No early entry, no rope drop, no Genie+ Oh Boy oh boy!

Going in April 2024 for Festival Disney with my DS middle school band. Not staying on site so no early entry. No way all those kids can get up, fed, and on a bus for rope drop. No Genie+ and MAYBE one or two LL. Going to MK for performance and banquet at HS. AK is only half day because bus travel day. Ok phew now that all the info is out, Anyone have any advice? Me and DS have been to WDW twice in past 4 years. Other than wearing my patient pants and linking tickets to MDE, what can I do to NOT wait in lines forever? And entertain tweens? Praying for some pixie dust!


How many are you responsible for and how many will likely be touring the parks with you? Age range?

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Will you be able to stay at the parks until closing? Lines are shorter in the later part of the evening than in the afternoon and early evening (with early-mid afternoon usually being the worst).

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Same questions along with the following:
How long will you have in each park and what is your schedule? You mentioned performance in MK, banquet in HS, and travel day at some point for AK but when / what time frames do you have to work around for touring?
What transport will you have (rental car, only traveling with band on bus and what are those parameters, Uber, etc)?

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I don’t know the number in my group yet. Hoping no more than 5. That’s based on previous field trips based to other places. It’s 7th and 8th graders so that’s 11-14 I think. No schedule has been provided yet either. I just know performance at MK on a Friday sometime during the day and the banquet at HS is Sat night. Transportation is same charter bus that brought us from SC.

I know this isn’t a lot to go on. I’m used to being the planner and the band director didn’t schedule a meeting until 10 days before we leave. Won’t even get tickets until we are on the bus. I’m calming my Type A personality a lot. The only spreadsheet I’ve made for this trip is to collect as much information from the guardians as those in my group and to get their ok to link tickets/buy LL.


There are a couple of ways to go with this, depending on what are the school’s/parents’ expectations of you?

My first thought is tour with your group to keep an eye on them, but not to do what they do.

Fairly certain that when spending time with other kids their age, they will not mind the time spent in lines. They will merely go from ride to ride, doing as much as time permits.

This is because their priorities are different. Which is more along the lines of stories to tell when back home about the fun they had. Hanging out in a different than usual setting the main thing. If a few kids known their way around the parks, they might be listened to. If too many kids are mostly knowledgeable there might be some discord.

I’d find a bench in view of each ride’s exit to keep track of the group, in between rides.

It doesn’t sound like much fun. But that may be how it plays out.

I’m mostly basing my thoughts after taking a group of 4 high schoolers, probably 14 to 18 yos, to the space center in Houston.


Oh, that’s rough. I think your Disney knowledge will serve you now more than ever.

I agree with a lot of @janamelia assessment. Kids that age group will want to just “hang out”. They will want to do the cool rides. If you are going to purchase ILLs I would focus on GotG and Tron. You can control the times you ride. I think that will be very important with your schedule.
Since you will be reliant on the charter bus you have to plan touring around that schedule. I think at this point it’s a good idea to get an idea of eating habits and pick some QS options in each park that covers the needs.
I would send an email to the band director and ask if there is a rough plan for park touring? Also, I wonder if these are date based tickets or if they will need park reservations. If so, these tickets should be linked before the bus trip down.
I would survey your group and get a feel for their coaster comfort level. And plan to occupy yourself, lol.
Once you get an idea of your park times you can go onto thrill data and research each parks heat map and plan to zig while others are zagging.


This is a good point.

I don’t know what tickets are available to kids that are doing performances. I think others here have done these sorts of trips

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My high schooler went mid-January 2024 - a little different because they are older and had more freedom (did not have to stay with a set group or chaperone, as long as they checked in frequently with their chaperone and were with at least 2 other people), but I can vouch for the difference between family trips and school trips with friends. We are die-hard Disney planners – I am very Type A also, she still had a blast even though it was so different from what she normally does at Disney. There were a few things she wanted to do but didn’t get a chance to, but overall she just had fun with her friends. People had things they wanted to do and they tried to get to it. They waited or did single rider for what they wanted to do (mostly the thrill rides). They ate what was near them when they felt hungry. They took the bus from the hotel whenever they were all up/ready and came back when the park closed or they were tired (they stayed on property but they definitely were not up for rope drop, let alone early hours). There were other groups that did more traditional touring plans (I think a parent bought G+ for all, was reimbursed) – they reported that they had fun but it was “a lot” and after the first day they dialed it back a bit.

So I’d let the kids set the pace - maybe you can try to plan for which direction to head once you get to a park (i.e. start in Tomorrowland or Frontierland based on the data/wait times) but then let them decide the next steps.

Her group also did not have the meeting until a week before, which is when they found out the parks they were doing. (MK on the arrival day, AK on the workshop day, HS for their only full park day, and then they went to Disney Springs for a couple of hours on their departure day). Why on earth they didn’t pick Epcot with it being open later and closer to the workshop I don’t know, but they still had fun at AK. They went to Disney Springs the night of the AK day.

My best guess (not knowing your specifics, just based on what happened with her) is that whatever tour company booked your trip has also booked the park reservations.

I think it will be a very different feeling trip but still very fun for the kids (and hopefully you too!!).


I remember going to Disney with my high school band in 9th grade. I’m pretty sure we waited in a bunch of lines. Absolutely did not care. It was just so fun to experience the trip with friends!!! At that age, and middle school too, the experience itself is so new to them vs doing it with the family I doubt they’ll be bothered much by waiting in lines at all.

Once you find your group you could always see if you could somehow talk with them about their expectations but my guess is they’ll just be giddy to be at Disney with their buddies. You, on the other hand, might need line survival strategies for your own personal sanity!!


Also depends on the personality of your group. I have 2 kids 12-14 and I’ve chaperoned trips to other places (DC, amusement parks, zoos).

My daughter and friends would be best served by a rough plan, like start at Tron and Space and then walk through fantasyland and do tea cups on the way to HM and then onto Big Thunder or similar. Then they’d know they were going to hit their must dos and could be sidetracked by snacks, shopping, whatever along the way.

My son and friends on the other hand would be more like start at Tron and then ooh look, shiny and who knows where they would end up. LOL

Both groups would have a good time. If any of the kids are frequent Disney visitors, they may have cool rides they want to show their friends as well. And I agree that they won’t mind waiting in lines with their friends. And with you there to point out where they can pivot to get a snack or a meal or when the fireworks start or whatever, they will be golden.


Ditto all of this for high school band trip for twin 14s in early Feb. We weren’t chaperoning, but those that did were pretty bound by need to check in and keep tabs on the kids—limited amount of personal park touring. Kids all had a great time, even though lots of waiting time for rides and food, which my kids aren’t really used to (meanwhile rest of family was touring hard). I expected as much and tried to manage expectations ahead of time.

I am the High School Band Director, and my wife is the High School Choir Director at our school. Once every 4 years we take a joint Band/Choir trip to WDW, so every music student has the opportunity to travel there once while in High School.

We also don’t hand out our tickets before we go; however, I have our travel agent send us scans of the tickets as soon as they are purchased. We then show the kids how to create an account in MDE and how to link the tickets, since we have their ticket numbers at that point. You might ask your band director if this is something you can do ahead of time. It really does make things easier to have this done before you go.