Monday, January 30, 2012

SO close to finally starting my job for real!

Day three of training and only one more to go!

Today was very short and sweet, blog-entry-wise. We spent a couple hours this morning going over stuff we already learned (safety for the characters, handling guest situations, etc.) and then we worked character meet and greets in Epcot. I worked with Chip and Dale, Goofy, Tigger and Mickey, which I still can’t even really believe. Seriously, how many people get to say that's their job?

Some things to keep in mind about being an attendant:

A) Once a character comes out into the park, ALL of the guests go nuts. All of them. Age means nothing.

B) Guests don’t listen. Like ever. Part of our job includes forming lines to meet characters so that it’s not just a giant mob, but that is close to impossible to achieve.

C) You are simultaneously a photographer, entertainer, small-talker, organizer and watchdog. There are a million things to keep track of all at once. Oh and you can’t be shy. At all.

Despite all of this, it was still by far my favorite day on the job. And it all makes me really excited to finally start working full shifts and be done training. I seriously have the best job you can have on a CP. For real.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Day 2 of Official Character Attendant Training

Sooooo getting the motivation to write blog entries is much harder than I thought. This program is absolutely exhausting. But in the best possible way :]

On to Day 2 of Training!

We started out the morning in Magic Kingdom, where we got to tour the Entertainment department again. It was more or less a repeat of the Welcome to Entertainment tour. We also watched some current Character Attendants in MK working with the Princesses, which was amazing. I revert back to a five-year-old in the presence of characters, so I will need to get over that. But seriously, does anyone ever not freak out a little bit when Cinderella waves at them? Didn’t think so.

From there we went to Animal Kingdom and viewed their Entertainment rooms. DAK is a really small park comparatively, so they don’t have much and there aren’t many people stationed there.

After that we went to Hollywood Studios and observed more character attendants (this time it was for Winnie-the-Pooh, Handy Manny and Jake the Pirate). We were supposed to be watching the attendants but it’s SO hard to not watch all the cute little interactions with the characters. It also makes me insanely jealous for obvious reasons.

Then we took a little break and ate lunch until it was time to meet at Epcot. There we practiced little scenarios with each other and then we actually got to host some meet and greets in the park. I was stationed with Donald and Daisy, and let me tell you, I am still infatuated with them even afterward. I had a little bit of trouble with a guest getting mad about not being able to take a picture but nothing too major. There was a Make-A-Wish family at one point, which was really sad but it makes me really grateful. All in all, it was a pretty good, successful day. But I think people planning to do the CP really underestimate how difficult and tiring this job is. For me, standing in the sun for even an hour is exhausting, so I can’t imagine what I will feel like after eight. Just a little something to keep in mind when picking your job. I still wouldn’t trade being a character attendant for anything (well, except for Character Performer), but it’s a tough job.

Tomorrow we are supposed to be reviewing some more inside before we do more work with the characters.

On another happy note, I got a CP e-mail saying that Disney is hosting an audition for female character performer look-a-likes, which is really exciting. I auditioned for character performer for this program but obviously didn’t make it, so I’m really excited for another opportunity. I’m hopefully going to do an audition recap, but we’ll see how much time I actually have.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Welcome to Entertainment, Training and More!

This is SO much busier than I anticipated! I meant to try to blog every day during training so I don't forget anything, but that's probably not going to happen.

I had Welcome to Entertainment on Thursday, which is a class for Character Attendants, Performers and Photopass Photographers. I can't really go into great detail about this class because it's somewhat secret information and I don't want to spoil anything. BUT there is quite a bit of safety information, some computer classes and such. We also got some general information about working in Entertainment, such as things that we can and cannot share with family and friends, questions we'll be asked by guests, etc. It was pretty interesting, but a fairly slow day.

On Friday, I got to take a tour of sorts of the park. It was pretty behind-the-scenes and full of cool history stuff. It was also a short day, so that was really nice, but it started super early in the morning.

