Friday, April 15th: Departure
Woke up at the unheard of hour of half past four in the morning. Waking up was pretty easy to do since I was so excited. Packed the final essential items and then off to school! The early morning scene in the music building was reminiscent of disaster shelters with everyone’s luggage lined against both sides of the narrow hallway with people, most still in their pajamas, streaming up and down this hallway trying to grab some breakfast that was graciously provided by our Music Boosters and set out on a central table. The difference was that everyone here, although tired, was also brimming with excitement. Having eaten breakfast at home, I stocked up on water bottles and snacks for the long 8 hour bus trip. Although we set off quite early in the morning, we didn’t arrive at our hotel until around 3 in the afternoon. Cue another hour of waiting before I could flop down on the incredibly soft and comfortable beds that all hotels seem to have. orangesaphire and I, along with our roommates Shaya and Jasmine, found ourselves on the 8th floor, in room 803. I later found out that the girls were placed on the 7th and 8th floors while the boys roomed on the 2nd and 3rd floors. However, this arrangement didn’t discourage the boys from “exploring the hotel” and arriving on the upper floors. xD
There were 14 floors total!
Saturday, April 16th: Disneyland (Day 1)
Started off the day with a lovely continental breakfast provided by the hotel!
We entered Disneyland as soon as the park opened. There wasn’t much time to take in the iconic Mickey Mouse flowerbed at the entrance for my friends* rushed off instantly towards Space Mountain. Since I can’t handle rollercoasters I chose to opt out of Space Mountain, and several others of the type as well. ^^; I was still able to go on rides such as Pirates of the Caribbean and tried out Haunted Mansion as well so I was still able to enjoy myself.
*My group consisted of my roommates, half of the girls in the clarinet section, and another girl in the flute section. This totaled to 8 people (9 if you count Rachel) and throughout the day we splintered off into smaller groups and converging together again. The rule was to stay in groups of minimum 3.
After lunch, we took a break and went to support our Jazz Band.
It was also around this time that we found and met internet-celebrity Spieling Peter (Pan)! It’s easy to see why he’s popular; he’s such a great actor and is constantly in character! It was quite the experience for me, since I had never heard of him before and didn’t know what to expect. A group of girls was following him around on their haunches (in an attempt to keep a low profile) on a “quest to find ‘Indians.’” My group followed his in pursuit of pictures. I followed along, walking upright like a normal person, feeling that the conduct of the girls ahead of me was childish and beneath me. However, I too, was shocked into coming down on my knees when Peter caught me endangering his mission and bellowed at me, “GET DOWN!!!” What a character. o_o;;; (I didn’t get a picture with him because the line to get a picture with him was long enough and I was more than happy to be the photographer for my friend, Christine, whose sole purpose of visiting Disneyland was just to meet Spieling Peter. She not only walked away with a picture, but Peter agreed to be her ‘BFF’ as long as she agreed not to tell Tinkerbell. xD
At 2:45, the Marching Band assembled at the Toontown entrance. At this point, the sun was high in the sky and we were receiving the full brunt of the 90°F weather that we had come to expect. Knowing this did nothing to cheer us up for the upcoming parade since our uniforms were 95% black and made of a thick material. We were led backstage through a secret entrance in Toontown into an area which consisted of pavement, trucks, and many warehouse-type buildings. (Taking pictures at any point in the area was strictly prohibited.) We grabbed all of our stuff from our equipment truck and went into dressing rooms to change. There were already several other groups in there changing and all the body heat was enough to induce heatstroke. The experienced members of the band handed out wet paper towels to put on the back of our necks. This small comfort helped us gain morale. After changing, we took a group picture and attacked the water cooler that was graciously provided. Step off was at 4:10. I really can’t remember much of it because it was absolutely horrid (due to the heat of course.) My clarinet was having issues as well and for the entire first rendition, it wouldn’t play at all! Luckily, it quickly shaped (for lack of a better word) up. Afterwards, we got ice cream and went on more rides. >w< We were able to go on quite a lot which was a bit surprising because Disneyland is often characterized by very very long lines. Rachel explained that today was a day that season pass holders and the like weren’t allowed in (to prevent overcrowding and such.) I didn’t know such days existed, but it worked very well for us! ^^
