Friday, 1 July 2011

When it rains, it pours

I have spent most of this week drenched!! Its normal in Florida to get a Thunderstorm downpour at some point in the afternoon, but the last few days (more importantly on my two days off) its started raining and just not stopped all afternoon which has slightly ruined my plans for exploring the parks!! But before we get on to that I had a second day of training and an assessment day...

Monday 27/6
Today I didn't start work until 4pm so after having a nice lazy morning I went to a cast member only store for a search around for bargains (its a store with lines that are discontinued or out of season).  I found the coat I really wanted and for only $20, so pleased as I was fully expecting to pay the full price of over $50 for it.  Could definitely go mad and spend all of my wages in there as there's so many bargains to be had.

Training went so quickly today, and I got to work during Wishes which was truly surreal, just loading guests onto the ride with the music playing and the most amazing fireworks going on around us.  The training started with lots of reading about procedures for Alladin and also The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse (the other attraction I work on).  I then practised all of the roles on Aladdin again and practised the one position at the treehouse, which is Greeter. Greeter at the Treehouse can be really boring but if you chat to the guests as they pass by it goes really quickly and you can have some really interesting conversations, so I will just have to be proactive to stop myself getting bored.  The night was finished off by doing the closing routine for Aladdin which was nice and straight forward; then on a bus home so I could get some sleep as I had to be back at work by 10am the next day!?!

Tuesday 28/6
Today was assessment day!!  I was ridiculously tired this morning; I really hope I don't get too many shift patterns like this.  

The assessment started with a multiple choice exam to make sure I understood all the safety procedures, and the rest of the day involved me working on all the positions with my assessor keeping an eye on things to make sure I don't miss anything or make any mistakes.  The assessor also asked lots of questions to make sure I knew what I was doing for opening and closing the ride and any other situations which didn't happen during the day.  The day was no where near as stressful as I had been expecting, in fact it was probably the most fun of all my days at work so far; and at the end I got to remove the 'earning my ears' tab from my nametag.

Wednesday 29/6
It's my Mum's Birthday, Happy Birthday Mum!!!!!!!

I had today off so had hoped to go to Magic Kingdom but the rain and thunder (so lightening too) meant there wasn't much point, I would only have got soaked and most of the rides would have been shut.  So today was a less than thrilling day of admin; so a trip to Walmart, cleaning the apartment (for a housing inspection the next day), and washing.  

In the evening headed to Downtown Disney.  We went to Rainforest Cafe, I was so disappointed with the place; the food wa good but not amazing (and really overpriced) and the service was massively poor; so I won't be bothering with that place again.  On a better note I got to look around 'The Art of Disney' which I'd really been looking forward to, spotted some lovely things which I hope to get before I leave, just have to decide what to get and what not to get (there's just too much choice).

Thursday 30/6
My first pay day, hurrah!! I went to Animal Kingdom today, set off early so got a few things done before the usual rain and thunderstorms.  We just had a general wander around, met a few characters and watched the Lion King show.  I bought lunch with my hard earned money, and we then heading to Expedition Everast .  It was raining a little bit, but not enough for me to buy a poncho; boy was that a mistake!  By the time we got onto the ride it was raining really heavily and I'd completely forgotten that most of the ride is outside (and high speed) so I got drenched, literally looked like I'd been swimming with my clothes on.  So, due to all of us been soaked through, we called it a day after that and headed home for hot showers to warm up.

I spent the evening by the pool (the lightening had stopped); it was great to just relax and cool off by the pool and the fact that it was warm enough to be in an outside pool up until 1am made it all the better.

So tomorrow is my first day, well actually night, of work; no trainer to step in if I make a mistake!  I'm nervous but looking forward to it, its a long shift though I start at 4pm and don't finish until 2.45 in the morning!  Its a good job I'm a night person or the shifts Disney have given me would be devastating :P 

J x

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The First Week

So life is very hectic here!! Here's what I've done in the last week...

Monday 20/6
Today all that needed to be done was some form filling and a rather epic housing talk.  Made it very clear what we couldn't do and had an immigration man there telling us if we got deported we wouldn't be allowed back into the USA so we had to behave.

In the evening took my first trip to Downtown Disney, had dinner at the House of Blues.  The portion sizes were huge but oh so tasty; the sweet potato fries are probably my new favourite food.

