Updates and Observations

So I read this post back before I started my CP, and I came across it again yesterday. It’s probably one of the most accurate posts about the Disney College Program that I’ve ever read. Now that I’ve been here for just over two months, I feel that I’ve experienced enough of the program to make my own post inspired by Tumblr user DisneyLens’. But first, an observation.

I’ve been getting a lot of “how can you be unhappy, you work for Disney” comments and messages when I post any kind of discontent. And I understand that for someone who hasn’t done this before, it may be hard to understand what exactly CPs and CMs go through. Yes, I work for Disney. But Disney is not some magical bubble shielding me from the real world. In fact, it’s more of a real world than anything I’ve ever experienced. Reality reaches through the magic at every turn. So, just a reminder, cast members are people, too. We have feelings and struggles, too. Keep that in mind on your next Disney vacation. Especially if you’re going to lash out at a cast member because the women’s restroom is on the other end of the lobby from where you’re standing. (I have complete control over how the building was built, of course. -_-)

So, okay. Here’s what the Disney College Program has been, for me, over the past two months.

The Disney College Program is an experience unlike any other. It’s the opportunity to work for a company that creates magic and happiness for people of any age, race, gender, nationality, and background. It’s being a part of something so much bigger than yourself. It’s learning about a company that has been a part of your life since childhood. It’s driving under the Welcome to Walt Disney World sign every single day and still smiling at it.

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It’s walking into the Magic Kingdom during Traditions, seeing the castle, and discovering that, yes, this opportunity is real. It’s finding out that, even though your work location isn’t your dream role, it may soon become just that. It’s falling in love with your work location. It’s learning more responsibilities than you ever believed you could memorize (and still carrying around your mini training manual just in case). It’s laughing at the bruises you get from the arms of seats as you clean the row above you. It’s ridiculous costumes that may have been trendy in the 90s but are in desparate need of updating. It’s doing your very best to do your job well.

The Disney College Program is fun. It’s getting Dole Whip with your roommates and friends at 10 PM when it’s 60 degrees outside and you’re already shivering. It’s going to the Magic Kingdom at midnight after a long shift, even though the park closes at 1. It’s four parks, one day, to celebrate your birthday. It’s meeting characters and feeling that joy that you felt as a child. It’s taking selfies EVERYWHERE, including on rides. It’s dance parties in the mezzanine and in the curtains. It’s dance parties in the box office. It’s dance parties in the car, in the parks, on the PeopleMover. It’s being the last guests on Pirates of the Caribbean in the month of March. It’s late night movies and early morning parks trips. It’s Space Mountain photo poses. It’s inside jokes (meanwhile, in Italy…). It’s meeting fellow CMs and guests from all over the world, and adopting some of their slang.

The Disney College Program is work. Hard work. It’s physically and emotionally demanding. It’s long hours and late nights. It’s working and going to class for 12 days in a row without a break. It’s the best guests and worsts guests you will ever meet. It’s learning to be respectful even in the toughest situations. It’s calling in your manager for backup. It’s going to work even though you feel like you got hit by a truck. It’s trying to snag a quick nap in the break room. It’s making sure your tattoos stay covered. It’s pushing through the pain and keeping a smile on your face. It’s answering “What is DisneyQuest” about a hundred times per shift. It’s stepping over guests to ask guests to stop recording. It’s language barriers and frustrating moments. It’s having to call an alpha unit for a guest. It’s scary moments that set your heart racing. It’s fear of failure. It’s frantically cleaning your apartment the day before inspections start, and praying that you’ll pass. It’s homesickness and missing your family.

The Disney College Program is still the best decision I’ve ever made. I love my jobs — both of them — despite rough starts and hard days. I love the friends I’ve made. Even when I’m sitting here writing this, sniffling and achy from a cold, dreading my box office shift today (solely because I’m sick), I am loving every moment of this program and wouldn’t change it for the world.

