Wednesday, 30 June 2010

May The Force Be With You

Well... I've been a busy bee. I had 2 days off (Sun and Mon) and then completed my training today at Star Tours (Weds). My days off weren't particularly exciting because not that many other people were off... on Sunday I went to the pool and then went to Publix... then Kevin came over and we got some Pizza Hut and watched Star Wars Episode 4 (I needed to geek up on it for my attraction!). On Monday I trekked to Walmart partly because I needed stuff and partly for the fun of it. Then I ended up going to Downtown Disney with Katie and we got some food and just wondered around which was nice.

Yesterday, I had my final day of training and I had to spiel myself! It was really scary and I messed it up several times despite all the practicing! The last load of guests of the shift even gave me a round of appaulause for getting to the end - how embarressing!! Anyway, all went well, I got to do lots of the roles in practice for my assessment today. Worked 7.30am - 4pm yesterday so met up with Kevin, Sarah, Cherry and Katie to do a couple of rides (we did Star Tours, brilliant, Great Movie Ride and saw the Beauty and the Beast show). We were going to go and see Fantasmic but now that it's only on three times a week it means that the shows get rediculously full really early on. So, put it this way, by 8pm it was standing room only for a show that started at 9pm. Silly. So, instead me and Katie went back into the main park and did a couple of rides before giving up and heading home.

I was back at the Studios again this morning for 8am so it's just as well I had an early night anyway. Today was the day of my assessment which was done by Sarah. We had a laugh actually, and it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be! The worst part was having to load the guests and do my spiel but it all went fine!! :D After lunch I was on my own! The first task that CDS had me doing was the PAC... Parade Audience Control. This is a good role, lots of guest contact etc... but has one major downside - The Heat. I was standing outside for the best part of 1 1/2 hours so yes, it was very very hot. We could have done with the rain that was threatening all afternoon and has only just decided to come down now that I am supposed to be going to Epcot tonight to see Illuminations again. Brilliant. Hope that we don't trek to Epcot for the fireworks to be cancelled!! x

Sunday, 27 June 2010

SafeD Begins With Me...

Right, well I have finally got round to writing this post... I was going to do it last night but I was shattered and then today I had more important issues such as watching England lose horrendously (4-1!) to Germany in the SOCCER and then going to the pool. I have now returned smelling of chlorine and slightly sunburnt but feeling a lot more relaxed than yesterday!

So where was I.... oh, yes, finding out I’m on attractions! Now this could have worked out really badly as some of the attractions in the area I’ve been assigned to include the American Idol experience or even worse... the Muppet ride. Ugh. Lucky for me, I got placed at... Star Tours!! Yes, it is indeed a ride based on the Star Wars films and yes, I have zero knowledge of this. Fantastic. However, it doesn’t really matter as it seems that the other cast members are friendly and very ‘banter-ish’ and there are loads of different positions on the attraction so it won’t be 10 hours a day of saying “how many?” or “mind your step”. Which was my main worry.

So, my costume is very Disney... I describe it as a galactic Easyjet outfit. In that it’s a bright orange top and bright blue combat trousers... I thought I’d got away with avoiding the typical badly-shaped and badly-fitting Disney costume trousers however I didn’t as these blue things have elasticated ankles. Sexy. So, after finding out this was my job during my first day of training, I went to Walmart on Thursday to pick up some equally sexy black trainers – however, I do think they are better than the shoes I wore for the Emporium.

Actually, prior to the Walmart visit was the first day of training and my orientation of the Studios. I do find it the hardest park to navigate or direct people around as it’s not as easily laid out as MK, Epcot or even Animal Kingdom so a tour before the guests came in was quite useful. But so, so hot wearing trousers, shoes and a shirt (traditions style) for walking around the park! After the tour which lasted about 2 hours, we went inside and had some more talks and cheesy videos before doing some e-learning. The highlights of this included training on ear-protection from noise (FUN) and.... SafeD Begins With Me!! Luckily, due to already having been a cast member I only had to do a recap for the SafeD stuff... which picture is in the green zone etc. :D

So after leaving training, going to Walmart and getting home, I got changed and headed back out to Epcot with Hannah as she’d never seen Illuminations! My flatmate Rachel decided to come as well so we headed to Epcot and ate Orange Chicken in China before getting a spot for the fireworks. And they were amazing as usual... I have the soundtrack now but I will be going back to see it at least another 5 times because I really like it. Watching it from China was a new experience as it’s a different view which was nice and the sunset was amazing. We also rode Spaceship Earth and went to Mouse Gear to pick up Rachel a souvenir plushie before heading home as we were both pretty tired!

