I left the impossibly humid and hot east coast for a dance tour in LA! It was 98 at home and 70 when I arrived - clearly this was going to be a great trip! I was excited to meet a new client, a dance company from San Jose. They turned out to be the greatest group of girls and parents. Everyone was pleasant, excited for the trip and ready to work hard!
Day 1 they arrived at Grauman’s Chinese Theater for a quick lunch and some time checking out the Hollywood Walk of Fame and all those hand and feet prints at Grauman’s. No matter how many times I go there, I always find something new to check out. From there it was off to the Debbie Allen Dance Studio for two private ballet workshops. The prestige of this school was not lost on these girls and they really enjoyed every moment of it! We checked into our hotel in Woodland Hills and then headed to dinner at Buca di Beppo at Universal City Walk. That place was hopping! So after dinner we had a great time shopping and people watching!
Day 2 started with some nice downtime in the morning relaxing at the pool before heading to Millennium Dance Studio - where Britany Spears trained for many years! The girls started in an open hip hop class - where not only did they learn a routine, but they found themselves dancing alongside up and coming professionals. They did great work and learned so much! From there they moved into two separate private jazz class workshops - geared for their different experience levels. Those girls worked as hard as any dancers I have seen! After three hours of work it was time for some PLAY - so off to the Santa Monica Pier we went. It was beautiful day to be on the beach and get in that wonderfully warm water! Then we ate at Bubba Gumps and rode some rides and did some shopping before heading back to get some sleep! A perfect way to spend an evening in Southern California!
Day 3 was another beautiful day and after breakfast it was off to Edge Performing Arts Studio. This is one happening place, the number of top notch instructors and dancers that pass through here on a given day is really staggering. The girls started their day with a private Contemporary Jazz workshop with an outstanding instructor. They created a lovely routine and were so energized when they came out 90 minutes later! After a 30 minute break and quick energy snack it was off to Jazz 3 open class for the older girls and Intermediate Ballet for the younger ones. Again they found themselves in classes with other dancers of amazing levels of dedication and it was an enriching experience and a great way to end their trip! They got themselves all packed up, stopped for a quick lunch and then were on their way home - full of smiles and thoughts about a trip for next year! And I geared up for my red-eye flight home where, fortunately, the heat had broken and it was going to be a lovely summer day!
One of the great west coast destination for student travel is Orange County: the original home of Mickey Mouse, 42 miles of sparkling sand and perpetual sunshine. With an average temperature of 70 degrees year-round, sunglasses and flip-flops are always in season.
In Anaheim and Orange County, activities range from a day at some of the worlds best theme parks or shopping at one of our fashionable malls, to exploring cultural neighborhoods or whale watching off the coast. There are many student friendly activities to fill your days in Anaheim and Orange County with fun and sun.
If you are looking for a day of thrills, head to one of the many theme parks in the Anaheim/OC area. With its five-year renovation coming to completion with the opening of Cars Land this June, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park have plenty of new excitement to keep your engine running! While at Disneyland have your band, choir, orchestra or dance ensemble perform in the one of the parks or work with a clinician with a Disney workshop. Senior Class Groups can particiate in Disneyland's Grad Nite program.
Need more adrenaline? Knott’s Berry Farm’s newest ride, WindSeeker, takes you more than 300 ft above OC! Or head to SeaWorld San Diego to soar, dive and twist like a ray on Manta, their first multimedia double launch coaster! Universal Studios Hollywood takes thrill-seekers on Transformers™: The Ride 3D, an immersive, next generation thrill ride that blurs the line between fiction and reality. Both Knott's Berry Farms and Universal Studios Hollywood cater to student performing groups, as well as Senior Class Trip events.
Want to sink your toes in the sand or try to catch a wave? OC’s beaches are the perfect spot to spend a day. Take surfing lessons in Huntington Beach a.k.a. Surf City USA, kayak in the Newport Harbor, stand-up paddleboard in Dana Point or just take it all in from the warm sand.
