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.