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Trip Report We're With the Band (and the Orchestra)

brifraz

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Well it's been just over a week since the Brifraz team got back from WDW. And... it's just over a week until we are back again.

Yup, two trips in just under a month. You might ask yourself, "How is this possible?" (no, really, ask yourself...right now!) Well the trip we are about to take is a little bit different from our usual. If you've been along on any of my previous trip reports, you know that we are a team of 3 that's attacks the parks in a pretty commando fashion with lots of early mornings and late nights and FP+ jockeying. Not so this time. On this trip, we will be heading to the world with 140 of our closest friends. Okay, maybe not closest friends - I'm a high school music teacher and next Thursday, I will be embarking on a trip to Disney with 99 students from my school, 3 students from other schools (including my daughter), 10 chaperones, 2 county school employees (including @MeffysMom), 2 recent alumni, and 26 family members. It's going to be a VERY different adventure for us.

Either tonight or later this week, I'll be back with our plans for the trip, but right now I'd like to ask a question of you, intrepid reader. If you have ever been as part of a school trip or been a teacher who took a school group, what are the big positives/negatives you experienced and do you have any great advice? Please don't offer "plan a dinner for the group" or things like that - our plans have been in place for many months and really aren't adjustable at this point. But little ideas or things that gave you great memories are certainly welcome! Thanks in advance and I'll be back soon with our plans.
 

krisri18

Well-Known Member
2nd! As a former high school band geek who attended a couple of huge music trips, I'd say what I remember most is the fun things we did during what little free time we had. I couldn't tell you what place we came in at competition but the shenanigans we got into made for some great memories! Hope you guys have a wonderful time!
 

Swissmiss

Premium Member
2nd! As a former high school band geek who attended a couple of huge music trips, I'd say what I remember most is the fun things we did during what little free time we had. I couldn't tell you what place we came in at competition but the shenanigans we got into made for some great memories! Hope you guys have a wonderful time!
I agree - I took a couple of school trips my senior year (which was 30+ years ago!) and while they were well structured, it was the little bit of free time that I remember most.
 

Spash007

Well-Known Member
Agree with the previous posts. The competitions and performances were fun - especially when they were parades down main street, but the free time was great. Ours was fairly organized with regular check ins, which was good for a place as large as WDW. At the same time, it did get frustrating when we would be scolded for being late for a check in, but were late because a ride broke down. Also - we loved the time in the pool.
 

brifraz

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
So, here's the basic plan of action for our trip.

1/16 - Thursday
4pm - Leave Westminster, Maryland. Eat somewhere along I95.

1/17 - Friday
9am-ish - Breakfast and change/freshen up at The Hub (I know next to nothing about this place, but our tour company swears by it)
11am-ish - Hollywood Studios. Kids are free to enjoy (in groups of 4+) for the rest of the day. We have an attendance check-in at 3pm, but otherwise, they just get to enjoy.
9pm - After fireworks/Fantasmic, head to hotel, check-in, R&R

1/18 - Saturday
8am - Breakfast in hotel
9am - Orchestra kids go to Disney Springs while Band kids go to DPA building to warm-up
10:30 - Band performance at the stage across from World of Disney
11:30 - Orchestra kids go to DPA building, band kids at Disney Springs
1pm - Orchestra performance at small stage between Boathouse and Jock Lindsey's
2:30 - Head to Animal Kingdom. Kids are free to enjoy for the rest of the day.
9pm - At closing, head to hotel, R&R

1/19 - Sunday
7:30am - Breakfast in hotel
9am- Magic Kingdom. Kids are free to enjoy.
1pm - Marching Band kids go backstage to change and warm-up
2:30 - Marching Band in Parade
3:30 - Kids enjoy Magic Kingdom for the rest of the day.
9:30 - After HEA, head to hotel, R&R

1/20 - Monday
7:30am - Breakfast in hotel, pack and check out
9am - Epcot. Kids are free to enjoy all day with attendance check-in at 3pm
8pm - Group dinner with viewing for fireworks (I think we will be in the area between UK and France, but maybe the Italy area)
9:30 - 'Last on ride' - our full group gets to ride Soarin' after park closing
10:30 - On the bus headed back

1/21 - Tuesday
4pm - Unload in Westminster, Maryland

So... that's the plans. We've tried to give the kids as much free time as possible to really enjoy all that Disney has to offer. Hopefully they will take advantage of it!
 

