Broadway Musicals 2014: Fun and Appropriate Shows for School Trips to NYC

This year, Broadway Musicals are more popular than ever with student tour groups going to New York City.  I usually recommend the most sought after tickets on Broadway to student trip leaders. This article contains my selection of musicals popular in 2014. If an educational travel company works far enough in advance (six months to one year) we usually can obtain group tickets to the performance of choice.  For many school trips, large blocks of tickets are required.  So, working in advance as much as possible is key to obtaining a block of seats for the musical of choice.

Since the popularity of Disney’s High School Musical, many student travelers are interested in attending a Broadway Musical. For some, it is an once-in-a-lifetime event. Make it special for students by making them part of the process. Teachers may discuss which musical to see while still in the planning stages of a student trip.

Here are my recommendations for student travel groups in the 2014 Broadway season:

Wicked is one of the most popular shows on Broadway in 2014.

Wicked
This popular musical offers a new twist on the Wizard of Oz, told from the perspective of the green, (bad?) witch.  Audiences will get to know Glenda, the good witch, too.  Wicked turns ideas about magic and the Wizard of Oz upside down, and does it with terrific songs and a great storyline that follows the novel, Wicked, closely.  For audiences, the stage set of Wicked will offer some special supernatural surprises showing the depths of the power of Oz with digital light and sound effects and phenomenal stage construction.  Wicked is taking the U.S. by storm, offering shows in major cities, too.  But there’s nothing like seeing Wicked on Broadway.

Mamma Mia is filled with Abba songs. Audiences sing-a-long.

Mamma Mia
Many people expect Mamma Mia to be an Abba tribute. It’s true that the musical uses Abba’s music in the Broadway Musical production. The storyline for the musical is unique, and originally written, with Abba songs woven through it. It’s about a woman in search of her real father, and on her wedding day, three of her mother’s former boyfriends present themselves. Mamma Mia is set in the era of Abba music, the 1970s, and uses retro costuming and stage sets to glamourize the period.  This musical is now celebrating its 10th year on Broadway!  Dancing Queen, and the signature song, Mamma Mia are some of the songs audience anticipate. It’s the kind of musical where you will see people dancing and singing along.

The Lion King
This epic production of Disney’s The Lion King is not to be missed. This musical has it all.   Thanks to costuming and scenery that captures the magic of Africa, an all star cast headed by Alton Fitzgerald White as Mufasa and Gareth Saxe as Scar and music and lyrics that inspire — The Lion King is one of the hottest tickets on Broadway.   In New York City there are eight performances each week.  Teachers interested in taking classes to see The Lion King need to book as far in advance as possible.

The Phantom of the Opera
This Broadway Musical has been a top running show for decades and can be considered an all time classic.  With the lyrics to The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Weber, the soundtrack has become familiar to many.  Learn more about the Phantom, a mysterious male figure who resides in the depths of the Paris Opera house, and roams the building whenever he pleases.   The Phantom is in love with Christine, a new, young chorus singer he helps teach – and catapults to operatic fame.  The costuming, scenery, music and dance are sure to thrill and captivate any student group audience.

Seeing a show on Broadway in New York City is a wonderful experience for any student.  Selecting the show is often difficult for trip leaders, because there are so many excellent, worthwhile musicals to see. This is my own selection of Broadway Musicals that are popular right now – and appropriate for student travel groups. There are numerous other plays student groups may enjoy or educators may find Broadway Musicals which parallel their curriculum in some way.  Learn more by visiting Broadway.com.

Include a Broadway musical in a school trip to New York City. Book a school trip today by visiting http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Popular Smithsonian Museum for Student Travel Groups: National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC

The National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. is a popular place for student travel groups to visit.

One of the most popular stops on a student tour of Washington D.C. is the National Air and Space Museum, part of the Smithsonian Museums.  The Smithsonian Museum is so vast it would be a huge challenge to construct a student group tour of each museum on just a four to five day visit. So, educators and student trip leaders need to be selective about which Smithsonian Museum fit best with curricular objectives.  For science, history and social studies students who want to be exposed to the evolution of air and space travel – the National Air and Space Museum is a winning choice.  Students learn through contemporary interactive exhibits designed to keep their attention.

This overview of the National Air and Space Museum will highlight major parts of it. This is a great snapshot of the Museum’s offerings, so student trip leaders can plan on which places in the Museum and exhibits to include in their visit beforehand.  Social studies, history and science teachers may be interested in using educational materials found on the website to prepare students in advance of a student trip to Washington D.C. Visit the Explore and Learn section of the National Air and Space Museum website to download classroom materials.

National Air and Space Museum Exhibits
There are so many exhibits to choose from at the Museum in Washington D.C. Some historical exhibits include: Early Flight, Apollo to the Moon and the Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery.  Exhibits that showcase contemporary technology developed by scientists include:  Lunar Exploration Vehicles, Military Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and Moving Beyond Earth. These are just a sampling of a long list of extraordinary topics related to air and space.

For history students, a focus on specific periods may work best. Many students study the major U.S. conflicts. See World War I; the Pre-1920 Aviation exhibit, which covers this era; and, World War II Aviation spans the 1930s and 1940s.  One of the most popular exhibits at the Museum is Spirit & Opportunity: 10 Years Roving Across Mars.  This particular exhibit focuses on notable accomplishments of two Mars Rovers and is on exhibit through September 14, 2014.  Learn more about other exhibits by visiting:  http://www.airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/mer/.

