Friday, August 22, 2014

On With The Show!

Every CP goes through a special orientation in the park that they are working in. Hollywood Studios cast members attend "On with the Show!" During this orientation, cast members learn how to clock in to work and where they can pick up costumes! Then they get a special tour of Hollywood Studios and get to see the behind the scenes and the on-stage area. Anywhere that a guest can see a cast member is considered "on stage." No matter where cast members are in the park, they are constantly part of the show!

I'll try to give you a little fun fact for each area we visited! Only on-stage area pictures are allowed!

Our tour started backstage and proceeded down Hollywood Boulevard, the main entrance street for Hollywood Studios. We learned a few fun facts, one being that the Mickey mouse at the entrance of the park on top of the tall stand is 5 and a half feet tall, giving the illusion that he is actually smaller.

After Hollywood Boulevard, we went down Sunset Boulevard (where Tower of Terror, Beauty and the Beast, and Fanstasmic are located). The Fantasmic stadium seats 9 thousand guests and fills up basically every night twice a night. The line for the earlier show starts at least an hour and a half before the performance.

We then walked in front of the hat through the Echo Lake area. The giant dinosaur on Echo Lake is named Gurtie. We walked passed Star tours which has 12 different scenes established for the ride allowing for 54 different combinations!

We walked down the Streets of America which is meant to look like New York and then down Commissary Lane. We walked by the mountain featuring the film Splash which was the first PG-13 Disney film. Disney created Touchstone Pictures to produce the film so that a PG-13 rating would not be under Disney Films. We stopped in the Sci Fi dine-in. Some of the License plates on the cars in the dine-in are the initials of imagineers that worked on the theme parks. We even got to go on the Great Movie Ride where there is a hidden Minnie Mouse on the Hollywood mural to the left of the tram once you get on the ride. Hidden Minnies are rare finds - most are just Mickey.

After the Great Movie Ride we walked down Pixar Place. The bricks used in the Pixar Place entry way are the same as the ones used at Pixar Studios. Disney now owns the rights to those bricks so no one else can purchase them. We walked passed Toy Story Midway Mania which has been around for 6 years and still has on
e of the longest queue lines in Disney World. If it's anything less than an hour, jump on that line! We walked by One Man's Dream and I talked to our tour guide a little about Walt Disney's life and Saving Mr. Banks. The tour guide was awesome and very knowledgeable about Hollywood Studios.

After the tour, we went to a presentation about those Four Keys: Safety, Courtesy, Efficiency, and Show. The presenters expressed that WE as cast members, create magic for guests. It is definitely true that we are responsible for giving guests a magical experience. Tune in for my next post about some small ways I was able to do that at the attractions I work in!

Off To Neverland!: Starting the Disney College Program

After driving for hours STRAIGHT ON TIL MORNING, I finally reached the SECOND STAR TO THE RIGHT - DISNEY WORLD (my own version of Neverland). The first few days of the Disney College Program were about to begin.

Before my arrival to the program, I received a designated check-in time (8am-9am). Some people must check-in late in the afternoon. It is important to go during designated check-in times and remember the documents Disney asks of you because that is the PIXIE DUST that will get you to NEVERLAND. I brought a passport with me but Disney also accepts a driver's license/social security card or birth certificate in combination. Check-in is at the Vista Way apartment complex. Once there, CPs wait in line to receive information regarding the rest of your first week. While in line, I received a program guide book. One of the first things CPs do at check-in is learn their GENERAL location. I was told I will be working in the Backlands of Disney's Hollywood Studios! After CPs get their location, they take a picture and receive their housing ID. CPs will wait in a few other lines regarding housing location (I got placed in Commons), direct deposit paperwork, etc. In order to do direct deposit, CPs need all their bank information and a blank check. CPs also receive their schedule for the next few days of the week. Someone will review the schedule and explain everything to the CPs. Everyone's schedule is different. I arrived on Monday August 11th and my schedule was as follows:

