TEC Takes Orlando

By: Ben Herring

In early March, a group of thirty-eight TEC students, staff and chaperones traveled to Disney World in Orlando, Florida for the annual TEC Trip. The week was filled with shows, rides, backstage tours, and of course, rollercoasters!

Believe it or not, the officers of TEC began planning the trip before the school year even started during our Officer Retreat in July. Trips with a group as large as ours can be very challenging. Everything from hotel rooms, to meal reservations, to FastPasses for thirty eight people had to be taken care of.  By the time we were finished planning, we had an hour-by-hour itinerary for the entire trip.

TEC spent the first full day in Disney at Animal Kingdom. They had some great rides and we got to go on the “Kilimanjaro Safari”, where we saw tons of amazing animals. Even though I’m terrified of rollercoasters, my friends talked me into going on every one of them. I’m still not sure how that happened! While riding the rollercoasters was fun, it was not the only reason we came to Orlando. We also got to watch the new “Finding Nemo” show inside the park. The show is a musical adaptation of the movie that uses numerous puppets to tell the story. After the show, some of the technicians were nice enough to give us some time to ask questions about the show. We learned about the wireless microphones, huge scenery pieces and everything in between. Although the show looks relatively simple from the audience’s perspective, the amount of technology utilized in that show was very impressive.

After dinner in Downtown Disney, we got to see one of the famous Cirque du Soleil shows, La Nouba, at the Disney World Resort. During the TEC trip to Las Vegas last year, we were fortunate enough to see six Cirque shows, so our expectations were high! The performance blew us away! The acrobatics, trampoline artists, and other circus acts were spectacular. Aside from the performers, the technical aspects were absolutely stunning. By the end of the show, we were all exhausted but our adventure didn’t stop there. A mistake in the Disney Transportation forced us to take the long way back to our hotel. We rode a boat from Downtown Disney all the way back to our hotel, the Port Orleans Riverside. The ride took much longer than expected but it was definitely an interesting way to end our first day in Orlando.

As great as all of that was, the next day was far better! We got to go back to La Nouba the next morning for an amazing behind the scenes tour all throughout the theater. The tours were split into three groups, led by several staff members and technicians of La Nouba. We toured the entire facility; everything from the 80-foot high rigging and lighting catwalks above the stage, down to 15-feet below the stage, where all of the stage automation was housed. It was incredible to see the amount of technology packed into that theater for the show, some of which we utilize in our own theater. From the knowledge that we have gained from our tech classes, we were able to recognize much of their equipment, such as the counter weight system, audio console, and many moving light fixtures. After our tour of La Nouba, we split our day between Hollywood Studios and EPCOT. Both parks had some amazing attractions and we had a blast. To wrap up the day, we all watched EPCOT’s spectacular fireworks show, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. The show uses fireworks, pyrotechnic effects and lasers, all over the lake in the center of EPCOT. It was amazing. 

Next, we took a break from Disney and spent the day in Universal Studios and the Islands of Adventure. Both parks offered some amazing thrill rides, as well as more theatrical rides. For the first time in the trip, we were able to spend the entire day in one park so we had plenty of time for exploring. I think we rode pretty much every ride in the park. After a day like that, everyone was tired and probably a little light-headed after all the roller coasters but we had one more day to go!

On our last day, we returned to Disney for the Magic Kingdom, which had more amazing rides. From the minute the park opened until 3pm, we were frantically searching the park for all the best rides and shortest lines, knowing that it was our last day.  We also got to take some pictures at the iconic castle in the middle of Magic Kingdom and watch one of the parades down Main Street.

After a perfect mix of fun, technology, and team building, everyone was totally exhausted. We had to leave Magic Kingdom at 3pm to catch our flight back to Austin. Everyone was disappointed that the trip was over but at the same time, it was four very busy days and I think everyone was glad to get home. We arrived back at the Austin airport at around 10:30pm on that Sunday night, and were back at school Monday morning – and some of us were even on time…