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Turning 24 and actually being okay with it (aka the best birthday weekend ever).

So when I first got my acceptance, and realized that I would be spending my birthday in Walt Disney World, I was slightly overwhelmed. What could I do to make this birthday as special and fun as possible? Somewhere along the line, I had the idea of four parks, one day. Also somewhere along the line, my good friend Kristoffer snagged a reservation at Be Our Guest for the night before my birthday. Yes, it was shaping up to be a fantastic weekend. And it really was! (So this is going to be a long post……..)

It all actually started on Friday night, though. I finished work at DisneyQuest at 7:15 and went over to Cirque. Because my manager and coordinator are absolutely awesome, I was able to sit in and watch the show as an early birthday gift.

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I even got popcorn. :)

The show was fantastic as usual, and honestly it was so nice to be able to just sit and watch the show instead of the audience.

The next morning, my friends and I got up early to head to the opening of Magic Kingdom so we could get on Splash Mountain, which had just reopened from a two month long refurb. We booked it to Frontierland and only waited in line about 5 minutes. The ride was great, but the boats kept stopping on the lifts. As we were about to go up the lift for the “big drop,” our boat stopped. For at least 5 minutes. The two boats ahead of us were also stopped. So we just hung out and waited. I was in the third row so I didn’t get all that wet… and called for us to go on again.

The second time, roommate Kelly and I sat up front. And got absolutely drenched.

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After Splash, we went and got Starbucks and then headed to Haunted Mansion and Pirates. Then Kelly, Eric, and Zack had to leave for work, so Kristoffer and I decided to go resort hopping. We monorailed to the Grand Floridian and walked around there for a bit. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a more spectacular hotel. I felt super out of place in my shorts and tanktop, even though that’s what most guests we wearing. After exploring the Floridan, we walked over to Kristoffer’s favorite resort, the Polynesian. The Poly was awesome. The theming is absolutely perfect! We then decided we were hungry, so we monorailed over to the Contemporary to go the Contempo Cafe and walk around there. We went out onto an outside patio right under the monorail and took pictures of the Magic Kingdom (and I took tons of pictures of the monorail going over our heads). We then went to check out the view from the bridge to the Bay Lake Tower. I was so happy to finally get the chance to explore these three resorts.

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After the resorts, we decided we wanted to go on Ariel’s Undersea Journey, so we went back to MK and watched the parade, then got the train to Fantasyland Station. Unfortunately, when we got to the Ariel attraction, there was a 50 minute wait, so instead we went to Country Bear Jamboree, which I’d never seen before. It was certainly interesting… (blooooood, blooooood).

It was getting closer to dinner reservation time, so we went and saw Philharmagic and then booked it over to Be Our Guest. Once we checked in, we got to walk right up to the front of the restaurant. They called us in pretty quickly and gave us a brief tour of the castle. To our left were the restrooms; to our right was the room in which you can meet Beast. Then we were escorted into the ballroom, where we would be dining. Kristoffer and I were completely geeking out by this point. I cannot even explain how beautiful this restaurant is (but I will be putting up pictures on my Flickr later today).

We both ordered the vegetarian dish, ratatouille. It had zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, and eggplant over a bed of quinoa, with bell pepper sauce. It was absolutely perfect. Then we got dessert — I got complimentary “grey stuff” for my birthday, and Kristoffer got grey stuff over chocolate. Yes, the grey stuff is delicious. I also got a signed card from Belle and Beast!

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After dinner we wandered over to the West Wing and took a million pictures of the perfect theming. Then we got to meet Beast! He was absolutely hilarious and totally charming, and I was so happy to meet him.

We spent a little more time taking pictures and then headed over to Peter Pan’s Flight (which is one of my absolute favorite rides). Kristoffer’s roommate works there, and without even having to tell him we were celebrating my birthday or that it’s my favorite ride, he walked us on through the Fastpass line. I couldn’t believe it — I don’t think he has any idea how much of a magical moment he created for me.

