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 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 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!!

No comments:

Post a Comment