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All Good Things…

January 17, 2010

Dear Reader,

Sometimes life gets crazy.  And preparing to leave the “Happiest Place on Earth” was definitely an opportunity for things to get full-tilt, go-for-broke insane.  After our week at Animal Kingdom, we did end up going back to Tomorrowland for the last week of the program.  It was nice to be back “home”, but everyone’s hours were insane because of the holidays.  We were working 11, 12, 13 hour days that often ended at 3:00 or 4:00 A.M.  And on top of that, I was also trying to cram in all of the things I wanted to do before the end of hte program.  I went to dinners with friends and roommates, picked up shifts at new locations, packed my things, celebrated the holidays, and just generally tried to enjoy the little down time I had.  So I apologize that I wasn’t able to document the end of my experience.  I genuinely wish I had had the time, for my own sake as much as for any readers out there who were hungering to find out how this grand adventure would end (I’m sure there was somebody out there who was at least curious). 

Looking back on it, though, my last weeks in Orlando weren’t really any more adventurous than the weeks before.  Life’s usually like that.  There really are no neat endings, tied up with a bow.  One story simply begins to bleed into the next.  There was no grand climax, no enormous moment of revelation and completion.  It just…ended.  I packed my car, said goodbye, and headed off for home.  It was difficult, but I was also ready to get back to school, work, and my family and friends.

This semester, though, was one of the best of my life (what little of it I’ve experienced so far, anyway).  I went out, had an adventure, lived in a new town, met new people, and did brand new things I never imagined I would get to do.  I was able to do all of it, and pick right back up where I left off when I returned home. 

So, thank you, Dear Reader, for following my adventures.  Whether you’re a person I see everyday in my real life, or someone who just checks in on my blog every now and then to see what the CP is like, I truly appreciate that there are people out there who were reading as I recorded my crazy adventures.  I really wrote it for myself, but without knowing that there were people out there interested in what I had to say, I would have given it up before I even began.

And now, almost one year after I began this blog, I am officially out of things to say.  This chapter is over, and it ends the way all good stories should…

And They Lived Happily, Ever After.

The End

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Drive-by Posting

December 16, 2009

In case you’re still unsure, this whole College Program thing is exhausting.  Fun, but exhausting.  So even though I love updating my blog, I just don’t seem to have the time anymore.  I’m hoping to sit down in the next few days and write some full-length catch-up posts, but just in case that doesn’t happen, here are a few thoughts and tidbits that I just feel the need to record.  I’m too tired for segues!

Today was our CP completion program, a.k.a. Graduation Day!  There was a huge picnic at Mickey’s Retreat, we all got graduation mouse ears and diplomas, and got our picture taken with the boss.  Tons of fun!  It lasted from 10:30 to 2:00, but we didn’t get there until around 12:30.  They had so much fun stuff to do, I wish we had gone earlier.  I went with all of my roommates, and we had a great time goofing off, taking pictures, and just hanging out.  I love these girls, and I got a little emotional about leaving for the first time today.

I’ve been working insane hours since I moved to Tomorrowland.  I almost never go in earlier than 5:00 pm, and if I get off before 1:15 am, that’s an early night.  Yesterday I worked for more than 14 hours, but I only have myself to blame.  One of the girls from work was trying to give away her shift because she had family in town, so I picked it up.  I already had a shift of my own that day, so I ended up working from 9:00 am to 11:45 pm.  It was exhausting, but I also have to admit that it was a little exhilarating.  As I clocked out, I really felt like if I could survive that, I could survive anything.  It was a really good day for it though, because I was working at Space Mountain, and it went down four times.  So it wasn’t a very busy day, and one of the times it went down I was at Preview so I just sat on the big comfy couches for almost an hour waiting for the ride to come back up.  I’m telling you, this can be a rough job.🙂

The insanity is about to end, though, because all 6 of us who came to Tomorrowland after Food & Wine Festival are being sent back to Animal Kingdom.  I was really upset at first, because they weren’t sure if we would all be together.  But it turns out we’ll all be in Asia together, so at least I won’t be totally surrounded by strangers for my last couple of weeks.  Right now we’re only deployed there for the week of Christmas, but they may deploy us for the week of New Year, too.  We’ll just have to wait and see.  I’m definitely excited to have some normal hours!

In honor of leaving Tomorrowland, here’s a picture I should have posted a long time ago:

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‘Tis the Season…for Homesickness!

