Archive for September, 2009

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Does Anybody Even Read These Titles?

September 24, 2009

Today was one of those days where all sorts of events that I’d been looking forward to just so happened to fall on the same day.  I had the SALSA sale, the Cast Member preview for Food and Wine Festival, and my first real day at Epcot.  The first couple were sort of a bust, but the last one really was a nice change of pace.  The “SALSA” in SALSA Sale is supposed to stand for “Spend A Little, Save A Lot” (don’t ask me what happened to the extra L from ‘Lot’!) But today I didn’t even spend a little!  We got there right as the sale was supposed to be beginning, but everyone was still standing in a line outside.  Come to find out, they only let in a few people at a time to keep the place from getting too crowded.  We waited for almost an hour before we finally got inside, only to be disappointed by what we found.  there were lots of things to choose from, but nothing that grabbed our attention, and certainly nothing worth waiting through the crazy lines for.  So we left empty-handed.

After a little rest at the apartment, we headed over to the Cast Preview for the Food & Wine Festival, which was fun, but the booths didn’t open until 1:00, and I had to start work at 3:45, so we didn’t get very many places.  I only ate at the South Africa ki0sk, where I had the beef tips with sweet potatoes and mango chili sauce.  Although the portion was tiny for the price, it was delicious and I definitely could have eaten an entire meals’ worth.  We had a good time, but I have to say that I think I enjoyed working the Festival this evening more than I enjoyed attending it as a guest.  I worked in the booth where Heather French, an artist who has designed the festival’s poster in the past, was selling her own paintings, and it was really neat to hear someone talk about their work like that.  I really hope to get to know Ms. French better when I work in her booth, because I would love to hear how she became the “unofficial artist” of the Epcot Festivals. 

Almost everything else about our booth was nice, too, and I really had a good time getting to know people.  Things at Epcot are definitely much different than at Animal Kingdom, and there were a few bugs that will hopefully be worked out for the Grand Opening tomorrrow.  For one, there are no lights in the stock trailer!  None at all!  Lights are sort of important, ya know?

 Because today was our “Soft Opening”, we closed at 8:00, an hour earlier than normal.  But we were scheduled to work until 9:45, so they sent us over to “Mouse Gear”, Epcot’s enormous store, to finish out the night.  All I can say is that I’m glad I don’t work there all of the time!  I didn’t like their setup at all: it was really crowded behind the registers, and the store is just overwhelmingly large.

It was a fun day, but I have to admit I’m glad it’s over.  My knees are killing me!  I’m too young to hurt this badly!  I just keep thinking how great all of this walking is going to be for my legs: who needs to do extracurricular exercise when they walk around the World every day at work?

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So Close, And Yet…

September 21, 2009

Well, I never did finish writing about my first day of training at Epcot.  But it’s all for the best, because now I can write about day one and day two!  But first, you guys get to see pictures of our White Glove Award-worthy apartment! 

Chatham - Bedroom Chatham Front Entry Way - Dining Room, Kitchen

Chatham Living Room

We had our first apartment inspection this morning, so we spent all day yesterday cleaning furiously and even putting out a few tasteful Halloween decorations.  By the time we went to bed last night, our apartment looked so good that I had almost no doubts we’d be getting the White Glove Award – the highest honor apartment cleaning has to offer.  Not only is it prestigious, the title comes with a giant box of Ferrer0 Rocher chocolates!  Unfortunately, though, notice our apartment is only White Glove Award-worthy, not White Glove Award-winning.  😦  One of my roommates was in the shower this morning when the inspectors came by, so they couldn’t inspect their shower (which was sparkling clean!) and therefore couldn’t give us the award.  But we got perfect marks on everything else, and I know we’ll get it next time!  We did get a consolation prize of sorts, though: all six of us got a little snack-sized pack of Knotts Raspberry Shortbread cookies.