Tuesday 21/6
Today was the day of the giant Walmart shop.  Bought a pin board for all the pictures I brought from home so my room now looks a little more homely.  Didn't buy a great deal of food as planning to eat out quite a bit in the first few weeks to get to know everyone.

Had lots more form filling in to do today and was given my training schedule for the next few days, I had the afternoon Traditions then started training in Magic Kingdom the day after at 0730, so only one evening to go into Magic Kingdom as a guest! But on the bright side more pay in my first pay cheque.

In the evening went to the Disney Boardwalk, which I've never been to before, its a lovely area and you can see the Epcot fireworks (for free).

Wednesday 22/6

Today was the day of Traditions, the general Disney training which welcomes you to the company, the course was located in the Disney University which is around the back of Magic Kingdom.  I found the course fascinating as it was all about the Disney history and traditions (which you might have guessed from the name), some people found the afternoon a little boring as it did involve lots of talking and powerpoint presentations but think that all depends on how super Disney you where.

At the end of Traditions we were given our official name badges and got our ID which allowed us into the four main parks.  To maximise time in the parks, myself and Heather got changed at the Disney University and headed straight to a bus stop which would take us around to the Main Entrance of Magic Kingdom.  It was amazing to finally be in Magic Kingdom after all the waiting and we made the most of our evening going on as many rides as possible, we managed to get on my favourite, Splash Mountain, literally as the park was closing.  We also watched Wishes, the firework show, and the Electric Light Parade.  I can't believe how much we managed to cram into one evening it did mean we didn't leave the park until after midnight and I didn't get home until 0130 (leaving me with three hours sleep before I had to get up for training).

Thursday 23/6
I ran on adrenaline for the entire day today, also Business attire in Florida for a nine hour shift just even much fun.  The day started with a tour of Magic Kingdom which was amazing got told so much information about the parks about all the extra details in the park.  We also got to stand on Mainstreet just as the park opened.

5 Minutes Before the Park Opened 

1 Minute after the park opened

After the general tour finished we were handed over to our area specific trainers and told our locations.... I have been placed on Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride; this was the location was dreading been placed on so I was pretty upset to begin with.  The ride consists of 16 carpets which go around in the circle and guests can control the height and tilt of the carpet.  After chatting to people though, I've ended up genuinely pleased with my location, the cast members working with me are all very friendly, the costume is so comfortable, its a popular ride with younger guests and there's plenty of people who will take shifts off you if you want to give them away.  Also, I will get to help with the reopening of The Tikki Rooms which have been refurbished and are due to reopen soon!!

The afternoon consisted off a tour of Adventure Land and Liberty Square, where we got to go on all the rides; Haunted Mansion, The Hall of Presidents, Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise (we didn't go on Alladin as its fairly straight forward what happens with that ride).  It was brilliant to be paid to go around the parks; and because we ran ahead of schedule we got to go on Splash Moutain just before we finished for the day.

We also went to collect our costume, mine is a rather lovely set of pyjamas (I would sleep in them they are that comfortable!

Friday 24/6
Today was another 0730 start, this day was no where near as much fun, all we had to do was elearning courses and got a tour of backstage to show us were the break rooms and thing were. We did get to watch the 3 O'Clock parade which I haven't seen yet, its amazing!!  Looking forward to coming back to the park as a guest to watch it (so I can take pictures).

In the evening we all went to an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet which cost $5.31 was amazing so tasty and so cheap! The only downside was the huge storm that lasted all evening which mean that everyone got soaked!!

Saturday 25/6
My first day off!! I had a lovely lay in after the ridiculously early starts then headed to Hollywood Studios in the afternoon (after a search around on facebook for people to go with).  We went on the Tower of Terror, Backlot Tour, Star Tours (which has been updated and is awesome cannot wait to take Kieran on it as he is going to love it), The Great Movie Ride and Rockin' Rollercoaster.  We also watched the Beauty and the Beast stage show, still one of my favourites and it also sheltered us from the downpour of rain.  As we all had early starts we left just after eight, so before Fantasmic started, seemed really strange leaving before one of my favourite things, still not used to the fact I'm here for so long that I don't need to cram an entire park into one day.

Sunday 26/6
This was my first day of on the job training, which was a lot more fun than I expected.  I got to operate the ride almost straight away, which was quite scary but there were no guests around for my first attempt (which went smoothly).  I went into loading and unloading guests almost immediately with my trainer keeping a careful eye on what I was doing.

