I am currently doing AFF at Cross Keys - about level 6.
The program at XK is 3 tandems, then a 4-hour ground school,7 or more AFP jumps with an instructor, then coached jumps until signed off or the minimum of 25, as needed. Somewhere along the line you need to learn to pack for about $50.
Rates are around (it varies) $175 for the tandem and $155 for instructor jumps, including gear but not tips. Deals are available for on-line purchases, cash, certain periods (Student Daze) and for bulk purchases.
Coached jumps are a bit less. I can't currently speak to the numbers, as I haven't gotten there. As I understand it, you begin to rent demo gear and pay for repacking.
I would count on around $2,500 to get your A license if all goes smoothly. You'll need an altimeter, jumpsuit, and helmet somewhere along the line -- $400 to $1,000. Almost everyone recommends renting your rig until you are about 100 dives in. You will want to demo and downsize (Slowly!!), so buying makes little sense.
The instructors are all good. You can either take pot luck or choose and stick with a single instructor. Personalities and styles are quite varied, from neo-Prussian to very laid back; pick the one that speaks to your learning style.
As for getting lost: Avoid weekends -- tandems are the first priority since they are the entry and the money-maker. Go early -- start varies from 8 to 10 AM; be there and manifest (sign for a jump) early. Go on days with iffy weather, manifest, then just hang out or learn to pack or whatever....until the weather breaks, which it mostly does. Make yourself nown; talk to everybody. The bar opens at sunset; buy a round for some folks then ask your questions--surefire way to hear the lore and get advice.
Packing is, I believe, $6, maybe $10.
The membership you need is in US Parachute Assn. $51/year. Get it now from the USPA Web site; it takes a few days to arrive. Otherwise you will have to pay for a $15 monthly membership to cover the time until your annual card arrives. The system is awkward.
Your question about the tunnel means you've done your homework. I just returned from the one in Orlando, FL. I learned more in an hour there with an instructor than I would have in scores of dives. Its also great because you get immediate feedback and the chance to try things repeatedly. Also, it's great, damn fun!! About $600 per hour plus instructor. I very much recommend doing that between the tandems and first AFP jump. You will save both time and money! Also, it's great, damn fun!! www.skyventureorlando.com I had my own instructor; maybe they can provide one. I don't know. Also, it's great, damn fun!!