Thursday, April 12, 2012

Overtime, Underpaid and at a Loss For Words

This month has been going by quickly. Spring Break was just here not too long ago, but I didn't have time to notice or really enjoy it because of work. It's not all bad though. The paycheck was pretty fabulous; That's what 16 hours of overtime will get you.

I don't have much to write about this time around. Nothing's really been going on. This feels kind of strange because there's usually almost always something going on. As fast as this month has been going by, it feels like I haven't had the time to make things happen, or notice anything happening for that matter.

I take that back, my best friends from back home are coming to visit around this time next month! I'm so excited! I feel like I've been incredibly out of touch with my friends from back home for the most part. I think this reunion will be good for me. Prior to the visit, I'll be making my first trip home to watch my little brother graduate. So far, May is proving to be a promising and busy time for me, but I'm perfectly fine with this.

I really wish I had something more interesting to read this time around, but this is about all I've got at this moment in time. Maybe some time soon I'll have more news.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Change of Plans Only to Change Again.

Well, it's bright and early an I'm wide awake...a rarity. It feels pretty good to be awake when normal people are awake actually.

A note to future college program participants, as housing inspections come closer, you'll hear a lot of rumors about the coveted White Glove Award. This award is given to certain apartments that Price Management deems unbelievably clean. The reward for White Glove status is a box of Ferrero-Rocher chocolates to split between your roommates and yourself (good luck). Unfortunately for us, we were not awarded the White Glove; however, we passed with an excellent and received cookies. We didn't receive the White Glove because we didn't scrub down our oven. Here's the truth about White Glove...after searching the Internet for countless hours on trying to find White Glove criteria, I found nothing so hopefully this helps.

  • Scrub your oven
  • Wipe down your refrigerator and microwave
  • Make sure nothing is on the floor
  • Sweep and vacuum the floors (mop if necessary)
  • Scrub toilet bowls and showers
  • Scrub sinks
  • Wipe down mirrors
  • Make sure the kitchen/living area is free of clutter
  • Nothing hanging on the walls
  • Make your beds
I think that covers about everything. Good luck!

A couple of days ago, I went to Epcot to get the full experience of the flower and garden festival with a good friend of mine. We dedicated our entire day to doing this. Was it worth it? Absolutely. It takes a whole day to really wander around the world showcase to see the different topiary displays, plus we were able to check out the separate flower and garden displays that are only there seasonally. I've put up pictures on Facebook, but I'll include some of my favorites below:

Twining's Tea sponsored a display at the United Kingdom Pavilion 

Once Upon a Dream

Bambi's Butterfly Garden was something worth checking out!

My extension request was approved a couple of days ago, so as of right now I will be a part of the Disney family until August 3rd! Now the part that complicates things, as far as my plans go for moving out here and working here for good goes, I'm still planning on returning to Florida and transferring to UCF to complete my degree. However, due to certain circumstances, I will be returning to Oklahoma for the Fall 2012 semester and become a seasonal employee of Disney. This will allow me more time to sort out future living arrangements, get transfer requirements in order and hopefully acquire a new vehicle in the near future. I'll participate in another college program Spring of 2013 and go from there if all goes well (I smell a professional internship in my future! =D). I won't be returning to the OSU-Stillwater campus. I want to spend the semester with my family before I move across the country, so I'll be taking my classes at the OSU-Tulsa campus. 

In the long run, I think this (hopefully) last semester I spend in Oklahoma will give me the necessary closure I need in order to begin this new and exciting chapter in my life. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes.

Things are substantially better since the last blog post.

It's Spring in Florida, so that means more time outside, thoughts of visiting the beach and a busier stand-by wait time at Space Mountain due to Spring Breakers. I don't mind so much though.

I've yet to visit Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure or Harry Potter World(OMGZ NOT THE COMPETITOR ACROSS THE STREET!!);however, it is on my list of things to do before the summer crowds roll in.

On a more work-related note, I've decided that because I'm extending my program, I'm going to try to cross-train at another attraction...probably the Stitch complex (Stitch's Great Escape, PeopleMover and Carousel of Progress...correct me if I'm wrong). While I'll have proficiencies there, I don't plan on leaving the Space Mountain party...ever. I absolutely adore the people I work with and have no desire to cut the ties just yet. In fact, I recently announced that, if I get offered the program extension, that I was going to strongly consider transferring to UCF (Zeta Omega chapter love! My sisters'll get it) and working seasonally until I graduated. Seasonally basically means I can pick and choose which weeks I work, which is perfect for a full-time student, in my opinion. This is a huge step in the independent direction and quite frankly it's scaring the crap out of me, but at the same time I just can't wait to see what this big life change has in store for me and my future.

Welcome aboard, space travelers!