There are four positions on the ride; Greeter, Grouper, Long Walk and Short Walk.  The greeter greets the guests, grouper assigns guests to a carpet, and the Long and Short Walkers operate the ride and load the guests.   Everyone I met working on the ride was lovely and welcoming and really encouraging.

In the evening I headed back to Hollywood Studios to watch Fantasmic with Ashleigh and Heather; Fantasmic is a big show which uses projections sprayed on to water.  We went on Star Tours, Muppets 3d, Tower of Terror and Rockin' Rollercoaster; Ashleigh was terrified of Tower of Terror but she enjoyed it in the end (or enjoyed getting off the ride at the end at least).  We stayed for the second showing of Fantasmic as that meant we could get better seats without having to sit around for hours, we killed some of the time by wandering around the shops spotting the various things we were hoping to buy once our wages came through (the main thing I have my sights set on is a rather beautiful but expensive Disney Bag).

Fantasmic was so worth the wait, was amazing to watch and definitely worth the extra wait to get good seats!!

Thanks for reading to the end (sorry for any typos its getting late), I will try and update a bit more regularly now I'm settling into a routine.

J xx

Monday, 20 June 2011


So I'm here, actually here in the land of the mouse!! Everything is a little hectic and surreal at the moment.

Yesterday, I was up for over 24 hours, luckily had no flight delays or problems with immigration.  When I arrived I found out that I would be sharing with the lovely Ashleigh Jefferson in Chatham Square; we've been put in a flat with two other Americans who have been here since January.  Its a shame we're not in a flat of people on the same program as us but they are been nice and polite (already have a group of friends) so think they will ok to live with if not life long friends.

Did a trip to Walmart last night which was not the best idea, was very tired and irritable but the essentials were bought and the big shop is planned for tomorrow morning.  I also unpacked before sleeping as I can't settle until I'm properly settled in a place.

Today was just form filling and housing presentations, it would seem that the people who run the program think we are all absolute idiots as they took us step by step through the most simple forms and went over all the rules and regs repeatadly.  The bright side of today is I know have my housing ID, and we were allowed to smile on the photo!

I'm going to attempt to set my American phone up now and will be off to Downtown Disney tonight!!

J xx

Saturday, 18 June 2011

One Sleep

Its finally here!!!!  I leave for Disney tomorrow!  My bag is packed (and somehow within the weight limit), I didn't think I'd been too ruthless when packing but talking to other people I am definately packing light.  All my documents are together in a folder (with copies).  I was hoping to check in online tonight but American Airlines won't let me so looks like an old fasioned check in the morning.

I'm in Sheffield with my parents for my last night and will be setting off to the airport in the early hours of Sunday morning which means I don't think I will actually get that much sleep tonight.  Tinkerbell has settled in well in her home for the summer and my Mum and Dad are already spoiling her rotten (I'm going to come home to a very fat cat).

Last night was my graduation ball which was good fun even if I was sober for the night (early train to catch this morning); was great to see friends before I go.  Hadn't realised how much I had spammed everyones facebook feed with my countdown to Disney, but you all seemed excited for me so hope I'm forgiven.

So there's not much else to say, the next post will be from America and I will have lots to talk about then!  Off for hot chocolate and another Disney movie...

J xxx

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Two Weeks!!

Heya All

Well fourteen sleeps to go, I've spent today thinking this time in two weeks I'll be at the airport, on the flight, or arriving in Orlando.  I'm so excited I can barely sleep and its still two weeks away dread to think what I'll be like next week.

I've started packing, I'm quite pleased with how ruthless I've been packing so hopefully I will be under the weight limit; will have to wait until I get to my parents to find out.  My baby laptop fixed by my awesome friend Matt Lokes; so I can stay connected with the world in Florida.  My hair has been cut so its nice and tidy again (started to look a little feral during exams).  I'm now running out of things to sort out ready for Disney, so its a good job I'm going to my parents or I would go mad waiting for June 19th.

I've also had the good news that Kieran will hopefully be able to visit me at my parents for two days, so excited didn't think I would see him for months so keeping my fingers crossed that he does get the time off.

Jen x

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Visa appointment

So it was the dreaded visa appointment today!  I was up at 5.45 to make sure I was at the station in time to get the car parked and pay for parking, then get my tickets.  I was so tired I fell asleep on the train (cuddling my folder of visa docs to make sure they didn't disappear) was slightly embarrassed when I woke up but noticed that every business man on the train was taking a sneaky snooze so clearly its the thing to do on early morning trains to London.

