Sunday, August 28, 2011

Earning My LGM Head

     Yes, I am now certified Star Command Mission Control. SCMC as Disney might call it. I can safely (...) work the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride. Hooooray. I didn't say anything when they gave me the certificate, but I would like everyone to notice that "Emperor Zurg" is NOT capitalized. That's because folks, no one capitalizes the wicked.
     I'm crazy pumped. Anything that means I never have to read that OG again is beautiful. I got to put my name on an LGM (little green man) head and stick it to the wall of the Buzz office, as tradition dictates. I have my first post-training shift today too where I can load, unload, greet, merge, and main console people. It's kinda sad though because I probably won't see my trainer very often anymore, and he was super cool, but the Buzz cast is awesome too. What a peculiar place to store a salad...
     Basically what we did was spend two days doing OJT where we stayed up til one in the morning learning the regular evacuation route, the end of the world evacuation route, what buttons to push, how to reset targets, what to do about service animals, and all sortsa funness like that. Our trainer also went over stuff over and over and over again as long as we wanted so that we could get comfortable. On the evac routes...the first time we looked at those, I at least, was quite confused. It was a bunch of colored arrows drawn on a map that said things like "meet at the sparkly monster". Little did we know that "sparkly monster" is an actual technical term for part of the ride.
     Something our trainer told us while he was showing us how to work the ride was "look guys...90% of the people here aren't listening to the safety instructions. So, that's why you're here." After working the ride it's totally true. The automated announcement says "please face forward and sit back in your seat, keeping your hands, arms, feet, and legs inside the ride at all times." Majority of the people I saw: one kid sitting turned completely around talking to their parents, while the other was sitting on the very edge of their seat or standing, with their dad pretending to shoot the not yet activated blaster at everything, and their mother taking a picture. Which is where the employees come in to say "please turn around and sit down guys". Watch your kids. We're trying to avoid either of them falling out or getting smacked in the face by a cruiser door mmmk.
     By the way, something that pretty much made my day yesterday: during training we were standing near by the guests practicing loading, when a little boy looked up at my trainer and yelled "IT'S BUZZ LIGHTYEAR!!!!!". He got super excited and high fived my trainer and I, as did his little brother. After they moved on my trainer laughed, looked sort of confused and said "...that little kid just called me Buzz Lightyear...". My trainer looks nothing like Buzz. It was amusing. We played along in the Disney spirit of course though.

The Very Model of a Modern Major Disney Trainee

    Still stuck in training...for the last two days. Of course, this at least was on the job training which is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay less boring than guest interaction training. Our trainer is great too. He's a sassy guy who knows everybody, is very friendly, and who works on Space Mountain most of the time. Funny story: every time he walks by a particular janitor he goes "Heeeeeeeeeey! This guy!". Said janitor in turn gives him one of those awkward do-I-know-you? hellos and goes on with his day. The first time this happened we looked at our trainer and said "So, do you know him?". He doesn't.
     For OJT (There's an acronym for everything at Disney) you follow your trainer around as they repeat everything you've already heard, and what you don't already know goes straight in one ear and then runs away as soon as you need it. Luckily, you have a couple days to learn it all. And you'll hear it over and over and over and over. It's also in the operating guide, which you have to read. The OG is...a very long, dry book. If you learn by reading it's great though I'm sure. But if you just got up at 5 am after a late's not so much.
     The second day of OJT you do some more reading, but you actually get to try out all the positions. I thought that was quite fun. You learn all the button pushing and how to get people on and off the ride safely. It's hilarious to watch guests as they first start the ride but aren't quite to the targets yet because they start waiving their little blaster everywhere pretending they're shooting things in the loading dock. They point it at attendants, lights, other guests, themselves, and sometimes make sound effects. Then when they see you looking at them they give you a sheepish little smile and laugh. The funny thing is, I didn't see a single kid doing that: it was all adults. I was thoroughly amused. That's what I like about Disneyland: everyone is there to have a good time no matter how old they are.
     Last night I worked til 1:30 a.m. We had to learn to assemble the WAV (wheelchair accessible vehicle), and how to use the evacuation routes. One evacuation route we learned was just in case the ride breaks down and we have to let everyone off. The other is what our trainer likes to call the "end of the world" evacuation route. Disneyland has a plan for pretty much everything. Today is my last day of OJT and they'll be testing me to see if I can run each position on the ride.
     Here's an amusing video. Compliments of my sister. Hehe. I am thoroughly amused. Well done. How can you watch that guy dance and not smile? Eh, ehhhhhhhh?


