Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Best Cast Member Discounts in the "World"

Ft Wilderness' Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue, my favorite discount!
Cast member discounts are a wonderful thing. In Walt Disney World they can often seem few and far between. There are often small print associated and block outs dates, so please do your research on your discounts! My favorite type of discount usually is in the form of food.  Unfortunately, when it comes to food and quick service restaurants, we don't really get them. So when you're just planning a short trip into the parks and need some corn dog nuggets from Caseys, you will be paying full price. The best advice I can give you about discounts is to always ask because it can't hurt to try, and to educate yourself on the hub. There are some awesome discounts out there, but sometimes they will have block out dates. Like on the exact days that you have a friend visiting and you want to use it.

(These are all subject to change. These are just the discounts I loved when I was there, so research and make sure they are still valid!)

Trail's End Breakfast

40% off 

Where should I even begin?? Some of the best restaurants in the "World" live at the Ft Wilderness Campgrounds. Trail's End is my favorite brunch spot because it has THE best discount. Often when I have gone, there will be a huge table of fellow cast members also taking advantage**. There is always fresh fruit, hot coffee, cheese grits, mickey waffles, and even smoked salmon. Don't forget to ask for the moonshine! It's the specialty juice they serve. You'll probably want a pitcher for the table. (**Sometimes they WON'T do separate checks, so if you are with a group of fellow cast members, be ready for this.)

Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue

50% off either the 1st or last show, there's always at least one show that's discounted

Hoop Dee Doo is also located at Ft Wilderness. I would suggest this show to EVERYONE. I have been about 5 or 6 times! That's saying something. Cast members receive a 50% discount for the show and that includes the gratuity, the show, unlimited beer/wine/sangria, and your whole meal (salad, fried chicken, cornbread, strawberry shortcake, AMAZING mashed potatoes!) Honestly I just need you all to just go to the show tonight. Or tomorrow. Or whenever your next free evening is. Have I steered you wrong before?

Boat Rentals

50% off   

I CANNOT EVEN BEGIN TO DESCRIBE HOW FUN THIS IS! I have always kicked myself for not renting boats when I was still in recreation, but the 50% discount is still awesome. I rented Sea Raycers with some friends. They seat either 1 or 2 people. I would definitely suggest renting your own. They go a lot faster with one person, and it is just so much fun. I would also suggest renting at either Bay Lake (Contemporary/Wilderness marinas) or the Seven Seas Lagoon (Polynesian or the Grand marinas). It gives you a lot of water to explore, and you can even boat right underneath the monorail and over cars! How cool!

Food at Merchandise Locations

20% off (or whatever your merchandise discount is)

They serve slushies at a few different merchandise locations, like in Storybook Circus and at the Ink and Pen Shop in Hollywood Studios.  There would also be a discount at places like the Confectionary on Main Street in Magic Kingdom. I don't use this discounts that often, but I definitely tell my friends about them. Like my favorite...

Karamell-Kuche at the Germany Pavilion in Epcot

20% off (or whatever your merchandise discount is)

This store should really be included in the previous category, however, this is one has sentimental value to me, so it's going to get its own category. Accept it. The caramel/chocolate shop in Germany is also considered a merchandise location. I would come here before or after performing in Candlelight and get my treats for 40% off with our holiday discount! Yum! You can get marshmallows or pretzels covered in milk or dark chocolate (but obviously dark). I just love this deal so much! Treat yourself sometime.

Starbucks at Downtown Disney/Joeffreys

Unfortunately, cast members do not receive discounts on Starbucks in the parks, however, Joeffrey's coffee stands typically do. I love a double espresso over ice. It's the perfect drink when you're hitting that 2pm slump, but have so much more park hopping to do! Also the DStarbucks locations (both!) do offer a cast member discount, so don't forget to ask!

