Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What I've been learning while I'm earning :)

So basically I've been thinking a lot about what to say when I'm finally at an interview somewhere and someone asks me, "What did the college program do for you? What did you learn? How did it affect you?"

In all honesty, I don't know what I'd say. Mentally, I don't know that I've "learned" anything, but I KNOW I'm not the same person I was when I left.. I guess I've learned a few things, when I think about it:

+Patience and focus! There are so many people always demanding multiple things from you all simultaneously, Disney's helped me to better focus one one thing at a time while remaining efficient and not losing sight of the bigger picture (IE in a long line, give attention to EACH guest and treat them as an individual while still being brief)

+It's made me more extroverted. Well, I don't know, really. I have different personalities at work and at play, but I feel like the two are starting to blend together more. There are so many people from different places and backgrounds that it's hard NOT to start a conversation (in fact, it's almost required by your management - at least in merchandise) even over the most trivial things ("oh, I love your purse/shirt/hair" can turn into the most interesting conversation.)

+I'm more pro-active and independent. At home I'd always depend on my mom for stuff - if I had to make a phone call to some company or another, I'd wait and see if my mom would do it first (terrible, aren't I?). Now when there's a problem I just do whatever I can to fix it right in the moment. Especially being deployed, they don't tell you ANYTHING about your new location, so you have to be really pro-active in finding everything out yourself. (I'm on my second deployment - West Side in Downtown Disney. My management hates me hahaha.)

+I'm not as afraid of confrontation. Not in the sense that I'm more apt to start arguments or something, but in the sense that when someone is upset and yelling and swearing and insulting, I don't take it personally. I let it roll off my shoulders, realize that they're just upset and don't know who can help them, point them in the right direction, and if they are still hanging around swearing and insulting me, I just get my manager. The best thing to do is just to LISTEN, look them in the eyes, offer possible solutions or alternatives, and send them on their way.

+I've learned to improv better. Not that this will really help me anywhere else haha. But for those of you who don't know, WDW is run on faith, trust.. and lies. To preserve character integrity, you basically have to think in your head that (character) is REAL. They are your best friend, you hang out with them every Saturday for (event) night, they've let you borrow their sugar, etc etc. When guests ask me questions like "Where did you get the Mickey glove?" or, like last night, "Why does Mickey have a tail in the older cartoons but in the figurines, etc, he doesn't have a tail?" I'm able to quickly respond that "Sometimes he wears different kinds of pants and they don't have a tail hole in them. It's kind of uncomfortable for him, but he wears them anyway because he forgets to do laundry and has no other choice." ;)

In a way, I'm better able to see how dreams come true and how magic happens. That's kind of lame, but really. WDW means so much to so many people; a lot of the time WDW isn't just a place, it's a representation of all the good that's left in the world. A lot of guests ask me what goes on after the park closes and I just have to say that everyone goes to sleep except for the cleaning fairies, who clean all night until the park opens again.. but there is SO much sheer EFFORT in everything, it's really amazing that there would still be that much dedication to one dream, even after the man who dreamt it passed on. It's lame to say, but for you future CPers.. you'll know what I mean. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Switching Apartments (Apartment Relocation)

I can't think of the official term they use for it right now, but basically if you realize that you can't live with the people you've been placed with, then you can pay a fee of $50 to be moved to another apartment that had someone either self-terminate or get terminated for various reasons. (If you make this decision before two months, I believe it is, then you don't have to pay the fee).

Let me just tell you, you probably won't WANT to move, because if the living situation is bad enough to make you want to move, then why would you pay $50 to live with the same kind of people, but in a different place? But don't think that, because not everyone's the same. Not everyone wants to party every night, and not everyone wants to stay inside and read. You just have to decide if moving is worth the risk. With me, I lived with 7 other girls (at the time of move-in it was an option between one room and four rooms) and.. well, it just didn't work out. I tried, but I wouldn't be able to deal with it until August. So I paid the fee and moved (Housing gives you options of what's open currently, ie: one bedroom, two bedroom, but doesn't tell you where the apartment is, so you won't get to meet your future roommates before paying the fee, unfortunately).