December 4, 2009

In the four months since I got here, I haven’t had too much trouble with homesickness.  But I have to be honest:  it’s gotten a lot harder ever since my family left.  And with the holidays coming up, it’s been even more difficult. I’m definitely still glad to be here, but I have to keep reminding myself to not wish the days away between now and January 2nd.

Part of my restlessness has been unhappiness with my work schedule.  The transition to working evenings/nights at Magic Kingdom has been easier physically than I expected, but harder mentally.  I don’t feel physically exhausted anymore when 1:00 AM starts to roll around, but I don’t feel like my usual sunny, perky self when I have to sleep in until 11:00 the next day and then don’t have time to do anything fun before my next shift starts.  All I can say is that I’m glad I didn’t have to keep this schedule the entire program.  I just don’t know if I could have made it.

But not all is doom and gloom in this magical kingdom I call home.  Although my roommates and I didn’t get to go home for the holidays, we did get to have a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner together.  And even if we’re not related, we’re definitely a family.  Melissa had to work, but the rest of us didn’t have to go in until late afternoon, so Traci cooked us a delicious  meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and all of the other traditional Turkey day dishes.  We watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and then sat around the table, taking turns sharing our “thankfuls.”  We all agreed our “Florida family” was definitely something to be thankful for!

There’s a lot of exciting stuff coming up.  My grandparents should be landing in just a few minutes at the airport.  Two of my grandma’s sisters and their husbands are coming to meet them, so the six of them are going to have a wonderful Disney vacation, and I’ll be spending most of my time off with them over the next week.  There’s also a trip with people from work to see the Candlelight Processional narrated by Anika Noni Rose, the College Program Winter Formal, the midnight showing of “The Princess and the Frog”, the College Program Completion Ceremony, and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party to look forward to.  Hopefully the old adage about time flying and fun-having will prove true, and all of these goings-on will distract me until after the difficult holiday season is over.

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Food Tastes Better When It’s Free!

November 20, 2009

It’s 2:00 in the morning, and I just walked in the door from work.  It was a good day: we had a Christmas party, I got two more Great Service Fanatic Cards, and had more great guests than usual.  I didn’t get off until 1:15 though, so I was exhausted by the end of the night.  The only thing keeping me going was the thought that Burger King was on the way home, and I was gonna stop and get a Whopper.  Yum!

I called Erik as I was leaving work.  It was late, but he knew I was getting off late and wanted to stay up late enough to talk to me. (Aww!)  So I was on the phone with him as I pulled in to Burger King.  It was 1:57 by the time I got there, but all of the lights were on, so I decided they must still be open.  I pulled in to the drive-thru, rolled down my window, and started to ask for a Whopper with the works when that crackly voice said, “Sorry, we’re closed!”  I was flabbergasted.  I asked if he was serious, and of course he was.  Dejected, I began to pull around.  But as I was telling Erik they were closed, I decided to use my secret weapon: my feminine wiles.  I drove up to the window, waited for someone to come over, and pointed out (with a big, sweet smile) that it was still two minutes until 2:00.  He smiled, sighed, and asked me what kind of burger I wanted.  As I told him I would take whatever they had ready, I began to get out my wallet.  “Don’t worry about it,” he said.  When he turned around to get my burger, I picked up my phone and laughed as I told Erik that this guy was going to give me a burger.  Then I notice that the guy is also scooping up an order of fries!  As I drove away with my burger, yes, I felt a little pathetic in a “Liz Lemon” sort of way (Click here if you have no idea who Liz Lemon is).  But I also felt triumphant.  Erik could only stammer furiously about how girls get whatever they want.  And he’s right!  Ah, it’s good to be a female.

In other news, I had my Campus Rep interview today, which just may have been the most successful interview ever: she offered me a slot on the team right then and there.  After she’d asked me a few questions about my CP experience, she said it sounded like I had some great ideas for promoting the program, and that I would be a valuable addition to the team.  She said she’d like to offer me the spot, and I said I’d like to accept the spot!  That makes this my first post as a Campus Rep.  Yay!

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Titles Are SO Overrated

November 18, 2009

Even though I ended up dropping my Exploring Marketing class, I guess someone somewhere still hasn’t gotten the memo, because I ended up getting today off after being back at work for only one day.  Not that I’m complaining, though.  I spent my day doing mostly nothing, but that was just what I needed.  I’m still exhausted from all the vacation time I’ve taken lately!  I did go mini-golfing with a couple of friends today at Fantasia Gardens and then we went for ice cream at Beaches and Cream.  Other than that, though, I haven’t done much at all!

