This year one of my adjunct duties was to chaperone Grad Nite at Disneyland. This duty involves about a 17 hour round trip bus trip, and all night access to Disneyland. Not most people’s cup of tea I’m sure but it’s hard for me to pass up a free trip to Disneyland. I undertook this duty with the full understanding that there might be some glitches. I mean when you’re trying to orgainze an event for thousands of high school students there are bound to be some problems.
Take for instance the enrance procedure. Upon arrival at the happiest place on earth we had to sit on the busses for an addtional 45 minutes to an hour while we read the rules to the kids, distributed their entrance and meal tickets, and gave them their wrist bands which indicated where their bus would be parked a the end of the evening. (Those bands were very important as students would be boarding around 5:00 a.m. after a full night in the park.) After attending to those details the busses started moving toward the disembarcation point; except for our bus. See, our bus driver was actually the dispatcher for the company and didn’t get out on the road much and was overly cautious. So we watched the four other busses from our school, and 5 or six more from other schools, head off toward fun while our bus waited, and waited. In the drivers defense, we were in the second row of busses and their appeared to be a Disneyland cast memeber attempting to direct the traffic-though the other busses did not seem to be paying attention to her. Anyway, it was getting harder and harder to ask the kids to be patient after the 8 hour bus ride. “Why aren’t we moving?!” “What’s wrong with our driver?! All of our other busses are GONE!!!”
After what seemed like an eternity we got moving and crossed the street into the park. Our bus parked in line behind the others and we were released to enter the park. Woo! Yeah! Just the securtiy check and we’d be in! The security pat down was very well organized and efficient and therefore quick. Woo-hoo! Yeah! LET’S GO!!!! Wait, what? Why are we stopping? After exiting the bus and going through security we were caught up in the entry line. “Sigh, well this is a lot of people,” I thought, “guess it takes a while to check all the tickets; I can deal.” After an hour in “line” (it was more like a mass of humanity) surrounded by high school seniors chomping at the bit to get into Disneyland I began to question 1) my ability to stay sane, and 2) WTF was the Disney cast memeber who came up with this plan thinking?! I began to flash back to a U2 concert at the Cow Palace when I was in high school. At that show I had floor seats, when the band came on we all stood and rushed the stage creating a blob of humans shoulder to shoulder, chest to back, just one giant mass that moved as one being. That was kinda cool at first, but then my feet left the floor and I got a little nervous. I survived that but began to wonder when the crowd I was currently in was going to do the same. I was getting really nauseus from the combination of b.o., Axe body spray and perfume that was wafting around, not to mention my proximity to all these hyped up kids. (Later I would find out from one of my fellow chaperones who had a broken foot and was in a wheel chair was knocked out of his chair and nearly trampled by the mob.)
Finally the line started to move….slowly, literally like 3 feet at a time. Each time it moved the crowd would erupt with excitement. We’d shuffle forward a few feet and there would be a collective, “Awwwww.” That at least was mildly amusing hearing this throng alternate between, “Woooo! Yeaahhh!” and “Awwww.” After stuttering into the park, we could finally go play. Our school was part of the Blast Off party so we were allowed to be in Cailfornia Adventure for about three hours prior to entering Disneyland proper. So myself and some other chaperones rode “Soaring over California” and “Screaming over California”; good times. Disneyland opened for us around 11:30 and the rest of the evening was fairly uneventful; for me anyway, for our AP (assistant principal, not so much.)
As I was walking into the park I was approached by one of my students who had given her ticket to someone else to hold, bad idea. She had become separated from her friend who had gone ahead into the park and now my studnet was ticketless. To her credit my student had gone to guest services and found out, “All I need to do is bring a chaperone to guest services and they’ll give me a new ticket.” Ok, I could help with that. So I walked with her to guest services and there ran into two more students who had also misplaced their tickets. Turns out though that they’d actually have buy another ticket for $60. “Pflbt! My parents paid for the other ticket, no way I’m spending my work money to get another one, I’d rather sit outside the park,” says my student. As this was going on my co-chpaerone had contacted the AP in charge of the trip and said she was on her way to handle the situation, so we left to go ride rides.
So I spent the next several hours waiting in lines and riding fun stuff. Some of the waits were brutal, Space Mountain took an hour for example, but the waits were totally worth it. At 3:00 a.m. I reported to the chaperone area for my shift and observed the AP was not there. Come to find out that earlier in the evening, not long after we entered the park, one of our kids was taken to the first aid station because he had an elevated heart rate. The Disney people tried to contact our AP and one of the other chaperones but when they tried to respond they got the run around and had trouble finding out what was going on. Meantime, the first aid people send the kid off to the hospital! So the AP spent several hours arranging transportation to and from the hospital as well as dealing with the sick kid who turned out to have just had a panic attack. Also while I’m sitting there another student came in with another chaprone because she had apparently been throwing up for several hours; she was definitely not in the happiest place.
All worked out in the end. We all made it home safely, the kids that lost their tickets got in, the one that went to the hospital was ok as was the barfer. So despite all the glitches I’d say 97% of us had a good time, not bad. Would I do it again? Hellz yeah!