Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Another epically long blog post...

So Saturday was my last day of training and it was an 11 hour shift which encompassed my beer cart and stocker training. I was being joint trained with Sophie and we started off by opening beer cart which was fun... seen as I'd already helped out on beer cart there wasn't masses to learn really so it was a pretty chilled morning. During lunch I took the opportunity to go and visit the Canadians in their break trailer which they share with Soarin' so that was quite random... I said hi to Nick whilst I was in there and then we went back to the UK for the second part of the day which was stocker training. I was kinda dreading it but it wasn't too bad minus the changing of the nitrogen tanks which are extremily heavy and remembering how to move the kegs safely. Basically, if it was summer then being stocker would be the nightmare job because of the amount of sweating involved but seen as it's not too hot at the moment it means it's quite bearable. It was quite a busy day though and we were kept on our toes for the whole time. We closed the beer cart and then rushed across stage to try and get the 10.30pm bus. WELL, the queue was verrrrry long and we were at the back of it. Typically, when the bus turned up it took everyone up to us onto the bus and then the driver declared it was full. Sod's law. Soooo... we were going to wait for the 10.50pm bus when some of the servers came out of cast services and we all got a taxi - I think there was about 9 of us packed in there but hey, it was only $2 each and meant we got back to the Commons before 11. We rushed to get changed and then get the taxi to Cowboys at 11.30pm so it was all a bit manic really.

We eventually got to Cowboys (which is in a particularly sketchy part of downtown Orlando... basically, if you remember the part of the Top Gear special when they drove from Florida to Louisiana... it looked just like the part in Miami where they talk a lot about getting shot...) at about 12.15am, it was only $8 each round-trip taxi fare which wasn't bad and then $8 to get in... but free beer til 1am! Now, I pretty much hate beer but I did manage to drink two 'Bud Light Lime' drinks which are basically beer with lime added in to make it girly. It still tasted quite vile. However, the place itself was pretty cool - they played normal top 40/club music and then they'd randomly go into some country song and everyone just started line dancing on the dance floor! It was funny. Also, it was really chilled because loads of people just wore checked shirts and jeans so there were no pretentious girls (well, not many!) dancing around with barely anything on so I liked the atmosphere... it closed at 2am so we stayed until then and then piled back into the taxi to go home... until we decided to go to ihop instead :D I'd been looking forward to going since I arrived in Orlando so even though it was 3am by the time we got there it was YUMMY. Eventually I got home about 4am and crashed out.

Sunday was supposed to be a chippy registers shift. But somehow (for no good reason really) everyone got swapped around and I ended up doing seating and then greeter until my break and then chippy filler/closer after my break and I finished at 10. I only got out about 15 minutes late so that wasn't too bad and Nick picked me up. We went to get food at Steak 'n' Shake which really is rediculously cheap and awful for your body but weirdly tasty. We went back to his apartment and he revised for an exam whilst I watched BBC America - good times.

On Monday, Nick dropped me off at the Commons before he went to Uni. I bummed around for a bit before getting ready for work... now, when I left his apartment at 11am it was hot and sunny. When I went to the bus stop it was hot and sunny. When we drove to EPCOT on the C bus it was getting a little bit cloudy... the bus inexplicably stopped at Vista Way for a stupid amount of time and I was slightly panicking that I wasn't going to make it to work on time so when I got to Cast Servies, I walked as quickly as possible to the UK Pavilion and risked not getting my coat from my locker. MISTAKE. As I walked across stage it started to rain... and then pour. I got wet and cold. I was then assigned to tasking for the first 45 minutes of my shift so I kept Craig company on Beer Cart and directed guests to the podium which had moved inside because of the rain. Now, I'd never seen podium moved inside before so to begin with, I was quite intrigued... until I realised the stress it causes. It means there is the greeter (who has to work off the portable computer, like a giant iPad, not a proper computer), seaters, servers, guests checking in for their reservations AND the guests waiting to be seated all in an area which is only about 2 meters squared. It is very busy and stressful on everyone's part... so maybe that's why this day really didn't turn out too well at all. It was one of those days where everything went wrong... I was cold and wet from the rain and after tasking I was assigned the seater position even though there was already about 3 and we weren't taking walk-ins... so basically I tried my best but things weren't going well and I got shouted at a couple of times. It still very much feels like we're the 'newbies' and therefore are easy to blame for things which is quite frustrating at times. I admit that (for the first time EVER so it's not like I do it often!) I seated a group of guests at the wrong table and additionally I led a
group of guests to a table which still had people sat at it (not my fault!) so had to put them somewhere else and doing these two things obviously is frustrating and annoying to the assigner (the person that decides where all the guests sit and keeps an eye on which tables are free, clean, dirty or full as well as communicating the wait time for walk-ins) but at the same time - we all make mistakes every now and again plus it's not like I did these things on purpose!! So anyways, it was a tiring and stressful shift... I was closing greeter but I also ended up doing the magical moment. This was actually the only highlight of my day because we chose a child who was just like the little girl in the YouTube video with the backpack? If you haven't seen this then you HAVE to watch it (click HERE!!) So when I went over to her and told her that Mickey was stuck on the monorail and couldn't make it for the fireworks so she had to help me instead it was really cute as she jumped up and down going "REALLY!!! ME?!?!?! OH WOW, I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!"

To be honest, at the end of a bad day like the one I was having... it was that little girl that I really needed. She was the reason I decided to come back and be a cast member again because it's only at Disney World you can create magical moments like that one :) She honestly believed that she had started the fireworks with me and she kept hugging me and talking to me throughout the whole thing. Usually, we'd just back off after a couple of minutes and let the guests enjoy the show... but this little girl just kept talking to me and I couldn't walk away. Plus, by that point, I just wanted to be in the 'happy zone' not the stress zone and seen as the guest still wanted me there, I just stayed. It was great and the special holidays section at the end was incredible as fireworks go!

So, 10.30pm finally came around and greeter/Beer Cart were the last things to be checked (despite being the first ready...) so I finally clocked out and walked straight to cast services. It was one of those days when I was just glad to get out of there. Nick picked me up again (yay, no C bus) and we went to McDonalds drive through (I REALLY need to eat better) before slobbing out at his apartment again.

