Friday, August 27, 2010

Life Lessons / Earning My Ears

I don't remember if I've told you or not, but I am working at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Restaurantosaurus. Well, my training in the restaurant started on Thursday. My schedule was really weird, they had my first day there as training day #2. Confusing, I know. I didn't understand why it was like that either, usually on training day one they walk you around the area, show you where to find everything, take you over to do computer e-learning and finally start you off easy busing tables and closing down the dining rooms. That was what I did today (second day at the restaurant, training day #1..... hahaha!)

So there I was, not sure how to clock in or where anything was or who I was even suppose to talk to find my trainer. But lucky for me, there was another girl who was just starting out, too. For our first day there, after our trainer, Mary, found us, taught us how to clock in, gave us our maroon ribbons that say "Earning my ears" to attach to our name tags and then she informed us that we were on Broiler duty. It was the scariest thing I've ever done. We were in charge of putting the two different kinds of burgers through so they can cook. Then you also have to remember that when you send burgers, you have to send buns, too. It got confusing when they used terms like "send a set of babies"... translation "I need 12 small burgers". Or this one, "kitchen is on a three foot"... in other words "when the last row of burgers are under the third burner, put in another set (12 burgers) and continue until further notice." It's all so confusing, people yelling, you responding that you heard, trying to remember that only the big burgers get salt and pepper, and while you are doing all this you have to make sure that you have enough meat in your coolers and prep area so you don't run out. It's stressful and confusing and I didn't like it one bit. But I made it my goal to ask questions and repeat back answers to my trainer so i could learn and remember all the information she was giving us. I kept telling myself that my shift was nearly over and that the more I put the burgers on, the faster and more proficient I became. So at the end of the day I felt so good when we closed our area because I didn't give up, I stuck it out.

At the end of the night, we had to take the broiler apart and scrub it clean. It was so disgusting! We had to be very careful taking the doors and burners off as they were very hot. We had to use not only rubber gloves but also towels to get the different pieces off and onto the cart to go to the dish room. There was grease everywhere, and we got the honor of scrubbing that monster clean. And yes, I called it a monster because it was HUGE! It was taller than I am and it was around 5 feet long, maybe even more. So here's the scene, one trainer and two trainees against one overly gross and extremely hot machine. But don't worry, we were victorious! By the time we were done, the "monster" was sparkling and ready to be put back together, which is comparable to a jigsaw puzzle. A really hard and confusing one. But when it was time to clock out, that thing was back in one happy, shining piece, happily back at home at it's spot in the kitchen.

The first two days have been hard, but I have faith that they will continue to get better the longer I an there and the more things I learn. And if that's not reason enough, this is a once in a lifetime experience and I have the opportunity to learn many life lessons while I'm here. I signed a contract, I'm in this for the long hall. I will make this the most wonderful time I possibly can, even if it means there are some rough days along the journey. Like my parents told me on the phone, this is a learning experience, when I make a mistake and I learn from it, I know how to do it correctly and more efficiently the next time around. This is the time to grow and develop. I'm well on my way, taking baby steps still, but I've come a long way in a week!

I also wanted to mention that tonight when I got home from work, I was greeted by a lovely surprise. Amanda, one of my roommates who loves to cook, decided to cook dinner for all of us tonight. It was so delicious. She made purple chicken (cooked in wine), a cooked noodle salad with cooked peppers and onions and garlic bread. Then we all had a nice roommate sit-down dinner, because you know "a family that eats together, stays together!" I love that I already feel like theses girls are like my sisters, we are becoming a family! Then we all spent the evening talking, laughing and playing on our laptops in a big circle in the living room. It was a great Friday night!

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Today was my first day of at Animal Kingdom. I had to be at the cast Services building at 8:30am. So, in order to not be late on my first day at the park, I decided to catch the bus at Chattam at 7:00am. Therefore I had to leave Patterson at 6:45am, which meant I was waking up at 5:45am. (I honestly don't remember that last time I got up that early!)

