Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bucket List Progress

I've been a busy busy bee these past couple days. I've...

-character hunted at Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot (finished AK, made progress everywhere else)

-made progress on Epcot, AK and Hollywood Studios attractions

-visited three resorts

-indulged in some decadent desserts (Ghiradelli - yum, Mousse - OMG, Pretzel - meh)

Tomorrow (or today, since it's nearly 1am), I will be heading to the MK in the morning to try and finish the characters I haven't met yet, and then I'm hanging out with my friend Kim, so hopefully we'll do something that I can cross off my list.

Saturday, AKA the night my family arrives (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), I will be spending the morning exploring a few resorts and then heading either to Hollywood Studios to character hunt or Epcot. We shall see.

Can't believe I've only got a week left.

This is surreal.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Magic Kingdom "Character Hunting"

Today (or, I suppose it's technically yesterday, since its nearly one in the morning), I had quite possibly the most productive character hunting day ever. Since I woke up for some reason at five in the morning and couldn't fall back asleep, I was ready to go at 7:30am to catch my bus to make it to the MK to watch the opening show (which was also on my bucket list...score!).

After the welcome show, I met Pluto and Daisy with minimum waits in the Town Square courtyard.



Then I headed to Adventureland to meet Aladdin and Jasmine (I was first in line!)

and Ariel and Eric (I was third).

After my adventures over in Adventureland, I went to Fantasyland to see the Fairy Godmother (unfortunately, I didn't snap a photo with her) and Lady Tremaine, Drizella and Anastasia (you know them as the Evil Stepmother and Ugly Stepsisters from Cinderella).

Then, it was back to Main Street to meet up with my favorite nanny, Mary Poppins.

After learning how to be practically perfect in every way, I made my way over to Tomorrowland to see Buzz Lightyear (who was a total gentleman)

and Chip and Dale.

Heading all the way back across the park to Adventureland, I stopped over by the teacups to meet Alice (and unfortunately missed the White Rabbit by three minutes - boo!)

and then went to meet Goofy dressed in his Pirates getup.

After scavenging for gold with Goofy, I was shrunk down to the size of a pixie and met Tinkerbell

and her friend Vidia.

On my way back to Main Street, I ran into my favorite person in Disney World - Peter Pan

and then Snow White, right outside of the theater where I met

Mickey and his sweetheart Minnie

and three princesses - Cinderella

Belle

and Aurora (who is tied with Ariel for my favorite princess).

Keeping count? That's Twenty Five Characters in under five hours. Impressed? I know I am.

Then I caught the Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade (my favorite parade!), hopped over to Epcot with the intention of meeting more characters (didn't happen, I was a bit worn out at that point so I ended up working on the attractions instead) and then hopped back over to the Magic Kingdom with the intention of meeting Tiana, Naveen and some more fairies. Well, Naveen was working in the restaurant so I decided to pass on Tiana until they were together - so I met Terence (Tinkerbell's bestest friend) instead.

I was going to wait for Rosetta, one of her other fairy friends, but in the end decided to save her for another day and rode a few of my favorite attractions instead - Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan's Flight, the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Snow White's Scary Adventures.

That's Twenty Six characters and Nine attractions - not bad for a day's work.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Disney: A Bucket List

Unfortunately, my time down here in Orlando on the Disney College Program is quickly coming to an end - I have fifteen days left in the most magical place on Earth! Which means...crunch time. I've gotta get off my butt, stop watching so much Netflix (as much as I adore it) and get out there and do everything I've been meaning to do during my internship but haven't gotten around to.

To keep myself accountable (and make sure I get it all done!), I present to you my Official Disney World Bucket List: 
  • Go "character hunting" in the Magic Kingdom
  • Ride every attraction at Hollywood Studios
  • Enjoy a chocolate mousse in the France pavilion in Epcot (completed: 5/9)
  • Try a Babycakes vegan gluten-free cupcake in Downtown Disney (completed: 5/1)
  • Go "character hunting" in Epcot
  • Explore the Resorts on property
  • Ride every attraction at the Magic Kingdom
  • Watch Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios (completed: 5/10)
  • Enjoy a pumpkin funnel cake in the American pavilion in Epcot
  • Explore the Boardwalk (completed: 4/25)
  • Go "character hunting" in Hollywood Studios
  • Eat at the Prime Time Cafe at Hollywood Studios(completed: 5/3)
  • Ride every attraction at the Animal Kingdom
  • Enjoy a Cream Cheese Pretzel (completed: 5/10)
  • Watch Illuminations at Epcot (completed:5/9)
  • Enjoy something delicious at Ghirardelli in Downtown Disney (completed: 5/7)
  • Go "character hunting" in the Animal Kingdom (completed: 5/9)
  • Ride every attraction at Epcot
  • Enjoy a Mickey Premium Bar (completed: 4/26)
  • Watch the Magic Kingdom Morning Show (completed: 5/2)
This will be an adventure trying to complete it all in the next two weeks, but luckily - I already have a good start. I've completed three things and I am about 3/4 of the way done with six of the items on my list. Today, I went character hunting in the Magic Kingdom (more about that to come) and worked on the attractions at Epcot. I'm only missing six characters in the Magic Kingdom, and then it'll be complete! (Which characters? Woody, Jessie, Rosetta, White Rabbit, Tiana and Naveen)


Tomorrow - I'm thinking character hunting in either Animal Kingdom or Epcot, followed by working on the attractions at Hollywood Studios and watching Fantasmic. I'm setting my alarm for 8am, so hopefully I'll be able to get a good start despite my (terrible) sunburn today. I won't be forgetting sunscreen ever again. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hoppity Hop Hop Hoppity Hop Hop, Easter's on it's way....

and the Easter Bunny and Mrs Easter Bunny are back at the Magic Kingdom!

I got to photograph them yesterday, and they are soooo cute! Pictures to come.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Characters on Main Street

This week, I've been deployed on Main Street all week, which means I get to wear the blue shirt-white knickers combo. I love Main Street...and now that I am character trained, I love it EVEN MORE.

Being character trained on Main Street ROCKS.

At night time, I have the opportunity to photograph Mickey, Minnie anddd the Princesses - usually Cinderella, Belle and Aurora. During the day - I have all of those opportunities plus the characters who hang out outside - Pluto, Daisy, Snow White and Pinnochio.

I'm almost always with one of them... and it is fantastic. Time flies, and I have never laughed or cried or aww'd so much at work.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Characters in "East"

At the Magic Kingdom, there are three deployments where I can be place to assist guests with photos. The first is West, which is mostly characters, so many locations go down in the evening as they go to sleep for the night. Second is Main Street, which has a combination of characters, castle and the View - definitely the most variety. And last is East, which is mostly castle, but has three characters who have PhotoPass with them during the day.

I've been deployed in East all week, so I haven't had many opportunities to photograph character meet and greets because I mostly work at night. The characters in East - Rapunzel, Buzz Lightyear and Chip & Dale - have outdoor meet and greet locations, so they are only out until the sun goes down. So when I start work at six or seven, I don't have the opportunity to photograph them.