Tomorrow will be a much busier day, though.  I’ll start the morning with an interview for the Campus Rep position.  I got an email from them yesterday, saying that they wanted me to call and schedule a time to talk with a recruiter.  I really have a good feeling about this.  I can’t imagine that it’s very competitive.  As far as I know, only about 10 people were even accepted from the schools in my area, based on how many people showed up for the meet-and-greet events they held back before we came down.  I have no idea how many of those people ended up coming down.  Even if there were 5 of us down here, I can’t imagine that more than a couple of us applied to be Campus Reps.  I think that, at this point, it kind of all comes down to how well I do in the interview.  It wouldn’t surprise me at all to find out I’m the only candidate, so it just depends on whether they think I would be a useful addition to the recruiting team.  We’ll find out tomorrow, I guess!  My interview is at 10:30 with Anne, who I’m pretty sure is the same recruiter who hosted the information meeting I attended way back in March.  Fingers crossed!

Then I will go to my first regular day of work at Tomorrowland, which, in reality, isn’t all that regular.  I’ll be working a “Call In Factor” shift.  I had never heard of this before, but was told that I’ll just be put wherever they might need me that morning.  If someone should call in sick, I will take their spot.  Part of me kind of hopes that maybe, just maybe, no one will call in.  Then maybe they won’t need my anywhere, and I can just hang out in the break room all day!  But the other part of me knows that will never happen. *sigh* I can dream, though, right?

I really do like Tomorrowland so far.  My last day of training on Tuesday went great.  We worked on Photo Imaging, which I had never done before, but it was super easy.  By the end of the day, my trainer was kind of just letting me goof off.  It was a Christmas party night, so we stood outside and watched the Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show (which was terrible!) and the Christmas Fireworks (which were good, but not as good as the Halloween fireworks.)

Just a few minutes after the fireworks started, a much more interesting, much more sad show played out right in front of us.  A mom came out of Space Mountainwith her son following her, screaming at the top of his lungs.  The kid was about 10 years old,and I couldn’t tell what he was saying, but his tone made me think, if that was my kid… Well, apparently his mother had had enough, too, because just then she smacked him upside the back of the head, Three Stooges-style.  It’s never right to really hit a child, but I have to admit that it made me laugh a bit.  But then all of a sudden she kicked at him!  I mean really reared back and tried to kick the crap out of her son!  The kid jumped out of the way just in time, and the mom jumped towards him, grabbed him, and held him down in the flower beds.  It was dark, and they were pretty far away so I couldn’t swear to this, but it looked like she had him around the throat!  I turned to my trainer and pointed the situation out to her and asked what we should do.  Just then an Attractions leader came out of Space Mountain and started walking towards the two.  We decided to watch and see what he would do.  He stood and watched them for a while, and just a little later security showed up.  I have no idea what ended up happening: when we left, security was still talking to the mom.  But my question is, if she would treat him like that in public, how does she treat him at home?  Somehow, sad things seem even more sad when they happen at the Happiest Place on Earth.

Aside from that little…adventure…it was a fun, successful training day.  My hours are definitely going to be crazy–I work until 1:15 am the next two days and work until 3:45 am on Sunday.  Yikes!  It’s going to be tiring, but I’m hoping that maybe I won’t have so many closing shifts when I’ve been there longer.  Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but my shifts always got better after the first couple of weeks at DAK and Epcot.  Time will tell.  For now, though, I’m going to take advantage of the early night and try to get some sleep: it may become a scarce commodity in the coming weeks.

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A Post About All Last Week, But Mostly the Food

November 17, 2009

I have to say, it is a strange sensation to vacation at the place where you work.  But of course, when you work at Disney World, it’s also pretty nifty.  My family has all gone home now, but we had a great time.  We went to all four parks multiple times, ate tons of great food on the Dining Plan, and even went to Disney Quest, which was fun, but would have been WAY overpriced if four of us hadn’t gotten in free.

Unfortunately,  I did have to work two days while they were here.  I had my first two days of training for Tomorrowland.  They were okay, but basically a repeat of the training for the other two parks.  First we had the tour day of Magic Kingdom, and the next day was area training.  I had the second day with Kevin and Drew, a couple of guys I worked with at Food and Wine.  It was kind of annoying because our trainer kept showing us things and saying, “But you guys probably knew that.”  And nine times out of ten we did.  The only thing that was really new to me (besides the area, of course) was photo imaging.  We will be in charge of selling the photos they take on the rides at Buzz Lightyear and the newly revamped Space Mountain.  I’m going to get a full day of imaging training this afternoon, and then I’ll be ready to start working for real.

