Some days my job is really cool but then there are days when my job is amazing. Last week, I got to have one of those amazing days and the best thing about it is that you can experience it too!
Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to Nashville for an Adventures by Disney tour. In case you aren’t familiar, Adventures by Disney offers guided group tours to destinations all over the world, as well as long weekend trips to destinations in the United States.
First, it’s confession time: I wasn’t really all that thrilled about going to Nashville. (Ssshhh. Don’t tell my Disney!) It’s an easy drive from where I live, I’ve been there before and I’m not your biggest country music fan. But what I forgot was that I wasn’t just seeing Nashville, I was seeing Nashville Disney style. No, I don’t mean Mickey Mouse. I mean VIP access to see places in a way you simply can’t see them on their own. And let me tell you, I am a Nashville fan now!
Our tour started at the Bluebird Café. This little place is where country musicians get their start. I was sitting in a tiny café that only holds 90 people, just feet from where Garth Brooks was discovered. Our group of 40 had the entire place to ourselves, and even better – we had songwriters Leslie Satcher and Walker Hayes there to entertain us. These two have written songs for George Strait, Leann Womack, Martina McBride and Kellie Pickler, to name a few. They made me laugh, they made me cry, they made me fall in love with country music and Nashville. I hated to leave!
“Welcome to our living room,” Leslie said, and that’s exactly how it felt. I didn’t have to wait in line praying to be one of the lucky few to get in to the Bluebird Café, I got to soak it all in with my friends and boy, do we have stories to tell and memories to cherish! We also toured RCA’s Studio B – where legends like Dolly Parton, Elvis and Charlie Pride recorded their many hits. We even got to record a song in the actual studio they used! I learned about the history of country music and the importance Nashville played in that history.
When we were in the recording studio, I was awestruck by the talent that had filled that room. The instruments those artists used to record their songs were there. They told us about Elvis and how he liked to set the mood for his recordings by changing the lighting. Then they turned the lights off so we could experience what it felt like when Elvis had done the same when he recorded one of only two songs for which he won a Grammy – “How Great Thou Art.” Of course, I cried then, too.
The tour guides with Adventures by Disney take pride in seeking out moments to create special magic for their guests, and for me that moment came as everyone was leaving the recording studio. The guide had played a few notes on one of the pianos in the room and it was badly out of tune. I was staring at the beautiful Steinway grand piano across from me praying they had kept the piano Elvis played in tune all these years.
When we were leaving, I asked the guide if it was in tune and he said that it was. I was so relieved. Then he asked me if I’d like to take a picture sitting at the piano! All of the instruments in that room said “Do Not Touch,” so I knew it wasn’t something everyone go to do. I couldn’t believe I was sitting on the bench in front of that beautiful old Steinway but when he told me I could play a few notes on the piano ELVIS used, I almost fainted! I get teary just thinking about it!
After that, we were off to the Grand Ole Opry! Of course we couldn’t just walk through the front door – we entered in style through the Artist Entrance. We got to tour backstage, see where the TV show “Nashville” is filmed and learn about the artists and history of the Grand Ole Opry. Of course there are lots of tour groups who go there, but no other group gets to enter through the Artist Entrance. That is something reserved for Disney guests. Here I came to appreciate that music is universal. It connects us; it reminds us of places, times and events; it becomes a piece of who we are.
We ended our trip with an evening ghost tour of Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage House. Did you know that our 7th president was a ghost hunter? Following our story-filled trek around the grounds, we finished the evening learning to make biscuits the proper Southern way and had a great meal together in the cabin at the Hermitage House.
I got to take a condensed version of the 4-day trip in Nashville but we can book an Adventures by Disney trip for you to almost anywhere in the world. Like I said in the beginning, I didn’t go on this trip expecting to leave a fan of Nashville. I should know better than to doubt Adventures by Disney!
But what’s really cool is what I learned – it doesn’t really matter WHERE you go. What matters are the people you’re with; and the sights, sounds and smells you experience together. And when someone else is “driving the bus,” all you have to do is be open to new ideas and you will have an adventure of a lifetime!
Want to learn more about the Adventures you can have with your family? Check out this online brochure and then give me a shout so we can start planning your adventure! Adventures by Disney E-brochure