ARHS Band Takes Orlando!- a chaperone's story

Discussion in 'Disney Trip Reports' started by Sydney2977, Aug 1, 2017.

  1. Sydney2977

    Sydney2977 DIS Veteran

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    Welcome (finally!) to my 2017 trip report! This report will chronicle my younger son Jared and I's trip with his high school band to Orlando!

    Let me start off by saying that this trip is a long time coming. Back when my older son Taylor was in band (the boys are 4 years apart) his band director was trying to plan a Disney trip. His freshman year was only the second year for the band's existence since it was a new school and a lot of funding had to go into equipment, a tractor trailer, and such. They developed as a band, grew in size, skill, and competition level, but the only trip they got to do was At the end of his senior year, that director decided to take a position closer to his family due to some health issues with them. So Jared's freshman year started with a new director. He had taken other bands to Disney and was determined to do so again with this group. Finally last fall during Jared's junior year, he announced plans to get the band to march at Walt Disney World! Being the nut I am, I immediately emailed him to sign me up as a chaperone.

    The process to get to march or perform at Disney required them to send in a recording and video of them playing. Their director Mr. P sent in their recording of their fall competition show, and then since they wanted a video of them in a parade he sent in them marching in our town Christmas parade. They were approved in Feb. but still didn't know where they would be performing. Mr. P worked with a tour company he had used before to get rooms, tickets, food, and transportation arranged. The final cost for the kids was $600 and for chaperones it was only $300. I would have gladly paid the full price just to get to go! The nice thing was that since they announced it in the fall there were fundraising opportunities and there was a payment plan set up.

    We got our final itinerary two weeks before the trip. Even in between then and when we left, the hotel changed three times! Mr. P insisted the rooms be closer together than some of the hotels were willing to book us. Just Orlando Youth Tours did an excellent job of working to get us moved and putting it all together. At the parent meeting two weeks out they had packets for everyone with a breakdown of what to bring, times, park maps and hours, dining options, and a great explanation of how fast pass works (although some of us veterans still had to walk parents through it multiple times!) We did a final chaperone meeting a few days before we left to finalize all details, including room assignments and who had which kids. The kids got to pick their room mates, so we found it easier to assign the adults to 2 rooms each- so 7-8 kids- and split the buses up that way too. We ended up with 69 kids and 13 chaperones including Mr P, the percussion instructor Mr R, and the color guard director Ms. M. One of the chaperones was also a nurse so we had the safety aspect covered. Other families did meet us down there as well. We decided that we'd have some face to face meets and some phone check ins while touring the parks, and that the kids had to stay in groups of at least 3.Most of the chaperones going were husband and wife, but the rest of us just partnered up randomly. My room mate turned out to be great, and her initials are WD.

    OK, enough of the boring details... my next post will have the fun beginning!
     
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  2. luckylady

    luckylady DIS Veteran

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    Following. Brave women to go with all those teens.
     
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  4. Sydney2977

    Sydney2977 DIS Veteran

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    Day 1- Departure Day

    The original plan for this day was for the kids to get through lunch and then leave on the buses around1:00. Well, Charleston weather being what it is, we had to slightly alter plans. There was a big storm coming at us, and all three surrounding school districts decided to do an early release day, putting the high schools dismissing at 1:00. Myself along with most of the other chaperones arrived at the school around noon to get luggage, instruments, and uniforms loaded onto the buses. The kids were able to eat and then assembled in the band room. Mr. P. decided to just wait till 1:30 to leave to let all the school traffic clear. He was able to pass out ticket numbers to everyone since the tour leader had emailed them to him. We all got busy entering them in MDE or setting up the app for people who hadn't already done so. We also exchanged numbers with all of the kids we were responsible for. I had Jared's girlfriend, her best friend, another good friend, and another girl in one room, and four of the color guard girls in the other room. All very sweet girls so I was happy.

    At 1:30 we headed onto the buses and thankfully it had just started to sprinkle. I rode up front on our bus with Ms. M. and the other sets of chaperones got the middle of the bus- they were husband and wife groups. We divided the buses so that each chaperone's groups were on the bus with them- that made it way easier to keep up with everyone. When we got on we'd just have to check for the 7-8 kids we were responsible for instead of calling roll for 30+kids. Jared and his friends took over the very back of the bus.

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    We had a pretty smooth ride down to Florida. The storm was traveling away from us so we got very little rain. We stopped somewhere in Georgia for dinner offI-95 where there were multiple fast food options all in a row to choose from. I just chose McDonald's and was pleasantly surprised. There were ordering kiosks set up if you were using a card and the manager was out there helping people use it. I complimented him on there great service and speed- the food was coming out quick and the cashiers were very friendly- he said they were used to big groups and got ready when they saw our buses pulling in. We were back on the road within an hour.