Albert Einstein Planetarium
Student groups may have time to catch a show at the Planetarium.  Shows last only 25 minutes.  Choose from Journey to the Stars, Undiscovered Worlds and What’s New in Space Science. All movies are scheduled at different times during the day, usually in half hour increments. So when student groups visit they may be able to work one movie in.

Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater

Viewing a show at the IMAX Theater at the National Air and Space Museum will cost extra for the students and chaperones in the group, but it’s well worth $7.50-10 fee.  IMAX films are as close to re-creation of reality as possible, heightening sight, sound,  and vision for the spectator.  Choose an IMAX movie that parallels nicely with classroom activities. These include:  Air Racers 3D (Watch Reno Air Races from a pilot’s view), Hubble 3D (Astronauts on a mission to save the Hubble Space Telescope), The Dream is Alive (Space Shuttle simulations), and To Fly! (A journey through the history of flight).

Public Observatory
On a group visit to the National Air and Space Museum, try to schedule enough time for students to visit the Phoebe Waterman Haas Public Observatory.  Access to the Observatory is through the East Terrace.  Hours are 12-3 p.m. Wednesday thorough Sunday, weather permitting, so there is a small window of opportunity. The reward is that on clear days students can observe the sun, the moon, and phases of Venus, as well as other sights and phenomenon.

For those interested in the development of aircraft and air travel and space exploration, a visit to the National Air and Space Museum is probably the most comprehensive view of the history of U.S. technological advances over the past century – and into the future. This is the type of Museum most students, teachers and chaperones can get excited about visiting.  To plan a student trip to Washington D.C. that includes the National Air and Space Museum, visit Educational Travel Consultants website.

Highlights of the Smithsonian Museum for Student Travel Groups Visiting D.C.

Student travel groups headed to Washington D.C. have many different options for their itinerary.  In addition to the Capitol and the White House, student group leaders may also want to schedule time at the Smithsonian Museum.

Some of the Smithsonian Museums most popular with student travel groups are the National Zoo, the National Museum of  Natural History and the National Portrait Gallery.  Admission to the Smithsonian Museums is free. If there is enough advance planning, student travel groups can even take part in hands on educational programs.

The National Zoo in Washington D.C. is a popular point of interest for student travel groups - who want to see the Panda exhibit.

National Zoo
Like all of the National Museums, the National Zoo is free.  Students will see animals from A to Z, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates.  In the Great Ape House students will see a tribe of western lowland gorillas, their youngest family member is Kibibi who was born in 2009.  Gibbons, monkeys, and lemurs are also in the ape house where the golden lion tamarins are always a popular spectacle.  Besides the zoo’s collection, it is also the home of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) where animals are studied for conservation, evolutionary genetics, and other sciences, making it an invaluable tool for many to access.  The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center is part of the SCBI, dedicated to studying the migration of many species of birds for the sake of protecting their flight paths and habitats.  One of the other most popular exhibits is the pandas. With the birth of the newborn Bao Bao, the pandas are more popular than ever with all visitors.

The National Museum of Natural History
The National Museum of Natural History holds the distinction of being the largest museum in the world.  Student tour groups can see the live butterfly pavilion with swallowtail and monarch butterflies waking from their chrysalises.  T-Rex, triceratops and other dinosaur bones fill the gallery preserving the ancient fossil records.  The Hope Diamond, the world’s largest blue diamond is on display.  A 24-foot giant squid is also on permanent display.  This museum is one of the largest science classrooms in the world, and their education department is dedicated to inspiring us all to understand the natural world and to be better stewards of our fragile ecosystems on our planet.  The Insect Zoo is also a must-see as part of your visit, complete with a volunteer tarantula feeding.  As entomologist Thomas Eisner says, “Insects won’t inherit the Earth—they own it now.”  Students may touch, hold and ask questions about the many-legged creatures crawling around the Insect Zoo.  There are an estimated 126 million items in the museum, both in laboratory archives and exhibition halls.  This collection rivals any the world has ever seen with specimens of minerals, plants, fish, insects, birds, mammals and reptiles; it’s one of the most exciting educational tours you can take.

The National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery is the only place outside the White House to have a complete collection of portraits of U.S. presidents. The education department uses art and history to introduce visitors to the galleries.  In the Gallery, students may see performances from musicians, actors and other artists who bring the collection to life.  There are also documentary films about the lives of significant Americans and their achievements that made them great.

Besides U.S. presidents, another permanent exhibition is called “American Origins, 1600—1900.”  There are 17 galleries devoted to a chronological journey of the first contact with Native Americans to the very beginning of the 20th century.  Three of the galleries in this exhibit are devoted to the Civil War, presenting a careful lens on the years of that bloodiest American war.  The museum’s curators work hard to collect and display portraits of diverse and respected men and women who have left an indelible mark on U.S. history and our rich and ever growing culture.  Other highlight portraits include Martin Luther King Jr., George Gershwin, Rosa Parks, Julia Child, Babe Ruth, Marry Cassatt, Marilyn Monroe and many others.  The National Portrait Gallery is a must for any serious school group tour in the Washington D.C. metro area.

There are other Smithsonian Museums that are popular with student tour groups, such as the National Air and Space Museum. When it comes to planning a visit to Washington D.C. there are so many choices. Teachers and group leaders tend to focus the itinerary on curricular objectives.   Learn more about a putting together a student tour of Washington D.C., request a qu0te online by filling out a brief inquiry.