Thursday, February 17, 2011

This is harder than I thought it'd be!!

I have a new follower on my blog and that is probably the highlight of my morning!!! It's always nice to know that people are hearing your thoughts.
She was also a cast member at WDW so I'm so excited that she came across my blog! :o)
So anyhow, I kinda stole this from her blog!! Thanks Anna!

The Disney Challenge. (It's supposed to go over 3o days...but I'm far too impatient for that.)

1. Your Favorite Character-
--My favorite character always has been and always will be Pluto!

2. Your Favorite Princess-
--Aurora...not my favorite movie, I just think that shes the prettiest and the sweetest to meet in person!!

3. Your Favorite Heroine-
--Mulan... she kinda saved her country.

4. Your Favorite Prince-
--Aladdin. The other princes were already princes and they were spoiled and paid alot of attention to physical looks...which explains why they got married within 24 hours of meeting their princesses. ...just sayin.

5. Your Favorite Hero-
-- Mickey...have you ever seen Fantasmic?!?

6. Your Favorite Animal-
-- Dug. He is aboslutely phenomenal.

7. Your Favorite Sidekick-
-- Can I pick Dug again!?! haha I guess I'll say Timon & Pumbaa. Who doesn't love them!?

8. Your Favorite Villian-
-- Ew, I'm not a huge fan of villians....but I did think that Rapunzels "mother" was hilarious.

9. Your Favorite Original Character-
-- Kinda already answered this one...but Pluto!!

10. Your Favorite Song-
-- Probably "Kiss the Girl" From the Little Mermaid.

11. Your Favorite love song-
-- "So this is Love" from Cinderella.

12. Your Favorite villian song-
-- "Be Prepared" from the Lion King.

-13. Your least favorite song-
-- I honestly can't think of one I hate! haha. Probably the sweet nightengale song in Cinderella.

-14. Your Favorite Kiss-
-- Oh my goodness...if anyone DOESN'T love the classic Lady & the Tramp kiss then I don't know whats wrong with them!!

-15. The First Disney move you saw-
-- I remember going to see the Lion King when I was three and my mom warning me that if it was too violent & scary we could leave. hah!

-16. Your Favorite Classic-
-- Lady & The Tramp

-17. Your Least Favorite Classic-
-- Snow White (Sorry Kelly Todd)

-18. Your Favorite Pixar Film-
--UP! The best movie...ever.

19. Your Least favorite Pixar film-
--Ratatouille. or Wall-E. snooze.

20. Favorite Sequel-
--if Toy Story 3 counts as a sequel....oh my goodness...that movie will make grown men cry!

21. An overrated movie-

22. An underrated movie-
--Princess and the Frog. so many people HAVEN'T seen it...makes me sad.

23. A Movie that makes you laugh.

24. A movie that makes you cry.
--Up!! That movie just has it all.

25. Your favorite scene from your favorite movie.
-- Again...have to go with Up! The scene where Carl is all alone in his house reading the "Stuff I'm Going To Do" book...and he opens up and finds the note from Ellie....aaaah! i get goosebumps thinking about it!

26. Saddest Death-
--This is a horrible question, but Ray from the Princess and the Frog.

27. Your favorite quote-
-- this is hard...may have to come back to this one...

28. Your favorite themepark-
--wow, its got to be a toss up between Epcot & Magic Kingdom. Theyre just soo different from one another.

29. Your favorite theme park attraction-
-- At the moment, its definitely Soarin', but of all time..Thunder Mountain has always been a big favorite.

30. Your favorite theme park show-
--Has to be the new Finding Nemo show. So presh!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

When life gives you dilemmas....

This morning, I woke up, hopped on the 6:25am bus, and made the long trek to work.
Little did I know what awaited me once I got there!
So today, I was scheduled as a "spare". This means that I had no specific spot or character to attend unless an attendant called in sick. So until the park opened at 9, I was able to hang out in the break room and color with my lovely friend Lauren. It was a wonderful morning and I was crossing my fingers that no attendants would call in and I could sit and color all day long!!
No such luck. Mary Poppins' attendant called in, and I was assigned to roam Fantasy Land with her. This was exciting for me, since it was a brand new character and a brand new location!

So, we go out into the park for our first meet & greet and another attendant pulls me to the side:
"There's been a bit of a problem...the only ride in the park that is operating is the carousel"

Since I don't know how much I am allowed to expose on the blog, I'll just say this: the magic exploded, and therefore no rides would be in working order, and who knew how long it'd take to get things up and running again?! So today I learned a valuable lesson: When an amusement parks rides are down...there's only one other thing that will make those guests happy: meeting characters.

