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Old 08-09-2009, 11:31 AM   #1
bobcat
I had a horrible case two years in a row and avoid the stuff like the plague
 
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3 busses, 70 kids and 1200 miles to Disney World!

Dateline: December 26th, 2009
Place: High School in Central Ohio
Cast: High School marching band and their crazy chaperones.

It's been 6 months since this trip so I think I am finally ready to do a trip report. At least I think I've recovered. Residual trauma may show up as I post - readers beware!

First a little background:This trip required a huge undertaking for us (parents and kids) to raise the funds. Over the past year we did everything we could to make this trip affordable for the kids. And I mean everything! If someone would have asked us to dig ditches for money we probably would have. We had fun with our fundraising efforts and were able to pay the cost of the transportation to the happiest place on earth, 2 luxurious motorcoach buses that I would soon come to hate.

Working with a travel company they were able to put together a great package for the kids that would include 3 days at the parks, a trip to Cocoa Beach, breakfasts at Rainforest Cafe and Planet Holywood, and another $15/day for food in the parks. Tradeoff = staying off site. My family are not disney snobs by any means, we've stayed off site and our hotel of choice in the world is POP, but as you will see this time it drove me crazy! I have a few control isuse - I try to keep them in check but letting someone else have the reigns of a WDW trip was pushing my limits.

As for my family I have two kids in the band.
Cheerchick- (this is her disname although she doesn't cheer anymore) 16 yo DD, playes flute. Knows as much about Disney as I do, wanting to show her boyfriend WDW and have him love it as much as her.

G- DD's boyfriend, 17yo, field commander, never been to Disney.

B-rice - (he'll love that I used the stupid name he signed everything with) 13yo, 8th grade band-aid which means he does what ever they need. We won't see too much of B-rice since he's too cool for mom and he and his sister can't be close to each other without bloodshed. You will notice that my signature pic is a little old. This was the last trip I could get them in a pic together!

bobcat - me. Chaperone, disney nut, control freak... I'm sure my kids could add more

Gratuitous pic of Marching band. I'll try to keep the proud mom moments to a minimum.



On to the trip...
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Last edited by bobcat; 08-09-2009 at 11:57 AM. Reason: picture was HUGE!
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Old 08-09-2009, 11:38 AM   #2
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I'm IN!!! I cant wait to read about going to Disney with 70 kids!!! How many were you "In charge of"??
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Old 08-09-2009, 11:45 AM   #3
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Thankfully I was only in charge of 5 girls, one being my daughter, although one girl had serious attitude on the bus ride down. Once off the bus I only had 4 since the attitude girls parents were there.

I should clarify the third bus was a parent bus. They contracted and organized it themselves so thankfully we only had to raise money for two buses. I am also changing the obnoxiously large pic I included. I took it from our band web page and had no idea it was that large!
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Old 08-09-2009, 01:12 PM   #4
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The wheels on the bus go round and round!

Traveling day!

Let's just say the excitement of Christmas was overshadowed by our upcoming Disney trip. The kids decided they didn't even want to put up a tree this year. I was working a second job for the holidays so this was ok with me. This would have been a strange Christmas anyway for us since it had been a year since my dad had passed away. Having the trip to focus on was a good distraction and made the holiday easier.

I had worked Christmas eve and then we went to my stepmom's for our traditional Christmas Eve celebration with all the grandkids. Having to finish packing let us slip out earlier than usual. We had a very low key Christmas morning, not missing the tree at all. The kids spent time at their dads and I finished laundry and packing for the folowing day. It's a wierd way to spend Christmas but I did get to watch the WDW parade while doing laundry.

December 26th finally arrives! Our buses were pulling out of the school parking lot at 12pm sharp so thankfully we had a bit of time to get things gathered up still. DD and I actually went and picked up my check and cashed it this morning, went through McD's for breakfast, stopped at the grocery for snacks and drinks for the bus and were home by 9:30am. I was paranoid about the kids having all of their uniform parts and instuments. Disney does an inspection before they are allowed to march and if they were missing anything they wouldn't be allowed to participate. Usually the kids are responsible for packing their own bags and if they forget it tough luck they will have to live without it. I supervised this time which added extra stress to my already overworked craziness. (The two weeks before Christmas I had been putting in overtime at my 2nd job as well as running my own business.) I was ready for a little break, even if it meant riding on a bus for 18 hours.