But earlier this week, I started work at three for a few days - which meant I got to work with both Rapunzel and Buzz! It was so much fun and the time flew. Since Rapunzel isn't in a parade like Buzz, so she doesn't have to save her voice, she can talk to the guests - and she is hilarious! The little girls who come see her are ADORABLE. Since Buzz is in the parade, he can't talk to guests because he has to save his voice - but he definitely communicates with them in his own way - and all our guests love it! My favorite is when little boys hug his legs because he's so tall.

Next week, I'm deployed on Main Street all week - which means a LOT of Character opportunities! I'll definitely give you an update with my opinions!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Character Training - I've finally "Earned my Ears"!

Today, I got character trained! It was wonderful and fantastic and everything that I hoped it to be, but I suppose I should start at the beginning.

Character training was at Epcot, somewhere I've never worked before so, of course, I got completely lost trying to figure out where the Photopass base was. It isn't laid out like Magic Kingdom at ALL, so I was very confused. Luckily, a stray Epcot PhotoPass photographer saw my wide eyes and took pity on me, so she showed me around.

Once I made it to base, I had to check out a camera and meet up with the rest of my training group - which was one girl from Hollywood Studios and two photographers from Magic Kingdom - my friends Travis and Mary! That was awesome, it was nice to train with people for once - especially people who I was already friends with!

The first part of the day was pretty basic - lots of slide shows and such. It was the same as the rest of the training, except character oriented. The second part of the day rocked though - we got to try our hand at photographing character meet and greets. Which, at Epcot, meant Daisy and Stitch, followed by Donald when he was hanging out in Mexico, followed by Mulan in China.

It was AMAZING.

Character meet and greets are so fast paced that time just flies. Anddd, it was so much fun! I loved each one, but I think Mulan was my favorite because she talks to guests, and little kids and their interactions with her are hilarious.

After Mulan, it was time to do a photo review and then the day was over... I was done by 5pm, which was so strange coming from the Magic Kingdom!

Now that I've officially earned my ears - Character Training was the last step - I finally got to remove the red ribbon from my name tag! YAY! I'm now officially a fully trained cast member...score!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

One More Disney Day

Work has been the same all week, but now it's March (CRAZY, right?!) which means that I get character trained next week! I am so excited to add some more excitement into my work week, since I've become used to the current patterns.

Yesterday (Leap Day) was "One More Disney Day", which (for those of you who may not know) meant the Magic Kingdom was open from 6am on the 29th to 6am today. While I didn't go for the entire time, I ended up going to the Magic Kingdom around 4pm and then met up with some friends (both from work and from the complex) as well as making new friends along the way. We stayed ALL NIGHT - so I experienced the Magic Kingdom at 4:30am, which was a crazy once in a lifetime experience. I didn't get home until 7am this morning, where I promptly crashed and woke up about an hour and a half ago.

One More Disney Day was the most fun I've had in the parks this entire program. I don't know if it was the spirit of the event or the people I was with or what, but it was amazing! There was such a spirit of camradarie among everyone who was determined to last all night long. We didn't ride many attractions (beside Splash Mountain (TWICE!)), but instead waited in line (for over four hours) to meet Flynn Rider and Rapunzel. Rapunzel is out every day, but Flynn is always out saving the kingdom and was only there that night. So we made lots of friends in line as we waited to meet our favorites from Tangled. It was definitely lots of fun.

I'll update soon with pictures, but I'm feeling a little under the weather for the past few days and I don't think staying up all night helped. Oops. Have a magical day everyone!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Patterns

Patterns have emerged in my work week - I usually work Friday-Tuesday and then have off Wednesdays and Thursdays - which has become my "Disney Weekend". Since I'm not character trained yet (still don't know when that is happening!), what I do at work is the same every day with changing faces and families. It's a lot of fun, and I am so lucky that I love my job, but there isn't anything very exciting or new to report.

However, today I had a day off! I went to the Magic Kingdom with a friend and had a blast watching the parades and riding attractions. It's strange that I can work somewhere every day and still feel like I'm stepping into a new magical place every single time I visit. Tomorrow I have off, but I'll be doing mostly school work and errands. Things here are crazy, but a lot of fun. I can't believe we're over halfway through February!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Chilling in the View

Tonight, I was float the Magic Kingdom - which means that they put me wherever I am needed most. Today, that meant the View - where guests can go and look at all the photos they've taken that day and throughout their vacation. I spent the entire night in the View - with an exception of my lunch and break - so I got to explore all that the View has to offer and now consider myself a "View Pro".

I got thrown all sorts of difficult guests, guest problems and had to combine cards, find lost photos and adjust found ones over...and over...and over again. While it got a little repetitive, every guest is different and since it was so busy, the time flew by!

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Peter Pan-ical Day

Today, since Erika had off and I didn't work until 7:15, we went to the Magic Kingdom at park open to ride attractions, meet characters and have a "roommate day". We even got "We're Celebrating" buttons to commemorate it! We spent the day exploring the lands, riding attractions and eating some fantastic food. But the most exciting thing of all was when we were leaving Adventureland to watch the Move It Shake It Celebrate It Street Party and Dream Along with Mickey.

I met Peter Pan.

I think that needs to be stated again in my excitement level -- I MET PETER PAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, a few things you should know about this beyond exciting moment. First - I LOVE Peter Pan. He is THE best. Second - He rarely does meet and greets, and when he does, they are never posted and very random.

So, off course, whenever I am in the Magic Kingdom, my Peter Pan sensors are on high and I'm trying to spot him the entire visit. Well, when we were leaving Adventureland Erika and I almost stopped for a Dole Whip but then decided to wait. Thank Goodness! So, I see a line of people waiting and I'm like, hmmm, I wonder who is doing a meet and greet over here in Adventureland - probably Aladdin or someone. But, I then spot the telltale green shirt and I FREAK OUT.

I'm not kidding, I shriek, hit Erika on the shoulder and go on to bounce up and down like a three year old. Of course, I make her stand in line with me and I am beyond exciting. I was probably more excited than all of the kids in the line. So the line makes it's way up to Peter Pan and next its my turn and he turns to me and I go speechless.

I'm just standing there, mouth gaping, because Peter Pan is talking to me. I can barely stutter out two words. So he's talking and my roommate is kind of talking for me because I'm just standing there in shock nodding with this huge smile on my face and I manage to utter about three sentences in his presence. But, we take our photo and he gives me a hug and it was amazing.

It was AMAZING.

Actually, words cannot describe how amazing this was.

After meeting Peter Pan (!!!!), we got rained out for Dream Along With Mickey, watched the Move It Shake It Celebrate It Street Party, met the boss (that's Mickey Mouse!!) and then watched the second Dream Along With Mickey - where Peter Pan recognized me and Erika and pointed/waved. Yeah, no big deal. (Just Kidding - of course I shrieked like a three year old)

Then, we got a snack and sat down for the Celebrate a Dream Come True parade - where Ariel and I bonded over having red hair and Peter Pan blew me a kiss.