My appointment wasn't until 10.30 but stupidly I believed the estimate online for getting on the underground from Waterloo to Bond Street and then the walking time on google maps from the underground to the embassy would be an underestimate so I'd allowed just over an hour.  It took half an hour, the 20 minute walk only took 5 minutes!!!  Also really didn't need the map I'd printed off to get from the underground to the embassy, paranoia clearly took over with my planning as its unbelievably easy to find especially with the massive queue outside.

Anyway, because of my complete miscalculation on how long it would take I was an hour early for the appointment, I decided to join the queue anyway and hope they'd let me in anyway (they did).  Took half an hour to get into the embassy because of the security checks (like airport security); and then the waiting began. 

I was given a ticket number and told to wait for my number to be called, as a few people have already said its just like Argos.  After 15 minutes I was called to the window, I was very pleased with this thinking that I was going to be out in under half an hour, turns out thats the first window and the real wait is for the second window...

After my documents were checked at the first window, I was told to wait for my number to be called again; I spotted another ICPer (the Disney folder was the big clue) so we had a good chat about Disney excitement and randomly Love Never Dies, which she'd been to see last night and has been changed loads since I saw it last year.  It was great to meet someone going and on my flight as well (I've forgotten her name because I suck), and it meant the next wait went really quickly. 

The second window was the one I was nervous about as this was the interview part, so I walk up all nervous and the woman sees were I'm going to work gets excited asking what I'll be doing out there and saying she wishes she could do that too, no scary questions, no requests for proof or return, so all my worrying and preparing of proof for nothing!

In the end I was out before 12! I was so pleased I'd genuinely expected a five hour wait from what most people have been through, especially with the amount of people waiting; I was just really lucky.  I made my way back to Waterloo got my money changed (Waterloo station currently has the best exchange rate in the country so thought I'd kill two birds with one stone) and was on the train home at 13.10.  The train journey home was dull until a sensible looking business man spotted my Disney hoody, got excited, and wanted me to tell him all about the program as he's taking his family to Disney World again this August and his daughter is obsessed with Disney and tells everyone she wants to work there; was great to chat to yet another stranger about Disney even if I was a little concerned when I spotted him looking at me with a grin (reading the hoody as it turns out).

Sorry for the ramble but today has been eventful and I'm just too excited to be that coherent! 

J x

Monday, 23 May 2011

2 exams to freedom!

Afternoon All

I'm sat in my pjs, with daytime tv on, a strong coffee and a mountain of paper; must mean its revision time!  As usual Tinks (my cat) is trying to help me by repeatedly stealing my pens and flicking them under the sofa, I swear she wants me to fail my degree so she can have me home all the time.

I only have two exams this semester, which is so much better than normal.  All my coursework has been handed in and I've done my viva for my dissertation.  Can't quite believe I will be finished with university in just over a week, the past three years have felt never ending and it just won't sink in that I will finally be done with Southampton University; its no big secret that I haven't enjoyed university and have been looking forward to finishing from about the end of freshers week.

So back to all things Disney, I have a mountain of things to sort after the end of exams, trying to make a list so I don't forget anything.  I've started making a list of what to pack (and might start the packing to procrastinate during revision), I have lots of silly things to buy like a padlock for the locker and suncream.  I've booked my train tickets for my visa appointment, don't think I will fully relax until I get the visa back; I don't have any time for problems with it; also need to get some new passport photos for the visa.  I haven't bought my dollars yet either, monitoring the exchange rate and hoping it picks up a little before I need to buy it.  Also going to try and suspend my phone contract; people have managed it but Vodafone are very awkward about it!

While sorting all things Disney out I'm going to go home and visit my parents for a week, its been far too long since I've spent more than a few days with them and not had university work to do, so really looking forward to spending some time with them and also spending some time with my gorgeous niece; hopefully I'm going to go with her and Juliette to her music playgroup afternoon.

Well I don't think there's much else to say, revision has taken over so theres not much excitement at the moment.  One last thing, I need to say a big sorry to my Dad, as some of you may have already realised I fly on the 19th June which is also Father's Day; so my poor Dad, on Father's Day, is having to get up far too early to drive me to Manchester; whoops sorry Dad!!!

Expect a super excited post next Tuesday night when my exams are over and the serious Disney preparation begins!!


J x