Thursday, December 23, 2010

Epcot Candlelight Processional

The Epcot Candlelight Processional was one of the highlights of the last few weeks. I went on one of the nights it was being narrated by Jodi Benson, who is the voice of the Little Mermaid, as well as Barbie in the Toy Story movies.

The program started out with songs played by the Walt Disney World Orchestra. It was a 50-piece orchestra, and they sounded phenomenal. Then the orchestra was joined onstage by the Voices of Liberty from the American Adventure Pavilion at Epcot, the enormous Walt Disney World Cast Choir, as well as a Guest Choir from local high schools.

The Candlelight Processional is the retelling of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator, accompanied by songs and music from the massed choir and orchestra. It felt like I was at Christmas mass at church, since the entire story is about the baby Jesus being born. It was interesting to hear that story being told in Disney World! But it's an accurate reflection of traditional American culture, and it's not being forced upon you as a guest.

The choir was simply amazing. There were so many people on that stage, and Jodi Benson did a wonderful job telling the Christmas story. Despite the cold weather (in the 40's!) it was most definitely a night well-spent.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Kingdom Keepers

So it's been a while since I've blogged, so I thought I should get back on track with something new.

For the last few months, I've been listening to the audiobooks of the Kingdom Keepers book series. The books follow a group of kids who are trying to save the Magic Kingdom (and the rest of Walt Disney World) from being taken over by Disney villains who come to life after the parks close. I usually get distracted when I read a book, so I decided to subscribe to Audible on my iPhone, and I downloaded all three books in the series.

The books are really interesting and well-written. They're like the Harry Potter books (not quite as detailed and complex), but still full of story lines that keep my interest. And plus, it all takes place at Walt Disney World! It's so cool to hear phrases like Utilidor, Cast Member, Cinderella Castle, Main Street, and so on... and they even mentioned Cosmic Ray's!

I've finished the first two books, and am currently listening to the last book. The first two books were really good. Basically, the books follow a group of kids who got hired by Disney to become digital hosts at the parks, called DHI's, short for Disney Host Interactives (or Digital Holographic Images.) Park guests can rent a DHI, and the hologram will take them on a tour of the park, much like a Guest Relations Tour Guide does in real life. And when the parks close, the Disney characters and Audio-Animatronics all come to life. But the Disney villains have been attempting to take control of the parks. So it becomes the mission of the kids to save the parks from the villains, called the Overtakers.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

It's been a busy past few weeks, with Thanksgiving week giving me 50 hours of work, and picking up extra shifts this week. But I thought I'd talk a little bit more about Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party!

I went once with my friend Krista's parents, and then went again to do more of the special holiday meet-and-greets. I started out my night by heading over to Toontown to visit the Disney Princesses, because the Princes would also be with them. I met Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip, Cinderella and Prince Charming, and Snow White and The Prince. I then headed over to the Judge's Tent to see Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse dressed up for the holidays.

After that, I made my way over to Adventureland to meet Lilo and Stitch. Then, walking outside, I saw some of the Country Bears walking around, so I stopped for some photos.

I then made my way into Fantasyland to meet the Seven Dwarfs, my favorites.
Then it was time to meet the characters from Winnie the Pooh. Tigger, Eeyore, Pooh and Piglet all had on winter scarves.

I made my way back to Toontown and got in line to meet the Fairies. I met Rosetta, Tinker Bel and Vidia. A wonderful character attendant also let me skip the Princess line and go straight to meet Princess Belle and the Beast, since they had taken the place of Snow White and her Prince.

Afterwards, I headed over to Tomorrowland to stop by my home, Cosmic Ray's. I caught some of the Cosmic Ray's Jingle Dance & Play dance party with Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale.
Add in free cookies and hot chocolate, it was a great night! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

And the Wait is Over!

So the wait is finally over... I found out about my request for a College Program extension: and I got accepted to extend my program as a character performer!

I'm so very excited to have this opportunity! I get to portray a Disney character, and I think I'll make really good friends with Goofy and some of his taller companions like Jafar and Mr. Incredible.