Other Tips/Honorable Mentions

Don't forget that when you use a cast member discount for dining, they will add an automatic 18% gratuity, so you do not have to tip over that. That also means that your 20% discount is basically taking care of the gratuity, which is still a great deal.
Sanaa at Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge (Villas) usually offers a 40% discount like Trail's End. Defenitely get some coffee and the naan/dip sampler. SO GOOD.
My last tip is just a general one. You will not get a Food and Beverage discount on quick service inside the park, but OUTSIDE of the park at resorts you will. So if you're at Magic Kingdom, annd you can bear to get away for a bit, enjoy your lunch or snack at Captain Cook's or the Contempo Cafe. I would vote Captain Cook's. Why not use your discount on sushi??

What are your favority Disney discounts? Cast member, passholder, or otherwise?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Where in the World?

Where in the World would find these volumes of stories?

Clues and fun facts ahead!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Where in the World?

Where in the World (Showcase) would you have this view?

Clues and fun facts ahead!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Conquering Concierge: Training Week 4, Concierge OJT Days 1-5

I've just been in a "Belle" mood lately
Goodness-gracious-good-lord-almighty. It's July, and I still haven't finished writing about my final training for concierge. That just shows you how much training there is!

To recap, first I began by being trained as a Front Desk Cashier (read about that here) and had about month on the Front Desk. The official ruling is that you get 10 shifts as a cashier, but with scheduling it could be more, like it was for me.  Finally I was scheduled for my 3 day concierge class back at Disney University. Now I'm going to briefly go over my 5 days of On the Job Training for Concierge.

I had 3 different trainers for my on the job training, which was actually a good thing because everyone teaches slightly differently.

Friday April 26, 2013

On the Job with Melissa (Day 1) 0815-1645

I had not met Melissa before she was my trainer, but I really respected her as a trainer. She said she'd been working at All Star for about a year.

As far as Concierge type transactions, I was really fortunate during my training. I got to do Cirque tickets, foreign currency exchange, dining reservations, and sell tickets all of my first day! Tickets and dining are very commonplace, but I have really on sold Cirque tickets a handful of times. My first day went pretty fast. After learning Front Desk Cashier you are really only expanding your Disney/Concierge knowledge, not relearning procedures. Banking in and out remains the same, you just get to use a different envelope during it.

Saturday April 27, 2013

On the Job with Melissa (Day 2) 0815-1645

Day 2 was with Melissa again. We did more of the same as yesterday. I pretty much knew what I was doing with everything, but it was still really nice to have a trainer behind me. With Front Desk usually the guests are checking in, checking out, paying their balance, or asking a question. And if it was something I could not do, like tickets, I would just send them over to Concierge. But at Concierge, you never know what your next guest is going to ask. They might want to ship a package, pick up will call tickets, reserve a specialty cruise, book Mickey's Backyard BBQ. Speaking of Mickey's Backyard BBQ...

I got to do ticket pickup for Mickey's Backyard BBQ. This is a little bit more common than Cirque tickets. Concierge can do ticket pickup for the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, Hoop Dee Doo, and Mickey's Backyard BBQ. You can print them out through Alacarte, which is our dining reservation system. So that was exciting to learn, especially with a trainer telling me exactly what to do!

Monday April 28, 2013

On the Job with Mike (Day 3) 0900-1730

On Day 3 Melissa was scheduled to give a transportation tour (more information on this blog post!), so Mike was my trainer. He was really nice and has worked at attractions before, specifically Space Mountain. He told me stories about his experiences, which I loved!

I got to do loads more concierge things too! I sold a lot more tickets, including Florida resident tickets, which is a little bit different to do. The system requires that you put in their Florida address for obvious reasons. I also had the opportunity to query tickets. When you query tickets, you can see everywhere the ticket was used and when, which is great, but all guests really want to know is: DO I HAVE MORE DAYS ON THIS TICKET? So when you query it's really you doing a lot of counting and deciphering between "fun visits" (used at the water parks, Disney Quest, and miniature golf) or park visits.  Ultimately a very easy task, but there's room for human error, so it always makes me a little nervous.

