Team bonding meets amusement parks



Complete with nationals shirts that had each dancer’s last name on it and team fanny packs, Magic Kingdom was truly a magical experience.

Kelly Colanto, Arts Writer

What could be better than heading to Orlando, Florida for a national dance competition and going to Walt Disney World with your best friends? Nothing. Taking a week off of school to spend a vacation with the people you care for the most was a dream. Creating fun-filled memories that will last a lifetime was our goal. It was great getting to end an amazing season full of laughter and fun in Florida. Going to the National Dance Association, NDA, National competition for the second year in a row, was a true blessing.

Walking into nationals with a tight knit team, such as ourselves, already guaranteed that we were going to have the time of our lives. Meeting at the front of Fossil Ridge High School at 3:00 a.m. was exhausting, but also rewarding. Everything we worked for this season had led to this moment, before we stepped onto the plane that would take us to Orlando, Florida.

Taylor Goebel, a sophomore on the Dance Team, started a tradition her freshman year to reveal haunting stories of the Denver International Airport, while on the way to the landmark itself. Goebel created a presentation in which she showed all of the newbies on the team, warning them of the Bronco, Blucifer, that leads to the airport. She also shared photos of the mysterious murals hidden throughout the building. Since the recent construction there, DIA has played along with these rumors and put posters around the building that tease of alien activity, the illuminati, and many more strange coverups. Every member on the team got a good scare from these stories and Goebel hopes to carry this tradition throughout the remainder of her high school career.

Because of the recent Coronavirus outbreak, we took careful precautions in order to stay as clean and healthy as possible. We made sure to sanitize and wash our hands as often as possible in the airport as well as wipe down the airplane seats and tray tables.

On the three hour and ten minute flight to Florida, we slept, joked around, and prepared for the long weekend ahead of us. Stepping off the plane, we were hit by an immediate blast of humidity. Looking out the windows and seeing the palm trees, was surreal and a moment that was treasured. 

We took a drive to our hotel and played “I-Spy”, “Name the Song”, and got our last moments of calm rest in. We got to our hotel rooms with our teammates and went down to the outdoor pool. The warmth in Florida, compared to Colorado, is unmatched and everyone was either sunbathing or taking a dip in the water. Florida weather is unpredictable and it soon began raining, so we went back to our rooms to get ready for a fancy dinner at the La Buena Vista Bistro. 

The restaurant was very high class and particular; so it was hilarious to us that we were even allowed into the building. We bonded together while we ate our food and danced at the table, trying to catch breadsticks in our mouths. We headed up to bed to get a good night’s rest because we had to perform our hip-hop routine at noon the next day. 

After competing, we went back to our hotel and got ready to go to Disney Springs, a shopping complex in Lake Buena Vista. Fifteen members of our group traveled there in a large Uber van, but four of us were lost in another Uber which took us nearly an hour to find the rest of our team. Once we got there, we paid far too much for a Ghirardelli ice cream sundae and walked in and out of the high-end stores on the avenue. 

While driving back home, our Uber was making a left into the driveway of our hotel, missed the turn, then went into oncoming traffic before making a U-turn. We were all in the car terrified, but we were laughing about it the rest of the night.

Back at the hotel, we had a team meeting and our captain, Addison Elkin, read us a letter that our coach, Tessa Lovell, had written us. It was a heartfelt note which described the amount of love our coaches hold for us. All of us were in tears as we sat in the common room, enjoying one another’s company. We all decided we were hungry and ordered food delivery from a local burger diner; the fries were cold and soggy, but we still enjoyed the whole experience.

We had an early morning on Saturday so our set bedtime was at 9:30 p.m.―knowing us, however, we had too much energy because of the two hour time change and could not sleep until about 1:00 a.m. To pass the time, many girls in different rooms made Tik Toks. We woke up five hours later and did our hair and makeup once again for our jazz routine. After jazz, we went to the NDA gift shop and bought matching sweatshirts and pins for our bags. 

