Sunday, December 23, 2012

Living in the Kingdom: To Infinity and Beyond

Peter told me to do credit

I have officially made my decision to stay in Orlando, FL for a year and see where it takes me. I actually made this decision several weeks ago and have since been going back and forth from "What am I doing? " to "This is a good experience, " and every where in between.

One of the curses/blessings about being a lifeguard is that you have a lot of time to yourself to think. So I'll go into work thinking I'm fine, I have a plan, and in 6 months I'll put in a transfer to Front Desk or Concierge. But then about 2 hours into my shift, I'm itching to send out about 10 more application to hotels or cruise lines. Plus people always want to try to give you advice so that doesn't help my ambivalence at all.

As of this moment I am going Full Time as a shallow water lifeguard at Pop Century Resort starting January 7th. At the same time I'm looking for part time work/a different full time job in the Orlando area (so if you have any leads on hospitality jobs, let this princess know). I'd love to start full time with a chain like Marriott, with potential to move around the country down the road. At that point I'd go part time/seasonal with Disney.

This is a very concise explanation of some of what's been on my mind all month. Basically I'm going to be up for anything this coming year, I just hope 2013 is ready for me.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Where in the World? Cast Member Only Edition

Where in the Walt Disney World Resort would you have this view of Cinderella's Castle?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Dear Incoming CPs...

My program is swiftly coming to an end. So is just about every other CP/ICP here at Disney, which means that a huge, NEW group of CPs will be arriving shortly. I know a lot more eager, young faces are checking my blog for a taste of what's to come lately, so if you are one of those people, this post is specifically for you!!

Dear Incoming CPs,

Congratulations on making the amazing and life altering decision to try the Disney College Program! It may not be for everyone, but if you are excited to meet new people, get some guest service experience, and want to create magic for yourself and others on a daily basis...well, I think you'll do just fine!

I just wanted to take this opportunity to give a bit of advice. Not only have I now done the program, I've graduated college, and I am actually on the mature end of the College Program spectrum (I'm 22 and graduated, while the average CP could be about 20 and still has a few years of college left), so I'm not giving this advice lightly.

1. Make friends.  I know you probably don't need this advice. Honestly you'll probably find friends without even trying, so make more friends! You'll be meeting people from all over and learning so much from them. For at least the first month of your program, try to go to every social event you hear about, whether it's Housing Events, going to House of Blues, Bdubs, or just out to dinner with roommates or coworkers. The more connections and friends you make early one will help later when you get homesick or stressed about work.

2. Expect to get sick and have a game plan.  Basically every 2-3 weeks you'll get a new cough or cold. Some will be serious and keep you in bed for 3 days straight and some you'll be able to live through, you'll just sound terrible. Talk to your parents about your health insurance, pack some cold meds/nasal spray/aspirin, and look up the nearest Urgent Care place (there are 2 equidistant from Vista Way). When you can barely get out of bed to go to the bathroom, you'll be thankful you already have some cold medicines in your closet.

3. Try to get to know your Managers/Coords and ask about their life stories. Depending on your area, you may have some awesome managers or some not-so-awesome managers, but regardless of their caliber, you can still learn a lot from them. Learn from the career paths they've chosen. Learn from their advice. Learn what NOT to do when you're a manager some day. If you have a great manager that is interested in you and what you get out of this program, please take advantage!
4. Graduate college first.  I know it may be tempting to try and go part time/full time after your program ends instead of going back to college, but if you lose that college momentum, you are not likely to get it back. Make sure college is a priority because down the road, they will help with your Disney dreams should that be the path you want to take.
5. Make goals for yourself and accomplish them.  One of my goals was to work in one of the theme parks, and I actually did that! I did it early on before I had a chance to over think it.  Working in the parks when I don't normally work there was actually really stressful for me, but I'm so happy I did it. So make yourself a goal or two that makes you go past your comfort zone. Like trying a new ride, attending the career workshops, or auditioning for character performer. Remember that it's not so much the goal itself that's life changing, but how you are able to accomplish it that can show you just how much you can accomplish.
7. Look for a positive in every situation.  I'm a very positive, optimistic person by nature and this program has shown me just how strong and positive I can be, despite what other people are saying around me. Working with different people at different places can make a world of difference on your mood. One area everyone is actually excited to be at work and is exceptionally friendly, while another area everyone is burned out and not even making an effort to have a better day. Believe me the latter can suck your soul away. It's easy to take the easy way out and join the crowd, but life should be fun (and if it's not, then you're doing it wrong)!
6. When in doubt, present! (AKA take pictures!) Whenever I don't know how to pose in a picture, I present. It's a great go-to pose in Disney. You can present the castle, the Eiffel tower, a statue of Mickey, fireworks, a great meal, the list is endless. And it works in places other than Disney as well. Feel free to steal my pose and take pictures while you're on your program!
This is how you do it. In our nation's capital.

Much affection,

Be sure to check out my posts on Check in Day and Traditions. Also if you're a future lifeguard CP, check out any posts with the tag Guarding the World to give you a taste of what the role is really like. If you have any questions at all or posts you'd like to read, please leave me a comment!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Where in the World? CP Housing Edition

Inside which Disney Internship Housing Complex would you spot this hidden Mickey?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Outskirts of the Kingdom: Favorite Things

These are a few of my favorite things! credit

I am actually loving living at Vista Way. I like my apartment itself and the complex is very nice. But I especially like the surrounding area, which is good since I'm only moving across the street. So here are just a few of my favorite non-Disney things about living in the Vista Way area:

  • Commute to Work

It takes me about 20 minutes to drive into work (Contemporary). Probably more like 17 minutes honestly. And I get to see the castle as I drive in.

Edit: The drive to Pop Century/All Star is even quicker, about 15 minutes on the dot.

  • Shopping

I actually prefer the outlet mall down the road on International Drive, so if you don't have a car you may not share the same love as I do. The Victoria Secret outlet is my new best friend. I'm also loving Express. I shopped there for the first time just a few weeks ago. The mall closest to Chatham does have a Charlotte Russe though, and I've made a few trips just for that.