I moved within three hours. I was sleeping when they called and told me I had to be out by 3 (yeah, it was noon.. you'll get used to sleeping at random hours) so I literally threw all of my stuff into boxes and bags, put them in my truck, and went to an ATM to get cash. It was hectic, but so worth it!

It's awkward moving out when your ex-roommates are there, but don't let that stop you. It's better when you meet your new roommates and find that they are NORMAL. I (hopefully) lucked out with my new roommates; in any case, not many people could be as bad as my former roommates.. so in the end it's really up to you if you decide you want to move, but do what you NEED to do. If something or someone is interfering with your sleep, your health, or your sense of safety, then do something about it. And don't feel like all people at the CP are the same, because they're not.

And one more thing: they're your roommates. They don't have to be your friends, so don't freak out if you don't become instant BFFs.


So basically I suck at posting, haha. I've had a LOT go on in the past few weeks, so I'm just going to do a different post for each one so maybe later on, they'll be easier to find.

Basically almost every CPer will get deployed at least once within the span of their program. Deployment just means that you're being forced to work in a different location than you usually do, but within the same training field. Last week, I got deployed to Adventureland merchandise from Main Entrance Strollers (which is, technically, merchandise) for a week. I'm not gonna lie, it was weird.. you'd think that someone who thought she hated strollers would love to be deployed, but it was awkward. The people in Adventureland were very, very nice (with the exception of the token spiteful coordinator and/or manager), but it's more of a feeling that you're in another dimension or something. As in, your own location (which, for me, is Strollers) is like your family: you may hate things they do, you may get tired of them, and you may want to run away from them altogether.. but at the end of the day, it's still your family. Being deployed is like being forced to stay with someone else's family for a week: they have different ways of doing things, different mind-sets, and though they may be nice, it's just not the same. So yeah, while it was nice to have a different theme for the week, it was still weird. Plus, I didn't even get to work at the Pirates shop! Sad face. But anyway, at the end of the day it's what you make it, and I ended up meeting a lot of cool people that I never would have met otherwise :)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It's 5am.

I was scheduled to work yesterday from 8am-2pm (8:00-14:00.. get used to military time haha) but we were short staffed so I extended until 5 (17:00 ;) ).. all on four hours of sleep. When I got back, around 6:30 I decided to take a nap.. and I woke up at exactly 2:22 to the sound of my roommates. Awesome.

Here are some really great guest moments I'd like to share. You will deal with these kinds of people all the time.. and you will either want to kick yourself in the face, or laugh. Or both.

(The stroller rental area is directly underneath the train station on Main Street, so guests often ask how to get to the train station when they have a wheelchair or stroller)
Guest: Ma'am, excuse me, but where is the elevator? **
Me: We don't have any elevators, unfortunately, but we do have a ramp. If you go back out and go all the way left, you'll see it.
Guest: But my mother has arthritis and can't walk up ramps.. so where is the elevator?
Me: Ma'am.. we don't have an elevator, we just have a ramp.
Guest: But my mother can't walk UP THE RAMP. How am I supposed to get her up there?!
Me: Well I can get a manager for you and see if we can arrange a wheelchair for you somehow.
Guest: NO, I just want the elevator! This is ridiculous! You should do something about this. You're going to have a lot of people complaining.
**(We don't have an elevator because it doesn't fit the show, and it would also likely be a fire hazard, with a bunch of people with strollers and wheelchairs clamoring to get on an elevator in a really cramped space.)

The entire time I was just thinking.. 'really? If your mother can hardly walk, WHY did you bring her to a theme park? I mean, I'm just asking.. did you really think this through? And of course I'll change it; I'll just build an elevator right here, because let's not forget that I built Magic Kingdom with my bare hands.' It's REALLY hard to bite your tongue sometimes. Or, if you're me, it's REALLY hard to not roll your eyes. Which reminds me..