I've created a to-do list while I'm here specific for all of the Disney parks. For Epcot, my goal is to have eaten at every world showcase pavilion. Thus far, I've eaten at Mexico, China, Japan, Italy and America (obviously). The remaining countries? Norway, Morocco, United Kingdom, Canada, France and Germany. Also, the Flower and Garden Festival is currently underway and I would like to spend a full day at Epcot just to see the flowers =D. 

I'll elaborate more on the other parks' list with coming blog posts. That's about all I have to report this time around. Oh, and did I mention that Wishes! is my absolute favorite fireworks show? Here is my favorite shot from the firework show the night my roommates and I went. And yes, we did mosh our way to the front of the castle for optimum viewing.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Pixie Dust in the Strangest Places

The gap between posts is going to increase, I've found. I've been working relentlessly for the past few weeks; not complaining, of course, but I have very little time to myself.

So, the past couple of weeks have been filled with continuous disappointment (hang in there, there is a silver lining in this cloud).

First piece of advice, ladies, don't come into the program expecting to be with a guy. Ever. It's a recipe for disaster, not to mention unprofessional. Plus, the fact that you're only down here for a certain amount of time just adds to the fact that most guys, if not all guys, will say and do whatever (and I mean WHATEVER they can to get some ass (pardon my French) no strings attached. Truth hurts. Save yourself time and emotion and just say no =] At this rate, I'll never stop being a truly bitter person. Oh well.

The hours you work will drive you insane. Especially if you work at the Magic Kingdom. Hello, extra magic hours, goodbye sanity. The guests typically leave their brains at home when they're on vacation. You WILL receive stupid questions and people WILL get upset over trivial nonsense.  Also, the busses wil be full of other cast members playing in the park when you try to find a seat. It happens every night. Patience. Just remember that 1. Vehicular manslaughter is not the answer and 2. You're there for one specific purpose, to make magic. That reason has a payoff that outweighs all of the crap that you deal with on a day to day basis.

One day, I was outside helping distribute Fastpasses to the guests. I was provided with a bubble wand and the kids loved it! This particular little boy was having a ball, but like most good things, they don't last forever. I ran out of bubbles and the kid was almost to tears. I felt for him and decided that he was just plain too sweet to not help out. So, I wrote him a sheet for a free bubble gun at the closest gift shop; the look on this kid's face was absolutely priceless. It was worth all of the bad stuff that had previously happened that day. Stuff like that helps you remember why you chose to work for Disney to begin with.

Even with the magical moments I create from time to time, I still find myself in limbo with my actual self and my Disney self. I escape to my Disney self when everything else around me is slowly falling apart. Before work today, I received a call from my mom and was told that my grandma had to be taken to the emergency room because she tried attacking my mom and my grandpa. My grandma has Alzheimer's and usually stuff like this doesn't faze me. It hurts, but nothing really I can do. However, my mom continued to tell me that my grandma kept saying how I was the only one who wouldn't hurt her. Yeah, I came about 3 seconds away from losing it at the bus stop. Regardless, I still had to put my magic face on for everybody.

It's hard being away from home. Especially if everything around you is simply not going your way. However, the people you work with, I've discovered, are the closest thing to a family you have. They understand and they listen when it's needed the most. Make friends here. Be stupid. Because some days, there are guests who notice you and let you know that you're doing a great job or a coworker who just thanks you for working hard.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Struggle for Mobility.

Well, this week has been full of craziness and work. However, I can finally say that as of yesterday, I completed my training and passed my assessment. So, I'm an official cast member now! The bad news, I actually have to answer guests' questions now XD. IN all seriousness, I'm really looking forward to going to my first official day of work today (which isn't until 4:00 thank goodness) it's going to be an interesting experience to say the least.

Of course with the good, there is always some bad. While I get along with the only other person who was training with me, him and a select other group of trainees just can't seem to stop complaining about their job. Personally, I don't understand at all why this is; I want to believe that they're smart enough to know that they didn't go through a lengthy interview and selection process to go on a six-month long vacation. Then again, people can be stupid. Anyway, when I'm around these people, it makes me feel bad for loving my job. Granted, it is a job and you do have to work, but it's still a lot of fun to me. I just wish there as a way for these people to enjoy this experience as much as I do. I mean, come on, how many people would kill to to be in the position that they're in? Not to mention the fact that having Disney on your resume is extra premium. Hopefully, he'll cheer up the more he works, but you never know with some people.

Some advice, if you're considering this program, BRING A CAR!!! I can't even begin to explain how difficult it is down here without a car. Here's the deal, the bus drivers can take their breaks whenever they want; I was 30 minutes late to work one day because of my bus driver. Luckily I was still training at the time so it didn't count against me, but I was still pretty irritated. Also, after work, I have to wait a minimum of 20 minutes at West Clock for a bus to come and take me home at night. I usually don't get off of work until 10:00 or later, I'm sure you can imagine how frustrating it is waiting for a bus for that long at that hour. Especially the bus that takes you to Wal-Mart. My roommate and I missed the bus by 2 minutes and we had to wait for AN HOUR for the next bus to come pick us up. If you've been to a Wal-Mart late at night, I'm sure you can figure out that it isn't the most pleasant place to be...especially in a big city like Orlando. Long story short, bring a car. 