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I'm All Muffins and Juice Boxes [and Hot Pants]

     Guess what today was...MOOOOORE TRAINING! Luckily though, rather than making us sit around for hours on end watching power points, we were out on our feet with a trainer doing guest interaction training. Myself and the other girl I trained with are now officially allowed to talk to guests.
     We started the day with costuming., um, most of the to put lose 40 attractiveness points when you put them on. End of story. If you were beautiful before you are now plain. If you were supermegaawesomefoxyhot, you are now maybe cute. If you were ugly...then...well...either you don't exist anymore or you just plane. For today, we started ourselves out with a polo shirt and pants. Mind you, there's no vanity sizing in Disney: if you put on some extra weight where your pants go you are going to have to face the music. The pants go to just below your ribcage and you tuck the polo into them. The pants also make your tuckus look pretty lumpy too. If you don't have much on your backside then you just look sort of silly and flat. Those hot pants make you feel sure of yourself. And you got to use what to got to get just what you wanta.This is your standard costume that can transfer to any land. It's "neutral".
          This is James Brown performing Hot Pants. Feel free to listen to Super Brother #1 while you  read.
     So then our adorable trainer took us around the park. He reminded me of the main guy from Psych, but with a higher voice. We took another tour of the park, answered questions for guests, and then helped coordinate the guests during a parade. Our trainer was the owner of the quote above because as we walked by the castle he looked up and said "castle=magggiiiicallll!" and then proceeded to say "Yea...I'm all muffins and juice boxes about this stuff :)"

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Disney Look

     WHAT does a Disney employee look like? A human. Or sometimes an animal. Anywho, the people ones have to dress a very special way of dressing and doing their make-up. Sooo basically if you want to look like a Disney employee you have the "costumed look" and the "business casual" look. Business casual=not casual clothes...nice shirt: it doesn't have to be collared but should be nice and clean. No jeans allowed, and no sweat pants, but beyond that it's not hard to get the business causal down. And costumed you just can't wear any super exciting make-up, and your hair has to be a more "classic" style. Just imagine someone who works in an office: would they have bubblegum pink hair, a grungy T-shirt, be chewing gum like a heifer, wearing beat up old sneakers, smelling like the city dump (assuming that they actually care about their job)? I hope you don't think so. It's an appearance thing. Disney wants their staff to look professional and approachable.
     If you are doing the program or working for Disney, don't let the look thing get to you. They are pretty specific, but in a lenient sort of way if that makes sense. Most thrift stores sell what you're looking for. Ladies will probably want to pick up some blazers. Be modest and conservative. Don't wear a super tight pencil skirt: I saw a girl get pegged for that. Go with a knee length pencil skirt that gives some room to move and maybe a collared shirt or nice ruffly business like one. Menfolk don't have to have suits, but collared shirts are for them. NO POLO SHIRTS. A nice, clean, ironed, button-down shirt. No matter who you are you'll probably want to get a pair of comfortable black shoes. Here at Disneyland all but two positions require solid black shoes. They have to be comfortable. Comfort over looks. And completely polishable.
     If you work a late shift Disney will help you get a ride home. For late night shifts give your supervisor or manager a call and, in my experience, they'll be happy to help you find a safe ride home.
      Disney will give you enough hours each week so that you can pay your rent. They also give you two days off every week during the nonpeak seasons, but you cannot preference Friday nights, Saturday, or Sunday. You have to be open to working on those days, but I'm hoping they'll give me a little time on Sundays so that I can go to church. They'll help you with trying to figure out how to get days off and such. But DO NOT expect any time during the holidays. They stress that often. If you do the program you're not going home for the holidays. That's just how business goes I guess. You work so others can have a good time with their families. I feel like it's worth it. I've had enough good times with my own family I'm glad to give some time to other people.

