First off one afternoon at George Washington's Mount Vernon is not nearly enough time! We misgauged traffic and got there a lot later than we anticipated. Plan on spending a full day here so you are not rushed!
Before leaving home we watched Disney's National Treasure: Book of Secrets which made both D.C. and Mount Vernon more interesting! Because we had just watched the movie, the twins HAD to go on the National Treasure tour. Mrs. Sterling was our tour guide and she was excellent!
Not only did she explain the movie scenes but included how Hollywood developed the story, set up the shots, and described what was real and what was fake in the movie. She also wove in the history of JFK's hosted state dinner at Mount Vernon in honor of President Mohammad Ayub Khan of Pakistan (this was the inspiration for having the party at MV in the movie) . We thoroughly enjoyed the tour (and Mrs. Sterling!) but we were a little bummed that we didn't get to see much of the basement, it is undergoing some renovation (completely understandable) we did get to take some pictures which is usually off limits. If you look closely you can see the cornerstone that George's brother laid when the house was built (George later moved it to sure up some of the eroding sandstone). In the movie,this was the puzzle that opened up the secret tunnel in the movie.
We spent the next couple of hours in the education center, amazing and engaging, even for kids. We slowly meandered through the exhibits learning all about the young George.
*My girls are HUGE fans of Hamilton, the musical, (and no they haven't seen it yet, just listen to it every day and sing every song, loudly and off-key) so when they found out that the guy who plays GW in the musical is the narrator of "Be Washington" they were super excited! I know I said we meandered through the museum.... well my husband meandered, they were on the hunt to find "Be Washington". So let me step back and explain how "Be Washington" works. When we got there, we had just missed the start so we had to wait ~ 15 minutes for the next experience. The marquis said that we would be participating in the 1793 Genet Affair. Right off the bat, the twins are excited because they know all about the Genet Affair (it must have a couple of lines in A.Ham). There are four scenarios that rotate, ours happened to be the Genet Affair. When you walk into the experience you get to pick a kiosk (there are about 20 of them) and a big screen in the room which explains it all. Washington was faced with an issue and you get to choose which advisers to listen to. At the end, you get to decide and see if you did what GW did. While you're listening to your chosen adviser, other info comes breaking in (in our case we had to stop listening at our individual kiosk as the story shifts to the big screen, a messenger comes in with an urgent memo that tilts the story). Now more advisers are available. Just like in real life you have to make a decision without all of the information because of time constraints. Sooo~ did we lead like Washington???? Gracie did! Keith, Gabby and I all picked the same path but a different choice from Washington's. In fact, most of our room picked our answer. This was a really cool experience and the girls were disappointed that they couldn't participate in another scenario.
Across the hall from the "Be Washington" experience is a brand new movie "Revolutionary War Theater 4D Experience". Again I was blown away with just how cool this was! Smoke, snow, gun blasts and the movie itself was great. We had just come from Yorktown, so this reinforced what we just learned about GW and A.Ham in the battle, it also covers the victories at Boston and Trenton.
At this point the twins were going to stage their own revolt if I didn't feed them. The food court is near the education center where we grabbed a quick and tasty snack (Papa Johns).
Next up we took a tour of the mansion, the line was long but moved quickly. Did you know the house is made of wood? George had it look like stone to make it look more important and stately. The tour through the house was pretty quick to move as many people through as possible, but I never felt rushed.
We closed the mansion (and the grounds) down. I really wish we had more time. There was so much more to do and learn. I guess we will have to come back!
Disclosure: My family & I were provided with tickets. I was not compensated for this article. All opinions are my own,
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