After one more stop to buy a small cooler, couldn't seem to find ours this morning, we were at the school. I had one more job to do before I could get into chaperone mode. I wanted a special t-shirt for this trip so I had a local shop make some up, took orders from parents and kids, and did this all the month before we left. Thankfully we have a great t-shirt shop that does all our school items and did a rush job for us. I picked these up the wed. before Christmas so we also had to sort and bag these Christmas eve. The shirts had our school name and Disney trip '08 on the front and on the back was miles on the bus 2000, cost of trip $400, Watching your child/student march down Main Street USA PRICELESS. Since I got the t-shirts so late I had to find all the parents this morning and make sure they got their t-shirts.

In all this rushing around I never got a picture of the kids and their luggage before they loaded the bus. DS as a bandaid was in charge of loading everything on the buses so he was busy and DD was trying to help me pass out shirts.

We loaded our magical pumpkins - I mean coaches - and were on our way! Work had scheduled me for that evening, since it was a seasonal call center job they wouldn't accept time off requests, so while I was riding on the bus through town I called off. They asked me the reason I couldn't make my shift and I loved saying because I was going to Disney World!

Next up: 1000 miles to go!
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Old 08-09-2009, 05:26 PM   #5
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Oh boy, I am so there for you and your TR.
Our h.s. band marches at the MK, every 4 years.
I chaperoned 2 of those bus trip "to the most Magical Place," on earth.
Can't wait to hear your version
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Old 08-10-2009, 10:39 AM   #6
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Let's just say this was an interesting trip! They are on a 4 year plan as well and DS will still be in school. I have already told the new band director that I'll meet them there!
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Old 08-10-2009, 11:33 AM   #7
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1000 Miles to GO...

It's a little over 1000 miles from my front door to the WDW gates and we have driven it many times. Many times, but never on a bus, with teenagers. This was the longest trip to Florida I have ever had. The longest. And the most uncomfortable. And the longest...did I say that already?

Our luxury motorcoaches were very nice but nothing is comfortable for 18 hours. I have chaperoned my kids trips to DC and NYC and one trip to Gettysburg when I was teaching so I though I was prepared. We left the school on time, my first chaperone duties were out of the way and all my girls were on the bus. We had a parent bus that followed us down and one of my girls had her parents and 19yo boyfriend on that bus. She resented the fact that I needed to keep track of her and let me know with all her teenage angst. We all settled in and as a chaperone I was able to snag a seat by myself up front. Along with my control issues I have motion sickness. Sometimes I wonder at the things I will do for my kids! Dramamine is my friend. After 80hr work weeks leading up to this trip I was looking forward to a little medically induced nap time.

Since we left at noon we would be driving all night, arriving at our I drive hotel in the am. Did I already mention this was a really long drive? We had to stop every 4 hours for the drivers to rest, which means unloading two busses of people at all the rest areas. Dinner was at Tammarak and we weren't the only school group there. They can handle the traffic so it was a pretty easy stop. Not only does the dramamine make me sleepy but also affects my appetite so I was looking for something light to eat. We don't have a TCBY locally anymore so I was excited to see one here and bonus no line! This was the first ice cream disapointment of the trip. Their machine was broken so they didn't have any frozen yogurt!

Our last family WDW trip DS decided he was too cool to be seen with his mom and sister so he would go off by himself in the parks. We have been to the parks enough that I felt comfortable letting him have some freedom so he would go ride Space Mountain 10 times in a row while DD and I did something else. Well this trip looked to be no different. This would be the last time I would "see" B-rice with having to search him out. He was on the second bus and had a different chaperone and he was loving it! I had to trust that his chaperone would make sure he didn't get left behind.

By this time the molded seats of the bus were getting pretty uncomfortable. Unless you were sitting straight up that is, making it hard to get any sleep overnight. The kids were stretched out on the floor in the aisle and between the seats. It was pretty funny to watch when we made our mandatory stops. I had to get off the bus each time just to stretch. Late evening we had switched drivers in NC and the overnight trip was pretty uneventful.

One thing I love about driving to Florida is that it gets progressively warmer each time we step out of the bus! The weatherman was calling for very nice weather while we were in Florida so everyone left their winter coats at home.

There is just no easy way to travel by motorcoach. We had snacks and movies, plenty of oportunities to stretch our legs, and good bus drivers but it was good to be nearing the end of our journey.