Monday, August 22, 2011

D is for Discounts!

    I had another day off today. Yeay for that! My family was still in town so I've been spending time with them. Spending time with them and taking advantage of Disney employee discounts!
     Firstly, I got into the parking garage for free: saved $15 dollars. Then, I get my free ticket. Saved $105. I also bought food in the park for which I got a 20% discount. I saved a pretty good amount of money today fo sho. I had my first breadbowl (mmmm) full of gumbo. Steak gumbo. Yes. Ooooooooh yes. Thank you New Orleans Square! It's 8.99 for non-employees, but it's D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S. Then my family had some BBQ ribs in California Adventure.

     My favorite place to eat though, back in the day before it because more expensive, was the Blue Bayou. Really a neat place to eat. Right around the corner from Pirates of the Caribbean, it's a beautiful restaurant. Glowing lanterns hang over you while you eat and you sit basically inside the Pirates ride: you can watch the boats go by you as you eat. If the passengers notice you you can wave at them while they're just beginning their trip through the Bayou in the ride.

And right around there you can look for Club 33. Can't say I've ever been there, but if you're wondering where it is here's the sign you can look for..
         I also had a tasty pinapple whip. mmmmmm. mmmm. mmm. You get the just outside the tiki room for I think $3.49. Fortunately for all that stuff I got an employee discount.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Power to the Power Points

     Yesterday was my first official day off. So, I spent some family time. My I.D. got me free admission ($105), free parking ($15), and a discount on food in the park (priceless). I think I'm going to enjoy this whole thing with freebies everywhere.
     Interesting anecdote from yesterday also: my family helped me to buy a few things I'll need before they left, right? Well, one of the things they'd gotten me was a pack of disposable razors. I still haven't gotten to use them though (and I need them...wearing a skirt makes me feel like the ape man) because when they were giving me my stuff, some of it went into my purse. After that, my parents dropped off my sister and I at the parks down at the 15 minute parking area. As I was walking to Disneyland I looked in my purse and what do I find? A PACKAGE OF DISPOSABLE RAZORS!!
     My own family was setting me up to get jumped by security. I can't bring razors into Disneyland! I ended up throwing them all away so I still look like I'm suffering from wolfism (well, not exactly because it's not my face that's the problem), but that's ok because I got into the parks juuust fine.
     As for today, this was my third day of training. We sat around and watched some more power points(legal and safety stuff: we're wild about safety. Bleh.)...and some more(sad use for Ti Moune and Pumba)...oh, and guess what....more POWER POINTS!! But then we finally got our schedules today. One of our trainers was telling us about her favorite Disneyland stories for giving out We're Celebrating buttons. She was saying a little girl looked super excited so the trainer asked her about her excitement. The girl then responded "My daddy's parole!!" So a two eight hour days. Of power points.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Everybody is a Children

    Well now, today was my first officially paid day. Hoo-rah! I likes gettin' paid. We went backstage again, where four employees gave a super animated (not with gesticulation) Disney schpiel. It was awesome. Oh my gooooodness I LOVE the people who I work with. Everyone is super outgoing and chill. We must have watched five 20 minute videos and during EVERY SINGLE ONE the entire auditorium clapped and laughed at the littlest things.
     We also took a tour of the park. I would just like to say to you all: be nice to the Disney characters. Or your local baseball team mascot. Really. Be nice. Don't let your kids hit them. Mmk. They're living things too.
     Now that I'm off my "don't hit Mickey" soapbox, back to my day. Off one box of soap, now onto another. Anywho, Disney is super concerned about safety. Clearly they're supposed to be, but at the training thing we did this morning they majorly stressed safety over literally everything else. So, we were constantly being told to be sure to be respectful, to smile, but most of all to be SAFE. Don't you be unsafe at Disneyland. We'll get ya!
     I also found out today that I'll be working somewhere in Tomorrowland. No idea where yet, but that's the place at least. Probably on Finding Nemo, but that's just a wild guess. Sunday is when I actually get my schedule. By the way, when they get done renovating parts of Cali Adventure it's gonna be BOMB. 2012 my friends, 2012.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What Do You Do With a Turtle...should it come to you...

