Monday, August 30, 2010

List #13: My WDW To-Do List

This is a list of all the things I want to do at the parks while on the College Program. These are things I have never done for one reason or another (too young, too scared, too busy, too forgetful,) or new things I haven't yet had the chance to experience. With four months ahead of me, I'm sure I'll be able to check off everything on this list, plus revisit my old favorites, and perhaps add new favorites to my list!

Magic Kingdom
  1. Astro Orbiter -- CHECK!
  2. Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin -- CHECK!
  3. Country Bear Jamboree
  4. Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor -- CHECK!
  5. The Hall of Presidents -- CHECK!
  6. The Magic Carpets of Aladdin -- CHECK!
  7. Tom Sawyer Island
  8. Walt Disney World Railroad -- CHECK!
  9. Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress -- CHECK!
  10. Jungle Cruise -- CHECK!
  1. The American Adventure -- CHECK!
  2. O Canada! film -- CHECK!
  3. Captain EO -- CHECK!
  4. Reflections of China film -- CHECK!
  5. Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure
  6. Impressions de France film -- CHECK!
  7. Turtle Talk with Crush
Hollywood Studios
  1. Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  2. Playhouse Disney Live on Stage -- CHECK!
  3. Sounds Dangerous with Drew Carey
  4. The American Idol Experience -- CHECK!
  5. The Magic of Disney Animation -- CHECK!
Animal Kingdom
  1. Wildlife Express Train
  2. Flights of Wonder

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Training Day One

My first day of training was yesterday, Friday, August 27. I woke up early at 5:45 and drove to the Disney University instead of taking the bus. At only a 20 minute drive, it's so much better than taking the 40 minute bus ride. Class started at 7:15 in the Disney University cafeteria. From the Disney University, we took a Disney bus to the front of the Magic Kingdom, and were taken through the front gates. We walked past a lot of people already lined up in front of the train station waiting to get in.

Walking down Main Street with only a few other guests (who I believe were there for breakfast reservations) was very cool. You never see Main Street like this... it's always filled with people. After a bit of lecturing at the Guest Relations building, we headed down Main Street towards the Castle. On our way, we passed the filming of 2011 Miss America Pageant contestants and a few Disney "celebrities."

From there we walked through the Castle and over to Cosmic Ray's... my new home for the next four months! It was cool to see the restaurant completely empty! Heaven knows it's going to be packed... they say it's the third busiest quick-service restaurant in the world! (There are two 24-hour McDonald's locations, in Moscow and Tokyo, that are in the lead.)

After Cosmic Ray's, we headed into Tomorrowland and went on the Buzz Lightyear Spin ride! We were being paid to go on the ride! It was my first time on the ride... it's very similar to Toy Story Midway Mania at Hollywood Studios, but TSMM definitely has it beat. But still, it was very exciting to be on the ride!

After Buzz Lightyear, we walked over to Liberty Square, where we went on the Haunted Mansion, one of my favorites! At the end of the ride, we took a secret Cast Member exit and went backstage to head back into the Utilidor.

After a bit more computer-based learning, we took a bus over to the Costuming building. We each picked up two of our costumes, tried them on, and checked them out! The Tomorrowland Food & Beverage costumes are a silver shirt with an upside-down buttoned-on triangle on the front, with black pants. The costumes reflect the theme of a community where humans, aliens and robots live and work together. It's not the future as we envision it today; it reflects a city of the future as imagined by people of the 1920's and 30's.

After a long first day of training, it was finally time to head home!

Friday, August 27, 2010

It's All About Traditions

Well it's already a few days into the Program, and so far I'm having a blast! Wednesday was "Disney Traditions," my first official day of work.

Disney Traditions is held at the Disney University, the company orientation and training facility located behind the Magic Kingdom. Every new Cast Member has to go through Traditions, which is basically company orientation (much like most new employees experience at any large corporation.)

But no other company orientation is like Traditions. It's all about the Disney Company's past, present, and future. Throughout the orientation process, we watched video clips, had lectures/presentations, participated in group activities, and took tours. The program is called "Traditions" because it reinforces the importance of quality, the attention to detail, and the creating of happiness....which has been a key focus of the company since the opening of Disneyland.

Though a lot of the material was standard, boring business mumbo-jumbo (legal/ethical standards, business conduct, etc.,) it was presented in an entertaining manner. Once the "boring" presentations were finished, we started the FUN part of Traditions: a trip to the Magic Kingdom!!

On our tour, we took the Cast Member entrance to the Magic Kingdom, through the famous Magic Kingdom tunnel. As much as I wanted to take pictures of everything down there, no cameras are allowed "backstage" as to preserve the magic and secrecy of the "behind-the-scenes" areas. Though a little bit of Google-ing can get you a few pictures and maps of the Utilidor ("utility" + "corridor,") it's much more fun to just imagine what it looks like.

After taking us through the Utilidor and showing us all the Cast Member-exclusive areas, we went up to the Magic Kingdom, through a Cast Member-only entrance. It was really weird just popping up in the park without going through the front gates. We walked right down Main Street, and started seeing prime examples of some of Disney's amazing guest service at work. Our tour guide immediately picked up trash from Main Street as she took us toward Adventureland. This is an example of treating the park as your home. Because all of the visitors are our guests, so it is important to make our home clean for them.

Next, our tour guide saw a man taking a picture of his wife and kids in front of the castle. She immediately approached the man and asked if he would like her to take a picture so they could all be in it. After taking a few pictures of the happy family, she congratulated and wished happy birthday to each and every guest she saw wearing a button proclaiming their celebration. Whether it was "happy birthday," "happy first visit" or "happy anniversary," she made sure to acknowledge each of these guests as they celebrated their special day at the Magic Kingdom.

