Friday, February 29, 2008

Major Update

So yes, I am very well aware that I'm no good at keeping you guys up to date on my life down here. That is because I have been ridiculously busy. So let me try and get you caught up.

When last we met, I was working at the Seas with Nemo and Friends and Turtle Talk with Crush. I very quickly became the best host that Turtle Talk has ever had, and that's because I worked my butt off in the shows. I also became very good friends with the Turtles and it was important for me to help them have a good show. The ride on the other hand drove me nuts, I have never liked those clamoblies. During the week between Christmas and New Years it was the busiest week of the year and the managers were screaming at us to run as many people through the ride as possible and I got fed up real fast. Let me also say that at that point I had worked about 12 days in a row, most of them having 10-15 hours in a day, just a few more hours than normal. So I was in no mood to get yelled at. That was pretty much my breaking point and I knew I needed out. I also made trainer at the Seas. However, I never got to train anyone. I assessed two people and made sure they checked out and could run the ride. But my first trainees were supposed to start this week and I never got that far.

This is Eddie Wilder, I call him papa turtle. He is the person I go to when I'm having a rough day or I need a pep talk on life. He's truly one of a kind. For his birthday Karly and I surprised him by decorating the green room for him.

One of my favorite memories was Epcot's 25th Anniversary. It was a truly remarkable experience. The celebration was fueled by fans who understood the importance of Epcot in Disney history. It was after all Walt's most important project, everything he did was to make money for Epcot. What you see today isn't exactly what he had in mind, but it has the same ideas behind it. As you can see, I did work that day, but it did not feel like work. It was fun all day long. There was an amazing sense of camaraderie between cast and guests. I can't even explain to you the feelings that I got that day, it will never happen again and I'm so glad I was there to experience it. As a cast member who worked that day I got a free commemorative pin and T-shirt as well as free food and Cirque du Soleil entertainment. After my shift ended I played in the park with Karly and Chad and we had so much fun. We stayed for the fireworks which had a special 4 minute tag on the end only for the 25th celebration. It poured all evening long and the fireworks were postponed, so by the time they happened the only people who were left were Cast members and guest who truly wanted to be there to celebrate. It was amazing.

I celebrated my birthday down here. That was such a great day! I spent the whole day with Karly and Chad and we played in the parks. We started at Epcot so I could have Crush sing to me, that was really all I wanted. Well Crush more than sang to me, he also chatted with me for a while and kept referring back to me. It was the best present ever! We took a birthday picture with the characters at Innoventions. Then I had some Yakitori for lunch and of course a Mickey Bar! After that we went over to Magic Kingdom and ended up with the perfect timing. We were on mainstreet for the Dapper Dans, barbershop quartet, performance and they sang Happy Birthday to me. Then I got to go meet Cinderella and that was the highlight of my day. We also went on Thunder Mountain and the railroad and just explored around the park. That evening we went over to Pleasure Island and saw Eddie (papa turtle) perform at the Comedy Warehouse. It ended up being pure luck that he was there. It was also the goodbye party for one of our managers, so we hung out with them for a while as well. Then we went to the Adventurers Club. It's this very cool live show that the audience is immersed in. I can't even describe it, but it was a lot of fun.

I got trained at Journey Into Imagination with Figment and Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. It is very similar to the seas because it's a ride/show combination. But there were some differences. I enjoyed the attractions, however the people over there were not the nicest to me at first, it took a little while. I haven't been back there since New Years Eve. Here's me and Karly with Figment!

