Thursday, January 20, 2011

Reflecting on the CP

First things first: I am a terrible blogger.  Now that my WDW College Program is over, I do wish that I'd kept up with this better.  But that can't be changed now.

And since I'm no longer living in Disney World, I have a lot of time and not as many options to fill it.  So for the next few posts, I will attempt to write about my reflections on the program's many aspects and my own personal experiences.

Just so you know what's going on with me now that my CP ended, here are the cliff notes.  I applied for a Spring 2011 extension to continue at Splash Mountain and did get it.  Instead I decided to finish my program and become a seasonal Cast Member.  Now I'm back in GA and about to start a program to earn my Paralegal certification.  After all this time being a lazy graduate, I'm not entirely thrilled about being in class again for the next few months.  But hopefully I'll do well and it will be worth it.

Well I'm going to get to work on the next blog posts!  To all Fall 2011 applicants, best of luck with your interviews!  Hope that you receive good news soon. :-)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Blog? What blog?

Sorry for not updating at all for over a month!  A lot of CP bloggers will tell you that they are simply too busy to blog regularly, but that really isn't the case with me.  Over the past month I've sat down with the intention of updating several times, but couldn't really figure out what to write about.  It's difficult to write coherent updates about my role as a Cast Member when every day is something different and the details can be fuzzy in my memory.  Plus some experiences just aren't worth writing about.  When you're seeing a couple hundred guests per hour and having the same conversations over and over, it's difficult to pinpoint any work experiences worth an entire blog update.  And as far as CP experiences outside work, it's hard to choose specifics in that category as well.

So I'm going to try and form some coherent blog updates about my CP in the next couple of weeks.  Please bear with me, dear readers!  Hope that you all are doing well.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

All work and no play makes for a dull blog.

Since my last couple of blog posts were work-related, I decided to write about some of the non-work things I've been doing on the CP so far!  I had Tuesday and Wednesday off this week.  From the looks of it, they are going to make Tuesday one of my regular days off and then either Monday or Wednesday.  Both of my CP classes will be on Tuesdays starting in October so this makes sense.

Anyway, on Tuesday I went to DHS with Molly F. (one of my roommates), Cori, and Molly B.  I drove separately and met them there, and we immediately got into the single rider line for Rock 'n' Roller Coaster.  Very fun!  Then we walked over to the Great Movie Ride to try and request a show with Lauren as our tour guide.  Her assessment was the same day as mine, so we wanted to see her in action!  Turns out she was in rotation at the time and working the podium in the pre-show.  But with some effort she managed to get switched out so she could do one tour, and they even put us in the front row!  I think she was nervous with us sitting right next to her, but she did great!  After that we met up with Laura and went to get a late lunch/early dinner.  Then we all went over to Star Tours and enjoyed our botched tour of Endor.  I'm going to miss that ride!  After Star Tours, it was time to head back to Tower of Terror.  We were able to ride it twice with very little wait.  I never got to experience the Summer Night-tastic changes, but oh well.  Still a fun ride!  Although I always get creeped out by the atmosphere.  After the rides, our trip to DHS became "visit other CPs at work" day.  We went around visiting a few people just to say hey.  The park wasn't very busy that day, but Abby wasn't able to chat at the time because Hollywood and Vine was pretty crowded.  Kristen and "Philip" were able to talk with us for a bit, though.  Then we all wanted some treats, so Molly F. and I got popcorn in souvenir "Last Tour to Endor" buckets.  Love them!  Molly B., Cori, and Laura got ice cream, and we all stood around eating and talking for a few more minutes.  After that we decided to leave and head back to the apartment complexes.  Turned out that Molly B. was locked out of her apartment, so she came over and watched some episodes of The Office with us while she waited for security to let her back in later.  Then Molly F., Elyse (another one of my roommates) and I all watched the Disney movie Tower of Terror while our other roommate Kara did puzzles. (Did you know Jan Levinson/Melora Hardin was in that movie? My mind is still blown!)