Next up Florida and WDW
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Old 08-11-2009, 11:56 AM   #8
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You were lucky you scored your own seat.
I got mine and so did my son.
On the way back, we were all suppose to sit with our partners in our same seats.
One other chaperone, threw a hissy fit about my son sitting behind me. She wanted her own seat area. My kids respect authority, but this chaperone, treated my son like dirt and demanded he go find another seat. The only other seat available was with me, or he had to take her seat, or share the other seat with her. The person wanted my son to sit with me, but I pretended I was asleep and my son wouldn't move. So she huffed back to her own seat again, (she wouldn't sit with him).
We had a 22 hour bus ride-and I agree-it is long, and way to many stops.
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Old 08-11-2009, 01:09 PM   #9
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That's awful! Our director had us load the bus first so we could pick our seats. I'm finally done with all the dry boring stuff. I debated about writting about the bus trip since it was unevenful on the way down, but I remember looking for info on school WDW trips when we were planning this one and couldn't find much. I figure it's here if anyone needs it. LOL
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Old 08-12-2009, 02:48 PM   #10
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Florida at Last!!!

Just as the sun was peaking out our three buses pulled into the Florida Welcome Center. You could smell the humidity in the air and see the fog start to lift as we excited the buses. That old excitement was starting to build again! We were too early for the free OJ, our only companions were the semis overnighted in the parking lot, and I was just too darn tired from the fitful sleep I managed to get overnight to walk to the Florida sign and get a picture. This was a quick stop - everyone was eager to get to Orlando. I don't know about you but when we drive this always feels like the real start of our vacation.

Anticipation builds in the kids. I can hear them all talking about what they know about WDW and what they want to do when they get there. It was torture stopping at the rest area on I4 just before you reach Orlando. This would be our last stop but not for the drivers. Our third bus, the parent bus, was a different bus company and they had something on the buses to keep them from going over 65mph. We kept loosing them all night, only to have them show up a few minutes later each time we stopped. There was a concern they wouldn't be able to find the hotel so we stopped for them to catch up. It was driving me crazy! We're almost there! Don't they have cell phones or GPS?!

Disney nerd that I am I brought one of the planning dvds and this was a perfect time to pop it in. It lasted into Orlando and gave the kids a peak at what they were going to see and do over the next week.

Everyone was awake by now and starting to get antsy, gathering up their items, ready to go. I should mention that sometime in the night cheerchick was hungry and made herself a sandwich, she was not feeling too good right about now and we were eager to get to the hotel and get her breakfast.

Our package had us staying at the Holiday Inn Maingate East on Irlo Bronson Memorial HWY. I was a little nervous about this hotel as the reviews I had found online weren't really favorable. Driving into the parking lot it looked like any other HI, not too impressive. Our tour guide met us and led us to a conference room for our continental breakfast. We wouldn't check in until this evening.




Chaperones were getting the tour info, passes and meal cards during breakfast so I got in line and chatted with the other parents. Next thing I know a mom was telling me cheerchick is in the restroom getting sick. Poor kid was praying to the porcelain gods! Not only is it bad to be sick at the beginning of vacation but there was only one restroom by our breakfast area so everyone was going in and out and asking her if she was alright. When we first got to the hotel and sat down her tummy had been upset and one of the boys had gone and got her a 7up. We''ll obviously that hadn't helped.

Thinking she was just hungry and maybe a little motion sick, really just praying she would be ok, we all tried to get some breakfast. Everything looked good... unfortunately looks can be deceiving. It's still a mystery how you can mess up bacon and sausage. We even had "real" imitation florida fake tang. EWWW! We had another hotel breakfast this week, looks like a good morning to sleep in a bit.

Since we weren't officially checking in until after we returned this evening that one bathroom need to service all of us changing clothes and getting ready for the day. Someone found out there was another reastroom off the lobby so we were able to split up. My DD is not a girly girl, and especially not this morning, so I sometimes forget how long it takes and how much room teenage girls can take up.

So where's B-rice in all of this? He and his other 8th grade band aids OD'd on energy drinks and Mt. Dew and were bouncing off the walls! Did I mention I was glad he had another chaperone? This Mom had all of the 8th grade boys. Better her than me. I touched base with her and DS, warning him that if he didn't behave he would spent the week with ME. That did the trick.

Control freak and WDW comando that I am the time wasted at the hotel was eating at me. At this rate we wouldn't arrive at MGM (Sorry won't call it HS yet) until after 10am - Christmas week. GRRR!

