December Excitement for Central Florida Attractions

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

December is one of the BEST months in Central Florida to check out the attractions, and by far the best time to see their holiday entertainment and decorations.  As you will see, I am a pretty big fan of the holidays and I try to catch as many holiday offerings as I can fit in with my family and friends.  Here are a few of my favorites and many of the greatest ways to get in the holiday spirit.

Walt Disney World kicked off the holidays in early November (literally right after Halloween) with “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party“, happening on select nights through December.  Unfortunately, at the Magic Kingdom, most of the holiday shows and “Mickey’s Once upon a Christmastime Parade” are not actually performed for regular park guests until the days surrounding the Christmas break. Be sure to catch the “Castle Dream Lights” nightly at Cinderella Castle.  The Christmas parties are one of the best times to visit the Magic Kingdom as park attendance is limited, the temperatures are cooler, and the mood is even more Magical than ever.  At Disney’s Hollywood Studios you can check out “The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights” from dusk to park closing nightly on the Streets of America with over 4 million twinkling Christmas lights.  Disney’s Animal Kingdom features “Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade” daily with your favorite Disney characters dancing to some of your favorite Christmas songs.  Epcot has the most amazing holiday options, featuring the “Candlelight Processional and Massed Choir Program” at the America Gardens Theatre.  This show is performed 3 times a night and features a live orchestra, guest choirs, the Voices of Liberty, and a Celebrity Narrator.  The Celebrity Narrators this season include Michael W. Smith, Neil Patrick Harris (my personal favorite), and Susan Lucci, to name only a few.  Epcot also features the “Holidays around the World Storytellers” and “Illuminations: Reflections of Earth” with a very special holiday tag.  And, finally, “Joyful – a Gospel Celebration of the Seasons” returns to Epcot to perform multiple times a day at the Fountain of Nations Stage. There is no way you can walk away from this show without a smile on your face!

At Sea World, the holidays are celebrated on weekends and select dates through the end of the year.  Favorite holiday offerings at Sea World are the “Polar Express Experience”, “Clyde & Seamour Countdown to Christmas”, “Shamu Christmas…Miracles”, the “Sea of Trees”, and “A Sesame Street Christmas”.  New this year is “O Wondrous Night – The Greatest Story Never Told” in the Nautilus Theatre.  This show is Amazing and features extremely gifted performers, puppets, and live animals including 3 camels.  With only 2 shows each night you will need to arrive early to get a good seat.  And, the perfect way to end the night is at the Bayside Stadium to catch “Winter Wonderland on Ice” followed immediately by the “Holiday Reflections: Fireworks and Fountains Finale”.  Sea World does an incredible job of getting you in the Holiday Spirit!

The Universal Orlando Resort gets a slightly later start to the holidays as they await the arrival of some of our favorite balloons from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  “The Macy’s Holiday Parade” at Universal Studios also features live shows, clowns, balloons, floats, holiday displays and a Christmas tree lighting ceremony.  On select weekends, Mannheim Steamroller will be performing a holiday concert in the evening.  At Islands of Adventures you can enjoy the “Christmas Wholiday Spectacular”.  Though the name has changed, the show is the same, a musical retelling of the Dr. Seuss book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

One other holiday offerings in the Central Florida area in its 10th year is ICE! at the Gaylord Palms.  This year, the theme is “Shrek the Halls” and it features scenes from this familiar children’s movie, as well as traditional scenes and a Nativity made entirely of ice.  Though the ice sculptures are amazing, if you are not a fan of Shrek, as I am not, most of the exhibit is an over-priced disappointment.  Be sure to look for any coupons you can find to make this a more affordable experience for all.

LEGOLAND, our newest Central Florida attraction, will welcome its first holiday season with a “Christmas Bricktacular”, featuring a 30-foot tree made out of thousands of green Lego blocks and other décor at the entrance and in the Fun Town area.

There are many other inspiring holiday offerings around the Central Florida area, but it is almost impossible to fit everything in.  From “The Nutcracker” to “The Singing Christmas Trees”, to “Light up UCF” to “Now Snowing” at the Celebration Town Center, this is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! I will be doing my best to catch as much as possible…how about you?

Happy Holidays!