I had Park Discovery Day today at Epcot, and, of course, had lots of fun touring the park.  We rode Spaceship Earth, and walked around World Showcase before it opened, but the highlight of the day was…a secret.  Unfortunately, we were sworn to secrecy about this super cute, super fun initiation ritual for new Epcot Cast Members after we participated.  We raised our right hands, said, “I do solemnly swear that I will never speak of _________________, so help me Mickey,” and promised to preserve the surprise for future Epcot CMs.  So I will honor that promise.  But for all you future Epcot-ians, prepare yourself for a little fun when you get to the Showcase Plaza. Beyond that? My lips are sealed.

After today, I’m much more excited about the move over to Epcot and the Food and Wine Festival.  My first day of training had me down a little bit, because, number one, it involved a lot of tedious legal information and lots of listening to presentations.  Number two, we were informed of an interesting little tidbit involving days off and requesting leave.  Apparently, the people who signed up for F&W knew what they were gettting in to, but it came as a bit of a shock to the rest of us: they are not going to be honoring leave requests during the 6 weeks of the Festival, including those requests that have already been approved on the Hub.  We have to have full availability.  This means that it’s not only going to be very difficult to get off to use the ticket I bought for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, but that I will probably have trouble gettting any time off while my friends are here the first week of November.  They’ve already bought their plane tickets and everything, so I’m just hoping that maybe I’ll be able to trade some shifts with people, or that they were over-exaggerating the difficulty of getting time off.  Maybe it will also help that the time I’m really needing off is at the end of the Festival.  All I can do right now is keep my fingers crossed!

As I said, today was much more interactive, though, and even my scheduling worries are begginning to take a back seat to the excitement.  I do love Epcot, and I hear that F&W is a blast.  I know that lots of the seasonal CMs come back year after year just to do the Festival.  So I really am lucky, I guess.  The Soft Opening and Cast Member Preview for the Festival is next Thursday, the 24th, and since I don’t have to work until late that afternoon, I plan to spend part of the morning checking out the booths.  The early part of the morning I will be at the SALSA sale–a giant Cast Members-only sale.  I don’t know much about it, except that people have been talking about it for a month already and people are planning to be there hours before they open on the first day, sort of like Day After Thanksgiving shopping.  The way I see it, that’s got to be a good sign for any bargain hunter, right?

For a parting shot, here’s a picture of me in my latest costume. Cute, right? 😉

My Costume for Epcot Food & Wine Festival.  These pants are disgustingly see-through!

My Costume for Epcot Food & Wine Festival. These pants are disgustingly see-through!

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A Whole New World (Well, Park, At Least!)

September 17, 2009

I know I”ve said it before, but today was a very, very long day.  Could be because I got less than four hours of sleep last night! 

It all started yesterday with a good, responsible decision.  Brit, Melissa, Holly, and I went to the Cool Beans Cafe over at Vista Way.  I have to say, this was my favorite housing event yet.  Karaoke.  What else can I say?  I love the spotlight, so I sang a song, and then Brit and I did a duet.  We chose that great standard, “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Mulan, complete with human-video style motions.  It was super fun. There were a lot of really entertaining performances, but I’m pretty sure ours was the best.  😉 We actually had strangers come up to us after we were done just to tell us how awesome we were!

But a little after 10:00, I decided to do the responsible thing and go back to Chatham so I could get some sleep because I knew I needed to be at work at 8:00 this morning.  So I called Erik on my way back, and as we were talking, he asked me what time I was getting off tonight.  Well, when I looked at my schedule to check, I noticed that it said I was supposed to be at Epcot for Food  & Wine Festival Training this morning!  It was 11:30, and I had no shoes, no costume, and no idea where I needed to go for training.  Just to say “Epcot” isn’t really enough information!  It’s huge! 