I was kind of apprehensive to even bring Mary Poppins out for her next meet and greet for fear that she would be mobbed, but as my favorite mediocre sitcom dad Danny Tanner says: "When life gives you dilemmas, make dilemmanade!" And that's exactly what Disney did. It was time to make some memories, and Disney was more than ready to take on the challenge!

After our meet & greet, Mary & I made our way backstage for a spot of tea, and it was the craziest, yet most organized chaos I have ever witnessed. Just a few moments after we found out there would be no rides, characters were everywhere, ready and waiting to meet their fans. I mean, these characters were all over and all kinds of random!! Instead of just Pooh, we had Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, even Rabbit! Marie from the Aristocats came over from Epcot to spend the day with us, and even Miss Poppins had two penguin friends!!! All the while we were accompanied by Peter Pan, the Evil Step-family and of course the Fairy Godmother.
today really proved that attitude makes a huge difference!
Instead of panicking and making the guests upset, our managers and entertainment department did everything they could to make the morning extra special!! If we could approach every single instance in such a positive manner the world would be such a happier place!!

All is well now at the Magic Kingdom, & rides were restored one by one during the day
But I will never forget the morning that Disney World had no rides...
at least my job's never dull!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

life in orlando lately

So, as much as I wish I could blog every single day, and about every single detail, I guess I’m aiming for a blog a week. This past week, like every other week has been a whirlwind, full of blessings, fun surprises, and lots of fun times with my furry character friends.

There is a whole lot going on here at the Magic Kingdom where I am stationed. For instance, the MVP of the Super Bowl, Aaron Rodgers was just here in the traditional day-after-super-bowl-parade! (by the way, anyone else see the half time show with the black eyed peas? WOOF! My ears are still bleeding. And don’t even get me started on Christina Agiuellera) Anyways, I got filmed by ESPN that day along with my Wonderland friends, so I’m famous now! Yay! Watching the parade was awfully exciting. After all, my favorite part of the Super Bowl is when they say “I’m going to Disney World!!” ah! Goose bumps!!

Along with the Super Bowl, the Chilean Miners were here with their families, and I got to meet a few of them as well. Allowing the Miners’ children to meet some of their favorite characters was such a thrill and treat! Everyone was so kind and so sweet… After such a rough year, a trip to Disney was just what they needed!

In other news…Toon Town has officially closed its doors today on February 11, 2011. This, to me, is bittersweet. I kind of grew up in Toon Town and my first day ever working at Walt Disney World took place there in the Hall of Fame, but Disney is always looking to progress and move on to bigger and better things. Being a part of the biggest expansion in Magic Kingdom history has been such a fun time! I am so excited to see what the imagineers have thought up actually come to life each and every day!!

Besides working all week, I (along with 600 other girls) attended the Disney Face Auditions. This audition is to see if any of use college program chickadees resemble any of the princesses or fairies. Just a quick look into a face audition: You get measured and receive a number, and the judges (who, coincidentally enough, were the exact same judges I performed for in Austin) take you into a room to observe you. If you can, imagine it like being a piece of produce at the grocery store: They look you up and down, check out every single detail, study you, check to see if your eyes are too narrow, too wide, check your body type, check your height and in the end, turn all but 2 away. That is a Disney face audition. Needless to say, I was not one of the lucky two this past Wednesday morning, but my life as a character attendant is far to fun to pass up anyway!! So in the end, all is well!

So with a day to kill after the morning audition, I ventured by myself to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Most people might find that depressing, but I really see it as a way to clear my mind and spend some time with me. Privacy is a bit hard to come by these days. Walking through the park, doing every single thing on my time, people watching, and riding in the single rider line on rock’n roller coaster over and over again (yay, no lines!) are just some of the perks to roaming alone here at the parks. I did, however, make a pit stop to enjoy some fresh fruit and came across a couple from the U.K. The man began to ask me about my college program, so I answered the routine questions. And he repeatedly told me how fortunate I was to live here, but then we got into deeper conversation about how he and his wife were married here and how he even splurged to have his wife arrive in a pumpkin carriage. He told me that it was the happiest day of his life. They come back to the states each and every year just to visit WDW and are obviously head over heels ga-ga for each other. They have been married for over 20 years. The next day, I assisted a Make-A-Wish family with meeting Princess Aurora, Belle, and Cinderella. The young girl, dressed in a beautiful Belle gown, and hair just sprinkled with pixie dust, was lying down in her wheelchair. Although she couldn’t move, I could just feel her excitement when she came into the room. I asked her family if they enjoyed their visit and they couldn’t even speak. All the little girl said was “They made ME feel like a princess”. I could have melted right then and there. I think the biggest blessing for me as a character attendant is the ability to witness these moments, talk with the guests and see how much these interactions and experiences truly mean to them. It’s these moments that give me one more reason to wake up and get on the hour long, bumpy, hot, stuffy bus ride to work.

