florida thanksgiving

The Student Cultural Exchange Florida Exploration program gives international students a one of a kind opportunity to explore the Orlando area, visit world famous amusement parks and make friends with students from other US boarding schools. Yes, the draw of this program is spending awesome days at Disney World and Epcot Center but there is so much more that the Orlando area and this program provide for our student travelers. Travelers will take part in college visits, shopping trips, volunteer opportunities, nature hikes and wildlife viewing as well as having the opportunity to make friends with international students from other US boarding schools!

2019 Program Information

November 22, 2019 - December 2, 2019


*start and end dates flexible due to varying school breaks


Our groups stay at the Royale Parc Suites, located a short distance from the famous Disney Parks, the hotel is a clean and spacious location to serve as a home base for our travelers while they immerse themselves in the fabric and culture of Central Florida. Travelers will stay 3-4 to a suite depending on sign-ups, each suite has 2 rooms with 2 queen size beds. The Royale Parc Suites has been recently renovated and has modern features, boasts a gym, game room, heated outdoor pool and an excellent breakfast buffet. Our travelers love being able to stay at this hotel!


One of the highlights for our students is the opportunity to shop in some of the most trendy and fashionable stores in the country. Shopping opportunities for our student travelers include famous Orlando Outlets as well as shopping excursions to local malls. Our travelers will have the opportunity to shop is they so wish!

Volunteer Projects

Student Cultural Exchange’s volunteer projects are designed to simultaneously aid people in need and to expose our student travelers to ongoing humanitarian efforts by stressing collaborative cooperation instead of simply serving the “less fortunate.” The projects vary in nature – our students may work in soup kitchens on Thanksgiving or assist at donation centers and urban revitalization projects. We believe that these volunteer experiences, in many cases, plant a seed in these future leaders to help nonprofit organizations and to develop the skills to do so more effectively.

sample itinerary

Day 1

Our travelers arrive in the Orlando area and check into the hotel. Following a welcome group dinner, the group takes part in ice-breaker activities aimed at introducing group members and guides to each other.

Day 2

On the first full morning of the program, program participants head to Wild Florida to interact with and view wildlife.  After a morning and early afternoon spent exploring the park, the group heads back to the hotel for arcades, basketball and pool time before heading off to Disney Springs for the evening.

Day 3

Epcot! On the 2nd full day of the program, the group heads to nearby Epcot for a day of rides and taking part in all that the park has to offer.  

Day 4

After breakfast the group heads to Wekiva Springs State Park for a morning of volunteer work followed by an afternoon of group kayaking and canoeing. Students then return to the hotel to clean up and have dinner. 

Day 5

After breakfast the group heads to Animal Kingdom for the day to explore the park!

Day 6 – Thanksgiving!! 

The group heads to Disney World for the entire day and evening to celebrate Thanksgiving with rides and attractions! 

Day 7

After breakfast, the group goes shopping at Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets to get some Black Friday deals! After resting, the group will continue on with the Black Friday extravaganza with more shopping and dinner at Disney Springs!

Day 8

On the last full day of the program, the group heads to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a day full of fun at this world famous park.  Program participants will love the time they spend at Hollywood Studios and taking part in rides and other attractions!

Day 9

After saying goodbye to their new friends, program participants head to the airport to return to their schools.

Thanksgiving Break is always a tricky time for international boarding students.  Since our students have started travelling with Student Cultural Exchange, they have had opportunities to travel within the United States and meet students from other schools.  Every student has returned to campus with a smile on their face and great memories.  Shattuck-St. Mary’s School has been incredibly happy to have such a wonderful option available for our students!
— Andrew Garlinski, Director of International Recruitment and ESL, Shattuck-St. Mary's School


what is a typical day like?

No two days on our Florida Thanksgiving Program are the same. This warm, sunny state is full of diverse people and activities; a perfect backdrop for our program. One day our group might spend the day Magic Kingdom, while another day they might volunteer at a local food bank in the morning and spend the afternoon swimming at the hotel pool before having dinner and catching a movie.

Where are program participants from?

The majority of program participants are international students at US boarding schools. Due to the closure of school dorms during the holiday break, international students are oftentime in need of fun, meaningful travel during the break. Participants who join our programs are students from all over the world. We had 11 different countries and 19 different schools represented on our programs last year!

What is included in the tuition?

The program tuition includes lodging, all activity costs (including park entrance fees), breakfast and lunch each day, all transportation within Florida and guide fees. Not included are transportation to and from the program, select dinners, snack and souvenirs.

Where do participants stay?

Our group stays at the Royal Parc Suites in Kissimmee, Florida, just minutes from away from the Disney theme parks. The clean rooms and convenient location provide a confortable setting for our participants after long activity filled days. Wifi is available in all rooms.

What are meals like?

Food in Florida is great! Our groups eat local seafood, international cuisine, sample American chain restuarants, and eat American theme park delights.

How do travelers get to and from the program location?

Student Cultural Exchange picks participants up at major transportation hubs in the Orlando area. Participants are responsible for getting to the area (either by plane, train or bus). SCE guides will meet and escort them to the hotel to meet the rest of the group. When making travel arrangements please inform the SCE staff about travel details so that we can arrange pick up.

What do participants do at night?

After days full of adventure, our groups like to relax by shopping, going to the movies or simply hanging out at the hotel with new friends.


  • Visit all 4 Disney theme parks

  • Dining at local restaurants

  • Shopping at Disney Springs and other local malls

  • Community service

  • Movie and arcade visits

  • Nature hikes and outdoor exploring  

The Thanksgiving trip to Florida was an amazing experience. I was able to meet students from different schools and countries and share incredible experiences with them. I especially loved visiting the Disney parks with new friends.
— Ken W., Student, Wayland Academy
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 8 facts about  Orlando, florida 

  • Orlando, Florida is the most popular domestic tourist destination in the United States. 

  • Over 65 million people visited Orlando last year! 

  • The Orlando International Airport services 35 million passengers a year. 

  • Orlando used to be home to Florida’s citrus industry. 

  • Every year Disney World staff find an average of 6000 lost cell phones, 3,500 digital cameras and 18,000 hats. 

  • Orlando is the lightning capital of the United States. 

  • Walt Disney World Opened in 1971, 15 years after Walt Disney died.

  • Orlando is home to 1000’s of Alligators, Florida’s state reptile.