     Day two...lunch like a college kid. I realized living at home I was never so often legitimately hungry. My parents equipped me with food, but I need to save money of course, so there's no mindless random eating anymore. That's just unamerican.We don't wait for anything! Especially food!
     Today we had a meeting for scheduling and I.D. type stuffs. THE BUS STOP IS FOREVER AWAY FROM HERE! Meh, either way, we went "backstage" and got our pictures taken, and then went into a small theater where a couple of speakers helped us learn about figuring out our shifts at work. This adorable woman got up and told us about when she did the Disney College Program after that. She'd worked in the basement of the Hotel Disney and was in charge of the lost and found. While down there (in the basement) she wrote a procedural manual for the lost and found...and I guess at one point a turtle came down the laundry chute. It was cute. So she took care of it.
     Then we all had to get up and get to know people. Now, normally, people roll their eyes at the speaker and go "nope. no. I am not getting to know ANYONE." In this case, everyone jumped off their seats to say hello. Everyone is really outgoing, and very nice as far as I've seen. This is quite a nice thing. I met a fellow who was a contestant on the Price is Riiiiiiiiiiiiight. He won $10,000 and some golf stuff. Now he works for Disney. Well, isn't that just exciting? In all honestly I did indeed think that to be something pretty spiffy.
     There's a farmers market every Thursday here. I went today and it was pretty cute. There were fruits, and vegetables, and random booths with items you never knew you needed. Most of the food was reasonably priced too. As I was leaving this old guy yelled "hey, do you want to get a ticket?!" me: "For j-walking?" old guy: "Yeah! Tickets blahblahblah...well, have a nice day." He then handed me a sunflower and walked away. It was rather amusing.
     Tonight there's a welcome party...ummmm...I had a sandwich for lunch...a girl living on my floor made little tiny chocolate chip cookies and shared them. My roommate and I went around and met all of our neighbors. That was fun. They're exciting people.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 guessed it...ONE!!

     SO today was check-in. I spent all of the last 16 hours thinking "oh crap. I won't have all the papers, they won't let me in, I'll get fired without being hired, and I'll have to go home in shame." And, in reality, it was a total nightmare...
     Just kidding. It was smooth as butter. I went up and there was a little corner to put my suitcase, and name tags, and Disney employees who smiled and made me feel just like a little princess. Actually, that last part is a lie, but you know what I mean.
     The check in process was super easy: they walked me through every step of the way, through every scrap of paper they had for me to fill out. That took about an hour and a half. I was also issued a bus pass that, when used, earns me a dollar each day. It's not only for getting to work either: I can take the bus anywhere I want and it still works the same. It's part of a Disney program to become eco-friendly.
     The room is spacious with a nice kitchen, and wireless internet, and cable TV. Of course, TV's aren't provided (I got me some netflix) so cable doesn't matter much if you don't bring one. When we first looked for cups, one of my roommates and I discovered that they weren't in the cupboards. "Someone stole our dishes." but never fear! "They ain't stole! They're just hid in the dishwasher!" There's even a mug with a deity painted on it, but I doubt that it was provided by Disney...
     Then there was a housing meeting that my four roommates and I attended. It consisted of a group of people sitting in the courtyard telling us what's what. The planned activities look faaaaabulous. There's a party tomorrow night for us newbees. Then there's also a free trip to Knottsberry farm.
     The apartment location is good with grocery stores, museums, libraries, parks, and fast food all near by. I had myself a bagel and some dark chocolate raisinettes for lunch. Mmmm. Mmmm. Mmmm. My roommates are pleasant, and the view of an appliance store outside my window isn't too much of an eyesore.
      I went to that new Little Mermaid ride and to the updated Star Tours yesterday. I quite enjoyed Star Tours. The updates were fun, and the graphics were better,though I do miss the original "pilot". I wasn't as thrilled with Ariel's Undersea Adventure. It was...short. Had it been in fantasy land I might not have expected as much, but because it was in Cali Adventure I was expecting something spectacular. Fun, but not actually spectacular. It's built a bit like Haunted Mansion in the way the ride goes, but the actual ride itself is just like any of the fantasy land dark rides.
     In case anyone wondered, yes, I'm still alive. I'm just unpacking now. I haven't been eaten my anything or jumped by gangsters. ;)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Airport Funtimes, Part 1

