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Old 03-30-2012, 08:21 AM   #16
TinksThree
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Originally Posted by DaPanMan View Post
Having used to live in the mighty Mississipp, I'm in for the ride. Can't wait to hear how you and 50? of your favorite teenagers survived the band trip.

Look forward to it!!
Once a Mississippian always one! Or is that a good thing?! We had 83 total. There are over 100 in the band but not everyone could go. They were a great group though!


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Originally Posted by dawnbu40 View Post
Joining in

I so would have loved to chaperone a Disney trip when Caitlin was in school but she wasn't in band.

Can't wait to hear all your adventures!
I was so thankful for the opportunity to go with Madison! Your family still has some great trips though! I love reading along on your adventures too!!

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I'm in

I don't really understand the whole not using fastpasses rule either
Hey!!! I plan to clear up the whole Fast Pass thing pretty quickly!!

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You knew I'd be here! You are a persnickety planner?!?
I would've never guessed! I suppose it takes one to know one!
Yes I did and I was expecting it too!! Glad to see you made it!! I know, it is surprising isn't it!? We planners have to stick together!
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Old 03-30-2012, 12:21 PM   #17
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Led Zeppelin Collides With The Magic Kingdom--Departure Day!

We had our chaperone meeting the Monday prior to the trip. At this meeting I found out which students were assigned to me, bus seating assignments and room assignments. Also the other minor duties we would have, such as selling and maintaining the snacks on the bus. I also provided some information not known including the ability to bring snacks, water, etc. into the parks and that there are places that you can charge those precious cell phones! I really, really tried to hold back my exuberance and totally annoy these people on Disney. I can become very excitable when I discuss something I love! We parted our ways with anticipation of leaving on Thursday at 6am!

I will now explain the no Fast Pass. At first it was because the band director did not want to risk any student losing their pass. Even though it could be replaced, he did not feel like spending his park time going to replace a ticket. On Sunday, the kids (who all of this time had been complaining about not being able to get Fast Passes) asked if they could keep their passes to use in the final park. The answer was no even though it would not matter if the pass was misplaced at that time. The 2nd reason given for not keeping the passes made me have an Ah-Ha moment. I am not sure why this had not occurred to me but the passes were Park Hoppers. The band directors were afraid the students would want to get “one last ride” in at another park. They did not want the kids bouncing all over the place. And I don’t think they had any particular case that concerned them but simply did not want the temptation to be placed before them! The students had rules and guidelines but none of which were overly strict. They had free reign once in the park and no check in times until we left at night (excluding parade time). So that is why we toured the parks and did not use the Fast Pass system.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thursday morning arrived and we headed to the school. We were to report at 5:30am, students be in their seats at 6am and leave at 6:15am. Well, we almost made those bench marks! We arrived at 5:30am right after a nice thunderstorm. Suitcases and band instruments were being loaded onto the buses as well as those snacks we chaperones would be responsible for and lots of excitement could be felt all around. The electricity in the air was definitely felt and it wasn’t all coming from those thunder boomers we were experiencing!!

6am: A few parents and I commented that only on a Thursday morning at 6am getting ready to head to Disney would you find teenagers this awake and ready to go! That didn’t last for most and once on the bus a lot of sleeping was done but more on that in a minute! The band director made his comments and we began loading the buses.





It was time to leave!!!

Madison and a friend (with the distorted feature)



Loading up!!



6:30am: The buses pulled out of the parking lot and headed towards our destination. A destination that would seem to be at the end of a never-ending road! We were only 15 minutes late leaving. I suppose that isn’t too bad considering we were trying to get 83 people loaded and on the road!

Finally we are making our way to Orlando! First order of business was choosing a movie. What do teenagers choose to watch when they are on the way to Disney World? Pirates of the Caribbean of course! We make our way through pouring rain and at times torrential downpours. This was the weather radar of some of the weather we drove through!



My view from my seat:



We made a few stops and soon the movie was over and time for the next one. Paul Blart Mall Cop was chosen. We watch this one and time is passing along nicely.

Mobile, Alabama!!



We get to Mobile and go through the tunnel (see Paul Blart on the TV?!).



A few pictures of the USS Alabama and Mobile Bay.