Luckily, the next two days were my 'weekend' as I was off. So Tuesday, Nick drove me to the Florida Mall so I could see about changing my phone to a contract. In the end, I kept the pre-pay thing as it was cheaper but the whole process took longer than I thought it would so Nick ended up having to leave in order to get to work on time. I took advantage of being at the Mall to get some more Christmas presents, go to the Disney Store and mainly window shop seen as I have NO MONEY. Then I had an adventure getting the Lynx bus back... actually it really wasn't too bad. It took just over an hour but it only cost $2 and it went direct to the Premium Outlets and then from there I just walked back to the Commons. It meant I didn't get home til about
6pm though... so I went to Steffies for a bit in the evening and started my menu learning (we have to learn the menu in preparation for the pre-service test even though I don't know when it is yet) before Nick dropped my stuff off at about 10.45pm. I then just came home and crashed out.

Today was my second day off and I was determined to do some park stuff! I got up and skyped with my brother David for a bit which was nice and then met Steffie.  We went to EPCOT as we hadn't done any of the rides in Future World yet... so we got a snack at The Land and then did the Nemo ride followed by Mission: Space (Orange, of course), Ellen's Energy Adventure and then single rider Test Track. We walked to Canada and watched the O'Canada film which made me do two things... 1) wish that every country in the world showcase had a film for guests to watch and 2) want to visit Canada. Then Steffie had to go back to Cast Services to get ready for work so I went to the UK and said hi to a couple of people plus bought a couple of things in the shops. Then I went to China to get some Orange Chicken for lunch (I have MISSED Orange Chicken! It was my food of choice in ICP 2008!) and walked through the world showcase to International Gateway. I got the boat to Hollywood Studios and watched Disney Channel Rocks on the stage (not as good as the HSM Pep Rally of course) and then went and drew Piglet at the Animation Studio place. I was waiting for it to get dark so that I could go and take pics of the Osborne Family Christmas Lights... so I went into One Man's Dream for a bit and then rode Star Tours (it's so weird that I didn't recognise any of the CMs in there) - I saw Vader, went to a planet with Chewbacca on it, saw Yoda and then flew through a bit battle scene with the death star involved I think - just for the record.

Finally it was dark so I went through the Christmas lights which was nice before calling it a day and getting the E bus back to the Commons. Now I'm writing this. Yet again, this blog post has ended up being ridiculously long, I apologise. But I can't promise it won't happen again! Back to work tomorrow for 5 days before my one day off next Tuesday... and I also get paid tomorrow! YAY! I have NO money right now!!

Friday, 25 November 2011

It's Friday, Friday, Friday, Black Friday....

Wow this week has gone so fast!! I can't believe it's Friday already. So I met Nick on Sunday night and we went and we ate at this ghetto Pizza Hut by Crossroads... the food was okay but the place itself was like the equivalent to a McDonalds - not like the Pizza Huts in the UK!! Still, it was pretty cheap and seen as I bought his food the other day, he paid so... free food for me :D Then we went back to his apartment and I watched the Food Channel and BBC America on his massive new TV whilst he did his Uni work. It was great to just chill out.

On Monday, I had work which was supposed to be my final day of Chippie training and it was supposed to be a closing register shift. But somehow everything got confused and so me and Dan ended up on Chippie Filler instead which is something we'd already been trained on. It was a bit annoying to have to pretend to be trained and they could have used the resources of having a trainer present better as well... but nevertheless, it was quite a fun day and the park was getting busier because of Thanksgiving this week so it was quite constant for the whole day. We had to close Chippie as well which thankfully didn't take as long this time as before so we got out at about 9.45pm which was only 15 minutes late rather than over an hour late even tho it was the same co-ordinator as before. I went home and got some sleep because it was much needed and I had to open Chippie the next day on my own...

I was really worried about it because I didn't want to forget to do something and then get shouted at later. So I clocked in at 10.45am which was the earliest that I could and took the radio and clipboard down to chippie. I put together both the soda machines and the beer draft taps and then the coffee machine had warmed up so I had to start that up too... it heats up and then you have to basically just run the taps through for 30 seconds each to make sure that its flushed through and there's no bacteria or cleaning products left on the taps. Soooo I kinda underestimated how quickly the boiling water would come pouring out of the taps and despite having two cups ready to have the water poured into, it wasn't enough... so hense I managed to pour boiling water all over my hands. I've never really scalded myself before but it bloody hurt!!! So I reverted into first aid mode and ran my hands under the cold tap for a few minutes before putting some ice into a cloth and holding that on them for about 20 minutes whilst trying to also do the rest of chippie opening... painful!! I had to do all the counts (counting the amount of beer cups we have amongst other things) and all the other little things. It was a relief any time I had to put my hands in the fridge because it was cold!

All too quickly it was 11.30am which is when we open.... and I was literally crazy busy until I went on my break at 2.30pm. There's a screen which shows the orders when the register person has taken them... this screen can show up to 8 orders at a time and I swear, there was no less than 6 orders at any one time in those three hours. And I was just doing one side of Chippie! There's two fillers as there are two registers... so basically at some points we had 16 orders on the screens. The problem is that because we fry the fish freshly, we tend to run out a lot and have to wait the four minutes for it to cook and be ready... and this causes a queue! Having said that, it's a good opportunity to chat to the guests and keeping so busy meant that the time went quickly. The stocker person doesn't come in until about 1pm so for the first 90 minutes we had to keep grabbing 24 packs of Dasani water and fill the fridges ourselves which takes us precious minutes when we have orders to fill, and then you'd also get guests 'informing' you that there were no napkins/forks/ketchup/etc left on the condiment carts which the fillers are also responsible for (as if there isn't enough to do!!)... so yes, it was crazy times until my break. The afternoon was a lot slower and Samantha & Sophie were register training so they kept me company as well as they had to take turns in training :)

So after that long day was done, I got changed and walked around the world showcase a little bit - took a wonder to Norway and had a 'school cake' from the bakery - it was NOM. Basically, it's a doughnut with custard in the middle and coconut topping. And it only cost like $2! Amazing! Then I got a couple of Christmas presents from Mousegear and made a move to get home before IllumiNations as this is when the bus starts to get really busy (most people finish work at 9pm). I invited everyone over to my apartment once they'd finished work and we had wine and pizza (standard). I also met my new roomates finally! They're both French, one is from Paris (she's called Adelie) and one is from a place called Annecy (where I've actually been on holiday! She's called Victoria...) and they're both in service in one of the restaurants in the French pavilion.