Yes, he blew me a kiss.

AHH!!!!!!!!!!

After the parade, we rode a few more attractions - including Jungle Cruise and It's a Small World - but since it was rainy on and off all day, Erika decided to call it a night pretty early and I went down to base to change and get ready for my shift.

As for work - well, it was pretty much the same as it had been all week. I was in East, which meant I was stuck at Tomorrowland Bridge and Partner's Right for the whole night - not bad, but not the most exciting thing in the world. I can't wait to be character trained so I can capture character meet-and-greets.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Schoolwork and a Night of Roommate Bonding

Today, my schoolbooks finally arrived and class has started for me! Which meant, during the day today, while my roommate was at work, I was in the apartment studying and getting a head start on my classes - Introduction to Ethics and Introduction to American Literature.

Tonight, I met Erika (my roommate) at the Magic Kingdom to ride some attractions and get our picture taken over...and over...and over. It was nice to finally be able to visit a park with my roommate - our schedules never seem to match up!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Change in what is "Uneventful"

Today, I had a day off so it was off to the Magic Kingdom with one of my friends and coworkers, Madeline. We had a great afternoon visiting work and exploring our home base, including riding Peter Pan's Flight (!!) and the Jungle Cruise. It was a more uneventful day off, but still lots of fun. I'm glad I got to hang out with one of my coworkers out of costume!

Isn't it crazy that going to the Magic Kingdom on a day off has become "uneventful"? I am so lucky to be down here for the rest of the semester! It has been the best experience ever.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Night on Main Street and Valentine's Day

Last night, I was on Main Street the wholeee night, which was fabulous! I love the energy of Main Street, especially at night. It's beautiful! I also spent a good amount of the time in the View, which is where guests can go to look the photos they've taken throughout their vacation. I love being in the View because it is more interactive and I got to talk more with guests, and during down times, I got to know my coworkers a little better, which is always nice.

Tonight, which was Valentine's Day(!!), I had a College Program meeting for the first part of the night but then I was back in East, at Partners Right, Tomorrowland Bridge and the Rose Garden. I got to take photos of a lot of adorable couples today, met some of the cutest kids e.v.e.r. and even had a proposal reenactment from a proposal that had occured earlier that day. Love was definitely in the air at the Magic Kingdom.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Chilly Nights

Another chilly night in the Magic Kingdom, but slightly more manageable since I was expecting the cold and our coordinators provided us with hand-warmers! Since we were a little over-staffed tonight, I had the opportunity to roam around Tomorrowland and Fantasyland making magical moments for guests! It was a lot of fun to add some extra pixie dust into their vacations.

When I was at a tripod, I spend most of the night on Tomorrowland Bridge, including during two Dream Along with Mickey's, the Magic Memories and You, and Wishes! Since it was very crowded, I got to talk to guests from all over the country before the show started and met the cutest little girl from Michigan who's favorite part of the day was going inside the castle, and tomorrow she got to have dinner with Cinderella. It was adorable. I also got hugs and high-fives from the cutest kids today.

When I wasn't on Tomorrowland Bridge, I was over on the Fantasyland Bridge, where I had four cheerleading squads want photos and one Brazilian tour group! Large group photos on a tripod are difficult, but definitely not impossible. My shift ended at 12:15, and the Magic Kingdom was open until 2am, which meant that I didn't have to wait long for the bus - and I got a seat. Which is always nice after a long day.

Tomorrow (or I guess it's today), I'm on Main Street for the first time in a long while, which will be a lot of fun! Can't wait to see where the put me.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Winter" has struck!

Today it got "cold" for the first time since being down in Orlando - which means, a chilly 35 degrees. Not too bad, except for the wind - which was brutal. But, despite the cold, it was a great night at work.

First, it was off to the Rose Garden, where I was situated until my lunch break - about two hours. I got to watch Dream Along with Mickey twice, and take some great photos of families with the fireworks going off in the background. I almost got to shoot a proposal, but was called away minutes before it happened. ): boo...

After lunch, it was off to make some magical moments in Tomorrowland and then to Partner's Right during Dream Along with Mickey, Spectromagic (the first time the parade was back in months!!), the Magic Memories and You, Wishes, the Magic Memories and You, and then Spectromagic again. I managed to take some amazing photos during the fireworks of (very cold) families.

Then, it was break time, and afterwards, I set up Tomorrowland Bridge 2 until the rest of the night. It wasn't very busy since it was very very cold, but I managed to take a few shots in between waving to hurried guests. It was a great night, with some entertaining guests, and I get to do it all over again tomorrow!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Long Rainy Nights

Tonight was the first time I've gotten rained out at work. The drizzle held off for the beginning of my shift, but shortly after I returned from break, it started to pour. This means going to a rain location with other photographers to direct guests and wait out the rain. Since I had both my rain gear and my jacket, it wasn't uncomfortable for the most part - just a little monotonous, since I wasn't taking pictures and was mostly just waving to guests and wishing them a good night.

Before the downpour, I was on Tomorrowland Bridge for a few hours before lunch - which is one of my favorite spots in East, and my second spot to watch Wishes from, and then after lunch, I was on Fantasyland Bridge, which was pretty quiet since the majority of guests were on Main Street watching the Magic, Memories and You. It's an interesting view of the castle, but not my favorite position since it's tucked away and doesn't get much guest access.

After getting rained out though (I was under the overhang in my rain location for over two hours), and singing Disney songs to myself for the last half hour since there were NO guests to be seen, I got off of work at midnight and then had to wait almost an hour to catch a bus and come back to my apartment. The lines to get on busses at the end of the night are insane - since only three busses run an hour and there are more than three hundred people getting off at the same time, it creates quite a wait and makes getting home an adventure.

However, now I'm home and off to bed - I don't work until 4 today so I've got some time off to do schoolwork and errands.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Eating Around the World

Today, my friends Erica, Genae and I headed out early to Epcot to check out Future World and World Showcase. Erica had class at 1:30, so she had to leave at noon, but before she left we managed to ride Soarin, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Turtle Talk with Crush and even check out part of Innoventions! It was a lot of fun, since these are some of my favorite things to do at Epcot.

After Erica had to leave, Genae and I started in Canada and went counterclockwise around World Showcase since we always seem to go clockwise and begin in Mexico. Unintentionally, we started a great endevor to "eat around the world', but in reality, we only ate in four countries - France, Morocco, Germany and Italy. It was a lot of fun to explore World Showcase since I hadn't taken the time to do so more slowly before. I always seem to be rushing from place to place, which is a shame because there is so much to discover here! We even decided to let out our inner three year olds and go around the world collecitng stamps at the Kidcot Fun Stops, which turned out to be more fun than it sounds!

