Two bits! Four bits! Six bits, a dollar! All for Disney, read this article and holler!! Okay, maybe not holler. Beginning this weekend and throughout most of January and February, cheerleading squads and dance team groups will congregate at Disney for various national competitions. We at Believe Vacations thought this would be the perfect time for an article on the subject, especially since one our own has her own memories of these weeks. We invite you to sit back and enjoy today’s article as we look at one of the most incredible experiences the athletic youth of today can enjoy – Cheerleading competitions at Disney!
I’d like to reintroduce you to our agent Christie Pownall. Christie is back for her second go around assisting us with our weekly article and this time, we are focusing on combining cheerleading and Disney, two of her biggest loves outside of her family. As a special guest to Believe Vacations, we also welcome Christie’s former coach, Amy Howe. These wonderful ladies sat down with us recently to tell us what it was like as a cheerleading and as a coach and how Disney goes all out for competitions.
Christie, when was your first competition? – My junior year of high school. I had never been to Disney World and wanted to go more than anything. I was captain of the team that year and somehow convinced our coach that we should go. We spent the year planning for, raising funds for, and preparing for our big competition. I also went again with my All-Star team in college after receiving a bid to Worlds. It was incredible.
Wow! I ask one question and realize I’m talking to the real deal! I feel like this is a terrible follow up but do you remember what resort do you stayed at? I can’t remember for sure the resort we stayed at in High School, but I think it was the Swan and Dolphin. In college, and most teams now, we stayed at All-Star Sports. They have large areas for teams to practice.
Coach, Christie said she convinced you to go but there must be more than that. How do you get the opportunity to go there and compete? Your team has to qualify to attend Nationals by receiving a bid at a UCA Regional Competition. Your team also has to be “credentialed” by attending a Varsity overnight summer camp. They receive the credential by going through the safety training at camp.
Hopefully this doesn’t trigger any bad flashbacks but what is a typical day like coaching a bunch of high school cheerleaders at Disney? A typical day would start with breakfast at the resort food court. The team really loves the breakfast, especially the Mickey waffles! Then we would have a short practice at the resort. After our practice time, we went to the parks to enjoy! Competition days are pretty busy start to finish so on those days, we do not go to the parks.
And since you mentioned the parks, Do you get any perks like park tickets? Park Hopper passes are included with your registration fee to the competition.
Whew! I am glad you had fun and got some deal out of it. Would stink to be at Disney and not do the parks. But Christie, I am curious how you define “relaxation” in that type of setting? We hung out at resort and the parks. We TRIED to take it easy, but we were so excited to be in Disney!
Right?! Okay, let’s get into why you were there, Christie. Describe the competition (how many rounds? are you split into groups/divisions/states?, etc.) The number of rounds depends on the division. Some divisions are a lot larger than others. In the larger divisions, that have over 60 teams so there can be a Pre-lims, Semi-Finals, and Finals. Others have Semi-Finals and Finals. You have to advance in each round by being in the top 50%. There are multiple divisions as far as whether you are an All-Girl Team or Co-ed team, size of the school and squad. Coed teams are broken down by the number of males on the team. 1-4 is Small Coed, 4-7 is Medium Coed, and 7-10 is Large Coed.
That’s a lot of teams! Is there any place to practice, Coach? We practice at the resort. There is a large area at All Star Sports Resort that resembles a football turfed field where a lot of teams practice. If you utilized VROC! choreography, you also have a matted surface that is available for practice at the resort.
Christie, did you do any extra practicing with the team? We practiced anywhere we could find space! We usually found a large grassy area, but I do recall having to practice in a parking lot once.
Coach, I hear horror stories of squads practicing after midnight and into the wee hours of the morning. Were you THAT coach? We practiced both in the morning and evening. My teams did not practice into the wee hours of the morning. We knew it was important that we were well-rested.
Christie, if you went back in time but now, you’re the mom with a young child and you’re on vacation during that time, would you have been annoyed with the competition going on and all the cheerleaders yelling and running around? I don’t think I would have been annoyed. We made friends with everyone we came in contact with and were very courteous and aware of the other people there enjoying their vacations.
And just because I may not believe you, did the team behave, Coach Howe? Of course! Typically, it is not a crowded time but we did see a lot more families there last year than years before.
I guess I have to ask since you started it off giving your credentials, Christie. What place did your squad finish? 3rd in nation (High School) and 5th in Worlds (College team).
Well, after this article, you and Coach Howe are #1! Thank you both ladies and congratulations on all your success!
And there you have it! Did you enjoy these ladies showing off their Disney Spirit? Well, how ’bout you? Did you attend a cheerleading competition at Disney? Thanks for reading and remember there’s a great, big, beautiful tomorrow!