I started the day on Wednesday with a trip to Walmart with Clare and Dan. Then I got to work and had been put as Chippie Fill AGAIN. So I asked one of the coordinators if I could swap with Dan because he'd already had his solo chippy register shift and I hadn't (I feel the confusion is a continuation from the mess up with the training schedule) so we swapped and I did my solo register shift. It was good fun and I got to talk a lot with the guests. When we're on Chippie Registers, we are responsible for our own till from the moment it's given to us in the morning to when we cash out at the end of the shift and have to count all the receipts and money. I am proud to say I was bang on when I cashed out - not a cent up or down!! YEAHHH! I spent the evening with Steffie, Ty and Alison doing a bit of menu revision but it wasn't very productive because we were all exhausted.

Thursday - Thanksgiving!! I had the day off so I said I'd help Dan and Clare with preparation of our epic Thanksgiving dinner. We started off the day by going to Animal Kingdom though because we figured we wouldn't be eating until later in the evening anyway! So we got the bus just after 10am and after getting into the park we went straight to see Festival of the Lion King which was amazing as always and then walked over to Expedition Everest and did the single rider queue which only took about 15 minutes. Clare had never done it before so it was a lot of fun seeing her reaction! Then we got food at Restaurantosaurus and then rode Dinosaur which she'd also never done! After that we figured we needed to get back to start cooking... we got back about 3pm and Dan put the turkey into his oven in his ghetto apartment (because it's right at the end of the Commons in building 23). I went home to start making the apple crumble but ended up falling asleep on my bed for 30 minutes... oops! Eventually I got all the ingredients and made the crumble. I went over to Clare's which is where we were making the rest of the food at about 6pm complete with my apple crumble and Ambrosia custard which was super expensive at almost $5 a tin at Walmart!! It was in the ethnic aisle :P

Actually the cooking was quite successful and we had it all done by 9pm!! We had a lot of food! Here's the list: turkey, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, broccoli, carrots, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, yorkshire pudding (we made it!!), sausages wrapped in bacon, grilled pineapple, ice cream, aforementioned apple crumble and custard! It was goooood! We asked for $10 from each person to cover the costs and it all worked out really well - we also chose our secret santa as well which will be fun!! After a bit of tidying up and lying around feeling very full we decided to get ready to go to the Premium Outlets!

Yes - at midnight! The day after Thanksgiving here is known as 'Black Friday' (I don't know why) and basically all the shops have super big sales! So we walked over and it was packed! There were queues outside some shops like Guess and Swarovski... I got a few things in the ghetto Disney Store that is there (actually called Disney's Character Warehouse. It's a cross between a Disney Store and Cast Connection.) including Vinylmations for $2!!! I also got a couple of things in American Eagle but it was late, we'd had quite a lot of wine and we were so tired so we went home about 1.15am and I crashed out.

Today was my second day off and this is turning into a mammoth post, apologies!! I slept in (and yet am still tired) and popped over to Steffie's for a bit before picking up the stuff I'd left at Clare's last night. Then I went back to the Outlets on my own because pretty much everyone was working today and because it's EMH until 12.30am most people won't get back from work until 1/2am! Glad I'm off! Haha! I've already done my fair share of late night Disney shifts! So... I went back to American Eagle again and spent more money - I feel this is going to turn into a favourite shop which isn't good because it's expensive!! Then I walked back after browsing in a few other shops and dumped my shopping before getting on the H bus to Walmart because I needed to buy wrapping paper and Christmas cards. I think the deadline to get things home for Christmas is in the first week of December so I want to try and get everything posted so it's not late! Since coming back from Walmart I've just been doing laundry, catching up on Casualty (I'm only a week out!) and generally chilling out which is nice because I don't get much time to chill anymore!! I've got an 11 hour shift tomorrow training on Beer Cart and Stocking... then apparently we're going to a line-dancing club called Cowboys!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Chips as in chips or crisps or potato chips?!

Today was my first shift on Chippy Tills. It was weird getting used to using MATRA again (the Disney till system) seen as I last used it over 3 years ago when I was in Merchandise. It's almost the same except with the added complication of things like Disney Dining Plan as payment methods... on the up side, there's really only about 4 things we actually sell: Fish & Chips, side of Chips, Potato Chips and Shortbread. And of course, there's the normal soft drinks plus Hot Tea (as opposed to Iced Tea), Coffee and pints of Harp or Bass (much amusement regards my surname). So yeah, pretty much every guest orders "Fish and Chips and a Coke" so it's quite easy... it takes some getting used to handling the currency again though!! I'm sure in a week I'll be a pro! Also, surprisingly difficult to break the habit of using the words 'pound' and 'pence'... So it also quite hot outside doing Chippy Tills because you're kinda in the sun - I am SO glad I got a winter start date as it means by the time it gets properly hot again I should be in service rather than the fish & chip shop. But it was a pretty good shift.. we also learnt how to open the chippy although I don't think that'll be happening again any time soon seen as ALL my shifts next week end between 10pm and 11.30pm... and that's before being inevitably delayed for cleaning chippy!

So as you can see from my list above of our menu... we don't just have to deal with the whole concept of fries being called chips... but we also serve CRISPS which Americans know as potato chips! Confusing!!! Especially considering that if a guest is on the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan then they get a portion of fish & chips, a soft drink and then additionally they get either shortbread or potato chips. Just too many forms of potato going on!

