Student Blog: Spring Choir Tour Experiences
Day 3 - Disney/Orlando, FL
by Brianna Smith '08
Friday, February 29th
We got up in New Smyrna beach and ate an early breakfast with our host families and then we were off. We met up at the Concord Community United Methodist Church and loaded up the risers, garment bags and luggage. Before we headed to Orlando and Disney World we had one more stop to make while we were in New Smyrna.
We stopped by the co-sponsoring United Church of Christ to see Sarah Lund and say our thank yous in the form of "The Earth Adorned," a song Professor Oakley chose as a new tradition in the Catawba Choral Department as a coming home piece in years to come. We get to be the first choir to start the tradition! After we finished singing, Sarah called our three graduating seniors (Alex Will, Mollie Landers, and Shannon Axtell) who are attending seminary next year after graduation to the front of the sanctuary. She talked to them about the significance of their commitment and what it would require of them. She then invited Mollie to put on her robes and get a feel for what it would be like when she would gt to stand in front of her own congregation. It was probably one of the most inspiring and moving things that had happened so far on our trip.
We then remounted the buses and set off for Orlando and Disney World.
When we arrived, we anxiously awaited room assignments and an opportunity to put our stuff in our rooms so that we could get to the parks. Once everything was sorted out and all the luggage had been put away, we hit the buses with some fervor and readied ourselves for a day in the "happiest place on earth."
I chose to go to Disney's Hollywood Studios (I remembered how much I loved Tower of Terror the first time I went), while others went to Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Magic Kingdom or all of the above. On our way, we were given the opportunity to see the whole experience through a child's eyes. Several members of our choir struck up conversations with children on the bus, asking them about their favorite rides, characters, or television shows. One girl had a badge on that said "Happy Birthday! 10!" On seeing this, we quickly gathered our resources and sent her on her way with a Catawba Singers' rendition of "Happy Birthday," harmonies and all. She didn't really say much, but the look on her face was priceless. It was worth the whole trip to get to make her day that much more special.
Once we got to the park, we headed straight for the Tower of Terror. ESPN was live onsight and so a few of the guys got really excited about some of the celebrities that were live in the park throughout the day. In fact, on our second time through the Aerosmith Rocking Roller Coaster, we found out that we were actually going to be riding with one of these celebrities. It turned out to be one of Mason Jewett's favorite television personalities, Mark Schlereth. We were lucky enough as we were getting off the ride to catch him in time to get a picture of the two of them together.
We watched the Indiana Jones stunt show, the Muppets in 3-D and ate at Pizza Planet (of Toy Story fame). Fantasmic (the night-time fireworks spectacular in Hollywood Studios) was the most exciting of all of these shows with a reenactment of famous Disney movie moments, fireworks and water stunts. It was an incredible way to end a day in a Disney park.
While we were in Hollywood Studios, other were riding the new Mount Everest ride and going on Safari in Animal Kingdom, riding the updated Pirates of the Carribean ride and helping Lisa Easter fight her fear of roller coasters in Magic Kingdom, and exploring the edges of the world and beyond in Epcot.
After returning to our hotel, there was dinner in the food court, souvenir shopping, and swimming in the beautiful and delightfully heated pools.
A few of us then proceeded to Pleasure Island. Although usually known for it's "adult fun" (and by "adult" I mean drunken), on a substance-free tour like ours, those of us who went did so only for the dancing. We danced to techno on a revolving dance floor and to 70s and 80s music below a screen showing music videos to the songs to which we were dancing.
We made it back safe and sound and in plenty of time for sleep.
And sleep came, as it had every other night, without much persuasion, into our beds.
Three days and counting.