brifraz

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
2nd! As a former high school band geek who attended a couple of huge music trips, I'd say what I remember most is the fun things we did during what little free time we had. I couldn't tell you what place we came in at competition but the shenanigans we got into made for some great memories! Hope you guys have a wonderful time!
I agree - I took a couple of school trips my senior year (which was 30+ years ago!) and while they were well structured, it was the little bit of free time that I remember most.
Agree with the previous posts. The competitions and performances were fun - especially when they were parades down main street, but the free time was great. Ours was fairly organized with regular check ins, which was good for a place as large as WDW. At the same time, it did get frustrating when we would be scolded for being late for a check in, but were late because a ride broke down. Also - we loved the time in the pool.
My marching band kids are used to the travel process. We go to 6 or so Field Show competitions each year, ranging from local shows within a 20 minute drive to shows 2-3 hours away. I try to make sure that on those trips they get a couple of hours each time to watch other bands and 'hang out' at the show site. They are going to be pretty shocked at the amount of 'free' time that we have on this trip. The concert band kids (who don't march also) and the orchestra kids have never really gotten to do something like this - the closest comparison is the occasional day trip to Hershey Park with a performance in the morning. I don't really think we will get much pool time as we are generally leaving the hotel by 9am and getting back close to 10pm each day - but, hopefully all that free time in the park will be fun. We just have the one attendance check-in during 3 of the 4 days and while there is a specific time for that check-in, I'm allowing about an hour window which hopefully will make it work for any strange circumstances.
 

Darstarr

Well-Known Member
In the Parks
No
I have a question about FP’s. Where the kids able to make them ahead of time? Will they be able to make them once they are there? Do they have MDE accounts?
(OK, more than one question😉)
 

brifraz

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I have a question about FP’s. Where the kids able to make them ahead of time? Will they be able to make them once they are there? Do they have MDE accounts?
(OK, more than one question😉)
We ran the trip through a tour company (Music Travel Consultants) and they gave us ticket numbers about 35 days before the trip. I held a meeting a couple days later where we taught everyone how to get MDE and the APP on their phones and then how to link their ticket, how to add friends, and how to book FP+. At 30 days out, kids starting booking their first day in the parks. And then each day, they could book the next. Many kids have now booked things for all 4 days, some have not.

But, to answer simply - anyone can have an MDE account if they want one. Since we are staying off-site, at the 30 day window, we could book each day as it became 30 days away.
 

k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
I’m excited to follow along! I was a band nerd, and went to WDW with my high school marching band in 2008. We were there during the “Year” of a Million Dreams, and we kept getting free FastPasses given to us! What I remember most is the freedom we had in the parks, it was so much fun getting to have fun the parks with some of my best friends! Marching down Main Street USA wasn’t too shabby either. ;)
 

Darstarr

Well-Known Member
In the Parks
No
We ran the trip through a tour company (Music Travel Consultants) and they gave us ticket numbers about 35 days before the trip. I held a meeting a couple days later where we taught everyone how to get MDE and the APP on their phones and then how to link their ticket, how to add friends, and how to book FP+. At 30 days out, kids starting booking their first day in the parks. And then each day, they could book the next. Many kids have now booked things for all 4 days, some have not.

But, to answer simply - anyone can have an MDE account if they want one. Since we are staying off-site, at the 30 day window, we could book each day as it became 30 days away.
Thanks. I asked because my sister is a travel agent whose company books school groups/bands etc. Her territory is NYC but if she has a repeat group she will handle wherever they want to go. Once she had a large group going to WDW and she asked me how to handle the FP’s. Really? Why am I your go-to on this? Ask the people in your office who handle the WDW territory!
But still, it did make me curious.
Thanks!
And have fun!!!
 

brifraz

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
We will be in Disney that weekend and love to watch HS orchestra and bands perform at Disney Springs. We will definitely be there on Saturday. Look for the big guy on the red mobility scooter.
Look for the guy waving his arms somewhat frantically... hoping that students who are incredibly under-rehearsed will managed to pull things off. I'm a little wary of these performances - since not ALL kids in the program are going on the trip, I could not rehearse things during classes, which made for a very limited amount of time working together!

BTW, if you are looking for more Maryland based groups - you can cheer on a colleague of mine on Sunday as his school will be at Disney Springs playing. They have 4 groups playing - band, chorus, orchestra, and a guitar ensemble.
 

brifraz

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
In terms of our personal plans, within the trip framework above... It will be quite different as we are just two adults (our daughter will be with friends all day each day, well almost each day - see below) BUT we also need to be accessible for emergencies and ready for just about anything!

Friday - once we are in Studios at (hopefully) about 11am, we will likely head back to Galaxy's Edge and wander around a bit, maybe shop a little, and most likely grab lunch at Docking Bay 7. We have Toy Story Mania FP+ at 12:30pm so we will head over to do that and then likely stop into One Man's Dream for some museum time (maybe Launch Bay as well). We have group attendance at 3pm in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre, so we'll be hanging out there for a little while. We then have Star Tours FP+ and FP+ for the Indiana Jones Show. Not really sure what we might do for dinner, but I could definitely see us heading back to Galaxy's Edge and grabbing something quick and easy and then waiting in line to do Millenium Falcon (or doing single rider so we don't really have to wait). The kids have been encouraged to see Fantasmic! or the Star Wars fireworks and we will likely watch the fireworks as Fantasmic! just doesn't really do it for us anymore.