Next up is a stop at Cordova Mall in Pensacola, FL. We pull up and two security guards on segways are in the parking lot. Instructions are given to not taunt the “security officers”! The other funny thing was the buses pulled to the front entrance and people started running into the mall. I mean literally running and looking back at the buses. I am not sure if they thought a million people were about to emerge or if the buses were that intimidating but it was funny seeing these people fall over one another to get inside! By the way, this is a marvelous way of stopping for food. Go to a mall with a food court. The students disburse nicely and there are few long lines. We chose to eat at Chick-fil-a and then do a little window shopping. We had one hour and that was plenty of time! We pull out of the mall parking lot:



Pensacola Bay:







And now we are back on the road. More movies are put in the first of which is Shrek. I adore Shrek and we watch it all of the time. I can recite the lines before they are said. Well, evidentially these kids are the same way because it was hilarious listening to them in unison sing and speak the parts! Even more movies were watched until our next stop in Gainesville at the Oaks Mall. Again we had a one hour stop and this time we ate at Wendy’s. This stop also entailed people clamoring for wall sockets to charge those phones!

Interesting fact: the chartered buses had free Wi-Fi internet! I thought that was pretty awesome! I believe this also had resulted in a lot of nearly dead phones (mine included).

When we crossed into Florida earlier in the day it really did become the Sunshine State and those nasty rain clouds had dissipated but somewhere between Lake City and Gainesville it began to rain again. I really hoped this was not an omen for our trip! Rain chances were from 10% on Friday to 50% on Sunday but we were praying for it to be around 0% actually falling! Before actually reaching Gainesville I took some pictures of the countryside and the soon to set sun.







The clouds seemed to be clearing again!

We all loaded back on the buses at 7pm and soon we were in for the longest stretch of the trip. Jack and Jill was put in the DVR and thankfully that helped pass the time. It seemed to take absolutely forever to get to Orlando. There is something about a bus that disorients you and you seem to lose track of where you are. I do know that we took a way I have never taken and hope to never take again. There were so many red lights! Finally around 10:30pm we arrived at the hotel. The Clarion Maingate was to be our “home” for the next several days.

Next up getting settled and the hotel!

Last edited by TinksThree; 04-03-2012 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 03-30-2012, 12:46 PM   #18
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I'd have to say that a 15 minute delay in leaving is extremely good considering the amount of people and items that had to be loaded.

When Lacey's Mission would travel, they would try to stop at mall's to eat their meals too. Their leader said there were multiple options and it made it much easier.

I think I know the exact route that ya'll took that had so many red lights. Did ya'll go through Leesburg and Clermont? If so, that's were the red lights came from. That's the worst part of the drive for us.
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Old 04-01-2012, 12:02 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by mickeystoontown View Post
I'd have to say that a 15 minute delay in leaving is extremely good considering the amount of people and items that had to be loaded.

When Lacey's Mission would travel, they would try to stop at mall's to eat their meals too. Their leader said there were multiple options and it made it much easier.

I think I know the exact route that ya'll took that had so many red lights. Did ya'll go through Leesburg and Clermont? If so, that's were the red lights came from. That's the worst part of the drive for us.
I believe that is the exact route! It seemed to take forever!!

I thought leaving within 15 minutes was pretty good too. Our band directors seemed to have things down to a science and things moved very smoothly.
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Old 04-01-2012, 11:30 PM   #20
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Ok, the no FP rule makes sense now. Not a good a idea to tempt teenagers.

What a good idea to do meals at a food court! I remember on school trips that the norm was McDonalds. Took us longer to get through the lines than eat!

Looking forward to more!
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Old 04-01-2012, 11:36 PM   #21
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The kids all look really excited in the band room pictures. I laughed at the thought of them mostly being asleep soon after.

I bet having movies on the bus made the trip go faster. I love that they chose PoC first!

The skies do look so grey and yucky your whole drive. You said it was bad, but those pictures really tell the story.

I love the pictures of Mobile Bay. I have never been down there despite having lived in Alabama in the 90s. Maybe some day...
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Old 04-02-2012, 12:55 AM   #22
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I'm just joining in I was in MB in high school and played the flute too. My school went to DL but not until after I graduated, so I am jealous! We did have some fun trips, just not Disney trips.
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Old 04-02-2012, 01:20 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by shan23877 View Post
Ok, the no FP rule makes sense now. Not a good a idea to tempt teenagers.

