Macy’s Holiday Parade at Universal Studios – American Tours and Travel

Summer has just started but that isn’t a reason to not be thinking about the Macy’s Holiday Parade at Universal Studios for your band.  Spaces in the parade are already filling up for every date so now is the time to reserve a spot for your band.

Your band will be immersed in all the color, music, and pageantry of a great holiday tradition.  The band will get to feel like they are actually in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade since it features floats and balloons direct from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

Participating schools also receive discounts to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.  The Macy’s Holiday Parade will perform daily from December 1 – December 31, 2012.

For more information or to book a spot in the parade and set up a trip for your band please click here to fill out or inquiry form.  We look forward to seeing you at Universal Studios, Orlando, FL!

Rock The Universe at Universal Studios Orlando with American Tours and Travel

Rock The Universe, Florida’s biggest Christian music festival, is back and better than ever!  Universal Studios presents 2 nights of music, 16 bands, and unlimited fun.  This is the music that moves you.

This amazing weekend will feature awesome concerts from Christian rock’s best known and most exciting performers including: Skillet, Switchfoot, Newsboy, Relient K, Jeremy Camp, tobyMac, and more! These powerful Christian rockers will perform hit after hit and make you feel it in your soul.

This year’s Rock The Universe will also feature a larger FanZone where you will be able to sing along with your favorite Christian rock songs at Coca-Cola Karaoke.  On saturday night there will be a Candlelighting Ceremony with music provided by Tenth Avenue North.  There will also be a variety of inspirational Christian speakers appearing throughout the weekend, plus much more.

There will be a celebration of music, fellowship, and ministry at a non-denominational Sunday Morning Worship Service.  The service will be located at the Fear Factor Live stage inside Universal Studios and will include worship music led by Canopy Red, a popular up and coming Christian band.  Jeff Pratt will lead the service and feature an inspirational message for all.  Admission to the service is FREE with any Rock The Universe ticket but reservations are required because of the high popularity of the event.

Join us at Universal Studios Orlando for Rock The Universe on September 7th & 8th and be part of a special Christian music experience.

Student Group Travel Tip #5: Pick The Right Destination

When planning a trip for 100 or more rambunctious, instrument-toting students, it’s easy to overlook small details. Of these seemingly minor details, one that warrants some attention is picking the right destination. Finding a destination that works for your group, meets your expectations, and makes sense financially and logistically is not always as easy as it sounds.

So, what do we mean by by the right destination? Well, you can make sure that your destination is the ‘right‘ one by considering a few factors:

1. Easy To Get To

We recommend selecting a destination that has multiple incoming flights per day. This ensures that if your whole student group, or even just a handful of students, misses the scheduled flight you won’t get stuck sleeping in the airport or trying to come up with last minute accommodations. Although changing plans last minute is never ideal, the option to board another flight is a nice one to have.

2. Easy To Navigate

Once you arrive at your destination, how easy will it be to get around? Will you spend a lot of time waiting in traffic, trying to get from Point A to Point B? You must consider the proximity of your hotel to transportation, attractions, dining and your performance venue. Then, you have to consider how easy your destination city will be to navigate on foot. In tourist-dense areas, it may be challenging to walk through throngs of people with 75 choir students in robes. Add to these considerations a lack of local knowledge and the responsibility on your shoulders becomes overwhelming.

3. Easy to Enjoy

You’ve reached your destination, you’ve figured out how to get where you’re going–now what? Another consideration when planning a large student group trip is picking a destination with plenty to do and see. Although a remote town in Iowa may be hosting an inexpensive student band competition, if there is nothing exciting to occupy your students in their downtime, that trip probably won’t go down in the record books as a class favorite. Selecting destinations like Orlando, New York City, and Chicago guarantees that your group will never be short on entertainment. Class trips as well as student band and choir trips don’t happen everyday, and should be both memorable and rewarding for students and Directors.

Considering all of the elements detailed above while simultaneously coordinating performance rehearsals, selecting chaperons, and planning fundraising opportunities will guarantee that you won’t be able to think straight by the time your competition date rolls around! Save yourself the headache, focus on your students, and let American Tours & Travel do what we do best–planning student group travel.

Click here to start planning your next student group adventure today!

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News About Universal STARS Program From American Tours & Travel

The Universal STARS Program has undergone some important changes!

A Brand New Changing Facility

The facility, which is maintained and used only by the STARS Performance Program, was completed at the end of 2011 and we couldn’t be more excited. The facility is air-conditioned, has separate male and female changing areas with bathrooms and water fountains, and will afford students the ability to change in and out of uniforms and costumes before and after performances.

Digital Photo of Your Performance

At no additional cost, each STARS Performance group will now receive a digital photo of their performance with the STARS logo on it. It is just STARS’ way of saying “Thank You” for participating in Universal Orlando’s STARS Performance Program.