It will definitely be a different experience than working at Cosmic Ray's. I won't be able to talk (at all), and all of my communication will be through large gestures and by signing autographs. But knowing that I'm actually bringing the magic to life will be a rewarding experience, and I feel quite lucky to have been given this opportunity.

My current Disney College Program ends January 7, and my extension begins January 9. My new departure date is May 13, 2011. I know it will be strange going back to school next fall being a year behind all of my classmates, but I couldn't turn down an offer like this.

Now I have a little over a month left, and then it'll be time to start my new role as a character performer! I can't wait!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanks, Disney!

Last week, all Disney employees were treated to a free Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack of Toy Story 3! And not just any combo pack, but a Studio Commemorative Edition with a special message on the back:

"Once again, the incredibly talented creative team at Pixar took audiences to infinity and beyond. Thank you all for making Toy Story 3 such a phenomenal success across our entire company. -- Bob Iger"
What a great way to start the holiday season -- a copy of one of the best Disney movies in a long time! I'm so honored to work for this company!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

List #16: Disney Character Autographs

One of my favorite things to do when I go to the parks is character meet-and-greets. There's just something special about meeting Disney characters and interacting with them. And I love getting their autographs. So I bought an autograph book, and I never visit a park without it.

It's my mission to fill up the autograph book, and so far I'm doing pretty well. Here's a list of all the autographs I've collected so far:

  1. Timon
  2. Baloo
  3. Tarzan
  4. Jane
  5. Terk
  6. Aladdin
  7. Abu
  8. Donald Duck
  9. Daisy Duck
  10. Mad Hatter
  11. Buzz Lightyear
  12. Pinocchio
  13. Gepetto
  14. Goofy
  15. Stitch
  16. Mr. Smee
  17. Captain Hook
  18. Pocahontas
  19. Meeko
  20. Mary Poppins
  21. Mr. Penguin
  22. Mickey Mouse
  23. Mrs. Incredible
  24. Mr. Incredible
  25. Frozone
  26. Green Army Man
  27. Minnie Mouse
  28. Pluto
  29. Rafiki
  30. Snow White
  31. Mulan
  32. Alice
  33. Princess Jasmine
  34. The Genie
  35. Princess Tiana
  36. Prince Naveen
  37. Lotso
  38. Duffy the Disney Bear
  39. Belle
  40. Queen of Hearts
  41. Tweedledee
  42. Tweedledum
  43. Jafar
  44. Chip
  45. Dale
  46. Max (Goofy's son!)
  47. Winnie the Pooh
  48. Eeyore
  49. Tigger
  50. Thumper
  51. White Rabbit
  52. Rapunzel
  53. Flynn Rider
  54. Woody
  55. Jessie
  56. Drizella
  57. Anastasia
  58. Lady Tremaine

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Fun-Filled Week

Here's a recap of last week, a week filled with Christmas and Disney characters:

On Sunday, I went to the Magic Kingdom after work to see the first Cinderella Castle lighting ceremony of the year. At 6:15, "Cinderella's Holiday Wish" took place, and the Fairy Godmother lit the Castle in beautiful lights. I stayed in the park to watch Wishes, and then went down into the tunnel to wait in the Tomorrowland break room until the Christmas parade preview. A bunch of us from Cosmic Ray's then went to see the Cast Member preview of Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, which shows during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. The parade was awesome! It was so magical to be standing on Main Street with all the Christmas lights on, and watching the Christmas parade. AND, it was snowing on Main Street. What a great night with great people.

On Tuesday, I had my Entertainment Show Production class at Hollywood Studios, where we toured the Fantasmic stage (the second time for me!) It was great to get another look at the mountain and the control booth, as well as the basement of the mountain. After class, I stayed at Hollywood Studios and met a couple friends from work. We had fun going on rides and interacting with the Citizens of Hollywood. We then went to the Animation building for character meet-and-greets. This was perhaps the most fun of the day! I met Belle, Jafar, the Queen of Hearts, Tweedledee, Tweedledum, Frozone, Mr. Incredible, Pluto, Chip & Dale, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Max, Aladdin, Jasmine, and Genie. Afterwards, we stayed to see the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. That was really cool. I had never seen it before, and I was quite impressed.