Our field trip to the Magic Kingdom also included a chance to explore the ways the park makes use of various elements to provide safety, courtesy, efficiency and theming to preserve the magic of the park. With so many examples all around us, it was easy to see how well it all fits together to provide such a wonderful experience to guests.

Back in the classroom, we were joined by a special guest who brought in a surprise.... our name tags! At the end of our class, we were each given our Walt Disney World Cast Member name tag, which made everything seem so much more real. Along with our new Cast Member ID, we can now access all of the Cast Member-only areas and perks.

Looking back on the experience, it was definitely the best first day at work I'll probably ever have. A trip to the Magic Kingdom and a visit from the Big Cheese himself? What other company can top that?!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Check-In Day: Madness, Mayhem and Magic!

Yesterday was Monday, August 23: Disney College Program CHECK-IN DAY! As I was warned by my friend Hilary, I should arrive at Vista Way quite early, even though check-in wasn't scheduled to start until 9:00 am. So I woke up at 5:30, had a quick breakfast and pulled in to the Vista Way parking lot at 6:45. There were already 30 or so people lined up at the gate!

At around 7:00 or so, my roommate Wayne showed up, which was the first time we met each other in person. We waited in line for another hour or so, and then they finally opened the gate and walked us back to the check-in pavilion. At the check-in center, we were handed our 2010 Program Guide, which is like an encyclopedia for our entire program. Full of phone numbers, maps, Q&A's, and so much more, this guide soon became labeled with stickers unique to each CP member.

During the Vista Way check-in process, we were explained community codes, given our car decal for parking (if we brought a car,) and we had our picture taken for our housing ID. We also were placed into our apartment complex, where we had the chance to request which complex and size apartment we preferred. My roommate and I requested Chatham Square, and were given the option of a two-bedroom or four-bedroom apartment. We chose the two-bedroom.

Once we were done signing all the paperwork at Vista Way, we were taken on a bus over to the Disney Casting building near Downtown Disney. We were taken down hallway after hallway, table to table, room to room, signing forms and answering questions. One of the first (and most exciting) stops at the Casting building was when we were told where we will be working! I will be working at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Café in the Magic Kingdom!

Also at Casting we were fingerprinted, we filled out even more paperwork, and were visually inspected to make sure we adhered to the Disney Look guidelines. At the end of our check-in extravaganza, we had our picture taken by a Disney PhotoPass photographer in front of a WDW backdrop.

Back at Vista Way, we had the opportunity to sign up for classes in the education building. There were also advisors to help students decide which classes would best suit their needs and career goals. I signed up for two classes; the Entertainment Show Production Professional Development Study, and the Marketing Exploration Series.

Then it was finally time to move in to my new apartment! My mom and I drove over to Chatham Square and found my building, which is pretty close to the entrance. Despite the rain, we started moving my stuff into my apartment. I was definitely surprised to see how nice and roomy the apartment is! My roommate and I share a bedroom with a quite large bathroom and equally large walk-in closet. The apartment also features a couch, sofa chair, kitchen table with four chairs, fridge, dish washer, microwave and cups, plates, utensils, pots, and pans.

Once I was all moved in, I had a little time to relax before it was off to our housing welcome session at the Commons apartment complex. During this two-hour presentation, we were introduced to Price Management, which is the company contracted by Disney to manage the apartment complexes for Disney's Internship Program participants. Disney Housing Operations also presented information about their role in our living experience. The presentation was filled with information on the many number of ways we can get terminated, plus standard safety info and other resources to help make our experience the best it can be.

Finally, the rest of the day was mine! After the housing meeting, I went back to my mom's hotel to enjoy one last night in a big, comfy bed. I read through the Program Guide and organized all of the paperwork I was given throughout the hectic day.

This morning, I drove my mom to the airport and said goodbye until the family comes down to visit. It still hasn't fully set in that I'm LIVING AT DISNEY WORLD! I'm sure once I start work training, it will become much more real.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's Almost Time...!

Well it's almost time for my Disney College Program experience to begin! Check-in is on Monday, August 23, so I have two full days left in Michigan before I hit the road to Florida. My mom and I will be leaving early Saturday morning. We'll drive about 12 hours (probably to Atlanta, Georgia) and rest for the night. Then we'll get up early on Sunday morning and make the rest of the drive to the Orlando area.

We'll check in to our hotel Sunday afternoon, and then relax at Downtown Disney for the evening. My friend from elementary school, Hilary, has already started her program, so I'll probably meet her for dinner Sunday evening. It will be nice to catch up and hear about her first week experience.

It's exciting to think that in less than a week I will be living and working at Walt Disney World! I'm definitely excited about learning where I will be working. For the living situation, I found a great roommate through Facebook groups. We have a lot in common and it seems like we'll get along quite well. We'll probably not even see each other that much with our varying (and busy) work schedules.

There are so many things I can not wait to do while on the College Program! My "bucket list" keeps getting longer and longer, but here are a few things I hope to see/do while in Florida for the next four months:

  • Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • See Cirque du Soleil - La Nouba at Downtown Disney
  • Ride the "Characters in Flight" Hot Air Balloon at Downtown Disney
  • Go to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
  • Go to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
  • See Night of Joy
  • See the Osbourne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at DHS
  • Meet Lou Mongello at a WDW Radio Meet of the Month
  • Ride Star Tours before it closes
  • Go to a D23 member "Tweet Meet" 
Now I just need to finish packing, say goodbye to friends and family, and it's off to Walt Disney World! Let the fun begin!