Destination Directory

Welcoming Groups Back Safely: A Q&A with Universal Orlando Resort

Travel is far from dead.

Though it may not yet be on the scale we're used to, groups across the country are traveling safely and successfully. Like fresh buds emerging through the snow, these trips remind us a new season is on the horizon.

Recently, a student group from Texas got the full Universal Orlando Resort experience, including a sound workshop taking them behind the scenes of Hollywood. The Beckville High School band had a different trip planned last year, but thanks to flexibility from everyone involved, an amazing Orlando trip came together.

Groups Today spoke with Eric Marshall, Universal Orlando's Senior Vice President of Sales, about the workshop and other experiences the resort has to offer groups.

HOW DID THIS WORKSHOP COME ABOUT?
The band planned to visit Orlando last March, but with the pandemic closing the area theme parks, the trip was put on hold. As a Universal Orlando Resort Preferred Youth Travel Planner, Unique Travels & Tours was aware of the offerings for youth groups at our destination, along with the enhanced safety protocols we have in place, and was excited to share the details of the Sound Design: Music and the Art of Foley workshop with the band director.

After learning about all the workshop had to offer, combined with the value of the opportunity to visit Universal Orlando, the band director was excited and committed to the new itinerary for his group. As a result of their decision to visit and take part in the Sound Design: Music and the Art of Foley workshop, the size of the group grew.

WHAT DOES THIS EXPERIENCE HAVE TO OFFER THOSE INVOLVED?
A workshop of this caliber offers students an unmatched, once-in-a-lifetime experience that we're proud to put together. In these workshops, students get hands-on, real-world experience geared toward several performance career paths. Bands and choirs will score a movie scene from any of Illumination's The Secret Life of Pets, DreamWorks' Trolls, Illumination's Despicable Me or The Lorax, and dancers will learn how to ace auditions.

All of our workshops are developed to align with National Core Arts Standards and focus on career readiness. At Universal Orlando, our attractions may be about movies, but with these workshops, we truly show them what it takes to help bring a movie to life with music.

HOW HAVE YOU MANAGED THESE WORKSHOPS DURING THE PANDEMIC?
We put a lot of value on the Youth Programs industry and education, and have made a commitment to both across our entire destination. Our Youth Program teams worked quickly to plan how to strategically and safely welcome back groups prior to our parks' reopening. With these procedures focused on "screening, spacing and sanitization" in place, we have welcomed several group activities and visits across our destination since we reopened.

We have hosted Youth Performance Programs and Workshops, including our STARS Performance Programs, and welcomed schools and groups for our Universal Studies Educational Programs, such as Your Classroom in Motion: A STEAM App Series. We have continued to stay engaged with educators, advisors and groups throughout a very challenging time in this industry.

WHAT'S EXCITING ABOUT THIS WORKSHOP TO YOU?
Any time that we can host a youth group at Universal Orlando, we are excited. When groups come here, they are not just coming to perform. This is a complete experience, with options that specifically are suited for the group, their needs and wants. For this opportunity with the Beckville High School Band, what is most exciting is that despite everything going on in the world, these kids got the full Universal Orlando Resort experience. They stayed at Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort, spent three days in our theme parks (Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure), dined in Universal CityWalk, and most importantly, created lasting memories as a band. This was an incredible way for these students to kick off 2021.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO ADD?
This was a huge step for Universal Orlando and one we're prepared for. Safety for anyone who comes to our destination is the top priority and we're well-equipped to handle any group. Our destination is perfect for these opportunities and we are so appreciative for partners like Unique Travels & Tours, who truly see the value of what we have to offer, as they believed that Universal Orlando was the right experience for their client and the best opportunity to create lasting memories.

Written by Josh Veal, Contributing Writer for Groups Today.

This article originally appeared in the Mar/Apr 2021 issue of Groups Today.

 


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