  • Chick Fil A

I love and hate this. Chick Fil A is literally neighbors with Vista Way. I go for a run around the complex and all I can smell is chicken. When I have a really exhausting day, I go through the drive thru for my chicken sandwich and a sweet tea, and I am never disappointed. But now I'm trying to cut back.

  • Starbucks

I would describe my perfect day as a Sunday where I don't work. I get up, make a Starbucks run and then head to church. Lucky for me Starbucks is right there! I just applied for part time at Starbucks, since it's right next door to my future apartment, but I've applied to Starbucks in the past and never had any luck, so I'm not holding my breath.

  • Good Food

There is a little sushi place right by Publix (across from Little Lake Bryan). Enough said.

  • Close to Church

I am actually in the market for a new church, since I'm going to be down here full time, but it's hard to beat how close I am to Mary Queen of the Universe. And the shrine is beautiful. I also really like the priest. I think he's from Scotland originally? At least he sounds like it. My biggest disappointment is the lack of singing by the congregation. They have a wonderful choir come in and believe me, it's heavenly. But I come to church to sing, myself, so I hate missing out on that.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Disney Diet: Progress Report

A bag of apples is an excellent credit
I started to write a blog post with a list of random spurts of information/advice that I wanted to tell people about living on the Disney College Program. Then I realized that most of them revolved around eating and groceries and buying things. So I decided to do a Progress Report about my life on the "Disney Diet." (see this post for background information)

First of all I have 5 roommates, and I hate cooking for myself when there's a lot of people around.  I have luckily had times when it’s just me in my apartment. Some days 3 will be at work and 2 will be at the pool. This is typically when I do some cooking, because I like having the kitchen for myself for meals.
I have very little in my pantry/fridge/freezer. I’ve been on my own enough to know my food habits. I tend to buy a lot and then not use it up and sometimes have a bit to throw out before I move. I’ve actually cooked a lot on my own, even though I probably have the least food items of my roommates haha.

My pantry items: pasta, canned tuna, splenda, corn, black beans, brown rice, peanut butter
Fridge: margarine, apples, carrots, celery, condiments, lunch meat, tortilla shells
Freezer: bread, tilapia
I use corn and beans a lot. Chicken and ground turkey when I feel like paying for it. I have frozen tilapia for healthier days/fish tacos. Also I try to add brown rice to meals because it’s cheap, but can be filling and nutritional. I always have some bananas and apples on hand, and I buy celery and carrots and cut them up so I can snack on them with peanut butter at work.

Since I work 10 hour days, I have to pack lunch and dinner. I'll usually make myself a wrap and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Then along with that I'll pack chips, a chocolate peanut bar, an apple, carrots and celery. And then I can sit down to a full meal for my break and still have plenty to snack on throughout the day.

I also did decide to bake during my program. It was definitely worth buying flour, sugar, baking soda, etc. I've been able to make quite a few things using my baking supplies. Plus it's so much cheaper than buying box mixes or cookie dough every time. I've mastered a few new recipes too.

More Food Tips!

  • If you don't have a car, make sure you have extra staples on hand. Buy an extra loaf of bread for the freezer, so you can always have toast/sandwiches.  Consider soymilk that doesn't have to be refrigerated (until opened) in your closet, so you always have milk. 
  •  Only put what absolutely must be kept cold in the fridge. 
  • Go to the grocery and cook for yourself. When I avoid going to the store, I end up eating Chick Fil A more than I should because it's right there and seems convenient. Also you'll save money, so the times you do go out to eat with your friends it'll be a treat and not so destructive to your bank account.
  • Share basic pantry items with your roomies, like olive oil, nonstick spray, salt, spices, margarine, mayo, etc. We've had like 5 different tubs of margarine in the fridge before and it was not the most efficient space-wise.
  • Get tupperware or lots of sandwich bags. If you pack your lunches/have leftovers, you'll use them plenty. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Where in the World? Thanksgiving Themed

In which Walt Disney World Resort hotel would you be able to pose in front of this working, gingerbread carousel?

Why is this Thanksgiving themed, you ask? Read past the bump for my little tale of epic ice cream proportions.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Guarding the World: Deployments, My Life as an All Star

Calypso pool, photo credit
One of the rites of passage as Lifeguard CP is getting deployed somewhere other than your home location. When Typhoon Lagoon was closed for refurbishment, most of those CPs were scattered either to Blizzard Beach or to different resorts to finish the rest of their program. The Contemporary got CPs from both Typhoon and Blizzard. But resort lifeguards (and other roles, like Resort Activities) also have the privilege of being deployed to other places.  These deployments typically last a week or two.

Deployment Tour

My first deployment was to All Star Resorts. Let's just say, I was not excited for this week long adventure. In the back of my mind, I was thankful because once you are deployment trained in an area, you can pick up shifts there, but I was not crazy about All Star, so I have yet to pick up extra hours at the resort.

My Deployment Tour was at 1pm before my 3pm shift. Deployment tours last 2 hours. The Coordinator who was training me only took about 40 minutes to tour all 6 Pools. Yes six! Fantasia, Mighty, Calypso, Piano, Grand, and Surf. I Barely kept any of the that information in my head. It was such a blur. He kept telling me 2 things. Ask questions if you have any and there's no way anyone can remember all this information after 2 hours. That did not help my confidence about the day.

Disney's All Star Resorts

Since All Star is one of Disney's Value Resorts , the pools have no slides and no hot tubs. Also towels are not provided on the pool deck. Guests have to bring them from their rooms or go to the front desk. Also they provide life jackets, but they are not out on the pool deck. Guests have to pick them up from the arcade. 

And just a note about the term "Value Resorts." The resorts are still really nice. I stayed at All Star Music with my boyfriend (the week after my deployment haha) and our room had a refrigerator. Our room was right in between the two pools, and our walk to the main hotel was not that bad. We even used the bus for the majority of our trip and did not have any major waits or long drives, despite being further away from the magic.

