Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Guarding the World: Live & Visual Audits

photo credit
I covered VATs in one of my last GTW posts, so today I'm going to cover the 2 other types of audits you will see as a Disney Lifeguard. These audits can be just as stressful, if not more stressful than VATs. Just like VATs audits are another "luck of the draw" kind of situations. Some locations audit regularly, while others do not.


Live Audits

My first Live Audit was a disaster (at least in my mind), but it was my first week on stand. I had never had inservice (IST) yet, and no one had really prepared me for how Disney does audits/mock situations. Ellis had prepared me for the fact that they did. Other guards had prepared me for the fact that audits didn't happen very often. But neither group really got me to understand how to recognize it was happening.

In Ellis Audit world, if you don't say you are doing something, you didn't do it. So if you don't say, I'm clearing the area, you're not. If you don't point and assign someone to call 911, 911 does not get called. Learn this fact very quickly. You can ask "Did 911 get called?" as many times as you like. No one will answer you during an audit. Just call 911 again. It won't hurt if it has already been called.

Most importantly not calling 911 will be an automatic fail.

So I wasn't prepared for that, but I'm sure you will be. In inservice you'll do situations, and the way you do them in inservice is exactly how you'll do it in a live audit. Also your (better) coordinators will remind things, like "Ellis looks for this, this one time in an Ellis audit, and don't forget to do this in a real situations." No offense to the Contemporary, but I felt that my Inservice trainings at Pop/Art and even All Star were much more informative. After those ISTs I really felt like a rockstar about my lifeguard skills. I'm not sure why that was. I think maybe because a lot of the guards at Contemporary had been Disney lifeguards longer, so they weren't that concerned? The guards at All Star and Pop/Art are a lot younger and most are CPs, so those Coordinators have to be really good at teaching.

Moral of the story? Don't knock Value Resorts. They know their stuff backwards and forwards.

I had 3 In house Live Audits total. In house just means that they are done by Disney, ie. as a practice for an Ellis live audit. I had a spinal at the Contemporary, an unconscious gid (Guest in Distress) at Pop Century, and a chocking baby at Art. Besides the overall confusion of the first audit, I did very well on my live audits. As stressful as the anticipation of an audit is, they really helped my confidence in my guard skills because it shows that you will be able to perform under pressure. (However, the anxiety of anticipation of Ellis audits did contribute to me wanting to get out of lifeguarding sooner)

There was an Ellis audit one day when I was working at Art. I was at Nemo 1 guarding, when the girl at Nemo 2 yelled over "Ellis is here!" That is not something a lifeguard EVER wants to hear. Especially at Nemo. Nemo is typically the pool they would Ellis audit at. I wasn't too concerned though because my bump was supposed to come relatively soon. Then I'd be able to escape to the break room, free from concerns over Ellis audits. I also didn't see any managers on the pool deck. The audit actually ended up being at Mermaid, which was a HUGE surprise. We both heard "3 whistle mermaid" over the radio and were really excited/confused.

One of the girls in the audit said that they could see one of our managers looking at the pool from one of the buildings, so she knew something was up. Both guards did a really good job! Let's just say that was a very exciting day to be at work. Ellis films their live audits, so a few days later the guards/coordinators in the audit got to watch their audit. Personally I think that part sounds a whole lot more unpleasant than the actual audit.

If you've actually been Ellis audited leave me a comment. I'd love to hear about the experience!

Visual Audit

Visual Audits are pretty straight forward.  Someone watches you on stand for like 10 minutes. They audit you on changing your position every 5 minutes, your attentiveness, your scan in/out, if you're talking on stand, costume, if you saw "I've got your water" etc. I was visual audited quite frequently at Pop and Art, and only once at the Contemporary. There's really not much to say about visual audits. You'll usual know after you've been audited because someone will come to one of the guards and ask for the names of the guards on the different stands.

The biggest concern in visual audits is that you don't get caught having an extended conversation with the other guard on your pool or even with guests. This is not as easy as it sounds. I was audited a lot in winter at Pop. One of those pools is just you and another guard. Sometimes there is NO ONE in your water. Also what you think is a short and sweet conversation with a guest ends up being like 10 minutes. Also lifeguards are in a weird role. Yes, we need to be ever vigilant, but we also need to be friendly and helpful to guests. At the Contemporary we had a guest service tip of the week. They wanted us to go out our way to be friendly, yet still watching our water and getting every VAT. It's a very contradictory role.