We left the park as it started to get dark because Genae was meeting some roommates for dinner and a movie and I discovered I had some leftover school stuff to handle. In the end, it was a great two days off. Tomorrow, I don't work until 5:30 - so who knows what my day will bring! (Probably a lot of laundry...)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Shopping Day

Today was my friend Kim's last day off with our lovely holiday discount on merchandise before it returns to normal so we went on a great shopping adventure our to Cast Connection (a cast member only discount store just behind the Magic Kingdom) and then out to Downtown Disney to check out the huge World of Disney and the other shopping opportunities. (They took away Pooh's Thotful Spot, booo.) While it was an adventure navigating the bus system, we definitely had a great time exploring and spending a little money .

Then, when I got home, me and Erika decided to decorate our apartment by coloring the coloring books we had bought on a whim earlier and then hanging them around. We listened to Disney music, talked and laughed way too much - but it was a great evening with a lovely roommate.

In the end, even though I didn't go to a Park, it was a great day off. I managed to score some fantastic deals at all of our shopping destinations, which made the adventure even more fun. Tomorrow, I'll be heading over to Epcot with my friends Genae and Erica, which will be lots of fun, I'm sure!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My First Night Shift

Tonight was my first night shift, which was super exciting! I started out at Partner's Right, where I photographed families in front of the Partners statue and Cinderella castle while watching a Move It Shake It Celebrate It street party and two shows of Dream Along with Mickey. I love Partners Right because I get maximum guest interaction, everyone streams through the Main Plaza to go to any land from Main Street and I am always busy with a line of people waiting to have their picture taken. I've met people all over the country and world.

After Partners Right, I got to be part of a Dessert Party underneath Tomorrowland Terrace where I took photographs of guests who were specially invited to an all-you-can-eat dessert buffet during Dream Along With Mickey, Magic Memories and You and Wishes. Very few people wanted photos during the shows, so I got to talk to guests and watch the shows while working - AWESOME.

After the Dessert party, which ends shortly after Wishes, I moved over to the Tomorrowland Bridge to close the park and take photos of guests leaving the park and wish them a good night. This goes until about 45 minutes after park close and then I had a chance to walk through the empty park while going back to base. The park is gorgeous at night, both full of guests and empty - I love all the lights and colors.

Next, I have two days off! What will I do with my time?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Night and View Training

Today, I had my Night and View training with two other CP's - Tammy and Connie. It was nice to be training with someone else finally! Night training was extremely easy - it is just like shooting during the day, only with different settings for both dusk and night. And, unlike during the day, every camera is on a tripod at night and we can't add pixie dust and make magic shots during the evening hours. Pretty simple, right? It really was just as easy as it sounds.

View training refers to "the View", which is inside the Town Square theater near the entrance/exit to the park. It is where guests can go look at their pictures and make purchases. This training was a little more intensive - there is a ton to remember, and it seems a little more stressful. It is the only position that I need to talk about prices and money with guests, which is nice to know, but makes the spot a little more stressful. It is also the place guests go if they lose their card or can't find their photos - we have to locate the missing photos for them, which can be a pain! The View offers a lot of guest interaction, which is great, so I'm sure I'll like working here even with the stress of finding lost photos, talking money and customizing photos and packages with every guest.

Since we finished our Night and View training early, we got to watch the Magic Memories and You AND Wishes tonight. I love both of these shows -- I can't believe that I get to watch them every night I work! I am so lucky. Now, I am one step closer to being fully trained - the last thing is being character trained, which means being trained to shoot the character-guest meet and greets. That should be coming up next week!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mornings at the Magic Kingdom

Today was a nice short shift - 8am until 2:30 pm, which meant I got to open the park at Partners Right. I love opening the park because its so exciting to see Main Street go from empty to flooded with people in just mere minutes. I love the energy of being right in front of the castle, welcoming guests into a new day at the parks.

Then, after moving around to a variety of different positions, I got to photograph the Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It street party - which was a TON of fun. It's all candids, which is a great change from the tripod. I love this street party because of all the energy - the kids get so excited and are adorable following the dance moves. The parents' are so grateful that I'm capturing the magical moments.

I also got to watch Dream Along with Mickey today - which is my favorite show, ever. It never gets old, but I am starting to learn the dance and lyrics! No complaints here though, since I adore the show. Tomorrow, I get Night and View trained, which will be very interesting. Can't wait how to capture Cinderella Castle at night!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Second Days run a Little More Smoothly

Today ran much more smoothly than yesterday - no equipment broke down and I only got lost about a half dozen times! I still don't understand backstage, but since I was dressed in the "global" costume for Photopass, I could go onstage anywhere and then find where I was supposed to be. It was definitely a handy feature.

Today I was scheduled as Magic Kingdom East, which meant I took pictures of the castle from the Tomorrowland Bridge and in front of the Partners statue. I also got to rove around Tomorrowland and take candid photos for the "Magic, Memories and You" show on the castle. It was busy today at the Magic Kingdom, but since I was on a tripod, my line moved quickly because my shot was already set up. I got to talk to guests from all over the world and I helped out in my very first "magical moment" today, too!

After work, I took the bus back to my apartment and change, dropping off my work clothes, and then I went back to the Magic Kingdom to meet up with my friends Molly, Erica, and Genae to watch Dream Along with Mickey, The Magic, the Memories and You, and Wishes. We also met a ton of characters, including Tinkerbell and Valeria, Tiana and Naveen, Mickey and Minnie, Cinderella, Aurora and Snow White.

In the end, it was a great day! Much smoother than yesterday, so things can only go up from here!

Friday, February 3, 2012

First Days are Never Smooth

Today was my first day on the job without a trainer...yay! But, as I got into work and all clocked in for the day, things quickly went awry and it was the longest morning ever. Because I was a float, I didn't know where I was going to be working so, first, I had to change costumes. Which took forever because I couldn't find the locker room and then I discovered that my costume was a size too big. Oops. Then, I had to go back to base and check out my equipment, and somehow find the staircase that leads where I need to go. I got lost.

Once I was up on Main Street, things started to go better for a little while...until my camera kept holding onto photos and wouldn't let them onto the PDA and my PDA wasn't communicating at all with my camera. After I tried the basic troubleshooting I was taught, nothing went better. Which meant I had to go all the way back down to base to get my equipment fixed. This happened three times.

After I got my equipment all sorted out, things went smoother in the afternoon - I got to talk to dozens of families and take their pictures while experiencing two Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It! dance parties from Main Street, I got to hear/watch Dream Along with Mickey twice and I got to see the beginning of the Celebrate a Dream Come True parade before I was wisked off to punch out.

It was a long day, but despite all the technical trouble, I still love my job! There is nothing like being in the Magic Kingdom all day, getting to talk to guests from all around the world. My favorite encounter of the day was a little girl who was so excited that I could put Tinkerbell in her hands that she gave me the longest and biggest hug ever. It was so, so, so cute.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Tours and Some Time Off

Today, I had to get up at 4:30 in the morning in order to catch a bus in time to go on an intensive Magic Kingdom tour called "Once Upon a Time is Now". The tour started at 7:15am, and once it got going, I soon realized that it is a tour meant to start off your college experience, so I was already a week ahead of everyone I was with. I met some really cool people, but it was a bit annoying to already know about 98% of the information given out during the tour while it was all new to everyone else.