Wednesday May 1, 2013

On the Job with Patty (Day 4) 0815-1515

Day 4 was supposed to be with Melissa again, but she had to call in because her daughter got an ear infection. So Patty was working Concierge that day, and she is coded as a trainer, so she agreed to train me for the rest of my shift. I had Monday and Tuesday off, which was much need and even better because on Tuesday they had "down time" on the Front Desk computer system (LILO). Down time is usually scheduled on Tuesdays around 2-7am, and it is during that time the make system updates for LILO. There is also "unexpected" downtime, which as the title may suggest is not planned for.

Tuesday must have been an example of  the "unexpected" variety. What happens is we can still at least look up peoples' reservations or tickets and if there room is ready, we can cut them a key. If it looks like we'll be down for a while, we can give out contingency tickets, so guests can go to the parks for that day and come back later, when the system is up to check into their reservation and their package tickets.  Also if people are on the dining plan and we cannot check them in yet, we let them know that they can purchase things on their dining plan and keep all of their receipts and we will reimburse them later and take the appropriate points off of their dining plan.

All of these might sound confusing, as it did for me, but it was basically all that I did this day, so I became really good at "adjustments," which is how we do the reimbursing/dining plan points magic.

Thursday May 2, 2013

On the Job with Melissa (Day 5) 0815-1645

For my very last day I had Melissa again. She was very curious about my experiences with the other trainers. Whether I liked them, if they were nice to me, and what they taught me. Each day was a lot of information and transactions, and each of my trainers were an amazing resource. I really did not have anything bad to say.

For Day 5 I was basically on my own. I tried to do everything without turning to Melissa. I only asked for her guidance, when it was something I had no knowledge of, so I could learn what the correct answer was or where to go to find the right answer.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Conquering Concierge: The All Star Transportation Tour

photo credit
Let me just begin by saying that this 6 hour tour was probably the most fun I've ever had being clocked in for work for Disney. This and being paid to watch Disney movies and eat pizza (because it was product knowledge for Art of Animation. Oh yes, that really happened. Twice!)

Starting Point: All Star Music
We all met at All Star Music at 10am for our tour. There were only about 6 of us including our 2 trainers. Our trainers warned us to bring water because it was going to be a long walk. I had already run 5 miles that morning and brought my pedometer, so I could see just how far of a walk it was. Yes, I'm one of those distance runners at times...

Transportation 1: Bus from All Star Music to Hollywood Studios
We went outside All Star to wait for the Hollywood Studios bus. We were in our street clothes because for this tour they want us to be actual guests. We're experiencing what our guests go through. For better or for worse. Just waiting for the bus helped remind us how much longer time feels when you're waiting. If was maybe 15-20 minutes for our bus, but it sure felt like 40 minutes! Unfortunately All Star's bus queue is in the sun, so we were getting a little toasty too.

The bus ride itself went very quickly. We all got seats, and the air conditioning felt amazing.

Transportation 2: Boat from Hollywood Studios to the Swan and Dolphin
After the bus dropped us off in front of Studios, we continued to the only boat dock in front of the this park. This boat drops off at the Epcot resorts as well as Epcot. I always want to walk from Studios to the resorts. I just feel like I walk so much faster than the boats. I was quite analytical on this tour, so I was analysing Disney things that I normally just do, or accept (I know, I'm starting to sound like a nerd). On this tour I decided that the boats actually are faster than walking.

  • So Hopping Tip! : Save some of your energy and take the boat from Studios to Beach Club or Boardwalk, but get off at the Swan and Dolphin stop and then walk to whichever resort. It'll be faster than waiting to dock a second or third time.

I'm satisfied with that takeaway. Besides that's exactly what we did.

Transportation 3: Walk from the Swan to Epcot
At this point I needed a restroom. Lucky for me one of our trainers had done this tour while pregnant, so she knew where every bathroom is. Just like me, except for the pregnant bit, but I do know where A LOT of bathrooms are. And I talk about that knowledge far too much, like I am doing right now.

We walked into the Swan (or whichever one is to the left as you get off the boat) and oh my goodness, I was so glad that we did. It was breathtaking inside! And the first thing we saw was just a coffee shop. But it wasn't just a coffee shop. It was a really pretty coffee shop that I am going to have to visit again, so I can actually sample their coffee. Well, iced coffee.

