My sophomore year of college my cheerleading team traveled to Walt Disney World for UCA Nationals. This takes place during the middle/end of January (UDA Nationals take place at the same time and our school’s dance team was there as well) which is still during our school’s winter break. This was our second year attending and we actually got an extra day in the parks unlike the previous year where we had only the one day.
We traveled out of the Newark airport in our team gear getting excited for Nationals and Disney. When we arrived we gathered our luggage and got a bus to All Star Country Music where we were staying. Check-In was at some big tents where we picked up our UCA/UDA passes, park tickets and food vouchers, Nationals backpacks, and could purchase merchandise.
After we were all checked in we settled in our rooms before going out to find some green space to practice. If you’ve never been to Disney for a cheer or dance competition you’ve probably never experienced the All-Star resorts quite like this. Each team is trying to get in as much practice as possible before competition, meaning the green space looks like cheer camp with teams practicing all over.
We also got some pool time and met some other teams and did some pool stunting. That night was pretty much for getting some rest for competition the next day.
Saturday morning we got up and got in partial uniform and warm-ups and headed to the Wide World of Sports complex for competition. So many buses were bringing teams to the arena and we poured out onto the sidewalks and into the arena to find a spot to sit and watch the competition and wait our turn. Nationals are reminiscent of every competition I’ve ever participated in with the exception that it took place in Disney (I have been to a few at 6 Flags as a child but Disney is definitely so much better). Before going on the floor we took team pictures.
Next is the actual competition, followed by watching the monitors to see how you did, followed by a lot more watching and waiting until results are announced and we find out the winners in every division.
After all that, we were free to do what we wanted (which for most of us was hang out at the pool again)!
Sunday was our first day in the parks! Myself and five other girls from my team decided to begin our day in Hollywood Studios. We got there fairly early and went to Tower of Terror and Rockin’ Roller Coaster first thing. It was a bit chillier than it had been the year prior so we were rocking our layers (since it was play-offs, I was also rocking my Packers t-shirt). While on the line to Rockin’ Roller Coaster we started talking about how the six of us could be each of the six Disney princesses (Cinderella, Aurora, Belle, Snow White, Ariel, and Jasmine) and we based who we were on our hair length/color. Since I had just chopped my hair off (this was the first time I donated my hair) I was given Snow White. I had never particularly had any feelings toward Snow White but since this trip I have started to appreciate her more, especially as the first princess, and have done a few ‘bounds of her since.
So we enjoyed the morning in Hollywood Studios and then headed over to Epcot in the afternoon where we ran around the World Showcase and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves before going back to the resort to get ready for dinner and watch a little football (no, I don’t want to talk about that game).
We bused to Downtown Disney (now Disney Springs) to eat at Planet Hollywood as a team before going to Animal Kingdom for the Block Party only for UCA and UDA! This year’s block party was fun because the girls I was with actually wanted to ride the rides that were open instead of staying at the dance party. We got to go on Expedition Everest and Dinosaur with no wait over and over again! This was one of my most favorite and least favorite parts. Since it was my first time on both those rides I did not know what to expect but I decided two very important things at this time – Expedition Everest is the BEST ever and Dinosaur is the worst ever. I will go on Expedition Everest repeatedly until the cows come home. Once on Dinosaur was more than enough for me and I waited in the gift shop while my friends rode it again (when I finally did go on it again almost 8 years later I still hated it).
On Monday our flights were later this year so we were able to spend the day in Magic Kingdom before we had to leave. We got our obligatory stunting castle picture first and then ran around the park the rest of the day – doing some things as a team and others broken off into smaller groups.
Alas, we finally had to say “see ya later” to Disney and head back home.
Our Favorites: My favorite part of this trip was probably Expedition Everest since it was the first time I went on it, it was at night, and we got to go on with absolutely no wait!
Food: I can’t really remember what I ate specifically on this trip and the only thing I can confirm is that we ate as a team at Planet Hollywood so I guess it’s that?
Haul: My souvenirs from this trip include the drawstring backpack from Nationals, some Princess post cards, and, of course, my pin –
This pin is uniquely reminiscent of this trip because we were the 6 Disney princesses (there were 6 at the time, I guess the others like Pocahontas and Mulan weren’t recognized yet? Or something?) and we had a blast running around the six of us.