Today I had my first day of official Character Training! Whoo! This was by far the best day, because we FINALLY got into role-specific information. Again, a lot of this is stuff I can't talk about, but just know that if you ever happen to be a Character Attendant, this is the day it starts to get good. It was also the longest day by far but it went by super fast. And we got to watch The Little Mermaid for no apparent reason. We also got the little red ribbons that say "Earning My Ears" to add to the bottom of our nametags. This is kinda neat, it's their version of employee in training. What's really nice about them is that you get to choose when you take the ribbon off. The other thing that was a huge emphasis today was the Disney Look. Because we are technically working in Entertainment, we are required to follow a little bit stricter dress code since we have so much guest interaction. We went over little scenarios we might have with the guests, and things we could say when the character's set is ending. I also got my schedule for the next week, which had the locations where I will be working first, and I'm ridiculously excited about that. After today, I'm really excited to start my role.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


So today was Traditions, which is kind of a mixture of any normal company’s orientation and Disney secrets (kind of). It takes place at Disney University, which is on the WDW property kind of close to Magic Kingdom. It lasts about 4 ½ hours, and I’m not gonna lie: it’s pretty painful. But I also understand why it’s necessary.

The first hour of Traditions is pretty basic orientation stuff for any company (don’t sexually harass people, don’t steal our shit, etc.) Then we took a field trip of sorts that helped illustrate some company rules. After that we went back to Disney University and learned some stuff about company history, along with rules and guidelines to follow when we’re working. I’m being purposely vague here, because it’s way better if you don’t know exactly what to expect. So, word of wisdom: don’t ask a bunch of people what happens, because then the surprises are ruined for you and you’ll hate your life on this day.

The best part of the day is getting your nametags!

Hooray Nametags!

And Cast Member IDs! Which equals free admission to all of the Disney parks! Hoorah!

Cast ID + Free admission to the parks = Pretty sweet deal :]

The worst part of the day is the fact that I was in the later session, so I didn’t get done until like 6:30 PM and it’s a Wednesday, so the Magic Kingdom closes at 8. My roommate and I ended up going to the park anyway, just because neither of us has ever been to WDW. We went on the Jungle Cruise and watched Dream Along With Mickey, The Magic, The Memories and You!, and Wishes. I’m glad that I finally got to visit the parks, but I’m really looking forward to actually having the opportunity to really explore them.

Tomorrow’s my first day of character attendant training, bright and early at 8:30 AM!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Check-In Day

After 2 flights, an hour long delay and a few thousand miles, I’m finally in Orlando!

Yesterday was check-in at Vista Way (which is the main complex where a lot of stuff takes place). We received our housing assignments, keys, and housing IDs. One thing that’s nice about the complexes is that you have to have your housing ID to enter (I love security measures, actually. I always get nervous and I lock EVERYTHING, so you won’t hear me complaining about this). Disney doesn’t assign housing before you arrive in Florida, but if you happen to find someone you want to room with beforehand, you can request that online. Otherwise they will just put you in an apartment with whoever you happen to be standing next to. People line up ridiculously early (like before 6 AM) to get the housing they want as a result. We were there early enough to get the 4-bedroom apartment in Chatham like we wanted. Patterson is the newest complex (built in 2008) so it’s very nice and quiet. Chatham is the second-newest, so it’s a little bit older, but I hear that the rooms are bigger here than in Patterson. Vista Way is the other complex, which is also the largest and oldest. Vista has the reputation of being a bit louder than the other two, but it’s also where the classrooms and check-in are. There is a fourth complex called the Commons but it is exclusively for international college program participants.

I have 7 roommates, which sounds like a lot, but I have lived in two dorms and a sorority house with 57 other women, and I have two sisters. Needless to say, 7 roommates doesn’t scare me. We live on the ground floor near the center of the complex. The apartment is nice because we have the four separate bedrooms and a HUGE living area. We also get two refrigerators and 2 ½ bathrooms. The bathroom situation might get somewhat tricky, but each bedroom does have a sink which will help. The Chatham apartments also get a little balcony area which is unnecessary but nice to have.