I only had one friend who was talked to after a visual audit. The auditor said it didn't look like she was looking where she was pointing when she scanned into her water. One of the managers talked to her about, but basically said not to worry about. They thought she did fine! Also at the Contemporary not all of us actually said "I've got your water" when we scanned in/out, but I guess we still passed.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Where in the World?

Where in Disney's Hollywood Studios would you see this window surrounded by all your favorite plush characters?

Clues and fun facts ahead!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

May & June Life Updates!

 Hello! I just looked back and my last life update was from February, so I decided it's that time again!


This past May I actually flew home. Twice! It was the first time I'd been home since August 2012, so it was about time. This first time was early May to run the Indianapolis Half Marathon with my family. It was actually supposed to be a longer trip, but for some reason my Concierge training was pushed off until that week. I really don't like calling in for training shifts because that affects you and your trainer, and then I always worry that it might take Disney a while to reschedule the training. Believe me Disney and scheduling is not something I like to depend on.
After running the Indianapolis Half Marathon!
So the last week of April/the first week of May I had my 5 days of on the job training for Concierge (finally!), and then I went home for the weekend. It was so nice to be in a house again! And when I came back I had my first Concierge shifts without a trainer. It went pretty well too! I'm only getting more confident in all of my Concierge skills, and if you thought I knew a lot about Disney before....well, I'm getting close to knowing everything at this point!

So May was a lot of new guest interactions and new Disney skills to work on.  I also took part in a Transportation Tour of Disney, which All Star does just for their Concierge cast members. I had so much fun and learned so much! I'll be posting more that in the future as well. Also I had some friends visit with their boyfriends. I was able to get 3 of them into the park for free and then be a part of this amazing picture in front of the castle. They had really good timing too because now our IDs are blocked out for Magic Kingdom pretty much all this month and the next.
I can cross epic jumping pic in front of castle off of my bucket list now!
The last week of May, I ended up having only 3 days of work, so I ended up making this trip home a little bit longer. I was specifically going home to go to a friend's wedding (with my boyfriend who I got to see for a weekend too!), but I also loved the excuse to be home as well.

Star Wars Weekends were also in May. I'm sorry to report that I only went one night, but that one night was so great! I saw Warwick Davis' show and the Hyperspace Hoopla, and you can believe I'll have to another post with some information about that experience!


It's June now, right? Right! So this month has been a lot more learning in my role and really getting to know the people that I work with. Concierge is a very independent role, which is great, but it makes meeting coworkers and developing friendships a little bit harder. When I have a shift, I may be the only one coming in at that time or leaving at a specific time, so you don't even always have people to talk to when you're coming in or leaving work. I actually really enjoy opening and closing the Concierge desk because then I usually start or pull with other people. I think closing is especially fun because usually everyone took cash, and you just enjoy your time in the bank out room, talking about all the really weird or difficult guest situations you had that day.

Also this month I am making plans for my next big life step, which will be a new apartment and living by myself. I am so excited for this. The plan is to move in mid-late September into a one or two bedroom, which my mom will be subsidizing because she plans on visiting and staying at my apartment instead of a hotel and also now it'll be easier for anyone to visit me. I know it's only June, and I'm already planning, but right now I have 4 roommates and this is my 6th roommate living situation and it is time for me to have some peace and quiet. And if one of brothers decides to get a job in the central Florida area, well, he will already have a place to live.

From this post it looks like a lot happened in May (May IS my favorite month) and not as much in June, so let's make a deal. June can be as sleepy and boring as it needs to, as long as July is the best month ever. Deal?

Much affection,

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Where in the World?

At which Walt Disney World Resort would you see this sign of "Davy Crockett" Mickey?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Where in the World? The Backside of Magic Edition

This picture shows what I like to call "the backside of magic." I like these pictures because it's a glimpse into everything Disney doesn't want you to see. Loading docks, delivery vans, scaffolding, cast members eating, etc. However, right now in the Magic Kingdom, they are building the Dwarf Mine Car rollercoaster out in the open for everyone to see, mostly because they have no choice.

Another "backside of magic" you can see in the Magic Kingdom, also in Fantasyland, is the metal substructure of the outskirts of Fantasyland. You can see it as you're walking from Tomorrowland to the Storybook Circus area, closer to Ariel's Grotto. I always snoop on this because it lines up with the entrance of the Utilidors for Cast Members. Just a little fun fact for you.

