Courageous Travels: Disney World Trip!

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7

Day 1

What a great day to start our Disney trip! I picked up Sara Billhorn, who lives near me, on my way to camp to save her family some gas. She and I were joined at Camp Courageous by our intern Kristin and volunteer travel companions Kody and Betsy. We gathered our needed items and headed toward Davenport for our first pickup. We met Tom K. and Sarah G. at the Kwik Star and they were excited and all ready to go. They donned their Mickey Mouse ears and loaded the bus. We arrived at the McDonald’s in Coralville for the next pickup. There we were met by Tanna R., Chad D., Scott S., and Nick G.. They were all ready to get on their ears and find a seat on the bus. Tanna made her mom get on the bus for a good bye hug. We were ahead of schedule and casually made our way to The SuperWalmart in Marion. Here we were joined by Toni H. Toni’s staff tried to fit into Toni’s suitcase but Toni told her she would not fit and she handed over her luggage and boarded the bus. We arrived back to Camp about 7:30pm.  We began settling into Pitlik cabin. Katie B. was brought to camp by her family. She told them bye and promised me she would go on all the rides we could once we got to Disney. She told me that she liked my ears (I forgot I was still wearing them) and I told her she had a pair waiting for her in the morning. She set out to find a bed and get a good night sleep. Kevin, Doug and Margo (Mom, who is volunteering for this trip) joined the group excited for the trip to begin. Doug was a little confused about why Mom was here at camp. She is never here with him at camp. He told her she needed to leave. He took her by the hand, told her “bye” and put her in the hall. Eventually he warmed up to the idea that mom was here and gave her the bed next to him. Megan H. was the last of our group to arrive tonight. She got all checked in and made sure we had all her meds for the trip. The group was excited to leave in the morning and all tucked in early. Visions of Mickey, Minnie and Goofy will be dancing all over Pitlik cabin tonight. Stay tuned to hear more of our exciting 2019 Disney Trip!
~The Travel Team

Day 2

The Travel group woke early, barely sleeping, to prepare for the day of travel taking us to the happiest place on earth. Everyone got dressed and ready for the day. The group packed up their items and cleaned up the room. Everyone greeted Rolo when he arrived to drive the group to Chicago Midway Airport. The group ate some fruit, breakfast bars and donuts for breakfast. The group visited with each other about their favorite thing about Disney. Some of the travelers had been to Walt Disney World and some had not. They were all so exited to get to the airport. We arrived at the airport with plenty of time and took advantage of the curb-side check in and were relieved of some of our luggage. The airport assigned a couple of staff to assist with safely getting the group to the airport security and gate. We were grateful for the assistance and thanked them when we reached the terminal. While we waited for the time to board the plane we had time to get a sandwich from a deli in the airport. Everyone sat together and ate their lunch. We boarded the plane at 12:45pm. The flight left for Orlando at 1:15pm. The weather was clear and sunny giving us a great flight to the sunshine state. This was the first time in an airplane for Jesse S. and he chose a window seat to see all there was to see. Some of the travelers chose to rest on the plane, most listened to music or visited with their neighbor. Everyone was given a Magic wristband that was similar to a wallet, key, passport and ticket all in one. Each group received matching colors. Volunteer Betsy and her group of ladies, Katie B. Tanna R. and Sara B. all wore pink. Margo Ahrensen and her young men, Doug and Kevin and their friend Chad D. all wore red. Volunteer Kody’s group, Nick G., Scott S., and Tom K. all wore orange, Intern Kristin and her ladies, Megan H, Toni H, and Sarah G all wore yellow. Jesse and his staff Callissa wore blue. The short flight arrived on time in Orlando International airport where we followed the signs through the miles and miles of airport until we reached the Disney Magic Express. We put on our Disney Magic wristbands (everything is Magic in Disney) and after they were scanned we boarded the motor coach to our All Star Music Resort. We were already checked in thanks to early check in and the luggage service was bringing our luggage to the resort so there was nothing left to do but go eat. The meals were chosen, magic bands were scanned and we all feasted. After everyone had their bellies full and our luggage was delivered to the rooms everyone tucked in for some much needed rest. The next few days will be lasting memories and I am fortunate enough to be part of this for our travelers!