What a good idea to do meals at a food court! I remember on school trips that the norm was McDonalds. Took us longer to get through the lines than eat!

Looking forward to more!
It definitely made sense once it was all explained but it did stink not being able to use those FPs during Spring Break crowds!

I thought the food court was brilliant! I was prepared to title this report "Yes we were that group!" just imagining the faces on people walking into McDonald's with 83 people trying to order!!


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Originally Posted by ksl5f123 View Post
The kids all look really excited in the band room pictures. I laughed at the thought of them mostly being asleep soon after.

I bet having movies on the bus made the trip go faster. I love that they chose PoC first!

The skies do look so grey and yucky your whole drive. You said it was bad, but those pictures really tell the story.

I love the pictures of Mobile Bay. I have never been down there despite having lived in Alabama in the 90s. Maybe some day...
They fell asleep and slept all day which meant when we arrived at 10:30pm they were wired!! I loved having the movies because time did fly by! And thankfully all of the movies we watched were ones I enjoy! I kept thinking of you guys and hoping it wasn't doing that in Orlando!

When your DS(s) get older I bet they would love running through the USS Alabama and the submarine. My kids always loved it. Mobile has some fun and interesting things to do plus it is close to Gulf Shores which is an added bonus!


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I'm just joining in I was in MB in high school and played the flute too. My school went to DL but not until after I graduated, so I am jealous! We did have some fun trips, just not Disney trips.
I love the flute. I think it has such a pretty sound! My high school MB never went on trips except away games but that is a whole different story! I am so glad Madison has the opportunities to go on these trips!
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Old 04-02-2012, 03:18 PM   #24
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Great Report!

Looking forward to reading more! It might be a better idea to somehow black out the other faces, rather than distort.
Hope you had good weather!
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Old 04-02-2012, 04:32 PM   #25
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Looking forward to reading more! It might be a better idea to somehow black out the other faces, rather than distort.
Hope you had good weather!
Glad to have you on board!! For various reasons and not liking the distort feature we actually had played around with the photo features (our first venture into this!) and we found an erase button which is one easy click. Future pictures will be adjusted differently than with the distort (white out is now our friend! ).

The weather improved greatly from the trip down!!

Last edited by TinksThree; 04-02-2012 at 04:43 PM.
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Old 04-02-2012, 08:09 PM   #26
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Well, that trip doesn't sound so bad! Having the movies to watch sure helped pass the time I'm sure. My experience chaperoning a bunch of teenagers was with our church youth group on a choir tour. We were on a regular old church bus so movies weren't an option (no equipment!). Glad you had much more elegant transportation! We were also "that group" at McDonald's. What a fantastic idea to pull up to a mall with a food court.

It looks like you had fun with your new camera on the trip too. You got some good shots. Especially loved seeing the Bay pics. I've only driven across Florida a couple of times but it really does seem looonngg and boorriinngg!! Those beaches are sure beautiful though. We spent some time in Panama City one year and couldn't get enough of the gorgeous beach. I've always wanted to go to Gulf Shores...........I just need to stop going to Disney instead.

Your trip report title always makes me smile. Looking forward to your next chapter...........
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Old 04-03-2012, 08:11 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by sherylcin View Post
Well, that trip doesn't sound so bad! Having the movies to watch sure helped pass the time I'm sure. My experience chaperoning a bunch of teenagers was with our church youth group on a choir tour. We were on a regular old church bus so movies weren't an option (no equipment!). Glad you had much more elegant transportation! We were also "that group" at McDonald's. What a fantastic idea to pull up to a mall with a food court.

This was the biggest reason I was nervous going into chaperoning a school trip. I had only been with church youth groups! That is also why I figured we would be "that group"!

It looks like you had fun with your new camera on the trip too. You got some good shots. Especially loved seeing the Bay pics. I've only driven across Florida a couple of times but it really does seem looonngg and boorriinngg!! Those beaches are sure beautiful though. We spent some time in Panama City one year and couldn't get enough of the gorgeous beach. I've always wanted to go to Gulf Shores...........I just need to stop going to Disney instead.

Your trip report title always makes me smile. Looking forward to your next chapter...........
The drive between Pensacola and Tallahassee is very long so I was happy for movie diversion! I wish I-10 was closer to the Gulf because it would be nice to make a stop! Gulf Shores is great! We love going to the Perdido area. I also know how Disney affects trying other places!