Also even though they are Value Resorts, Disney did not skimp on any of its signature story telling. All the pools are very well themed. I loved Calypso pool. It's shaped like a guitar (so it has curves), and it always smelled like cookies!
Hey now, you're an All Star.

Back to the Deployment

Instead of going through every monotonous day I was there, here is a list of some of the main differences from what I was used to:

1. Split shifts.

I had my first PM shift 3-10:30pm at All Star. It included lots of ACing time, which I didn't like, mostly because it was lonely and I wasn't used to the area. Like my shift started at 3:00pm, so we'd meet at Recreation Base for our Breakout. (No safety tip of the week :( ), then we'd be given our rotations and sent out, but we wouldn't have to be on stand until 3:40! It was a ridiculous amount of time to do nothing.

2. Calling your own OAs. 

I was at Music all week, so if I had to jump in at Calypso 1 (the bigger pool), I'd radio "OA Calypso 1, OA Calypso 1," then whistle and jump in. Apparently the other lifeguard doesn't always hear your whistle? The coord said that and didn't even seem very worried about. I'd think it would be a bigger deal than that, but oh well. Tis All Star.

3. 3 Different resorts.

 If you're an All Star guard, you cover Music, Sports, and Movies. All my rotations ended up being Music, which was really nice, so I only had to learn how to get to 2 pools and the break room. Each resort has its own break room, so depending on your rotation, you could be at a different break room.

4. Passing radios. 

They all passed radios when the other guard was scanning out. Little thing, but it felt very odd to me and I never got used to it. Plus once or twice the guard I was scanning in for completely forgot to give me the radio, till I asked.

5. Names of stands. 

They have a lot of pools and deployed guards, so all the stands were named similarly (so it's easier). So at Music the rotation is Calypso 1, Calypso 2, Piano, Break. Calypso is the big pool. Calypso 1 is the stand with the First Aid kit (one-First-kind of the trick to learn). Calypso 2 had the trauma bag. Then Piano was a small pool, so it only took one lifeguard to guard it.

6. Movie shown at the pool.

Okay this was a pretty exciting different. Resort Activities sets up the movie screen right on the pool deck, so the lifeguards could theoretically listen to almost the entire movie (depending on your rotation). Lady and the Tramp was playing, but I only payed attention to the beginning. Keeping my 10/20 and walking back and forth prevented me from getting too distracted from the movie.

7. No safety tip of the week.

Like I mentioned before they didn't even mention the Safety Tip in breakout. Every day begins with the safety tip of the week at Contemporary, so it really threw me off. I have heard from other guards that Contemporary is the only place that does it. Good for you, family :)

8. One coordinator.

If I needed to call in anything on the radio, I would radio Rec 10. At any of the 6 pools, I would radio Rec 10. At Contemporary I radio a different Coordinator (Rec 4-7) depending on which pool I am at and what time of day it is. I am definitely not complaining about only having to remember one Rec number.

Next Adventure?

My next deployment starts next week at Pop Century. I didn't think I'd get deployed again, but c'est la vie. This time I am actually deployed with 3 other guards from Contemporary, which I am so excited about. I even have my deployment tour with one of my good friends. So I am already anticipating that I will enjoy my experience at Pop Century a little bit more.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

EHH Shift at Flame Tree Barbecue

This is what the front of the restaurant looks like (credit)

I made one of my Bucket List goals a reality yesterday. I picked up a shift at the Flame Tree Barbecue at Animal Kingdom. Let me just tell you, it was wild. I picked up the shift because it was the first time I saw a shift on the hub with no special training, and it was at Animal Kingdom. What if this was my only opportunity to work in a park? So I took a leap of faith, signed up immediately, and then let the worry come into play later. (EHH=Extra Hours Hotline)

What was the worry? Well, I had to get a costume. Never been to Animal Kingdom's costuming place. Also I had to navigate Animal Kingdom and find a restaurant I'd never been to before. Luckily one of my roommates works at Animal Kingdom in Outdoor Foods, so she was a huge help. She was working that day at the same time, so I was able to give her a ride and she was able to help me find my costume and give me some brief advice about where to go for my shift.

My shift was at 11:30am, so we left the apartment and got to costuming around 10:50am, giving me just enough time to find my costume and get changed, then head to Animal Kingdom. The costuming is in a giant warehouse a little way away from Animal Kingdom. You actually follow signs to Animal Kingdom Lodge and then make a turn before you get to the hotel, to get to costuming.

My costume was 4 pieces. I had a shirt and pants, a red tank that I could wear under the outfit, and then an apron which went on top. There's also a hat that goes with the costume, but they were out. I also had to wear my own black socks and shoes with the outfit. If you do have to wear this outfit, it actually runs a little small. I got a small for all my pieces and was fine for a 3 hour shift, but I could have used a bigger tank and maybe longer pants. The apron does not have pockets, but the pants do, so plan accordingly. Oh and those aren't dinosaurs on the costume. I always thought they were. They are actually ducks/duck like creatures...?
This is the outfit minus the apron and hair net/hat. I'd love some pajamas just like this!
So after costuming we drove to the Cast Parking Lot at Animal Kingdom. It's in front of the park like the normal parking, just on an opposite side. I got dropped off toward the front (another roommate drove, so she could borrow my car), and then walked past the resort buses and into the normal entrance for guests. From there I followed another Cast Member to the right of the turnstiles into a sneaky Cast Member entrance. Then I veered to the left, asked how to get to Flame Tree Barbecue, exited backstage in Dinoland and walked towards Discovery Island. The Cast Member entrance to Flame Tree is the the right just over the bridge from Dinoland to Discovery Island.

Once I was inside I found several other people who don't normally work at Flame Tree. They had picked up shifts just like me. I was surprised because I had only seen one shift on the hub, but excited because I definitely wasn't alone. I was directed to walk to the front of the kitchen and clock in on the computer up there. I entered my Perner number, clocked in, and then clicked Get Assignment, which printed out a receipt of what my job would be.

