by Wishes Diva
Every year, high school marching bands across the country are fortunate enough to visit Walt Disney World. Disney offers so many great opportunities for young performers that can be hard to pass up. Despite the great opportunities, these trips are a big undertaking for band directors and are also very different from your typical family vacation! There can be multiple pros and cons to visiting Walt Disney World with such a large group.
Pro: All of the planning is done for you. When you travel with a group like this, there is almost always going to be an intinerary done in advance that will plan where you go and when you go there. Your director will work with a travel company to make this happen. This can be a huge advantage for those of you who have never been to Disney or don’t know the parks very well. It takes all the guess work and planning out of your trip, and leaves you free to just enjoy your time!
Con: All of the planning is done for you. If you are a regular to Disney World or have been several times, the idea of letting go and giving someone else control of your trip can be stressful. If you are like me, you enjoy taking the time to read and research before you plan your trips. When you go with such a large group, it significantly cuts down on the things you need to research. Which brings me to my next point…
Con: No control over which parks and other area attractions you visit. When someone else is doing your trip itinerary, it is more than likely that you will visit something you don’t care to, or miss out on something you want to see. Because of the fact that you have no control over which parks you visit, you could miss out on some cool things. Your trip may also include other area attractions such as Universal, Sea World, or Medieval Times Dinner Theater to name a few. While these attractions are great, and can be entertaining, it may not be what you want to do on your “Disney” trip.
Pro: You are more than likely receiving a nice discount on the price you pay. Depending on your group’s travel agency and your director, you could be paying a fraction of the full retail value of your trip. Often times with large groups, Disney will make deals with the travel agencies to offer a discount. This means you are not having to pay full price for things like hotel, park tickets and meals!
Pro: Dining vouchers are often included in your trip price. Dining at Walt Disney World can definitely be overwhelming. From quick service to table service, meal plans to winging it- there are so many options that can be very hard to choose between. When trips like this happen, often times your meals are included and you will receive vouchers for each meal. On the voucher they tell you what all is included so a lot of the guessing work is done for you. This is especially great for those of you unfamiliar with all the dining options, and for those of you hoping to not spend extra money for food along the way.
Pro: Access to backstage areas of the parks. One of the performance options that you can do as a band is marching in a parade at Disney. There are multiple options for marching in several of the Disney parks. Almost all of these options will take your group in to backstage, Cast Member only areas. This is fun to see the ins and outs of Disney. Seeing characters and other workers backstage can be a fun experience that you can share together. Plus, they will often make you honorary Cast Members as well: complete with your own set of ears!
Con: Traveling to Disney by bus. Often times when groups make the trip to Orlando they do so in charter buses. This can mean very lengthy rides without many stops along the way. Being from Ohio I can remember our trip taking us nearly 18 hours on the charter buses until we finally made it! In rare cases, your group may fly to Disney instead. While in theory this may sound better, let me ask you this: have you ever traveled through an airport with 50+ high school students, some of whom have never flown before? Doesn’t sound quite as fun any more does it?
Con: Limited space for personal belongings. One of the hard things about traveling in a group is not having space for your personal belongings. Often times groups will drive charter buses to Disney for their trips. This can severely limit the amount of stuff you can bring. You don’t want to be the one hogging all of the space for luggage! This is also something to consider for buying souvenirs as you probably won’t have much room to take home a 25-inch Mickey stuffed animal, whereas if you drove with your family you may have more room in the car for belongings and souvenirs!
Pro: Lots of amazing performers to watch. This is not just a pro for trips with groups, its a pro for any trip! However, high school groups like this can really make the most of these performances. Whether it’s singing, dancing or playing an instrument, there are tons of options to catch live performances while at Disney!
No matter how you look at it, getting the opportunity to travel to Disney with a group can be a life-changing experience! There are so many good opportunities that can come of it, and so many new experiences to be had! For more information about what performance opportunities Disney offers for school groups check out the Disney Youth Programs Performing Arts website.