On Wednesday, I visited Animal Kingdom for a few character meet-and-greets. I met Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, Thumper, Safari Mickey, and Safari Goofy. I also went to see Festival of the Lion King, which is always fun. Then I stayed to see the last showing of Finding Nemo the Musical, one of my favorite shows at Walt Disney World.

On Thursday, I went to the Magic Kingdom before work. I met the White Rabbit outside Cosmic Ray's, and then watched the 3:00 parade. After the parade, I went to the Tangled "play-and-greet" to meet Rapunzel and Flynn Rider. They were a lot of fun! Afterwards I headed over to Frontierland to meet Woody and Jessie, and then saw the 5:00 flag retreat in Town Square.

On Friday, I went to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party with my friend Krista's parents. They were visiting from Michigan for the weekend, so I was able to get discount tickets for the party, and I thought I'd join them for the fun. We saw the castle show, Celebrate the Season, twice. We also saw the parade twice. And not to mention the Holiday Wishes fireworks. Those were great, especially the perimeter fireworks that go 180º around the castle. We also enjoyed the free hot chocolate and sugar cookies (perhaps a bit too many....) After going on the Haunted Mansion, we met Cinderella's stepsisters and stepmother in Fantasyland. That was a lot of fun.

All in all I would say that was one of the most fun-filled weeks I've had in a while. And I especially love all of the Christmas decorations and music now taking over the parks!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Character Performer Auditions

So it's at the time during our College Program when we can apply for an extension to stay through the spring semester until May. You can request to stay in the same role you currently have, you can request a new role, or you can audition to be a character performer.

Since I come from a theatre background, and I want to get my foot in the door within the entertainment department, I decided to audition to be a character performer. Given my tall height, I had a feeling I might have a good chance of getting through the auditions, since most of it is purely based on height.

So last Wednesday morning, I went to the College Program extension auditions at the Animal Kingdom rehearsal facility. I got there at 8 am, and left at 1:45 pm. It was a long process with a LOT of sitting and waiting.

About 330 people auditioned. After filling out some paperwork, being measured and having our picture taken, we were taught a simple dance routine. It was basically marching and jazz squares with some basic hand movements. In groups of four, we performed the four counts of 8 routine to a group of 3 casting directors. After we went, we were taken into a room and told to wait.

After 30 minutes or so of waiting, a casting director came in and started calling numbers. When your number was called, you were asked to leave the room. After they called out a bunch of numbers, there were only about 17 of us in the room (there were about 100 or so in the room to begin with, as they split us up into different rooms.) I'm not sure exactly what happened with everybody whose number was called, but I'm assuming they were sent home from there.

After they had made their first round of cuts, there were maybe 100 of us left. They took us into a room and taught us a second, more intense dance routine. The first few counts of eight weren't bad; but the second half of the routine was more technical and proved difficult for most people. But they weren't looking to see how good or bad we were at the routine. It still had a lot to do with height. But if we did have good dance skills, then we might also be considered for parades or more dance-intesive roles.

Along with our dance routine, we had to pantomime planting a tree as well as pantomime being a monkey. Then we put it all together: two counts of 8 planting a tree, the dance routine, two counts of 8 being a monkey, and the dance routine once again. This is what we would perform in front of the casting directors.

Once everybody had learned the routine and practiced a number of time, we all left the room and lined up in the hall. They then took us in groups of 9 to perform our routine in front of 3 casting directors. It wasn't too bad. Everybody had a positive attitude, and I didn't feel like I was being judged. All of us were in the same boat, and we all felt lucky to have made it past the first round of cuts.

So after we went in front of the casting directors, we were told to wait in the main rehearsal room until further instruction. We just kept sitting and waiting. Sitting and waiting. After about 40 minutes or so of waiting, one of the coordinators came out and started calling people's numbers. A small group would go into another hallway and return with pieces of paper, and then leave. I believe most of these people didn't make the cut, most likely due to their height being too common.

After they kept sending home small groups of people, there were about 25-30 of us left. They took us all into a hallway and explained to us that we are in the "pool" for potential character performers! So we made it all the way to the end of the audition process. Now we aren't guaranteed a role by any means. But once they offer extensions to current character performers and figure out how many open slots are available in each height range, they will then turn to the pool and pick from there. So I'm definitely feeling optimistic about being extended as a character performer! Sometimes it helps to be tall!