Anyway... so training is going good. I feel like I need to start making more use of my downtime now that I'm all moved into the Commons. This program so far has been more chilled than my other ones - I don't know if that's something to do with it being a year so feeling like there's 'more time' to do things... but when I've socialised with my arrival group we've generally just decended on someone's apartment and drunk wine, eaten pizza and (in the case of last night, until 3am) watched Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and random YouTube clips. LOL. I don't really feel like I've totally clicked at work yet though... maybe it's something to do with the fact that there are SO many people in Food & Beverage... and we haven't even had a throw-in. Even the people that arrived in late September and October haven't had throw-ins either. Traditionally throw-ins are rather loud events that involve a lot of alcohol but apparently it's not always like that, and can actually be seen as a social opportunity to meet the other cast members you're going to be working with... the Canadians had theirs even before Traditions!! But it doesn't even seem like the UK one is on the horizon so maybe it won't happen :S That will be a bit of a pity... Now that I'm at Commons I hopefully will be able to socialise a bit more - there's talk of going to Cowboys on Saturday and HOB next Sunday. I can't go tonight because I'm meeting Nick to get pizza before he heads home tomorrow for Thanksgiving which is at the end of this week.

I can't believe it was a year ago I flew to Atlanta to experience Thanksgiving for the first time and we did that epic drive to Orlando... I hadn't even applied for the CRP then! Crazy times!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Moving Day!

2 1/2 weeks after I thought I'd be moving in... I'm finally living at The Commons!! I'm in Apartment #611... which is great because it's near the bus stop and the clubhouse. It's ironic to the max as well because it's the same block that Hayley was in when she did the CRP four years ago... just two floors directly down and I even chose the same bed as she was in (but obviously in a different apartment!). So that's pretty funny! Also, Kristina my Norweigian roomate has also moved into this apartment with me so we're still sharing a room. The best part is that we've moved into an empty apartment and we're gonna be getting two roomates who are apparently from France but they haven't moved in yet! So... other great things about the Commons vs. Vista Way include the fact we have our own washing machine and dryer so you don't have to pay for it everytime (our rent is slightly more expensive though) and each bedroom gets its own bathroom which is at least twice the size of the ones at Vista!

Moving wasn't fun though... it's shocking how much stuff you can accumulate in two weeks! I had my two suitcases plus three re-usable bags full of stuff, a bag of food, a bag with my comforter in it and my laptop backpack! Luckily, Kristina's friend's roomate had a car and she very kindly took us over to the Commons (it took two trips!). This saved us a bit of stress. At last... I finally feel like I've "moved in" to housing now! I've unpacked all my stuff, went to Walmart and bought some essentials (because obviously it was empty so there was literally nothing here) such as cleaning products, toilet paper and washing powder. Then came back and am just drying two loads of laundry so I can make my bed and wash my hair (my towels and sheets are drying!).

Sooooo.... other fun things I've done this week include doing my first chippy shift (yesterday). We were 'chippy filler' which is basically the person who fills the orders... makes the drinks, puts stuff on trays etc. It is a fast-paced job when it's busy and you have to multi-task whilst being really careful around the deep fat fryers and culinary staff who are right behind you! It was fun though, I enjoyed it and the shift went really fast. The only downside was having to clean the chippy at the end of the night... the co-ordinator who was in yesterday made us do all these really finickity (sp?) jobs which resulted in me having to put my fingers underneath the outside cupboard and pull out all the sauce sachets which had fallen under there. This was GROSS. There was a mayo sachet that had split (probably several days/weeks ago) and the off vinegar mixture got all over my hands... I nearly vommed. Lucky it wasn't ketchup though with my phobia! I somewhat think the phobia will be overcome at some point this year...! So, we were supposed to finish at 10.30pm but I didn't clock out until 11.40pm so I got back well past midnight and was totally exhausted. I'm glad I was off today as well because moving was tiring too! I have an opening chippy shift tomorrow and then I'll be learning to open and close chippy tills on two separate shifts after that.

On Wednesday it was very quiet in the park and we had people training on seating so there was about 6 seaters (including me!) so I took it upon myself to help at the Beer Cart. I have never poured a beer from a draft before in my life.. but I was a natural apparently ;) I kinda self-taught myself with some help from one of my trainers Samantha, and Daniel who was actually manning the Beer Cart and it was a lot of fun! My real training is a week tomorrow and I'm looking forward to it!

So yeah... I've had a busy week since my three days off, mostly at work! I've seen my arrival group a few times - we went to TGI Fridays on Thursday night and then to Jellyrolls which was a fantastic night full of 32oz cocktails (that's nearly a litre, people!) and note-passing to the table behind us who were trying to hit on Tyler and Dan. Much hilarity.

Yesterday, Steffie had to go and show her ID at the Caribbean Beach Resort in order to get her neighbours' the cast discount for when they checked in that afternoon... so we did that and then had a nosy around the resort. It's my aim to set foot on every Disney resort in this year... so that's another one done! It is MASSIVE. It seemed okay to stay in as long as you weren't a mile away from the food court and the pool... and a lot of the rooms were as far as I could see. They had about 5 bus stops! After that, I met up with Nick and we hung out at his apartment with his new massive TV and watched most of Pirates of the Caribbean 4 before we both had work at 5pm which was nice.

I've also updated the OH @ WDW page...!!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

I had one of best days EVER yesterday and so thought I'd share it on my blog... not really to make you all jealous (okay, maybe a little bit haha!!) but so I can remember it all too :D

Steffie had a friend from Canada who was visiting with her Mom so we went to Magic Kingdom bright and early at 10am with Tyler (and his friend from DCL called Nick who was going back to the ship in the afternoon) so that we could maingate them into the park. Magic Kingdom was amazingly quiet! We had some breakfast at the bakery on Main Street USA and I got a locker to put my 'cold' clothes in. Seen as it was boiling hot yesterday (well, it felt it... I think it was about 25 degrees) I made sure I brought a jumper and jeans for the evening. We met Ally and her Mom and headed to Adventureland. We did Jungle Cruise and then Pirates with about 5 minute waits for both. Then headed around to Fantasyland where we did Philarmagic and Dumbo. Dumbo was the longest queue we stood in all day and that was only about 20 minutes... and gave us a great view of the Fantasyland Expansion!! Then we went to Tomorrowland where Ally's mom kindly gave us snack credits from their Disney Dining Plan so we all had smoothies. Then we went on Space Mountain because it was only a 15 minute queue (madness) and then we did Monsters Inc Laugh Floor and the TTA (now known as the Peoplemover...).

