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.


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?!

Monday, January 23, 2012

3, 2, 1....FLORIDA! (I'm in Orlando, Part I)

Early, early this morning (I woke up around 3:30am and was out the door shortly before 4:30!!), my mom and I flew out of Milwaukee to sunny Orlando so I could check in and start my adventure called the Disney College Program. Sounds pretty simple, right?

All went pretty smoothly to start - we left the house on time, the weather was a little slippery but definitely manageable and we got to the airport shortly before 5am. Mom dropped me off with my luggage and carry-ons near where we needed to check in and went to go to park the car (which took what felt like forever, but in reality was only about 15-20 minutes). We skipped through check-in by doing curbside (we waited behind one person instead of almost fifty!!) and we on our way to security. After an extremely long wait to get to security, we presented our tickets and forms of id...and, this is when things went wrong.

Mom forgot her valid license, and instead brought the one the expired in 2010.

OH NO!! Anxious to see whether or not she'd be allowed on the plane (no second form of ID here), we waited at the security checkpoint while several TSA agents decided her fate. Needless to say, I was not very happy with her at that moment. Eventually, they decided to let her through but gave her a thorough screening which added a bit of time to the process. After we got through security (this process took more than 45 minutes), we made it to the gate just as they were finishing up the initial boarding. We got on with no problems and stowed our luggage, preparing for the two-and-a-half hour flight to FLORIDA!!

The flight was a bit turbulent, but all went smoothly compared to the expired-license tobacle. We landed in Orlando shortly before 10am and stepped off the plane to a wave of humidity and warmth you could feel even before you were outdoors. We split up since I had to be all checked in at Disney by noon - Mom went to deal with the rental car and I went to pick up my checked bags. Minutes ticked by but soon the luggage carousel kicked into motion and out came my bags, easily identifiable thanks to the neon luggage tags I picked up prior to the trip.

After loading them onto a cart, I went to check on Mom's rental car progress - we were all set up with a compact car and about to drive out when we realized that she wouldn't be able to rent it with an expired license! The rental company was extremely strict on this policy (definitely understandable) so we had to unload all my luggage and catch a cab outside the airport to where I had to check in. By the time we got situated in a taxi, it was a little before 11:15am, so I had about forty-five minutes to make it in time.

Luckily, I did.

The cab dropped me off at Vista Way, the location of check-in and then took Mom over to the hotel where she stayed (which was just across the street) with my luggage. It was about quarter to noon, so I rushed over to check in, where I got my temporary Disney name tag (a very fancy name for a Mickey Mouse sticker with my name on it) and filled out some paperwork regarding housing. I then found out where I'm going to be living - and since I did roommate-matching, I was already set up with a one-bedroom apartment in a complex called Chatham Square.

I got my apartment key, which is actually a key unlike last semester, when my student id acted as my key into the room, and then took my housing ID photo - which (surprisingly) did not turn out too bad. After it printed, I was given a planner to keep track of all my commitments with the housing codes and other regulations in the front. I was told that the second part of my check-in would be at 1:30pm and was given a snack while I waited. Woot, I was done with part one of check-in!

The first part of check in took about twenty minutes, which was far less than what I had expected it too. Apparently earlier in the day, it took people between 1-3 hours to go through that process! I was lucky to barely wait in line, and if I did, it was only behind one or two other people.

With a little more than an hour before I had to go to casting, I was invited to check out my appartment in the down time. A bus would be coming shortly, but I decided to wait it out since with travel time, I would only have about 10-15 minutes in my apartment before having to turn around and come back. I sat down at the bus stop to wait it out before my casting bus arrived, and lucky I did - they let me go an hour early!

After a twenty minute bus ride to casting, which is in a building right by Downtown Disney, we started a process that turned out to take about two and a half hours...aka, forever. The building had some beautiful Disney paintings and statues though, so at least it was interesting to look at! First things first, I found out where I was going to be working. Now, I knew that I was going to be a Photopass Photographer - I have known this since I was accepted into the program back in October, but my location remained elusive. I didn't have a preference, to be honest, on location because I am ecstatic to be in Walt Disney World period, but during casting I found out I will be working at the...