Friday, November 5, 2010

This is What it's All About!

Some days at work are better than others. Some days are slow, some days are quick. Some are more fun than others, some are more stressful that others. But in the end, I have fun. And I remind myself that it really isn't about me; it's about the Guests. It's about providing them the best possible experience possible. So what can we do as Cast Members to provide them exceptional Guest Service?

At Cosmic Ray's, one of the "magical moments" is singing a song to Guests wearing a birthday button:

Attention Cosmic Ray's! Today is a very special day! Does anybody know why? Because today is _____'s birthday!
Cosmic Ray's is here to say today's a day to celebrate! It's a very special day so have a happy birthday!

It only takes a few seconds, and it makes the Guest feel special. Sometimes it takes them by surprise. They aren't expecting Cast Members to run from all over the restaurant to join in the song. It's loud and fun, and it makes the day a lot less mundane.

So one night, a Guest approached me and handed me a postcard. He wanted to thank me for making his family vacation feel extra special by singing the birthday song. But I hadn't sung it to anybody in his family. He just saw me singing the song to couple of kids, but he wanted to thank me for doing that. It was so nice to be recognized for doing something so simple: just singing happy birthday!

He then returned a little later and took a picture of me holding the postcard. Hmmm....

When I got home, I took a closer look at the postcard. It was a custom-made postcard, with an Epcot Monorail stamp on it. Also on it was a web address, where I could see my thank-you note and photo. Aha! That's what the picture was for!

So I checked the website, ( and found this note:

So a few weeks later, I checked again, and saw my name!

When I clicked on my name, I was taken to a description of my "magical moment" with the picture he took of me and the postcard!

I am so honored to be considered a memorable Cast Member from this gentleman's vacation. It's nice knowing that the smallest, simplest things we do as Cast Members can really make someone's vacation that much more special.

I will forever treasure the postcard he gave me. It is a shining example of why I love being a Disney Cast Member.

Monday, November 1, 2010

No Ordinary Day at Hollywood Studios

So last Wednesday was perhaps the highlight of my College Program experience thus far. I was like a kid in a candy store: I got to tour the Fantasmic island and the Beauty and the Beast stage!

My day started out by meeting the stage manager outside the control booth in the empty Fantasmic amphitheater. It was really weird seeing it empty. Usually it is filled to capacity. We made our way around to the back of the island, and crossed a bridge so we were behind the mountain. It was enormous! We then climbed all the way up to the top, and worked our way from top to bottom.

The backside of the mountain was really cool. There were pyro cannons all over, and a lot of safety cables and such. The stage manager showed me all of the little secrets of the mountain, where certain character stand, and explained where the tech crew are positioned and what they do during the show.

We then passed the dragon. It was really cool to see it up close and personal. It is huge! Then we walked onstage, and she showed me where all the lifts are located. It truly is a massive stage.

From there, we headed into the basement under the stage. Luckily this area is air-conditioned. In the basement, we saw the cauldron, and the various lifts. I actually stood on Maleficent's lift, and saw how the safety pedals work.

We then headed back up and toured the steamboat. She showed me where the driver sits, and we then climbed up to the top where Steamboat Mickey stands.

Then, we headed into the maintenance/workshop area behind the theatre. Located here are costume/scenic storage, light/tech workshops, a rehearsal studio, a green room, a well as offices.

We went through the wig workshop, the light workshop, the rehearsal studio, the green room, and finally the costume room. That was my favorite room: so many character costumes, some of which you never get to see up close because certain characters never appear in meet-and-greets, such as Steamboat Mickey.

Our tour then came to an end, in the stage manager's office. But my day wasn't over yet! The stage manager mentioned that she would be calling the 4:00 show of Beauty and the Beast, and she invited me to sit in the control booth with her during the show, and then to take a backstage tour!

So I met her again inside the theatre and we made our way to the control booth. She actually gave me a headset to wear so I could hear all of the tech communication!

Following the show, we made our way backstage. Everything was already preset for the next show! The tech crew did that really fast!

