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!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Arriving in Orlando!

Hello, blogland!  I'm writing to you now from the living room of my new apartment in Orlando!  I'll leave those details for the next post, though.  I have so much to write about check-in that I will do a separate post about it (including finally telling you my work location!)

Due to my last post sounding so sad and whiney, I hoped to update again before I left with a much more excited "I can't believe the time is here!" bit.  But that never happened.  There was just so much to do!

Friday was a day full of errands, including getting my hair cut and a stop at the bank.  Not terribly exciting.  It was the last night that my family spent together so we went out to dinner after some shopping.  The weirdest part of leaving my family is that I won't see my sister for so long.  My parents can come visit me now and then if they want to, but with Laura's school schedule I don't think I'll see her again until December.  For me, being the older sister comes with this strange idea that the younger one can be frozen in time.

Anyway, Saturday was another busy packing day.  I got up at 6am just to get myself prepared for the next few early mornings and got straight to work.  I can't even tell you how many loads of laundry I did throughout the packing process.  That was the step that took the longest actually, just waiting for stuff to come out of the dryer so I could pack it.  I used Space Bags for all the big stuff like towels, sheets, pillows, and my comforter.  This was a big help when it came to maximizing space in my car, but I can tell you that most of these things were terribly wrinkled when I opened the bags.  Silly infomercials.  I wanted to completely finish packing in the afternoon, which kinda sorta happened.  The last thing left to pack was my books, but other than that I was pretty set.

So I went over to Rob's house for the night after packing was finished because he won't be able to come visit me while I'm here.  We had a dinner date a couple of nights before so I was expecting Saturday to be very low-key.  At about 5pm I was really exhausted because I didn't get much sleep the night before.  So Rob told me to lay down for a nap and then he'd wake me up in half an hour so we could eat dinner.

Flash forward to about 5:30.  I woke up to someone jabbing me in the shoulder, and when I opened my eyes I saw Rob sitting a few feet away.  So who was jabbing at me?  I turned my head and saw my best friend!  It was pretty great since she lives a few hours away so we don't see each other often (our St. Augustine trip had to be cancelled :-( ).  We started chatting and a few minutes later one of my former roommates walked in!  More chatting ensued, and then one of my friends from high school walked in with his fiancee!  They've been together for a couple of years but I haven't actually met her because they live in Atlanta.  Anyway, long story short: Surprise going-away party!  I was very excited AND totally surprised, which never happens.  We had a great evening with pizza, cookie cake, and Shaun of the Dead, and Rob was so awesomely sweet to put it together for me!  And all who drove miles to see me are awesome too. :-D

Unfortunately we couldn't visit as long as I wanted to because I needed to be up super-early!  Everyone was gone by 1:15am so Rob and I (or maybe just me.  Rob doesn't sleep well lately) snoozed until 5am, when I rubbed my eyes and prepared to leave.  I left at 6am and headed home first.

At the last minute, my parents decided they wanted to go with me to Orlando to check in.  So Dad drove in a car behind me and Mom rode with me.  In retrospect it's probably good that someone else was with me who I could talk to, because I was feeling very sleepy for some of the drive.  We got to Orlando around 2:30pm, but hit terrible traffic on I-4 and were stuck for an hour.  It was a slow drive but we finally made it to our exit. More traffic, and then we got to the hotel!  We stayed at the Holiday Inn Sunspree which is basically across the street from Vista Way, where I needed to be for check-in.  If you are still looking for a place to stay before check-in, I recommend this hotel!  The rooms were very spacious and comfortable.  I think I would have been lonely in there by myself, haha.  Two of my now-roommates were staying there too, so I met up with one of them to go to Downtown Disney.  Some of the D-Fam got together and we sat around Earl of Sandwich chatting for awhile.  Then Molly and I went back to the hotel and I pretty much crashed into my bed.

Monday morning I walked down with Molly and Elyse (another one of my roommates) to Vista Way at 7am. We got in line and waited for about twenty minutes.  There was already a line and it grew while we waited.  They started letting us in about 7:30, but my memory just could be fuzzy and it might have been closer to 7:45.  But you'll have to wait for the next installment, because this post is long enough!  Soon to come: Check-In Day for the CP!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Last days before the CP.

I totally meant to write more during these last couple of weeks as preparations went into "hardcore mode."  Oops!  It's Thursday night (actually it will probably be the early hours of Friday morning by the time I post this), and I leave for Orlando bright and early Sunday morning.

First I want to mention the packing process!  I'm still working on it, to be honest.  For as long as I can remember, I've been a last-minute packer.  Actually I wouldn't even know what to do with myself if I were already completely finished.  While packing stuff from home and listing items to buy once I'm settled in Orlando, I decided to publish the finished list on my blog later.  It will probably be up after I arrive so watch out for that!

Wow.  I had a lot more to write when I started this post, but now sleepiness is taking over quickly.

Over the past few days I got much more emotional and nervous.  I'm definitely excited, don't get me wrong.  It just hit me a lot harder that I'll be separated from people, places, and things I love for much longer than ever before.  Even while I was away at UGA, I was able to visit family, friends, and Rob easily.  Basically it feels like "leaving for college" x 10 right now.  And I'm unfortunately prone to stress and anxiety, so I've been trying to keep my mind on the happier stuff I can look forward to.  I've also been reading a lot, enjoying the spa gift certificate I got for graduation, and baking up a storm!

Well I need to get to sleep.  Busy days ahead for me!  If I'm not able to post anything again before I check in on Monday, wish me luck please!

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