Sunday, March 27, 2016

Florida Program x2

Hey old friends, whaddaya say old friends?
It's been four years since my last college program.
And I'm back at it again, this time in sunny Florida.

I'm a shallow water lifeguard working in the resorts this time.

If you read my personal blog, you'll know that people are often like "Hey gurl, i'mma let you save me". It's like a really popular tinder pick-up line I guess? When they find out I'm a guard it just sort of turns stupid fast.

Yeah, no, really that's a bad pick-up line. Disney guards are super professional, which I really like. Plus, saving people is definitely not a sexy thing. You drag them out of the water, you're screaming internally the whole time, and all you want them to do is be ok. I know they're trying to be cute or funny or something, but if you've been a lifeguard I think you'll feel me on a spiritual level.

If you're working where there is a slide you WILL jump in. Which is nice when it's hot out.

I've only had to go in three times and it's never been an emergency. Usually you can just help them out with your tube.

The hours are really good. You never work past 11:30.

Buses are still frustrating at times, but I feel like for the most part they've been reliable.

I live in Vista which has been much hyped. Really it's just like any other college apartment. But literally anything is an improvement from my college I may not be a good judge of that sort of thing.

I've met a ton of characters which is pretty sweet. Kylo is the love of my life. Ya know.

Merh, I can't think of what else needs to be said. Life is pretty basic. Pretty legit.

Oh! If you go to Disney Springs, get a lobster grilled cheese at the crab boat house place. $20. SO GOOD. Go in and tell them you want to eat there and they'll just text you when they have a table. It was an hour wait time for us during lunch.

Also, the $6 mac n cheese kids meal at the Tall Tale Cafe next to Country Bears is on POINT and cheaper than anything else. Still very filling though.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

One Day in the Rearview Mirror: To the Old and For the Potential CP's

    FIRSTLY: if you have any questions about my experience in the program, please post them and I'll do my best to answer them in a follow up post. If there are no questions this will definitely be my last post.
     It has been over a year since I completed my Disney experience. I realize in my posts I often sounded whiny. Well, I was new to the working world and a whiny child. I ain't even bovvered.
    Lately, I have gotten many questions regarding my CP experience so I thought I'd give a little blurb here ("blurb" is a technical term):
     Since I left Disney I have missed it very much. Any time I leave Disneyland I miss it, but I made so many memories while I was in California working for The Mouse.
This is the Laie temple. I'm one of the future sister missionaries ;)
This is not what I do for work. But it was a highlight.
     For those who were in college program with me, I am currently living in Laie, Hawaii attending Brigham Young University and working in the back as a dishwasher at the Polynesian Cultural Center. In case you haven't been religiously keeping up with my facebook posts, this has been yet another amazing experience. I work directly with one other palagi (Poly word for white kid-think haoule), three Tongans, a Fijian, around five Kiribasis, two guys from Papua New Guinea, a girl from Vanuatu, two Samoans, a Chinese guy, and a couple of locals. It has been life changing getting to know them and getting to attend school with them. I get to live with people from, literally, all over the world (this is the most international student body in the world) and they have taught me many wonderful things. I'm studying Marketing and plan to serve a mission for the LDS (Mormon) beginning this coming fall that will last at least a year and a half, so that will probably change when I get home. I don't know where I'll be called yet. So, I have been well and very happy and continually adventuring since leaving Disney. I hope to return to work there again one day after returning home from my mission and doing my last year of school. My family may even make the pilgrimage to the Disney motherland this summer.
     hemhemhem: One thing that has been great after leaving Disney is meeting other Disney lovers and CP's. While I have only met one other person who worked Cali, I have met numerous people who did Florida CP and loved it. There have been many excited discussions about our experiences and about how much we adore Disney.
Me during college program in October
      Also, I have many wonderful memories that I associate with my Disney experience. I picked up a muffin from our student store here once that smelled like cinnamon and gingerbread. This brought me back to the cold, misty nights at Disneyland when I'd work parade shifts. I'd listen to the music playing on Mainstreet, and after the fireworks I got to see the faces of children gazing at the "magic Christmas snow". I still remember the look in their eyes as they sat on their parents shoulders under the lights, just watching the white fluff blowing all around them.
     I also met many amazing people working the Buzz Lightyear attraction. There are some really interesting people that I still keep in contact with today who I never would have met otherwise. They were friendly coworkers who did the best job they could and were nice to me and still make my life better as we exchange short comments or photos that are interesting. For that I am grateful.
     LDS kids might look more at Florida. In Cali we were definitely on our own for getting to church and activities. The singles branch there is super nice, just a bit far away. Also, there's BYU housing in Florida while in California there is not. Although I liked having a smaller group of CP's it could also be difficult at times because of differences in ways we would spend free time. I was particularly young too though (the youngest person in the program to my knowledge), and I think that had some affect.
     Rent is fairly pricey, but if you get into a good area where not everyone has a ton of seniority, you can still have a pretty good chunk of your check left over after. My rent was 136ish every two weeks and my paycheck was usually around 280 depending on my hours. So after tithing I saved quite a bit because I used public transportation to get to work (which Disney paid for) and had fun going to Disneyland for free a lot. I'm quite frugal so I didn't spend on a lot of ridiculous things and took advantage of discounts and free stuff.
     For choosing where you want to work...basically, you get to tell them your top three preferences, but they will put you where ever they need you in the end. I work attractions, which was my top preference, but I knew people who said the same things and did custodial. I did have a lot of theater experience though which seems to be something they look for. All the jobs will be hard at times, but that's life. If you work hard and chose to have a good attitude you'll be just fine.