But, after a long morning of finding out the same information I'd gotten all through training, I was done for the day shortly before noon, went over to costuming to pick up a special Main Street costume, and then went over to meet my friend Kim in the Magic Kingdom. We had a great time wandering around (we rode a few rides, including Haunted Mansion, Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin and Splash Mountain) and then went over to Epcot to ride Test Track and a few of the countries in Epcot.

As it got dark, we headed back to our apartments since we had to work early in the morning and we were both exhausted from long days. It was nice to hang out with a new friend and get to know some more people on the program! And, when I got home, I had a special package waiting for me... THANK YOU GRANDMA AND GRANDPA!! LOVE YOU BOTH!

Tomorrow, I get to sleep in until 5:45, which is so exciting! It'll be my first day without a trainer hovering, which should be very very interesting...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Done with Training (For Now!)

Today, I had my Day 4 training with Photopass, which is my last day of training until I get trained to shoot night photos later in my program. It was a pretty simple day, consisting of learning how to take "magic" photos in the morning - which are photos with an extra bit of pixie dust that I now know how to arrange and take correctly. Then, after some practice shots of my trainer, I was out in the Magic Kingdom practicing in a location close to the castle.

Soon, it was time for our Move it, Shake it, Celebrate it! street party, which I got to shoot for the first time. It was so much to run around the central plaza with all the characters and guests dancing and take candid photos that Mom and Dad might be missing. I even took one that was excellent enough to get a star and have a shot of being projected on the castle near the end of the night!

Then, it was lunch time and back out the park to take photos of guests in two spots - Tomorrowland Bridge and First Aid. It took some practice, but I've finally managed to make the magic shots work! Before I knew it, my shift was over and it was time to clock out. A long day of walking and standing, but it was a great day -- I can honestly say that I love my job.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Slowly but Surely, I'm Earning my Ears!

Today was day 3 of training, and my first day at the Magic Kingdom! It was very exciting to finally be in the park where I'll be working for the next few months. After taking the bus over and finally making it to the backstage portion of the park, I met my trainer (Maddie) who was with me all day today and will be with me tomorrow.

Today was a pretty interesting and overwhelming day of training. I got a complete tour of the Magic Kingdom (both on stage and backstage) and all the spots we take photos as Photopass photographers - which took about 2 hours. Then, Maddie showed me around the base, where I will pick up my equipment every morning, turn it in at night, and go to have any questions answered or problems solved.

After taking in all of this information, it was lunch time! We had a nice lunch break and then it was back to the base to pick up my equipment and go out onto Main Street to practice taking some icon photos of Maddie and other cast members. I managed to meet a lot of the people I'll be working with for the next few months. I took photos up and down Main Street and quickly learned where to stand and where to position guests to get the best shot.

After practicing for a while, we went down to a training room to review my photos - which all turned out surprisingly well for my first time out on Main Street (only three or four crooked castles out of about four or five dozen shots). Maddie led me through backstage talking me through all of the staircases and entrances I can use while getting from place to place, and then introduced me to the coordinators and leaders for PhotoPass. We then took a look at some reference photos for both icon photography and creative shots, took another round of practice photos in front of the castle of cast members and reviewed them (no crooked castles!) and then I took the first step to earning my ears...

I was out on Main Street (Maddie hovering somewhat near by), taking photos of guests.

EEK!

Since we were running a bit short on time, I only managed to take photos of guests for about an hour but I managed to fit in about seven or eight families. I got to have the CUTEST conversation with this little girl who's birthday it was tomororw. She told me all about her balloon and what she was going to be doing on her birthday - which was breakfast with Cinderella and then meeting Rapunzel wearing her very pretty Rapunzel dress. She was the cutest thing ever, and it completely made my day.

After taking guest photos for a while, which was intimidating and a little nerve-wracking at first because you really don't want to screw up, I soon found my footing and got the hang of taking photos while interacting with the guests and making it fun. Maddie and I then went back to base to review my guest photos (all were good except for a few SLIGHTLY crooked castles, which were easily fixable) and then I had to do some training acknowledgements, turn in my equipment for the day, and then take an examination to see what I've learned and accomplished so far. I scored a 100%.

Before I knew it, it was 6pm and I was done for the day. Since Maddie is my trainer tomorrow too, we said goodbye, I made it out of backstage to the bus stop and then it was back to my apartment. I made dinner and here we are! I decided to update the blog since I've had a few extra seconds. Now, its time to get my lunch ready for tomorrow and everything set up since it'll be another early - but MAGICAL - day!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Hopping Around the World

Today was my second day off since I've been on the program, so I got up early and hopped the bus over to the Magic Kingdom. From the TTC, I hopped the monorail to Epcot to explore. Since I was by myself today, I brought my DSLR to take some photos around the world. Since I slept in, I arrived at Epcot shortly before 11am, and since World Showcase wasn't open yet, I decided to pay my dear friend Figment a ride on Journey into Your Imagination.

Afterwards, I checked out the line at Soarin (way too long, so I passed it up) and then rode the Seas with Nemo and Friends and Test Track with the single rider line. By then, World Showcase had opened up so I wandered from country to country, taking photos and exploring. I rode the rides in Mexico and Norway, but other than that, I just explored and took a lot of photographs of everything I saw. By the time I had made it around the world, it was shortly after 2:30pm, so I made my way back to the front of the park, rode Spaceship Earth and then hopped the monorail back to the Magic Kingdom.

At the Magic Kingdom, I wandered around and took a lot of photographs, rode Space Mountain (walk on, in the middle of the afternoon!), Carousel of Progress, the PeopleMover (formally Tomorrowland Transit Authority) and Monster's Inc Laugh Floor. I then explored the lands, taking photographs and people watching before ending up back on Main Street to watch Dream Along With Mickey (my favorite!, can you tell?) and then headed out of the park shortly after 6pm so I could catch a bus back to Chatham Square and get some things done around the apartment before I had to work tomorrow.

Even though I was by myself, I had a blast on my second day off! I'm so excited to complete my training this week for Photpass and start capturing memories like the ones I'm making in the parks.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

New Friends and the Magic Kingdom

Today was my first day off since being on the program, so I slept in, went to mass and then decided to get ready and hop on whatever bus was the first to come by the stop because I didn't have any friends who had off today.

Well, that bus happened to be the Magic Kingdom bus, so off I went! As usual, the commute was extremely long, but I managed to befriend a few people while sitting on the bus and ended up joining two roommates, my new friends Erica (not my roommate) and Aubrey, as they went to Cast Connection (a discount, cast member only merchandise store by the Magic Kingdom) and then off to the Magic Kingdom to see the castle show and fireworks. Erica and Aubrey are so nice and sweet, and I had a blast hanging out with them!

After Cast Connection, we had an adventure trying to figure out how to get to the Magic Kingdom as guests, but soon we made it and as we went through the gates, we noticed that Mickey was doing a meet and greet at the Town Square Theater! We bought autograph books with our cast member discounts and went to see our favorite friends - Mickey and (surprise!) Minnie! Afterwards, we even met Cinderella, Belle and (my favorite) Aurora. It was so much fun to be a little kid again and meet the characters, and to watch other guests' faces as they met them.