I had my first holiday's at WDW. It was an unbelievable experience. At MGM studios they had the Osbourne family spectacle of lights. The whole street was transformed into a lighted paradise. There were millions of Christmas lights that put on dancing shows. They also had snow or as we call it snoap falling from the sky. There were Christmas carols being played and all the cast members had on scarves and santa hats. It was just a great experience. My favorite was Cinderella's Castle. For the first time ever, they lit up the caslte with hundreds of sparkling lights that made it look like it was covered in shimmering ice. It was just gorgeous. I also took part in the taping of the WDW Christmas parade. The taping was actually done on December 1st. Karly and I went to the Magic Kingdom at 7am and we stood on the side of mainstreet while they taped the whole parade going by. The cameras stopped and filmed right in on my face quite a few times, so I was bummed when I didn't make it on tv. But it was just very cool to see the parade, it's one of my favorites. The Halloween parade outdoes anything I've ever seen though, it's a must see. Then we played in the park and went to go meet some princesses. We ended up having an amazing Belle who let us stay until the end of their set and take a picture with both her and Cinderella. It was a great gift.

This Christmas I sang in the Cast Choir for the Candlelight Processional at Epcot. It was one of the best experiences I've had down here. I had to squeeze in 10 rehearsals along with my 60+ hours a week and that became a challenge, but I got it done. Then performances started and I showed up for everyone I could possibly get to, it ended up being about 20. The show is a retelling of the birth of Christ by a celebrity narrator. There is a professional orchestra who accompanies all the songs led by some of the best conductors I've had the privilege of working with. The cast choir makes up a tree shape, there are about 65 of us crammed into the risers. On the sides of the stage are guest choirs from high schools in Florida and around the country, there was a Rochester, MN school one night. And it's all topped off by the fabulous Voices of Liberty, an 8 voice (usually acapella) group. It was a wonderful experience and I hope I get the chance to do it again next year. For every show I did (there were 3 a night) I got a one day park hopper ticket, so I've got quite a few just burning a hole in my pocket waiting for visitors (HINT HINT). There's me with Neil Patrick Harris of Doogie Howser fame. I'm about 2 people to his right and up a row.

If you remember I had mentioned a relationship with a guy named Chase whom I know from Turtle Talk. Well that continued to be on again off again, now we are just really good friends. I got tired of getting my heart broken. While we were together he introduced me to an improv comedy club in downtown Orlando that he performs at. It's called SAK and it's kind of a combination of Brave New Workshop and Comedy Sportz or Who's Line is it Anyway. They do a competition style improv show where they play several short games. However they also teach classes. I started volunteering there and earning SAK bucks, when I get enough of those I can use them to pay for class. I haven't been back in a couple weeks, I'm going to let things settle down first, but I really enjoy doing that. I get to sell concessions and take tickets, all that fun stuff I got so good at from basketball tournaments. I'm just waiting til they let me do the register, everyone else is so slow and I just love cash handling.

When most of you last saw me I had lost about 20 pounds since moving down, now I'm up to 45. And I've lost 34 inches, so I look a little different. This is the first week I was in Florida and then this week.

I haven't spent a whole lot of time in the parks in the recent past and that's been a bit of a drag, I really enjoy them, but I've spent so much time working and they close much earlier in the off-peak season. Yesterday though I did go to Magic Kingdom for the afternoon and I just sat on Mainstreet watching people and writing. I'm trying to modify they way we teach Turtle Talk right now so our new cast members are more successful.

The big news is that I have actually started a new job. I started this week as a concierge at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. I'm very excited about it. It is a promotion, I'm making about $1.75 more an hour. It's still not even close to where I was at the bank, but for Disney it's about as high as I can get as an hourly employee without being Office and Technical. So I'll take it. Having this job will mean that I can pick up shifts in a few places. I'll be able to work at the Seas and Image still, and once I'm trained I'll be able to pick up both concierge and front desk shifts at any resort. And I'm definitely planning on doing that. I would like to get to as many as I possibly can just for the experience, the networking, and to be able to have it on my resume. So we shall see how well that goes. There's a lot to tell about my training so far, so we'll leave that for another post. But that should get you up to date.

Today's Trivia Question: What holds in the aquarium glass in the Seas?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Photo Update

MMMM!! Yakitori! Yeah, they're not on kabobs anymore. :-(

I like to have late night photoshoots, there's
about a hundred others just like this one!

