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What’s New in Orlando at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Florida?

Walt Disney World in Orlando is an exciting place for class trips. One of the world’s most beloved theme parks continually improves its offerings to keep exhibits, rides, and youth programs fresh and interesting. Student travel group leaders planning trips to Orlando, FL need to keep abreast of Walt Disney World’s new attractions and programming so they can add some of these activities to their itinerary.

I have organized tours of Walt Disney World for student travel groups for over 25 years. It is a popular destination for high school senior trips, high school bands and orchestras, theater students, science students and more. Walt Disney World has an outstanding active learning program called Youth Education Series (Y.E.S Programs). Y.E.S. programs are designed for arts and humanities, earth sciences, natural sciences, and leadership and careers. This article will give an overview of “Everyday Chemistry” a new program in Physical Sciences and “Showbiz Magic at La Nouba Cirque du Soleil” just added to Arts and Humanities programming.

Orlando has another fun theme park owned by Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure. A sixth island is about to open in Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.” This article will also offer a preview for student travel groups headed to Orlando and the Islands of Adventure.

Universal Studios also has a new rollercoaster that is sure to thrill student travel groups: Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit. This high tech ride offers some unique features not found on other roller coasters. Student travel groups destined for Orlando may be interested in visiting Universal Studios, as well as Walt Disney World.

Y.E.S Program “Everyday Chemistry” 4th – 9th grade
This program is designed to show the student how chemistry impacts our day-to-day lives. Student groups will do hands on learning in Future World at Epcot. They will learn about chemical elements and their properties, and be given an overview of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen. Students will visit Ellen’s Energy Adventure, where they will gain a much broader understanding of compounds that create fossil fuels and photosynthesis. During this educational program, tour groups will also be given some background on plastics and polymers, solar energy, and the process of making automobiles.

YES Program “Showbiz Magic at La Nouba Cirque du Soleil”

Theater and performance students will be drawn to this Y.E.S. Program, which helps them to gain greater insight into the talent and skills that make the world famous Cirque du Soleil possible. They tour the training room and the green room and meet some of the actual performers in La Nouba Cirque du Soleil. Students also have a chance to experiment with The Diabolos, a performance art featured in the Cirque du Soleil.

Universal Studios Islands of Adventure “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter”
On June 18th 2010 the newest theme park at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure in Orlando will open: “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.” This fantastic park is modeled on the movie rendition of Harry Potter’s adventures with replicas of Hogwarts (the school) and Hogsmeade (a village). Student groups can taste magical food and drinks at Three Broomsticks and the Hog’s Head and shop in various stores with magical themes. The new attraction includes Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, an ‘augmented reality’ version of the movie that places students squarely within Harry Potter’s experiences at Hogwarts. Student groups will also want to try some supernatural attractions that follow the theme of the Harry Potter movies closely. These include the Dragon Challenge and Flight of the Hippogriff.

Universal Studios New Roller Coaster: “Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit”

This 65-mile per hour roller coaster is sure to excite student groups, especially those who love contemporary and retro music. Visitors choose their own soundtrack from: pop/disco, rap/hip hop, classic rock/heavy metal, country, or electronic music before boarding. With digital cameras installed on board they will get to see themselves on video as they ride the roller coaster. Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit ascends to heights of 17 stories, dives into loops, and twists and turns while riders experience an adrenaline rush of a lifetime. The unique combination of technology and roller coaster thrills will please just about any student traveler who is eager for adventure.

No wonder Walt Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando are at the top of the list for most student travelers. A visit to Orlando combines active learning and high quality educational programming with all of the joys and stimulation people expect from a theme park. When it is time to take a break from the day’s activities, there are great choices for entertainment, tasty dining and unique shopping experiences awaiting the tour group.

With planning and coordination by tour leaders and an educational travel company, student groups can easily visit both parks. If student groups want to participate in Y.E.S Programs, I recommend booking early in order to secure a reservation.

Educational Student Travel Groups Participate in Disney YES Programs

By Howard Clemens

I take educational student travel groups to Orlando Florida on a regular basis, and have been for the past 24 years. I find that the educational experience students have is greatly enriched when a Disney YES program is on the itinerary. Disney YES Programs stand for Youth Education Series. All of the programs are specially designed to take student travel groups behind the scenes at Walt Disney World and allow these student groups have a unique active learning experience.

When student travel groups visit Orlando, Florida, the leaders should have some general idea of desirable educational goals. Disney Yes Programs will quickly illustrate each program’s usefulness in just about any curriculum. Disney YES programs are designed to blend with educational objectives at the K-12 level and for college students up to age 22. Educators and students will realize that Disney’s YES Programs provide real world content and valuable participation in learning for various fields of study. Disney YES programs take place in the park setting, using exhibits in various theme parks and a creative approach to teach students in an active setting.

Arts and Humanities

Students who participate in Disney’s YES program for Arts and Humanities will have an exciting array of choices to complement their curriculum. Learn about the art of improvisation in “Magic Behind the Show.” Understand the artistic methods behind use of animation software in “Disney’s Animation Magic,” or explore the impacts that new technologies have on contemporary cultures in Millenium Cultures. For diverse viewpoints on American history, students will appreciate “The American Story.” Many of these Disney YES programs take place in popular theme parks such as Epcot®, The Magic Kingdom®, or Disney-MGM Studios.

Life Management (Marine and Wildlife Sciences)

Gaining insight into the natural world through a safe interaction with it, students come to have a fuller understanding of the sciences in this Disney YES Program. Through various approaches, the Life Management program helps students to gain a better understanding of the marine and wildlife sciences as professions. In “Keepers of the Kingdom” educational travel groups obtain a glimpse of conservation and animal care in Disney’s Animal Kingdom®. Or, student travel groups may participate in a “Leadership Excellence, or “Making Waves with a Marine Career” to learn how to better achieve career goals. Students learn about the many faceted roles they will play as professionals in the marine and wildlife science fields in this Disney YES Program.

Natural Sciences

Many student travel groups maintain an active interest in the environment and the natural world and its protection and preservation for future generations. The Natural Sciences program is especially beneficial for a curriculum that reinforces conservation of natural resources in marine and wildlife habitats. “Wild by Nature” helps the student understand animal behavior, motivations, and social habits. “Everyday Chemistry” reveals the chemical substances in everyday things and makes the theory of chemistry more tangible for students. For the student interested in ecological preservation, “Disney’s Ocean Discoveries” and “Team Up for Wildlife” encourage preservation in the marine and wildlife environments. These programs offer deeper insight into the world of nature and will definitely enhance student curriculums in biology, science, chemistry, marine biology, and even more fields of academic interest.

Physical Sciences

The physical sciences are sometimes perceived as elusive, and hard to study. The Disney YES Program brings physics and contemporary technological advances right down to the everyday level. Educational travel students are eager to participate in “Energy and Waves” an experience based program about the natural operation of light, sound, and magnetism and how science can manipulate them. In “How Things Move” student travel groups gain an understanding of the ways in which Disney World rides are designed with the physics of mechanics in mind. “Properties in Motion” is a hands on class that takes students out into the park to actually explore the physics of mechanics at work.

I have seen many students light up and become active, engaged learners when they participate in a Disney YES Program. Though it takes some advance planning to ensure scheduling needs, a good educational travel consultant can make certain a student travel group participates in a Disney YES Program while the group tours Orlando, Florida. Trust me, students who have the experience of a Disney YES Program will leave with a much different perception of Disney World.

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