At Buzz my first day in Cali
A school dance with friends. So we have a "then and now"

    For now that's all I have time to say, but I will answer specific questions in more detail. I just don't know what new/potential CP's would want to know. Have an awesome day. Alooooooooha!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

New WDW CPs: Things I should have done

So... now that I'm hitting the two-month mark, I'm in the middle of some major Disney withdrawals. It seems to be hitting a lot of my fellow Fall 2011 CPs, so there must be something about this amount of time away from "home." Anyways, I decided to post on some of the things that I should have done differently, and that I plan on doing differently if I do a second program. Hopefully this will help any new Disney College Program participants!

1. Prepare for humidity. I moved to Florida at the beginning of September, and even then, the humidity was dreadful. If you're like me and from the West Coast(especially the Northwest), you do not understand humidity. Ladies, plan ahead and bring makeup that won't melt. Bring along your liquid foundation and cream eyeshadow if you want, but know that it will all slide off for at least the first few weeks. It's a rough adjustment, and it's better if you just accept that you won't look pretty during it. And bring shorts. And loose shirts.Sure, you can wear skirts, but if your inner thighs touch AT ALL when you walk, you're gonna have some problems. So just bring shorts. Or do what I did and wear jeans on your first trip to a park. And then buy several pairs of shorts at Wal-Mart the next day.

2. Prepare for rain. It rains all the time in Florida. ALL THE TIME. I've been living in a desert since I was fifteen. When I was younger and lived in a rainier place, rain was no big deal. I could just spend time inside. But  on your college program, you'll  be spending lots of time outside. You'll want an umbrella. You'll want a poncho.

3. Prepare for cold. What I said about shorts? Bring long pants, too. And layers. Get gloves and a hat. When your trainer tells you to check out a coat from costuming as early as possible, LISTEN TO HER. I would have had trouble no matter what because my area had multiple costumes and coats, but the odds are that you'll only have one costume to worry about, and one coat to check out. So check the coat out as soon as you can. If you're arriving in January, your coat selection should still be okay, because of all the Fall CPs who just returned theirs. And if the closest fit you can find is still not a great fit, check it out anyways. You can always trade it out later.

4. Honestly, just be prepared to be outside a lot. So bring clothing for all sorts of weather, bring fantastic walking shoes(not just for work), bring sunscreen, bring bug spray.

5. Bring a camera. I so wish that I had brought my camera. My phone has a pretty decent camera, so I figured I would just use that... yeah, no. You'll want something else to take pictures with.

6. Get a pass for another theme park. Yes, you have free access to everything Disney. And of course that's enough to fill your entire program with fun activities. But sometimes, it's just so NICE to go somewhere else for a day. And Universal and Sea World have some pretty cool stuff, too. You're living in Central Florida, maybe for the only time in your whole life. Take advantage of that. Also, you can get the cheapest passes possible without feeling like you're missing out, because even though there will be blockout dates, those dates usually match up with busy times for Disney, so you'll probably be working anyways.