A Student Group Dance Trip to New York City

New York City Student Trips

Ahh…New York, New York, so good they named it twice!  Known as one of the most popular student group travel destinations in the U.S, New York City offers up a feeling of excitement and value that is unmatched.  Student groups can immerse themselves in New York City for five minutes, and see why it’s like no other place in the world.  Known affectionately as the “Big Apple,” the city is full of incredible attractions, iconic landmarks, top-rated museums, live Broadway shows, professional sports teams, unbelievable shopping, fashion and delicious food.  Moreover, dance groups can take advantage of the rich resources of the theatre community with a clinic or a memorable performance opportunity.

Since dance is an extraordinary blend of art, sport, communication and interaction, dancers often enjoy a unique insight into workshops, performances, plus more.  And a trip to New York City will combine all of these attributes.  Dance travel to New York City allows you and your dance group the chance to meet with professional artists/dance instructors and learn new styles, history and techniques.  Couple this with a behind-the-scenes tour and public performance, and you’ll have an outstanding travel experience that will be second to none.  Below are a few customized workshops/master classes for dance ensembles in New York City:

Broadway Dance Center welcomes groups year round.  A trip to Broadway Dance Center is always a great way to motivate and inspire any dancer.  Broadway Dance Center offers over 40 classes a day for ages 13 and up, and their “drop-in” schedule is carefully structured to offer a variety of levels and techniques.  Dance groups also have the option to arrange private master classes with the faculty.  The 90-minute private classes are customized to your needs and preferences, where instructors structure the class according to your specifications.  Private classes create a more intimate environment where your students will receive personalized attention to maximize their classroom experience. There is no age limit for private classes, so they’re a perfect option for your younger dancers as well.  In addition to the open and private master classes, groups can choose from several specialty options.  Broadway Dance Center knows many groups bring their dancers to NYC to train as well as experience the excitement of the city.  Broadway Dance Center works closely with the Broadway community and schedules “Meet the Artist” classes on a regular basis.  Dance-related seminars on headshots and résumés, auditioning and nutrition are available as well and are outstanding supplements to your regular dance classes. What better way to experience the magic of Broadway than learning from the performers first hand!

Broadway Classroom is a series of interactive workshops designed to further enhance your groups’ Broadway experience. They are a great way to engage students in a variety of theatre and vocal disciplines and were developed in accordance with the National Standards for Arts Education.  Broadway Classroom was created to be a flexible program, and any group with any skill level can participate in the majority of the workshops.  Each workshop is private, scheduled at your convenience, are 90 minutes in length and are taught by qualified teaching artists and Broadway performers.  Workshops for Performing Arts include:

  • Business of the Business
  • Musical Theatre Song and Movement
  • Step by Step

These workshops are perfect for individuals who are seriously interested in pursuing their craft in theatre. Students will get to learn directly from Broadway performers about auditioning for Broadway and the business behind show business for actors. They can be tailored to your groups’ level of experiences – even for non-performers.

STEPS on Broadway is the studio where professionals go to study in New York City. Since 1979, Steps has been at the center of New York’s diverse and electrifying dance scene. Whether studying ballet, tap, modern, musical theatre, jazz or hip-hop, your students will be dancing alongside some of the top professional dancers in the business. Steps has established a tradition of excellence through its world-renowned staff of teachers, musicians, choreographers, performers and artistic directors. Located on the Upper West Side, Steps is equipped with 10 air-conditioned studios, a studio theatre, dancewear boutique and café. These elements create an environment to help nurture the talent of your aspiring dancers and to encourage them to explore the many career opportunities in the dance world. Groups may take private/master classes, participate in daily scheduled classes, experience special workshops, or attend lectures on a variety of dance-related topics. Whether you are a private studio, drill team, a musical theatre department or a ballet academy, your students will have a variety of artistic and stimulating dance classes from which to choose.

The Alvin Ailey Dance Studios, the largest facility dedicated to dance in the United States, is the ultimate destination for dancers of all ages and levels!  Create an unforgettable experience for your group when you add a fun dance class taught by New York’s best instructors, a tour of Ailey’s acclaimed building, or a pre-performance party to your order of tickets to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at New York City Center. And when you book your group’s “Day at Ailey”, you’ll also enjoy special savings and personalized service.  There are many options for dance groups visiting The Ailey Studios including private classes, participation in regular open classes, class observations and much more!  The Ailey Studios offer diverse dance techniques you won’t find at any other studio, including Horton, West African, Ballet, Jazz, Afro-Caribbean, Hip Hop, Samba, Yoga, Pilates, and Tap. They offer classes for everybody of varying levels, from beginning dancers through professionals, and can customize your visit to accommodate your specific needs and interests.