This park, which was the original park in Walt Disney World, is the one that is most commonly thought of when WDW is mentioned...it hosts classic attractions like Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Dumbo and has, of course, Cinderella Castle! I was thrilled to have been chosen for the Magic Kingdom - I am so excited about my work location!!

After finding out my work location, I turned in all of the paperwork I had printed and filled out at home, turned in I-9 and W-4 forms and proved my identity with my driver's license over...and over...and over so it could get copied every step of the way. I got my cast member handbook, got fingerprinted for a background check and then sat through a session about the Disney Look, which are the guidelines for appearance. After this, I got photographed for proof that I was within the guidelines and had to fill out some more paperwork regarding the program.

All of this means...a LOT of lines, which made the process take forever.

By the time I had finished casting and had taken the bus back to Vista Way, where I had originally checked in, it was shortly before 3:30pm. I walked over to Mom's hotel, where she had somehow worked her magic and rented a car, and we went to go and pick it up. After picking up the rental car, we used the GPS that Uncle Mike had lent to us (Thanks, Uncle Mike!!!) to find my new appartment. It turns out Chatham Square is just about 10 minutes away from Vista Way, so it was pretty easy to find. The building I'm staying in is very close to the center of the complex and about a three minute walk away from the bus stop - fantastic for getting back and forth from work!

We parked the car right in front of my building, unloaded my luggage and walked up a flight of stairs to my apartment - where I got to meet my roommate right away! My roommate's name is Erika and she's a very sweet, friendly girl from Indiana. After lugging up my bags, I got to take a second to look at my new home for the next four months....it is HUGE! It's a one-bedroom, but could easily hold at least one-two more people's belongings. No lack of space on this end. It has a kitchen, dining room, living room, bathroom, bedroom and a porch..and it is fabulous! Pictures will come once I'm unpacked and organized.

I took the bed that's closer to the door and closet because the parks generally have earlier hours than the hotels, where she is working, and I don't want to be disruptive every day. I put all my luggage on my side and we started to get to know each other as Mom and her dad talked. We decided to split a list of shared necessities so it would be much more manageable and then we all went to Walmart together, where we could pick up things we were missing off our lists and Mom and I went grocery shopping.

After returning to the apartment from Walmart, we unloaded all of our purchases and then Mom and I decided to go out to a restaurant a little off Disney property while Erika and her dad decided to pick something up that was a little quicker. At dinner, I had a wonderful seafood pasta at this New England-style pub in Celebraton and Mom sent me back to the apartment with her and my leftovers, so I have enough food for at least three more meals!

By the time I got back here to my apartment, it was just before 11pm. I am exhausted, but I've managed to unpack and organize the rest of my groceries, put away my leftovers and am now heading off to bed so I'll be ready for day two!

What a long day....I was awake for over TWENTY hours!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

All Packed Up, and Ready to Go!

I've managed to condense everything I will be needing in the next four months into two suitcases and two carry-ons and my laptop case, and I am so excited to start my adventure tomorrow! It took my a long time to figure out what to pack, what to buy down there, and what I really didn't need, but I've made my list and checked it about a hundred times ... so I don't think I'm forgetting anything! (I hope.)

I fly out of Milwaukee in exactly 12 hours (eek!) and will be landing in sunny Orlando just in time to check in for my internship! Then comes finding my check-in location, a lot of paperwork, discovering where I'm going to be working and settling into my new appartment.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

And I'm Off... (Well, Almost)

In just a few short days, I will be flying out of Milwaukee to Orlando to check-in for my four-month internship with the Disney College Program! I am extremely excited about this opportunity and it cannot start soon enough (though, this may be in part the fact that it is supposed to be a high of 81 degrees while I'm moving in on Monday, and it will be a high of 32 here in Wisconsin).

For those of you who may not know, I have been accepted into the Disney College Program for Spring 2012 as a Photopass Photographer - the cast member who stops guests in the parks to take their photo with characters or landmarks...that'll be me! Photopass is the second most selective part of the program to be accepted into, and I am very proud of this accomplishment. I'll be residing in sunny Florida from Monday (January 23rd) until Friday, May 18.

This blog will be a little place to document my adventures down at Disney and to keep anyone who is interested (hello, family!) updated. I hope you enjoy my journey as much as I will!