At this point, Ally and her mom went back to their hotel for some food and to get changed whilst me, Steffie and Tyler (Nick had gone back to Cape Canaveral by now!) went to get dinner at the Plaza Restaurant which was at the top of Main St on the opposite side to the Crystal Palace. I'd never even noticed it before! I had a grilled chicken sandwich with ham & cheese, fries and salad which was gooooood. I also attempted a brownie sundae which was huge and I barely managed half but it was really tasty. We even got cast discount so it was only about $20 each! After eating, we went and got our wristbands for the Christmas Party and mooched around for a bit as we were waiting for Ally and her mom plus Tyler's friends who had his ticket.

After meeting up with them we walked up Main Street where it was snowing!! Headed to adventureland and met Aladdin... then queued up for about 30 minutes to meet Jack Sparrow (TOTALLY WORTH IT)... he was brilliant! You can only meet him at events like this, not on a daily basis so that was exciting. Then we walked around into Fantasyland after checking out the queue to meet the 7 dwarfs (about an hour!) and deciding it was too long. So we went and rode It's a Small World (it seemed appropriate)  before going back to the Castle Hub to get a spot for the projection show and Holiday Wishes.

The Magic, The Memories and You is the name of the projection show and it's really quite amazing. Somehow, using lasers and projections, they make the castle seem 'flat' and put loads of effects on it plus projecting photopass pictures from that day in the park which is really cute. The music is really nice as well. This was a Christmas version so at one point the whole castle turned into a candycane! Awesome! But I've discovered that the song 'I'll be home for Christmas' is an instant tear-jerker for me now... so less said about that the better...!

Holiday Wishes was a typically fantastic Disney fireworks show. It had perimeter fireworks which were great. I'll be honest though - straightforward, normal Wishes is still my favourite thing at Disney World hands down.

Then we walked nearer the castle and got a spot for the Christmas Castle Show which features the Fab 5 and about a million dancers... it's on the stage in front of the castle and it was really cute. Then we sat out for the longest and most elaborate parade I've ever seen at Disney! It had more characters than you could shake a stick at! Literally ... it was float after float after float for about 20-25 minutes! Incredible. Some of the floats even sent out smells!! So you suddenly smelt candy or gingerbread or pine trees! It also snowed some more whilst we were watching the entertainment by the castle!

Somehow, me and Steffie (we'd lost Tyler by this point) managed to follow the parade all the way down Main Street which was truly a magical moment. We were right behind the last float and it felt as if we were in the parade ourselves! It was snowing and the Christmas decorations were all around us and it was really honestly an amazing moment which made me so grateful to be here!

When we got to the bottom of Main St... we rushed into the Theatre which is where you can meet Mickey & Minnie or some of the princesses normally... I'm gonna just say this: I MET FLYNN RIDER. And yes, he smoldered at me. I was like a child with excitement! We actually met Sleeping Beauty (and her prince), Snow White (and her prince) and then Rapunzel and Flynn. Again, Flynn is a character you can only meet at events like this one so it was extra special. Once all this excitement was over, it was time to go home after over 13 hours in the Magic Kingdom....

Check out the pictures here!!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

"Have you ever been to England?"

Okay, so first off, I'm going to set up a new page/tab on this blog called OH @ WDW. Also known as Over Heard at Walt Disney World... and I'm going to list all the funny and random things I hear because I don't want to forget them and some are quite amusing. Such as the title of this post... okay, so it was an 8 year old child that asked me this question but it amused me...

So my second day of OJT went really well... I was 'greeter' which is the person on the front line for the restaurant basically. You're the person that greets the guests and checks them in for their meal reservations, gives them a pager and lists wait times. You're also the person that deals with checking in 'walk-ins' (i.e. people with no reservations) and has to communicate long wait times or even 'no walk-in' status to the guests so it can be a challenging role with a lot of guest interaction. I really enjoyed it. You have to think about 5 things at once but it's fun... I worked 11-7.30pm and it was really busy because it's just  coming to the end of Food & Wine here at EPCOT. Today is actually the last day so I'm avoiding the park like the plague! After I finished OJT on Thursday, I changed at Cast Services and met Ty and Steffie in the park... I got some nachos from Mexico (which I totally regretted... ughhh way too big as a portion and even though they tasted really good, the combination of starvation and walking half way across EPCOT whilst eating them gave me tummy ache) and we wondered around a bit but decided to leave before IllumiNations because the park was really busy. We headed back and I just chilled out at home.

On Friday, I got up and finally did laundry (it was well overdue!) whilst uploading the next lot of pictures onto Facebook which was a very time consuming task. After that, I went to EPCOT to return some tracksuit bottoms to Company D which I'd bought (and loved) because they were about a foot too long for me! Then I went into the park and met Nick once he'd finished work at Soarin' at 2pm and we went round the World Showcase with one of his friends called Jessica. We got lunch at Via Napoli which is the newer Italian restaurant in Italy and the pizza was SOOO GOOD. Only cost about $22 with a glass of wine and tip as well which wasn't bad for full service! Then we drove to Hollywood Studios and went to Star Tours, Tower of Terror and of course, Rock 'n' RollerCoaster. Mum is going to be super jealous that it's the third time I've ridden that ride in a week!! haha!! Sorry Mum! We left at park close (8pm) and Nick dropped me back at Vista Way.

Today I was planning on heading to Walmart at 11am but then Steffie text me and asked if I wanted to go to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party tomorrow night at the Magic Kingdom which requires me to go to Company D (once again!) to buy the tickets today... so I'm meeting her soon and we're heading over there. Then I'll come back, get the H bus and go to Walmart (ughhhh). There's some talk of going to 'Cowboys' tonight (it's a bar) but I'm not sure what's happening yet because it seems a lot of people are training until park close...

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Yet more training...

I've just had my first day in costume! But more on that later...