We then went on a few more attractions and watched Wishes from behind the castle (a very interesting experience for sure). After that we went on Space Mountain and then headed home because we were so tired. Overall it was one of the best days ever. And that was only really day 1.

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Sunday morning (my actual birthday!) I woke up early again to do four parks, one day. We started at the opening of Animal Kingdom. We went on the Safari and then went over to Everest, where we went into the single rider line, but Eric and I still ended up riding together. :)

After DAK, we went to Hollywood Studios. Eric had to leave for work so we walked around the Animation building and then headed to the Great Movie Ride after he left. We then went to get lunch (where I got a free cupcake!) and went on the Backlot Tour. Epcot was next up on the list, so we headed to Spaceship Earth, got a cronut (oh my gosh so good) and then wandered the World Showcase for a while. Epcot is slowly but surely becoming my favorite park again.

We left Epcot and went to Magic Kingdom for a little while. It was packed so we only really did the TTA Peoplemover (actual favorite) and Philharmagic before fighting the crowds to find roommate Kelly (who had just arrived) and head to Downtown Disney.

At Downtown Disney we wandered around for a while before deciding we would eat at T-Rex. It was certainly an experience. We were seated right by the aquarium that burst last week; they have it wrapped in a cover right now. The food was pretty good but we were all pretty tired from the day. After dinner (which actually rolled over past midnight), we headed home. I can only speak for myself but I’m pretty sure we all slept quite well.

I can’t believe I packed so much into one weekend. I took so many pictures (which will all go up on Flickr and Facebook at some point hopefully today). I want to remember every single detail of every moment. I also want to thank Kristoffer, Kelly, Eric, Zack, Dan, Whitney, RJ, Allison, and my amazing Cirque family for making this a birthday weekend to remember. :)

I’m off to edit pictures — the link to my Flickr with all of my edited DCP pictures can be found here (I’ll be adding to it soon!).

A very rambling post.

Obviously I don’t update my blog every day. In fact, it’s been quite a while. But I feel like if I updated every day, it would get repetitive. Especially in weeks like this, where I’m at Cirque four days in a row.

I’m still having the time of my life down here. I still never want to leave. I literally feel like I could work at Cirque du Soleil — or even Downtown Disney — for the rest of forever.

It’s interesting; when I got my acceptance and found out where I’d be, I was disappointed that I wasn’t in a park. I, like most others, wanted to be in the Magic Kingdom. However, now that I’m pretty established at Downtown Disney, I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else. Gone is the desire to pick up shifts in the parks (though I suppose I could, with my box office/ATS training). On my birthday, I’ll be doing four parks, one day, and then ending my day at Downtown Disney. It’s become my happy place moreso than the Magic Kingdom. Don’t get me wrong; I still absolutely love the parks and cherish every opportunity to go there. But I’m not disappointed to find that I can’t really go to the parks again until my birthday weekend (yay 12 days on in a row!). I’m happy to go spend the time at Downtown Disney.

Yesterday was easily the worst day I’ve had on the job thus far. I don’t want to go into details — I kind of just want to leave yesterday behind me — but I don’t think things could have gotten much worse. However, I woke up today knowing it’s a new day and I’ll be at Cirque four days in a row. I’m not terribly excited to be at Quest four days next week, but I do need the practice in the box office and I’m grateful to have the valuable training with the ATS system.

It’s not that I hate Quest. I really don’t. I just prefer the fast-paced shifts at Cirque (and of course I love seeing the show as often as I do). I love seating people and getting the opportunity to chat a bit with guests. With Quest, it’s really transaction-based, so I feel like I only get to talk with a couple of guests, most of whom are very interested in where Montclair State University is. (Though, I will say I had the best family come up to the window last night; a dad and his three kids who were SO EXCITED to go in — I think the dad was more excited than the kids — and the dad just kept making the funniest comments, like when he picked up the Minnie ticket and said he’d be Minnie because he’s secure in his masculinity. SO funny.)