(It was raining during this day, and the strollers only have a sun shade.)
Guest: Excuse me, you don't have any covers for the strollers for when it rains?
Me: Unfortunately, no, but you can use a poncho and it should work just fine.
Guest: Okay, where do I get a poncho?
Me: Well if you don't already have one, you can buy one at the registers just over there for $7.50
Guest: No. This is inadequate. I can't believe you're making me buy something to cover a stroller that is completely inadequate. Even if it were sunny out, this is not enough cover to protect the children. I am really disappointed, I want my money back. (He kept repeating this over and over and over..)
Me: I can get a manager for you or if you'd like you can go to City Hall. Guest Services is in there and they can most likely help you out.
Guest: No, I went there.
Me: Okay, do you want me to get a manager?
Guest: No, I want YOU to do this.
Me: I can't do anything.
Guest: You know who else said, "I can't?" The Nazi soldiers. "Oh, we're just doing our jobs."
Me: Sir, I CAN'T DO ANYTHING. But I'll go get my manager.
Guest: Fine.
(He ran off to the register and by the time my manager came out he was gone. I told my managers what he had said and they were pissed, but I couldn't stop laughing, because REALLY? I'm so obviously committing genocide by not building indestructible stroller fortresses. Homeboy, you knew what you rented when you paid for it, so just get over the fact that it rained and you're to cheap to buy a poncho. Oh, and my one really nice manager made a good point: "You know who else was just doing their job? The American soldiers, who defeated the Nazis.")

So pretty much people will do anything to get something. They know the Disney guest service standard and will definitely try to abuse it, but there's really only so much you can do.

And sorry for the random posting, it's just 5am, I haven't made a post in a while, and I have nothing new to say, really.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I am SO tired.

Today was honestly the first nice, warm(-ish), sunny day since I've gotten down here. It's been freakishly cold so it was nice for a change - unfortunately, everyone else thought so too, and so it was super busy today. I worked in the Newsstand for the first part of the day, and it actually wasn't busy at all at first (at about 10am) and I was there with a full-timer, David (one of the only nice full-timers :) AND he's from England. He's super cool.) so even when there were a few extra guests, it was no problem taking care of them. It was when his position got dropped that I was in trouble: I was the only one in the Newsstand and suddenly it was PACKED - as in, people had trouble even moving. It was REALLY stressful but as long as you take your time, you'll be fine. I just took my time with each guest and tried not to look at the line behind them.

After about an hour of that, I got bumped to the Wheelchair register, where people rent.. well, wheelchairs, but also ECVs (Electric Convenience Vehicles). I was, once again, the ONLY cast member working at the register and there was a HUGE line. Eventually someone came over to help me out a bit and the line died down but it was really intimidating at first. It's also scary because we can only have so many ECVs inside the park as a safety precaution (by the government, so I mean we can't really do anything about it) and so we run out of them pretty quickly, and people have to be put on the waiting list, which they tend to dislike. A lot. A LOT. But today wasn't so bad on that front.

After my break at about 1pm, I got assigned to be a runner - a runner's job is to deliver new/charged ECVs to guests who have had ECV breakdowns. I was REALLY intimidated by this, mostly because I've heard bad stories of people being really angry (it takes some time for us to get from the Main Entrance to, for instance, Toontown.) There are ways to get to different lands via backstage, but it's really confusing because there are just SO many possibilities that it's easy to get lost.. but the only other option is going through Main Street and it was just TOO crowded today. Sooo, I had my first run and it was in Tomorrowland! Luckily I knew how to get to Tomorrowland backstage so it really wasn't bad. The best part about being a runner is getting to drive the ECV to the guest :) The downside is that you likely have to push the other ECV back to the front, but whatev. I pushed the ECV halfway to the guest anyway because they are just sooo s l o w. So anyway, I couldn't find the guest at first (they said they were in the arcade at Space Mountain) but eventually I found them, and they were so sweet! It was an elderly couple, and they turned out to be from Duluth (an area near where I'm from) and so we had a nice little chat.. I was really lucky to get them as my first running experience. Total, it probably took me about 25 minutes to do.