On a brighter note, I have some more news. I'm planning on extending my program into August! Yes, I love where I work that much. Trust me, if I could I would move down here and just finish my schooling here. Unfortunately, I have some unfinished business back home; I suppose you can't run away from your problems, there's no where that far away (Splash Mountain reference FTW). I'm hoping to make some solid connections here though, so when I do finish my schooling, I can come back and hopefully get a professional job here at Disney. I feel like this experience has given me new hope and a new reason to work hard in school. I guess before I was unsure of what I wanted to do to make me happy vs. what I needed to do to feed myself in this economy. I believe that working for this company can offer me both and trust me, it is not easy finding a job that can fulfill both.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Running Myself Ragged

I officially started my on-location training for Space Mountain today. The mornings have been early and the days have been long, but I've been learning a lot. In fact, I can tell you anything you wanted to know about Tomorrowland and Space Mountain.

A couple of fun facts: Space Mountain's top speed is exactly 27 MPH and actually consists of 2 tracks. Both tracks are the same, but they mirror each other. Also, Space Mountain is the most popular roller coaster in the world. Not just the States...the WORLD. I thought that was pretty cool.

Anyways, before I began my training I had to complete a series of preliminary training courses that just briefed me on payroll information, the history of the Magic Kingdom, when to dial 9-1-1 and just basic amusement park stuff. In the midst of all of this park learning, I've also become accustomed to taking the bus from place to place....and getting used to having to be packed into a bus like a sardine. Tomorrow, I have to train for opening Space Mountain, so I have to be at the Magic Kingdom at 6 A.M. This means that I have to take a bus from Vista Way at 5:11 A.M. This also means I have to wake up at about 4 A.M. Sounds fantastic, right?

However, every cloud has a silver lining; college participants typically take closing shifts, so they usually don't have to wake up that early consistently. The managers just want the participants to be trained for opening on the off chance that a full-time cast member can't, for whatever reason, take their opening shift. Another helpful hint: wear comfortable shoes! There is a ton of walking involved in your first few days of training.

Now, here is the big announcement that I mentioned on Facebook: I was scrolling through the Disney auditions website just for kicks and giggles. I came across an event that was open for current CP members, which is incredibly rare. So, I click the link. Disney is hosting auditions for their Star Wars Weekends in May/June. I'll spare you the gory details and get straight to the point. I'm going to audition to be Princess Leia! I'm actually tall enough! I'm so incredibly stoked! However, I have absolutely no idea how to prepare for this audition, so ideas and tips are welcomed.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My First Day in a Nutshell

Ok, so if you haven't been keeping up with my relentless Facebook updates, tweets or other various social networking contributions, I have arrived in Orlando and I'm all settled in!

I'm going to summarize my first day in the hopes that future participants will get a more clear idea of what to expect on the first day, since the Disney website was pretty vague.

Ok, so to check in, my family and I arrived at the Vista Way Apartment Complex (one of the three living options you have with Disney). If you're bringing your family to check-in, they have a special area for a family and friends orientation; you check in on your own because the whole process is cast member exclusive. Check in time goes from 9 AM - Noon, I highly recommend arriving a early as possible because it made the whole process go by a lot faster. Anyways, the very first thing you do at check-in is just familiarize yourself with the general rules and standards of Disney housing (Don't worry, it's all pretty basic stuff). After a brief overview of the rules, you are given an apartment. Usually, the participants under 21 will be living in Vista Way, such as myself. Chatham Square and Patterson Court are usually reserved for those over 21. As soon as you receive your living assignment, you are required to sign a couple more documents about pay deductions, and then you take your picture for your housing identification card.

IMPORTANT! Keep your ID on you AT ALL TIMES! Disney is crazy strict about who they let into their complexes.

You're also given a time for your housing welcome session. If you have your session the same day as you check in, you get the second day off!

Once all of that is taken care of, you are taken to a shuttle bus to the Disney Casting building to find out where you'll be working and what exactly you'll be doing. Me? I was lucky enough to work at the Magic Kingdom in Tomorrowland! Now, the casting process is pretty lengthy, so once again, I want to stress how important it is to arrive as early as possible. For myself, the process took about an hour and a half. For some others it can take up to 3 hours. Also, it is extremely helpful if you fill out all of the on-boarding paperwork prior to check-in. You don't get a whole lot of time to fill it out on the spot. Anyways, after you receive your work location, you are then directed to a series of leaders who go over and confirm your I-9 sheet and other contracts. Once that is finished, you are taken to have a background check; this doesn't take very long and they only require your fingerprints. After all of the serious stuff, you're then taken to a brief overview of the Disney Look. I would spend a lot of time familiarizing yourself with this because it is required for your first official training days as a cast member. After that, you are taken to your final stop, which is receiving your training schedule for days three and four.