She showed me all of the costumes, props, and set pieces. We then walked onstage and took a look at the newly-installed backdrops.

The whole time, I was just in awe of the exquisite detail and wonderful theming of everything around me. I was just so impressed with how creative and innovative everything was.

Well after a few more questions for the stage manager, it was time to say goodbye. I am so thankful for her taking the time to treat me to such a wonderful experience. If I don't have one more good day on my Program, it will all have been worth it because of my day touring the theaters at Hollywood Studios!

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Look into the Future...

This past Saturday at Cosmic Ray's was an eye-opener into what life at work will be like during the holidays. Since the magic Kingdom held Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party so many nights last week, ad because it was a Saturday without a Halloween Party, park attendance was expected to be somehwhere around 50,000 plus people. Crowds have been around 20,000 people on average since I've been here, which is not too bad. But 50,000 is a LOT of guests in one park.

So inside the restaurant, black ropes were set up all over to keep guests in line and help reduce congestion. A whole group of CMs, including myself, were on crowd control duty.

There were CMs standing outside the lower doors telling guests they couldn't enter there, that they had to enter on the upper side entrances. Once inside, guests would get in a long line at one of the three bays. After getting their food, they had to find a table. This was the hard part. The place was packed. Most guests wanted to eat in the lower dining room with Sonny Eclipse. But in order to get into the dining room, they had to get in yet another line.

Cast Member Layshia was at one side of the entrance to the dining room, telling guests that this was an exit only, for guests who were already in the dinig room. CM Whitney was at the front of the sectioned-off line to get into the dining room. In order to even get in the line, you had to have already ordered and gotten your food. If you didn't have a tray of food, you weren't allowed to enter. This was to prevent people from saving tables and to keep unnecessary traffic out. Once they passed the "food check," they arrived at my station. I was right inside the dining room, with a radio. I would check with CM Adam over the radio to see if tables were available, and if so, how many people they would fit. Once an open table was located, either myself or CM Sofia would direct the guests to their table.

We would get a lot of guests with a party of 6 or 8. We usually couldn't offer them two tables together, or even remotely close to each other. Boy oh boy, people were getting upset. It was crowded and hot, and all they wanted to do was sit down and eat their lunch.

A lot of guests actually were quite nice and appreciative of the help we were trying to provide. We did our best to get them seated as quick as possible and to seat their entire party together. But with so many people, it was just a frantic and confusing situation.

I actually didn't mind my job at crowd control. It wasn't as hectic and stressful as working filler or drinks. But I can't imagine the restaurant being like this every single day, as its definitely going to be during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

For now, I'm enjoying the "slower" days at Cosmic Ray's. Sometimes it's a little too slow, but boy was it crazy last Saturday. Thanksgiving and Christmas, here we come...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Getting Down to Business

My Marketing Exploration Series instructor gave us some great advice that I truly think is important to a successful College Program. Sure, you can just come down here and work all day and play in the parks on your days off. But there's so much more to do and see, and there are so many opportunities to take advantage of to really help yourself grow, both as an individual and as a professional.

His advice on making the most of your College Program experience:

  • Establish a relationship with your leaders.
  • Network, and seek out information
  • Visit the Disney Learning Center
  • Attend College Program Alumni Speaker Series events
I have been trying my best to take his advice to heart. I know that at least two of my nine managers at Cosmic Ray's are former CP's. I haven't yet had the opportunity to sit down with them and talk about their experience or advice, but I do plan on taking a few minutes to talk about their College Program experience and what paths they took to their current role. 

In terms of networking, I have already established a good relationship with the Entertainment Manager for Fantasmic and Beauty and the Beast over at Hollywood Studios. She has been an excellent resource and was quite helpful in explaining her educational and work history. 

I have also been attending the "My Disney Career" courses offered for students on the College Program. There are 5 courses, each one focusing on a segment of the "Marketing You" course also offered on the Program. Instead of taking the full Marketing You course, with homework and tests, they offer 5 individual classes. There is Networking 101, Acing the Interview, Résumé Writing, Personal Branding, as well as Image Excellence. If you take all 5 classes, you receive a certificate. Hopefully I will be able to fit all 5 into my schedule. So far, I have taken 3... I still need to take Networking 101 and Résumé Writing. 