Onto Friday, and my first day of OTJ (On The Job) training on Star Tours. I had to meet Jonathan (aka JD, my trainer) at costuming where I could pick up my costume... Disney sizing being as crap as usual meant I had to try on a couple of pairs of trousers before I could figure which fitted the best – or should I say, best of the worst really. Then it was over to the attraction to meet some of the rest of the team and get an orientation of the ride. This first day was really spent seeing each role in action... I thought it was going to be minimalist but it really isn’t! There’s the greeters on Stand By entrance, Fastpass entrance, Fastpass machines, Attraction entrance and then a Merger position (if it’s busy and there’s a big queue) before you get to the actual ride. Then there’s the Photocell position (no idea why it’s called this, it has nothing to do with photos) who decides when to let people towards a gate and counts them through 40 at a time. There are six gates (i.e. simulators) so potentially then a cast member for each gate to load the guests and do the spiel (yes, I have to learn that too!!). Then another cast member on the exit side of the six gates to guide everyone to the exit plus another position within ‘Tower’ which is basically the control hub. They have a really important job as they monitor the whole ride and make sure everything is running smoothly and that the guests are behaving themselves inside each simulator. So, just from that there is at minimum about 8 different roles you could be doing at any one time and you should be rotating around about every 45 minutes as there is quite a few outside roles and it gets very HOT. We spent the first day seeing how each role worked... then I was lucky enough to get a lift back to Vista Way with JD after dropping off one of the other CPs called Scott who lived at Chatham... as we’d just missed the bus by about 2 minutes.

The main reason for this was the fact I had to be back at Star Tours for 7.30am which is the opening shift. Ugh. I worked the closing shift on the first day (2-10.30pm) so this was opening (7.30am-4pm) and you spend the first hour and a half going through the opening procedures for each gate. OH, I totally forgot to mention that I was lucky enough on the first day to actually go into one of the gates through the maintenance entrance and have the lights on so we could see the simulator go through the ride from the outside. It’s hard to explain but it was AWESOME! The equivalent to riding Space Mountain with the lights on! :D So, on the second day, despite feeling really tired I got through the second shift after learning about the opening procedures and then actually having a go at some of the roles myself such as Photocell and Operating a gate. I can easily see these will be my favourite roles I think, rather than the outside ones! Photocell was a challenge because you have to do about a million things at once whilst trying to count how many guests you’re letting through but Operating a gate was also fun as you got to talk to the guests, do the spiel as well as go through the pressing buttons stage :D
So, after the shift was over, I was quite tired but I met Hannah at 4pm to do some stuff in the Studios. It shut at 7pm and she’d been there all day so we just did Tower of Terror (amazing!) and the Backlot Tour before grabbing something to eat. Then we actually rode Star Tours (as I hadn’t done it yet!) which was quite funny because I knew all the procedures... a guy was taking photos on the ride which is a bit silly – they warned him 4 times through the intercom during the ride to stop doing it and so I knew they were on the verge of actually stopping the ride but luckily he ceased the photo taking. It’s apparently more of a safety issue than a copyright thing actually which surprised me.

So... that brings us back to today. Where I watched the England match (with Spanish commentary randomly) and then spent about 2.5 hours down at the pool which was nice. I think I’m getting a ‘ride’ to Publix soon so I can pick up some food for lunch this week at work... I also found out today that I’m working 4th July, how exciting!! :D

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Let's get in the parks!

Wow yesterday was a LONG day! I was up at 5.45am to get ready for traditions... the smart clothes and all that. We got on the bus and went over to Disney University... sat through the most boring talk ever about 'integrity to the Disney brand' and then we got the proper Traditions trainers in to start the day. They have completely revamped Traditions from 2008 in the sense that we actually LEFT the classroom, got given headsets (rather like a tour group) and went into the MAGIC KINGDOM! It was amazing! So, even though I'm not working in MK, it was orientation all over again because we went through the backstage areas and then round Fantasyland looking for the 4 Disney Basics in action. It was fab... if a bit roasting hot! Then we headed back to the University and had some more talks before we got a special visitor! It was the THE BOSS! Yes, Mickey paid us a visit, very exciting! :-)

After traditions was over and we got our badges; we headed back to Vista Way. Got changed and was back on a bus by 2pm on the way back to the MK as we now had our Disney IDs! And of course, it is the first place you have to go! Now I don't have long to write this post (will tell you why in a moment) but we ended up staying there from 2.30pm until about 11.15pm... we watched the afternoon parade (loved it, but not as much as Dreams Come True), the Main Street Electrical Parade (bring back Spectro... it was rubbish) and then finally the Summer Nightastic Fireworks (pretty impressive but Wishes holds a special place in my heart!). We did loads of rides including Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Carribean, Mickey's Philarmagic, Haunted Mansion, Carosel of Progress and Tomorrowland Transit Authority as well as eating my favourite - ORANGE CHICKEN! Which is as amazing as it always is, but I can't wait to get over to Epcot and have it in 'China'!