Casting: Monday, Aug 11th at 10:00am
Alcohol and Drug Test: Tuesday, Aug 12th 1:45pm (Mandatory for attractions and transportation roles)
Housing Meeting: Tuesday Aug 12th 11:00am
Traditions: Thursday, Aug 14th, 2:30pm

I was one of the lucky people that had casting the day of check-in. A bus takes you from Vista to the Casting building. The cast member on our bus did some Disney Trivia while on our way to the building. She gave out some pins as prizes for getting correct answers! The casting building is pretty exciting to be in. The door knobs are the same as the door knob from Alice in Wonderland and there are golden statues of Disney characters in the entry way! In casting, CPs get finger printed and show their government issued IDs. More paperwork is done in a separate room where CPs find out when their specific role and location orientation is. Some might receive their work schedule and specific work location. I found out my first full week's schedule then and there because my training started before my orientation. I found out that I would be working at One Man's Dream (The exhibit about Walt Disney) and The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow (a walk through special effects show). I was EXTREMELY excited about One Man's Dream! CPs who didn't find out their location at casting, later found out their location at their park-specific orientation. At Magic Kingdom, the orientation is called "Once Upon a Time Starts Now" and at Hollywood Studios it was called "On With the Show." After casting is over, CPs take a bus back to Vista.

Housing Meeting
The housing meeting is similar to any housing meeting you would attend at any college. Safety is discussed, future housing events, and internship opportunities. Fortunately, there are no ice breakers at the housing meeting!  The presenters were very animated and they did a good job with a presentation that otherwise would have been very dry, so I really appreciated their enthusiasm! 

One of the most exciting things about the first week of being a CP is Traditions! Traditions is a half day training/welcome session at Disney University where you must dress business casual. The hallways at Disney University are plastered with dedication pictures to Disney animators. It was so historically overwhelming! The room we were in even had a mural themed around "YOU CAN FLY" with all characters that have flown in Disney movies! At Traditions, CPs learn about the four keys of Disney. These are Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency. We got our cast member IDs and learned what sets Disney apart from other companies and the way Disney immerses you in an experience. Some Disney trivia was involved as well and prizes were given out for that! We even received a special gift for being accepted into the program, but I won't say what it is because I don't want to ruin the surprise for anyone! The presenters were fantastic and taught us about magical moments we can create for guests to make them feel like they've NEVER GROWN UP!

At the end of the class, they take you on a behind the scenes tour of Magic Kingdom. Our tour was actually cancelled due to inclement weather (which I was very happy about because I did NOT want to see the nitty-gritty behind the most fantasy-filled place in the world  - Fate decided the magic itself was real enough for me). We came back to the classroom and were told it was time to get our name tags! And who should deliver our name tags but the one and only MICKEY MOUSE. Receiving an official Disney name tag was a HUGE honor for me and the process made me feel like my journey as an official Disney cast member was all started by a mouse, and of course, FAITH, TRUST, AND A LITTLE BIT OF PIXIE DUST!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Higitus Figitus: Packing for DCP!

One of the most complicated things about getting ready for the Disney College Program is packing! Even MERLIN would struggle with packing 5 months worth of living into a car, or even worse, airplane luggage! Fortunately, I am bringing a car to Florida with me, so I can pack quite a bit extra. For those flying, I really can't help you. All I can say is, be prepared to buy a lot of your necessities upon your arrival at Disney World.

Some tips for packing are the following:
- Use space bags! They save a ton of room! They're going to be your substitute for a HIGITUS FIGITUS spell and will, in their own way, make your items smaller!
- Make a packing list and double check it once you pack to make sure you didn't forget anything. Let a second pair of eyes take a look, just to be safe. 
- If you have roommates in advance, discuss who is bringing more universal items like television, cooking appliances, etc. 