Yesterday was my second day off, so all of us roommates went to EPCOT in the morning.  We spent most of the day in Future World and had a great time.  We immediately got Fastpasses for Soarin' for after lunch and hit up some other attractions.  In an order which I can't remember, we rode Test Track (single rider again, so no wait!), Journey into Imagination, Spaceship Earth, and Mission Space.  We even watched Captain EO and "Oh, my..." is all I have to say haha.  80's-tastic!  Lunch was at the Electric Umbrella and we used our Soarin' FPs.  We also spent some time in the Living Seas observing dolphins (my favorites!) and manatees.  In the afternoon Molly needed to leave for work, so Elyse, Kara, and I headed over to World Showcase.  We started off in Mexico to see Mariachi Cobre, and we even enjoyed some margaritas there.  I tried the passion fruit one, and while it was good I will definitely be getting a strawberry one next time.  Then we kept walking around the WS, occasionally stopping to check out stuff in the pavilions.  That's the beauty of having so much time here: no rush to see everything.  When we got to France, we beelined for the Patisserie and got some yummy desserts.  Delicious!  Then each of us decided to get a slush drink while we were there.  I got the Grey Goose Citron Lemonade slush and it was yummy!  We went into the Rose and Crown with our drinks to cool off.  It was right before The Hat Lady's show, so we stuck around to see it.  I've never actually watched the show but it was so entertaining!  Carol was the Hat Lady for our show and she was great.  In case you've never watched it, the Hat Lady chats with people in the pub and even makes up songs on the spot about them.  She sang two about me; first she made up a quick one about me being a history student, and then when I told her that I'm from Georgia she sang a rendition of "Georgia on My Mind" with some silly lyric changes.  Turns out there were other CPs there too, so she sang a song about the CP and how hard we work.  After her show, the three of us went over to Canada and watched the show there.  Always entertaining and beautiful!  Then we went back to France to watch the show there and that was just as gorgeous.  I always enjoy the music and the scenes they picked.  By that point it was 8pm and we were getting tired.  So we left before Illuminations (we'll be back, though!) and headed home.

Sorry for the long paragraphs!  But my last two days off were pretty eventful!  I spent some hard-earned money and now it's back to PB&J sandwiches during my breaks. =)

As for other news, my parents are planning a quick weekend visit mid-September.  I've been struggling to get the Saturday off (or at least be scheduled for the night shift, which will probably happen anyway) because I have a surprise planned for them.  Also, I was approved for November 18th off so that I can rest up and go to the midnight showing of Deathly Hallows part 1 that night.  I don't care if I have to work the next morning (which is unlikely... CP = "closing person" where I am), I am going to the midnight show!

Well that's it for me.  Take care, dear readers!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Earned My Ears Today!

In case you aren't familiar, "earning your ears" means completing your Cast Member training and passing an assessment proving that you are ready to perform your job on your own.  Today was my assessment for Splash Mountain, and I passed!  So now I am no longer a trainee but a full-fledged CM!  It amuses me that I started training days earlier than most of my CP friends, yet my assessment was after many of theirs.  Splash has a pretty rigid training schedule though which seems to take a day or so longer than most training programs.  At least I'm finished!

There was a ride mishap during my assessment and that was pretty interesting.  The managers said I did well with it, though.  So hopefully next time something happens I'll feel even more confident in my abilities.

Unfortunately I'm also sick this week. :-(  So tonight I'm relaxing in the apartment and working on some knitting.  And my shift isn't until the evening tomorrow so I'll be able to get lots of sleep.  I'm really enjoying this apartment and my roommates are great.  All in all, things are going pretty well so far!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thoughts After Training.

Last night I completed day 5 of my training for Splash Mtn., which means that all I have left is my assessment before I earn my ears!  I'm actually feeling a lot more confident about operating the ride now.  And as I'm practicing all these different aspects of working there, it got me thinking a lot about my role in WDW.

Let's be honest.  Most people dream of being that Cast Member.  The one who gets tons of guest interaction and racks up those Guest Service Fanatic Cards and goes home at the end of their shift feeling great because of the vocal confirmation they received that they are indeed great at their job.  But we can't all be that.  From what I've seen in the past week, the percentage of Cast Members who actually do work in positions with that much interaction is actually very small.

I always appreciated CMs before.  They all put in a lot of time and effort to make sure that guests are enjoying their trips to WDW.  But now I appreciate them even more, especially "behind the scenes" CMs.  You know, the ones you will never actually see but they are still constantly working to make sure your visit to the park or resort is going as smoothly as possible.  And I came to realize that as far as working as Splash Mountain goes, I will basically be one of those CMs.