All in all, I am definitely excited about all of the learning opportunities that are provided to participants of the College Program. I know that when I leave here in January, I will come out of it a changed person, filled with new knowledge and insight that will most definitely help me in the future. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Fantasmic Night!

Last week I was an extremely happy and lucky guy: I got to sit in the control booth during a performance of Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios!

It was definitely an out-of-this-world experience. The stage manager could not have been nicer when I met her the previous week, and when she offered me the opportunity to sit in with her during a show, I knew it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up.

I arrived at the Fantasmic theatre at 6:30 for a 7:00 show. I met the stage manager near the control booth at the back of the theatre. Inside the control room, I met Adam (in charge of show control,) Mike (in charge of fire,) Steve (in charge of lights,) as well as Dan (who is usually a spotlight operator.)

The control room itself was very cool. There were video screens and computer monitors everywhere, tracking everything from lights, temperature, wind and humidity. They check all of these things to make sure everything will be safe when it comes to all of the pyro and fire effects.

At about 10 minutes before showtime, the stage manager did a headset check to make sure everybody on headset could hear her. She also did a spot check to make sure all of the spotlight operators were in position and ready. Dan, who was supposed to be spot 4, sat in the booth because the instrument wasn't working.

The stage manager then waited for a call from the backstage manager that the green room was clear. Looking at the stage, the SM could tell that it wasn't quite dark enough yet for Mickey's entrance to work, so she held for 5 minutes. She then called places/5 minutes to showtime.

Soon, the show started with that famous musical intro everybody knows. Mickey popped up onstage, and the fun began. It was really cool to see the show with a perfect view of everything, as well as to be able to look at different backstage and onstage views from various cameras around the theatre, on screens in the control booth.

The SM's job was mainly to warn and call spotlight cues. The sound, lights and water effects are all pre-cued in the show control system, and it was Adam's job to make sure everything was synced up. Mike controlled all of the pyrotechnics and fire effects, following his own prompt book.

During the run of the show, I did witness some conflict resolutions. At one point, it appeared that one of the monkey performers fell down on the floating barge, so the SM called backstage to find out what happened. It turned out to be a costuming issue, and was nothing serious. Other minor conflicts that arose were also due to costuming issues, so the SM made notes to try to fix these problems before the second show that evening.

I did learn that the SM is trained backstage first, so they know how everything works. There is a lot to coordinate backstage, since many of the show's effects involve safety precautions for both actors and crew.

The show finally came to a close, and it was pretty much a smooth, flawless run (minus a few costuming issues.) The dragon worked, and all of the sound and lights were on cue.

I am most definitely thankful to the wonderful stage manager who helped set up this amazing opportunity for me. It was a night I will never forget!

Friday, October 22, 2010

First Week of Classes

Last week was my first week of classes. I am taking two classes offered through the Disney College Program. The first is a Professional Development Study on Entertainment Show Production. The second is a Disney Exploration Series on Marketing.

The Entertainment Show Production PDS is really exciting. It is limited to students studying theatre or performing arts, and I was lucky enough to get it. In a class of 90 students, there are also 90 students who were waitlisted. The class will give us a look at how Walt Disney World develops, implements and maintains their theatrical productions, from parades to stage shows. We'll delve into business planning, creative direction, production, opening and operations.

We meet each week on Tuesdays at the Maingate office building, which is home to the Disney Entertainment division, located near Animal Kingdom. Throughout our classes, we'll have guest speakers and presentations about everything entertainment-related at Disney World. We are also going to do a tour of the theatre at Hollywood Studios which houses Fantasmic! That's what I'm most excited about. I'm also really excited about all of the great networking opportunities. With so many guest speakers, there will be plenty of opportunities for meeting leaders in the Entertainment department.

My other class is a Marketing Exploration Series. It's similar in set-up to the Entertainment PDS. We meet every Friday morning at the Commons apartment building for about two hours. We'll have guest speakers each week from various departments of Walt Disney Theme Parks and Resorts, talking to us about the various marketing campaigns and techniques used throughout the company. Speakers will include Cast Members from Walt Disney World Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club, and Disney Event Group.