I haven't gone to Orlando yet, but I recently took a trip to Salt Lake, and here's what I wrote regarding my airport experience on the first leg of the trip:

Wow! The Portland airport is amazing! It started at the security gate. I have never met nicer TSA agents anywhere. They were remarkably efficient, but even while they were doing their jobs, they were all being so incredibly kind and patient with the passengers. I myself forgot to remove my belt prior to passing through the metal detector, and the agent just smiled and didn't act irritated at all when the detector beeped. This has NEVER happened to me before. The TSA agents typically act rude or impatient if I forget my belt or wear a hair clip that sets off the alarm. When I was done, a TSA agent saw me pull my empty water bottle out of my bag and kindly directed me to the nearest water fountain, assuring me that the water was filtered(which is not a huge priority for me, but I know it's important to a lot of people).

The kindness continued even as I was browsing the shops(I arrived very early). The employees were all very kind, and when I was looking for a book in the Powell's shop, the employee made sure I found the correct one. It turned out to be in the other Powell's location in the airport, and he made sure I knew exactly where to go to get there quickly. It was Divergent, by Veronica Roth, and I highly recommend it.

The Delta agents at the gate were also among the nicest agents I have ever met. The only ones who were nicer were at the airport in Anchorage, Alaska, and my aunt worked there at the time, and they knew who I was(so it doesn't count). In short, the Portland airport was FANTASTIC.

On the way back... well, the Salt Lake airport isn't awful, exactly, but it's not that great. Getting through security is terrible. The wait in the security line was longer than I would have liked, and the people there weren't particularly pleasant. They do have a full-body scanner(millimeter wave), if that's a concern for you... I went through it, and it isn't all that bad. The agents working it seemed really tense though... I definitely could have done without that. According to a release by the TSA, "Participation in the body scanning is voluntary. Signs tell travelers they don't have to participate and TSA officers are also instructed to tell people it's voluntary." I didn't see any signs, and nobody told me I could choose another lane. While I'm not bothered by the idea of full-body scanning, I was never informed that I could opt out if I wanted to, and that DOES bother me. Basically, the TSA is telling the public one thing, while doing essentially the opposite. That does offend me, especially since the rest of the security experience at the SLC airport was so unpleasant and almost seems designed to confuse and disorient the traveler.

There are a lot of eating options in the SLC airport. Check the map when you get there! It's not worth your time walking around trying to find something to eat. Some things are in more than one location, so you can plan accordingly. Also, I only saw one drinking fountain in the whole airport, and I had to ask a TSA agent where that was(it was sort of hidden). There aren't as many shopping options as in the Portland or Seattle airports... but that's not a huge deal. It just makes the place seem a little more generic.

Anyways, that's my assessment of those two airports. I'll be flying through three more airports on my way to Orlando in a couple of weeks here, so I'll post my reviews of those airports as well. Happy traveling!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Planning to Visit? Eh?

     After going to Disneyland so many times, I do actually know quite a bit, but I'm hoping for more useless Disney info while I'm out there. Over the course of my bloggin' I will impart some of my knowledge upon you if you're looking for experienced help in planning your trip. If you're trying to find a time to visit and you are seeking my great wisdom to help you to know when to do so, my answer would be that it depends on what is most important to you.
      If you want to go when there are shorter lines, and aren't so worried about how many rides are open, September to October would be your best bet. Disney actually specifies this as a non-peak period. Less rides are open during those few months (they are being repaired or prepared for the holidays), but there aren't hoards of people thronging the park. There's some fanciful language for you. Hoards. Thronging. Hehe. There is an actual list of the rides that are open at any given time in Disneyland, and if I could remember where it could be found I would probably give it to you. I know it's happy hunting. Here's a list of Disney attractions though provided by Disney itself. It is quite detailed and convenient.
     If, on the other hand, you are more like me and visual details are as important as rides, I personally enjoy the winter months. The whole park is decorated fabulously, and most of the rides are open. If you plan to go during Christmas prepare yourself for crowds. But, the decorations are really amazing, and there are special events during those months. My personal favorite place is N'awlins (New Orleans...) Square.
     Now then, if you want to go when the most attractions are open, midsummer is generally the best time. Lots of people are there the whole summer, but with the right timing and fast passes you can hit every ride at least once, and go to see most of the shows. Nice thing about that area is that it never gets too hot or too cold. DO bring a sweater if you go because the evenings can be quite cool, but the weather is better than any other time.