Guests will see me of course, depending on where I am in rotation when they enjoy the attraction.  But they won't remember me most of the time.  No one is going to ask to get their picture taken with me when I tell them that I'm sorry, but their child is too short to be allowed on the attraction.  I can tell them all I want that it's for their own safety, but some families will still walk away grumbling about me.  And when I'm collecting Fastpasses and the stand-by queue is packed, they are going to complain to me about how long they've been waiting and that I should just let them in.  I can explain that FP holders are given priority and I'm trying to keep both lines moving as efficiently as possible, but they won't be any happier with me.  No one is going to write letters praising the CM who made sure their log was completely safe before allowing it to depart from the loading station, no matter how much I wave and smile as they go by.  And they certainly aren't going to head to Guest Relations to fill out a card praising the voice that came over the intercom from the Tower, reminding them to please stay seated for their own safety or even informing them of ride closures, even though my instructions forbid even glancing away from the monitors watching their every move.  They aren't even going to know that I was awake at 5am so I could spend my morning going over every single foot of the ride path making sure that it was completely safe and operational before a guest could even set foot in the queue.  And it's not my job, but the maintenance crew staying in the park all night making sure every single aspect of the attraction is safe for guest use certainly won't be getting any praise from visitors.  But they are fantastic people who deserve our gratitude!

At first I thought it would be difficult to look for fulfillment in this job knowing that a guest would never thank me for my work or even acknowledge me except to respond when I say "Hi, how are you?" as they walk right by.  But that changed when I began to look at my role as a CM this way.  I am the CM that most guests won't remember or even think of, but I am still contributing to their overall Disney experience in my own way. It's not in the way that most people imagine when they think of CMs but it is nevertheless extremely important.   And when I'm putting my all into my job, at least I know that it's still in the name of the guest's safety and enjoyment no matter how "behind the scenes" it may seem.

“Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.” ~ Pearl S. Buck

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Oh my goodness.  It's amazing how quickly this week went by, yet so much happened that it feels like I've been in Orlando a lot longer.  I started training yesterday with an orientation to the park, and I already feel like that was days ago.  It seems as though most of the other CPs I know had at least one day off this weekend, but I didn't.  Seven straight days of training for me!  And I won't lie, I've felt a bit lonely the past two days.  So far it's been really early mornings with extremely busy days until the evening.  Then I'm so exhausted after each shift that I just go home, eat dinner, and get to bed soon because I need to be at the park early the next morning.  My roommates and some of my other CP friends have spent their day(s) off getting to know each other by hanging out around apartment complexes or going to parks.  And I've either been too busy with these training shifts or too tired once my work day ends to spend much time with my friends before I need more sleep.  But on the bright side, I will have my first two weeks' rent paid off before many other participants! :-)

By the way, now I can officially post here that I am working at Splash Mountain!  I think this is one of the reasons why my training schedule is so packed; it's one of the busiest attractions and there is a lot to know about it.  At the end of the day, I'd rather have a really busy shift than one with lots of lag time.

ETA: I should probably mention that I haven't met any coworkers over the last two days, either.  The shifts consisted of following around the coordinator and doing e-learning in the computer labs.  I actually start training at Splash during this next shift, so I can meet people with whom I'll be working and hopefully feel more involved.

Now I realize my last post said you would get detailed info on check-in and Traditions.  Truth is I'm just too tired to go back over all the details.  So instead, here are some highlights from the past few days!

  • Getting our desired apartment at Patterson Court and moving in with some great roommates!
  • Watching the fireworks from the Poly on Monday and Tuesday night with said roommates as well as some other CPs
  • Finally getting groceries :)
  • First time in the Utilidors (I think they're really cool)
  • First time I got into a park with my work ID the night after Traditions (and so far the only time.  Like I said, busy!)
  • Knowing that I don't need to rush through anything.  I have plenty of time to see attractions, explore resorts, etc.
  • Going to a CP party and getting free food.  Seriously, nothing attracts students like free food!
  • Registering for my two classes.  I'm taking Disney Heritage and Guest Service, both part of the Exploration Series.
  • Almost being instructed to color my natural hair.  I just found it amusing that my real hair color was "thisclose" to not fitting the Disney Look.  Luckily they changed their minds!
  • Once Upon a Time... Is Now!  I enjoyed it, except for the part about wearing nice/uncomfortable shoes to walk through the MK.
  • "Area Awareness" with one of the Frontierland coordinators.  She was really nice and helpful!
Well I need to get to sleep.  Take care!!

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