The rest of the day was focused on heading over to Hollywood Studios, one of the Disney amusement parks. Our first stop was to our favorite ride, Tower of Terror. The Twilight Zone themed ride spooked a few girls on our team and we all held hands as we dropped down the 13 stories. Our next stop was Rock n’ Roller Coaster. We played Heads Up throughout the hour long line which was a great pastime. One of our team goals was to get funny looking poses on each coaster so that we could have souvenirs of our time there. Our go-to poses were rock/paper/scissors, sleeping, and the rock n’ roll sign. We decided to eat lunch before going on the newest addition to the park, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. This ride was directed mainly for children but it was still very adorable, and the detail in the animation was wild. Then we went to Slinky Dog Dash, the Toy Story themed ride. We waited in this line for about an hour, but this was our favorite line because there were places to sit and the detail that went into this ride blew our minds. The funniest thing about this ride was the huge buildup for a drop, yet we could not feel anything. By then, our feet were killing us so we sat down in the front of the park and freestyle beat-boxed, looking like idiots.

When we got back that night, we wanted to go swimming but the pool and hot tub at our hotel were crowded so we took a short walk to a resort down the street. The water at that pool was freezing so we decided it was best to go inside and eat ice cream from the shop.

Sunday was a designated day at the main park, Magic Kingdom. We all wore our matching national’s shirts and fanny packs, ready for the day ahead of us. First, we headed over to Big Thunder Mountain and played charades in line. We thought this ride had an action picture so we posed awkwardly waiting for a flash that never came. Splash mountain had a short line so we hopped in and were zooming down the water hill in our ponchos after a quick thirty minute wait. Our next mission was to hunt down our favorite Disney World snack, Dole Whip. We each bought a pineapple and vanilla swirl float that we ate in line at Space Mountain. This line was especially long―about a two hour wait. We were able to get through the first hour of this ride quickly by passing time with mind games such as “Johnny Whoop”, “Snaps”, “Green Glass Door”, and “Black Magic”. We were able to trick our coaches, who were very confused on how to play. We spent another thirty minutes trying to figure out riddles. The last portion of the line, however, felt as if it had been an eternity. In the end, the wait was so worth it―this ride was a team favorite, and I am sure it always will be. 

There was a new race car track with a twenty minute wait, so we got in line and rode our cars around the track. Nearing the end of that ride, we were told to not push the gas as heavy but, being us, we purposely crashed into the car ahead of us around ten times, jokingly saying “oops, my bad” each time. 

We were near starving then, so we walked to a futuristic themed restaurant and ate a bunch of unhealthy fast food. We then waited in a two hour line for the Peter Pan ride―all I will say is that it was definitely not worth it. By that time, we had about one more hour at the park so we split up and one group went to Big Thunder Mountain, again, and the others went to the Tiki room.

I could not have asked for a better ending to this day. It was pitch black outside and once we made our way up the “Big Thunder Mountain”, the beautiful fireworks began going off behind a huge rock. It was a moment straight out of a movie. For whatever reason, we were dying laughing once we got off the ride and made one more stop for Dole Whip once again. We ate the ice cream in front of the castle during the light show. A cast member, playing Tinkerbell, zip-lined out of the top story window which happened to be very funny to us and quite unbelievable.

We then left the park to get into yet another line on the way to the tram for transportation. We got back to the hotel and stayed up all night, knowing this was the last time we would all be together as a team. It was an emotional moment for us but we made the best of it―doing Tik Tok dances in our hotel rooms, of course.

Our senior, Elkin, was going to be staying in Florida a few days longer than us so that she and her mother could have a vacation of their own. Knowing this was the last time we would all be together as a team was heartbreaking but, we knew it would not be the end of our life-long friendships.

We woke up early the next day, packed, got our last breakfast, and were on our way to the Orlando Airport. We had a couple hours to kill before our flight, so we went and got Airport Chinese food―it did not compare to Panda Express as we hoped it would. We shopped around the stores and got our last souvenirs. Luckily, the photos from the competition were posted online and we all got a good laugh out of those. There were hundreds to go through and most of them were us making silly faces.

We got on the plane, ready for our four-hour flight. After a couple hours of sleeping, we were tired of sitting on the plane, yet we never wanted to get off. We wanted to suspend the time and stay with each other for as long as we could. We landed, said our goodbyes to one another, and headed home. It was a sad moment since it was the last time we would ever be with the same group of girls, unlike last year when there were still basketball games to go to after nationals. But this was it―the end of our season.

We had an amazing season and all of us were extremely proud of the effort and accomplishments we had gone through. We grew so much throughout the season and I could not have been happier with the outcome.