Cheerchicks still not feeling well, DS bouncing off the walls, and G (not mentioned up until now, no he didn't disapear) is grumpy from lack of sleep and an inedible breakfast. Will we ever make it to MGM?

Up next: This first aid station looks familiar and PICTURES
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Old 08-12-2009, 03:04 PM   #11
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Holiday Inn Main Gate East

For some reason I couldn't get these to post above.

The Hotel


Our Room


Pool View


Jumping ahead a little. The hotel had been renovated recently and our rooms were really nice. The staff was pretty good overall, bellservice excellent, front desk not so great. Our room was very clean but we didn't have towels the second day when we returned. Called housekeeping three times, still didn't get any and had to go to the front desk to get them. I was annoyed since it was late in the evening and we wanted to take showers.
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Old 08-12-2009, 03:16 PM   #12
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Im loving the updates!!! I cant wait to hear about some park time!!
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Old 08-13-2009, 10:41 AM   #13
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Glad there's someone reading! I'm trying to get cheerchick to post her version.

A little more about this hotel - it was in a very good location and I would consider staying here for an offsite hotel. We were close to a road that the Gaylord sits on so the drive to the parks was 5-10 minutes.
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Old 08-13-2009, 02:35 PM   #14
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This first aid station looks familiar...

Finally we are all primped and ready to reload the buses. After a quick reminder from our tour guide we are off to MGM!

It was a short drive, passing the Gaylord and Pop Century along our way. I waved to Pop and vowed to make it back soon. The reality that we were visiting at Christmas hit us as soon as we turned into the parking lot. We waited closed to 10 minutes before we reached the toll booth. Silently cursing inside, especialy since the park had been open for a while already, I kept repeating to myself that this will just be a different type of trip. My goal this trip was to do the holiday events and anything I hadn't done before, and try make it a magical experience for G.

Our very first WDW vacation was during December, but we visited the beginning of the month getting low crowds and the Holiday atmosphere. We had also been over Thanksgiving the following year and I had been another time on an adult trip in early Dec. These had all been several years ago and the kids were small so we were excited to see all the holiday decorations and events.

cheerchick was trying to be a trooper and said she was ready to go. We gathered up our "kids", made sure everyone had contact info and made plans for check in times.

This was our first planned stop


Since G had never been to WDW we were determined to show him as much as we could during this busy time. Our comando training would come in handy. cheerchick is always our designated FP runner since she has legs for days and can eat up the pavement quickly. After quickly snagging a times guide, a must at MGM, we headed to TOT for FP. I knew using FP would be the only way we would ride the E ticket attractions. We had a little wait for our FP return time so we headed back towards the hat. RnR standby wait time was already rediculous and DD wasn't up to it anyhow.

I won't share the picture (Yes I did take a picture) of what happened next. DD wasn't done spewing the contents of her stomach. Ziplocks are a great thing, make sure you always have one in your bag - lots of uses, so i whipped one out and saved a CM some cleaning. You know the flower beds before the hat? Well we spent a bit of time here. DD just kept saying she didn't want to ruin everything. Since we hadn't dawdled at the gates a lot of our crew were just making it to this area of the park. There are a few more pics of DD floating around, I'm not the only wicked mom, and quite a few people stopped to make sure she was ok.

Just about this time our band director, or "coach" as he is affectionately called, walks up with another sick band member. Here's where I redeem myself for taking the picture, cheerchick will say there was more to it but she will have to post here with her conspiracy theory. I offer to take care of both of the girls and give G and coach our TOT FP to go enjoy themselves. The other girls mom was flying in that morning anyhow so we would just find someplace to chill until then.

Slowly we walked back towards the gates, will this be all I see of MGM today? Over the years we have visited most of the first aid stations in the parks and waterparks. MGM's is familiar because when cheerchick was little she bit into a candy apple and lost a tooth, prompting a trip here. Today they were swamped. I couldn't leave the girls, both over 16, and the only area they had for us was a storage closet. That is one area of the park I hadn't seen before, already I'm doing what I wanted!
The closet had two cots and a chair so we turned the lights off and the girls got a little rest. About an hour later they both thought they were ready to ease into the day, DD's color was back and she was ready to get back to G.
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Old 08-13-2009, 02:51 PM   #15
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DMIL and DMother have both "supervised" trips to disney for band, seniors and the like. YOU are one brave woman!

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