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Have doll, will travel

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postedJuly 6, 2021

Every doll has a story to tell, and for two dolls in particular, Academic Travel Abroad is helping with the narrative.

The Washington, D.C.-based tour operator recently launched American Girl® Vacations, with itineraries tied to two historical characters within the popular brand’s lineup. ATA Executive Vice President Chase Poffenberger said her company has been working for years to create family travel experiences through the lens of American Girl dolls.

“We have long admired the brand’s values, authenticity, and commitment to historical accuracy and thought the partnership would be a big success,” she says. “We worked with a talented licensing agent who helped us find the right team at Mattel.”

The two tours, each focused on an American Girl character, are set for the final week of 2021. Hawaiian Holiday with Nanea traces the story of a 1940s Hawaiian character, Nanea Mitchell, growing up with island traditions but forced to face changes after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Lights! Camera! Action! Rebecca’s™ New York allows fans of aspiring actress Rebecca Rubin to immerse themselves in 1914 New York City, learning about the Jewish immigrant experience. (Get more tour details about Nanea and Rebecca.)





Both tours, though steeped in history, provide modern experiences that allow participating families to fully enjoy the destination. And each tour was developed so that American Girl enthusiasts could experience a doll’s backstory through travel.

“Our program managers absorbed the characters’ stories and built ‘dream’ itineraries for fans,” Poffenberger says. “Then they found suppliers in each destination to help bring the story to life.”

American Girl® Vacations is ATA’s latest effort to partner with companies or individuals—e.g., Veranda magazine, Zagat, and Chef Edward Lee—and use travel experiences to bring their partners’ brands to life.

“These creative opportunities let us play out key aspects of our corporate vision (to increase global understanding through travel and education) as well as some of our core values, which include respect, depth, learning, passion, quality, and partnership,” Poffenberger says.

Are there more American Girl tales to be told through tours? “We’re starting small this year with two destinations, but keep an eye on the website,” Poffenbeger says.

For more information, see the news release announcing the program or email Poffenberger.

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