Quest can also be really quiet, and while I’m grateful for the down time sometimes, it can get a little boring if you’re there by yourself (as I was yesterday). However, I love getting to know the guest relations cast members. I’ve also decided that, though I initially wanted to try and get involved with guest relations in the future, it’s not for me. So that’s good to know.

This post is all over the place, I know. But really there’s not a lot to say! Right now I’m drinking coffee and waiting for my laundry to be done — with this washer/dryer, it’s a risk to wash costume pieces right before my shift, but it’s raining and I really don’t want to walk from the OPQ parking lot (behind Cirque) to costuming in the rain.

Maybe I’ll have a more solid update soon. I’m thinking about possibly setting up a meeting with my managers to discuss going seasonal after my program. As amazing as extending would be, I really don’t think it’s a possibility for me. But because I have family in the area, I think it would be easy to take some time to come down here and get my 150 hours done (if I get hired as seasonal). And it’s a way to keep an “in” with the company. We’ll see.

Okay, signing off of this ramble post. Until next time… have a magical day!

My greeting experience.

So for the past week I’ve been training at DisneyQuest. It’s been okay (though I miss my Cirque family a lot and can’t wait to be there tomorrow!), but today was just weird.

I got to work and my coworker told me that my trainer had called out. Because I haven’t been assessed yet, and there were no other trainers available, I couldn’t have my own window. So they had to give me a job to do…

I greeted guests outside DisneyQuest for eight hours.

(I can’t even count how many times I answered “What is DisneyQuest?”.)

While it definitely felt like the longest shift ever, in hindsight it wasn’t terrible. I met some pretty cool Quest attractions CMs, and had some fantastic guest interactions, including getting bossed around by a two year old and, of course, doing everything she told me to.

It isn’t something I would want to do on a regular basis — oh, also, it was only 55 degrees today (thank goodness I stopped to get a jacket!) — but it’s something I could do again, if need be.

Again, I’m glad to be back at Cirque tomorrow. And I’m glad that I’m there for four days next week. I miss the place terribly. But I’m finding that I can deal with DisneyQuest. :)

Earning My Ears

As of last Saturday, I’m officially out of training for Cirque. I was able to take the “Earning My Ears” badge off of my nametag, and last night, I was by myself in Curtain A. At first I was pretty nervous, but as the night went on, my confidence grew. I still love my job SO MUCH, and I can’t wait to get back there each night. I’m crossing my fingers that time goes slow for the next six months, because I’m really not sure how I’m going to leave this place.

I start training at DisneyQuest on Sunday, and I’m grateful that Cirque and DisneyQuest share a lot of the same cast members. If it were up to me, I’d just stay at Cirque the whole time, but I’m looking forward to cross training into Quest as well. Downtown Disney is slowly but surely becoming “home.”

It amuses me that, a year ago, my sister and I were planning how to get down here for the Disney Princess Half Marathon. It’s coming up this weekend and if you’d told me a year ago that not only would I be here, I’d be WORKING here, I probably wouldn’t have ever believed it. I’m interested to see how the after party goes from a cast member perspective.

This post is getting rambly. I’m really tired. Even though I’m starting to get used to my hours, I’ve been sick for the past few days so I just feel really worn out. My next actual “day off” is next Tuesday (even though Disney considers my Mondays a “day off,” I sure don’t. Two classes is not a day off). I’m going to use this morning to try and recoup and get my voice back before tonight. We’ll see what happens.

Training Day #1

So yesterday was my first training day for Cirque. I was super nervous at first, and I was rushing through the locker room trying to get myself ready and meet up with my trainer. There are only two of us training, which is really nice. The costume is a little… busy, but SO COMFORTABLE. It feels like I’m wearing scrubs!