The rest of Sunday was spent park-hopping. I met Nick and we went over to Hollywood Studios mainly because I wanted to ride Star Tours with him as it's been massively revamped since I worked there last summer. Now it's all fancy 3D and stuff! Actually, it was totally awesome and I was flown by Tyler who was one of my managers last summer too and still works at the attraction so that was fun. We managed to do Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror and Rock 'n' RollerCoaster over the course of the hour after that... (it's not what you know, it's who you know!) and then we went to Magic Kingdom as Nick wanted to see the lighting ceremony for the Christmas lights on the castle. We grabbed pizza at Pinocchios and then watched the lighting ceremony, did Philarmagic and then watched Wishes. It wasn't very good because the wind was blowing towards us so therefore all the smoke blew towards the audience and the visibility was really bad. Then almost on cue, as soon as the last firework had gone off it decided to downpour! We navigated the crazy crowd out of MK and walked to the Contemporary to get the monorail round to the Grand Floridian as Nick wanted to pop in there. Whilst on the way I met a couple of kids on the monorail who wanted to show me their flashing buzz lightyear and tinkerbell drink toppers! So I showed them my glowing ice cube which happened to still be in my bag... I may have found some left over Disney Store stickers too ;)

After all that, we got the car and went to Celebration to meet one of his friends. We had a drink then he dropped me at Vista Way and I crashed out. On Monday was our "onboarding day" which was fun - another early start but we got taken around the UK pavilion and met one of our managers Whitney who was really nice. We got some fish and chips too which were realllllly good! So at least I can tell the guests how yummy they are! We got given our pre-service packs which is cool because it means we can start learning the menus straight away... we are due to do our pre-service test in 90 days I believe which is the beginning of February - scary stuff! So yes, lots of information thrown at us but all interesting stuff. After we finished, we met up with the Canadians and the 9 of us went over to Hollywood Studios. We did Tower of Terror as it was a walk-on and then 7 of us queued for Rock 'n' RollerCoaster for about 20 minutes which wasn't bad either. We went to see Fantasmic at 8pm and the weather conditions were perfect so that was brilliant as well and then we headed home  because the park was closing...

Now, Monday night is the traditional "going out" night for the UK Pavilion as they have something called Lads & Lasses. Basically all the boys meet up at one apartment and all the girls at another... then they meet people from the other pavilions. And get wasted, basically. So two of our boys from the arrival group went along to Lads.... fast forward to Tuesday and it's Discovery Day! So it's another 8am start - Tom was totally hungover and Paul was still drunk!! Much hilarity ensued for the rest of the day as Paul joked around... until he started to feel like death come lunchtime! Needless to say, both boys suffered for the whole day, much to the amusement of our trainer who was taking us around the park. As for Discovery Day itself - I won't say too much because again, it will spoil it for those who haven't done it, but there's loads of fun stuff and loads of walking around. No e-learning (yay) and my advice is wear flat shoes! We went into the Rose & Crown, Chippy and the merch shops learning all about the imagineering and things like that. Then we went to costuming to get our costumes - typical Disney sizing, I ended up with a shirt that's two sizes smaller than my skirt and the skirt itself is equivalent to a UK size 22!! Rediculous! So yeah, any girls out there reading this who will soon be at Disney Costuming - don't feel like you're fat because the sizing is TOTALLY OFF!

After Discovery Day was over, I went back to Vista and changed. Then I met up with Steffie, Ty, Clare and Paul (he's hardcore.. was still hungover!) and we went to Planet Hollywood for dinner. I had a yummy chicken caesar salad, fries and a blue coloured cocktail... also love the 20% cast member discount and priority seating... yeahhhhh! Then Steffie, Ty and myself got a guest bus over to the Boardwalk and went to Jellyrolls! It's a piano bar where there's two grand pianos that duel each other... the music is great - from Sweet Home Alabama to Lady Gaga to Queen to the Beatles to the Black Eyed Peas... just really fun. We left at 1.30am and got a ride home from one of Ty's friends which was nice of him.

And that brings me to today! Sorry for another epically long blog post it's just I want to explain everything and once I get into regular shifts and stuff there'll be less rambling!! Today was my first day in full costume... luckily I actually met my trainer on the bus (she was called Sam) and Sophie was training with me too. We were training as Rose & Crown (R&C) Seaters today. Basically this job means that you stand at podium (where the guests come to make reservations for the restaurant or see if we have any space as a walk-in) and wait for a little ticket to print out which lists the details for the next group of guests to be seated. You get the appropriate menus, ensure the table is equipped (i.e. it has high chairs or booster seats etc) and then activate the buzzer that the guest has got somewhere in the UK Pavilion... they come over and you take them to their seats before moving onto the next group. It's pretty easy. We also learnt how to bus tables and do some guest interaction by drawing a big hopscotch on the pavement! All in all, it was a fun day but a lot of information to take in! I felt I did a pretty good job - I didn't screw up any seating or offend anyone anyway! The hardest part about it was learning the table numbers off by heart straight away.

Tomorrow I have another OJT day (On The Job Training) and it's in Greeter which is the person who talks to the aforementioned guests about their reservations or sees if there are tables available. It's another 11-7.30pm shift so I think I need some sleep!! At some point I need to do laundry, a Walmart trip and find out about when I'm moving with housing... because obviously I'm still at Vista Way. But, tomorrow is "my Friday" and so I then have three days off! I also want to hit up the Food & Wine Festival before it finishes on Sunday, go to Animal Kingdom because I haven't been yet, go to Cast Connection, buy some stuff at Company D and go Christmas Shopping! So just a few things to do ;)

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Traditions and Training

Well, I've been busy! In fact, I've hardly stopped since Tuesday... but I last posted on Thursday so that's where I'll pick up from! We went to Ty's apartment and had fajitas which were yumyumyum... then met up with Gemma (a September CRP) and a few other people from the Canada pavilion and we all ended up going to Downtown Disney to have some drinks at the outside bar of House of Blues. That was nice because we just listened to the live music and had some of the strongest drinks we've ever had in our lives. Then a few people went on to go to the Santa Fe Steak House which is near to Vista Way (former site of Bennigan's for all you retro people out there!!) as there was a Canadian meet up going on... however others (including myself) were way too tired so went home. I washed my hair and crashed out.

