The Stingerettes said goodbye to Denison and hello to Disney World last weekend as they traveled to the famed theme-park for a special performance that was one year in the making.

The 34 young ladies of Denison High School’s drill team hopped a plane out of Dallas and headed to Orlando over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend to show off an original dance routine before a large crowd of visitors and parents. And when they weren’t on the stage, the girls were out and about, eagerly exploring the park.

“It was a great experience for all of us and to be there with your best friends made it even better,” junior Head Lieutenant D’nai Massey said.

Team Director Christi Mitchell said the Stingerettes put on a marathon, 15-minute routine that featured a variety of dance styles, including jazz, tap, kick and pom. But what really won the crowd over, according to Mitchell, was their incorporated tribute to the late civil right’s icon honored that weekend.

“The response was really good,” Mitchell said. “We did a patriotic routine because it was MLK weekend. We had sound bites from Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech in our closing number. People really responded well to that and liked that.”

Mitchell explained that the Stingerettes get to take part in a travel performance every three years and they set their sights on Disney World when the opportunity to hit the road came around again. She said the Stingerettes submitted a detailed audition and application last January to the Disney Performing Arts program, which welcomes performers of all ages and talents from across the country for its annual performance. And once they were invited to participate, the girls got to work.

“There were definitely a lot of 6 a.m. practices,” senior Captain Adrienne Hernandez said.

But to get to Disney World, work had to be done outside the dance studio, too. The Stingerettes hosted a number of fundraisers throughout the year including two pancake breakfasts, a fall festival, a parents’ night out and dance clinics for young children. Mitchell said the money raised largely covered the travel costs and thanked the community for its support in getting the girls to their goal.

When their work and performance was complete, the team members made their way deep into Disney World’s many different themed parks for some fun and fandom.

“They got giddy and were so excited to meet the princesses and the different characters,” Mitchell said. “It’s like they became kids again as soon they walked in through the gates.”

Hernandez said she couldn’t help but shed some tears of joy when she crossed paths with her Disney princess idol, Ariel, of the Little Mermaid. She said while that encounter was likely the highlight of her trip, the many other experiences were fun and gave the team some inspiration for its next performance.

“It was also really good to see all the plays and go on the rides because it gave us a lot of ideas for our spring show,” Hernandez said.

The team’s captain said she was a little sad to think that this is her last year as a Stingerette, but had no doubt that she will look back fondly on her time with the team and the trip to Disney World.

“It was one of the best experiences of my life,” Hernandez said.

The Stingerettes’s Disney-inspired spring show will take place on April 29.