So those are my six major things that I didn't do ahead of time... that I would do next time. Hopefully this will help someone out!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

New WDW CPs: Choosing a role

So I've been getting some questions from friends considering applying for the Disney College program... and one of the big ones seems to be: What roles should I apply for?

I don't know that I'm really the right person to answer this. I applied for all of the roles(except for the hospitality ones. I knew I wanted to work in a park). And then I got Merchandise, which I'm pretty sure is because I had been working at a grocery store for almost two years at the time of my interview. That said, knowing what I know now, here's what I would apply for if I went again(which I am seriously considering). Keep in mind that this list isn't necessarily in order of which job I would like to have the most. Also, this is a list based on my personal experiences, and what I know that I would personally like.

Attractions. Cast members in attractions are at the lowest possible wage, but it would be awesome to work in one of the attractions. My backstage tour of the Haunted Mansion was amazing, and I would love to learn about all the inner workings of a ride(or multiple rides). If I could choose an attraction, I'd definitely want to work at one of the animal-centric ones, mostly because I really want to work with the Animal Programs at Disney someday. So Pangani Forest Trails, Maharajah Jungle Trek, Kilamanjaro Safaris, or something in The Seas. Or a spieling one, like the Jungle Cruise or Innoventions.

Merchandise. I already know the system, and I already know that I enjoy merchandise. Merchandise cast members get paid a little more than attractions, and if you have merchandise training, you can pick up shifts anywhere at WDW. So if you want to pick up some extra hours, you can. For me, I would absolutely try to get back into my old area, because I loved everything about it(especially the Glow operation). But pretty much all areas have their perks. If  I couldn't work in Adventureland... I'd probably want to work... man, I don't even know. Somewhere with one of the candy stores, probably, so I could get production-trained. But again, that's because I already worked there. I really can't think of a bad merch location.

Front Desk/Concierge/whatever this role is called. Apparently these cast members get even more than Merch cast members, and like merchandise, if you're trained on the computer system here, you can pick up shifts at any of the resorts. Honestly, whenever I went on the Hub to look for extra shifts, they all were either in Merchandise or Front Desk shifts. Given a choice, I'd want to work at one of the DVC resorts, because there's some additional training for that.

Custodial. All of the people who worked this said they enjoyed it. I don't know what the wage is, but I do know that they tend to get more hours, even during the slow weeks. The custodians also get to go EVERYWHERE in their area. The Magic Kingdom custodians knew that place, onstage and off, better than just about anyone you can think of. And when I was chilling with my Glow cart by Casey's Corner during Wishes, the custodians from the area were usually there, too, and it felt like they had a cool team thing going. Given a choice of parks, I think I'd actually want to work at Epcot... like I said, custodians get to go pretty much everywhere, and there's some REALLY interesting stuff at Epcot.

Quick  Service Food. They get paid a decent amount, and with QSF, you actually can pick up shifts elsewhere(depending on your location). I don't really have a preference for where I'd want to work. I would just apply for this so that there would be a fifth option. And it's not a bad role, as far as roles go.

There are some things to keep in mind. Sometimes, location is everything. There might be a role that you want only if you could get a specific location. But you don't get to choose your area. You don't really even get to choose your role. So if you would only be happy in Attractions if you got to be a Skipper on the Jungle Cruise, and NOTHING ELSE, feel free to apply for attractions. But apply for roles where you feel like you'd be fine anywhere. Attractions roles vary widely in "awesomeness." Other roles also vary... not necessarily as much, but they do. Also, think about what you want from your program. I just wanted to have fun- work for Disney, make new friends, see some behind-the-scenes stuff, play in the parks. Any role was fine for that. If you have more specific goals, remember to factor those in. Lastly, and most importantly, be flexible. And be open to loving whatever role and whatever area you get placed into.

