My DS’s school marching band goes to WDW every 4 years and is due to go in 2023, probably February like they did last time. DW is one of the band parent officers and will go as a chaperone. All the officers and band director are relatively new, so there is not much information from previous trips. I believe that they used a well known agency who specialized in marching band trips.
I do know that they stayed at an All-Stars Resort because there were many complaints that it was dirty and too far from the parks. They did 3 days in WDW including the March at MK and a workshop. They also went to UOR for 1 day, and someone remembered it being a big rush.
My question is, who do you recommend as a travel agency for school bands? Is Touring Plans an option or not because of lack of experience in this group setting?
The other factor is the size of the marching band. It is smaller than it was from the last trip and there are requirements for the number of performers. Currently there are 34 in the band including 7 color guard. It’s possible to grow next year, but not sure how much.
Here are the policies:
Universal STARRS program:
I also found the group ticket pricing from WDW and UOR. UOR is considerably less $. I would imagine the hotel would be less too and potentially close, just thinking of Cabana Bay. Also, these teenagers would like the rides at UOR because more are geared toward older kids than WDW. Universal also offers workshops just like WDW.
So we may not want an agency that specializes in just WDW if we need to book primarily with UOR for the marching and workshop.
I chaperoned with the band Saturday to a competition. The college marching band that performed at the conclusion just blew me away. It was like a pep rally. DS really loved it.
If we can convince DD to join the marching band, I can also go with as a chaperone to WDW/UOR . But right now she is very resistant.
There are a lot of travel companies available that specialize in marching band (and other performing groups) travel. In addition to the travel basics that we all are familiar with, there are other logistical considerations for not only the larger group, but also for the instruments, uniforms, etc.
If I come across any of them I will share.
My brother is a band director and they go to Disney every few years. He has used CCiS Travel and Tour-riffic of Texas and said both are Disney certified.
My daughter’s band is going to NYC as they are marching in the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, and they are using Perform America of TX. They also do Orlando as a destination according to their website.
One thing to consider is payments - we owe $1,500 for the NYC trip and pay directly to the travel company, which I’m sure is a huge benefit of the band not having to follow up to individuals.
I am a High School Band director, and our band and choir both travel together to WDW every 4 years. We will be going this school year–May of 22. We use Group Travel Planners to arrange our trips https://www.grouptravelplanners.com/ They are a “Disney Preferred” travel group. There are a lot of agencies out there that specialize in working with school groups. My first Florida Trip at this school was in 2006, and I took quotes from quite a few different companies at the time. This was the one that I thought was the best (not just the cheapest, but put together the best package for us), so we’ve used them ever since–2006, 2010, 2014, 2018, and now planning with them for our current trip. Let me know if you have any other questions, and I’ll do my best to answer.
I’m a travel agent and even I would tell you to go with an agency that does only group travel.
They know all the ins and outs of the unique aspects groups like your face.
You can ask that they not book you into All Star Music. They usually book groups into Music or Sports, but if the group is willing to pay I’ve also seen groups at Port Orleans and Coronado.
I have nothing to contribute to your question, but just popping in to say that I was in marching band in high school and it was one of the defining experiences of my life! Hope DS is enjoying it.
We visited Disneyland, marched in a parade there, and did soundstage thing, etc. So much fun. I’m sure WDW will be mind boggling.
The Macy’s Parade is so fun!! I’ve not marched in it but in 2019 my sister (former Macy’s employee) got us bandstand tickets and we had the best time! Lots of waiting around but worth it. We also went to the balloon inflation.
Thank you all! Will keep gathering travel company recommendations to look into.
Let me know if you, or someone that you know of has experienced the Universal Orlando marching band program.
OK, so some travel companies are labeled as a “Preferred Youth Travel Planner” for Universal Orlando performance trips.
If we are not able to march in Disney because of the band size or the group actually chooses Universal instead, it may be wise to use one of these companies.
For anyone interested, I’ve been in contact with Four Seasons Tours. They are based in the Orlando area and focus only on band/school group trips. Disney has recently told travel companies to enforce their minimums (40 instrumentalists and 50 performers) because all the schools that had to cancel will all be trying to book in the next year or two. Previously, they were not strict on those minimums. Universal’s minimum is 40 total for a group, this includes chaperones.