People really love this place. They call it magical. But in reality, this place is just a place. A very expensive place. Just a location with fun rides, and cool stuff to look at. What really makes the difference is the people. From custodial, to quick food and beverage, to the ticket sellers, to the hotel staff, to Cinderella, to the President of the corporation itself, we are all such a vital role here at the Walt Disney World Resort. Of course, I have to use a Walt Disney quote here because he said it best: "You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality." And the longer I am here, the more often I witness that this is the truth. Going above and beyond is definitely something we as cast members strive for. However, I believe my role here, and everywhere, goes farther than just that. The most important impact I hope to make with my time at Walt Disney World is not just to serve others, but to serve my Lord by serving others! I was reading Matthew 5:16 earlier which says "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” I have officially been here a month and I don’t want to waste another minute without

living out this verse fully and completely. My goal as a cast member is to make their experience

truly unforgettable by each and every action I make. What better way to make an impact in the

Magic Kingdom than to spread the love of God’s kingdom? That, my friend, is far more powerful

than pixie dust.

Until next time!

Friday, February 4, 2011

just another day in the magic kingdom.

So on Tuesday, I was scheduled to work at the teacups. This is where Alice and her friends hang out. So that means I got to attend FOUR characters at one time...this is quite a big feat for me, by the way...and I was petrified. So anywho, I got to work bright and early, but before I headed to the tea cups, my schedule told me to go to town square, which is where the train station is located right in front of the park. Funny, I thought, that I was being advised to go there, when my location was way far away from here. So anyways, I reach town square and they explain to me that before the characters reach their meet-and-greet locations that they all welcome the first visitors on the steam train in a big show before the park opens. Turns out, there’s a big ta-dah show welcoming all the guests to the park (who knew, right?). So anyways, they ask me, since I’ve never seen the show before, If I’d like to stand on the balcony of the train station with the characters since I’ve never seen this show to which I replied, “um, YES!” So the opening show starts, the dancers, who are dressed in early 20th century attire, come out and welcome the guests in dance and song, and here comes the train! Everyone from Mickey, to Aladdin, to Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum was on the train. It was the most fun and exciting thing getting to watch this from the train station balcony and getting to see the kids’ faces when their favorite characters arrived at the station! I had goosebumps the whole time, wanting to pinch myself because I still can’t believe that I am even a tiny part of this whole exciting place! Which kind of brings me to the topic of my blog and that is the true secret to creating magic for our guests.

So, when I started my job here a couple of weeks ago (yes, wow, its already been a couple of weeks!) I felt a little bit discouraged. I felt as if what I was doing meant absolutely NOTHING in the scheme of things that is Walt Disney World. I mean, really, all I do is walk around with a character, have him take pictures with guests and then crush peoples dreams when I have to say, “sorry, Alice will not be with us again today, she has gone to paint the roses red” or “Buzz Lightyear has a dinner date with Jessie this evening, we are no longer allowing guests in the line”. But I was reminded the other day just how influential my job is here. So this week, I was somewhat mistreated by a certain face character. She wasn’t very nice to me and didn’t even seem to be having fun with the children. But then I realized. When people leave the park, she was just that fictional character. She isn’t even real…all fantasy. But I am Stephani. They took more time in my line, listening to my instructions, they asking me for help and directions and having conversations with me about their lives, and their adventures in WDW than said character ever took with them to take a picture and sign an autograph. When those people leave the park, they know who I am. But these characteristics and this attitude are not my own. The Bible says in Colossians 3:23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” My true job here, beyond being a character attendant is to glorify the Lord in my works and my actions. No matter what is going on around me, and no matter what attitudes I encounter, and no matter how anyone else treats a guest, I know that my job here is to be a light and to glorify God in all of my actions. And I know that this is more important than “Disney Magic”. In everything we do, whether in work or play, this is our commandment.