Fantasyland Expansion!
After meeting the characters, we wandered through the lands and decided to ride Pirates (again!) and the Enchanted Tiki Room (which is no longer Under New Management, which was surprising). We had dinner at Peco's Bills - surprisingly good, and our discounts came in handy and then went over to stake out a spot at the castle for Dream Along with Mickey, The Magic the Memories and You, and Wishes -- all of which were AMAZING.

Dream Along with Mickey is my favorite show at Walt Disney World, and it is even more amazing at night. It will never get old! The Magic, the Memories and You is a special projection show we have for this years theme, and it is fantastic. It features projections on the castle and shows over five hundred photos taken in the park that day -- it is astounding. Then, we watched Wishes, which is as amazing as ever. Tinkerbell flew from the castle through Main Street to start the show and the fireworks and music combined into quite the spectacle. I can't believe that, as a Photopass Photographer in the Magic Kingdom, I will be paid to watch them every night while taking photos of families' enjoying them. It's going to be quite the adventure!

After Wishes, we decided to head over to Fantasyland to ride Snow White's Scary Adventure, since it will be retired soon, and then over to Tomorrowland to ride Stitch's Great Escape and then Monster's Inc Laugh Floor. Monster's Inc Laugh Floor is one of those shows that will never get old, because it changes every time! It was hilarious. We stopped by the Confectionary on the way out of the park and then it was over to the bus stop to catch a bus back to Chatham Square. The bus ride was a spectacle since both me and Aubrey were exhausted, and therefore, everything was hilarious.

In the end, today was a great day! I am so happy that I met Erica and Aubrey... I hope we have another day off together soon so we can meet some more characters. (:

Training and a Little Pixie Dust

Day 2 of Training was fantastic!! First, I started the morning off bright and early and headed over to the Animal Kingdom Wardrobe center to be picked up by my trainer. I got there early, as per usual, so I managed to read a couple chapters of my current read while I was waiting. Unlike yesterday, today was sunny and perfect, so it was nice to be outside and read in the sunshine while killing some time. Shortly before 9am, my trainer arrived, I punched into the system, and it was off to the training room in Maingate. As we sat in the car, we went through the same obligatory introductions that I've gone through every day of training so far - names, where we're from, where we went to school, and then a scattered "favorite" of something Disney - character, ride, park, etc.

Well, this time, it was a bit different... because my trainer, Kristin, was from Greenfield! It was so exciting to have someone from Wisconsin in my midst. As I soon learned, she attended UW-Parkside and actually knew my cousins Janell and Joe -- and my "cousin-in-law" Anna! It was one of those "it's a small world!" moments. (Insert the Small World song here, if you so choose)

During Day 2 of training, we reviewed everything I had learned in Day 1, and then had a few more powerpoints on icon photography and the PhotoPass system that were more in depth. They were long, but afterwards it was time for lunch at Hollywood Studios and then out into the Studios for some practice! I went up and down Hollywood Boulevard and the Streets of America with Kristin taking icon photos of the giant hat and Tower of Terror with her and other cast members as my "guests". We did some role play excersises, which let me practice my guest interaction a little more.

After taking photos for a while, it was back to Maingate to look at my photography (only a few crooked shots, but everything else was great!) and then have a few more powerpoints on troubleshooting and what to do when things go a little less smoothly. Before I knew it, it was 5:30 and time to head back to my apartment to change before meeting my roommate and her dad at the Magic Kingdom.

The bus ride took FOREVER with a long change at Vista (another apartment complex), but I was soon on my way to the Magic Kingdom -- I took the monorail from the TTC and had the hugest smile on my face as I approached the gates. As I swiped through the gates for the first time as a cast member (eek!), I was grinning ear to ear as I went down Main Street. I stopped to take a few photos for families along the way, but sadly had to rush through most of it because I was late to meet my roommate by about forty-five minutes. In retrospect, I wish I would have slowed down because the feeling I had went entering Main Street was amazing, and irreplaceable.

Main Street was packed because Wishes had just finished up and our new castle show was about to go live but I made it over to Erica and her dad in front of Pirates in Adventureland. Her dad was so sweet, he bought us light-up Mickey ears which are adorable! We rode Pirates of the Carribean (one of my favorite rides, definitely) and then walked around the lands, taking everything in. We managed to ride Haunted Mansion, Monsters Inc Laugh Floor, Mickey's Phillhar Magic and explore all the shops along the way before the park closed at midnight. They were floored by my Disney knowledge as I filled them in on little facts and tricks about the park throughout the night.

As the park closed, we took a monorail back to the TTC, where her dad was nice enough to give us a ride back to our apartment so we didn't have to take the bus after a long day. Which, leads us to now, as I write this very long post!

I have off tomorrow and Monday, so I don't know what kind of fun and mischief I'll be getting myself into... only time will tell!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Early mornings and Even Earlier Ones.

Today was another early morning here in Orlando - my day started at 5am...yes, that is FIVE IN THE MORNING. (Which is 4am if you're reading this from Wisconsin, which I'm pretty sure you are) After showering and getting dressed in some gym clothes and making sure my hair and makeup were in the Disney Look, I ate breakfast and grabbed my lunch from the fridge while heading out the door, ID and shoes from yesterday in hand. I caught the 6am bus from my apartment to the Animal Kingdom Wardrobe building - which has been my shortest commute so far, about 20 minutes. As I got off the bus at costuming, I found out that I had been misinformed and that it didn't open until 7am... which meant, I had 40 minutes to kill and it was starting to rain.
Just my luck.

Luckily, the door was unlocked so I managed to slip inside out of the rain to wait for the department to open. I'm glad I always keep a book in my bag, because otherwise I would have been so bored! Soon, 7am rolled around and I was ushered into costuming, where I picked up my costume for Disney Photopass - blue pants/shorts, white top, khaki vest. There also is a jacket, rain gear and hat included. I soon learned that Disney sizes run about 2-3 sizes smaller than average sizing - and every piece varies in size, even if they all say "M". This extended the process since I had to try every single piece on... which had meant I didn't get out of costuming until around 8:15.



After checking out my costumes, I changed into my first one and consulted wardrobe about my shoes. Thank goodness I decided to buy the men's shoes, because those are the ones that fit within the Disney Look! After snapping some pictures (Aren't I so cute in those high-waisted pants?), it was back out to the lobby to wait for my trainer to pick me up. After she arrived, I punched in and we drove over to the orientation building.

Because of some changes in scheduling, it ended up being only me in Photopass training today. Since it was unexpected one-on-one training, it was more individualized and engaging and I feel like I learned much more through this process. Training was from 9am until 5:30, with a few short breaks and one lunch - and it was all about my role and how to perform my job, instead of general orientation like Traditions and Welcome to Entertainment!