If you love to shop, you’ve come to the right place. Whatever your budget, Anaheim/OC has the perfect spot for you. Right down the street from the Anaheim Resort is OC’s only outlet shopping center, the Outlets at Orange, featuring 120 outlet and discount stores. Check out South Coast Plaza and Fashion Island for the latest designer fashion and best boutique shopping. Anaheim Garden Walk, Irvine Spectrum and Downtown Disney provide beautiful outdoor shopping and entertainment.
If arts and culture are your thing, don’t worry because Orange County offers some great museums and cultural attractions like Bower’s Museum, MUZEO, San Juan Capistrano Mission, Discovery Science Center and more!
Whatever your pleasure, you’ll find it here in Anaheim and Orange County, with plenty of sunshine, of course! Call Peak Performance Tour for a proposal to Anaheim and Orange County, CA.
Another wonderful Southern CA trip!!
Spent the last week in LA soaking up the sun and the southern California vibe with the folks from Ridgewood High School in NJ! We started off with a bang by having all their small ensembles play at the Santa Monica Pier. It was a beautiful day and the kids all played so well, they attracted a nice crowd of supporters. After all it’s not everyday that you see a percussion ensemble including multiple marimbas/xylophones playing their hearts out with the Pacific Ocean and gorgeous mountains as their backdrop! After some beach time and lunch the Winter Guard and Percussion Ensemble headed out for a competition and clinic respectively. The rest of the group went over to tour UCLA and stir up some Bruin fever! The Winter Guard did a very elegant routine - and had the audience in “the palm of their hand”. We ended our first day by eating dinner back at the Santa Monica Pier and going to see Cirque de Soleil. All I can say about those performers is OUCH - how do you bend that way??
Day 2 dawned bright and sunny and we were off to Disneyland. The Wind Ensemble were participating in a clinic and then performing in the park at the Carousel Garden Stage - and the Winter Guard had the opportunity to have their own clinic as part of the Disney Performing Arts program. We spent the rest of our day riding the rides and feasting on yummy treats.
Day 3 it was now the concert/symphonic band’s turn to have a Disney Day! We all headed to Disney’s California Adventure to start our day with the performance at the Back Lot Stage. They did a wonderful job and later we all got our chance to pose with the “Mouse” of the hour - Mickey himself! After dinner we headed over to a local school and the bands worked with Sean McLaughlin - which was a really wonderful and educational opportunity. The Winter Guard also got the opportunity to have another casual workshop experience with one of the judges from the competition they had participated in on our first day. We were getting nervous about the forecast of our last day being rain, rain, rain. So we hooked into our Peak Performance Tours mojo and wished that away - although securing what we are now referring to as Urban Ponchos (aka garbage bags) for 150 just in case we would need them.
Our last full day was full of touristy LA experiences. We started with a great tour of Sony Studios - during which it became apparent our PPT mojo had worked as we had about 5 minutes of sprinkles and then dry weather! Some of the kids had a chance sighting of Reese Witherspoon as she drove through the lot. I am sure she was glad to be able to get inside before she was mobbed by the hoard of fans! The tour was so cool - a high point being the Foley Studio - where we learned how all the sounds are added into the movies. Everything from the movement of clothes in the wind, to popcorn, or the sound of shoes on the pavement. From there we headed to the LA Farmer’s Market for lunch - where there is truly something for everyone. Then back on the bus for a guided tour of Hollywood and LA - including stops at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Kodak Theater, La Brea Tar Pits, a driving tour of Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive. The Jazz Bands spent their afternoon in clinics with Trumpeter Wayne Bergeron at Catalina’s Jazz Club. After a wonderful dinner, the jazz bands ended our trip with great performances featuring Wayne and several student soloists!
Early morning wake up and we were off to LAX for our return flight to NJ! There were lots of smiles and stories of great times - despite the early hour. Safe flights and everyone was happily back home and ready to share their stories with family and friends.
When it comes to student travel, everyone remembers having to take a trip to the state capitol in grade school. Sacramento offers much more than the standard visit to the state Capitol. In one short trip, my group and I were able to visit the Capitol, pan for gold at the originating site of the Gold Rush, watch canons fire at Sutter’s Fort, navigate my way through vintage railcars at the California State Railroad museum and witnessed some Old West-style hijinks from costumed gunslingers among the historic buildings and wooden sidewalks of Old Sacramento. My group was thrilled that it wasn’t just a basic trip to the Capitol. We were able to witness current government in action as well as visit the history of the Gold Rush and the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. We were also able to work in quality meals to our itinerary and budget. Planning a group trip to Sacramento was easy because of all wide range of options to suit my group. I was also pleased to notice the wide range of performance venues available for student choirs, bands and other arts-based performance groups.
The Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau has developed a great resource with their “Goldology” website (http://www.discovergold.org/students/). Click through the site to find out more about all the opportunities Sacramento has to offer student groups. I also enjoyed Leticia’s Goldology video newsletter, which featured real students enjoying their tour through the California State Railroad museum.
From history and government to environment and agriculture, educational tours based in Sacramento offer student groups a wide variety of options that have proven to keep groups interested and stimulated. In fact, the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau was recognized in 2011 by the British Education Travel Association with a Bronze Award for Best International Youth Destination. I have enjoyed working with the SCVB to create itineraries that feature Sacramento as a top notch student-friendly destination.
I am still feeling the southern CA sun on my face as I settle back into my daily routing in PA. I just had a great trip to Los Angeles with a high school dance team as their Tour Manager. The directors had spent months in conjunction with us here at PPT planning the perfect blend of educational and entertainment activities in the Los Angeles area. There were a lot of pieces that came together beautifully to make this such a great trip! The dance team did a great job fundraising so that the cost of the trip was easily attainable, they learned some amazing routines and came ready to soak up everything Los Angeles has to offer.
We started each morning with the ever awesome Embassy Suites breakfast! There is always something for every student group tours at their buffet, from bagels to a made to order omelet station - so that we jumped on our bus each day ready and raring to go! On our first day together we got right into the spirit of the life of the stars by having a terrific local step-on guide who would tell us all about Hollywood and Beverly Hills. It’s amazing to think of how simply Marilyn’s house seems by comparison to her huge personality. The students were all talking about all the little bits of gossip or facts they had learned on the tour while we ate lunch at the Farmer’s Market. After some free time checking out all the booths at the Farmer’s Market it was time to head over to their first master class at the Millennium Dance Complex. This was really what they were here to do - dance. And dance they did!! They worked so hard and the instructor was so inspiring we were all surprised at how quickly the time passed. The directors were just amazed at the way the team clicked in the newly learned routine and spent a good deal of time on the bus afterwards talking to the dancers about how they could apply what they had learned to their current performance routine. Dinner and some free time for shopping made for a perfect end to the day.
Up early the next day to head to Disneyland for their Magic Music Days performance! They did an outstanding job and really got the crowd on their side right from the start! They were so excited about how professionally they had been treated from the moment they arrived backstage at Disney Land. They all agreed it was worth every penny, every minute of practice and every sore muscle to have it all come together in the performance. After that it was fun, fun, fun with Mickey and friends as we spent the rest of our day in the park.
Our last full day in sunny California started off bright and warm! We headed to Grauman’s Chinese Theater for a tour of the area including the Kodak Theater, where the Oscars are held each year. We took lots of funny pictures with the famous handprints - more smiles and laughs than even with Mickey the day before! There was free time for the students to wander the Walk of Fame a bit more and grab some lunch before heading to the Edge Performing Arts Center next round of master classes. These sessions were even more intense than the day before and the students also had the option to join in an open dance class. This was a really neat experience as they were able to interact with local dancers of various ages and learn a lot about what was happening in Los Angeles for dancers. We all left amid the dancers practically floating on air from the opportunity. As we headed over to the Santa Monica Pier for beach time and later dinner, the students and instructors agreed they had learned more than they had hoped for. The students especially felt really encouraged that they had received so much positive reinforcement from the various dance instructors they had met.
After a picture perfect time on the beach and pier we met up for our last dinner in Los Angeles - watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean...can anyone think of a better job to have in student travel?!
One last breakfast and off to the airport to head for home. Suitcases stuffed to the limit, new sunglasses and shirts on most of the kids and smiles and memories to keep them warm as they head back home to winter weather. Another really fun Peak Performance Tours group trip for me that I was able to share with a nice group of people, seeing the sights, tapping our toes and soaking in the California lifestyle!