So anyways, to end this blog on a light note…

While keeping a line in order the other day, a foreign man came up to me. Here’s how our conversation went:

Foreign man: Yes, where is the Pink Panther?

Me: uh…I’m sorry, The Pink Panther is not a Disney Character, sir, but we have many other characters to meet!

Foreign man: I’m sorry, no English. I need the Pink Panther.

Me: No, no Pink Panther here.

Foreign Man: We need to see Pink Panther, we are leaving.

Me: Uh… (pull out map) Walk down this way, take left, Meet & Greet!

I really hope that he enjoyed meeting Winnie the Pooh.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I'm so uncreative at the moment...I can't even think of a cutesy name for this blog.

18 days into my program…and only one blog. This is too typical for me.

SO much has been going on… but it’s hard to compress every moment into a blog. Maybe I should just carry a video camera at all times, because trying to explain this experience just doesn’t do it justice. There have been moments that have made me laugh, like when my fellow trainers and I were forced to walk around with Big Al and Shaker Bear from the Country Bear Jamboree (if you don’t know who they are…google them. Trust me, no child wants their autograph). There have been moments that made me want to cry, like last night, when I got cussed out for turning folks away from Buzz Lightyear, (even though the park was closed and Buzz had a dinner date with Jessie!!) and there have been moments that have made me absolutely melt. Like seeing sweet little princesses’ beautiful faces when they get to meet Tinkerbell, or when the characters choose to spend extra time and effort to make the Make-A-Wish families’ visit extra special. Every moment has been memorable, and somehow, every day gets better and better.

I used to worry that being on the other side of the curtain would change my view of Disney World. That working here would ruin the magic of it all. Even though I am on the other side of the Disney experience, and I see how that magic is made, its’ all still very real to me. Especially since I have been able to be a part of what makes Disney so unique, and special, and famous around the world. Being here and seeing the impact that this place has on people lets me know that what we do truly makes a difference. Every time I ride the bus towards the Magic Kingdom, I still get giddy like a 5-year-old. I know its totally lame, but I still think Disney World is one of the happiest places on earth.

However, as much as I love it here, it is not home. I think the best thing about this experience is that it is temporary. I know I will learn a lot from my time here, and I am really looking forward to the benefits it provides for me in the future, but I know that there is a very promising future for me elsewhere. This is just a small chapter in my life and my goal is to make the absolute most of it, because in the blink of an eye it will be just a memory, and it'll be back to reality!

So on that note, my plan is to start jotting down special memories when they happen so that I can post them here. so be on the look out!! :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

orlando life.

My life as of late.

Wow, what an incredible experience already! Its hard to believe I have been here in Orlando two weeks already. Sometimes it feels like a couple of days, but sometimes it feels like months!! I feel so comfortable and happy here in the house of mouse. Disney has always been a very important part of my life, and I was incredibly thrilled to have the opportunity to work here, but I had no idea how natural and at home I would feel here as well, even a week into my program. I honestly feel that I have been called here for specific purposes and I am prepared to let the Lord lead me through these next few months!

So, for those wondering just what exactly I am up to here at Walt Disney World, I will briefly go into the living, working, and learning aspects of the College Program!

So, a little about the new digs…
I live in a three bedroom apartment in Patterson Courts, an apartment leased out by the Walt Disney Company which only College Program students can live in. I have five roommates: Rachel (who is my immediate roommate) lives in Michigan along with Kayla, who lives in Michigan as well. We also have Lauren from Atlanta, Sam from California, and Janelle from New Mexico. I am so thankful for each and every one of my roommates!! They have made the past week so much FUN! If not for them, I would have probably cried from homesickness and lonliness, but instead, we have spent every single night together in our living room laughing until we cried and sharing heart-to-hearts, or spent time exploring the parks at night after work. Getting to know each and every one of them has been such a pleasure!! We already have plans to visit each other in their hometowns once the program is completed! :o)

Now…on to the work!

My role in WDW is in the entertainment department. I am a Character Attendant! I honestly could not have picked a more exciting, interesting, fun and rewarding job!!! This job could not be more perfect for me. Basically, what I do is hang out with the world renowned Disney characters and assist our guests while they wait in line for an autograph or a photo! All day every day is devoted to giving guests a magical encounter with Mickey and his friends! Training has been such a riot! I’ve made lots of friends, sang a ton of Disney tunes, and seen so much in the past three days alone! I’ve learned so many priceless secrets, bits of information, and tips about entertainment and quality guest service that truly put Disney in to a league of their own. There is honestly something so special in each person that works here. Walt Disney once said that “you reach a point where you don’t work for money anymore”. And that statement seriously does continue to prevail in WDW. I believe that the people who choose to work here truly just want the guests’ happiness. This is after all the happiest place on earth.