I got to learn about the cameras I would be using, the processes I needed to learn and become familiar with and other important information about my role. It was extremely interesting and exciting to learn the processes and procedures for exactly what I'll be doing for the next four months. I'm definitely in the right department - there is enough of a team atmosphere that I can get help when I need it, but it is individual enough that I will not be restricted or get bored easily. I have a lot of freedom with this role, which will allow me to make lots of magic and memories for guests - which is soooo exciting!

I even got to test out the camera style I would be using during the role, and try out the processes and methods I learned about. This kind of hands-on learning definitely cemented my learning, so I feel like the next time I get that camera in my hands, it will all (for the most part) come back to me! The day went extremely fast, I barely even looked at my watch...which tells me that this is the right place for me to be.

Tomorrow, I get to sleep in until 6am. SIX IN THE MORNING!! I never thought that I would put the phrases "sleep in" and "6am" in a sentence together, but that just says something about how out of wack my schedule is. I have training from 8:30 am until 5:30pm - and I'll actually be in a park, practicing taking shots for a good portion of the time, which is extremely exciting. After work, I'll head back to my apartment to change, but then it's off to Magic Kingdom with my roommate since it's open to midnight!

It'll be another long one, but definitely worth it... and then I have Sunday and Monday off!

Long Days, Early Mornings

Training has been crazy, my day started at 5:45 yesterday morning and didn't end until around 9pm last night. Today will be a bit better, my day started at 5am and will end around 6pm. I'll then get up some posts about what exactly I've been doing! (:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Welcome to Entertainment! A Creative Title for a Long Class

Today marks the end of day 2 of my training experience, and day 4 of my Disney College Program adventure!

The day started pretty similarly to Traditions the day before, with a 7am bus to Disney University for my 8:30am-5pm orientation. Since Disney Photopass technically falls under Entertainment, I was in the Entertainment Core class (called "Welcome to Entertainment") with a lot of the new performers who will be in the parks' shows and parades. We had to wear business dress again, which mean I broke out another professional dress with a cardigan, tights (which I ended up having to take off because they were outside of "Disney Look" -- oops!) and flats.

The Welcome to Entertainment class was extremely similar in set-up to Traditions. There were about two dozen of us in the class, and we sat through a number of presentations about safety, the ins and outs of entertainment and guidelines for Disney service. We were in a classroom for most of the morning, where we learned about some company secrets for providing great show and entertainment, we reviewed the some of the material we covered in Traditions, and we learned about safety to great extent.

After all of the presentations, we were off to the Magic Kingdom (!!) for a lunch break, an extensive tour of the backstage entertainment portion of the park and we even had the opportunity to watch the castle show, Dream Along with Mickey, with the guests! It was a great  break in the middle of the day from the extensive information being thrown at us. Dream Along with Mickey was amazing, very similar to how I remembered it being when I saw it as a guest in 2010.

But instead of focusing on the show, I found myself watching the guests' reactions and what the Photopass photographers were doing while the show was going on. There was one little girl who was sitting on her dad's shoulders, dressed up exactly like Princess Aurora, who got so excited when she came on stage that she started shrieking and crying from joy. It was so exciting for me to see the joy that the simplest things, like a character or a daily show, can bring to our guests. As a Photopass photographer, it will be my job to take candid pictures of these moments so guests can treasure these memories forever - so exciting, right?!

After Dream Along with Mickey, it was back to Disney University to learn our schedules for our role training, get registered on the corporate Disney site where we can view our schedules and other timely information, and do some online training to get us on our way! My training starts tomorrow, I train on Saturday, and then I have off Sunday and Monday - and I train/work from Tuesday through Saturday! It'll be a busy week ahead!

Online training took forever, but I commend Disney for making it as interesting as it could be with the dull information on hand that needs to be learned. Before I knew it, my shift was over and it was off to costuming to pick up my costume that I need for tomorrow's training. After walking over to the costuming building, I found out that the leader from my entertainment core class was incorrect, and that they didn't have my costume in the building I was in! Instead, it could be found in three other buildings all around property...but the cast member working didn't know the bus schedule or how to get to any other building.

Panicking, I found out that my costume would be at the Animal Kingdom wardrobe building, which (luckily for me) I had to be at tomorrow morning for training anyway. I'm told that costuming opens at 6am, so I should try to get there between 6:30 and 7am so I will then be on time for my 9am shift. Phew, one thing done! Only one other problem to tackle... I didn't have the necessary shoes for my costume, and they aren't provided for me. Oh no! I had to find some way to get to Walmart so I could pick up appropriate shoes before my shift in the morning.

Upset, and almost on the edge of a nervous breakdown, I got on the bus to my apartment, frantically trying to figure out how I was going to get my shoes in time since I don't have a car. I tried everything I could think of... I called my roommate to see if she had any ideas, I asked everyone I had met if they had a car, I even posted on the DCP facebook page inquiring about a ride to Walmart. No luck.

I got off at my apartment and came to terms with the only option left... I would have to take a cab to and from Walmart. 30 minutes, and 13 dollars later, I made it to Walmart. As I went inside to pick up my shoes, I soon discovered that they were all out of the shoes I needed in women's sizes and the only shoes that would work had...velcro on them. Yes, VELCRO. Well, desparate times call for desparate measures, so I picked up the Velcro shoes in my size and started making my way up to the counter to check out... when I passed the men's shoe department. Well, I figured that shoes couldn't get worse than the ones I had in my hands, so I stopped in and - to my surprise - managed to find a pair that would work with my guidelines!

Now, I have a pair of men's shoes and a pair of women's velcro shoes - and I'm not sure which ones will work for Disney since there are many details that need to be just right. I decided to buy them both, just to be on the safe side. Another 30 minutes, and 13 more dollars later, I made it back to my apartment - shoes in hand.
What a long day - it started at 5:45am and ended shortly after 9pm after I had finished with Walmart and everything. I am exhausted. Since I have to pick up my costume tomorrow, it's going to be another early one (starting at 5am), so we'll see how it goes! Hopefully much smoother than today.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I'm Part of Disney Heritage (Now that I've gone through Traditions)

In one word, Traditions was amazing. In many words, well... that's what this blog is for!

My bag's all packed for Traditions!
My day started when I woke up around 8:30am to get ready for a long orientation in the afternoon. I got dressed in my business professional clothing and did my hair and makeup in the Disney Look (which, in one word, can be described as natural). My roommate Erika and I had lunch and got everything ready for Traditions and then headed over to the Clubhouse, which houses the main office and other complex resources, to pick up a few of the kitchen things that we were missing in our apartment. We ran them back to our apartment and then walked back to the bus stop, where we waited to catch a bus to Disney University, which is where our Traditions class was held.

Passing under the Magic Kingdom gates!
Waiting for the bus, I met a lot of amazing people who are doing all sorts of interesting things throughout Walt Disney World. They come from all around the country from vastly different universities and background, which was very cool to see! The bus came just after 1pm and got us over to Disney University just before our Traditions start time at 2pm. I even befriended a few people while on the bus, as we all got super excited with our first sightings of Disney landmarks such as Space Mountain and Cinderella Castle as cast members.