The title for this post is DAKlamation, and that was the training session I attended today. The purpose of today was to get use to Animal Kingdom. We were also told to wear business professional clothing, so I decided on my "Safari Guide" outfit with my new brown shoes. I thought this was the perfect outfit because I felt like I was almost dressing the part. I quickly realised how wrong I was in my choice of shoes as I was walking from Patterson to Chattam. Even in that short walk I could already feel the blisters forming on my feet.

I still can't believe how hot it already is in Florida at 7:00am. By the time I made it to the bus stop I was already dripping with sweat, not a good sign for the day. So, one this I have already learned is to never trust the bus schedule. The "J" bus was suppose to get to Chattam at 7:00am, however it didn't get there until 7:05 - 7:10am. Once on the bus, it takes us about 35 minutes to get to the Animal Kingdom from our apartments. During the ride, I was able to meet some of the other CP that are going to be working in AK, too. I was really excited to find the girl I sat next to was the same religion as me, so that I kind of cool. She's going to be a driver at the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction.

The bus dropped us off and thanks to the help of a full time cast member also on the bus, all of us first timers were able to find the correct building. Those of us who opted to take the very early bus ended up being about 40 minutes early to work, which was a whole lot better than being 2 minutes late in my opinion. So we all sat in the lobby getting to know each other. It was a lot of fun finding out where people were from and where they would be working.

Our trainers for the day met us just before 8:30am to show us how to clock in using our new I.D.s, then it was off to the classroom and the beginning of a new adventure. We got an in-depth look at the history of Animal Kingdom and how it has changed since it's opening day. They showed us videos and hit us with facts and info. And then it was time to go out and explore the park. We were told that we were going on a whirlwind tour that would ONLY take 2 hours! (Don't forget that we were wearing dress clothes and heels!) But, like Traditions class, we first had to remove our name tags.

Our tour was so fast! We went into the park in one area, then we'd escape into the backstage area and reenter in a completely different location! Every now and then our trainer would stop and she would tell us important things about the area. For example I learned that the greeting in Dino Land where I'll be working is "Hi Cousins!" Each area of the park has it's own theme, message and greeting. It's so fasanating! And just like last time, there were were as a traveling as a group in professional clothing (i.e. dress shirts and long pants) in 90 something degree weather, the guests were looking at us like we were out of our minds. Who knows, maybe we were, but it's so worth it because it means I get to work here!

We actually finished our private tour of teh park ahead of schedule, so our trainers took us on the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction. We were all so excited! It was really funny, they had us get on where everyone else was getting off, so as we were driving by the loading dock all the guests were looking at us like "Why did you not get off?!" Our driver told us to smile, wave and say "Jambo!"... so we did!

If you have not be on the safari, you must go! It was so much fun and the drivers know so much about the animals. They really get you involved in the ride and the story! And the animals are so close. We caught a glimpse of the 3 month old baby elephant that was just introduced to the savanna, along with a mother groundhog and her three babies. I wish I would have had my camera with me (we had to leave all our personal belongings in the classroom), but I guess that just means I have to ride it again! Yeahhh! If you like to be bounced around, sit in the back. The whole ride it bumpy, but the back really makes you jump!

Then next big adventure was lunch in the cast member cafateria and then off to get our costumes. I was so excited when I finally saw mine, it's actually kind of cute! Its a torcuse blouse and skirt with violet stripes and a dinosar print  around the collar. We also have to wear and apron and a funky hat thingy. It's a good color on me, too, so that's an added bonus! Pictures will be coming soon. I actually have to go to work at Restaurantosaurus on Thursday in full costume, which means tomorrow (my day off) will particially be spent shopping for work shoes (black, slip on dress shoes that are flat and comfortable). At wardrobe, they were so helpful. When I left, I have 5 full sets of my costume. Wow, I'm starting to feel like an official cast member now! We waited 20 minutes for the bus to come after we clocked out and then it was another hour before I was back in my apartment for the night.

It was an exciting day, but I am beat. Time to put my feet up and get ready for bed. Hopefully this coming week brings as much excitement as today. In my opinion, this has been a great start to my Disney Adventures! Thanks for reading and coming along for this journey with me! Good night readers!