That's about it! The shuttle bus will then return you to your specific housing and you're free to unpack until your housing welcome session (the times for that varies from person to person) It was a nerve-racking and sublime experience, but I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

Tomorrow, I start my official training as a cast member through a Disney Traditions class!

IMPORTANT! You are NOT an official cast member until you have completed Disney Traditions and received a Disney ID (separate from your housing ID) and the ticket that gets you into all of the parks for free.

My roommate situation is fabulous! I'm rooming with four other girls in a six bedroom apartment at Vista Way. I'm really looking forward to this semester and I think I'm going to like it here...a lot.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

So Close, Yet So Far Away...

I have finally reached the one week mark. A week from today and I will be on a plane for Orlando! I have a feeling that this will, quite possibly, be the longest week of my entire life. Every other day I receive stuff from Disney in the mail; I see them and my heart skips a beat. Then I discover that they are for my mom's vacation planning purposes and not for me and my heart goes back to its usual beating pattern. It feels like I haven't gotten to accomplish as much as I had hoped to during this month-long hiatus I had at home, but I am happy to say that I have taken care of a lot of important issues, tied up some loose ends and prepared myself for this experience. In all honesty, I'm just ready to be around people my own age again. Being here with all of my friends in Still-ville has forced me to make friends with the local high school kids. Embarrassing? You decide.

In other news, The Odyssey (The Greek life newspaper) wants me to write a monthly informational piece on my Disney experiences. So, there's something we can all look forward to in the near future. I've agreed to write this article on the second Tuesday of every month, so be sure to keep an eye out for me. How I'm going to juggle working, blogging and my online classes is still a mystery to me, but I'm confident that my somewhat developed time management skills will serve me well.

On a more Disney note, I've decided to go on a mission. I want to have an all Disney nerds pin theme for my lanyard! Say what you want, I love pin trading. It's serious business. Here is a photo of the Nerds Rock pin collection I'm aspiring toward:

How cute are those?!

I suppose I should probably get on with the longest week of my life now. Time to wrap up the packing business and whatnot.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Immersing Myself in the Disney Mindset

I've made it to the 15 day mark, just a little over two weeks before I move. In the spirit of things, I decided to re-watch all of my favorite Disney films and even watch some new ones I hadn't watched before. Last night, I watched Wall-E and the night before that I watched Dumbo (my new favorite Disney movie). I'm thinking about watching Snow White tonight.

Speaking of princesses, I had originally wanted to audition to be a princess. Unfortunately, I didn't meet the specific requirements. For those wanting to pursue the character thing, it is super important to check the closest audition location to you. The Disney College Program website has a list of locations that will offer auditions for Fall 2012, but to make things easier, I've included the direct link here. It's also a good idea to review the super specific height requirements for each character you're wanting to audition for. I spent hours trying to find an official chart, but I came across a helpful forum that includes the height requirements for every character here.

In preparation of the big trip, I've been doing a lot of outside reading for what to expect when I arrive. However, the most detailed and helpful videos/blogs I usually seem to find are from the official program websites. Here is a helpful video on check-in day information from other cast members.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Packing & Paperwork

Nineteen days. My mantra for the whole month has been, "X days. X days and you're Florida bound." It's not as inspirational when you're up to your armpits in paperwork. Luckily, I now have my social security number memorized. The anticipation is killing me! I've only been told that I'll be in the attractions sector of the Disney College Program; this could mean a number of things. Also, I don't get to find out where I'll be residing, with whom I'll be residing with, where exactly I'll be working in the parks or how to use the bus system until I 19 days. You may be asking yourself, "Alicia, why does the bus system even matter?" and to that I say this, I don't have a car; I'm 19 years old, have a driver's license, but no car...yes it is as bad as it sounds. Hopefully, not having a car won't be as much of a hinderance in Orlando as it is in Sand Springs where the nearest signs of civilization are 15 minutes away.

At the same time, I'm nervous for my voyage. I'll be in Florida for about five months. This is the most time I've spent away from everything I've ever known and the farthest away I've ever been from home. It's kind of funny that way, when you're stuck living with your parents, the first thing you want to do as a young adult is to get as far away from your parent's house as possible. However, the minute you can, it's the most nerve-racking decision you'll ever have to make. It's a little bit intimidating moving to an entirely different state knowing absolutely no one going into it. I can't say I'm not excited to meet new people and make new friends, though.

This is going to be the opportunity of a lifetime! I'm beyond ready for the 19 days mantra to turn into today is the day. Until then, this song will continue playing in my head.