Myself and 3 other people had Bussing-Lower Tables. We all went out of the kitchen as a group. The lady kind of in charge of deployed people showed us which areas were considered Lower Tables, showed us were towels and sanitizer was, and where we would stack trays. And then she left us to it.

For the next 3 hours or so I: wiped down tables, offered to throw away guests' trash, picked up trays, straightened chairs, made small talk with the people working with me (it was a fun group), talked to some guests, took trays to the dish room, picked up trash, directed guests to the bathrooms or smoking areas or Finding Nemo, and bird watched. There were a lot of well fed birds at Animal Kingdom.

This is what I actually saw all day. Birds and tables (credit)
It was a pretty chill day. It also didn't get very busy all day. I think they had expected a lot more guests. 2 people took an ER from their 3 hour shift...I did not...I actually really needed the hours. I was also still a little congested, so the shift seemed a little longer than normal. It was nice to just be free to roam around though. There weren't managers or anything following us around, so we had a lot of freedom to chat with guests or each other when we had a lull (which was often).

In summation if you need to pick up a shift, Flame Tree Barbecue is a pretty good option. It's a little boring if it's slow, but it really easy job to do, and you have the freedom to interact with guests as much as you want. Especially nice when you're usually lifeguarding and not interacting with guests at all.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Where in the World? Food and Wine Edition

This week my brother came to visit me! I got him a reservation at Disney's Port Orleans, and since I've had the last 3 days off work, I joined him in some great Disney adventures. Also I finally got a taste of the Food and Wine Festival...literally! I may do a post about it later, including information on the Chase Lounge and the best things to eat.

Now without further ado, your challenge: At which booth at the Food and Wine Festival/World Showcase would you be able to purchase a Lamington? (Pictured above with my brother)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Guarding the World: A Day in The Life

My role is actually "undercover mermaid," but don't blow my cover! credit
Maybe you've been waiting for this post (maybe not), but I'm finally going to go in detail about what happens during a normal shift as a Lifeguard at the Contemporary Resort (cue fireworks--oh wait those happen after my shift).

The Contemporary is on 10 hour shifts because they have lifeguards on duty from 10:00am to 8:00pm. My roommate works at Yacht and Beach and has split shifts, but I believe their pool/slides are open later. So the Contemporary doesn't do any changing of the guards fun things. At least not on this current schedule.

I actually really love the 10 hour shifts. Okay, maybe love isn't the word, but I do enjoy that I always work the same hours and that I can potentially have 4 days off in a week. And even if I pick up a shift to work 40 hours, I still have 3 days off. This is coming in handy for next week when my brother visits. I have 3 days off in a row for the beginning of his visit!

As a CP I am only guaranteed 30 hours, so I typically expect to see myself scheduled for 3 days a week. This week I picked up a shift so I'm working 4 days, and next week I was scheduled for 4 days, so I'm thankful for that. I could used a little extra cash flow, especially since I just bought a Universal annual pass!

A Typical Day...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Where in the World?

In which park and in front of which iconic monument would you find Jester Goofy?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Succeeding in the World: Disney Interviews!

photo credit
If anyone read this blog post about My Journey to the Purple Acceptance Letter, how I got into the College Program, you may have laughed when I suggested to have the phone interview in your car. I was being "lightly" funny about that, but I also was anticipating that while on the College Program, I may have a phone interview at an awkward time. Plus who knows how many roommates I'd have? So the idea of having a phone interview in my car was really not foolish at all. Just practical.

Monday night I had my initial interview for Disney's Management Internships at 10:45pm. Since sometimes these interviews are early, but usually late, I classified this as an "awkward" time. Plus most of my 5 roommates were home, and I like privacy, so I had my phone interview in my car.

I headed out to my car at 10:30pm, re-parked away from my apartment and by a light in the parking lot, which was definitely a good choice. I had to wait a while, since my interview wasn't until 10:45pm and they were running behind on interviews. The recruiter didn't call until 11:00pm. I had to turn on the radio and make myself sing and dance to myself to stay awake and energized, but mostly to keep my voice awake.

Once the recruiter called, I turned on my A game. It ended up being a very quick interview (I didn't realize that until she hung up, and it was only 11:25pm or so, but I'm hoping that's just because it was efficient..), but I felt incredibly good about it. I connected with the recruiter on a personal level and feel like I showed her what a good fit I'd be for the Disney company in a management role.

Questions I was asked:
  • I see on your application that you worked at (insert job), can you tell me about a difficult part of that job?
  • Can you tell me about a time that you had to deal with a difficult guest or manager?
  • Tell me about a time you had to multitask/Are you able to multitask?
  • Can you handle the Disney Look/Do you have tattoos?
  • Have you ever had a salaried position?

I cannot really remember any more specifics. This is my fourth interview for a Disney internship, so they are all starting to run together, but if you have any questions about the process or if you want advice, let me know! I'm happy to share what I've learned.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Where in the World?

Walking from which Walt Disney World Resort would you have this beautiful view?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Guarding the World: OJT Training & KAPA

Do you see the hidden Mickey? credit
This post continues my "Guarding the World" saga of becoming Disney & Ellis Certified in order to begin my role as a lifeguard at Disney's Contemporary Resort and Bay Lay Tower. "There be rough waters ahead!"

If you missed the previous posts, be sure to read about my Ellis lifeguard Class Day 1 and Days 2 &3.

9/16 Sunday 8:30am-5:00pm

First day OJT Training

This was my first day in full costume. That meant the white polo, red swimsuit, red shorts, hip pack, whistle, name tag, hat, and sunglasses. Oh and don't forget those black crocs!

I took the bus to the Contemporary Resort. I was early enough to go to my locker by Costuming to put things away. I waited until about 10 minutes till 8:30am, clocked in, and headed out to the Coordinator's office. My trainer was a Kelly, from Louisiana who has like 3 kids, but if you didn't know that you would assume she was like 20. She looks very young (in a good way!). She did her Disney College Program at Hollywood Studios working at the Great Movie Ride (jealous!), and she was a theatre major. Lifeguarding with Disney was her first lifeguarding experience and training me and another boy from my lifeguard class (Sam) was her first training experience. She kept reminding us that this was her first time training, but honestly I would have never known if she hadn't said anything!

