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Attractions across America offer student groups educational components as well as fun

NEW YORK CITY Student groups can fly over the Statue of Liberty, ride the Cyclone roller coaster and experience other New York City landmarks at NY SKYRIDE, the virtual tour simulator attraction on the second floor of the Empire State Building. Its latest add-on package, for groups of up to 80, is a meal plan ($6 a person) at Rosa’s Pizza, inside the city’s tallest skyscraper. NY SKYRIDE, an entertaining introduction to America’s largest city, offers free, downloadable school curriculums (certified by the State of New York for grades 6-12) and walking tours. In the virtual tour, the city comes to life via specially designed seats and a platform that move in sync to a two-story-tall HD screen. The narrator is actor Kevin Bacon. Groups can combine SKYRIDE with Fast Track admission to the Empire State Building Observatory, reducing wait time by 75 percent. The combo plan for student groups is $26 a person. Many groups, though, just do the SKYRIDE ($12), according to Renee Wilson, assistant director of business development. (212-299-4904, skyride.com)

Standards, is designed to empower educators with the tools they need to deliver lessons in areas such as history, political science, social studies and media before and after visiting the wax museum. The Presidents Gallery, one of the museum’s special features, will have life-sized wax figures of all 44 U.S. presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama.

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The gallery is expected to be complete by February. Madame Tussauds offers an array of buffet dinner options in conjunction with an evening group visit. Popular choices include pasta bars, pizza parties and hot sub sandwich bars. Catering is provided by La Prima Catering. (888923-0334, madametussauds.com)

CAST IN WAX Student groups at Madame Tussauds Washington D.C. can add an educational seminar or scavenger hunt to their visit. Current seminars are available in two subjects: art history and marketing and public relations pertaining to the tourism industry. Scavenger hunts are offered in short (20-25 questions) and long (40-50 questions) formats. Madame Tussauds has a mini-educational curriculum guide and poster featuring the 44 U.S. Presidents. The guide, developed in accordance with the U.S. Department of National Social Studies Standards and National Council for the Social Civil Rights Movement Studies LeisureGroupTravel.com

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UNDER THE SEA The National Aquarium, a student travel hotspot in Baltimore, offers school groups a variety of tours and programs, including scientific investigations and animal presentations. Topics range from sharks and Australian ani‡&RQYHQLHQWO\ORFDWHGQHDU,, ZLWKHDV\DFFHVVWR,DQG, mals to coral reef ecosystems. There’s ‡ILQHO\DSSRLQWHGJXHVWURRPVDQG even a squid dissection lab. The ChesaVXLWHV ‡&RPSOLPHQWDU\:LUHOHVVLQWHUQHW peake Bay Explorations program lets ‡5HIULJHUDWRUDQGPLFURZDYHLQDOOJXHVW students test water samples and measure URRPV oysters to draw conclusions about the ‡0D\DQ$GYHQWXUH:DWHUSDUN ‡6TXDUH)HHWRI)OH[LEOHPHHWLQJ health of the bay. For advanced high VSDFH school biology students, a behind-the‡)XOO6HUYLFH)LWQHVV&HQWHU ‡+RXU%XVLQHVV&HQWHU scenes tour emphasizes water chemistry, ‡+DQJWLPH5HVWDXUDQWDQG/RXQJH animal care, exhibit maintenance and aquarium careers. All programs support the Maryland Volunteer State Curriculum in Science. Teacher booklets are available to provide classroom activities that prepare students for the program and discussion after the 3  ‡7)UHH visit. Groups may pre-order box lunches, ZZZ7KH:DYHUWRQ+RWHOFRP dine in one of the Aquarium’s cafes or eat in the waterfront park. Besides exhibits, Aquarium highlights include a dolphin show and the 4-D Immersion Theater, which combines 3-D film with sensory effects such as mist, wind, snow, bubbles, steam, leg ticklers and seat vibrations. (410-5763833, aqua.org/teachers)

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TOP OF CHICAGO Skydeck Chicago, the 103rd-floor observation deck atop the 110-story Willis Tower, offers new educational tools for student groups, including a 37-page guide, The Hows, Whats and Wows of Willis Tower—A Guide for Teachers. On a clear day, four states— Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan—are visible from the nation’s tallest building (formerly Sears Tower). A scavenger hunt encourages students to check off sights like the Lincoln Park Zoo, Buckingham Fountain, Navy Pier and O’Hare Airport. Students especially

Daring students brave The Ledge at Willis Tower's Skydeck Chicago.

like The Ledge, a glass balcony experience that extends 4.3 feet from outside the building, giving them a clear view 1,353 feet straight down. Free bus parking is available for groups with reservations. (312-875-9447, theskydeck.com) TROPICAL FUN White Water, the water fun park in Branson, Mo., unveils Aloha River at Hula Hula Bay in May 2011. The park’s newest area will provide a setting of lush Polynesian jungles reminiscent of the South Pacific. Floating riders maneuvering through the calm waters will meet with unexpected twists and turns, water features, fountains, misters and geysers. The 800-plus-foot river will be the park’s longest ride. New seating areas LeisureGroupTravel.com


and cabanas are being added. Favorite rides at White Water include the seven-story Kalani Towers for speed racing, Tropical Twister and Bermuda Triangle. (800-417-7770, silverdollarcity.com) PARK AFTER DARK Students can wake up to giraffes, zebras and hippos on sleepover programs offered by Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Included are special animal encounters, hands-on educational activities, a pizza dinner, continental breakfast and overnight accommodations. Also available are two- or three-night camp adventures with behind-the-scenes encounters. There’s also time to enjoy the theme park’s rides, shows and attractions. Busch Gardens Camps support the National Science Education Standards and Florida Sunshine State Standards. (877-248-2267, buschgardens.org) NEW IN MYRTLE BEACH A WonderWorks attraction will open in March 2011 at Broadway at the Beach entertainment complex in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The first attraction of its kind in the Carolinas, it will feature more than 100 interactive exhibits. WonderWorks will be located adjacent to Soar & Explore’s zip line and ropes course, an attraction opened by WonderWorks management earlier this year. It will appear as a four-story, classically-designed building that appears UPS to have landed upside down. GRO -3833 Exhibits include the hurricane shack, 576 UR 410CALL MAKE YOON where guests will feel the effects of TO ERVATI RES winds reaching 74 miles per hour; a bed of nails, where visitors will feel the sensation of 3,500 sharp nails; the WonderWall, where people can create a 3-D impression of their bodies by pressing onto a wall made of 40,000 plastic pins; the XD Theater 4-D Extreme Motion Ride, which uses special effects and fullmotion seats to take guests along an amazing adventure that transcends time, space and imagination; and Shuttle Landers, where visitors can experience the challenge of landing the Discovery Space Shuttle. Other WonderWorks attractions are in Orlando and Panama City Beach, Fla. and Pigeon Forge, Tenn. (wonderworksonline.com) LGT LeisureGroupTravel.com

BE TAKEN.

501 East Pratt Street • Baltimore, MD 21202 aqua.org


Student Travel News Dec 2010