First we went and took a little tour of the Cirque building. Our trainer showed us where everything is, including the lockers, restrooms, and break room. Then we went over to DisneyQuest for a bit of e-learning (and I got my Hub access, finally!). After e-learning we went over to get ready for the show. For the 6:00 show, I got to watch as a guest. Let me just tell you, if you’ve never seen La Nouba, you have to. It’s incredible. No spoilers, though. ;-)

After the first show, we helped with clean-up and got ready for the 9:00 show. For that, my trainer had us help with the elevator line, which gets wheelchair/disabled guests up to their seats. I got to scan tickets and interact with guests, which was awesome! I got my break during the 9:00 show, and got to watch the Olympics in the break room for a bit. After the show we helped clean the theater again and that was that!

I know this is just a quick post, but we learned SO MUCH that I don’t even know where to start. If you have any specific questions, drop me a comment/message and I’d be happy to answer it.

Today I resume earning my ears! I’m in training until the end of the week, and then I have my assessment — wish me luck!

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First week!

How is it that I’ve been here for a week already?! One week ago, right now, I had just found out my work/housing assingment. I feel like I’ve been here for a year and I’m loving every moment.

The last post I wrote was about our first day and the upcoming housing meetings. That was, what, Tuesday? It’s been crazy since then! Wednesday was a nice day off, and then on Thursday we had Traditions! I can’t say all that much about it, but it was a lot of fun! We learned a lot about the company and went on a tour of the Magic Kingdom, and then we were given our nametags! That was quite possibly the best moment… I teared up as I put it on.

After Traditions, my roomies and I headed back to the apartment to get something to eat, and then went to some of the cast member only stores that are around the parks. Later, we went to Epcot and then to Magic Kingdom and got on a few attractions.

On Friday, I had my first day of training for Downtown Disney. The class was called “Our Town” and I learned a lot about the history and future of DTD. That whole Disney Springs thing that’s happening? Yeah, it’s going to be SERIOUSLY cool. The construction is a little crazy right now, but the finished area is going to be amazing. I also got my official work assignment — I’ll be doing ushering at Cirque du Soliel and ticketing at DisneyQuest — and my costumes (pics to come when I wear them).

After training, the roomies all regrouped and went to the Magic Kingdom for Wishes… but it was too cloudy to actually see fireworks! It was still really, really cool, though. Then we went and met Snow White and Rapunzel in Princess Fairytale Hall. It was a little chilly that night, but we still had fun… we ended up getting Dole Whip floats around 10:30, and despite how cold we were, they were fantastic!

Saturday it rained. A lot. Nichol and I went to Animal Kingdom in the rain and got pretty much soaked, but we had a blast. Later, the roomies ended up at Hollywood Studios for Fantasmic (it finally stopped raining!). I forgot how truly incredible that show is!

Yesterday, Kelly had training, so Nichol, Whitney, and I headed to Animal Kingdom again. One of the best things we did was go see Finding Nemo (the musical) … that show is SO well done and so beautiful! Definitely a must-see! After Animal Kingdom we went to Epcot and wandered the showcase for a while. The highlight of that was definitely learning how to play a Norwegian children’s game (similar to London Bridge, I guess) in the Norway pavilion… two people make a “bridge” and the rest of the players walk in a circle around them and under the bridge as they sing a song, and when they song is over, whoever is trapped in the bridge is given a choice between two candies, and whichever one you pick is the team you’re on. At the end, when everyone is on a team, there’s a human tug of war to determine the winning team. We were laughing so hard and it was just a fantastic time.

We stayed for Illuminations, which was beautiful as usual, and then did some shopping in MouseGear before heading home.

Today starts classes! I have Exploring Guest Services from 11-1 and Disney Heritage from 4-6. Then the roomies are all heading to Magic Kingdom to try and actually see Wishes this time! :)

I can’t believe we packed so much into a week — this post is just the minimum of everything we’ve done. We all start work training this week — I have training almost every day this week from 3pm – 11:30pm. I really can’t wait to start working!