~The Travel Team


Day 3

Zippity doo dah, zippity day 3
My oh my what a wonderful day to be in Disney! 
The day started with a great breakfast in the Intermission Food court at our All Star Music Disney resort. Everyone visited about what the day would hold while eating their breakfast. After breakfast the group boarded the shuttle bus headed to Magic Kingdom. This was the longest 20 minute ride the travelers have had. When the group arrived at the Magic Kingdom the first thing they noticed in the distance was Cinderella’s castle peeking out behind the buildings. We went to Main Street and got a group picture with the Castle in the background. The group headed straight for The Magic Carpets of Aladdin. This was a great first ride of the day. The travelers who chose to go on this ride enjoyed soaring up and down in their “carpet” seats. The group moved on to Tomorowland and found Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor where Mike from Monster’s Inc. introduced the group to a great group of Monster’s comedians and our laughter filled a storage energy canister. All the travelers liked how interactive this show was. People from the audience were put on the screen and asked questions that were used in the show. Doug and Nick really followed all the directions, we were asked to raise and shake our hands when they called the group “humans” and they both were the first ones with their hands in the air.  After this show we made out way further into Tomorrowland toward our second FastPass ride (reserved ride) for the day. We had some time to spare and noticed the line to the Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress was not busy. Nick helped the group get safely to their location by navigating with the map. The group filed into what looked like a small theater but were surprised to find the section we were sitting in moved in a circle to show the next progress scene. The travelers liked learning about how the Americans progressed through the last century. 
After this show the wait time for our fastpass for the Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin ride was ready. We paired up and got ready for the ride. The entire group then boarded the ride. We were taken though the galactic Star Command and had to shoot Emperor Zerg and his helpers. When the ride was over each of us was given a score and the winner was Katie B with over 200,000 points. When asked how she got that score she told Betsy, “Just do what you do”, referring to how Betsy should turn the car while Katie was shooting. We are not sure what her secret was but she was loving that she had the best score. After the ride, the group got a snack, popcorn and ice cream were the most popular choices. While we were in this area we saw a group of people with Iowa Hawkeye shirts on and yelled, “go Hawks, woo hoo” and they yelled back in passing, “go Gold and Black”
The group split up but each group ended up going on the People Mover, a tram like ride that went over the top of Tomorrowland. Chad D. really enjoyed this ride the most. He could point out each of the other rides in the park from this view. The group then split to go see some of the Disney Characters in the area. Half the group saw Buzz light year. The other group visited with Stitch from Lilo and Stitch. He was so happy to see our group. He greeted each person with great energy, high fives and hugs. Everyone got their picture taken with him and we did a group picture as well. 
We then found our spot for Disney’s Festival of Fantasy parade. As the Disney Characters came past us Doug was so excited he had the biggest smile on his face. Kevin A shook so many hands as they passed, he could hardly contain his excitement. After the parade we headed to our third fastpass for the day, Pirate’s of the Caribbean. As the boat traveled along, the group saw various pirate scenes. At the end of the ride a Disney Character, Captain Jack Sparrow was signing autographs.
The group then walked to The Crystal Palace for dinner. They seated our group together and we all began getting our food from the buffet. Winnie the Pooh and his friends were at this restaurant and greeted our Travelers with hugs and high fives. They all posed for photos and got autographs signed. It was great to see Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and Eyeore too. When the group had eaten their meal, we decided to do a little shopping. Katie purchased some new ears and a shirt. Sara found the classic Mickey ears for her niece and nephew. Tanna fell in love with some new sparkly ears and just had to have them. Tom K who loves and adores Goofy found a Goofy mug, t-shirt and an autograph book. Jesse found some great rainbow ears and a t-shirt. Scott found a t-shirt, sweat shirt and some socks. Nick found a necklace and a sweatshirt. Sarah really looked forward to shopping and found a sweat shirt and a t-shirt. Toni purchased 1 of everything, She really loved what she found. Meagan found a bag and t-shirt she liked. Kevin found some figurines from Frozen. 
After shopping the group found a good spot and they enjoyed the Happily Ever After Fireworks. As the music was playing Jesse was dancing along. They were really beautiful fireworks shot over Cinderella’s castle. After the fireworks the more adventurous travelers of the group rode Space Mountain. Katie B, Tanna R, Scott S and Sara B were nervous but happy they faced their fears and rode this roller coaster. 
The tired group the headed toward the shuttle for the resort. As we passed the lake there was a giant neon water monster swimming around. It was great!
Stay tuned tomorrow for more Disney adventures from the Travel Team!