I'm excited about all of the great career insight and tips I'll most definitely gain from taking these two classes!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Disney Ambassadors Presentation

About two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be able to attend a special presentation by the Walt Disney World Ambassadors about the early years of Walt Disney World. Held at the Disney University, the event was a presentation about the story of how Walt Disney World came to be, with its beginnings in the 1964 World's Fair.

It was really cool to meet the Ambassadors, Vanessa Rosas and Clay Shoemaker. Both were extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable, answering a number of trivia-like questions. Their presentation was full of interesting tidbits of information about the construction of the Magic Kingdom and the early resorts.

They also gave out special Disney Ambassadors pins to people who answered some of their tougher questions. When they showed a picture of a certain building near Downtown Disney, I immediately recognized it and raised my hand. It was the Preview Center, now the Amateur Athletic Union building. I was definitely excited to receive the pin to add to my growing collection.

It's events like this that really make me feel lucky to be a part of the Disney College Program and to be able to attend presentations about material that is meaningful and interesting to me.

Friday, October 15, 2010


The Disney College Program hosted an event last week -- Oktoberfest! It was over at Patterson Court apartments. So my roommates Wayne and Ricky walked over to Patterson to check it out.

It was pretty cool -- I mean, there was free food! They had some German "classics" like sausage, chicken, a cucumber salad, cabbage, rolls, and an apple pastry. For free food, it was pretty good. I can't ever turn down free food!

They also had a live German trio band playing music.

You could also get a Duffy-the-Bear cutout to color. These cutouts are going to replace the masks used for the KidCot stations at World Showcase.

The highlight of the night, for me at least, was meeting Mickey, Goofy and Daisy Duck dressed up in traditional German clothes. That was fun!

Overall it was a fun event, and I'm glad I was able to attend!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

About two weeks ago I attended the Cast Preview for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. It was held during normal park hours, so regular park guests could also partake in the festivities. Since I had a few hours before work that day, I decided I'd head over to Epcot to give it a try.

I ended up meeting my roommate Wayne and our other roommate Ricky who were there after they got off work. We walked around World Showcase together, stopping at the different Food & Wine booths to see what was offered.

Obviously there was a lot of wine and other alcoholic beverages, but I couldn't have any. So I decided I'd try some of the desserts... because I love desserts!

First, I had a strawberry angel verrine, pear streusel pudding cake and a dark chocolate sensation from the Desserts & Champagne booth at the start of the Food & Wine walk-through. This was a great deal, because you could buy each dessert individually, OR you could buy all three together and save some money. So, I bought the combo plate.

Next, I stopped for apfelstrudel with Werther's Original Karamell sauce in Germany. This was really good. It was like warm apple pie, but better.

Finally, I enjoyed a warm chocolate lava cake with Bailey's Irish cream ganache from Ireland. This was delicious. It was really small, but the chocolate sauce was soooo good.

The selections of food were great. Though I didn't try any non-dessert food options, I think I will head back to indulge in some of the selections I've never tried before. There are booths featuring food from the following places:

  • Chile
  • Brazil
  • Puerto Rico
  • Argentina
  • Mexico
  • Poland
  • China
  • South Korea
  • South Africa
  • Singapore
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • United States
  • Japan
  • Australia
  • Morocco
  • Belgium
  • Spain
  • France
  • Ireland
  • Canada
  • Greece
  • New Zealand
Since many of these countries are not World Showcase pavilions, it's a great opportunity to try something new that isn't normally available at Epcot. 

I'm definitely glad I'm here during the Food & Wine Festival, as I've never attended it before. I'm looking forward to heading back and trying more of the food! 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure

One of the attractions on my "bucket list" for my time here in Florida was the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure at Epcot. So about a week ago, my friend Stephanie and I finally did it.

It was actually pretty cool. We signed up in Innoventions, and were given a FastPass-like ticket directing us to a World Showcase booth near the UK. When we got to the "recruiting station," we were assigned a country from the World Showcase pavilions where our scavenger hunt would take place. We got Italy. (Actually, we got to choose Italy because the Cast Member recognized us as fellow College Programers.)