As evening set in, we headed over to Disney’s California Adventure Park to meet up with friends that we had joint-ordered with for the World of Color showing. (It was a package deal of “buy a picnic meal and you’ll receive a ticket for reserved seating for World of Color.”) I was pretty excited, not really because of the show like everyone else, but because I had never been to California Adventure before, even though it’s literally right next to Disneyland. The reason being is that you need a separate ticket to enter that park, but our band trip included “2-Day Park Hopper” tickets meaning we could go back and forth from the parks as we pleased! ♥ Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t see the Park in its full glory as half of it was heavily under construction (in preparation for a new attraction) but that still didn’t dampen the excitement of finally being able to enter! We met up with our groups and picnic meals were distributed. I had ordered a “Mediterranean Vegetarian” meal which consisted of a vegetable wrap, some sort of salad, couscous, and a small lemon cake for dessert. The food was pretty standard fare for a theme park, that is to say, not very great. It was really cold and the vegetables were quite tasteless (hereby adding more evidence that Americans simply do not know how to cook vegetables; no wonder most hate eating them) but since I didn’t expect much in the first place, I finished most of it off. (I rather liked the lemon cake.) There were several picky eaters in our group and honestly, their attitude about the food was kind of appalling. :/ I hope they didn’t go to bed hungry (though if they acted like that, this was most unlikely.)
We still had some time to kill before the first World of Color showing at 9:00 so we did the obvious thing…rides! Though actually, I think all we did was ride the Silly Symphony Swings twice because the line was so short. (*_*)b
Shortly before 9, we all assembled again towards the waterfront. There were already tons of people there; there were some tall adults right in front of us too. However, the show was constructed in a way that it projects so high up, you don’t have to worry much about missing anything. The show itself was really really cool, a whole waterworks with lights and color and all that. Throughout the display, Disney clips would be projected onto a screen of mist. I can’t really explain all that well at how spectacular it was so you’re just going to have to watch it for yourself.Do you understand now? The whole thing, standing there and experiencing it with your friends, it was all really fantastic. x3
Afterwards, with slight difficulty, we found the tram that would take us to the parking lot. This was a bit stressful as we thought we’d miss the first bus (of two, the second of which would arrive at 11:00.) We made it in time for the first bus but it ended up leaving without us because it was already full so we waited in the parking lot and got on the second bus. We had to wait before departing though due to missing students (so there was no real fear of being left behind but it’s still embarrassing to be that kid that everyone waits for.) That kid ended up being our Pep Band Director, who is generally very well liked so rather than annoyance, we got a good laugh at wondering how he got to be all by himself. We arrived at our hotel at midnight. Lights out was supposed to be at midnight, but the chaperones were kind and didn’t enforce our bedtimes too strictly that night, only reminding us that we needed to meet in the lobby at 8 the next morning. So we stayed up a bit longer, resting our aching feet in a bathtub of warm water. (=w=)b
Sunday, April 17th: Disneyland (Day 2)
This time, we did not enter Disneyland through the front, but instead, our bus drove to the backstage area and dropped us off there. This was because we had a “Soundtrack Session” Workshop first thing in the morning! What followed was probably my favorite part of the whole entire trip. Alas, there are no pictures because we were backstage the entire time, so I’ll try my best with my descriptive skills. >w< As I mentioned before, the backstage area had many warehouse type buildings. Our workshop took place inside one such building which I shall dub the “studio.” The inside was a very large and spacious room filled with rows and rows of chairs with large music stands set up in front of them, two chairs per stand. On each stand, in addition to two large red leather music folders, there were two headphones hanging off the side. To the front of the room was a conductor’s podium with its own music stand and pair of headphones and behind this podium was an enormous projector screen. Behind all the chairs, there was a long large glass window which separated this room and the smaller room adjoined in the back (there was a connecting door too.) Upon entering, we did the natural thing, which was to situate ourselves in the seats according to position and such. This was slightly difficult because the group taking the workshop consisted of both Marching and Symphonic Band so we had to fit the Symphonic Band clarinetists in our lineup. I made to sit in the second row filled with freshman clarinetists but our 2nd chair, Michael stopped me and placed me in the 3rd chair, sitting right beside him and our section leader! I think it goes without saying that I was pleasantly surprised, especially because I figured the symphonic clarinetists were more qualified for the spot. (Though I must make a note, the frighteningly skilled concertmaster of symphonic decided not to go on this trip. With his presence, I would have been rightly demoted to the second row for sure.)