While we were at Vista Way, they also handed out Disney College Program Guides, which look a lot like the school planners from junior high and high school. They put stickers with information about where you’re supposed to go and when on the back of the planners and I’m guessing we’ll probably be using them a bunch during training. They also used them a TON during casting.

After we received our housing, we boarded a bus to the casting building which is on the Walt Disney World property.

Doorknob at the Casting Building

Inside Casting

Because I love Donald :]

At casting, we first received our work locations. I’m thrilled to say that I get to work at the Magic Kingdom as a Character Attendant! I auditioned to be a Character Performer but was not one of the 5% to pass the audition, so this is the next best thing. After we got our work locations, we went through what feels like a million stations, each with more information. People explained the classes, set up direct deposit accounts, did FBI background checks, talked about the Disney Look, took W-2 and I-9 forms and more. The last item of the day was finding out when we take our Disney Traditions class. Traditions is technically the first day of training and it will also be the day that we get our Cast IDs, which means free entrance to ALL the Walt Disney World theme parks! I’m pretty sure I’m the only person here who’s never been to WDW (or Orlando, for that matter). We also found out when our first day of training would be and how to get there.

The whole process took about 3 hours from start to finish. The most important advice I could give to a potential CPer would be to bring a U.S. passport for your photo ID if possible. A passport negates the need for something establishing your social security number, which is really nice. If you don’t have a passport, then make sure you bring the correct forms of identification listed online. It will make your day SO much easier. Also having the onboarding paperwork (available on the CP website) printed and filled out will help.

After going through Casting, we had a little downtime to unpack and settle in a bit. I was completely exhausted after having only seven-ish hours of sleep in the past three days, so I took a nap :] But afterwards, we had a housing meeting in the Commons Clubhouse. I’m not going to sugarcoat this: it was a complete waste of my time. But it was mandatory and they were scanning IDs at the door so we had to go. They spent two hours going over the housing codes, which are just the rules of what you can and cannot do. The kicker is that they were all printed in our Disney College Program guides, and being the overachiever that I am, I had already read through all of them.

That’s pretty much it. There was nothing planned today to give us all time to unpack and get settled. I got a ride from one of my roommates yesterday to Target to get some essentials. Another thing that’s nice about living in DCP housing is that there is bus transport to WDW and some shopping places nearby. I think it takes you to a Walgreens, Publix and Wal-Mart, plus some local outlet malls. Nothing is really within walking distance, but the New Yorker in me might try it anyway. We’ll see :]

Whew. If you made it through all of that, you’re a champ. Hopefully it was somewhat interesting and/or maybe helpful. Next up: Traditions!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Disney College Program Adventures!

My name is Lana and I'm a 21-year-old (sometimes) college student from the West. I'm literally leaving tomorrow for Orlando to participate in the Disney College Program for the Spring 2012 semester, (and considering extending through August, but talk to me in May :). I originally applied for the program in October of 2010 for the Spring 2011 semester, but I didn't pass the web-based interview. I wanted to apply for the Fall 2011 program, but since Disney has a 6-month rule for re-applying, I was too late for the deadline. BUT I finally managed to jump through all the hoops for this semester! Excitement!

My guess is that everyone who is reading this (if anyone is reading this) already knows what the Disney College Program is, so I won't bore you with a description of the program. In the event that you don't already know what the program is, here's the link to the DCP website: Disney College Program. There are also a lot of great blogs and YouTube channels with tons of great information about the program, so I will try to include some of those on the sidebar.

My role for the DCP is Character Attendant, and I found out via a friend who has access to the Hub (the Disney Cast Member website) that I'm working the Magic Kingdom. I feel like I should throw in a disclaimer here that I am not a huge Disney freak. I mean, I do love me some Donald and I ADORE Princess and the Frog, but Disney is not my life. I've never actually been to Disney World (just Disneyland), and I'm sure that it will be fun, but I'm doing the DCP primarily for the addition to my resume and to hopefully meet leaders within the company. A lot of people forget just how many other companies Disney owns (ABC, ESPN, Marvel, to name a few), and I think having some connection to such highly-regarded corporations could be useful someday. You never know :]

Anyway, that's enough rambly nonsense for one evening.