Friday, August 20, 2010


Hey everyone! Today was a lot of fun. On my agenda was to sign up for classes at the Learning Center at Vista Way and to attend my Traditions class. My roommate, Hannah and I went to sign up for classes around noon after we had finished spending the morning getting dressed and ready for Traditions (business clothing). I am now signed up to take "Marketing You" and "Corporate Communications". And I have wonderful news about them, the classrooms are right outside my door. My apartment sits next to the main office building, and that is also where both classrooms are, so that is excellent for me! Both classes are on Monday and I have an hour between them, so it will be nice to come home to eat lunch and relax before going back over for class number two. The only downside is they are both 4 hrs. long, however, we only meet once a week, so I guess that's not too bad. Classes start in late September and are finished in early December. I've heard such great things about the "Marketing You" class and I can't wait until the first day so I can learn even more. Now I just have to order my books.

When we finished signing up for classes, which took a little longer than we were expecting because one of the professors was there and he was talking to us, it was off to Chattam to meet the bus at 12:45pm that would take us to Traditions. However, 12:45pm came and went and still there was no bus. There was an A1 bus that some of the new cast members (you know who we are. We are the ones with the "Deer in the headlights" look on our faces, all dressed up professionally and carrying around our program guides without name tags) got on. Not knowing if that was the right bus (I think I remembered hearing something about a bus that would be marked TRADITIONS), I decided to wait, knowing that I had enough time because the class didn't start until 2pm. It was good that my roommate and I waited because we met a CP who has been down here since May named Ben. He works in the Magic Kingdom in merchandise. Anyways, we asked him about the bus and he confirmed what we thought, there would be a specially marked bus that would be coming soon. He also told us to NEVER trust the bus schedules, they frequently run late I guess. As we were talking, his bus came (he was on his way to work) and he had my roommate give him her number so we could all stay in touch. He sent her a text just as our bus was pulling up. The message was something like "This is Ben from the bus stop. I can't remember your name, and I need to know in order to save it to my phone. And send me Mariah's number too." I couldn't believe that he remembered MY name (which I don't consider to be common) over HER name (Hannah) which is common. Hannah decided that it would be easier if I just sent him a text that way we would both have each others numbers. I did, and we proceeded to text until he got to work and I arrived at Traditions. He was telling me that I was going to have a lot of fun, and that just when things start to get boring they throw fun surprises at us. He had me so excited for that class! In his last text, he said that if we went into the parks tonight to come find him at work, he'd be there until closing. He was so easy to talk to, I hope that we meet up again.

Traditions is a class that all Disney Cast Members have to take that teaches us about the Disney history. We talked about what has happened in the company's past and the ideas that sparked it all in the first place. We learned about some of what is going on now in the company and what we, as cast members, can do to help and be a part of that future. It was a great class and I learned so much.

My Traditions trainers were so awesome. There was Wendy and he was from Haiti, and Azitica (I know I spelled that wrong). They had so much energy and really knew their stuff! They made the class fun and encouraged us to participate. Speaking of participating, when we did, sometimes they handed out cute little character statues. So, sitting on my dresser now are Goofy and Pluto! And what's awesome, is we got these for free when normally you'd have to buy them!

During the class we got to go out and explore Magic Kingdom. It was a surprise to us all. Can you just picture is, 30 plus brand new cast members all dressed up in business clothing (heels included) walking around Magic Kingdom. Now, let me tell you, it was exciting but uncomfortable  at the same time. Today it was 90 something and it felt like it was 101 and there we were out in the sun! But I loved every minute of it. We got to the park at the perfect time, a show in front of the castle was just finishing and the fireworks were going off. And then there was Mickey and Minnie being raised up on a platform. I got chills I was so excited! However, by the time we got back to the classroom, I could feel the blisters forming on my feet. Sad, I know.