We started the day at 8:30am just talking and making sure we were in the lifeguard look. Also Kelly told us to take off our "Earning our Ears" sticker because guests don't like to see Lifeguards "Earning their Ears." I was happy to oblige. Besides I already did earn my ears as a Lifeguard. Now I was just getting trained on a specific pool.

We went to costuming to get Sam a hat and then just talked until around 9:45am when the lifeguards come in for "Break Out," a little talk with the Coordinators before everyone goes out to their first stand at 10:00am. Then we helped with the "Magical Moment," which is how they open the pool. They pick 2 kids (today we chose 4) and let them wear a sorcerer Mickey's hat and gloves. Kelly told the kids, "Usually we get Mickey to turn on the slides and fountains, but he's busy today, so you guys are going to have to help us out." They teach the kids a little dance and then do the dance 3 times to turn on the fountain, spray wall, and finally the slide. It really is pretty impressive when they get the timing down right, and it looks like the kids are causing the water to turn on.

The rest of the day was a wave of information. Not like overwhelming because we went over the same things over and over. But enough of the same that I can't remember the exact breakdown of the day. We walked both of the pools multiple times (Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower), Kelly pointed out where everything was located like Towels for guests, trauma bags, red phones, backboards, first aid kits, drink stations, restrooms. Anything that we would need as a lifeguard and pretty much anything a guest might want to know. We sat down several times in the day and just talked through the layout of the pools and how to make radio calls. We also had a lot of time during the day to ask questions. I asked a lot of questions, and I specifically asked to get VATed, so I could start getting used to that experience. We also had about an hour where we read through the OGs (operating guides) on the hub. I especially enjoyed the section dedicated to "Shooing Ducks." (Shooing not shooting!)

Overall it was a good day, and I was starting to feel comfortable enough with the area. The only downsides to the day was that I learned that they no longer cross train guards in things, like Children's Activites or to work at multiple hotels. That was incredibly disappointing, since I would've loved to pick up shifts, but I am still not taking no as an answer. I'm still hopeful for more training...

9/17 Monday 12:30pm-9:00pm

Second day OJT Bay Lake Tower

Our second day was more of the same, but this time with a lot more VATs. First Kelly would just put the VAT in different places and see if we could spot it. Then later we would turn around, let her place the VAT, and she would choose one of us to scan in and jump in for the VAT. It was great practice, and I'm really glad we got to do it.

Kelly was really impressed with us (we'd both lifeguarded before) and felt like she was running out of things to teach us, so she developed a scavenger hunt for us to do on our second day. She left us alone during our lunch, so she could put her clues all around the pool deck. Then she gave us the first clue and let us begin. It was actually a lot of fun! My family used to do Scavenger Hunts for Easter and different holidays when all the cousins were little, so it made me think of that. One of the clues was even planted on a roving guard! (When I was a baby one of our scavenger hunt clues was planted....on my diaper---that brought back memories!) It really was a great idea, and I hope she continues to do it with new guards.

During the day a storm came in, and we had to close the pools for "electrical activity." There were some lightning strikes that were right on top of us! It was a very good experience to witness how they close the pool for weather. Once they cleared everything, we huddled in the pavilion at Comtemporary pool and handed out towels to guests coming in from the boats who had to run through the rain. Those guests were super appreciative!

We had more time to read another OG and attended "Break out" at the end of the lifeguard's shift. Then we had an hour to kill, so we just talked till it was 9:00pm, and our shift was over.

 9/18 Tuesday 2:00pm-6:00pm

Lifeguard KAPA aka Test out day

This is the view from the Rove Lifeguard stand, where I was VATed.

I'm not sure what KAPA stands for (nor did my trainer), but it's the final day of training I had as a Contemporary lifeguard. Let me just say now, I was terrified for my KAPA day. Not cause I did not know my lifeguard skills or the layout of the Contemporary. I paid very close attention to all my training and was honestly really prepared. I just didn't know what to expect and if I would get VATed and that just made me exceptionally nervous. Plus I had a different trainer facilitating my KAPA.

My KAPA wasn't until 2:00pm, so I had my morning free. I went to my first Career Development workshop (resume writing). I'm glad I did, first because I learned a lot and second because it kept my mind of my KAPA.

Once I got started with my KAPA day though, I was cool as a cucumber. My trainer just said we were going to go through a rotation, starting at Bay Lake Tower, and I would just scan in and out like I would if I was the guard on duty. As soon as I started that, my lifeguard skills just kind of kicked in and it all felt like second nature. I was really calm, until we moved over to the Contemporary pool. Then I knew something was up. I was going to be VATed. My trainer was talking to the other guards, probably giving them a warning. Next thing I know a guy in red swim suit trunks (always a big give away) is laying something black at the bottom of my zone. I whistle, jump in, and retrieve it and Chelsea, my trainer, is congratulating me. I scan out of Rove and move onto the other 2 lifeguard stands at Contemporary.

After I'm done with all my rotations, Chelsea tells me how well I've done. She says she's never gone through a KAPA this fast. During each of my stands, she's been either out of sight watching my scanning or behind me asking me random questions as herself or as a pretend guest. She even said she was trying to stump me, but I still knew the answer to everyone one of her questions. She says she's really impressed, and she doesn't really say that ever. She says she's actually a pretty strict trainer. So that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, especially since I've really upped my lifeguard game for Disney.

After pool time Chelsea took me inside, so I could complete an online test. I only missed about 2 questions, mostly because they are weirdly worded. After I was done with all of my online quiz stuff, I was done. It was almost 4:00pm, and in my head I'm thinking, "That's all?" I got at ER (early release) and headed home, happy to finally be an official Contemporary Resort Lifeguard.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Guarding the World: Lifeguard Class Days 2 & 3

photo credit
This post continues my "Guarding the World" saga of becoming Disney & Ellis Certified in order to begin my role as a lifeguard at Disney's Contemporary Resort and Bay Lay Tower. "There be rough waters ahead!"