Friday, several of us had the day off. Initially me and Steffie were going to head to Universal to get our annual passes sorted and we even made a shuttle reservation but when we got up the weather looked dodgy (even though it turned out to be an amazing sunny day! damn!) and we were still quite tired. So instead we met up with Tyler, Paul and Sophie and walked from the Commons to Panera Bread. Had some lunch, then Steffie tried to get an iPhone from the Verizon store up there but had loads of problems because they were being a pain so didn't end up getting anything. Then we decided to have a walk over to the Premium Outlets - soooo many things I wanted to buy!! I resisted but mainly because I know I'm moving apartment soon and I don't want even more stuff to move! After that, Ty and Sophie headed to Walgreens to get phone cards/top up and Paul went back to his apartment. So Steffie and I went back to hers and watched half of the new episode of Glee before we had internet issues... so I still have yet to see the last 20 minutes! After a while, Ty came over again and we had pasta and chicken aka student food. We had a good conversation about working at Disney, magical moments and guests - it's great to be able to chat to these guys because they've both done 2 programs for Disney before. Steffie did summer programs in 2008 and 2010 just like me (although we never met each other!) and Ty did the CRP and then joined the Disney Cruise Line for a year.

After a while the others all had eaten too and wanted to do something, so still without IDs we decided to get the E bus to Hollywood Studios and then walk to the Boardwalk. We got ice cream at the Beaches and Cream cafe (famously known for the kitchen sink!) and then took our spots on one of the bridges by the Beach Club Resort to spy on Illuminations which happened on the other side of the trees at 10pm. As there was a cast preview of the Christmas decorations at Studios that night we decided to not get the bus back as it would be packed, and opted for taxis instead which only cost us $5 each. I got it back to the Commons (fail) as I then had to get a bus to Vista Way... I got on the wrong bus and ended up having to do the whole loop to Downtown Disney on the F bus before finalllly getting back to Vista at 11.30pm. Oops.

Saturday was traditions! Yay! Finally... after the 7.30am start we got to watch those cheesy videos, see some guest service in action by taking a little field trip and even met a VIP! I'm being particularly vague as I don't want those who have yet to do Traditions to have it ruined if they don't already know what happens!! Ultimately, apart from a Union talk and an Integrity talk (which were both rather dull) it was a fun day of learning. Then we finally had our IDs! Which also stands for... incredible discounts :P Including free park access so obviously we made use of that straight away ;) We got changed and Steffie, Ty and myself headed to the Magic Kingdom.

We got in there and Mickey was in his new home at the formally known City Hall but is now the Main St Theatre. It was only 5 minutes wait to meet the Boss so we went for it and we said hiiii! :)

Then we went to Peco Bill's and got food for Steffie before heading over to the Columbia Harbour House for food for me and Ty (I had shrimp... nom!). Then we took our places for the lighting ceremony and we got to see the Christmas Castle! It's so breathtaking. Even though I saw it a year ago, it's still amazing! Magic Kingdom was heaving though because it was EMH until 3am... so we quit MK and went on the monorail over to EPCOT. It was quite busy there too because of the Food & Wine Festival which is still on.. so we wondered around the world showcase and I tried some Baklava from the Morocco stand which was ah-may-zin whilst Steffie had some cheese soup from Canada and then cheese fondue from the... well, cheese stand (bit obsessed with cheese yesterday). We lost Ty when he went off to say hi to someone (a regular occurence!) and so it ended up as just the two of us. We stayed for Illuminations at 10pm even though it was bloody freezing cold (I need to invest in some warmer clothing!) and then got the monorail back to the TTC and the A bus back home. Exhausting but fun day.

So that brings us to today - Sunday. I had to be up early again as training at Disney University (DU) started at 8am. We had a food and beverage class which taught us all about the different types of food outlet at Disney World as well as the basics of hygiene and safety. Then we went and got some shoes (not any where near as horrendus as I thought they'd be, and they were free!) as Disney only let you have pre-approved ones for F&B now. Then I did some very quick e-learning (as I'd done most of it last year!) before I was free for the day. I am just hanging at my apartment now, uploading pics to Facebook and doing this blog before meeting Nick and heading to the Studios. Having said that, as I typed, it has started pouring with rain.....!

Well done for reaching the end of this looonnng post!! Check out my photos on FB. The link is on the links page.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

How not to get terminated..

Ahh yes. The housing talks. JOY. Okay, having to sit through them all again is a small price to pay for being a Disney Alumni because obviously it's only two mornings of your life but it is rather dull stuff about not drinking underage, how not to get terminated, not to lose your passport etc etc. Sooo I had these housing talks yesterday and today... got my temporary housing ID for Vista Way yesterday as well with a super cheesy picture of me on it. I also signed my life away with all the paperwork you have to do for Disney... it's crazy the amount of stuff you have to sign!

Other than that... yesterday I had the talks from 10am until about 2pm. We then went to Starbucks (had to cross the road of death aka the 535 outside Vista Way) and chilled out there for a bit. I went to Walgreens and got a multipack of water because it's sooooo much cheaper than buying it when I'm out or in the parks. Struggled home with that (it was 24 x 500ml bottles!!) and then chilled out for a bit before heading over to the computer lab to see if I could access the Hub. I managed to set up a password but it still won't let me on which I think is because we haven't done Traditions yet so I'll have to just be patient. Then I got the bus over to Tyler's apartment where we were having a bit of a 'pot luck'. This is an American thing (well, this side of the pond anyway) and everybody brings a dish but it's random and you don't generally say what you're bringing. Then everyone shares... so I bought crisps and cookies... we also had pizza, pasta, chicken nuggets, carrot sticks and microwavable cheeseburgers (ughhh). And wine and beer. Win.

So after we'd eaten and had a few drinks we got the A bus to the TTC and then walked to the Polynesian Resort. We went to the bar by Ohanas for a cocktail which was an extortionate $13 but it did taste amazing and included a glowing cube which I kept! :D Then we went down to the Polynesian's man-made beach and got ourselves some sun loungers to watch Wishes from as it overlooks the Seven Seas Lagoon/Magic Kingdom. It was pretty cool. I want to go back again now that I'm getting to grips with my new camera and try and get some more firework pictures from that distance... but now that I have a year to do these things it's allllll good!! :D

Sooo... we headed home after that as we were all pretty tired and Ty & Steffie had their Canadian throw-in. Today we had more talks (Immigration Compliance - FUN TIMES!) and then we all walked to the Outlets and had McDonalds for lunch. Then we walked to Publix (about 5 minutes away from McDs) and got some ingredients for fajitas later on... I came back to Vista and I think the others all headed back to their apartments for some rest, relaxation and to unpack. Things like that anyway. I have to head back over to the Commons to pick up my passport at 4pm and then it's over to Tyler's again for the aforementioned fajitas!