So I ran out the door to Wal-Mart to buy the requisite white tennis shoes, waited through the world’s longest line (apparantly, Wal-Mart is the cool place to be on a Wednesday night in Orlando), and rushed back home so I could get in bed.  Finally, just after 1:00 AM, I was flipping off the light.  Costuming would open at 7:00, which would give me an hour to get my costume, figure out where I needed to be, and get clocked in for work at 8:00.  But, alas, I wasn’t to get the four and half hours of sleep that I was hoping for, because I woke up with a nosebleed at 5:00 this morning!  Half an hour before my alarm was supposed to go off!  Ugh! 

So the day didn’t exactly get off to a great start.  But at least I got out the door on time this morning, had no trouble getting my costume, and even found the training group!  Come to find out, though, I WAS SUPPOSED TO COME IN BUSINESS DRESS!  They made a mistake on my schedule, and didn’t put that it was supposed to be a Park Discovery Day, like DAKlimation at Animal Kingdom.  So they moved my Discovery Day to Monday, and had me do the training for Monday today.  It was a real mess.  And the worst part of it was, if I had only known that I could wear business casual, I would have been able to easily get in 6 hours of sleep!  6!

The training itself was a whole other story, but one that I just don’t have the energy for right now.  I mean, you heard the story!  So check back for part 2 of this epic adventure, which I will finish after a quick nap!  (or tomorrow.  Probably tomorrow. :))

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Video Blogging–The Lazy Blogger’s Best Friend

September 13, 2009

My first video blog!  Hope you all enjoy it.  These may happen more and more, but I’m not sure I’m happy about it.  Does anyone enjoy watching videos of themselves?   I sure don’t!

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Taking Advantage of The Perks

September 11, 2009

Hi, there!  My name is Bethany, this is my blog!  It’s been a long time, so I thought I’d better introduce myself!  Now that that’s out of the way, I can update you all.  Not that there’s much happening: I’m working, hanging out with my roommates, and trying to help arrange travel plans for all of the friends and family I have coming to visit me very soon.  My boyfriend, one of my best friends and her boyfriend, my grandparents, and my parents and brothers are all coming down at seperate times in October and November.  There’ve been a hundred different details that I have to check out for them because of my special Cast Member rates.  Not to mention trying to get at least some time off when each group is here.  But I’m glad to be doing it, and I can’t wait to see all of them.

Earlier this week, Melissa, Brit and I went to Property Control: the Cast Members-only store where damaged items can be bought at a steep discount.  It wasn’t the first time I’d been, but it was the first time I’d had any luck finding anything.  I definitely had a good trip this time, though: I bought $80 worth of merchandise for $12.  The crown jewel of my shopping experience?  The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror version of Clue.  I absolutely love the original game, and I wanted this version from the first time I saw it in the store.  Unfortunately, the original price was $40.  I wasn’t about to pay that, but lucky me, it was only $10 at Property Control!  The only problem with it is a small dent in the corner of the storage tin.  But otherwise it’s perfect!  I also bought a couple of park DVDs for $1 each. 

I had the day off today, so Brit and I spent it at Epcot.  This is my first time being in Epcot since I came with my family three years ago.  A lot has changed since then, and, since this park has never been my family’s favorite, there were still a lot of things there that I had never done before.  So we decided to do the whole park as tourists: be there when it opens, stay till it closes, and try to see everything in one day.  We started off the morning in Future World, and moved into World Showcase when it opened.  Universe of Energy and Journey Into Your Imagination were both new to me, though I don’t really feel like I was missing much. lol.  Both of them were pretty lame.  Even Eric Idle couldn’t save JIYI.  And I’ve also decided that Figment isn’t a cute dragon…he’s scary!  That’s supposed to be a kid’s ride, but there was just something about that creepy little lizard that I didn’t trust. 

