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April, 2013 - Student Group Trip Report

Hamilton, Alabama
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April, 2013 - Student Group Trip Report

Thank you all for the many suggestions from this site!!! Our large group had an unforgettable trip to a gorgeous NYC with beautiful weather, a perfect pre-theater meal, an unforgettable Broadway experience, excellent tour guides and looks on students faces I will never forget.

We arrived Friday night to stayed at the Skyline Hotel in Hell's Kitchen (thank you NY Whiz).

We reserved a couple step on guides for Saturday thru Free Tours by Foot and had guides who were highly praised by everyone afterward. We can not say enough about Derrick and Juan, very professional, knowledgeable and personable. They took us from stops in Harlem and Central Park to 5Ptz in LIC/Queens (again thanks NY Whiz), then on to Grand Central, hot dogs and pizza in the Village, saw Washington Square musicians and then to Chinatown. The last place we were escorted was the 9/11 Memorial followed by the Staten Island Ferry down and back before ordering John's Pizza.

Sunday we performed on the USS Intrepid, ate lunch at Carmine's on the Upper West Side, watched Wicked on Broadway (Wow), followed by Top of the Rock around 7:15pm.sunset.

Monday morning we packed and checked out of our hotel and then went to the American Museum of Natural History for a few hours, prior to departing NYC for home.

I have no doubt the students will have fond memories of NYC. Again, thank you very much to everyone who gives so much of their time to make trips like ours and many others better than they could ever have been without your input.

Melbourne, Australia
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1. Re: April, 2013 - Student Group Trip Report

What a fabulous weekend....thanks for posting a report

Leicester, United...
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2. Re: April, 2013 - Student Group Trip Report

Sounds like you all had a great experience, I bet some of you will be back in the future :)

Quebec
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3. Re: April, 2013 - Student Group Trip Report

Very happy that your trip went so well, the weather was very much on your side.

Manhattan
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4. Re: April, 2013 - Student Group Trip Report

Super to read this. Come back soon.

Manchester, United...
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5. Re: April, 2013 - Student Group Trip Report

Sounds,like such a great trip

New York City, New...
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6. Re: April, 2013 - Student Group Trip Report

So pleased this worked out well for you after all your planning.

New York City, New...
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7. Re: April, 2013 - Student Group Trip Report

Glad it all went well! What advice would you offer others planning a trip like this? Any hiccups?

Hamilton, Alabama
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8. Re: April, 2013 - Student Group Trip Report

It really was a fabulous weekend Jenny. Blue eyes, I have no doubt many of us will be back in the future, some on their senior trips. I am ready to return now, myself!!! Thanks bogwoppit, I do not believe it could have been any better, the kind of thing all the planning in the world can not control. Kateoz, luckily, I was not the only one doing the planning. NYWhiz, as far as advice and hiccups....

Trip Advisor's ratings and this forum helped in much of the final selection of things like the hotel, meals, attractions, guide company, and locations visited. I do not believe trips like ours could be planned without this site.

Guide selection concerned us as much as the weather but was also as uncontrollable. I can honestly say, step on guides were the best value of the entire trip. We had guides that kept our students engaged and eager to listen, that is not easy for 12 hours straight. Luckily, we were not on the buses for near that long or even for extended times nor did we walk for extended times. I believe we stopped and did a tour on foot about 8 times in the 12 hours. I can imagine that amount of time could be a problem, if the guides are not a good match for your group, however, we were pleasantly surprise in our guides. One of our guides exited in the afternoon, as we were not on the buses much beyond that point but instead were more of a large group at the Village and in smaller chaperoned groups in Chinatown, prior to the memorial and the ferry. The lead guide instructed our buses where to go, park and any question the drivers had. This was not done before hand other than the fact the guide had assured me he could handle any bus related parking needs, and he did. I do have to say, our drivers were exceptional also, very experienced and communicated well among the buses as well as our group. Even when GPS failed us, their knowledge and the guides knowledge saw us through.

I did not recall how adorned the city was with flowers. Of course, my senior trip to NYC was 24 years ago, so not certain how much I do remember well. I walked passed a community garden that was nestled in between two bland brick apartment buildings, on the way from our hotel to Times Square. With an iron fence around it and wonderful garden benches and birdbaths. I was so surprised at how bright and lively this was, I had to find the entrance and take pictures. I believe Clinton Community Garden was the name.

As far as advice....

Read this site well! If after reading you have questions, ask....