So, we got the (packed) bus back from MK which was full of ICPs who had just got their IDs and eventually I got to bed at about quarter past midnight. Which considering I had to be up at 6am for today means I am feeling pretty tired now! But today I have my orientation of the Hollywood Studios and I will finally find out where I'm working which might be good, it might be bad. I haven't mentioned on here that I seem to have had my role switched to Attractions from Main Entrance Ops because it's not for sure yet... so expect a slight rant later on here or maybe I will be full of joy? Who knows? :-)

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Cell Phone

Oh, and long story short, I had to get a new cell phone - so my number is now 407-569-6574.

I'm finally here!

Well, it's taken me over 48 hours of being in the country before I've had the chance to come online and update the blog! Apologies! It's been crazy!!

Let's start with Saturday... in sunny England. We left Bristol at 4pm and got to Gatwick at about 6.30pm. Went for a lovely Indian meal in nearby Horley before crashing out at about 11pm... sleep was somewhat light - I kept having wierd dreams! But soon enough it was Sunday - Disney Day!

It all started out well enough, we went over to Gatwick, my case was 22.7KG! Soooo close to being overweight it's not even funny, so checked in with no problems and went to have a bite to eat with the parents. I felt as nervous as the first time round but quite excited! It was a bit weird because we ate in the same place and then waved goodbye at the same place etc! Went through security, got a full body frisk which was random and then into the departure lounge. Located the Wetherspoons we agreed to meet at and luckily spotted a load of Mickey t-shirts in there so knew I'd found the right gang! Spent an hour or so in there chatting before leaving to get drinks and snacks for the flight in WHSmith. Then the gate was called and off we went! Really nice group of people, we all had a laugh sitting around at the gate etc... got onto the plane and I was sitting with 2 other ICPs (Hannah, of course, and a guy called Jason) plus a couple in front of me (Chris and Jonny) and another couple behind me. So throughout the flight we kept each other company!

The captain jinxed it... he said the flight would be 8 hours 20 minutes. Which is rediculously short to get to Florida from London... so about 8 hours and 10 minutes later (involving a Quorn curry for lunch, watching several episodes of the Inbetweeners as well as 'Have you heard about The Morgans' - love a bit of Hugh Grant) we came into land at Orlando International... where we hit a massive storm cloud, right over the airport. Cue loads of kids vomiting everywhere and lots of turnbulance and then having to divert to Tampa to refuel otherwise we would have dropped out of the sky. Not good.

3 hours later, after sitting in a boiling hot cabin and watching a drama unfold involving a woman fainting and paramedics being called onto the plane, we finally took off back to Orlando. We landed fine and then had to spend 1 1/2 hours sitting around on the floor at immigration... it took forever! Finally, got the Mears shuttle and made it to Vista Way at 10pm!! In English, that's 3am!

Long story short, I am back at Vista Way (again!) in apartment 1608 this time... I am living with 4 Americans (Brett, Rachel, Britney and Ashley) and a Liverpudlian (who's my roommate, she's called Megan!), we had a whole day of BORING housing talks yesterday and then the obligatory trip to Walmart (I am sure I will muse on the things I found there in another post at some point!). Spent nearly $100 in Walmart plus another $50-odd in Walgreens as well... so already probably spent half the money I brought with me! Bad!

Last night, after Walmart, we went to Downtown Disney - a big group of 13 of us. We got a table at Planet Hollywood and then went to see Toy Story 3 in 3D which was amazing!! (Even if it did cost $13.50 a ticket!) However, didn't get back to Vista til 1am so it was a bit of a late one considering we're all still a bit jet lagged!

Then this morning it was back to the pavilion for Doomsday.... finding out where we're working!!! And I'm at Hollywood Studios!! :D In "Icon Attractions". Now, my role was told to me as 'Main Entrance Operations' so to find out that my job title has the word attractions in it means that I truly don't know what I will be doing - whether I'll be operating a ride or a show... or whether I will be doing turnstiles and parades etc. The important part is that I am in a park (my second favourite one at that!), I won't be finishing work at 3am every night, and I know someone else doing attractions in HS so at least I can go to traditions with them tomorrow!