I also got package estimates with staying at comparable resorts. Disney is $300-400 higher than Universal depending on room occupancy. (5 nights, 4 park days)
And with Cabana Bay, you can take a 15 minute walk to the parks. Port Orleans and Coronado you only have the bus option. (which also takes longer than the UOR bus).
I was a HS marching band kid and I loved it! In Ohio, which takes their marching bands VERY seriously.
Idea: is it possible to invite some alumni from the past couple years to join the band on the trip to meet that minimum? Some kids who just graduated might jump at that opportunity. Otherwise the band director might have to really beat the bushes to find a couple more members next year. (“Anybody want to play the triangle? You’re hired!”) Good luck, sounds fun!
We are working on a plan with ideas to recruit more members ahead of next school year. We have to meet with admin to present. I will know next summer if we can meet that minimum and if WDW is a possibility.
Our actual visit would have been early 2022, but with the uncertainty the school would not approve the trip. So, there are 5 band members who are graduating and will unfortunately miss out. They will be invited to come next school year, but may not be able to as they will probably be off to college.
Good idea about the alumni, but I’m not sure if that would work. They would have to practice with the band in order to march? I will mention to the parent committee.
My kid decided not to do HS marching band BUT if there had been a trip to WDW on the horizon, it might have been enough to keep her in band.
A little update.
After I was encouraged to get direct quotes on tickets and hotel costs from Universal, I’ll be doing the planning myself to save a fair amount of money. The $250+ per person more from going through a travel company doesn’t seem justifiable. We may not even do 1 WDW day, most of the band parents seem to like the idea of saving more money and just staying on Universal property the whole trip.
Tentative travel date is January 2023. I love planning family trips, but hope I don’t screw anything up with the group.
Wow this seems like a bad deal. What’s driving the difference? Is that an explicit fee for their service, or are you just able to find better savings than the agent is finding?
That’s what I came up with after crunching the numbers. They throw in food gift cards and stuff so you have to do homework to compare apples to apples. When contacting UOR direct, it was easy and quick to get group pricing.
The travel company sends you one guide on site. I know for sure for the marching performance and workshop. Not sure about any other time like arrival etc. Some other perks are very minor, like lanyards etc.
I can do all the bookings, it’s pretty easy.
Many times the large group travel companies take care of all the logistics necessary to move groups of people …and all their stuff. This is even more complex when you include instruments.
I am not saying they are worth $250 more per person, but that there are a lot of things that they know how to do in the most efficient ways and will automatically handle.
My dd marched in the 2019 Rose Bowl parade. That included getting everyone there and back, transporting them all around the LA area, instrument logistics, spending a day at DLR (including marching down Main Street), a field competition, and the parade itself.
They actually packed any “checked” luggage on the equipment truck and had the truck sent cross-country days before anyone boarded a flight! This streamlined the airport experience w/ no one needed to check or pick up bags.
There were completely different itinerarys for the parents/families and the actual group. As a Liner who plans all of my trips, not just Disney, I was personally VERY frustrated w/ the travel company (and I am sure they weren’t big fans of me w/ my questions of things they really didn’t want to answer) BUT, when they got us in and out of the Rose Parade itself …and the complete madhouse. I was extremely grateful for them!
I just wanted to point out that there is many more considerations and unique logistics with a large, musical group than a family vacation.
Thanks! Those kind of things are nice for sure.
One thing we do plan to do is rent a Penske truck for the week for equipment, food, extra luggage. It’s a long drive, but we have people willing. That will make the flight for the students and chaperones much easier.
Having a small band helps too, I would be hesitant if we had a huge band.
And I know my way around the parks. Universal will give me detailed instructions for the March and Workshop, so I feel fairly confident I can do this.
I will also have to fill out a form to the airline for group travel. And I’ll have to get private bus transfer from MCO. No biggie.
You should budget for and get approved a small agent fee for yourself.
As long as they let me be a chaperone and have all the fun too… no extra charge.