Don't You Worry For Me this is My Life

    They say you can't sleep alone in a strange place, then they tell you you can't sleep with somebody else.
                                       Ah, but sooner or later you sleep in your own space.
                                         Either way it's ok you'll wake up with yourself.
      Been listening to Billy Joel today. If you don't know who he is I want you to get on youtube right now and find out.Do it. You'll be glad you did. You probably know Piano Man. That isn't his only good song. Anywho, enough with that, the reason that's actually relevant to the blog is that I was thinking about it.
      So, leaving is crazy for me because I've never lived anywhere else. I've visited all sorts of places. I've stayed places with and without my family many times. Coming home to some place other than my  house and calling it home is going to be strange though. I've come back to the same friends, and spent time with the same people for a loooong time now. I've always spent holidays with my family. This will be a new experience for me, and decidedly, I'm very interested/excited to see how things play out. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to sound insensitive, but I can either chose to be worried or be excited. So I'm exited. Either way, it's ok, I'll wake up with myself.
      On another note, people are funny. They can be talking to you and not really care until you go "oh, and did I mention that I'll be working for DISNEYLAND?" and they suddenly perk up. This is what I like to think of as my "I walked on the moon" story (reference the clip above). Other graduates are headed to do the usual thing like becoming a nurse or a lawyer...but I'm the one that's perhaps a bit impractical for my marine biology major in Hawaii come winter, but that is totally different from what anyone else is doing.
      Just a few more days to go though until I'm in SoCal. It's crazay. I'm almost there. Then I can give more details once I get there, but I will say that that they follow up often. I've had several calls and messages making sure that I'd gotten renter's insurance, and turned in my required papers. They've also sent emails many times. It really doesn't sound like it'll be so hard to become a part of the cast.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title

      I swear, it's like they pick people who sound like Disney princess to answer their phones. It's...awesome. Do you have any idea how uncanny it is to pick up the phone and hear some lady who sounds just like Snow White ask you if you have renter's insurance yet?? IT'S AWESOME. They never sound annoyed either. Gah. I'm honestly terrified of phone calls because I hate annoying people on the phone (ironically, one of the places I currently work for requires calling people for three hours a night...), but it's never bad with Disney.
      Sooooooooooooo, I'm sure you're sitting on the edge of your seat (if you're actually reading this O.o) wondering when I leave. Just about two weeks. Hooray! Mi familia will be driving me down (by the time you drive as far as we do a few changes occur: 1. you REALLY have to pee 2. your legs become an interesting jell-o type substance that is entirely useless for walking.) I've spent a lot of time in big cities so this is nothing really new to me. I'm apprehensive, but rather excited about it.
     Generally, I like to have a plan when I go to do this sort of thing, but I'll be winging it this time until they send me some sort of schedule.I still have yet to chose the courses I'll be taking through Disney (I couldn't quite decide whether I wanted to do the Marketing You courses or the lecture series). My dream for the actual job portion is to work on the Haunted Mansion or Tower of Terror ride. Not because I'm a creeper, but because there's more artistic freedom with your interactions with guests. and as I'll be an "attraction hostess" (mmmm, what a great name) I'm hoping to work my way there. It'll be during the Nightmare Before Christmas version of the [Haunted Mansion] ride too. Bueno.
     The Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion (in case anybody is curious) is just a special version of the ride that goes from October to December. They originally didn't plan to make it a reoccurring thing, but it was well received so they've kept bringing it back. It's the regular Haunted Mansion ride with Nightmare Before Christmas music and characters. It's pretty suped up. I liked it. But I'll tell ya now, similar to getting on It's a Small World, you'll get Kidnap the Sandy Claws stuck in your head for the next month.