When we made it to Disney University, which is just behind the Magic Kingdom, we were split into five different groups based on numbers we got when we went through casting a few days earlier. I was in group 504 and Erika was in another, so we got split up. As my group waited to go into the classroom for Traditions, I met even more interesting people from all over, including another girl from Wisconsin! (It is super exciting to have someone who's from around my hometown.)

First things first, we got our official Disney IDs - which also act as a privilege pass so I can get into the parks, every single day, absolutely free!!

Waiting in line... look at Chip and Dale coming from the ceiling!
Then, we got settled into our classroom in groups of five - my group was part of Team Woody - and we got started with what turned out to be an amazing afternoon. First, the afternoon started with an online presentation about "Working with Integrity" which was about the legal rules and regulations while working for the Disney company. After this presentation, which took about a half hour, we got started on Traditions!

Our two Traditions leaders were charming, charasmatic and definitely loved their jobs - which was a great first impression on the corporate side of Disney. They showed us a video introduction to Traditions with clips from Bill Iger and even Walt himself - which definitely set the tone for the rest of the afternoon! They gave us an idea of what we'd be doing for the rest of the afternoon, which was jampacked with useful information about working and succeeding with the company.

But, first things first, we got to have a tour of the BACKSTAGE portion of the MAGIC KINGDOM!!!

It was AMAZING. The "Utilidors" as they are called (which is the backstage portion of the Magic Kingdom) are fascinating. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed, but it is just as whimsical as you would imagine it to be. I can't wait to get to know the backstage area since I'll be working in the Magic Kingdom for the next four months. After walking through the Utilidors, we were taken up onto Main Street.

It is just as magical as I remembered it, and to be honest, I almost burst into (happy) tears. It's finally real to me that this is where I'm going to be living, working and playing for the rest of the semester. I can't believe that I am lucky enough to be part of this family and have this opportunity.

After a quick tour around the Magic Kingdom, it was back to the classroom for some more presentations - which were fascinating. We learned about the past, the present and the future of the company. I astounded some of my fellow cast members with my extensive knowledge of the Disney company and its origins during a timeline activity about Disney's past. We learned about important dates in Disney history, were reminded on what has recently happened to the company (for example, the new aquisition of Marvel) and what is upcoming for the company. (Those, however, are company secrets...so my lips are sealed!)

After learning about Disney history, we learned about the common goal for the Disney company, which we are supposed to keep in mind every day. We did an activity that involved naming Disney characters, and my tabled won! We named 24 characters in a minute and we managed to score cute little Disney figurines to take home. We then learned about the Disney values, the four keys to the Disney experience, the company's commitment to community and the perks we get as cast members.

After taking in all this information (which I took tons of notes on!), it was time to get our official Disney nametags. The boss, that's MICKEY MOUSE!, came to visit our classroom to deliver them and I soon had my hands on what makes my Disney employment feel even more real... an offical engraved nametag. EEK!

After recieving our nametags (which are put on over our heart), we finished off Traditions with a video presentation with clips from Walt Disney and other important leaders in the Disney company, both past and present. The things that were being said in this presentation were so inspirational and impressive that I got chills. I am so thrilled to be part of this company and now have the opportunity every day to make magic.

Then, I met up with Erika again and we hopped on the bus heading back to our apartment complex. We giggled and talked nonstop about the whole Traditions experience, which we were both so happy with! It was definitely an amazing experience.

In the end, the Traditions orientation took about four hours, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. I have never been more happy and proud to work for this company.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Housing Sessions and Apartment Tours (I'm in Orlando, Part II)

Day Two of my Disney College Program experience started early, but not as early as the day before!

I was awake at 8am so I could eat breakfast and get ready for my housing session at 10am. Since there was no dress code for the housing session, I got to wear a sundress and sandals since it was supposed to be a high of EIGHTY degrees today. (Jealous? I know I would be!!) I then got all my paperwork organized for Day Two and started the walk over to the housing session, which was held in The Commons Clubhouse. The Commons is a housing complex about a ten minute walk from Chatham Square that houses students who are participating in the International program, since their program lasts for a year or more instead of a semester. It's a lovely walk with lots of palm trees and pretty views, and only took about fifteen minutes for me to find where I needed to go.

One of the things that is different here than at Mizzou is that I need my housing ID on me at all times. I am constantly being asked for it - I need to show it when entering any complex, I need it to check in for welcome sessions, and it is my "key" to checking out supplies like vacuums and brooms from the main building.

Since I left about a half an hour in advance to give myself enough time to find the session, I had a few minutes before it began...and the session ended up starting late due to technical difficulties! I met some very interesting people in line from all over the country and it is nice to be surrounded by people who love Disney as much as I do! Everyone has been extremely friendly and helpful so far.

The housing session took a little more than an hour and a half and walked through all the rules and regulations regarding housing, what is and isn't allowed in the appartments, what housing events to expect, what comes after this program and lots of other useful information. It was extremely intense, but it also was very informative. The session ended with a heads up on what housing events are coming up and it made me extremely excited for the semester ahead!

After my housing session, I had the rest of the day off, so I met Mom at my apartment complex so we could take a quick trip to Walmart and Publix (the local grocery store chain) before she had to catch her flight back home. I picked up the rest of the necessities that I had missed the day before, and now have a fully stocked freezer, fridge and cabinet ready for the semester ahead.

We stopped at Subway for a quick lunch to bring back to my apartment and then went back to Chatham to unpack the rest of my groceries and spend a little more time together before she had to leave for the airport. Erika and her dad were heading out just as we were coming back, so Mom and I had some time alone to say goodbye and such. After she went to the airport, I had some time alone to unpack all of my clothes and the rest of what I had brought down and organize it all. I also got everything I need organized and have done a few loads of dishes to make sure everything in our kitchen is clean, since its cleanliness was a bit debatable.

Which, leads us to right now - I've had a chance now to update you all on what's going on with this blog!

The next few days are looking to be crazy - tomorrow I will be going through Traditions, which is company-wide orientation for all Disney cast members at 2pm, which means catching a bus at 12:45 and leaving for the bus stop around 12:25. This is when I will learn more about the Disney company, will get my official Disney nametag and will get my FREE admissions to the park, all day every day!

Then, Thursday will be my first day training for Photopass. My shift starts at 8:30am and goes until 5pm, and from there I will get the rest of my training schedule. It sounds incredibly intense, wish me luck!

It's been an extremely magical few days so far, and I can't wait to see what the rest of the semester brings.

(Oh, and as promised! Here's a quick apartment tour!)

The entrance area to my apartment! There's a desk right to the left.

My kitchen! Complete with dishwasher, fridge, stove, oven and microwave...and tons of cabinet and pantry space!

The dining room...and my office right now.

The living room, which has veryyy comfy couches!

The bedroom! Mine is the bed with the flower bedspread.

Why yes, that is a walk in closet!!

The dresser in the bedroom, my laundry hamper...and all my books stacked!
 
The bathroom


and lastly, the porch!!
Pretty fab, right?!