But yeaaah, I'm really tired so I think I'm just gonna go now. My internet is being ultra weird so I don't know when I'll get to post next, sorry :( I hope you guys have a great weekend!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Apparently I'm a zombie.

I have come back from the dead! Zahhh (that's the noise zombies make.. duh.)

It's been like three weeks since my last post; that is not okay. I don't even really know what to update you guys on, to be honest. I work in the main entrance of Magic Kingdom, so I work at the Locker Shop, Newsstand (which is one word for some reason..), and Stroller/wheelchair/ECV rental. Officially, my position is "Merch - Main Street Strollers" but honestly it's so much more than that.

One thing I'm going to say to all you incoming fall CPers: this is WORK - you might hate it. The payoff is that you get to be surrounded by Disney and all of that, but never let go of the fact that it's exhausting to constantly be upbeat; to smile and apologize to someone who is yelling at you for something that's not your fault; to be on time (read: early) EVERY DAY. It's tiring to do your job well, but it's worth it in the end. I know all of you guys know the upsides to the job, but I just don't want all of you to be disappointed when you get to the reality of it. It's still fun, because the childrens' smiles are worth everything, and your coworkers will make things better too, but at the end of the day it's still WORK.

I have so many stories to tell that I don't know where to begin.. one of my duties is "tunnel" which is basically standing at the front of the tunnel (before you leave Main Street) and directing people who rented strollers to the place where they can drop them off before exiting the park.. lately it's sucked because I'm sick and it's two degrees outside (and the night before last they had me out there from 6pm-8pm) but otherwise it rocks, mostly because the other day when I was offering to give this one toddler a "four-five" (we wear Mickey gloves :) ), he came up to me, stretched out his arms, and gave me a hug. Another time I was saying goodbye to a family and this little girl of about 6 came up to me, looked at me, gave me a kiss on the cheek, and left with her mom. SO PRECIOUS. And again, when I was doing Podium (greeting guests into the park inside the tunnel) one day while wearing the Mickey glove and apron (we put the celebration buttons on them), this girl came up to me and gave me the biggest hug ever; I asked her what she was celebrating and it turned out to be her birthday. Things like this seriously keep me smiling for days after they happen. THOSE are the moments that make everything else worth it. That and the fact that every night when I collect strollers from the hub (the circle area around the Partners statue - each land puts the strollers people have left throughout the day into the hub for us to collect at night) I skip down the entire length of Main Street. Seriously. It's so tiring, but SO AMAZING.. Main Street music is so skippable (you know what I'm saying..). And Main Street is SO GORGEOUS after dark, especially when there are only like 10 people on it. Sometimes it's hard to believe any of it's real haha.

I'd say more but unfortunately I have to go; I'm going to Ghirardelli in Downtown with one of my roommates (Amy :) ) for our new tradition: ICE CREAM! Ahh. SO GOOD. Seriously.

I'll be posting soon! I promise! Sorry I went so long without letting you guys know what was going on! If you have any questions about anything just lemme know :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Round the world tonight, a symphony in spectromagic!

I've had a ridiculous couple of days of training concerning the bus system so I'm driving to work today. My shift is 5:30pm to 12:45am, which really isn't bad considering it's President's Day & Valentine's Day weekend.. it was nice to get to sleep in instead of waking up before the crack of freaking dawn every day. I'm not really a morning person haha. Oh, and I finally earned my ears, so today is my first day of work without a trainer.. kind of nervous about that, but it's freezing and raining today so hopefully it shouldn't be TOO overwhelming. I'll let you guys know :)

Katie and I went to MK on Monday, which was nice/weird. Nice because I hadn't seen her face in a while, but weird because usually our conversations go as follows:

"Wanna hang out?"
"My house or the mall?"

and now it's more like:

"Wanna hang out?"
"Disney World?"

Just surreal is all, haha.

Anyway I have to get ready for work.. woot. Hopefully my posts won't be this bad in the future haha. Have a magical day! ;)

Katie and I at Magic Kingdom :) (And me being a bad CP by wearing my Cast Member ID. Oops.)