White House Tour - what a waste

I’ve lived in the DC area for 21 years, and had never visited the White House. I’d never seemed to have the time to wait for tickets, the stamina to stand in long lines in the humid DC summer.

But my wife made arrangements for 10 of us (family & friends) to go on the tour. We made sure we followed their verboten list so we could all get through.

Parking’s a mess in that area, so we Metroed over from Crystal City, VA, to Federal Triangle and walked 4 blocks to the WH Entrance. We arrived 15 minutes before our scheduled time as directed. Went through more security that most airports have. Then we walked through an access tunnel to the southeast corner of the building.

We went past (not through) the library, the Vermeil room, upstairs and through the East Room, past the closed doors to the Red Room and Green Room, past the open Blue Room door, through the state dining room.

Next, the ropes directed us out the north exit of the Entrance Hall and off the grounds. We were through the “tour” in 15 freakin’ minutes.

The map shows three other rooms on the lower level that were roped away when we got there.

The whole thing was so… blah. Certainly not something I’ll ever do again, nor would I recommend it to anyone.

Shit, I wouldn’t even want to go on that tour unless I could bring all the items on their verboten list.

Um… what expectations did you have that weren’t met?

Looked everywhere for the animatronic Gerald Ford, for starters…

I once got tickets through my Congressman and was told when I went (at the date & time they’d appointed of course, and with others) “Sorry, no can do, the mansion’s in use today, there’s a ‘subject to cancellation’ thingy on the tickets”. Majorly pissed me off, though I’ve heard from others before this thread that if you’re lucky you’ll get to see three rooms (following the rectal exam and interrogation by the guy with the German accent and cigarette [“Vye all dis sue-den interest in seeing zee Vite House… WHO SENT CHU!”]).

However, we were allowed to go look at the White House dollhouse on display at the visitor center (I shit you not- that’s what you’re shown).

OTOH, getting in to the capitol’s a relative breeze by DC standards. Metal detectors, you have to take swigs from your water bottle if the guards ask (which they did me) and all that, but nothing like Forbidden Pennsylvania Ave…

Forgot to mention: all of the people who got tour passes from their respective Congressmen at the time I did were part of the same librarian’s conference.

Librarians were considered way too risky to let in. (True, Laura Bush received her MRS in MLS, but then she’s sleeping with the president so he trusts her, but J. Edgar Hoover was a librarian and presidents hated him, and then so were Lenin’s wife and Golde Meir and look how much trouble they caused.)

My guess would be that if you look up “White House Tours”, you get this official website, which makes it sound like a lovely way to spend a morning, browsing through ten rooms chock-full of history and furniture. And the “White House Tours” informational website doesn’t say anything about exactly what you get to see, so of course you assume you get to see all those lovely ten rooms.

I’d be a little ticked, too, actually.

Going on a White House tour is like being invited to dinner at the finest restaurant in Manhattan and then only getting a breadstick before being ushered out and back onto the street. Basically all you see is a couple of tacky rooms chock full of paintings, furniture, and china of what I’d call questionable taste.

I have however been on a West Wing tour and that’s pretty damn cool. They take you to the cabinet room, the Roosevelt room, the Oval Office, the press gallery, the Rose Garden, and a few other places. I had a friend of a friend hook me up with the tour, because his position in the lowest echelon of the highest circles allowed him to talk to the right people.

I’ve had the tour twice, in 1987 when I was a Congressional intern, and then in 2000 when I went with a contingent from our Civil War roundtable (that tour, specially arranged through a friend in the W.H. Social Secretary’s office, focused on the White House during the Lincoln years). Both times I saw and walked through all of the rooms that you were so unfortunately whisked past - each tour was about an hour long, as I recall. Sorry your tour was so disappointing.

I’ve never been inside the West Wing, but would love to someday. Maybe once I’m elected? http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=422344

Besides the physical White House (the rooms, the hallways, ect) did you see any people (politicans, celebrities, or otherwise). The reason I ask is because even if the tour is “blah”, at least you could interact with the White House tourist or employees. Everyone has their story. You’re at the White House! You see another group - maybe he’s bored, too. It’s one of the things that would be a nice, friendly conversation opener: “Did you ever think you’d see the day. The White House. We’ve payed our taxes. Now, here’s our reward.”

Stuff like that. It’s like you’re invited to your bosses house after 20 years. You can’t get close to your boss to talk to him. So to pass the time you talk to a fellow employee you’ve seen maybe once if ever. You have a converstion, in the context of your bosses opulent house.

::: Shrug:::
I enjoyed the tour when I took it in 1994. The security then was no worse than an airport.

To the contrary. The President of the United States is a public servant in theory.

Well, now I know I didn’t miss anything. I did the WH tour with my parents when I was eight or so. We went early in the morning, after a full, exhausting day touring DC. I was basically sleepwalking through the whole thing; I don’t remember shit. My mom says I dropped my kleenex; I just have to take her word for it. I said at the time that I’d rather not have gone at all, but that was when I thought I’d missed something awesome. So no loss; I suppose that’s good.

DC, minus the WH, is worth seeing, but boy does it wear you out. I may have said this before, but I’ll say it again: A few years ago, Mr. Rilch and I visited DC. I sent postcards from the Smithsonian. Afterwards, a friend said I’d summed up the DC experience in ten words:

"DC is big.
"The Smithsonian is big.
“My feet hurt.”

At a minimum I’d want to see the pit where they sacrifice young children and kittens to appease Dick Cheney.

My niece dated a Marine who was on the staff of the WH and he arranged some sort of tour for my mom, dad, and my brother’s family during the Christmas holidays. My dad swears that he got to take dump in the White House and says “You’d think the White House would have better quality toilet paper.”

Exactly. Its an empty house & has been for almost 8 years. Its like a museum, only more fearful, whiney and entitled.
(and I can’t wait until the current exhibit changes)

A year or two ago I was walking past the WH going somewhere. They have a tape loop playing to the people in line. Even Disneyland has more class than that. The Pentagon tour was nice. I hope that is still going on.

I hate the White House tour.
I Federal Mint was good, and I Lincoln Memorial.
I could have spent the entire week in the Smithsonian, and never went to most of the other places.

I used to sing in a chorus that was invited to be part of the “help” at the annual Congressional Ball at the White House. Both times I participated, we not only were either allowed to wander, unescorted (after being allowed to bring nothing but ourselves and our driver’s license, however), around the main floor to admire all the decorations before the doors opened, but once we were given a detailed tour by a staffer that was very interesting.

And once when my mom and MIL were visiting us in DC during the Clinton administration, we did the regular tourist White House with them. My mom was using a wheelchair since she can’t stand in line any more, and so was escorted in separately to ride up in the pantry elevator rather than take the stairs like the rest of us, to her delight she had to wait while Socks the cat was escorted off the elevator by a Secret Serviceman and taken out for his daily walk. Can you imagine the indignity, joining the Secret Service and going through all that training only to be required to walk the freaking First Cat? Hee!

ETA: With the chorus, we were also taken into the Diplomatic Reception Room on the ground floor, which is not part of the regular tour, and got to meet and sing for Bill and Hillary. Even those who hated him agreed that Bill has just amazing charisma. I guess it’s a presidential thing.

Woohoo! Nekkid Mama Tiger wanders the corridors of power! :smiley: