In early April our lovely Emma took off over to the great ol' USA to tour the amazing attractions and host a group of 8 teachers from New Zealand, Australia and the UK. Their objective was simple, understand the incredible educational programmes on offer to STEAM students, discover the amazing service of the staff that work for Educating Adventures and get a first-hand look at some of the exciting activities enjoyed by so many of our school travellers.
Emma was chosen to host this trip because she is passionate about working with teachers to help facilitate exceptional school tours. She has great experience organising many successful trips to Orlando for EA. Her meticulous planning and organisation skills made her the perfect person to coordinate a whirlwind tour of our most popular STEAM attractions.
Check out her detailed account of this fun filled educational trip below....or click here to download your NASA sample itinerary.
In Emma's own words...
“This trip has got me even more excited for what we do here at EA and the people we do it for. When you go and experience first-hand the activities that we are promoting you can really see the educational value of each one, this is truly a unique destination where there are so many opportunities for learning to be both engaging and fun. We are working with some awesome suppliers who go the extra mile to make the experience for students and teachers as great as possible in every instance.”
Tuesday 11th April | Preview Trip Welcome
After long journey’s for all of us we arrived in Orlando ready for a whistle stop tour of the most popular Orlando attractions! It’s lovely and warm and we all got settled in to the Clarion Inn at Lake Buena Vista, one of our two most popular hotels in central Orlando. It’s a great set up for groups with spacious rooms and two pools. We all met for some welcome drinks at Joe’s Crab Shack, a popular restaurant with school groups to sample some great American cuisine and go over the plan for the days ahead.
Wednesday 12th April | Universal Orlando & Orlando Magic
We were up bright and early for breakfast at the hotel, Micky Mouse pancakes anyone? Our first day was spent at the Universal Orlando complex. We get a lot of feedback that the Universal theme parks are better suited for teenage students so we were keen to show our teachers just what’s on offer there. We began our day at Islands of Adventure with Universal’s group educational Coordinator, Austin who gave us a run down on the new STEAM app series of educational programmes. These 1.5 hour sessions are a great way to incorporate learning into a theme park day and show students how the STEAM subjects can be applied in the wider world through an exciting variety of careers. Then it was off to explore with our park to park tickets meaning we had the whole of both Islands of Adventure & Universal Studios to explore. Highlights of the day? Harry Potter World which links the two parks via the Hogwarts Express! Dinner tonight was at Margaritaville on City Walk, the vibrant Jimmy Buffet inspired restaurant with live entertainment and fantastic food to revive us after a busy day! But the day wasn’t over yet, after dinner we headed to the Amway Center to watch Orlando Magic play the Detroit Pistons in an NBA basketball match. The atmosphere was electric with so much happening on and off court. Dancers, mascots and live musical entertainment kept the crowd entertained just as much as the game! We all loved the authentic American experience of watching some live sport and it was a great end to our first full day.
Thursday 13th April | Free Day (Disney Magic Kingdom)
Today was a free day set aside for everyone to use as they wished. I headed to Disney’s Magic Kingdom with two of our teachers and although it might be aimed at younger children and families, we still had a brilliant day! If you are interested in adding Disney to a group package they also arrange a wide variety of educational programmes. We stayed late to watch the fireworks and it was well worth the tired feet, a truly spectacular display! What did the others get up to? Well, two of our teachers headed to iFLY the indoor wind tunnel experience to learn about the physics programmes they provide and try their skills in the air while the rest went shopping to make the most of the outlet malls and great bargains!
Friday 14th April | Kennedy Space Center
I think this is the day we were all waiting for and it didn’t disappoint. Kennedy Space Center is the main draw for STEAM educational tours to Orlando and there are a number of different options to incorporate it into a trip, from a 1 day visit to a 5 day camp. We just had the one day here so squeezed as much in as possible. Starting in the Astronaut Hall of fame we learnt about the history of space exploration and some of the names that have made an impact. Then there was time to explore the Rocket Garden before visiting the amazing Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibition which was a personal highlight. In the afternoon we took one of the optional extra bus tours that drove us out to the live launch sites as well as the Rocket Assembly Building where spacecraft is completed and checked before take-off. We got back on the coach to the hotel absolutely buzzing from a great day of exploring and learning!
Saturday 15th April | Boggy Creek
Today was the last day of the preview trip so before we all went our separate ways we headed out to the Florida Everglades for a ride on the Boggy Creek Airboat’s. First up we took an exhilarating 30 minute ride on the airboat through the Everglades spotting alligators, water snakes and native birds. Then we watched a really interesting presentation from a Native American Indian who showed us around the authentic village display that has been newly installed on site. A brilliant half day activity that many groups enjoy on the morning of the departure, it was a great way to say farewell and finish off such an enjoyable preview visit. Until next time Orlando!
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