I’m kidding of course, but both of these rides were slight disappointments.  One thing that didn’t disappoint, though, was the food throughout World Showcase.  I started off the day with the Cassolette d’escargots de Bourgogne au beurre at Chefs de France.  This was an appetizer, but I had it for a light lunch.  It was escargot (snails, for the uninitiated) cooked in parsley and garlic and was absolutely delicious!  I had never had escargot before, and was a little unsure about whether or not I would be able to eat it.  But I had no problem, and would order the same dish again in a heartbeat.  We followed up Chefs de France with Restaurant Marrakesh, where Brit and I split an order of Bastilla, a delicious pastry dessert.  The food in France was my favorite of the day, but this was my favorite restaurant.  While we ate, a live band, complete with belly dancer, performed, making the experience wonderful even beyond the food.  I rounded out the day with a potato, goat cheese, and vegetable tart in Norway at Kringla Bakeri og Kafe, sushi in Japan at Tokyo Dining, and a gelato in Italy.  This last was, I suppose, the most disappointing thing of the day.  It wasn’t really gelato; just ice cream!  But still, it was good chocolate ice cream, so how much can I complain?

Tomorrrow I will be working my first full day as a Merchantainer, which means that I just walk the floor trying to help guests.  I hear it can be a long, boring way to pass the day, but I’m hoping for the best!  Tomorrow will also begin my new experiment:  I’m going to start taking the bus to work.  I’m tired of wasting gas!  Plus, this way I can grab my Pop Tarts, take a book, and relax on the trip to work instead of trying to navigate traffic.  Sounds like a win-win situation to me!  There are definitely some down-sides though.  I’ll have to leave a little earlier in the mornings, and there’s always a chance of the buses running late, causing me to be late.  That wouldn’t be good.  But I’m at least going to give it a shot, and we’ll see how it goes tomorrow!

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Howdy, Y’all!

September 7, 2009

I thought I’d had some long days: I hadn’t even come close to a true long day.  Today, I left the house at 7:00 a.m. and didn’t get home until 11:00 p.m.  For the mathematically challenged, that’s 16 hours.  I worked a total of 12 hours – 6 in Discovery Island and 6 in Frontierland at Magic Kingdom.

I have to say, though, that today was really great.  Stocking at DAK went really quickly and smoothly.  Before I knew it, I was on my way over to Magic Kingdom. All I can say about MK vs. DAK is…wow.  At Animal Kingdom, Cast Members park in a designated lot right next to guest parking, and walk in in the same area as the guests.  We walk on-stage to get to our work areas, only going backstage once we reach our destination.  At Magic Kingdom, Cast Members have to contend with the infamous Utilidors, the underground tunnel system beneath MK.  Cast Members park very, very far away at MK, and take a bus to the entrance of the tunnels.  Then you walk forever, through color coded tunnels, to get to your destination.  You store your things in lockers in the tunnels, take the elevator up, and get completely into character before stepping on-stage.  It really is a whole different experience.

After going to get my special issue costume and finally figuring out how to get on-stage, I had a little time to kill before work.  So I wandered around Adventureland, Frontierland, and Liberty Square (in street clothes, of course.)  I caught the end of the “Celebrate a Dream Come True” parade, shopped, and watched the Pirate Tutorial in Adventureland.  This little show was such an unexpected treat!  It’s a street show, where Captain Jack Sparrow and his assistant come out and teach the kids in the crowd how to win a swordfight, Captain Jack-style (by running away!), and make them Official Future Crew Members.  Both Captain Jack and his assistant were very good, and of course the kids were adorable.  They finished off the show by leading the crowd in a sing along of “Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate’s Life for Me”.  The whole thing was too cute, and definitely a pleasant way to pass a little time. I highly recommend stopping to watch if you ever pass by a show in progress. 

Once I finally got to work, I rotated between Big Al’s (an outdoor stand), the Frontierland Trading Post (a Pin Trading Center) and Prairie Outpost (candy and other treats).  I had an absolute blast!  Working in Animal Kingdom, sure, there’s a theme.  We say things like “Have a Wild Time!” and talk about how we’ve heard that there’s a Yeti hiding in the mountains, and just generally staying in character.  But working in Frontierland, I was really able to unleash my inner drama queen.  I’d greet people with a great big, “howdy!”, call kids “sugar” or “pardner”, and make any of the kids buying toy guns promise me that they wouldn’t use ’em to hold up any trains.  I sort of created a character for myself, and I loved every minute of it.  I was a rootin’, tootin’ frontiers-woman!