    The kids were all told they could bring movies to watch that were either G or PG. We got through four on the way there and the credits were just rolling for "Beauty and the Beast" when we pulled into the hotel parking lot. Everyone was tired but excited at the same time. Coming down International Drive it was so funny to hear some of the kid's exclamations- I had to remember that not everyone's been here before. We emptied off the buses, efficiently got luggage off, and met in our chaperone groups. Mr. P. had met with the tour leader and then passed out room keys. We set off in our groups to find rooms and make sure everyone was set. Thankfully there were signs that said the pool closed at 10:00, so there was no time to go. I know I was ready for bed, but some of the kids were still full of energy. Lights out were announced for 11:00.

    After getting the girls to their rooms I found mine. WD had just arrived there as well so we set to unpacking. She is a shower at night person, while I like to shower in the morning so that worked out nice. We chatted for a while after that and then went to get our kids taped in for the night. Yes, I said "taped in." We all had painters tape and Sharpies. We taped around the edges of the doors and signed our initials. I had never heard of this, but apparently it is common and lets the kids know that if you get out of your room after lights out, we'll know! I stopped by Jared's room to say goodnight to him and his buddies, got the girls rooms taped, and went back to my room to crash.
     
  5. Sydney2977

    Sydney2977 DIS Veteran

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    Day 2: Magic Kingdom Day

    I had set my alarm to get me up at 6:00 to have time to get ready before opening the girls' rooms at 6:30. I was going to let them sleep a few minutes later so I got to the first room about 6:45. Jared's girlfriend (GF) opened the door after two knocks and the other three girls just kind of mumbled that they were up. I arrived to the next room and got a completely different reaction. All four girls were not only awake, but were dressed, had full hair and makeup done, and were eagerly awaiting me to arrive so they could get down to breakfast! They were so cute! I walked down to the dining room with them and met up with WD. We got a table for two and went to the buffet to load up our plates. I was very impressed with the food- lots of options and all very tasty. This buffet was included in our package but for other guests I think it was around $12. The rest of our kids started trickling in and they eventually all ate. We had time to go back to our rooms to brush teeth, grab our water bottles out of the fridge, and get on the bus, which was departing promptly at 8:15. We didn't have to wait for any late kids, so that was a good sign.

    Once again Jared's friends were at the back of the bus. I could tell he was so excited to be back at WDW, but he was trying to play it cool in front of them.

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    It seemed like it took forever to get from the hotel to Disney property! It made me appreciate even more the fact that we normally get to stay on property. Even though the weather was dreary as soon as I saw this it was like to sun was shining though!

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    Apparently the bus drivers weren't familiar with how to get to the Magic Kingdom, because we ended up having to go through the gates twice so they could get us to the drop of at the TTC!

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    As you can see it was sprinkling a bit but the kids were really happy to finally be there.

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    Getting to the monorail was slightly chaotic, but they are used to walking in lines so that was an advantage. Everyone had been given their tickets for the day plus 2 $15 meal gift cards on the bus. That was also an advantage to riding on the same bus as the chaperone- the tour director would pass the packets out to Mr. P. at breakfast, he distributed the number needed to each chaperone, then we'd give them out to our kids. One of my co-workers who was at WDW during this same week with her family (but unfortunately none of our park days overlapped) had texted me the day before that the Blue Angels would be doing a fly over this morning. We were able to see it during our monorail ride.

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  6. Sydney2977

    Sydney2977 DIS Veteran

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    We got to the Magic Kingdom entrance a little before 10:00 and the sun was shining! I could barely corral Jared's friends (C, GF, D, him, and R) to take a quick picture before heading into the park.

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    It was already pretty crowded on Main St. but we made our way down towards the castle and then left towards Adventureland then to Frontierland.

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    The wait was posted at 30 minutes for BTMRR. They didn't want to wait that long but I saw it as a great opportunity and didn't want to miss riding since we didn't have a fp for it.

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    They had made fp picks for both days on the bus ride down- Jared had borrowed my phone and made my picks for me to match up with his and his friends. I told Jared I'd go solo for a while and then we'd meet up at the 1:00 group meet at the hub. I normally don't take selfies, but for Disney I figured I could make an exception!

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    My next stop was PotC since that's one of my favorites and I have to ride multiple times per trip. There wasn't a long wait and I was soon on my way. I seriously get nostalgic just from the smell of this ride!

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  7. figment52

    figment52 <font color=royalblue>Oh man, I checked out the we

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    Looking forward to more about your trip. I have always wondered how they are structured. Thanks for doing this.
     
  8. DeterminedOne

    DeterminedOne <img src=http://www.wdwinfo.com/photopost/data/500

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    I was in color guard, so this is a fun read.
     

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