Saturday - the morning is at Disney Springs with performances by the concert groups, which means I will have almost no time at all for anything else. I suspect that @MeffysMom will do some shopping and maybe grab something for our daughter (this is her 16th birthday). Once at Animal Kingdom (a little before 3pm, we hope) we have FP+ for Everest from 3-4pm and then reservations at Yak and Yeti for early dinner at 4pm. After that we have Safari FP+ and might try to see the new bird show or just wander around Africa a bit. We have Na'vi River Journey FP+ in the evening and depending on the line, I could see us waiting for Flight of Passage for a bit. But that is surely on the maybe list.

Sunday - to celebrate our daughter's birthday, we are having brunch at Cinderella's Royal Table. We haven't been in quite a few year's, but wanted something unique and special to celebrate and she loved the idea (and I'm sure will be wearing a tiara, at least!!). With parade preparations and the parade, most of my afternoon is pretty busy, but @MeffysMom will do some good touring, I'm sure. We then have FP+ for Pirates and Jungle Cruise (at 4pm and 5pm, respectively) and then dinner at the Skipper's Canteen. We are really looking forward to that as the reviews tend to be pretty good and the menu looks very interesting! After dinner we will head back to Fantasyland and have FP+ for Peter Pan and will likely do It's a Small World, Philharmagic, and whatever else doesn't have too much of a line. We will then head back in front of the castle for Happily Ever After.

Monday - it's kind of a bummer that so much is being done at Epcot since it is our only totally in the park and 'free' day. In addition to the things being built, Test Track is down for regular work so the options are somewhat limited. We plan to get into the park and head back to ride Frozen (why not?) and then likely wander a bit in World Showcase. Since the Arts Festival will have just started, we will grab some bites at the kiosks for lunch and check out the new China and Canada films (that open that weekend, we think). Then we have FP+ for Living With the Land at 12:30 and Soarin' right afterward, so we will definitely go over and do those. I have a feeling that we might go hide for a bit in the DVC lounge during the afternoon to relax a bit. There's attendance at 3pm again and then we have FP+ for Spaceship Earth at 3:30pm. After that, we've got more 'down' time and will likely visit the Seas and maybe Mission:Space, but maybe just wander and shop and enjoy! At 8pm we will head to our group dinner and then watch Epcot Forever, followed by another ride on Soarin' with 140 of our closest friends!

I truly have no idea how much I'll be able to really enjoy this visit as the stress level has been slowly climbing each day this week... but, I'm hopeful that once things are going, it will actually get a bunch easier!
 

brifraz

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
So, we already have one pretty big change/addition to our plans for this weekend. Not an addition for the whole 143 people involved, just for 2/3 of our family going!

One of our district requirements is that any time kids are on a bus, there has to be a district employee on the bus as well. So on field trips, that means you need a teacher/administrator/etc on each bus that you take. With our 3 busses, that is how @MeffysMom is able to go on the trip (we also have an assistant principal on the third bus). Now, we also have a employee -my assistant marching band director- who is meeting us there. He works outside the school system regularly, but is considered an employee in the same way that a sports coach is. He's flying down so that he doesn't have to miss two more days of work that are our travel days. BUT, this means that once he is down there, @MeffysMom and our daughter can leave the trip if they want for a bit.

And they certainly are! As a birthday gift, we got our daughter (and @MeffysMom) tickets for the Disney After Hours Party at Magic Kingdom for Friday night. So, while we wrap up our evening at Studios, they will catch a bus (or boat/monorail or gondola/bus) to Magic Kingdom and have fun for 3 hours over there with limited lines and lots of mickey bars! They are going to be meeting some 'Disney friends' that we have at the party and enjoying the evening to its fullest, I'm sure. Meanwhile, I'll be getting the other 140 people into the hotel rooms and giving kids their evening medications, etc...
 

brifraz

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Couple of pics from today’s performances. I apologize that this report isn’t up to my normal live standards, but not getting a whole lot of moments to myself.
27C3B457-DE0C-468D-848A-267ACA392739.jpeg
The band at the main stage by WoD.


AE325983-A93C-4338-A5F2-4CA9BCE255DA.jpeg
The orchestra at the stage between Boathouse and Jock Lindsey’s.
 

pkkurz

New Member
Huge thanks to @pkkurz for coming out to see us!!
It was my pleasure. We tuely enjoyed the performance. That was my wife sitting directly behind me. We see lots of groups perform when we are down (we live in Louisville KY) and I must say yours was one of the best. Would have loved to visit a moment, but I understand you had a few things going on.
 
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