Archive for the ‘General Program Information’ Category

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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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Represent!

October 13, 2009

I’ve barely gotten over the lost nights of sleep, paper cuts, and worry-muscle cramps from applying for the CP, and now it’s time to do it all again.  I’m going to apply to be a Campus Representative for the CP, and the paperwork’s due November 1st.  That still sounds like quite a long ways away, but since I still don’t have any sort of resume, there’s going to be a lot of prep involved.

“What is a Campus Rep?” you might be asking.  Well, first of all, if your asking, you should really stop talking to your computer. (Sorry!  That’s a really dumb joke.) As the name implies, a Campus Rep represents the CP on their own campus!  All of the fliers advertising the recruiting sessions at my school?  They were hung by our Campus Reps.  The people who answered questions at these sessions? Campus Reps.  And the people who met up with us a couple of times before our program to answer any questions? Campus Reps. 

“But why would you want to be a Campus Rep?” you find yourself wondering,  Well, first of all…no.  I’m going to be good.  No stupid joke this time.  The answer is simple: free stuff and a boost to my as-yet-unwritten resume.  Campus Reps don’t get paid, but I would still be considered a Disney Cast Member, entitled to all the benefits thereof.  And as far as my resume goes, it would give it the much-needed campus involvement element that it’s currently missing.

My fantastic boyfriend is going to use his fantastic graphic design skills (see proof of his fantasticness by clicking here!) to create a fantastic letterhead for my resume.  He’s not doing anything too flashy, just going to give me a letterhead that will add a little pizzazz to my resume and make it stand out.  (I’m only dating him for his talent! ;))

I don’t have any idea how competetive it is, but I would imagine it all depends on your school.  And I’m pretty sure that most of  the Campus Reps from our school did their programs quite a while ago, so they may need some fresh blood!  We have a pretty large group of Campus Reps, too, so hopefully that will help.   On the other hand, they already have a a pretty large group of Campus Reps at our school, so maybe they don’t need anybody else!  Who knows?  I guess we’ll find out soon!  The process is sort of like it was for the College Program: I’ll send in my application, if they have an opening at my school, they may give me a call for an interview.  Unlike the CP, not everyone gets an interview.  Hopefully I’ll be one of those lucky few!

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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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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.

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Costumes and Laundry

August 29, 2009

Every Paycheck Comes on Thursday.  Every Person Comes Out Tired.  These are both things that Cast Members like to say EPCOT stands for.  But there’s one more that, unfortunately, is also true for all Cast Members at all four parks: Evil Polyester Costumes of Torture.  My two costumes are no exception. 

My costume for registers.  We've named the animals on the pockets: on the left is Hippo Dan and on the right is Ernie the Elephant.

My costume for registers. We've named the animals on the pockets: on the right is Hippo Dan and on the left is Ernie the Elephant.

My costume for floorstock.  We call this the Mud costume.

My costume for floorstock. We call this the Mud costume. Also, I have no idea why my one leg looks so HUGE in this picture! It's a trick of perspective, I swear!

Actually, out of the two costumes, I have to admit that the rainbow circus tent is actually the one I prefer.  It looks a little feminine, and it’s way more comfortable.  Even though I have to wear panty hose with it, I can get by with knee-highs and they’re actually not too bad.  The shorts on the Mud costume have really uncomfortable elastic in the waistband.  And as much as I complain, there are lots of people whose costumes are way worse than mine both comfort-wise and look-wise, so I guess I got off pretty easy.

To get our costumes, we have to go all the way over to the costuming department.  Unfortunately, Animal Kingdom is the only park where the costume building is way far away from all the other cast areas.  We’re allowed to have five costumes at a time, and we can either drop them off and pick up new ones and let costuming wash them, or we can wash them ourselves and keep the same five costumes.  Since my schedule’s been crazy between Floorstock and Register, I’ve been having to go each week to get different costumes, anyway.  So I just dropped mine off to be washed.  I may just continue doing that, because the laundry facility at the apartment is definitely not a place I want to spend more time than necessary.