Like the photo says, this is Chase.
The guitar is named Jessica, funny huh?

This is Karly and TJ. Karly is a CP (college program) at the Seas. She's done in a couple of weeks, but is staying in Florida to pursue other endeavors. TJ used to work as a trainer at the Seas, but he's now on the Dream Squad and I'm so jealous.

This made me realize how few photos I have of my friends, so I shall work on that for the next update.


So, it has been brought to my attention that I suck at updating this. I'm sure you've all figured out I've been really busy. Work has been off and on, the hours are not steady, one week I'll have 32 and the next I'll have 55. So you take it where you can get it. I've been able to get in with the coordinators so that they come to me when they need extra hours, so that's helped immensly. I worked a 15 hour day last week, from 8am to 12am and that was killer. I got stuck on the ride almost the entire day, and a good portion of that time was walking on the belt. I could not even focus by the end of the night. Tomorrow I have 13 hours, so hopefully I'll get to spend a little more time at Turtle Talk for that one.

I finally met with my manager and it was good and bad. Good that he helped me figure out some ways to get more hours. He also let me know that trainers will be needed in a few months and he will help me secure a position doing that when it comes time. The bad news is that I can't cross-train (unless a miracle happens and they have extra trainers and no trainees, I'm not holding my breath) for another 6 months. He also said they are lengthening the 6 months you're required to spend in a position to 9 months starting October, one month before my 6 would expire. I am not sure how I feel about this. The way it's going right now, I'm planning on working my way up here until I can get myself into something better, hopefully entertainment. I have attended an audition at Disney and at Universal. Neither went as well as I would have hoped. So I'll just have to keep working at it.

I have gained a lot of great friends, in a few different groups. So between work and my social life I haven't had a whole lot of time. We have made Jellyrolls, the piano bar a weekly adventure. I like that a lot, seeing as how it's good music and free. The other night I went out with some new friends to the park and we had a blast, they were big dorks just like me screaming on Thunder Mountain, not afraid to look stupid. So we had such a great time. I've been spending a bit of time with Chase, I think I've mentioned him before, he's one of our turtles. The one who said I was the best host they have. I can't tell you if it's dating or not, because we're not totally sure, it's officially the most confusing relationship I've been in, but for some reason I'm ok with it. He just makes me so happy, he believes in me and pushes me to follow my dreams, he says I'm too talented and smart to get stuck where I am. He's such a funny person, and he actually laughs at my jokes too! He plays guitar and sings, and he's really good, so it's fun to listen to him and have musicians around again. We just have a lot of fun together and that's ok with me.

My phone has been giving me trouble, I went over on my minutes last month because the phone is still in central time even though I'm not. So, hopefully I can figure that out soon, or just not talk. I think it's all moms fault, seeing as how she was the majority of the calls. I added a text message package, because that's how everyone communicates now. Even when they're in the same room, it is pretty fun though. I am getting very excited to come home and see everyone. I am coming bearing gifts too. We had out SALSA (Spend a Little Save a Lot) sale and I had a good time. It was a huge warehouse of discounted Disney merchandise all 70% off. They had a pin party and I got a bunch of pins for anywhere from $1 to $3 a pin, which were originally $8-$12. So that was a pretty good deal, I'm excited to get out in the parks and trade them for some of the ones I've been eyeing that are more expensive. I really want to get the Year of a Million Dreams pins, but they're hard to find, because the only way to get them is to win them.

I'm sure that's not everything, but it's a good start, hopefully it'll hold everyone over until I get a chance to update again. I've heard that mom was getting phone calls wondering what was going on. So, for her sake, I'll try not to make it so long between updates.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Lazy Friday

Yep. I accomplished pretty much nothing. I had so many plans, but I didn't follow through on any of them. I slept until 11, then I laid in bed until 2:00. At which point I got up long enough to get an apple and some string cheese for my brunch. I watched some Disney movies and sat on the internet.