Day 4

The start of Day 4 was great, everyone came to the dining room rested and ready for another amazing day. Today we visited Epcot. Our first ride was The Seas with Nemo and Friends. The group paired up and rode in shells through the story of how Marlin and Dory found Nemo, inspired by the movie Finding Nemo. We exited into the most amazing aquarium. The group saw manatee, sharks, sea turtles and many other sea creatures that live in this area. We then attended Turtle Talk with Crush from the movie Finding Nemo. The sea turtle, Crush, interacted with the audience asking lots of questions and answering some asked by the audience as well. We learned that him and his wife, Shelly, have been married for 120 years and Dory taught us to speak whale. 
After the show the group found a snack and sat and visited while they ate. When the snacks were over the group found some Character Visit areas. We had autographs and pictures taken with Mickey, Minnie and Goofy. This made Tom K as happy as can be. He loves Goofy more than any other Disney Character. The smile in his photos says it all. Everyone got hugs, kisses and high fives from all the characters. 
We then traveled to The Land, We rode a ride called Soarin’. This is a virtual reality ride that takes you around the world. We soared over places like Egypt, Paris, Africa and our ride ended in Disney World. This was a favorite of so many of the travelers. We then moved on to Spaceship Earth. On this ride we traveled through the time line for communication and technology. This was a slow ride that everyone liked. 
When it was our reservation time the group split up and part of the group went to eat, the other part rode the Living with the Land ride. The meal was at Chip N Dale’s The Garden Grill. Our amazing waiter told us that all the vegetables were grown right here at Disney. The tables were also on a turntable that made 1 full rotation every hour. Chip N Dale, Mickey and Pluto all came around and visited with our Travelers. The food was amazing. It was just like a traditional farm dinner, Roast beef, turkey, pork loin,  all the fresh veggies and for dessert…..mixed berry short cake with home made whipping cream! OH MY! 
After the fabulous meal we took a great boat ride and saw first hand how the vegetables were grown. We learned different ways the Disney foundation was helping make the world a more efficient and healthier place. Everyone enjoyed the boat ride. 
The groups joined up and headed to Norway where we had a fast pass surprise to ride the Frozen adventure ride featuring Anna, Elsa, Sven and Olaf. This was the best ride ever!!! There were Frozen scenes everywhere and the entire boat turned in the water two times. Frozen soundtrack was playing and the entire boat was singing along. The group then walked around Epcot looking at the different cultures and areas of the Disney “World” displayed at Epcot.
The fireworks and laser show at the end of the day was awesome, an illuminated world floated across the entire lake while fireworks flashed in the background.
The group shopped a little after the fireworks before they headed back to the resort. It was an exhausting but amazing day! Can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring at Hollywood studios!
~The Travel Team