We were then given our "Kimmunicator," a cellphone which would guide us through our adventure. It was actually pretty cool. The screen played video clips featuring characters from the Kim Possible tv show.

We were given clues for things to look for and items to find. When we found what we were looking for, our cellphone would activate a special effect. For instance, we located a window on the outside of a building in Italy. When we pressed the button on our Kimmunicator, a small satellite popped out of the top of the lamp inside the window.

It was a fun afternoon and I look forward to completing another mission on the Kim Possible World Showcase adventure. I hope to complete all of them!

Friday, October 8, 2010

New Toys!

I love Cast Connection, which is the discount merchandise facility behind the Magic Kingdom. You never know what you're going to find there! Last week I saw a few things that caught my eye... action figures of characters from the Haunted Mansion attraction! Normally $8 apiece in the park, they were on sale for $3 each. So, I bought all three for about the same price as just one!

The Hitch Hiking Ghost action figure includes a hat and a suitcase. 

The Caretaker action figure comes with a dog, shovel and a lantern. 

The Bride action figure includes a candle and a bouquet.

Monday, October 4, 2010

List #15: Questions From Work

I get asked a lot of questions at work. Most of them are about the food -- how big or how much, or about the Disney Dining Plan. I also get a lot of repeat questions, like about where straws/napkins are or where the bathrooms are. Here are some of the questions I've been asked... some just once, and some quite often. 
  1. Are these onions or is it sauerkraut? (I would like it if it were sauerkraut, but no, they're onions.)
  2. Where is Tomorrowland? ('re in it!)
  3. Is this the place in Tomorrowland where they sell turkey legs? (No! That's Frontierland. I don't know who is telling all of these guests that Cosmic Ray's sells Turkey Legs.)
  4. Where is the bar on Main Street? (Keep dreaming, sir.)
  5. Can you keep my leftovers in a refrigerator and I'll pick them up later? (Wouldn't that be nice?!)
  6. Can I get a shot of orange soda in my Diet Coke? (Sure, whatever floats your boat!)
  7. Can I trade my chocolate cake for grapes? (That's the opposite of what I would ask!)
  8. Can you cut my sandwich in half for me? (Are you afraid to use a plastic knife?)
  9. What exactly is Sonny Eclipse? We thought he was a hippo. (He's an alien. A lizard alien.)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, It's Off to Work I Go

There are two ways for me to get to work: the scenic route, and the back route. I take the scenic route. The scenic route always gets me in the mood for work, even on days when I'm not in the mood.

It's about 11 miles, and takes about 22 minutes to get from my apartment to the Magic Kingdom Cast Member parking lot. I start by heading towards the Walt Disney World main entrance.

Once I get there, I start getting in the mood for work. It's just nice seeing the logo and the smiling Disney characters greeting you as you drive by.

I keep driving on the highway, and to my left I can see Spaceship Earth. That's one of the highlights of my drive. Just seeing that giant silver ball shining in the sun is so cool, and definitely nicer than seeing apartment complexes or office buildings. 

Once I pass the Epcot area, I turn and head toward the Magic Kingdom area. It is here that I go under the main entrance for the Magic Kingdom, which helps heighten my excitement for work a little bit more. I just love seeing the signage for all the parks. 

Once I'm through the gate, I head towards the right, instead of to the left where guest parking is located. I keep driving north until I see the Contemporary Hotel. I often see the Monorail as well, which is another treat that makes the drive more enjoyable. 

When I look to the left, I can see Cinderella Castle in the distance, which really sets the mood. It's just cool to think "That's where I work!"

Once I drive past the Contemporary Hotel, I get a close-up view of Space Mountain. Then I drive past a sign stating "authorized vehicles only" and drive right alongside Space Mountain! 

Once I make my way to the back of the Magic Kingdom, it becomes a bit more industrial and less glamorous. There are maintenance buildings, parking lots and other service areas. I pass the Monorail/Train service building, the Holiday Services building, the Disney University, as well as other various service buildings.

When I think about it, I definitely do have a pretty nice drive to work. Beautifully-landscaped highways, Spaceship Earth, Disney hotels and Cinderella Castle.... it all makes going to work a little less of a chore.