And yes, traditions is tomorrow. At 8am! Early start! So I will be having an earlier night tonight I think seen as the bus is at 6.50am... fun times! That's all for now, folks, I have to get ready for the second lot of housing talks this afternoon which are sure to be as fun as the last. Not!

Cat x

Saturday, 19 June 2010

It's a great big beautiful TOMORROW!

It's tomorrow!!!! Ahhhhh!!! As of the last 5 minutes the nerves have kicked in... I've repacked my suitcase about 5 times, repacked my hand luggage twice and now I am just waiting around until it's time to go to Gatwick! It seems that there are more people than ever going this year on the 20th date so I am sure there will loads of us at the airport tomorrow. I checked in online this morning with no problems but quite a few people have had issues checking in online due to having a visa... so I hope it all gets sorted out and I'm still sitting around people going to Disney because it will be more fun that way :)

I am also just hoping and praying that my suitcase is under 23kg because I have actually managed to fit everything into one case which is amazing... I had to sacrifice a few things which I shall have to buy at Walmart when I get there though. I am more excited than last time because I know what to expect but I just know I am going to miss people more than last time as well, I have made some really close friends in Bournemouth as well as my family and friends in Bristol and I guess with the whole 'leaving Uni' thing as well.. it all seems a bit final! I will definitely be keeping in touch with everyone whilst I'm away and meeting up with all you Uni peeps when I get back!

Just in case you wanted to know, this is my American Cell Phone number:


Once I have put credit on my phone (which I'll do ASAP) I will be able to use this phone to text and call the UK. It's probably cheaper for anyone with the inclination to text my UK number but just to make you aware I will probably text back using the US number... it's all a bit weird but trust me, it's the cheapest way!

Right, the next update will probably be from sunny Orlando so wish me luck! :D x

Monday, 14 June 2010

6 days!

Well.... packing up all my stuff from Uni was a tad tricky. Now, in first year when I moved out of my house and then had a week to pack for Florida it was a bit easier because I didn't have the sheer amount of crap I have now! It's at the point where, upon trying to unpack all my clothes which I'm not taking to America, I cannot literally fit them in the 2 chests of drawers and wardrobe I have in my Bristol bedroom! There has been much improvement today though, have managed to unpack all three (!) suitcases full of clothes and personal items (as opposed to desk stuff, DVDs, books etc) and I have half-filled my amazing zebra print suitcase which I'm taking to the US.

I have also come to the conclusion that I am going to purchase an extra bag to have on the way back. Knowing how much extra stuff I had last time, I would prefer to pay the £32 online rather than have to pay excess baggage at Downtown Disney (for the full account of this nightmare click here) but on the way out I am determined to only have one case and for it to be under the standard 23kg allowance!

I know I keep going on about it; but I just can't believe how fast the last six months have gone. To think that in a week's time I could be lying in the hot Floridian sun by the pool... or unpacking my cases... or in front of Cinderella's castle... or even at Walmart, is unbelievable. I think the main difference between last time and this time is the fact that I had nothing to distract me last time - just counting down the days whereas this time I have had the small issues of my Uni work and dissertation to keep my busy! And before I've had time to think, I'm in the last week of my countdown... I will endevour to post later in the week before we head to Gatwick! x

Thursday, 10 June 2010

10 days!

WOW... ten days to go! I can't believe it!!

It definitely seems that more people are going on the 20th June date this year compared to 2008... there have been so many Facebook groups set up trying to organise meeting everyone that it's just got really confusing. So I am arranging to meet up with a couple of specific people instead and I am sure we will run into everyone else in the departure lounge. I know from last time that you tend to lose everyone as soon as you leave Vista Way on the first night anyways... it's good that I will have both phones with me though.

It actually just seems unbelieveable that I will be at WDW in 2 weeks time, probably doing traditions. I'm in shock at how fast the last six months have gone and that I am actually packing up my bedroom here in Bournemouth in preparation to move home. My parents are coming to pick up my stuff on Saturday and then I am driving back on Sunday... so that's only 4 days until I leave the South coast... I have bought my insurance, paid my housing fee and so all I have to do is wait for the confirmation of my insurance then email Yummy Jobs and the paperwork is done!

My ultimate aim for the next few days is to be able to pack as lightly as possible now I'm only allowed one suitcase... I am doing pretty well so far! Only 5 pairs of shoes! Hehee!!