Day 5

The day started out with an interview from KCRG who was back at camp visiting with Rolando about Camp’s Travel Department, Courageous Travels. Chad visited with the interviewer about how much he enjoyed traveling with Courageous Travels and that he came to Disney to see Mickey and have fun. Sara B talked to Rolando about how much fun she is having in Disney World, she also said hello to her family, staff and friends. 
After the interview the group got ready and boarded the bus for Disney Hollywood Studio. Right inside the gate was Daisy. The group got in line and visited with Daisy. After our time with Daisy the group moved on to Muppet Vision 3D. We watched a 3D muppet show about how to make a 3D show. The group seemed to enjoy watching Kermit and Miss Piggy. We stopped to have snacks, mostly churros, ice ream and funnel cake. We are on vacation!! 
Goofy met Tom (again, happy as a clam), Kody, Megan, Jesse and Callie while they ate their snack. The group sat and enjoyed the outside until it was time to go meet for the Star Tours ride. This was a virtual reality ride where our spaceship has a rebel (and a photo of Scott S appears  on the screen) on it. The Storm Troopers begin chasing our ship through space. Nick G and Sara B really enjoyed this ride. 
Next we made time to meet Olaf, Tanna told us 3 times in the line how much she loved Olaf. Katie B said she loved Frozen and that her Aunt didn’t even know what Frozen was until Katie explained it. 
The group then went to Toy Story Land. There was a Character Greeting with Jesse and Woody from Toy Story. Kevin, Sara, Megan, Toni, Chad and Tom decided to stay and visit with the Toy Story characters while Doug, Jesse, Tanna, Katie, Sarah and Nick decide to ride the Alien Swirling Saucers. Jesse really liked this ride. He likes any ride that goes around and around. 
The entire group of travelers moved on to the Toy Story Mania ride. The entire ride looked like a board game, the ride moved from different old school shooting range type of screens that you had to shoot and you competed against the 4 people in the car.  After the group reassembled everyone compared their scores and Travel Companion, Margo was the winner! Way to go Margo.
The group then found a few stores to shop in, everyone seemed to find something they couldn’t live without. Sarah found a new hat and shirt. Sara B found a few t-shirts for herself. 
We then attended the show Voyage of the Little Mermaid, this was a live show with some animatronics. It was the quick version of how Ariel fell in love and got to keep her legs. The entire theater blew bubbles and misted water over the audience. Most of our travelers enjoyed the show. 
We had some time before we needed to be at the Fantasmic show for the end of the day. We noticed there was only a 10 minute wait to meet Chewbacca from the Star Wars fame. The entire group each got their photo taken with him. Tanna said, “don’t tell my Dad I met Chewy, he will be so jealous.” 
The group had reserved seating for the Mickey Fantasmic show and finished off the night with this amazing show. Boats, water, magic, villians and Mickey wins in the end! What a fantasmic show. The tired group returned to the hotel completely satisfied they had all gotten to do/watch/buy/see everything they wanted today. 
We can’t wait to see what Animal Kingdom has in store for Courageous Travels!
-Travel Team

Day 6

Our last day in the Happiest Place on Earth has come to an end. The group met downstairs and took the shuttle to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We had an amazing breakfast at the Rainforest Cafe where elephants, zebra and giraffe (all animated) were all around us. Everyone chose their favorite breakfast and visited while they ate before looking through the gift shop on the way out. The group moved on to Up, a Great Bird Adventure Show where we saw characters from the movie Up and various birds. We learned things about the birds and where they were from. At one part of the show Chad was asked to stand and raise his hands to make an arch while a bird flew through. It was exciting. 
After the bird show we moved on to The Dinosaur Land USA. Some of the group rode a ride called TriceraTops spin. They liked this ride, it was slower and went up and down and around. Sara, Tanna, Jesse, Volunteer Callie, Kevin, Nick, Chad, Volunteer Betsy and Katie rode this ride. They all waved to me as I video taped them on this ride.
The next activity was another DinoSaur. On this ride we entered a time machine to bring back a special dinosaur. Unfortunately, the astroid that hit the earth and killed all the dinosaurs was on its way and we had to return to earth. We just made it back unharmed! Tom told Volunteer Betsy, “I’ll save you!” as he held her arm. 
After the group left, we noticed Timon, a character from the Lion King. Everyone who wanted an autograph got in line, which was almost everyone. No one enjoyed this character meeting more than Doug A who can tell you the year most Disney movies were made. 
We then went to the Lion King Show. This show was a celebration of life for the world. The monkeys preformed some simple acrobatic moves. Then a lady and man dressed as beautiful light blue bird preformed some amazing spinning and high flying, death defying stunts. Katie really enjoyed the way they twirled around. She smiled the entire time they were doing their act. Nick liked the monkeys and the way they swirled around. 
After the performance the group headed to the roller coaster Expedition Everest. Tanna, Sara B, Sarah G  and Jesse faced their fears and rode this ride, knowing they would be scared. After the ride Jesse told complete strangers that the ride went really fast, but he rode it anyway.
The group then walked over to Pandora. The group watched a drum performance. At some point, they let Tanna, Megan, Jesse and Chad come up to the instruments and play. It was the best sound we heard all day!
When it was time for our dinner reservations Kevin A walked with me to the reservation desk. On the way Kevin asked what a reservation was. I explained how it works and he thought that was the best idea ever. He got us all checked in and was told how to get to where we were going to eat. The food was amazing and cultural for the area. Kevin led the group into the door. Everyone ate their meal, it was great, lots of choices and most importantly lost of desserts! Travel is really into the desserts! The group saw Safari Mickey with Daisy, Donald, and Goofy. Tom has his new Goofy hat autographed by Goofy! He wore a big smile the rest of this night. 
We saw a laser light show that was amazing. The scenes played off of water misting up from the lake, it was great. The group of course had to shop some more before they left the park and headed to the resort. 
We all returned to our room and with tears about to spill over packed our things and had one more night of dreaming of Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and all the princesses. Tomorrow will be bitter sweet! 