If you missed it be sure to read about my Welcome to Recreation Class and my first day of the Lifeguard class.

Day 2

The aftermath of baby CPR practice
On my second day of lifeguard training, we started the day doing CPR scenarios for about an hour. Since Leah and I had gone out to the Magic Kingdom that night, I was exhausted and was really glad to be doing something instead of just listening to instructions for the morning. I was also excited by how much I retained from the day before. After CPR and infant CPR we went to the pool to learn some passive, submerged, and spinal rescues. (Again I was tired) I left my lunch and contacts at home, so I had to complete this portion of class somewhat "seeing impaired." But I was able to do the whole back boarding situation with no trouble, so that is very comforting in case my contacts should pop out mid-rescue.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Where in the World??

Alright, it's time to test your Walt Disney World knowlegde! Click below the break if you need more clues/fun facts!

Outside of which Epcot attraction would you have this view of Spaceship Earth?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Succeeding in the World: Disney Resumes

This is what the majority of my day looked like. Coffee cups and resumes
I hate blogging out of chronological order, but I'd love to update you on today as opposed to waiting a month to talk about what I'm doing today. I had my first day of work without a trainer yesterday. My first of many, many 10 hour shifts to come. I think I really built it up in my head, so when it came down to actually going through the rotation, it really wasn't too bad. Each stand is either 30-45 minutes (more like 25-40 plus time bumping to the next stand). Where I lifeguarded before each stand was 15 minutes, which meant that you went through each stand more often. So I kind of like the longer stands because in a day you go through a rotation a little less than three times. I'm still kind of fuzzy on the rotation, just because it changes from 25-40 minute breaks so people get a lunch break. But I'm getting there!

I did have one fun guest interaction today. I had a few, but this one was the most notable. I always try to smile or at least have a pleasant look on my face when I'm rotating. I was walking over to Bay Lake Tower, and a guest caught my attention. She asked where the best place was to watch the fireworks, since she figured getting into the park would be way to crowed. I told her about the observation deck off of the fourth floor (typically used for smokers throughout the day haha) and said it was a great view. I also told her that the park wouldn't be that bad for getting in to see the fireworks, but that leaving the park would be the nightmare. But she could always shop her way out on Main Street. I was just really excited to be asked my opinion and for her to be so receptive of my advice. She walked off and immediately told her husband where they needed to go for fireworks. Just exciting for me, especially since lifeguarding isn't a "customer service heavy" role, but it can be if you make the effort.

Back to today. Today is the deadline for Management Internship Applications for Disney!! Aaaah! I hate leaving things down to the wire, but that's just how it happened this week. I am so happy to have today off to get this ironed out. If I worked today, I probably would've spaced it and missed the deadline :(  So thank you scheduling gods for throwing me a bone!

I've been up since 7:30amish and here's what needs to be done:
  • Drink coffee
  • Eat breakfast
  • Drink more coffee
  • Scan/upload Transcripts
  • Write cover letter
  • Update resumes
  • Blog about what I'm doing
  • Think positive thoughts
  • Showcase what an amazing candidate I am
  • Add Disney to my resume
  • Take out trash
Maybe it's just me, but I see a pattern emerging. Everything, but the application related items are getting checked off. Why is that? Could I be procrastinating? Me? Never.
The top sample resume was a handout I received at the Career Development Workshop.
One more thing before I stop procrastinating. I went to a Career Development Workshop put on specifically for CPs about Effective Resume Writing. I went to that on Tuesday because I didn't have work until 12pm. I would definitely suggest going to these workshops when your schedule permits. They gave out a sample resume, and I took so many notes to use when editing my resume. I specifically went to figure out Disney's stance on resumes/cover letters, like for future jobs within the company, but they also had amazing advice about adding Disney work experience on your resume. For example they talked about how the volume of guests at Walt Disney World Resort is only rivaled by places like Las Vegas. They suggested to look up those numbers and include them on the resume. Using real figures instead of just writing a "high volume" can make an amazing impact.

I had a great time at the workshop and if you attend 5 of the workshops, you get a certificate! Guess who wants a certificate... This girl! Alright back to professional development for me!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Guarding the World: Recreation & Lifeguard Training Day 1

This is what recreation looks like to me :) Credit
9/9 "Welcome to Recreation" where we find our heroine (and her friend/roomie) back at Disney University for a fun and exciting day of:

E-Presentations! Yay!

The day after my Traditions class, I was scheduled for a "Welcome to Recreation" class from 8:00am-4:30pm. The Recreation family includes lifeguards, the marinas, arcades, children's activities, campfires, archery, boating, and much, much more. My class was predominantly populated by lifeguards, but there was also a few guys working at the marinas, a girl working children's activities, and a few doing arcades I think. The girls presenting were pretty cute and made it a fun day. One was a lifeguard at Yacht and Beach Club and the other was in children's activities.

The day was low key and not stressful. We watching some videos and presentations. We did a lot of E-Learnings which are presentations that you watch by yourself with headphones. One of them was actually funny and clever, while the others were strictly long and informative. For our lunch break we had to take the bus over to Magic Kingdom and eat at their cafeteria because Disney University's was under construction. Just having lunch there was a cool experience in itself. They have a Subway, pizza, a hot food line (they had mexican lasagna), and a salad bar. I bought a piece of pizza (a big piece!), a banana, and a bottle of soda for under $4. At first I thought the cashier forgot to ring up my soda, but no! It actually was that cheap. So if you don't bring your lunch every day, you can still get a pretty good deal. Also we sat across from a few "characters" for lunch, which was entertainment in itself...

After lunch we continued with more of the same. The last thing we did was an E-Presentation on Blood borne Pathogens. Depending on where you've worked, you've probably had a presentation like this before. We watched the presentation, and then we each completed a short quiz. I only missed one, and I got like a 95, so it's very easy. Then they had us demonstrate that we could take off dirty gloves the right way, we signed a vaccination form, and we were free to go. Again pretty simple day.