The TR title came from nowhere and when I told Madison she said "Yes! That is it!" so glad you like it too!! To me that is one of the hardest parts of a TR...coming up with a title!!
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Old 04-03-2012, 02:33 PM   #28
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Led Zeppelin Collides With The Magic Kingdom! Clarion Maingate

Clarion Maingate

As soon as I learned the hotel location I went to Trip Advisor. TA is my all other vacations go to and I trust (for the most part) the reviews. The Clarion seemed to get mostly positive reviews and after staying there I give them a 4 star on the TA standards!

To make a long, boring story short, we got the keys, dispersed the keys, unload the buses and head to the 5th floor. Luggage placed in rooms, ice chests filled for the next day, a quick walk to Walgreens by me and another chaperone, room check, and lights out.

Exhausted! It had to be one of the longest drives ever! It took 16 hours to get to Orlando. Normally we make it within 12 hours depending on our length of stops! I will say though that those students were overall very good and not loud on the buses! Only towards the end did they get a little antsy but we had a band director on our bus and he made it clear they were too loud!! And those one hour stops at the mall? All returned at the appointed time! Shocking…I know!!

We pretty much had the whole 5th floor reserved for our school. There were other groups in the hotel also but on other floors. Of all of the girls’ rooms, there was very little wrong. Only minor things like a missing remote, missing mirror, slow toilets but overall the rooms were clean, comfortably sized and one group even had two double beds and bunk beds. I wish I had taken a picture of their room! This hotel is very close to the main gate of Disney and it took only 10-15 minutes to get to each park. There was a putt-putt (mini-golf) nearby, something with a giant wizard (wish I had looked into what that was!), and several decent looking restaurants one of which was BBQ. As I said before, we had to walk to Walgreens which was a few blocks away, maybe ¼ of a mile. There was a wide sidewalk, well lit and at 11:30pm we did not feel unsafe.

Breakfast was served every morning and we had a good selection that included waffles, eggs (I am extremely picky on scrambled eggs and these were decent with salt and pepper), some awesome potatoes that weren’t really hash browns but more in chunks…they were yummy!!! Also link sausage, cereals, mini-powdered donuts, muffins, fruit salad, toast, and the typical juice and coffee selections were offered. We had little vouchers and the breakfast may actually be an added cost because I saw non-group people leave due to not having the voucher. The waffles were made by an attendant, which I thought was great since turning a bunch of teens loose with a waffle maker could equal disaster.

Evidentially this hotel is frequented by groups very often and they were very well prepared. Even though there were other groups there the hotel was quite. There were also two pools but those were off limits for our group. When we arrived our keys were already assigned to one person in the room (the band director had sent the room groupings to the hotel prior to us leaving). We also had a security guard assigned to our hall each night and this made our (the chaperones) lives easier since we did not have to take shifts to monitor escapees and noise!! Overall this hotel was really nice and I would stay here even if I was not a part of a group.
Now some pictures of the hotel.

First of my room:













There was even a towel swan!!!



And Stacy is off -site too! Although it is only the "Must-Do's" and it got old very quickly!!



The view from my room at night which looks down on one of the pools:



And by day:



The hotel (these next pictures were taken later obviously due to the daylight but I want all hotel comments to be in this post!):



Notice in the distance what my view held! Expedition Everest!



Tower of Terror! And you can also make out the curve of Epcot, although it was easier to see in person!



I thought I had the most awesome view ever!!



I did not get a picture of the breakfast area due to it being crowded. They did offer an overflow area though so there was always somewhere to sit!

Next: Finally we get to a park! But this park visit is unlike any I am used to!!!
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Old 04-03-2012, 02:53 PM   #29
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It looks and sounds like the Clarion Maingate is definitely a place that I would book if we weren't going to stay onsite. It looks nice and clean and in a good location. (love that view of your's) From what is sounds like, the hotel does do a lot of group bookings and were on top of their game.
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Old 04-03-2012, 08:16 PM   #30
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It looks and sounds like the Clarion Maingate is definitely a place that I would book if we weren't going to stay onsite. It looks nice and clean and in a good location. (love that view of your's) From what is sounds like, the hotel does do a lot of group bookings and were on top of their game.
It really was a nice place to stay considering it wasn't a Disney property! I highly recommend it!!
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