-Travel Team

Day 7

The last day in Florida has been a whirl. In fact, the entire week was a whirl. It seems like we just got there and we are already packing to leave. I want to express the biggest thanks to our Volunteer Travel Companions. A lot of time and energy goes into planning a trip like Disney, without our volunteers we would not be able to pull it off.

The team for Disney 2019 was an exceptional group. Margo Ahrendsen is the mother of 2 of our travelers. As the mother of special needs adults she knows how important the travel department is to encourage the growth and independence of her young adults. She told me, “They just want to be able to travel like other young adults do and you [Courageous Travels] makes it possible. Betsy Rohovit is a special education student who worked at camp from 2014-2017. She loves to travel with Camp and she has been on many trips. Betsy is positive and energetic. She is great at keeping the group positive. Kody Gafkjen is a graduate of UNI. Kody was the 1st intern for the travel team. He enjoys traveling and is amazing at knowing what needs to be done and doing it. Kody is usually a favorite of many of our travelers. Callie Norton came as the 1:1 staff for a traveler but she stepped in and became part of the team right away. Our intern Kristin Heath is a great fit to the team. I am excited to see what we can learn from each other.
The Volunteers made sure everyone was packed and ready to leave the resort. We checked into the Disney Magic Shuttle headed for Orlando International Airport. We got through security easily and made it to our gate. We didn’t have too long of a wait and then we were boarding. Our flight was smooth and the attendants were so nice. They treated our group with such dignity and respect. TSA assisted our group with getting our bags and making it to our pick up location. Rolando met us and we all greeted him when he came to help with the luggage. We said goodbye to Chicago and headed west. We stopped at Culver’s for dinner. Here we said goodbye to Tom, Tanna and Sarah. We made a stop at Tipton and said our goodbyes to the Ahrendsen family, Doug, Kevin and Margo. We headed to Coralville and said our goodbyes to Nick, Scott, and Chad. We then moved on to Marion where we told Toni goodbye. The rest of the group, Megan, Jesse, Katie and Sara were picked up at camp.
Disney is so popular with our travelers, it is our goal to plan a Disney trip each year. Maybe we will see your traveler on the next trip.
~The Travel Team

3 Responses

  1. Sue Butler says:

    Oh my Gosh you guys look like your going to have the time of your life!! Bless you all!!

  2. Kalvin Goodlaxson says:

    I went to DisneyWorld early last month with my family and loved it, too bad I didn’t went to ride on the roller coasters. The closest roller coaster I went to was Pirates if the Caribbean.

  3. Renee Friedrichsen says:

    What a wonderful experience- thanks for sharing all of the adventures. I loved reading about every day- Disney is such an awesome place to visit.