That was really the extent of my day. I was going to get up and go places, but when I decided to do that there was a sudden down pour. I just figured that was mother natures way of saying, you have the day off, just stay in bed. So I oblidged. I got my hair piece set in curlers, so in another week I'll be able to wear that. I was going to dye my hair, but I keep putting it off cause it's such a pain. I watched confessions of a teenage drama queen starring Lindsey Lohan with Kim and Julie. I think I annoyed them a little, because I like to talk through movies, sort of like Mystery Science Theatre. I comment on everything and point out the obvious, I also try to guess the plot. So eventually I just shut up and watched. By the way, don't ever waste your time, it was wretched. That really was about all I did, sad I know.

Answer to Yesterdays Trivia: How many individual triangles make up the exterior shell of Spaceship Earth?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Looooong Day

I slept late today, I did not hear the alarms go off. I woke up with about 15 minutes to get ready. I normally have an hour. And on top of it, Julie was in the bathroom, I was in my room spazzing out. I got out the door, about 10 minutes later than I wanted to, but I made it to work on time. I picked up a ride position, so I headed down there to see where we were at in the opening procedures. Turns out CDS had mis-scheduled (like that never happens) and didn't assign anybody to help open the ride, so they were behind. They already had all the opener positions taken, but I stayed anyway to watch because they were training how to open on the console, and I'm still shaky on that, so it was good practice. We got a brand new ADA car, so we had to test a few more things with that. We opened a little late, but they coordinator walked the people through slowly so we'd be ready.

I felt like I spent all day at Load 1, saying watch your step. I had a short time on load 2, which is the position that freaks me out, but Moises taught me this great joke. Now you have to read your audience for it work, you just ask them to put their seat belts on (we don't have seat belts) and they just keep looking for them and can't find them. Of course when they look up I have a huge grin on my face and they get all mad and say they can't believe they fell for it. It certainly passes time faster. Someone today told me they do the lap bar one (where you have to pull a bar from over your head down to your lap). I haven't tried that, but it would be funny to see if people really do reach for it. I of course, have to be sure there are no children around, because if they overhear to put on their seat belts and realize they don't have any, I may freak them out. So I only get to do it every once in a while, but it's entertaining.

I had a training on my schedule for an hour, but it said Soarin'. Everyone thought it might be a meeting of some sort, but when I signed in it said it was a training. Luckily, the coordinator was in the room, so she called around for me and concluded that it was a mistake, and then put me back into rotation for the hour. Once the hour was up, I ended up getting the pavilion greeter. I spent a couple hours outside doing that today, and of course since I was late this morning I didn't get the sunscreen on. Luckily it was a pretty cloudy day, we even had a few light showers while I was out there. We had a little bit of a problem on the ride and were stopped for a while, so our wait time doubled to an hour wait and just as I was about to start telling people, I got to go on my break! Yeah, I didn't have to deal with it.

CDS went down, which meant the coordinators had to figure out by hand where everyone should go and who needed breaks or bump offs. It was craziness for a while. When it was time for my bump off I was so excited. Today was 10 hours and 45 minutes. Ick. I will probably do it again though. Now, I'm horribly tired and I have tomorrow off, so I am going to catch up on my beauty rest.

Today's Trivia Question: How many individual triangles make up the exterior shell of Spaceship Earth?

I LOVE Turtles!

So, today I started out at the Seas for 3 hours. That was pretty normal, a little slow going for the morning, pretty relaxing. Then I got to head over to the Wonders of Life pavilion, I can't remember the last time I was in there, for a Turtle Talk workshop. We went over teamwork and supporting each other, interactive theatre, how to pump up the crowd, what not to do or say, some tips on making the show flow smoothly, and then we got to put it into practice and try out our spiel in front of the group. I did my spiel and Eddie (our facilitator) told me if I was his kindergarden teacher he would do anything I said. If I told him to punch another kid he'd get all excited and ask which kid. I always play my spiels to the kids, because that's who the show is about, that's who I need to get pumped and feeling comfortable. Plus, dad was so right when he said engage the children and the adults will follow, it works every time. Eddie also said that if he had his eyes closed during my spiel he would have gotten everything I was trying to get across, because my inflections were great, there was variety and it was interesting. I was so pumped, what great compliments, and especially from someone whom I respect so much.

