Put the Kids on Location with a Trip to Film Sites

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Byline: Jacky Runice Daily Herald Correspondent

When an emotional event occurs in our lives, more often than not you'll hear people describe it as being "just like a movie." Film has become a significant touchstone of today's world as well as the past. Teachers routinely use movies to illustrate the drama of war, exploration, sports or even great novels.

You can take the learning a step further and really fire your child's neurons by taking a family trip to the location of his or her favorite film.

The feature film "Gods and Generals," shot on location in Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia, opened nationwide on Friday. It is a prequel to the acclaimed film "Gettysburg" and it retells the early years of the war from 1861-1863. In addition to its stars, including Jeff Daniels, it features cameo appearances by several U.S. senators including Sen. George Allen from Virginia.

Filmed on location in and near Lexington, Staunton and Winchester, Va., "Gods and Generals" concentrates on some of the most ferocious battles of the war, including the Virginia battles of First Manassas (summer 1861), Fredericksburg (December 1862) and Chancellorsville (May 1863). Kids can learn about the battles and camp life as well as the daily struggles of men, women and children whose lives were changed forever by the consequences of war.

You needn't wait until the DVD arrives with a short video presentation about Virginia's historic sites. All of the Virginia battlefields featured in the film are open to the public as well as other historic attractions including the VMI Museum, Stonewall Jackson House in Lexington, State Capitol in Richmond and numerous buildings in historic Fredericksburg. The Virginia Tourism Corp. has developed tour packages to the actual historical locations where the events of the film took place. (The corporation also will be sponsoring a giveaway of tour packages through May 2003.) Charge over to www.virginia.org or call the Virginia Tourism Corp. at (888) 248-4592.

The Harry Potter books and films have turned kids onto all things British, so why not surprise them with a trip to the land of wizards and broomsticks? Royal Celebrity Tours is offering special tours of England in 2003 tracing Harry Potter's steps from the movie "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets." The Magical Tour of England cruise tour is an ideal post-cruise package for families, extending a 12-night Northern Europe cruise onboard Grandeur of the Seas with four additional nights on land.

You'll visit the locations used to bring the popular Harry Potter books to life on the big screen, including Alnwick Castle in Northumberland where quidditch matches and flying scenes were shot. …