 More Attention, and Ultimately, Larger Audiences

The STARS Program and its associated Performances will now be advertised through the park using digital board technology. Participating marching bands will be highlighted on the boards, letting park-goers know when and where to catch the next STARS performance.

Click here to learn more about participating in the Universal STARS program!

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Student Group Travel Tip #4: Bigger Isn’t Always Better

While erring on the side of caution is generally a good idea, it can be costly in matters of student group travel. Estimate your group size and their needs appropriately. If you are traveling with 50 students, it’s not necessarily a good idea to reserve attraction tickets or seats at a restaurant or theater for 75.

Preparing for and juggling all the aspects of a trip can be hectic and stressful enough, without the added pressure of remembering to call at least 15 days ahead to cancel those extra 25 seats! Many venues will not refund the cost of those tickets or meals, despite their not being used. Extra expenditures add up and avoiding them could mean an extra day at the parks or getting to travel by plane instead of bus.

At American Tours & Travel, we utilize our nearly 40 years of industry experience to reserve an adequate amount of tickets, hotel rooms and meal vouchers on behalf of your group. We are experts at making conservative allowances in the number of travelers without stretching your budget or tying up money in wasteful waysYour trip should be memorable for all the right reasons, and we can help you get there.

Contact us today and start planning the trip of a lifetime for you and  your students!

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Student Group Travel Tip #3: Travel On “Off Days”

By now, most people know that traveling on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays is not exactly budget-friendly and will usually result in paying additional fees or premiums for traveling on these “peak” days. Opting to travel on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday will give you the greatest chance of finding group travel discounts. These particular days of the week are less common travel days and will also ensure that airports, train terminals and ground transportation are less crowded than other days of the week.

Trying to navigate a crowded airport, and its requisite security checkpoints, with 100 students–luggage and instruments in tow–is not only challenging, but can be downright impossible. Keep stress and struggles to a minimum by traveling on an “off” day. Since Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays are notoriously slow, many airline and bus carriers will give travelers willing to book on these days discounts, incentives and other perks to ensure that they can still meet their travel quotas.

The money your group saves could mean an extra day at Disney or Sea World!

The less stressful your trip, the more fun you and your students will have. Following our simple group travel tips and allowing American Tours & Travel to coordinate all of your student group trips will make all the difference.

We have been planning student group trips for nearly 40 years and are well-versed in finding the best prices for students, directors and chaperons.

Contact us today to get started!

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Happy Holidays From American Tours & Travel!

Happy Holidays to you and yours! 

Hoping you are surrounded by love and warmth this holiday season and find a little time to relax and reflect with family, friends and loved ones!


Wishing you health and happiness in 2012–

American Tours & Travel

All American Music Festival

Welcome Yokohama Soei Junior Senior High from Tokyo!

We are excited to welcome a group of students from Yokohama Soei Junior Senior High School, located in Tokyo, Japan!

 The students are coming to Orlando to visit Universal Studios and Walt Disney World, where they will participate in marching and wind instrument performances at the parks.

Click on the video to see the group in action!

The students, along with their Marching Band Director, Fiji Shigaki, will arrive in Orlando on December 23rd and will be in town for the holidays. We look forward to showing them all that Orlando has to offer, from attractions and restaurants to theme parks and entertainment! It will be a wonderful time and we will have photos to share soon.

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Student Group Travel Tip #2: Be Flexible

The less rigid your group travel plans, the easier the planning and coordination process will be. Instead of having a definitive weekend in mind, decide that you want to travel in May and adjust travel dates accordingly. Many band and choral directors come to American Tours and Travel knowing that they want to take their group on a performance trip in the Spring of 2012, but leave the destination and exact dates open for recommendations. There are numerous benefits associated with a flexible travel schedule, including:

Potential for Lower Rates

Maintaining a flexible itinerary and arrival and departure schedule ensures that you will be able to secure the lowest rates available. Traveling on Memorial Day weekend is much more costly than flying the weekend before or after. Being open to these changes will increase the affordability of your trip, allowing more room in the budget for the fun stuff, like meals and attractions.

Reduced Stress

Even the best laid plans can require a little finessing to make things work. Knowing that things aren’t set in stone and that you may have to ‘go with the flow’ to keep your travelers happy will reduce the stress involved in planning and executing a major student travel trip. Be prepared but open to the natural evolution that is often a necessary component in getting large groups of people to work together toward a common goal.

Happier Travelers

At the end of the day, it won’t matter to your students if a plane takes off at 7am or 11pm. They are just happy to be competing, performing, enjoying time with friends and maybe getting a day or two away out of class! A flexible schedule can often mean the difference between running through Disney World in less than 3 hours because you’ve got a bus to catch and spending a leisurely day at Universal Studios–riding the Hulk 3 or 4 times and capping off the day with chilled Butterbeers from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Which one do you think your students would prefer?

Now is the time to start planning all of your trips for the upcoming 2012-2013 school year! Contact us today to begin making arrangements!

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