A Magical and Musical Field Trip

While most CB West students spent their Presidents’ Day Weekend in the chilly Pennsylvania winter, around 130 West band, orchestra, and choir members were walking the Disney Parks! The action-packed trip was undoubtedly a highlight of this school year for the musicians who were able to take part in this amazing opportunity.

The trip kicked off early Thursday morning, as tired students loaded the buses to head to the airport. Meanwhile, some volunteers that help the West Music Department were braving the 15+ hour drive in a U-Haul carrying every instrument—from flutes, to tubas, to cellos—as well as the students’ luggage. After the flight, buses took the students to Universal Studios, where they could see the Hogwarts Castle or ride the Hulk Rollercoaster. There was even a spectacular Mardi Gras Parade featuring lively dancers and many beads tossed into the crowds.

On the first day, the choir students had an amazing experience at the recording studio and performance hall at Saratoga Springs, where they participated in a soundtrack session. Working with Walt Disney performer Ian Patrick Gibb, they learned about voice effects and recorded their own Frozen medley. The session concluded with an informative Q&A session, and the students got to see the final product of their recording. The orchestra students also received musical instruction on the trip. On Friday, they took part in a clinic taught by Vinny Conrad. Afterwards, they joined the other music students in Hollywood Studios.

If you had been near Main Street in Magic Kingdom, you would have seen the band and color guard students marching along this legendary parade route. Wearing the black, gold, and white uniforms that are worn at every marching band event in the fall, the entire band performed a march titled Trooper Salute, and the percussion followed this with their Pepsi Cadence. In addition to the instrumentalists, members of the color guard performed to the band’s music. Many of the band students on the trip are in the marching band, including a handful of ninth graders that were invited for that reason. However, not every band student had participated in the marching band last fall, so this fun performance was a unique opportunity for them. It is safe to say that, for all students involved, marching in front of the Disney Castle as crowds of people cheered was an experience unlike any they have ever had.

In between these memorable musical experiences, everyone had the chance to visit the Disney Parks. On Friday, the bus took the group to Hollywood Studios; Magic Kingdom was the destination on Saturday, and Animal Kingdom on Sunday. Students made the most of their days. Many people enjoyed the rides; some group favorites were Expedition Everest, Space Mountain, and Rock n’ Rollercoaster. The band students managed to ride the Tower of Terror, filling every seat in the cart with a West musician, which made for a fun picture. Because it was a holiday weekend, the crowds were relatively large, comparable to summer vacation. This led to some longer wait times for many students (some tell stories of waiting over two hours in line); for others, they were able to almost walk right up to the front. Despite some long lines, most people were able to ride multiple rides each day.Magic Kingdom - Wikipedia

Students also had fun beyond the rollercoasters and attractions. Swipes of meal cards were traded for Hogsmeade Butterbeer, Mickey’s Waffles, and Dole Whip. Souvenirs like Mickey Ears and stuffed animals were collected each day, resulting in some overpacked suitcases on the way home. Many people delighted in meeting some of Disney’s most famous characters; meet-and-greets with Ariel and Goofy were some of the favorites. On Saturday, the exciting, yet long, day at Magic Kingdom ended with a firework show that was truly representative of the Disney magic.

Overall, the students and chaperones alike would agree that this trip was a success. The fun itinerary allowed everyone to enjoy their time with their friends. The sunny, warm weather only added to the bliss; it was a welcome escape from the cold, gray Pennsylvania weather. The valuable musical experiences—the choir’s Soundtrack Session, the orchestra’s clinic, and the band’s marching parade—combined with the fun times spent on rides and enjoying the parks made for a wonderful trip with many unforgettable memories.