The costume in Forntierland is also way cuter than the one on Discovery Island, although it isn’t as comfortable. 

The Frontierland Get-up.

The Frontierland Get-up.

The long skirt is fun, but hot, and the material for the skirt and shirt is really thick.  Plus, I had to tuck the shirt in.  Yuck!  It was definitely nice to have a waist, though! 🙂

I was really disappointed that I was getting so few hours, but now I”m thinking it could be a good thing.  I had so much fun tonight; I’m going to pick up Extra Hours every chance I get!

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This Post Has No Title…Just Words and a Tune

September 3, 2009

Another day working registers.  Like yesterday, I spent most of the day at Creature Comforts.  Register there wasn’t as awesome as stock, but it still wasn’t bad.  The best part was playing tic-tac-toe with a little girl who only spoke Spanish.  This was another chance to use what I learned this summer, and I did ask her name and how old she was.  Other than that, it was all smiles, points, grunts, and charades, which I think is pretty amazing.  It makes the world seem so much smaller when you realize that people can communicate almost wordlessly.  So many gestures and inarticulate sounds are universal.  We played for probably half an hour while her mom shopped, not really saying anything beyond “Ha!” when we won or “Gah!” when we lost.

After a short break, CDS (the Cast Deployment System) told me to find two of the Cast Members working parade duty and to give them their next assignment.  Wouldn’t ya know, one of them was stuck on the other side of the parade route, so I had to stand there and watch the whole stinkin’ parade while I waited. I’m being sarcastic, of course.  I love the parade!  Every afternoon, I count down the minutes until 3:45, when it will start.  You can hear the music coming from quite a ways away, and you can always tell when the parade is within sight: the crowd gets so still as people stop trying to squeeze through, and just stop to watch.  Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade wasn’t my favorite when I first came to WDW as a guest.  But, like all of Animal Kingdom, I’m starting to appreciate it more all the time.  It’s less formal than the 3:00 parade at Magic Kingdom, and guest participation is much greater.  In fact, it’s almost impossible not to at least clap your hands, and I almost always find myself humming along with the music.  The giant animal puppets are definitely my favorite part, but I also love watching the faces of the guests who get to ride along in the parade.  I’m sure their smiles are genuine when they start off in Africa, but by the time they reach Discovery Island, their cheeks must be hurting because their smiles are so forced that they’re nearly grimaces, and they’re barely waving.  And they always look so self-conscious!  Maybe it’s horrible, but I also find it entertaining.

All this, plus I finished up the afternoon working the Pin Porch, which is a Pin Trading center right outside of Island Mercantile.  So of course there was lots of pin trading to do and guests to interact with.  All in all, not a bad day.   

Tonight I came home to the most delicious smell – one of my roommates put a pot roast in the crock pot with a note that it wouldn’t be ready until midnight, when she gets home, but that there would be plenty left for our lunches tomorrow.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I love my roommates!  It’s like a slumber party every day!

I finally found a shift on the Extra Hours Hotline that I could pick up.  Next Sunday, I’ll work from 8:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at DAK like normal, but then from 4:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. I’ll go work in Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom.  It will be a long day, but I think it will be fun.  And It’ll put me halfway towards my goal of working in each of the parks at least once.  The costume there is pretty crazy, but definitely an improvement on the Discovery Island dress.  I’m probably going to try to go by costuming tomorrow to pick it up.

I’m sitting here, watching Project Runway, smelling pot roast, and I have to say…this is starting to feel like home.  It’s still exciting and new, but I have this overwhelmingly wonderful feeling of routine; a feeling which I’ve missed for the last three and a half weeks.  It’s very, very nice.