Last Time I… went to Disney World


photo courtesy of Leenie Johns

In Feb. 2020, Kennedy Willhite, Natalie Tuttle, coach April Ehrhardt and Leenie Johns all pose in front of the Cinderella Castle set up on the national stage. Johns, along with the rest of the team, traveled to Disney World from Jan. 29-Feb. 4 to compete in the National Dance Team Championship.

Morgan Vehige, Sports Editor

The magic of Disney World is well-known and well-spread throughout different areas in the country. From the thrill-seeking rides to the princes and princesses roaming the park to the iconic Mickey Mouse ears everywhere, almost everyone can get a feeling of what makes the place so special. 

For senior Leenie Johns, her previous love of all things Disney increased after visiting Disney World with the Varsity Escadrille team. 

The team traveled to Orlando, Florida on Jan. 29 and stayed until Feb. 4 to participate in the Universal Dance Association’s National Dance Team Championship. Overall, the team placed 13th in the medium pom routine and 14th in the medium jazz routine.

Johns has always been a Disney fan, ever since she was a little girl. Even today, she still is an avid fan and looks forward to seeing what movies and things Disney comes up with and learning new things. 

As I’ve grown up it still makes me feel as happy and magical as when I was a kid,” Johns said. “It also still has good life lessons, I can watch movies and be happy but still learn a good lesson no matter what movie I watch.”

After going a few times as a little kid, Johns was excited to return to Disney World in high school, rather than going when she was a kid. 

In both her junior and senior years, the team stayed and competed at Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort for the majority of the duration of the trip.

“It was really fun. They incorporate almost all the characters in each of the resorts,” Johns said. “Then we went to the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) Wide World of Sports and then all of the parks. We were on the Disney grounds the whole time.”

Things were different for Johns and the Escadrille team as compared to previous years. Last year, the team only had two returning members to the National stage, whereas everyone else had new blood. However, this year, there was an even mix of those returning, and those new to the stage.

“This year, we had a lot more experience so we really went into it trying to get to the finals and we did and it was the best thing ever to say that we achieved our goal,” Johns said. 

After finishing the competition, the team was able to go to the Walt Disney World Resort once again to ride the rollercoasters, eat the food and see the fireworks over Cinderella’s Castle at the end of the night. 

Although it was her last year competing with the Escadrille at Nationals, Johns is already looking fondly back on all the memories she made.

“It was my two favorite things becoming one,” she said. “I love Disney, I love dancing, and they’re both huge parts of my life. When we danced on the final stage, in front of the big cardboard castle that represented the Kingdom Castle, it was incredible. I love being able to say that I danced in front of it.”