So, since there are about 235837969847 stories that I could share from my past week, I am going to keep this blog as short as possible and not post any for the moment. I’m far too tired. But don’t worry, stories and blogs will be coming soon, and more often. Settling in has been a bit more hectic and crazy than I could have ever imagined!! But please stay tuned, I promise there are more exciting stories on the way. Ta-ta for now.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

disney disney disney.

My first few days in Orlando...

Wow, what a whirlwind! A very long car ride, a total blast playing in Magic & Animal Kingdom, and a very sad goodbye later, I now live in the happiest place on earth. Walt Disney World. Now, to share a little bit of what’s going on this week.

January 12, 2011:

Its move in day!! Jordan Keiff arrived at our resort the night before and neither of us could sleep due to nerves and excitement! We packed up, headed over to Vista Way Apartments and sat in the 40 degree weather while waiting impatiently to check in. Jordan and I both got assigned to live in the Patterson Apartments, which we were pretty pumped about! Only 2 years old, and absolutely GORGEOUS, these apartments are referred to as the “nursing homes” due to their quiet nature, but to me, that’s a perk!! After a very long check in and a total maze through the casting area, we found out where we will be working. I will be a character attendant who will be moving from park to park and Jordan will be selling food and drinks in Typhoon Lagoon (until it gets warmer, he will be in Hollywood Studios). We were both thrilled and left to unpack and get settled into our new apartments!! Once back at the room, Luke, Emily and Shane had already done a great job bringing all of my junk into the apartment. I don’t think I could have moved in without them!! And one by one, the roommates came in!! We have Kayla and Rachel from Michigan, Sam is from California, and Janelle is from New Mexico. We are still awaiting the check in of Laura, from Atlanta, who is still snowed in…yes, in ATLANTA! So anywho, we all began the unpacking process and I prepared to say goodbye to the Holloway/Houston bunch. Saying goodbye was absolutely miserable…and once I finally stopped crying, I got a call from Luke which went a little something like this: “Hey, surprise, we are staying in Orlando one more night and we get to do this whole sad awful goodbye process again tomorrow!” Which honestly, as hard as I knew that would be, I could not have been happier…I wasn’t ready to be alone just yet!! So that night we went out to the Universal Studio boardwalk and spent time together, came home, and fell asleep to Aladdin…

January 13, 2011

The next morning began the Disney experience. Boring meetings and a whole day to do whatever we wanted, like take random scary cabs to WalMart. I can already tell that this program will be anything but boring.

Sooo.. the next day…

January 14, 2011

Traditions began! We woke up bright and early because apparently, Disney likes to do EVERYTHING at very unreasonable times like 5:45 am. My roommates dad began referring to Mickey as “Nazi Mouse”. But in all seriousness Traditions was a really amazing experience and worth the early wake up. Traditions is basically the beginning of the program. You begin to learn more about the company and some of the very coveted secrets of Walt Disney World. I’m not quite sure how many secrets I am allowed to expose about the Disney training process, so if you want to know any secrets about the company, I’d say google would be a fabulous source! After a long day of traditions, my roommates and I enjoyed the night at downtown Disney. And let me just say…working for Disney has some awesome perks. Discounts and no lines at planet Hollywood? Yes please!

Aaaaaanywho, moving right along….

January 15, 2011

Today was another very early morning and a loooong day of training, filled with more fun, new friends, and even more information and secrets about the company!

I can’t even explain how much I already love living here and how excited I am to begin more training… But I do miss home. However, I’m not going to lie, I’m not quite sure that the reality of the situation has fully hit me yet. As much as I miss my home, my family and friends, and just my life in general, I feel like I’m just here playing for a few days or visiting for a long weekend. It hasn’t really hit me yet that I actually LIVE here and I’m not going home for a long time. 5 months is so short, but at the same time so long. As excited as I am to be here, I do have apprehensions. I know there will be good and bad days, however, I do feel a peace about my decision to live, work, and play here. I know that the Lord has huge plans for my life and I have already seen Him working and moving!! I know this program will teach me a lot, and I am more than ready to begin this new chapter of life!!

Until next time…