New WDW CPs: Housing

Considering the Disney College Program? One of the first things they tell you is that the program includes Living, Learning, and Earning. This post is going to focus on the Living portion. When I applied, the Disney College Program website had a pretty limited amount of information about the different complexes. And when I searched for information on different apartment complexes, there were a few posts, but not a lot. So hopefully this post will give some people the information they need. :)

There are four complexes for interns in Florida: The Commons, Vista Way, Chatham, and Patterson. The Commons is just for people on the Cultural Representative Program(and not all CRPs live in The Commons, either), so that won't be on the list of complexes for you to choose from if you're doing a CP or ICP. So here's the rundown on the other three.

Vista Way: I did not live in this complex during my program. I also know some people who moved out of Vista, but I also know some people who moved into Vista. Jokingly referred to as "Vista Lay," Vista is generally considered the party complex. It's the oldest complex, and it does show it. The apartments are cheaper than the other complexes, and Vista is close to restaurants and a Walgreens- the other three complexes are about a mile away from the nearest businesses. Most of the housing offices and resources are located at Vista Way. The bus office is also located at Vista, and the bus drivers often take their breaks at Vista... or leave the other stops early so they can spend a little extra time at Vista. The bus stop for Vista is actually located behind security, and some of my CP friends had trouble when they took a bus over to Vista, left Vista to go to a restaurant, and came back when it was too late to either get into the complex without someone signing them in(or too late to get in at all).

Chatham Square: This is where I lived for most of my program. If you're a student at any of the LDS schools, you'll automatically be placed in Chatham. The rent is higher than at Vista, but the apartments are newer. They also tend to be pretty roomy, although the layouts do vary. Chatham is generally called the "quiet" complex, but all the housing events actually happen at Chatham field. This was right next to my apartment complex, so it was pretty convenient for me to be able to grab some of the free food on my way from the bus stop to my apartment. The bus stop for Chatham is right outside Security.

Patterson Court: This is where I lived for the last few weeks of my program. The rent here is the highest, but a lot of people feel that it's worth it, since it's the newest and the apartments are nice. And they are, compared to the other complexes. There's also lots of palm trees at this complex... not that big of a deal, but I associate palm trees with Disney, so that was cool for me. In my experience, Patterson was just as quiet as Chatham. The annoying thing about Patterson is that it shares a bus stop with Chatham, so it takes longer to get to the bus stop. Also, all of the apartments at Patterson have this distinctive... smell. It's not exactly a bad smell, but it's definitely there. I have no idea what it is. Oh, and my apartment was smaller than my Chatham one. And the security guards seemed more laid-back at Patterson, which was weird, because they all work at all of the complexes. But other than that, I really felt that they're about the same in terms of general lack-of-crappiness and lack-of-noisy neighbors.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

For New WDW CPs: Transportation

This is my first post, because it was the first thing that confused me. So: Transportation around Walt Disney World. Most of you reading this probably came down without a car. Or you came with a car, but then your mom or dad drove the car back home. Either way, you're in the same boat I was in: sitting pretty at Housing without a car, wondering how you're going to get anywhere.

Well, my friends, the answer is the glorious bus system! If you didn't get a bus schedule the day you arrived, go to your Front Desk and get one. Now. Insist. They might tell you that it's available online. It is, but it's hard to get to, and it's important for you to have one on hand. You won't always have internet access.

Now that you have a bus schedule, the next step is to program the Dispatch number into your phone. Call this when the bus runs late. Yes, sometimes the buses are late due to traffic, but more often than not, the buses are late because they sit for way too long at Vista Way(their break room is there). Your rent goes to pay for the bus system, so there's no reason to tolerate tardiness. Especially when it can make you late for work.

Speaking of being late for work, I recommend going at least a bus ahead. Example: The A bus that picks up at Chatham at 3:32 would have gotten me to the Magic Kingdom at about 4:15(my shifts usually started at 4:30, but you can clock in 15 minutes early). There was a 3:12 bus that got me there around 3:55ish, and a 2:52 bus that would get me there at around 3:35ish. I usually tried to go for the 2:52 bus. It gave me more flexibility in terms of costuming or stopping at the cafeteria or going to the bathroom or whatever. The 3:12 bus was fine as long as I had everything ready- costume, lunch, etc. I took the 3:32 bus once, and I clocked in with two minutes to spare, and that was after sprinting through the utilidors. Lesson: take an earlier bus. This will also help if a bus is late or doesn't show up at all.