Our guest conductor (I’ve forgotten exactly what position he held on the Disney staff) was a friendly yet very businesslike man. He treated us all like professional musicians which was a nice, yet slightly terrifying feeling. ^^;; We spent the next hour (even going a little bit over our scheduled time!) playing excerpts of the soundtracks from famous Disney movies. The cool part was that afterwards, the engineers sitting in the small room behind us would take our newly recorded tracks and sync it to the corresponding film clip so that we could see and hear what a Disney movie would be like if we had performed the score! (For the record, please don’t ever ask us to do a film score. At least, not until we practice rigorously first! xD) We were able to do this for quite a few songs, including tracks from The Emperor’s New Groove, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King. Most of the time, the first time we played the piece was the first and final recording they would use for the clip (which is why we sounded so horrible!) It made me really respect pro musicians even more, to just come into the studio, look at the music for the first time, and play everything perfectly! Within a few hours, the soundtrack for the film is done! Despite this, the whole experience was tremendously fun and it even made me consider being a ‘film musician’ in the future. xDAfter we finished the session and thanked all the people who were a part of it, we were free! It was all fun and rides from there on out! We had planned to spend all of this day at California Adventure so after taking the train ride all around Disneyland once (no visit to Disneyland is complete without doing this), we dashed off to the neighboring park. The lines were quite long for everything that day but along with our park-hopping abilities, our magical tickets also gave us access to Fast Passes which easily let us bypass most lines! (Who knows just how expensive such magical tickets are, but we definitely used them for all they were worth!) We decided to also get Fast Passes for the rides we missed in Disneyland the day before….cue a LOT of running back and forth between parks. xD Thanks to this, I was able to try out a ton of new rides, some of which included Indiana Jones, Soaring Over California, and my personal favorite, Grizzly River Rapids! (I’d have to have a death wish to even think about trying the Hollywood Tower of Terror or the immensely popular rollercoaster ride, California Screamin’.) And so we spent the day pleasantly like this. I have a confession to make though; we were too pressed for time to exit California Adventure again and enter Disneyland for might have been the 6th time that day simply to go watch the Symphonic Band perform….so we didn’t go. (My apologies to everyone in Symphonic Band but I watched every Facebook video of your performance when I got home!)
By the time evening rolled around, we were all thoroughly satisfied and content so it was time to make Round 2 on all of our favorite rides! Everyone in our group except for Christine and me wanted to try out the Tower of Terror at night so we let them go and leisurely spent our time in Disneyland, eating ice cream, riding in the teacups, and watching the fireworks. Such a peaceful atmosphere made me want to stay in Disneyland for another day, a week if possible. The feelings I had then, it was just pure happiness. We were seriously drunk on happiness (and I had become convinced that they spray something in the air to that effect. xD) I don’t remember ever feeling so content before and thinking back, I believe it was the fact that I could go on this trip with all of my friends is what made such a difference. ♥♥♥
Monday, April 18th: Arrival
Departure from LA. ‘Twas a sad day. We didn’t leave until 11am so the morning was spent in our room with a few other girls, gossiping about trip drama. The kind of disagreements that arose even within rooms made me very glad that I chose to room with my Indian friends. Everyday was fun with them, and only in a setting like ours could one blast the latest Hindi hit songs without fear of annoying another roommate. The most we had ever argued was about who took the longest getting ready every morning! xD
On the bus, everyone was quite sober. While it was true that with every passing moment we drove nearer to school, I missed my other friends, and ended up texting them from the bus. Through them I found out that an earthquake had happened which had caused quite a stir among everyone back home, but, whether it was because we were on the road or because we were still miles away from home, none of us in the band felt it. I felt kind of sad that I had missed it. (Even though California is a hotspot for earthquakes, we haven’t had a major quake since 1989 and quakes that can be felt are so few and far in between that whenever we get one, it’s always a cause for great excitement. Yeah I know, we Californians are weird. :P)
It wasn’t until I reached home around 7pm, clutching my new commemorative Disney Performing Arts T-shirt with collector’s pin, and found the math homework that needed to be turned in the next day that I realized: the fun was over.