9/10 Day 1 of Lifeguard Class

All of the lifeguard class takes place at Mickey's Retreat. You'll get to know that place pretty well by the end. And if you are super lucky, there will adorable kittens living on the grounds.
This is only like an eighth of all the kittens we saw!

We had a small class of only 12 CPs, who were all assigned to resort pools. It was most of the kids from the swim test, except for one or two guys that had problems with their background checks. So if for some reason they have to delay your background check, it's not the end of the world. You will still get trained and work, but you will have to wait for the next lifeguard class which could be a week away. So I hope that does not happen to any other lifeguards out there.

Our instructor was employed by Ellis, not Disney, but he had worked recreation for Disney for several years prior to becoming Disney's personal Ellis associate. So he oversees the audits/trainings/creation of new pools for Disney. Since Disney is so big, they are his only client. It sounds like a pretty good job.

The first half of the day was spent talking through what Ellis is about, what the responsibility of a lifeguard is, and demonstrating some of the difficulties we face when it comes to scanning our zone. We also watched the "Touched by a Drowning" video. If you've life guarded before, you've probably already seen some clips from this. If you haven't you might want to mentally prepare yourself for it. This is where they weed out people, who don't think they can handle the pressure of being a lifeguard, which sounds mean, but it's a serious job and they just want to be sure they have the right people for it. So if some reason you are doubting that, you can ask to be reassigned. But I definitely suggest sticking out the class first. You'll probably realize it's something you CAN handle because they prepare you pretty well for it.

We took our lunch break and returned in our swim suits. We had to complete the swim test again (the exact same one from Check In day), and then we learned some basic lifeguard rescue techniques. We spent maybe 2 hours in the pool and then finished the rest of the class inside, learning CPR.

After class my roommate and I came home and got ready to go out to Magic Kingdom! Even though I had my Disney ID for 2 days already, I still hadn't been able to use it, so I was determined to do at least some park. MK was open till 9pm, so it was the perfect opportunity. We did basically everything of interest with little to no wait, including Peter Pan, which kind of blew my mind. We wanted to do the Monster's Inc show too, but I think it had already closed by the time we made it to Tomorrowland. We ended the night with Wishes. We watched from one of the bridges to Tomorrowland and were right beneath Tinkerbell's flight from the castle. It was a great view!

Stayed tuned for Day 2 and 3 of lifeguard training! It's going to be a lot more fun.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Life in the Kingdom: Traditions...Tradition!

Look at the little critter I got!
 Today's my day off. Yesterday I had my "Legacy Day" at the Contemporary Resort, which was amazing. I'd write about that, but my last post was about Check In, so I want to cover Traditions, Lifeguard Class, and everything else in between.

Again here are the highlights:

9/6-9/7 Days off
Thursday and Friday after Check In were a little slow. My roommates and I were bummed because we had all this free time, but no access to the Parks yet... Thursday I got up and ran around Vista. Then I chilled at the apartment for a bit, until our Housing Meeting at 1pm at The Commons, where they played loud music and went over the rules. After that I met up with my parents for dinner. Came home then went out to a party that night with my roommates (want more info on party bus/night life? leave a comment!).

Friday I got up and ran, kinda waited for the roomies to wake up. We spent most of the early afternoon at the pool (I love living right by the pool). Then we went out shopping and ended the evening with dinner at TRex at Downtown Disney. It was delicious especially because I was so hungry!

9/8 Traditions! At last!
Again I got up, ran around Vista and then spent a little time pool side before I got all professional for Traditions. 4 of my roommates had the early Traditions (6:45am at bus stop), one was asked not to go because her background check was not complete yet, so I was the only one going to the later class (12:45pm at bus stop). My roommates said that they did not really enjoy their Traditions classes, but I absolutely LOVED mine! I met a trio of roommates while I was waiting for the bus, who I sat with for the day. The day lasted about 4-4.5 hours, but it was amazing. The bus took us to Disney University, which is right by the Magic Kingdom/West Clock stop for CPs. They led us in and then split us up into 3-4 groups. They led those groups one at a time upstairs, where they checked us one at a time for Disney Look, looked at our Government ID's and then gave us our...

Wait for it...

Wait for it...

Our Disney IDs! Aka our access to ALL the magic! Our blue magical passes!

But we still had the class to get through before our park adventures could begin. So we went into our classroom, and the class began. We had 2 presenters, Matt and Zuli. They had both been with the company for 10-15+ years and had lots of inspiring stories to tell. Every group is going to have different presenters, which I think is why my other roommates weren't crazy about their classes. My presenters were a good mix of "too much excitement" and "genuine showmanship" (Matt's experience was in Entertainment), so they really balanced each other out.

The first video they showed featured part of Walt's speech for opening day at Disneyland. It seriously made tears come to eyes which I had to fight back throughout the day (happy tears!). The class covered history, traditions, a tour of the Magic Kingdom, and then went into depth of the "4 Keys" which Disney Cast Members are to focus on (Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency-in that order).

Curious for some examples?
Safety: Our trainer took a picture of some guys on the bridge to Tomorrowland. One of the guys tried to sit on the rail, but our instructor asked him "not to sit on our friend!" He could've fallen in the water. I would've saved him, but  I hadn't gone through lifeguard training yet.

Courtesy: "Ma'am, can I take that picture for you?" "After you, Princess!" "Sir, can I help you find the Tea Cups today?" Basically any way that Cast Members go out of their way to help their guests or make them feel welcome.

Show: Our costumes, the new Halloween decor, store fronts, music, smells, etc. You can probably name a few too...

Efficiency: During our tour we tried to stay on one side of the street to get through the crowd. Also we looked at some of the queues which wrap around to minimize space (and confuse guests about how long they are waiting ;p ).

The tour through Magic Kingdom was really to showcase all these keys to make them easier to understand. My mom and I went on the "Keys to the Kingdom" Tour at Magic Kingdom, where I first heard about these 4 keys. I felt like Traditions was a less detailed version of that tour. So if you want to know more, but don't see becoming a Cast Member in the future, I would really recommend that tour. I loved my tour guide. Maybe guiding that tour will be in my future...