They do make it convenient for us, at least.  Especially for our apartment, since the laundry facility is just the next building over from ours.  And its quick and easy to get laundry cards out of the machine in the laundry room, provided you have a $5 bill handy.  You pay $5 for the card, it has $3 on it when you get it back, and then you can add money onto the same card until your program is over.  When your program is over, you can even return your card and get your $2 back.  The only real downside is that each was is $1 and each dry is $1.  And if you do it the way I do it costs even more.  Because I like to add time to complete strangers’ laundry loads. 

What happened is this:  I had put in three loads to wash, and then moved those three loads over to dry.  I’m going through, quickly inserting my card and adding time to each of my drying loads.  Then I realize that, rather than starting one of my loads, I’ve accidentally stuck my card in the wrong machine, and I’ve paid to put an extra hour on someone else’s laundry.  I never did find out whose laundry it was…hope I didn’t shrink anything!

I finlly shelled out the money for another important component of my costume yesterday.  I have some black ballet flats that were okay with both of my costumes, but they have no support, and by the second day my feet were really beginning to hurt.  So I finally got around to buying some new shoes.  It’s hard to buy shoes for my role, because I really need solid black tennis shoes for Stock and solid black dress shoes for Register.  I, however, am a poor college student, so I was really hoping to find another pair of shoes that could go with both costumes.  I finally settled on a pair of Croc ballet flats.  I’ve had a pair before, and I loved them: all the comfort of regular Crocs without the marshmallow feet syndrome.  And plus, I bought them at the Croc outlet and got to use my Disney Discount, so they only ended up being $14!  Great deal, right?  Wrong!  These shoes absolutely killed my feet.  It was a good thing that I brought my old shoes, because I ended up taking my 15 minute break just so I could go back and change my shoes.  I think I’ll keep wearing my Crocs a little bit every day, and try to break them in.  I’m sure they would be great shoes if only they weren’t rubbing all the skin off my feet!

I also bought the topper to my entire costume today:  a Disney watch.  I’ve been wanting to get a watch, because, of course, we’re not allowed to have our phones onstage, and when you’re not behind a register it’s hard to keep track of the time.  So I bought this watch that I’ve been eyeing since I first arrived:

 DSC03019

Everybody say, “Ooh!”.  Now everybody say, “Aah!”  At least one part of my costume is adorable.  🙂

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I’ve Been a Bad Blogger!

August 16, 2009

As I was reading other people’s blogs, preparing to do this program, I noticed a trend: many people began really strong, posting several times a week, but once their program started, the number of posts dropped off dramatically.  As a reader, I found this understandable, but frustrating.  I really wanted to know how the program would go, what I could expect, what would happen when I finally got to Disney.  I promised myself that I would be diligent with my blogging, continuing to record my experience no matter how long the days were, or how late I was working.  I told myself that I would find the time. And yet, here I am, five days into my program, and I’ve only posted once.

And, oddly enough, time hasn’t been the problem.  Sure, I’ve been busy.  But there has also been plenty of down time.  I still haven’t worked a full day since I got here half a week ago.  But the real issue has been content.  Although there has been plenty of exciting things happening, there has been a lot of hesitancy to share too much, and this has intimidated me whenever I thought about sitting down at the keyboard.

Disney is very serious about protecting the magic: they take the revelation of backstage information very seriously.  So much that’s happened in the last few days has taken place backstage, that it’s difficult to know what is considered confidential, and what I can write about freely.  Even if I was sure what I could write about, I wouldn’t know where to begin.  So much has happened in these last few days.  I’m going to try, however, so this post may be extra long.  Let’s get started, shall we?

On Friday, I went to Traditions, the general Walt Disney World training session.  Parts were a little…less interesting than others.  But most of it was actually  interesting, and even a little inspirational.  The things they talked about—how we can create magic for guests, why so many people return to WDW over and over again—made me feel lucky to be a Cast Member.  That afternoon, two of my roommates, Brit and Melissa, and I went to the Magic Kingdom to cap off a great Disney day.  We spent several hours at the park, seeing favorite attractions, viewing the parade, and just soaking up the atmosphere.