I went back to work and when we got back the ride was down (it was down when I left yesterday as well, our ADA(wheelchair) car had a problem). So because the ride was down there weren't any jobs for us to do, so everyone kept getting tasks. I of course, went right over to Kidcot to hang out with my new bestest friend Brandon. He is a ton of fun! I spent about an hour with him. He even came back with me to get an assignment and then took me on a mini tour of the aquarium and pointed out some of the fish to me. While we were hanging out one of the other CMs said when I did my spiel he thought I could be a face character, he said my voice was just so pleasant. And then he said he thought I looked like Cinderella. I just said thanks, but I really wanted to say stop getting my hopes up!

The ride went back up and I went over to load one, where all I do is say "Go right ahead, watch your step. Go ahead, watch your step on the platform. Go ahead. Watch your step. Watch your setp on the platform. Go ahead." Yep, it's very redundant, and you can't make conversation with anybody cause there's barely enough time for a hi, sometimes there's not even that much time. The day still felt pretty short, I only had a couple hours left after the workshop and I hung out with Brandon for half of it.

I didn't have time for a nap today, I just had time to eat dinner and get ready. But, today was fantasyland so I was excited to go to the fireworks. It was a totally different group of people, and there was a different coordinator. She was nice, but she hadn't done it in a while, so she said she was kind of rusty. I was supposed to get the same position I was the first time, front of castle. But they had people helping from toontown, so because they had a different costume, they had to be the front of castle positions. I got Snow White exit. We set up ropes so that during the fireworks there was an alternate entrance and exit because the whole area is blocked off as a fallout zone. My job was to direct people where to go and make sure nobody jumped the ropes. Now, if only people listened right? I had some people who went right under and when we asked them to come back they refused, and were of course very rude. It drove me nuts because not only would people not listen, but I had a partner who was the other side of the line, and she wouldn't pay attention. We could have prevented a lot of them if she was watching and caught it immediately. There are some people who walk through that you just keep your eye on, because they look like they may jump the line. She wanted to look the other direction instead, which made it hard because I would get halfway to where she was standing to get someone back before she even turned around and realized what was happening. And then I would get yelled at because I left my post.

I had one group go through I had very clearly instructed them to go all the way to the other end of the rope. But there was a kid, probably about 12 who decided to go under the ropes and into the restricted area. I immediately ran over and told him to come back right now. Well the kid just stood there, so I got very stern and said he could not be in that area he needed to come back on the other side of the ropes right now. Well, the kids father got in my face and said don't you dare discipline my child, you ask me first and I will take care of it. To which I said, I'm very sorry sir, but it's an issue of safety, that is my number one concern. They guy flipped out and said he was tired of cast members berating his children and he needed to see a manager right now. Well I let him know I could not leave my post. So he wanted to know where the main office, clearly someone who isn't very educated on the structure of Disney. I told him to stop by guest relations, and he stared at my nametag like it would intimidate me and stormed off. I know that I was correct. Yes, most times you want to be polite, but safety is number one above all else, and I need to do whatever I need to, to keep our guests safe. The manager then came over and started to yell at me again for leaving my post, but the pyrotechnics specialist in the area came over and defended me and said I was correct, I was dealing with a guest who was in the danger zone.