Disney supplies some of what you already need, however I have heard that many people arrive in their Disney apartments and do not have all the things on the list from the DCP website. Here is the list that can be found on the Disney website... 
  • All utilities, including water, electricity, waste disposal
  • High-speed Internet access in all apartments (additional information below)
  • Local phone service and one central phone
  • Centrally located laundry facilities
  • Maintenance of the apartments, including pest control
  • Onsite security
  • Cable television hook-up
  • Computer labs
  • Wireless Internet Lounge, Clubroom Thirteen501
  • Swimming pools
  • Weight rooms
  • Tennis, basketball and racquetball courts
  • Fully furnished apartment
  • Bedroom
    • Dresser w/ mirror
    • Nightstand
    • (2) twin beds
    Dining Room
    • Table w/ four chairs
    Living Room (Cable hook-up only available in this common area)
    • Couch
    • Chair
    • Two end tables
    Additional Items Provided
    • Shower curtain liner
    • Two vanity wastebaskets
    • Kitchen wastebasket
    • Recycling bin
    Kitchen Appliances
    • Refrigerator w/ ice maker
    • Stove, oven, & microwave
    • Dishwasher
    Kitchen Utensils and Dishes
    • Assortment of pots & pans w/lids
    • Mixing bowl set
    • Measuring cups
    • Cutting board
    • Spatula
    • Can opener
    • Cutting knife
    • Ladle
    • Tea kettle
    • Serving spoons
    • Cookie sheets
    • Dinner plates
    • Salad plates
    • Cereal bowls
    • Drinking glasses
    • Coffee cups
    • Set of knives, spoons and forks
*Each complex and apartment layout is unique. Amenities may differ between apartments.
All apartments have wired, high-speed Internet access. However, there are a few computer requirements:
  • Anti-virus software that runs constantly and automatically updates its virus definitions.
  • Ethernet card
  • CAT5 cable
  • A firewall program or router that serves as a firewall

Below is a packing list of what I decided to bring with me to Disney. I am definitely a bit of an over packer, so keep that in mind if you are referencing this list at all while you pack! I categorized things to make it a little easier.

o   Professional Clothing (You must wear professional clothing to Traditions and to any Disney classes you are taking)
o   Casual Clothing
o   Running Clothing
o   Heels
o   Sneakers (I plan on buying separate shoes for my role once I go through Traditions and learn what footwear is appropriate)
o   Flats
o   Flip Flops
o   Undergarments
o   Socks
o   Bathing Suit
-       Bathroom Stuff/Hygiene (Most of this you can buy in Florida, but I just packed it since I had the space)
o   Tooth brush
o   Toothpaste
o   Razor
o   Shaving Cream
o   Face Soap
o   Body Soap
o   Loofa
o   Feminine Products
o   Deodorant
o   Towels
-       Accessories
o   Hair Straightener
o   Curling Iron
o   Hair Bows
o   Hair Ties
o   Bobby Pins
o   Make-up
o   Nail Polish
o   Hairbrush
o   Jewelry
o   Minnie Ears
o   Purses – One Business, One fun
o   Wristlet
-       Medication
o   Bring any medication you need)

-       Kitchen
o   Wine Glasses  (Only bring if you are 21 and over or you can get in trouble for having alcohol related items in your room)
o   Disney Cups
o   Water Bottle
o   Water Filters and Pitcher
o   Dish Towel
o   Toaster
-       Cleaning Supplies
o   Toilet Cleaner
o   Glass Cleaner
o   Tile Cleaner (for bathroom and Showers)
o   Swiffer and Pads
-       Decorations
o   Pictures
-       Bedroom
o   Sheets
o   Blanket
o   Pillows
o   Pillow Pet (and any other stuffed animals you want to bring!)
-       Office/Writing Supplies
o   Tape Dispenser
o   Tape
o   Notepads
o   Pens
o   Pencils
o   Markers
o   Crayons
o   Paper
o   Binder
o   Notebook
-       Electronics/Appliances
o   Iron
o   Ironing Board
o   Movies
o   Surge Protectors
o   Television
o   DVD Player
o   HDMI Cable
o   Phone Charger

While packing, I piled everything into my living room and laid it all out so I didn't forget it. HOCKITY POCKITY WOCKITY WACK THIS IS THE WAY I DECIDED TO PACK...