As exciting as Friday afternoon was, Friday evening was less inspiring and a little more depressing.  I spent the evening with my Mom and stayed with her at the hotel so I could take her to the airport first thing Saturday morning.  I was prepared for a long goodbye on Saturday and maybe even a few tears, but, after being told at the ticket counter that they would be closing the gate 30 minutes before takeoff, leaving my mom 2 minutes before they closed, there was so little time for goodbyes that we just hugged quickly before she ran off through security.  It really did make the process easier, though it was a little startling to find myself on my own so quickly.

On my way back to the apartment, I decided to take advantage of the full awesomeness of having nearly unlimited entry privileges at the Disney parks.  I swung by Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where I will be working, to check out possible work locations.  It was around 8:30 when I arrived, and, although the park wasn’t supposed to open until 9:00, all of the areas seemed to be open.  I shopped for a little in some of the shops on Discovery Island, and then decided to see if I could get on Dinosaur.  I could and did, and walked almost straight onto the ride.  Then I left.  I was out of the park before 9:30, just as it was starting to get crowded and hot.

Today was my first real training session, called DAKlimation.  If Traditions was the general WDW training, then DAKlimation was the general Animal Kingdom training.  Tomorrow I’ll have training specific to my  area, but today was mostly about learning the basic theming of each land in Animal Kingdom, and taking a guided tour around the park and backstage areas.

Then we got our costumes.  Mine is pretty bad, but at least I met several other people who have to wear the exact same thing.  It has a skirt, which isn’t bad, but the top is like a tent with a giant striped collar. So when I go to my training tomorrow, bright and early, I’ll be wearing my gorgeous new ensemble, complete with hose.

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The First Day: Check-In

August 12, 2009

Being the overly–anxious, over-achiever that I am, I thought it would be a good idea to get to check-in at Vista Way this morning at least an hour early.  So my mom and I pull in at 8:00, ready to chill for an hour before check-in actually started, and ready to get in line if anyone else was there yet.  When we pulled onto the street for the Vista Way complex, there was already a line of cars going inside.  There were already people everywhere, and there were already people filing through the check-in area.  Before I even got to the main registration area, complexes were already beginning to fill up, people were already heading out with their new address, and even though I was an hour early, it felt like I was an hour late.   If I have any advice for future College Program participants, it would be to get to check-in as early as possible!

Eventually I got through it all, though, and even ended up with the apartment I wanted (3 bedrooms in Chatham Square).   I met one of my roommates at the apartment, and then we went together to our two big meetings for the day: Casting and a Housing Welcome Session.  These took forever, but it was worth it because Casting was where I found out my work location, which is…drumroll…Animal Kingdom!  I’ll be working in the Discovery Island area, where there are four shops: Beastly Bazaar, Wonders of the Wild, Island Mercantile, and Creature Comforts.  Animal Kingdom’s hours are great for me.  I’d mostly be working mornings, since this park usually closes around dark.  My only concern is getting enough hours.  But I’ll cross that bridge when (if) I come to it. 

I did decide to take a class, Exploring Marketing, which will begin mid-October.  This surprised me.  I had gotten the impression that the classes would all take place at the beginning of the semester, but in reality they’re sort of scattered throughout, though it does seem that most of them finish up before Thanksgiving.

Another piece of advice for future CPs–you probably won’t have much time to really move on “move-in” day.  We had so many meetings that there was little time to get settled in.  After I’ve finished unpacking, I’ll be posting some pictures of the apartment (which is super awesome), but right now there’s just stuff everywhere.  But at least there’s plenty of space for the stuff: our apartment is HUGE!  And each bedroom has its own bathroom, which is a definite bonus.  I think Chatham is the only complex like this, but that’s just one more plus for Chatham.  We also have the coolest pool, and are just all-around awesome. 🙂

It’s been a super long day, and tomorrow’s supposed to be much more relaxed.  The only event tomorrow is a “Toy Story Poolooza” Welcome Party at the Chatham Pool.  Otherwise, I’m going to be spending the day with my Mom.  It’s so sad to think she’ll be leaving in just a couple of days, and I’ll be all on my own!  But I really think I’m going to have a great time.  I’ve already made some friends, and we have plans to go to the parks as sooh as we have or Cast IDs.  One Disney Day down, only about 9,000 more to go.