Cathedral HS Trip Worth 18 Months of DelaysNick Rodecap
MTC is excited to release a blog by our first Student Trip Journalist, Nick Rodecap. Enjoy the highlights and memories as Nick and the Cathedral High School Band travel to the Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Studios.
Day one: The first post-Covid trip for many, including me. It was strange to be back in an airport, but there we were. This trip had been 18 months in the making and it was finally taking off. Speaking of which, that was something that didn’t happen for a bit. We boarded the plane at 7:30 a.m. and didn’t take off for an hour. Wordplay aside, after we all clapped when the plane landed, it was off to Universal Studios.
The jazz band performed. Drum major Gabe Tice ripped through some amazing alto sax solos and I realized how big the shoes that I am filling next year really are. Jazz is pretty cool! There were some non-Cathedral people milling about who stopped to watch. The atmosphere was awesome. Being Florida, it was quite hot but it was nice to be away from the Midwest for the first time in two years.
We arrived at the hotel and ate some pizza for dinner, chatting amongst ourselves and enjoying each other’s company. After some “swimming,” which could probably be better classified as WWE-style fighting in the hotel swimming pool (no one got hurt), we called it a night.
Day two: Performance Day. Donning our Hawaiian shirts and khaki pants (yes, pants), we trekked back to Universal and warmed up to perform for the final time in the 2020-21 school year. For the seniors, this was to be their final performance with the Pride of the Irish. It marked the passing of the torch, the sign of a new beginning. The performance was lighthearted, drawing the attention of many-a-passerby — we were right in front of one of the busiest parts of the park, after all. Lots of applause, a thunderous drumline and one final school song later, it was over.
Eighteen months of waiting, and we had made it through our first major performance since the Indianapolis Saint Patrick’s Day Parade all the way back in 2019. There’s just something about playing music with your peers that’s so gratifying: it reminds you that you’re part of something bigger than yourself and it gives you an unparalleled sense of community.
After our 15 minutes of fame, we fanned out through the park to seek out and ride the rollercoasters. Speaking as someone who was once deathly afraid of rollercoasters, this was probably the most fun day of the trip. My friends and I rode the Hulk Coaster, which was 60 miles-per-hour of chaos. Well worth the wait. I remember when my family and I visited Universal for spring break in 2019. My sister went on the Hulk Coaster and I said to my parents that there was simply no way I was ever doing that. So, that was a lie. The fun didn’t stop there, however.
We had heard rumblings of a new ride, supposedly faster than the Hulk. It was called the Velocicoaster and, by all accounts, it was insane. You can probably figure out where this is going: we waited well over an hour, but we rode the Velocioaster too. Was it terrifying? Yes. Was it 70 MPH of blazing twists and turns? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Needless to say, I am no longer afraid of rollercoasters. It’s worth noting that by the end of day two, I had all but lost my voice because of all the screaming I had done on said rollercoasters.
Day three. The happiest place on earth: Magic Kingdom. The Disney app came in clutch here: My friends and I rode Space Mountain twice in an hour because the wait time was so low. Two of my friends bought each other “bride” and “groom” hats, even though they’re both guys.
Day four: Volcano Bay day. The best Universal park, in my totally unbiased opinion. You see, there’s this thing called the Ko’okiri body plunge at Volcano Bay. You’re all but standing in a tube, music building the tension, making your palms sweat, when the floor drops out from under you and you’re plunged 125 feet, at a 70 degree angle, to the water below. The first time I visited Volcano Bay, I went down this slide at least 15 times, and it is a similar story here. It’s nothing short of exhilarating, and the only difference between that time and this time is that I got a lot more sunburned. Oh well, you live and you learn.
Waterslides are always better than rollercoasters, and I will take that belief with me to my grave. The evening saw us take a visit to Disney Springs, and I’m proud to say that I didn’t spend a single cent of my own money. Yay for being cheap! It was strange hearing live music and Disney Springs had plenty to offer. It was a telltale sign of things returning to as they were and taking in those sights and sounds was something that was sorely missed.
Day five: Hollywood Studios. The musician in me had a field day here. I’ve never been more entertained by waiting in line than I was at the Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster. There was a replica recording studio, tons of memorabilia from Aerosmith and other bands and too many Gibson Les Pauls to count. It’s a guitar player’s paradise. Unfortunately, my friends aren’t as interested in 1970’s, ‘80s and ‘90’s music, but they are interested in Star Wars.
The Rise of the Resistance ride is amazing and I have never watched a full Star Wars movie. Blasphemy, right? Yeah, it never really caught my attention but the ride was stunning. It was like being part of a mini storyline.
Staff members playing the part of people who were taking us as their prisoners, set design and other effects that I don’t know the names of made this, by far, the most immersive experience I’ve ever had at a theme park. Oh, and being that we were in Florida, we got rained on. You know, those pop-up monsoons that occur semi-daily at around 3 p.m.? Yeah, we got stuck in one of those. Not fun.
Day six: The final day. We ventured off to Animal Kingdom and were greeted by lots of really cool birds. Do I know their names? No, but they caught the eye of many a tourist, including my peers and me. Also, there was this mini-Mount Everest that made for a really cool photo spot, and the coaster itself was awesome. So awesome, in fact, that we wanted to go on it again. It was at this point that the entire park lost power, meaning that there would be no Everest 2: Electric Boogaloo.
Speaking of unfortunate events, the skies opened up on us again and we all got soaked. By this point we were all just ready to go home, and the timing was good because after a 2-hour plane ride and a 1-hour stop at baggage claim, I was officially a senior. Time flies and so too did this trip. It was worth the wait.
Music Travel Consultants offers journalistic opportunities for students in performing ensembles who have interests in both writing and music. For more information on our Trip Journalist program, click here.