Speaking of Space Mountain, the ride has been having soft openings for the last few days.  A soft opening is when a new or newly revamped ride is open before it’s scheduled to open, but it is in test mode and can be shut down whenever they need to.  This keeps them from opening a ride with great fanfare, only to have problems the first day.  My family was lucky enough to catch Space Mountain during a soft opening.  It’s been several years since I’ve ridden, but from what I can tell, the ride itself is basically the same.  The queue has been updated, with a new ceiling over the queue area, and an Asteroids-style shooter game on screens that  line the queue walls to keep people entertained while they wait.  The ceiling means that you can no longer watch the trains zooming around on the track while you wait, but it does make the ride itself darker.  Not many substantial changes, but since I’ve always loved the ride, that works for me!

I took my family to the airport early yesterday morning, so it was a tough day for me.  I was really feeling down, but last night my roommates and I got all spiffed up and had dinner at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian with the characters from Cinderella.  It was a really great buffet, and we had a fantastic time together, as always. It was a great way to get back into the swing of regular life, and improved my mood drastically.

I spent part of yesterday afternoon using up all of the meals and snacks that we had left over from our dining plan.  I went “grocery shopping” at Wolfgang Puck Express, and ended up with three pizzas, one barbecue quesadilla, an order of rosemary chicken with mashed potatoes, two chocolate chip cookies, two brownies, a creme brulee, four bottled waters, and one coke.  That’s $95 dollars worth of food.  It is now all in the refrigerator, and boy, will I be eating good this week!  I also got canned Cokes, cereal, Nilla wafers, and fruit from the Pop Century food court with our remaining snacks.

Well, it’s time for me to get ready for work, but first I’m going to eat some of the delicious food I just wrote about!  I made myself hungry!  Maybe some rosemary chicken…hmmm…

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Festival Finality, Family, and Floor Fries

November 9, 2009

It’s 8:30, and even though I’m usually a pretty early riser,  here I am: still laying in bed.  (BTW, it’s hard to type lying down.)  It’s one of those mornings where I’m almost lying here in protest.  I’m sweating under the covers, I can’t go back to sleep, and yet I’m not about to get up, because that would mean conceding victory to my internal clock which decided to wake me up way before my alarm went off.  And today of all mornings!  I worked until 10:30 last night tearing down after the last night of Food and Wine Festival.  So I was thinking that I would sleep in a bit and get really well rested before my family arrives today.  Alas, my body had other ideas, so here I am blogging instead of sleeping.

I realize I’m being a big baby. 7:30 isn’t all that early to wake up and it is a very exciting day.  It’s been three months since I’ve seen my family and I really can’t wait.  I’m going to buy their park tickets this morning, and I’m going to swing by the Pop Century to see if I can check in a little early before I go pick them up.  I’m also going to try to find a different way to the Sanford Airport than the way I went last time: it cost me 15 bucks in tolls!

They came at a perfect time.  Like I said, I was on the tear down crew last night for Food and Wine Festival.  I will have to do training at the Magic Kingdom on Thursday and Saturday, as those weren’t days I was originally approved to take off and I couldn’t get out of it.  But otherwise I will have the entire time they’re here off.  Erik will fly in on Friday, and they’ll all leave together next Monday (I’m trying not to think about it already!)

It’s been a real revolving door of roommates here this week.  Traci and Holly have both been back home all this week and are both coming back tomorrow.  The rest of us are all taking our turns going to stay in the hotels: I’m leaving today for a week, Melissa’s leaving tomorrow, Kat’s been staying at a resort with friends for the last couple of days, and Brit will be doing the same later this week.  It’s really amazing how much I miss these girls while they’re gone.  Sure, it’s nice to have the apartment to myself, but it’s just too quiet!  Luckily, Kat got us reservations months ago for dinner at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian.  It’s a character dinner buffet with the characters from Cinderella.  We’re all going to get dressed up and go together next Monday, the night my family is flying back to Missouri.  The timing is just perfect because it will be a great way for us all to get back together, compare vacation notes, and then go back to regular apartment life.  It will also help distract me from what I’m sure will be an emotional night with a slight risk of homesickness relapse.

I’ve still got to finish packing and clean out my car so all five of us can fit in.  I really need to go get it vacuumed, because I spilled fries under the seat when I was taking Tiffany and Brett to the airport a few days ago.  Floor fries don’t really smell, but they’re still gross!  I don’t think I’m going to get it done, though.  Oh, well.  At least I’ll have a snack for the long drive out to Sanford!🙂