Broadway tickets can be confusing, especially if you are not familiar with the process. Not sure what info can be given that will be helpful to most. I did not find info at any one place to be helpful other than here, the official website and by phone at the boxoffice. I did see where the average Broadway ticket cost is $110 or something like that but I do not suspect large groups budget that for tickets, we did not originally. I recommend that they do budget more, so not to be limited to certain performances. We paid slightly more than that and it was worth it. What is more NYC than Broadway, consider all options. I did not feel that way originally, but have changed my mind after being there. Most of our seats ended up being mid mezzanine but we did purchase a few less costly seats to offset pricing to be within our budget and no one complained whatsoever. Galinda and Elphaba were played by a replacement (I think that is what it was called) and an understudy that were awesome. I can't imagine any better, I particularly liked Elphaba (Willemijn Verkaik).

We were very pleased with our pre-Broadway meal, which we did as pre-Broadway and upper east side to save on our budget. We chose a highly regarded name but not the one in Times Square and I think found an excellent option in Carmine's pre-fixe menu, (I didn't know the meaning of that word before this site).

Don't plan too much in one day, more advice given here. That can be difficult for someone not familiar with NYC. Again, ask here.

Top of Rock during the daytime is good advice. Sunset is when we went (7:15) and got both Central Park and lights but was crowded at that time of course. We had reservations so we went up around correct time but skip the picture line, if you do not want to purchase those, otherwise it can take much longer to be able to get to the view.

I have already mentioned the step on guides as an important resource. Several mentioned this earlier also and it was very true.

Adding PS1 to 5PTZ probably would be good. We didn't do that and when I stepped in to inquire about info, was told they didn't have allot on exhibit then but I am sure that changes over time. I have heard 5ptz may be being developed so it may not be there in the future, but if it is, I would combine. Just across the street if you have time.

I was not as impressed with John's Pizza as I thought I would be, maybe because it was takeout or maybe it was just me, I liked Joe's in the Village. We didn't do hotdogs from a food cart, wish we had. Was not greatly impressed with Papaya Dog, but it was just a hotdog. There was a deli across from the Skyline Hotel that many people raved about. Maybe just because they could get milk at midnight but I think their breakfast was liked by many.

I think staying in Manhattan was worthwhile. It allowed flexibility on the part of chaperoned groups. I could even go to the hotel once exhausted prior to scheduled time. I can see how staying in LIC or NJ could work also but am glad we stayed in Manhattan.

As far as hiccups....

Sometimes we were not where we thought we would be, when we thought, but was fine, because we chose the best option and went with that. We did research food options, pricing, locations, etc beforehand but used that info once in NYC when needed.

Luckily we did not plan and pay for meals other than the pre theater meal, in advance. We left room for delays or changes.

Basically, be flexible.

We were delayed briefly with 5ptz and traffic with a parade. Although, the traffic was as much part of the NYC experience at anything else, however, extended delays would have been difficult. Assign someone to check traffic prior to departing to next destination in certain areas, any place from Central Park to Lower Manhattan, on a smartphone and check website for road closures in advance. Little things that could make a difference.

I was surprised at the number of people at Top of the Rock at sunset...not a long wait, we had reservations, but crowded once upstairs. We originally planned Top of Rock the night of arrival but did not arrive as expected exactly so called TOR and rescheduled for Sunday night after Broadway with no problems, just harder to take pictures when crowded.

We ended up not taking the subway except for individual groups in free time, although the subway to 5ptz may have been advisable, navigation in that area is difficult.

Not all of us made it down to the Empire State Building or Macy's but next time we will.

I love NYC!

Sydney, Australia
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9. Re: April, 2013 - Student Group Trip Report

Glad it all worked out in the end.

As a teacher, consider joining TDF next time so you can get cheaper tickets. See http://www.tdf.org/TDF_ServicePage.aspx?id=59

Hamilton, Alabama
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10. Re: April, 2013 - Student Group Trip Report

Actually, I am not a teacher but a band booster parent. I went to college in accounting but my husband is military, so he did join the TDF but of course Wicked was not listed but maybe once that I saw, if then, and we couldn't risk waiting till last couple weeks for a group our size. 75 tickets have not been being available for wicked by a couple weeks before the show, so if not available on TDF, (which appears to usually happen from 2 months to two weeks out), then we would be unable to go, so we couldnt risk Waiting to see if the date we needed would show up on TDF. Please don't misunderstand me, I am not saying Wicked is the only show a group should see, we simply felt after watching that it was well worth the extra cost.

I must say, TDF did have exceptional values available for MANY other performances. If we were closer to NYC or visited more frequently, it would be a site I would use frequently!!! (We may have to start visiting more often:)!!!!!)