When Traditions was almost over (there must have been maybe 40 minutes still left) there was a knock at the door and when it was opened, there was the big cheese himself. Mickey Mouse came to visit us during Traditions and he brought with him OUR NAME TAGS! We were all so excited. However, our trainers told us that because we hadn't finished "earning" them yet, Mickey was going to keep them safe until we got to have them on at the end of class. When that blessed, magical moment finally arrived, our name tags were rolled in sitting in glass display cases. It was AWESOME! I can't even describe what I felt as I held my name tag for the first time. I was so excited to know that I was now a part of the magic. This isn't a dream, this is real life and I work for Walt Disney World! Back at my seat, I proudly replaced my name tag sticker with my 100% real deal, Disney Cast Member name tag. I believe I mentioned this before, but it is worn on the left, over your heart.

The other thing I got during Traditions was my Disney I.D. I am so excited to have this, because now I can get into the parks. With this I.D. I can visit Disney as much as I want in my free time as a guest for the next 5 months. I'm going to put it to good use. My roommate and I were going to go to Magic Kingdom to watch the fireworks to celebrate, however it was just starting to storm by the time we got home from Traditions around 7:20pm. So because I have the day off tomorrow, I think I'm going to spend the day learning the bus schedule and explore the parks a little. I think I'll hit up Animal Kingdom and try to figure out where I'll be working.

I think that covers the adventures of today. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but when you live at the most magical place on Earth, the sky is the limit...and then some! Good night, readers!

Where to Start?

I left for Florida on Tuesday morning, and I woke up kind of sad knowing that I would soon be leaving everything I knew behind for the next 5 months. I was flying down with my dad and our flight was at 11:13am. All morning I had been crying. Everything made me cry, I got text messages from my sisters as they were off to band, and a simple message from my sister Megan, "Thanks for the car", and I lost it. And then just knowing that I was going to have to say goodbye to my mom later in the morning had me crying all over again. The drive to the airport was so hard. But thank goodness, my parents thought to put a whole box of tissues in the backseat. I think I used a good handful of them up before we got the the airport. It seemed like every time I tried to talk, my tears were triggered. I couldn't help it and i couldn't stop myself either. It was a really good thing i wasn't wearing any makeup, it would have been a mess!

Once we were at the airport, it all started to sink in that I was really leaving home and I would be back until next year. I told my mom I felt like I was part of that ABCFamily movie "Picking Up & Dropping Off" because I was leaving her behind at the airport. I was so freaked out that our checked bags were going to be over the 50lb. limit, but when they were weighed, one came in at 43 lbs. and the other at 40 lbs. It really was amazing and all the credit goes to my parents. My mom for her talent of packing things in the best possible way, and my dad for the countless times he stood on the bathroom scale holding my suitcases!

As we were walking towards security we passed a gift shop and my mom went inside. When she came out, she handed me a shopping bag. Inside was a cute little orange monkey wearing a shirt that say "Hugs from Ohio" and when you hug her tight, she makes monkey noises. My mom told me that whenever I am really missing her, to hug that monkey and think of her. As you would be expecting, there were more tears involved for all of us. I knew it was going to be hard, I just didn't realize how hard until that moment. One of the hardest things I've ever had to do was go through security knowing it would be a really long time before I got to see my mom again. There was a little girl in line before us, maybe 2 or 3 years old. Her poor mother was trying to convince her daughter that she had to let go of her teddy because the nice man wanted to take its picture and when he was done, she could have it back. The little girl wanted no part of this plan, and she clung even tighter to that bear. In the end, her mom had to pull the bear out of the girl's hand. The little girl and I both began to sob at the same time. I felt like that little girl, only I wasn't being asked to let go of my bear, I was being told to let go of my mom and the safety and security she represents to me. My mom waited until we made it through security before she left, I know this because I kept turning around to see that she was still there. And when I looked from the other side, she was gone. (aka: More tears.) I know it sounds terrible, but at that moment, I was jealous of the little girl clinging to her teddy for dear life. But I have a part of mom with me in the shape of a very cute and cuddly monkey that I have decided to name Diamond.

