Archive for the ‘Housing’ Category

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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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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! 🙂

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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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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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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 Earned My Ears

August 24, 2009

I’m no longer “Earning My Ears”: today was my last day of training, and my first day of working in the regular rotation on Discovery Island.  This morning we were trained in the Baby Care Station and finished up our assessment tests, and then after lunch we got our official assignments for the first time. 

Assignments are given out when you clock in to the computer backstage.  When you clock-in, it prints out a piece of paper that tells you where to go next, and who you’ll be “bumping out”.  For example, it might say “Bethany – Register 1, Store A.”  So I would go to Register 1 in Store A.  It would also say, “Mary – Register 1, Store B”.  This means that when I got to Store A, Mary would be working the register I was supposed to be working.  I would give Mary this sheet of paper, and she would go to Store B like it said.  I would then take over in Store A.  Make sense to you?  It’s not as hard as it sounds.

After our training was over, I signed onto the computer for my assignment.  First place it puts me is the “Tree of Life Cart”.  This is one of the little outdoor carts that sells merchandise, which meant that, for my very first assignment, I was working all by myself!  Aah!  I panicked a little bit, but I actually had a great time.  I didn’t sell much merchandise; I spent most of my time answering questions and giving directions.  All of the guest interaction was very nice.  I then worked the register at Disney Outfitters, and the “Tigger Porch”.  The Tigger Porch is an area right outside of the doors of Outfitters, that mostly sells the “Tigger, is that you?” shirts, towels, and bags.  Hence, the “Tigger” porch. 

Tigger, is that you?

I finally got up the courage to use my newly aquired Spanish skills, limited though they are.  We had some guests who spoke only Spanish, and while a Spanish-speaking Cast Member answered questions for the husband, I worked up the courage to try out my language skills on the wife.  “Como esta usted?” I asked.  Her face lit up and she said, “Ahh! Habla espanol!”  I told her I only spoke a little bit, and then she asked me something about my shoes.  I didn’t quite understand, so I asked her to repeat it slowly.  She did, but it still didn’t help.  She just chuckled, and kept repeating and gesturing.  Well, by this point I knew that she was asking me where I got my shoes, but I had no idea how to answer her!  Ahh, the perils of learning a second language!  So when the Spanish-speaking Cast Member finished up with the husband, he came over to translate my answer.  She laughed, and we said our goodbyes–I even managed mine in Spanish!  It wasn’t a complete success, but her patience gave me confidence to try again.  And it was better than just smiling at each other awkwardly for five minutes!

The only real hiccup in the day occured at clock-out.  Late in the afternoon, one of the girls I trained with asked me why I was still working: I was supposed to have clocked out five minutes before!  No one had come to bump me out, though, so she went to tell a manager that I needed to be relieved.  When I finally got to clock out, it was 17 minutes late, and, if we’re any later than 15 minutes, it’s a half a point on our record. You can also get points for being late, or not showing up at all, and if you get more than 3 points in 30 days, 6 points in 60 days, or 9 points in 90 days you get a reprimand.  Too many reprimands, and you get terminated.  Even though a half point isn’t putting me in any real danger, I didn’t want to have a point for staying late to help guests!  So I went to find a manager to extend me for the two minutes I was late.  She was very nice, but said that i should have checked with one of them to extend me before clocking-in, as they can’t do it afterwards.  She did get my name and ID number, though, and said she would see what she would do, and this evening it shows on my record that I was extended for those extra 17 minutes.

I used the laundry room at Chatham for the first time tonight.  Ugh.  I hate that laundry room.  It costs $1 per wash and $1 per dry, which can really add up.  The washers are tiny, and there’s not even a temperature control on eiter unit!  And the cards….ugh!  As I’m starting to complain, I think this laundry thing needs its own post.  So check back tomorrow for the full scoop.  Right now, I’m off to bed, as I have to get to costuming by 7:30 tomorrow to pick up a new costume.  I have to have a different costume for floorstock than I do for register, so my lovely circus tent dress will get a break.  Once I have both costumes, I will be posting pictures of them here. 

Good night, everybody!