The fireworks were super loud, because there was a good portion that were being lit of right in the area. I didn't even attempt to look, because I was so concerned with getting people through the area, I was afraid they may stop and try to look and then jump the line to get a better view. So I was on high alert. The other lady wasn't even phased, I don't think I'd like to work with her again. They wet the area with sprinklers in case there was any fallout, and people kept asking if it was raining. I kept getting wet though, since it was right on my back. When we finished I was putting the poles and ropes away and who walks into the Philharmagic but some of my coworkers. So I got to say hi to them and chat for a bit, and then we were done for the night. Pretty simple, although much more stress this time.

Answer to Yesterdays Trivia: How many happy haunts reside at the Haunted Mansion?
999, but, there's room for one more... Any takers, hmmm?

Booo to Mainstreet

So, today seemed like a really short day. I started out in the Disney Basics class. I spent 2 hours learning about what they call the "soft skills". Being polite, courteous, staying in character, keeping the integrity of the show, going above and beyond... things like that. Things that I am already amazingly good at, that should be second nature for anyone in a service field, but is obviously not. The class was just fun, we got to share and play some games. Plus I got a free diet coke, nice.

Then I went over to the Seas, I only worked for 4 hours over there. I got to do one Turtle Talk show. But it was a good one. It didn't really feel like I worked much. It was kind of nice. I went home and took a nap for a while.

I worked the fireworks again, but this time I was on Mainstreet. I got there and headed to the Mainstreet deployment base where my instructions had told me to go. Turns out that was closed, I waited for someone to show up in the area, but nobody did. The message when I clocked in said the scheduling books were in Fantasyland, so I headed over there. I explained my situation to the person working there and she gave me directions to the break room at the front of the park. Well I headed onstage, and of course it's right before the parade so it's crazy busy outside. I saw a group of people dressed like me and someone who appeared to be a coordinator or a manager so I walked up to the group. I was completely ignored, the coordinator took questions from people who'd walked up way after me and then when they finished talking he started to walk away. I couldn't believe how rude he was being. I finally had to get right up to him before he would answer. He gave me some odd directions, I wasn't sure what he was talking about. So I tried my best to follow what the first lady had told me. I found the break room, but there was nobody in my costume. I found a managers office and stood in the doorway, not wanting to interrupt since he was fixing something in CDS (our scheduling system) for another CM (cast member), but he wouldn't look at me. Another manager walked by and I asked for her help. She said they'd already deployed and told me to go to the plaza outside the ice cream parlor. She started to take me out to point out where I needed to go when another CM said she was headed to her break and could take me there.

Once I got there, there was one other person he handed me a sheet and said here are the VIP names then started to walk away. I had to stop him and let him know I've never done this before and ask him to please tell me what I'm supposed to do. All I did was stand at the ropes and not let anybody in unless their name was on the list. I only had one group show up. Otherwise it was telling people they couldn't come down, pointing out bathrooms and the smoking area. It was kind of boring and I didn't feel like I was treated well. In the whole time I was there only one person said Thanks for picking up the shift, otherwise almost everyone was rude. It was a bad experience.

I finished that and we got ER (early release), but by the time we did all the walking between the Fantasyland base where we had to apply for ER and the mainstreet base which was the only area we could clock out, we only had like 5 minutes of the shift left anyway, so it was kind of a waste. Oh well.

I went home and changed quick to meet up with the roomies at Jelly Rolls. It's a cabaret style bar where they have dueling pianos. The format was similar to Erin Schwab and Jay Fuchs shows in Minneapolis at Jitters, except that I knew the songs Erin did. I only knew the Disney medley. It was some girls birthday so I had to watch her stand on stage and try to do head shoulders knees and toes while drunk. It was the most rediculous thing I've seen. And I really hate when women allow themselves to be treated with disrespect by the men in the room and actually egg it on. It's so innapropriate, and it makes men think their behavior is justified. I was pretty much checked out from that point on. It was fun otherwise, but I only knew a few of the songs. They take requests, but you have to pay them, and then wait for them to play it. It was also a bar that you could smoke in which bothered me, but it wasn't as bad as the other one. I only stayed for an hour and a half maybe and then left with Julie. Maybe a night I don't have to work will be better.