Even before the first Lancer boards a bus to begin their trip anywhere there are weeks of preparation that has occurred and the trip to Disney is no difference. These articles over the next few days will be about the Lancer students and their activities, but as someone who follows the budget process each year, it is important for Londonerians (Londonderryites?) to know what is involved and the fact that all the planning, the costs of the bus transportation, the cost of the plane transportation, the cost of the hotel, food or destination transportation does not cost the taxpayers as a whole a penny. This cost falls squarely with the parents and students who are part of the experience.
Additionally, there are 27 parent volunteers, members of the Friends of Music, who have paid for the privilege of assuring the Lancers are safe, are where they are supposed to be with the uniform and equipment they need, and remain in their rooms throughout the nights they are on the trip. They deal with the drama, the scrapes, the headaches and stomach aches that invariably occur with the trip and the numbers involved.
Lancers began arriving at LHS at 2:15 (call time was 2:45) in anticipation of the school bus ride down to Logan airport for the 6 and 7am flights. There were 80 Lancer passengers on the flight which held 100 passengers in all. The students were complemented by both the flight staff and passengers as we got off the plane.
We were greeted at the airport by a person who directed us to our busses. We were shuttled to the hotel to drop off our carry on luggage, received our “pawk hoppers” from the travel company liaison as well as our meal tickets (prepaid debit cards) of $30. Lancers were asked to put their names on the back and take a picture. This will allow Disney to replace the cards should they be lost. Lancers then reloaded the busses for the short ride to the park that used to be called Disney, MGM but is now called Hollywood Studios.
The next bus arrived about ½ hour behind us; group three was in the park by noon but group 4, the last group didn’t arrive until nearly 3:30. Even with the sky overcast and threatening but everyone was quite eager to get to the park. The Lancers were given their marching orders, each in turn as they arrived, and released. Many immediately went to the two rides which hold the most appeal for the 13-18 year old crowd, the Tower of Terror and the Rock and Roll-a-coaster. Both offer speed passes so a rider can get a speed pass, wait in the regular line, ride and then in the speed pass line to immediately ride again. I know a few who took advantage of this.
The Rock and Rollacoaster features music by Aerosmith, a completely enclosed roller coaster complete with twists, turns and upside down action) as well as near complete darkness. The tower of terror, now named the Hollywood Hotel is from the old Twilight Zone television show when a lightning storm kills four guests and a bellman in the early 1900’s and they end up haunting the place. Guest of the park sit in an “elevator” that takes us up a couple of flights and then moves from the back of the building to the front of the building as we enter the twilight zone. The room is pitch black and the only light comes from the twinkling stars so common on the show. Then, without warning the car drops and the riders flies off the seat. We are, of course, seat belted into the seat, but it is not so tight that there aren’t a few inches of air between the riders’ bottom and the seat each time it plunges. It is frightening as the seat moves up higher in the building and then drops again, and again, and just when it must be over….again!
There are other things to see…actors reenacting the story of Beauty and the Beast; audience and stunt actors recreating scenes from Indiana Jones; park hopefuls trying for a spot on American Idol; back stage tours and a completely cheesy, but still fun look at movies from the chaperone’s and our parent’s youth (Casablanca, Pubic Enemy, Mary Poppins, Aliens, The Searchers, Terminator), the muppets, animation creation and much, much more.
It rained a couple of times during the day…torrential down pours that caught some of the Lancers without ponchos (which run anywhere from $7.95 to $9.95 in the park and $3.99 at the hotel) as well as some of the chaperones. There is plenty of shelter in the park, stores, indoor exhibits and shows, so there was still plenty to do in spite of the rain.
The group was all prompt to return to the front of the park at 7:45 and gathered in their bus groups. We returned to the hotel and found room keys labeled, staff stationed in various places throughout the route to our rooms (boys in one building, girls in another) and with very few room issues the group was quickly settled.
First night FOM’s check uniforms to assure that the students brought everything they needed. Our 7 rooms (each with four students in them) all had what they needed for their performances. Tomorrow is the Disney parade.