the size of the guest experience within the park and solidify Anakeesta as one of the top adventure theme parks in the country.

The $34 million investment will happen over the next three years. New additions include: an enchanted night walk with immersive lighting and audio guiding you through a celestial story within the woods; a second thrilling mountain coaster; a European-themed village with shopping, dining, and immersive plaza with an interactive waterfall; and a brand-new whimsical bird house themed play area with enormous adventure elements down the mountain. The first phase will open this November, with the rest of the expansion continuing through 2024.


‘Disney100: The Exhibition’ to Immerse Guests Worldwide in the Magic of Disney

PHILADELPHIA—At the D23 Expo: The Ultimate Disney Fan Event in Anaheim, California, exciting new details and stops were announced for the upcoming world premiere of “Disney100: The Exhibition.” Created for the 100-year celebration of The Walt Disney Company, the exhibition will immerse guests in the beloved stories that have been dazzling guests since 1923, when Walt Disney set his company on a path that would revolutionize the entertainment industry. The world premiere of the exhibit opens Febr. 18, 2023, at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, with Chicago and Kansas City, Missouri, set as the next two stops on the North American tour. The international unit of the exhibit will open April 18, 2023, in Munich, Germany, with more cities to be announced in the coming months.

Over the past 100 years, Disney has brought its iconic stories and characters to life in new and innovative ways, becoming part of the global culture and creating generations of memories for billions. “Disney100: The Exhibition” invites guests to step into their favorite stories using innovation and immersive technology throughout 10 galleries in the 15,000-square-foot exhibit.


National Archives Celebrates Sports History with New Exhibit

WASHINGTON—The National Archives celebrates the role of sports in creating, spreading, and promoting American identity with a new exhibit, “All American: The Power of Sports,” which opened this month. The power of sports has many applications. Sports unite people, teach values, and inspire hope and pride. In the United States, sports have powered efforts to bring citizens together, shape them, and project a vision of what it means to be American. But sports convey power to athletes too—power to break social barriers and protest injustice. “All American” explores the power of sports both to embody our national ideals and challenge us to live up to them.

The exhibit is free and open to the public and will be on display in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery of the National Archives Museum in Washington, D.C., through Jan. 7, 2024. This 3,000-square-foot exhibit showcases more than 75 items, including original records, artifacts, and photographs. Highlights include original sports equipment and jerseys gifted by star athletes to presidents, early 20th-century tobacco baseball cards, trophies, rare pictures and film footage, patents, and more.

Previous articleCelestial Celebration: Destination Cleveland Prepares for 2024 Total Solar Eclipse
Next articleVirginia Itinerary: Norfolk
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).