One of my favorite memories from high school is our senior class trip to Walt Disney World and marching in their afternoon parade at the Magic Kingdom. I was on the twirling and rifle squad and being a part of the band was one of the best parts of my high school years. We were a competing band, so we didn’t just do half time shows at the football games, we worked our butts off all year starting at band camp every year in August. We were competing in band competitions from September through November.
It was the summer of 1983, and we traveled by bus to perform for the first time at the Magic Kingdom. It took us two long days to get there and I was so happy to finally get out of that bus. At the time, it was only my second visit to the Magic Kingdom, and I was excited about being a part of the parade.
The day before we were to perform in the parade, we were treated to a Magical Behind-the-Scenes tour. Truth be told, I was more excited about this than the actual parade. I was so in love with performing during that time, the thought of being able to look behind the scenes was all I was interested in.
I really wish I could remember exactly where our tour guide took us as she led us through a secret door to begin our tour. I want to say it was camouflaged, as part of another attraction and you would never know it was there or what was behind it if you didn’t pay attention. As she took us in, she led us through a very beautiful tree-lined street with flowers everywhere you turned.
The first place we were shown was a huge warehouse filled with all the costumes and accessories for the cast members. I couldn’t believe how many there were. There must have been thousands of them. She explained how they categorized, stored, and cleaned them. It was an amazing process, but so well organized. She asked if any of us wanted to try on a costume and even though I jumped at the chance, I wasn’t picked so I had to sit there and watch as my classmate became the Cinderella I always wanted to be.
Continuing with the tour, she led us to another building where the cast members have their hair and make-up done. It was a lot of fun to see all the different products they use, and I was hoping she was going to ask for another volunteer because I would have jumped over chairs to have that opportunity. She didn’t ask but it was still a lot of fun to see.
The last building on our tour was the dance halls where the cast members practiced for show performances. That was probably the best part of the tour. We were able to watch them rehearse for about a half hour, before it was off to enjoy the rest of the Magic Kingdom on our own.
The next day we were up and out early. After breakfast we made our way over to the Magic Kingdom. Today was the day we had all been waiting for. I remember it was so hot and humid. Our band uniforms were not summer weather friendly and looking back on that now, I’m not sure why the band directors never thought about that before we left. Regardless, sweat and all, we were all so excited and honored to be asked to march in a Disney parade! It was great to be able to march around the Magic Kingdom and perform our show for all the visitors. I remember everyone clapping for us and feeling so proud to be a part of Disney’s parade. I also remember feeling like I was going to pass out! But ultimately, even though we were exhausted, some having experienced heat stroke, and all of us sun burned, it was one of the highlights of our senior band trip.
Even though that was only my second time visiting Walt Disney World, I knew being at Disney was like a dream come true. Disney is truly a magical place and I’m really looking forward to experiencing that magic again very soon.