Because I'm not as talented as Merlin is in the packing area, getting all of this into my car was a bit of a hassle. I bought a roof bag to fit a lot of things on top of the car instead of inside the car. ABRA CABRA DABRA NACK I PUT THE BAG ON THE CAR'SROOF RACK. Because I'm bringing two people with me along for the ride from New York to Florida and we are driving straight through without stopping in hotels, I wanted to leave the entire back seat empty for sleeping purposes. This limited a LOT of space inside my car. The roof back made up for that lost space. The trunk was pretty much filled as much as possible. 

I even set up a nice little makeshift bedding area for the back seat so it would be comfortable to sleep in! As you can see, it's already been inhabited by creatures of another dimension. 

After all that, I was finally done with packing!



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

M.U. Residence Hall Living: Accessing DORMS and Registering for Housing

 Approximately ten days before arrival dates, DCP participants receive an e-mail titled "DORMS" (Disney Online Resident Management System). This e-mail includes your opportunity to register for Disney sponsored housing on Disney Property! It's SCARY how exciting it is to finally get to register for where you live! Before recent times, Disney used to have a first come first serve basis for room preferences upon arrival. Now everything is online! Much less fuss! Participants receive two e-mails. One with a housing ID number and the link for the website and the second with a password. Once the e-mail is received, click on the link and log-in with the information given to you!

After logging in, participants must fill out information about themselves include house address, e-mail address, phone number, etc. If you are bringing a car to the program, you will also have to fill in your license plate and car type. (Disney probably wants to keep track of your plate number in case you decide to break in to any big name power companies and have your mom drive the getaway car. Hey, it's happened before!) You'll also fill out some emergency contact information.

The trickiest part of DORMS is the preferences and roommate section. You can choose to "be adventurous" and have a roommate at random or you can choose roommates in advance. I'm pretty adventurous, but I was one hundred percent not living with someone I didn't choose myself. I found 5 roommates over the Disney Facebook pages. Together we make up the OOZMA KAPPA FRATERNITY! 

If you do choose roommates in advance, only ONE roommate needs to go on the website first to link everyone to the same apartment. All roommate must have the same arrival and departure date in order to live together. One roommate enters everyone's housing ID number that you receive in the first DORMS e-mail into the system. Once they do this, everyone linked will receive an e-mail that they were linked. When the rest of the group logs into DORMS and gets to the roommates page, all they need to do is approve the group of people they were linked to. Choose your MIKE WAZOWSKI in advance to sign your team up! Everyone else just needs to click yes!

The second part is apartment preferences. You rank your top 8 preferences based on facility and number of people. If you look on the DCP onboarding website in advance, you can find all the pricing and options for facilities and rooms there. The options are as follows (this is straight from the website as of the Fall Program 2014)...

Rooms with three people in them are NOT designated triples, they are forced triples to accommodate an overflow of College Program Cast Members. If you do not want to be in a tight triple, do not put them as a high preference. However, keep in mind that these are only preferences. Disney in no way needs to give you your first choice. But if you're in the program, little things like that shouldn't matter when following a dream! Bunkbeds are completely manageable (MIKE AND SULLEY MANAGED THEM JUST FINE!) A few days before check-in (about 3-5), you'll receive an e-mail if you were placed in triple occupancy. Otherwise, it's safe to assume you will just be in regular double rooms. 

Be sure to print out your Housing Boarding pass to bring for check-in! If you can't do it immediately on the website, don't worry! Disney sends it it you in an e-mail!

That's about it for DORMS! It fast, simple, and not at all like the MONSTROSITY of registering for a room in college!