I took this picture on a transportation tour I took on Sunday. It was specifically for All Star Concierge, and it was so much fun! I'll post more information about it later, but now without further ado....

Where in World? This one has two parts.

First, which Walt Disney World Resort hotel are we looking at? And second, aboard which mode of transportation going from where to where (point A to point B) would you have this view?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Conquering Concierge: Training Week 3, Concierge Class Day 3


Tuesday April 23, 2013

Destination Concierge (Day 3) 0830-1700

Today was saved for Chase Visa, Dining reservations (A La Carte), and each dining plan in more detail. Most of my classmates were starting to get anxious on Monday because they were wondering when we would ever get to A La Carte. I had already heard from some current Concierge CMs that they save it for the last day, so the class was going exactly like I had expected.

Again this goes back to the typical setup of a DU Class. You begin with very broad knowledge during the first two days, and you save the last few hours of the last day for really technical and sometimes very difficult concepts.

We began the class covering Disney Visas. There are two: Disney's Premier VISA Card and the Disney Rewards VISA. The first has the best rewards, BUT there is an annual fee. I really cannot imagine a scenario where I would want to sign up for the Premier VISA, but if you were interested, you could potentially apply and receive your VISA within a little over 24 hours while you are on vacation at Walt Disney World.

Once we had covered Disney VISAs, it was finally time for DINING! I'm not going to lie, I took many notes on Dining. They didn't have a workbook for us, just a blank sheet of paper. I love blank sheets of paper. The only thing I love more than blank sheets of paper, is filling them with writing. For dinining reservations and any other reservations, we use A La Carte. Because this is the world, and the world just adores acronyms, of course a la carte stands for something. The acronym is AppLicAtion for  Children's Activities, Recreation, Tours, and Entertainment (I know it's kind of a stretch). 

As you can imagine from this acronym, we use A La Carte for basically any type of reservation our guests would want to make. You want breakfast at the Crystal Palace? A la carte. Your princess wants her hair done a the Bibbidi Bobbiti Boutique? A la carte. You're interested in the Keys to the Kingdom tour? A la carte. You want to see Cirque du Soleil La Nouba tomorrow night? A la carte. You need to print your tickets for the Hoop de Doo Musical Revue? A la carte. You want to go fishing tomorrow morning? A la carte. Should I keep going? Okay two more...

You'd like to dine at Victoria and Alberts? Oh excellent choice! Let me give them a call (no a la carte).
You want to experience Richard Petty's Driving Experience? Let me call and see what I can do for you (no a la carte). Yes, those would be the two exceptions to booking things on a la carte. As well as golf. We don't cover golf.

The rest of the class was more information than you can imagine about reservations and using a la carte. We also did a lot of practice, which was mostly "Okay, just look some things up on your own." Unfortunately, it was a training environment so we couldn't actually book any reservations.

We ended class with the finale of our game. I won the Disney trivia game we played for Monday and Tuesday. I can thank countless hours of Children's Activites games for that. Specifically how much was adult admission when Disney World first opened. And how tall is Cinderella's castle. While everyone else is like, "In feet? I have no idea how tall anything is!" I'm all, "I hear this question at least weekly in close counts at the pool. It has to be just under 200 ft, so there's no blinking light, duh!

Biggest Takeaways
  • If you book Cirque at a resort, be prepared to pay with one credit card. You cannot split payments and it should be a US credit card as well (except I was able to book Cirque for a guest from New Zealand a few days ago).
  • If you have an allergy and you let your server know at a Disney restaurant, the chef will come to you table personally to talk about it. Even if it's a tomato allergy (I've reassured a guest about this before, but she didn't seem to believe me).
  • There is a cake hotline for ordering cakes for special events! I already knew this, but I still think it is amazing!
  • The Hoop de Doo Musical Revue runs every day  of the year! Cirque and Spirit of Aloha run Tuesday through Saturday.
  • Disney is very lenient about cancellations. As long as you cancel by 10pm in person or by midnight online the day before, you may forgo the fee. Of course there are many exceptions to this rule, so make sure you know or cancel with plenty of time in advance if you have to.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Where in the World?

Inside which pavilion at Epcot would you find this collection of creatures?