Dad and I didn't really have long to wait for our flight. As I waited, I decided to text Michael, mom (she sent me a text that I responded back to), other family members and change my facebook status from my phone to let all my friends on there know my adventure had begun. While we were sitting at the gate waiting, across from us were two people about my age. As I was texting, I noticed the girl's shoes. They were crocks with MICKEY HEAD shaped holes on top! As I looked closer, I noticed she also had a Disney name plaque on her bag. And he was wearing a shirt with a bunch of vintage looking Mickeys on it. Got me wondering if they were just excited to A.) Be going to Disney on vacation or B.) Maybe they were Cast Members, too. I wish now that I would have asked. Oh, well.

Once on the plane, I started to cry again as we pulled out of the gate. I guess a wave of homesickness hit me as I thought "The next time I see this airport there could be snow on the ground." (I really hope not, that would be AWFUL!) Dad and I had the two seats closest to the window on the left-hand side of the plane (I was next to the window, he was in the middle seat and an elderly man was sitting in the aisle seat). As we took off, I had my camera at the ready to capture everything and then some as the ground disappeared beneath us. For most of the flight I was taking pictures out the window. I took over 100 pictures and I think I got some really great shots! I was a little disappointed though, dad and I knew our flight had wi-fi, however we didn't know that you had to pay for it, so I wasn't able to blog and facebook from the air like I was hoping to. Oh well, I sent a message out to the masses the moment we were told we could turn our phones back on once we were on the ground in Orlando. Oh, my gosh, coming into the Orlando airport was kind of freaky. We were really low in the air and we passed over a major road and it looked like we were going to hit a truck! I'll admit, I kind of freaked a bit.

Welcome to Orlando where it is 20 degrees hotter than home. I walked outside and felt like I had walked into a brick wall. That is going to take some getting use to. We had to wait a couple minutes before our Mears suttle to leave. It took us a little over a half hour to get from the airport to our hotel, Doubletree Guest Suites near Downtown Disney. Our room was so nice and I loved the "Sweet Dreams" little pillow on the beds. Dad and I stayed in our room for a little bit before venturing off to find something to eat for dinner. On our way, we stopped so Dad could take my picture in front of the Welcome to Walt Disney World sign. I also took pictures of the Mickey sign and the Minnie sign. Then we had to cross 5 or 6 lanes of traffic to get to our destination, the coolest McDonald's I have ever seen. I wasn't really hungry, but knowing I hadn't eaten anything filling all day, I forced myself to eat my hamburger and fries. While at the restaurant, I talked to mom on the phone for a little bit. Then dad and I braved that crosswalk one more time to get back to our hotel.

Dad told me that he wanted to get something to take home for my mom and sisters and because we are in Florida, there was a Disney store right inside our hotel. We ended up finding a Goofy for Megan, Mickey for Macayla and a Stitch for my mom (I started to cry [I know you are getting sick of hear that by now!] when I saw the Stitch because I immediately thought of the line Lilo says in the movie: "Ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind. Or forgotten.") I think they are going to love them.

Speaking of my family, I got to talk to them on Skye for a little bit the first night we were here. It worked almost perfectly. At first we couldn't hear them, but we soon fixed that problem. I'm so glad that even though I am so far away, with the click of one button, there they will be on my computer. Talking with me, face to face...almost. :)

Went to bed a little after midnight because I was posting pictures from the day on my facebook page for my friends and family back home to see. I am going to do my best to capture every stage for you all. You might not see it right away depending on my work schedule and the work load the classes I am planing on taking places on my time. But I can promise that I will capture and record as much as possible. I want you all to be a part of this journey with me. So come along for the ride.