So that was my Traditions class in a neat little blog worthy package. I'm sure I've missed some things so leave a comment if you have more questions!!

My next posts will be on my "Welcome to Recreation" class, 3 days of lifeguard training, and my Legacy Day at the Contemporary. Whew that's a bit to cover.

In magical passes,

PS: You get to meet your boss during your Traditions class. And if you're anything like me, your face will light up like a Christmas Tree when he brings in your name badges.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Check In Day aka Dehydration Station!

This was me after Check In day was complete

Okay, so I know a lot of people like to know what's coming when it comes doing the Disney College Program. I know I did. I wanted to read/watch absolutely ANYTHING that gave me any idea of what I could expect when it came my turn to be the BMOC (which of course means: Big Mouse On CP). So here's a breakdown of my Check In day, which was September 5th.

Check In When it comes to Check In, well, that day was seriously a blur. An exhausting, dehydrating blur. So here's the highlights:

The Morning I met up with a future roommate who I'd met on the Facebook group. We got breakfast at All Star Movies, and my mom dropped us off at Vista Way. There was already a line formed along the walkway, which stopped right at the security gate. We got in line about 7:15am, by 7:30am we started talking to the girls we decided to be roommates with, and a little before 8am the line started moving inside.

The Queues They lead the line all the way inside the Vista Way complex to the back where the "Welcome Center" is and where check in is housed. It's a very Disney process. Lots of winding queues leading you on a patio and then outside and then back inside again. First station they checked my ID and had me double check some of my info. Next I got a sticker name tag. Then more waiting until we were grouped up with about 7 other girls to sign a housing rules contract/get lectured on alcohol/drugs. After we turned those in, we received our CP handbooks which have all the contact info you could ever know, basic rule guidelines, as well as a nice day planner section. The girl who "lectured" us had us put our names in those and we had to hand them in at every station to get more information.

So after we finished there we were back in another queue. I forget the order now, but basically we did housing next, then our pictures were taken for our Vista Way IDs and picked them up, then if you had a car you could get a decal for your car, then one more girl kinda debriefed us and let us know when to be back for a bus to Casting. That's right, we still had more lines in front of us.

We had to be back for the bus at 10:00am, it was already 9:00am so we just had time to find our apartment, get an inventory for our kitchen, and decide who would get the room with a bathroom in it. We literally picked names, so that no one could really get mad at the outcome.

Casting So after that we walked back to where check in had been to find the bus stop, which took us to Casting. Now the trip through the Casting building is like the most elaborate, Jedi-mind-tricky experience I have ever had, mostly because I kept thinking every part would be the end, and I was always wrong. It ended up taking us 3.5 hours I think, and I was the last one to escape that labyrinth (seriously that's what it felt like-at least it was a very well marked labyrinth). If you have any specific questions about Casting let me know, but otherwise just expect it to be long and be sure to have a folder or backpack to put away all the paper work you will get.

I forgot to mention that you will get your work location/Traditions group at Casting. I forgot because lifeguards do not get their assignments until after the swim test, in case you don't pass.

Whew, fun check in day right? But at least at this point I got to relax right?

Haha. Good one.

Once check in was through, casting casted us out, and we returned to our sweet-home-vista-way I had about 2 hours or so to unpack, so my parents met up with me, and we went through that ordeal. It actually was pretty simple, and I was basically through with moving in in that amount of time. Which is good because next up was:

Drug Test Okay funny story. If you're not careful, you will get incredibly dehydrated during your check in day. They hand out 100 calorie snack packs randomly, even some fruit, but you'll notice they never hand out water bottles. Why? Well, my only guess was so that we didn't need the bathroom during our journey through Casting, but it may just be coincidental or a separate, arterial motive. Regardless I fell victim to dehydration, plus I was on a decongestant for my cold which further dehydrated me.

Okay, I know some of you know were I'm going with this, but for those who are still lost, let me explain.

One of my roommates was also a lifeguard and also asked to complete a drug test around the same time as mine, so we just went together to get it over with. Of course, this is just your typical drug test. A young, handsome medical professional hands me a cup, draws a line which becomes my new goal in life, and lets me go do my glamorous job. Well, it's this point in the day where I start piecing a few things together. "I really haven't eaten much today, nor have I had hardly anything to drink. Uh oh. What if I don't have this (excuse me for this) "in" me?" So I have to admit defeat, go back to the waiting area to drink up, only to find my roommate in the exact same situation with a big cup of water.

Long story short, our second try was an incredible success!

Lifeguard Swim Test (at 6pm at Mickeys retreat) Now I had one more obstacle before actual relaxing could commence. I had a my swim test at Mickey's Retreat (walking distance to Chatham/Patterson). The swim test was very straightforward and (a little too) easy. There were only about 15 of us and out of those 15 only 4 were selected to be "Deep Water" guards. The Deep Water group started first. They had to complete the swim test which is outlined on the website and my previous post. Everyone else only had to swim a 50 and retrieve a 10 pound brick from 5 foot water. I kid you not, that is ALL I had to do.

They do randomly select Deep and Shallow, which is incredibly frustrating for someone like me who's pride was insulted at being asked to swim a 50. One Deep guard could not finish the 200 (he had to put his feet down), so they subbed a shallow water guard in. At the time I was sad that it wasn't me. Again my pride was hurt, but if I had stepped in I may not have gotten the work deployment I got.

After we finished (everyone passed), the lifeguard/recreation coordinators congratulated us and handed out our work assignments, which also included our first 2 days of work. I had already snooped during Casting and saw S-CTR by my name, which I figured meant the Contemporary....And I was RIGHT! I would also be guarding Bay Lake Tower, but I typically just assume the two are one resort anyway.

I'm super pumped about my work location! I start on location on Friday (today's my day off).  I'm working right next door to the castle. Can't get much more magical, right?

In pixie dust,
Your new Disney Contemporary Lifeguard, Julie :)