The Swan even smelled luxurious. The bathrooms were right cross from Kimonos which is the Karaoke/sushi bar. Kimonos has been on my bucket list for a while. I'm going to have to get it crossed off this year sometime.

After our "fun" detour, we continued toward Epcot. We walked toward Yacht and Beach Club and our trainers quizzed us and spouted out useful information along the way.

First question "So this is the Boardwalk. What dining/food options do our guests have?"
Normal concierge answers "Beaches and Cream. Shulas. Cape May. ESPN Club. The Garden Grove. Flying Fish."
My answers "Big River Brewery for a beer flight! Jelly Rolls. Boardwalk/Margarita Joes! There margaritas are actually really good!"
Apparently I come across as somewhat of an alcoholic. My reputation even precedes myself. I was chatting with a Coordinator of Training that I had never met about taking my friend to Hoop. She looks at my name tag. And says "Julie? Oh Julie McLaughlin, of course."

I didn't know how to respond. Is that a positive or negative thing? I've also had guests kind of pinpoint my Irish heritage and know about my drinking prowess. That little Irish girl with the freckles. Anyways I e will be embracing this heritage in the upcoming future with some more info on drinking around the world, epcot, and the entire disney world property.

Once we were past the Beach Club Resort, we entered Epcot through the International Gateway, aka the entrance with the UK to your left and the France Pavilion to your right. We walked througt the UK and Canada. We took a quick pit stop in Club Cool, which I really think EVERYONE should do every time you're in Future World. Come on, it's free!

Next stop, monorail station!

Transportation 4: Monorail from Epcot to the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC)
Being able to have a seat and enjoy some air conditioning was definitely the highlight of riding the monorail. Plus who doesn't love some good monorail action?

Transportation 5: Walk from TTC to the Polynesian and then on to the Grand Floridian
We deboarded the monorail at the TTC and took the walking path on to the Polynesian. I never realized how easy that walking path is to use. I think I've always known that you can walk to the TTC from the Polynesian, but in my head the easiest way to reach the TTC was by the monorail, but in reality taking the resort boat to the Polynesian and then walking to the TTC is a really good option. And the Polynesian is really beautiful at night.

We walked into the Polynesian and talked about the dining options our guests often asked about. 'Ohanas is one of guests favorite, favorite restaurants. If you've been, you know why. There's also Kona Cafe (love!) and the Spirit of Aloha dinner show at Luau Cove. The directions we give guests is: bus to Magic Kingdom, resort monorail to Poly, which drops you off on the same level as the restaurants, so that is definitely good advice!

Next restaurant? Captain Cooks for Dole Whips! Captain Cooks is a quick service restaurant, where you can make your own dole whips. They also usually have premade sushi from Kona Cafe in their fridge, which I love. Usually Cast Members get a 20% discount here. This particular day we were blocked out.

We left the Grand Ceremonial house to find Luau Cove, which was on our way to the Grand Floridian. We looked at the facility and talked about the Category 1, 2, and 3 seating. Once we had all finished our dole whips we kept walking to the Grand. On our way we saw the construction for the new Disney Vacation Club Villas and the new pool area. We passed Senses the Disney Spa. Disney's Spas used to be outsourced to another company, but they've decided to take it over, so that would explain the reinvention and refurbishment happening at the spas at the Grand and Saratoga Springs.

Transportation 6: Monorail from the Grand Floridian to the Contemporary

Stop for Lunch at Contempo Cafe

Transportation 7: Boat from the Contemporary to the Ft Wilderness Campgrounds

Transportation 8: Internal Bus to Campfire Circle and Pioneer Hall

Transportation 9: Boat from Ft. Wilderness to the Magic Kingdom

Tran;)Drsportation 10: Bus from the Magic Kingdom to All Star Music

Transportation Total: 3 Buses, 3 Boats, 2 Monorails, 6 miles of walking, 3 theme parks, 6 resorts, and 1 Dole Whip!