Mark Terry

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Disney Thoughts--Day 1

April 7, 2009
So, last Thursday, day 1 of the Disney trip. The alarm goes off at 3:15--yes, A.M. We stagger around the house for a while, then drive to the high school. It's in the 40s, but not uncomfortable. Wander into the  band room with our luggage, are given key cards for our chaperone groups. Myself, my wife Leanne, and Liz B are chaperones for a group of 11 kids, two of whom were my kids. We had a 4th chaperone in our group--Jeff L--but he was driving the van that held all the instruments and uniforms.

Eventually the bus showed up. There were about 54 kids in this group. Of course, one of the kids showed up with about 1 second to spare before the bus headed for the airport.

Airport: they were not designed to herd 50+ high school students through, but we did with no particular problems. We located our gate and told the kids to find something to eat or whatever, not go off alone, and be back at 6:45. Surprisingly, everyone was. On the plane and off to Orlando.

From the airport, retrieve our luggage, find our bus, load up and go directly to Blizzard Beach. Got there at 1:30. So basically the day's almost 11 hours long so far. Once in the water park everyone scatters. We were in the 2nd group (the 1st group left the school around 2:45 AM, made up mostly of juniors and seniors), so we only had a couple hours at Blizzard Beach. My oldest son went off with a bunch of his friends. One of the 3 band director's youngest son, Daniel, came on the trip--he's 11, the same age as my youngest and they're friends--and because Blizzard Beach is nicely self-contained and relatively small, we let them have free rein to run around the park on their own. Which left Leanne and I without any parental or chaperone duties for a couple hours--hell, we might actually have to talk to each other! So we did some rides, floated around the lazy lagoon, and generally hung out in the sun.

Herded the kids back up around 4:00 or so, got back on the bus, checked into the hotel at Disney--All-Star Music--then around 6:30 we all loaded back into the buses and went to Downtown Disney. The immediate family had dinner reservations at Cap'n Jacks, then we wandered around and shopped for a while--I bought 2 T-shirts at The House of Blues--had ice cream, then met the group again, loaded into the buses, did the 2nd or 3rd of what would be about 4 dozen roll calls, and went back to the hotel. It was around 10:00. We had a stand-up chaperone meeting that lasted too long since we were all dead on our feet, did a final bed check and went to our rooms and passed out. (Or would have except I slept like crap that night. I often do when I travel).

Thoughts: I remember one kid buying a bucket of ice cream at Blizzard Beach--literally a small plastic beach bucket filled with ice cream and candy for about $10 and eating it. I just hoped he didn't barf all over the bus. He wasn't in my chaperone group, so whatever he did in his room I figured wasn't my problem.

This was an extremely loooonnnnnnggggg day. Almost 21 hours straight!

One kid spent $100 on his Oakleys. (I thought they were Ray Bans, but there were 2 guys in my group that bought Ray Bans and we called the the Ray Ban Boys. Other nicknames that developed over the trip on the part of Liz and Leanne and myself: DQ (for Drama Queen) and Sexy--because he wore a T-shirt that said, "I'm bringing sexy back." Three other boys not in our group became known as Larry, Darryl and Darryl. If you get the reference you'll know why we called them that. Thank God they weren't in our group. DQ was bad enough.

We enjoyed the warm weather and wondered why Disney was so loud. Caught a guy playing an electric guitar/synthesizer and a didgereedoo at Downtown Disney, which was pretty cool. Visited the Virgin record and bookstore and I noticed that in the 4 years since I'd been there last the bookstore part had shrunk to about a quarter of its original size.

It was a very promising start. Weather was great. The travel transitions had gone smoothly and everybody was getting along pretty well.

Mark Terry


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12:02 AM  
Blogger Morgan Stevens said...

What a trip! Nice to hear about it from the parental perspective.

20+yrs ago I was a band member making that trip. Last April vacation my parents and I took my 8 yr old to Disney for the first time, and my Mom and I had wonderful memories of when we were there with the band. We showed my son the places where Mommy marched, and told him how cool Epcot is from the other side.

It was lovely to share those memories with 3 generations of my family, and I'm glad you're able to have that experience.

12:08 AM  
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I remember being chaperoned on band & church trips and wondering why the parents kept freaking out. Now with the help of the internet and CBS's collection of paranoia inducing crime dramas that have a tendency to focus on crimes against the young, I understand.

2:23 PM  

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