Posts Tagged ‘DAK’

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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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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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A Day of Great Guests

August 21, 2009

As we’re wrapping up our training, it’s quickly becoming obvious what my favorite part of the job will be: interacting with the guests.  Today we worked behind the register some, and also worked the position known as “personal shopper.”  This is another example of Disney-ese.  Really, the personal shopper role just consists of walking around the floor, talking to guests, and trying to help them find anything they may need.  It was a little awkward at first, initiating contact with complete strangers, but I quickly got really into it.  Some of the guests just said they didn’t need any help; they were just browsing.  That’s fine, and it’s typically my answer when sales people ask me if I’m looking for anything specific.  But I was really surprised by how many people actually seemed excited to talk to me.  Although we had lots of great guests today, a few really stand out in my mind.  These people made my first real day of guest interaction special, and I hope that, on any days in the future when I’m feeling down about my job or don’t feel like going to work, I can remember exactly how wonderful these guests were.

One of the first guests that really stood out in my mind was a woman who was probably in her early 30s.  She was with her family, and while they shopped she came up to me and pulled out her map.  She wanted to know about show times.  So I got her a times guide, and asked her what show they were looking for.  They wanted to catch the “safari show”.  I told her our Kilimanjaro Safari ran continuously until 6:00, so they could catch it anytime during the day. She was very happy to hear this, and asked me what other shows I would recommend.  Not only was I able to recommend Festival of the Lion King, but I told her to make sure they were there at least half an hour early, mentioned that it might be difficult to get out of the arena quickly after the show, and recommended that they wait until later in the day, when the weather is cooler, to ride Kilimanjaro so they would have a better chance of seeing more animals.  All of these were things I knew from my own experiences in the park, and her reaction to my advice made me feel great.  She gave me a huge smile, thanked me, and headed back to her family, telling them exactly what I had told her: that they would go catch The Lion King, and then ride Kilimanjaro when it cooled off in the afternoon.

I’m still really enjoying Pin Trading, and it led to some of the best guest interaction of the day.  We were working in the “Island Mercantile” store, and our trainee took us outside as Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle parade went by, so that we could watch.  While we were watching the parade, one of my fellow CPs and I noticed an older man wearing a vest completely covered, front and back, with pins.  After the parade passed, we worked for a while at the Pin Trading booth, and this sweet gentleman came over to see what pins we all had.  His name was Barry, and as he talked and joked with us, he gathered quite the crowd.  People of all ages were coming over to see his collection, and he answered all sorts of questions.  Turns out he’s been pin collecting since Disney started it in 2000, and he said his favorite pin is his very first one: his wife bought it for him for $10 in 2000, and he says that now the same pin sells for over $150 on Ebay.

A little while after Barry left, a boy around 10 years old came over to trade with me.  He found a pin on my lanyard he wanted, but his pins were secured with special locking backs, and he couldn’t find his key.  We went inside, and asked one of the full-time Cast Members if we sold keys to fit his lock.  Turns out the locking backs sold at Disney are a slightly different size, so none of the keys would fit.  I wasn’t sure what to do: this poor kid wanted the pin, but couldn’t get any of his off of his lanyard to trade!  I looked over to the full-time CM who was helping us, and she gave me a little nod.  So I took the pin off my lanyard, gave it to the boy, and told him to keep his pin, and enjoy the rest of his day.  I was really happy that I could do something to make him smile.  But a few minutes later, her returned the favor!  I turned around, and the same boy was behind me, holding out the pin he had wanted to give me off his lanyard.  He said his dad had found his key, and so he wanted to come back to give me the pin he owed me.  This kid could have easily kept both pins, without even having anything to feel guilty about.  I had told him to keep both pins, after all.  But he didn’t: he returned to complete the trade.  People like Barry and this little boy really made me realize how even a little thing like pin trading can mean so much to people.  Today, I really did feel very lucky to be a part of that.

Not everything today was Pixie Dust and sunshine: I came home very tired, hungry, and sick of my stupid costume.  And I’m sure that, once the novelty wears off, I’ll start to take moments like these for granted.  But four months isn’t that long, and I hope that even by the end of the program I’ll still remember how wonderful it felt to help make the day magical for our guests.