Planning Your Band’s Perfect Road Trip to Disney

SBO Staff • Travel/Festivals • August 14, 2015

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Mere days before its big trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, a Missouri high school marching band was excited about its upcoming Disney Performing Arts program experience. After all, the band members had been planning and preparing for months, picking and choosing just the right music to perform, then rehearsing it over and over. Then there was all the time they spent building their itinerary, booking travel arrangements and just generally getting excited about visiting the “most magical place on Earth’’ and performing in front of an international audience of thousands. Indeed they had everything planned down to the last detail.

Well, almost.

Just as the group arrived at the backstage area at Disney about an hour before they were scheduled to perform, they made a shocking discovery.  As they loaded their instruments and uniforms off the bus and into the changing room, they realized two members had forgotten their shoes and another, her tuba. That’s when the Disney Performing Arts team sprang into action, scrambling to find a spare pair of shoes and, magically, a spare tuba.

Like most Disney stories, this one had a happy ending. The band, now equipped with everything it needed, went on to perform amid an enthusiastic crowd and later enjoyed lots of fun time in the various Disney theme parks. Like they say, the show must go on.
But the band’s arrival hiccup is not uncommon for school groups traveling to various performances, events, workshops, et cetera both domestically and abroad. There’s a lot that goes into ensuring your group’s trip is not only seamless, but also successful and fun. But if you do it right, group travel for music students can help complete a well-rounded learning experience beyond classroom walls. Take Disney Performing Arts for example. Through programs such as the ones Disney offers groups of various ages, students gain professional, real-world experience while being a part of Disney’s world-class entertainment through marches and on-stage performances.

Today’s ever-changing world requires students to not only be skilled in core subjects, but also be prepared for the increasingly complex experiences they’ll encounter after graduation. A well-rounded education should encompass a broad spectrum of experiences, insights, and challenges. This includes an understanding of other people, the ability to work on a team and critical thinking and decision-making skills.
Group travel for music students completes a well-rounded learning experience beyond classroom walls. Through programs like Disney Performing Arts, students gain professional, real-world experience while being a part of Disney’s world-class entertainment through marches and on-stage performances. But, planning for a great trip is no easy task.

While nothing can replace instruction in mathematics and language arts, travel can provide students with educational opportunities that bring classroom lessons into focus and ignite a greater passion for learning overall. Students often work harder and improve their academic performance after a travel experience.

Educational travel is quickly becoming part of a complete curriculum for students as schools prepare them to compete and succeed in a dynamic world. Music, dance, and theater students work year-round in a school setting, but it’s group travel that completes a well-rounded learning experience.  Participation in the Disney Performing Arts program can reinforce classroom lessons while exposing students’ minds to a professional, real-world setting. Additionally, being a part of Disney’s world-class entertainment and the opportunity to perform in front of a global audience of thousands of guests can help build students’ confidence and self-esteem while giving them an incentive to work harder.
But for groups looking to reap all of the many benefits of music group travel, it all starts with planning and preparation. We spent some time recently with the folks at Disney Performing Arts, trying to pick their brains on the best tips and tricks for planning a music group trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida or Disneyland Resort in California. With decades of experience working with high school, middle school, and even some collegiate groups, the Disney Performing Arts team has loads of wisdom and advice for music directors, students, and parents to help them make their travel experience, well, magical.

We’ve highlighted some of our best advice from Disney Performing Arts, everything from getting to Disney, preparing for workshops and performances, budgeting the trip and creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Getting to Disney
The key here is planning, planning, and planning. And doing it well in advance. Groups that plan to visit Disney Performing Arts at Walt Disney World or Disneyland should apply and audition about a year in advance. Those who plan ahead have a greater chance of getting their preferred dates and venues.

Also choosing the right time of year to come to Disney is important. Anytime is really a good time, but keep in mind that the busiest time of year for both Disney Performing Arts and Disney Parks and Resorts is the spring. Groups that want to participate in multiple workshops and performances should avoid weekends and plan to visit in the fall. But again, anytime is a great time to take part in a Disney Performing Arts program.

Booking should include workshops and performances as well as other basic trip elements such as hotels, transportation, theme park tickets, instrument rentals (if necessary), and group experiences such as Disney Catered Events, which offers theme park breakfasts and dessert parties with fireworks.

Disney Parks and Resorts offer a wide variety of group-friendly resorts to choose from. Planning for a group is very different than planning for individual families. With that said, travel agencies that specialize in student travel can help facilitate much of the planning and save a lot of time and stress.

Planning Workshops and Performances – Balance your Itinerary
When planning your group’s itinerary, try to find a balance between workshops, performances, and plenty of time for fun in the parks. Disney Performing Arts recommends one event per day to maintain a healthy balance.
Workshops are available and adaptable for performers of all skill levels and experience.
As you plan your Disney Performing Arts trip, keep in mind that Disney’s performance venues are outside, and the various crowds, attractions, and entertainers create a lot of ambient noise. It’s a good idea to practice and prepare in an outdoor setting before your group arrives so that you will be acclimated to the type of setting where your performance will take place.

Choosing Music
Groups who perform at Disney almost always perform in front of a large crowd. But if you want to help attract an even larger crowd, the best way to do that is to put on an entertaining show.  Here are three key tips for choosing the right music:
Choose familiar, upbeat, and lighthearted music — Movie, pop, and Disney favorites are always huge crowd pleasers. As a rule of thumb, choose music that will be fun for a crowd of all ages.

Avoid talking between numbers — Create a fast-paced show, and your audience will stay for the entire performance.
Do not program music with special-equipment needs. Disney Performing Arts can provide all traditional percussion equipment but cannot accommodate steel drums, percussion toys or other unique instruments.

Top Tips for Safety
Florida and California can get hot, and groups who are not used to the weather need to prepare for the possible heat, especially in the spring and summer.

Remind your group to hydrate and apply sunscreen regularly, and make sure you have all medical forms required for minors handy throughout the trip.

About the Disney Performing Arts Program
Disney Performing Arts unlocks student potential and helps young people make their own dreams come true – whether it’s performing in front of an international audience of thousands at Disney theme parks and resorts or honing their craft in enriching workshops and clinics taught by entertainment professionals. Every year, thousands of vocal, instrumental, and other ensembles travel from around the world to participate in Disney Performing Arts programs at the Disneyland Resort in California and the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Disney delivers workshops and performance opportunities that enrich, inspire, and often lead to life-changing personal achievement.


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