Overall, dance is such an important aspect of life, art, and expression. Groups or companies considering a dance tour to New York City can trust the team at Kaleidoscope Adventures to deliver an outstanding travel experience that highlights your dance skills and creativity.  Be one of those instructors who expose their students to life-changing, dance experiences by attending one of the above-mentioned excellent programs.  If you have a dance ensemble that wants to participate in the best workshops/master classes, then consider booking with Kaleidoscope Adventures.  We will help place you in the right dance classes that will highlight the level of your dance ensemble and make your student group dance trip to New York City a success!

A Student History Trip to Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown, Virginia

WILLIAMSBURG-JAMESTOWN-YORKTOWN-VAWhen visiting Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown, Virginia, student groups will step back in time to the eve of the American Revolution and walk the same grounds that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry once walked.  Known as the “Historic Triangle,” this destination truly is a living classroom where one can experience America’s heritage, re-live the rich history of the revolutionary war and learn about where America began.

In Colonial Williamsburg, your group will find themselves fully immersed in America’s historical beginnings.  Students can embark on an 18th-century revolutionary adventure by experiencing a colonial village on 301 acres.  Citizens of the village dress in revolutionary costumes.  Students can also browse a world-class indoor museum, dance with an 18th century dance instructor, march with drum and fife corps, join the colonial militia, walk with curators, take place in a witch trial or watch a street theatre program on Revolutionary America.  Reenactments on 18th century life are held daily throughout the village.  Williamsburg is where the ideas of democracy, liberty and revolution came to shape.

Student travel to Jamestown Settlement, a re-creation of the first permanent English settlement and representative government in America dating back to 1607, is not only educational, but memorable.  Expansive gallery exhibits and an introductory film trace Jamestown’s beginnings in England and the first century of the Virginia colony itself.  The cultures of the Powhatan Indians, Europeans and Africans are represented within the film as well.  Outdoors, students can board replicas of the three ships that sailed from England to Virginia in1607, explore life-size re-creations of the colonists’ fort, and tour a seasonal riverfront discovery area to learn about European, Powhatan and African economic activities associated with water.  Costumed historical interpreters describe and demonstrate daily life in the early 17th century.  As an add-on to your trip, your group can opt for a professional, curriculum-based guided tour that includes Government and Leadership and Hands-on Historical Education programs.

Student tours to Yorktown are also educational and fun.  The history of Yorktown is legendary.  On October 19, 1781, the decisive military campaign of the American Revolution culminated with the British surrender to combined American and French forces under the command of George Washington. Thus the Revolutionary War ended and set the stage for a new government and nation by declaring independence from Britain. Today the Yorktown Victory Center, a museum of the American Revolution, chronicles America’s evolution from colonial status to nationhood through a unique blend of timeline, film and thematic exhibits.  Indoor exhibition galleries portray the Declaration of Independence, recount the war’s impact on the people of that time, highlight the roles of different nationalities at the Siege of Yorktown, and document the story of the Betsy and other British ships lost in the York River during the siege. Exhibits also describe how people from many different cultures shaped a new government with the signing of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Outdoors, visitors can explore a re-created farm and Continental Army encampment as well as the Yorktown Battlefield.  Groups can also opt for a guided tour from a professional tour director.  Tours include: Colonial Life, Life of a Private, Colonial Medicine and Revolutionary Virginia.

Overall, America’s Historic Triangle is the perfect educational student travel destination boasting unique historical sites, fantastic museums, recreations of life in the 17th century and a real battlefield.  For over 18 years, Kaleidoscope Adventures has organized history trips to the Williamsburg/Jamestown/Yorktown area for hundreds of schools.  We are experts in booking student tours and specialize in planning complete travel services for any student group.  We plan everything from A to Z, thus giving you peace-of-mind.  We even give you a tour director who helps you every step of the way during your trip.

Put your trust in us to meet all of your student travel needs.  Why not give your group an exciting history trip to Williamsburg/Jamestown/Yorktown.  Let us bring your classroom to life and create lasting memories for your student trip.