In the first week, everyone tells you to make friends with people who have cars. This is such good advice, but I have one caveat: don't drive with them until they're familiar with the area. I made that mistake on my first day. We got crazy lost- toll roads, back roads, everything you can imagine. Thank goodness we were only going grocery shopping.

Now, buses: So the CP buses will take you pretty much anywhere on Disney property, which is cool. But once you're there, there's another way to get around. Disney encourages the use of their mass transportation system. Animal Kingdom to the Magic Kingdom? Take a white bus. Magic Kingdom to Epcot? Take the monorail. Epcot to Hollywood Studios? You can actually walk, or you can take a Friend Ship, which will stop at a bunch of resorts along the way. Something trickier: Let's say you're at a park, and you want to go to Downtown Disney. You want to have dinner, watch a movie, go to Cirque du Soleil, whatever. So you go to the bus stop, and realize.... there are no buses from any of the parks to Downtown Disney(parking is free at Downtown Disney, and they don't want people in the parks using that). Fortunately, there's a way around that- you don't have to go all the way to housing and then take the F bus. Instead, hoof it or bus it over to the nearest resort and wait at the resort bus stop... for the Downtown Disney bus! See, they want people to go to Downtown Disney to spend money. They just don't want people using it to get out of paying for parking. And you aren't! You're using it so you can spend money at Downtown Disney, which is exactly what the buses are for.

So that's... pretty much it for transportation around the resort. Even if you have a car, you'll probably end up using the on-property system to get around, since there's no reason for you to drive from park to park when it's faster to just use the mass transit system. And if you have any questions about ANYTHING, new CPs, please feel free to leave them in the comments. There's no such thing as a dumb question. :)

Conclusion/See ya real soon!

Well... I'm back in Yakima. For now.

Thoughts upon ending the college program:

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I don't want to grow up! I want to stay in Neverland forever! I miss my friends! I miss my job! I miss the parks! I want to stay at Disney forever!

In other words, I had an amazing time. I can't see myself not working there again, to be honest. Granted, it hasn't even been a week since I clocked out of my last shift(I forgot to take a picture of my last Mickey...). So the glow might just be taking some time to wear off. But it was a really awful last week, and if I miss THAT, well, that has to mean something, right?

I feel like I learned more about myself and life during this program than about anything else. Yes, of course I learned a lot about Disney. I learned my way around the utilidors. I learned how to run the registers there, and how to use a cash apron. I learned how to load a glow cart into a too-small elevator. I learned that when the QSF and Stands people left the grease bin open, it stank up the Adventureland utilidor a million times worse than usual. I learned the ins and outs of transportation around the resort as a CP without a car(so easy. Time-consuming, but easy). I learned that guests can often make your day, but they usually can't ruin it. I learned how to say five, seven, ten, and fifteen in Portugese. I memorized whole parades, castle shows, and fireworks shows. I learned what the best food items are, at least in the Magic Kingdom. I learned about using cast discounts.

But those are lessons specific to my life at Disney. Here's what I learned about myself and life in general: I learned that I like living on my own. I learned that I can make friends pretty easily, if those friends want to be made. I learned that people everywhere love talking about themselves, and if you let them, they'll be happier for it. I learned that it's easy to love absolute strangers. I learned to be proud of who I am, whether that's a Mormon, Alaskan, Washingtonian, CP, Merch cast member, Glow girl, or whoever. I learned that's it's important to be able to be open with people, especially ones you live with. It's easier to get everything out there instead of bottling stuff up or feeling awkward. I learned that while I love biology, I also, to a certain extent, love retail(possibly because I'm good at it, but there are worse reasons to like something). And I learned that the best sorts of magical moments are ones that comes straight from the heart.

I'm going to miss everyone so much. To both sets of roommates that I had, you were all amazing. To all of my Adventureland cast members, you guys rock. To the Glow people, more specifically: I will never, ever forget you. To the amazing members of the Buena Vista Ward, thank you so much for being awesome. The Church is SO true. And to Walt Disney World: See ya real soon!

(I'm going to begin a series of posts geared for new CPs. But I'll definitely be posting more stories from my program as I remember them. Ciao!)