I have now put about 200 pictures up on Facebook so go check them out! I will make them public albums so anyone can see them.

*edit* Here's the link to the photo album: click here but you can find the links for my albums on the Links Page above.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

This is what happens when you tempt fate...

You get put in Vista Way for the third time!! HAHAHA. Okay, sooo let's start from Sunday - after a lazy morning, Nick and I headed out to the Florida Mall to sort out my phone. We went to Olive Garden for some lunch and I had salad and breadsticks (of course) and a chicken flatbread thing which was really good. And raspberry lemonade because it rocks. Then we went to the Mall and I ended up at the T-Mobile shop...even though I was all set on going with SIMple Mobile. This was because there was an actual shop for T-Mobile and I could talk to the advisor and make sure I was getting the best deal so I felt a bit more confident in it.

The guy who helped me was very helpful if a little bit creepy. Eventually I settled for a $50/month pre-paid plan for my blackberry which gave me unlimited minutes, texts and data. But no blackberry internet service (i.e. BBM, Facebook and Twitter apps, push email etc). And another $10/month for unlimited international landline calling because I figured I paid way more than that last summer to call home. So... about $60 later I had a phone number (FYI, it's 407-334-5298) and also the guy told me to come back towards the end of November when I have a Disney ID and address because he could set me up with a year contract (especially for people working on a visa apparently) and even with 15% disney discount... now, this sounds too good to be true but we shall see!! Sooo... we got back to Nick's apartment and I kinda realised that the blackberry was a bit useless without the Blackberry Internet Service so I went onto the T-Mobile website to see if I could add it on for this month (it's pre-paid so I've already paid for this month's service if you see what I mean)... however, the only result of registering with their website was that it suddenly enabled a 'child lock' on my phone which meant I couldn't even access Facebook through the browser! So annoying!! Especially as to turn it off, the website required a verification of my address - which I'd never given! So it couldn't verify it! Long story short, I ended up (eventually after an endless set of menus) talking to a mexican call centre who sent me to the nearest T-Mobile store to 'unlock' my phone. All of this was done whilst exhausted and still jet lagged. YAY.

So I didn't do much for the rest of Sunday - Nick and I met up with one of his friends from Soarin' and we went to the cinema at Downtown Disney. We saw 'Three Muskateers' which was good but I was so tired I didn't really take any of it in! We got home and crashed out at about 2am.

Monday... Nick had college from 11.30am-5.30pm so I pretty much just spent the whole day in his apartment vegging out on his sofa watching a mixture of the Weather Channel, the Food Network and the Michael Jackson trial live on TV. It was a good lazy day. He got back and I got ready to go to Downtown Disney dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz! I got to downtown about 8pm and met Steffie and Tyler (Canadians!) and Sophie (another UK'er) who all start on the 1st November as well. We got food at Paradiso 37 (I think that's the name) which was good... wondered around Downtown Disney for a bit and then went back to the All Star Sports and hung out by the pool having a drink. It was really nice. Nick picked me up about 1am and we went home to sleep again.

So that brings me to today!! It is November 1st, the start date! I was quite apprehenseive of today just because I don't like the whole having to meet new people, new apartment, lifting luggage around, heaving shopping home from Walmart thing which comes with the first day of a College Program! But actually it worked out fine. Nick took me to Vista Way for check-in just before 12 (I don't know what I'd do without him, he's been a star!) and we stopped by at Chick-fil-A on the way (woooooo, waffle fries!!). I actually arrived right at the same time as Steffie, Ty, Sophie, Dan and Paul so we went in and had a quick presentation. Got given our schedule for the next few days and our apartment keys...

Soooo... I was joking around about being at Vista. Then karma came and bit me on the arse as I got given Vista Way!!! I couldn't believe it! I'm the only one from the people I know who started today to end up here. I'm back in a 3-bed apartment just like 2008 and 2010 but this time in building 10. Good thing is, it's right by the bus stops and as of now (11.30pm) there's nobody else moved into my room so looks like I get my own room tonight. I've met a couple of my new roomates and they seem nice (there's 2 americans and 2 puerto-ricans here) but it's a bit strange because I know I'm only going to be here for two weeks maximum before they move me into the Commons or Patterson Court. So it's a little bit weird to make friends with people before you just say adios in a couple of weeks! Nevertheless... at about 2pm we headed to Walmart for the epic shopping trip. It cost me $140 which wasn't too bad. Seen as I'll be moving apartment soon, I tried not to buy too much because I'll just end up moving it all. We had a lovely taxi driver on the way back and then I borrowed a trolley from Vista security to shift my shopping from the car to the apartment so it was actually quite non-stressful. The fact it's not 35 degrees also REALLY HELPS!

So the 8 of us (Steffie, Ty, Sophie, Samantha, Clare, Paul, Dan and Me) went to Crossroads this evening to get food. We went to TGI Fridays which was okay. Seen as I'm the only one at Vista, I got off the bus before them so that I could wash my hair before Nick came by to drop off my other suitcase.. I don't know if they're all hanging out tonight or whether they went back to their own apartments. I'm soooo tired... this jet lag seems the worst it's been coming TO America but I think it's because I haven't slept well and I've been going to bed late every night. Start as I mean to go on, eh? :P

So tomorrow I have housing talks and also on Thursday morning. I have Thursday afternoon off and then the whole of Friday off too... there's talk of going to Universal that day seen as we won't have our Disney IDs to get into the Disney Parks yet. Then Saturday is Traditions YAY! After that I'm not sure but I'm sure we'll get our training schedules on Saturday. I will try and upload some pictures to Facebook soon but my camera cable is buried in my luggage at the moment and all I want to do is sleep! So you'll have to wait!!