As I crawled under the covered and hugged my new monkey from my mom, I kept reminding myself that this is the opportunity of a lifetime. I have a chance to be a part of the magic of Disney World, someone who helps to make the dreams of the guests come true. Someone who loves Disney and hopes to share that with many people while I am here. So ready or not, here I go. I am on my way to becoming a part of the magic that is Disney.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Packing Adventures and My Last Night At Home

So, packing was an adventure in itself. Thank goodness for my mom because I don't think I would have been able to do it without her! She is a genius when it comes to making odd shaped things fit in even odder open spaces in a suitcase. It was amazing watching how much stuff she was able to stuff into 2 checked bags and 2 carry on bags. Oh, and don't forget, checked bags have to be 50 lbs. or less! Let me tell you, it was a nightmare trying to get the bags to the weight requirements. But, it was kind of funny watching as my dad kept standing on the bathroom scale with each of my suitcases in turn. In the end, after countless hours of repacking and rearranging and double checking to make sure I had everything I needed, I am proud to announce that I am packed and ready for Walt Disney World!! However, according to my mom, the minute I open my suitcases in Florida, they are going to explode like a can of trick peanuts from a joke shop! (Oh, I really hope THAT doesn't happen!)

This is my last night at home. I spent it with my family and my boyfriend, Michael. It was decided that we would have hamburgers on the grill for dinner (my sisters have also decided that this is going to be my welcome home dinner in January) and watch the movie "Up in the Air" with George Clooney and  Anna Kendrick (from the Twilight Saga movies). However, we had to keep pausing it because the phone kept ringing or the dogs were barking. And then my mom, sisters and I took a 30 minute field trip over to my grandparents' house to pick up some dress clothes that my grandma was altering for me (thus leaving Michael and my dad together along. Still not sure if that was a good idea or not. LOL.) In the end, er only made it about 40 minutes into the movie because none of us found it very entertaining. Maybe one day we'll finish it, I guess it's suppose to be really good or funny or something. (If you've seen it, let me know when it starts getting good.)  So, needless to say, we opted out of movie night. For the rest of the evening, Michael and I, and occasionally my sister, too, talked, laughed and played on facebook and YouTube. I had a blast just hanging out with my family and Michael tonight. I am going to miss each of them so much. And as funny as it sounds, I was doing everything possible not to start crying over my hamburger just knowing that it would be the last home-cooked meal my parents will have prepared for me for the next 5 months. All night long I was choking back tears; sometimes I was successful, other times the flood gates opened wide.

The hardest part of the evening so far was saying goodbye to Michael. Before he left, I made him eat his very first EVER snowman ice cream bar. He saw the pictures I posted of us eating them during our Christmas in July celebration and mentioned once he'd never seen them before. So, me being me, decided it was time to fix that problem. So, I took pictures of him eating his ice cream and then we took one final picture together (in my garage of all places! Hahaha!). It was so hard watching him pull out of the driveway and head for his own house. I had tears rolling down my cheeks long before he even made it out of the drive. I knew it would be hard to say goodbye, I just wasn't expecting it to be that hard. So that was my night in a nutshell. Time to get some shut eye, because I've got a plane to catch bright and early. The next time you hear from me, I will either be in the air or in Florida. Until then, good night and sweet dreams! :) <3

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sleep Facts

1. The last thing I do before going to sleep is plug in my cell phone and turn on the radio.

2. When I can't sleep I toss and turn, trying to get comfortable. When that doesn’t work, I read a book with a flashlight. Within 30 minutes I’m usually tired enough to sleep.

3. The first thing I do when I wake up is crack my back. LOL… sad, but true.

4. When I'm tired I get moody, it is usually accompanied by a migraine.

5. My dream bedroom would be described as calm. It would remind me of the ocean. The walls would be different shades of blue with accents of grey. There would be big windows, French doors with a balcony just outside. The atmosphere would be light and airy. There would be book shelves and an area dedicated to relaxing with a good book. The comforter and pillows would be comfy, soft and plush. My room would be set at the perfect temperature, a little cooler than the rest of the house.

6. If I could wake up anywhere tomorrow morning it would be on a beautiful tropical island in the world’s most comfortable bed.

7. The longest sleep I've ever had was when I was really sick last semester. I think I slept for 15 hours or more every day until I felt more like me.

8. I sleep on my side, however it varies depending which side becomes comfortable first. But I seem to favor my right a little more.

9. When I sleep, I like to wear shorts and a tank top. Maybe a hoodie if it’s really cold.

10. My bedtime is usually sometime between 11:30pm and 12:30am.