Thursday, March 28, 2013

Conquering Concierge: Front Desk OJT, Part Two

photo credit
This is the second installment about my second week of training to become a Disney Concierge. Start at the very beginning of Conquering Concierge here or check out Part One of my second week of training here. As always leave a comment if you have any questions for me! "Enjoy it!"



Thursday March 19, 2013

All Star Movies Cashier OJT (Day 3) 0645-1515


Today I was at All Star Movies instead of  Sports. The resort itself, of course, is practically identical to Sports, however, the back office for the Front Desk looks very different. At least to me. Other than that there were no big differences. The second room numbers were 7, 8, and 9 instead of 1, 2,  and 3 to indicate the floor (if you think of All Star as one resort it makes sense; sports123, music456, and sports789-like they are all on top of each other :p - Pop and Art do this as well).

I felt confident today and tried to grab every guest I could, which wasn't too difficult. I find as long as you smile and make eye contact, that guest will usually come to you as opposed to the person right in front of the line. I just genuinely like to greet all the guests, but today I wanted every experience I could get, either to prove that I knew what I was doing (for my own benefit) or to find a weird guest situation that I would never know how to handle on my own, so I could find out how my trainer would assess the situation. 

I really did not encounter any weird situations. I did have one guest, who had booked through a travel company, and their actual reservations were not what the company had promised them. It was similar to the guest I assisted on Tuesday, except in this case, the rooms had been booked, but 2 were booked at Music and 1 at Movies. So unfortunately, I had to charge the guest the difference of the room rates when we moved them from Music to Movies, where they should've been in the first place. They were very understanding, but I felt really bad even though the error had not been on our end and we were able to get the rooms they wanted.

I helped blow up and tie balloons today and gave them out to some really adorable kids, who all LOVED them I love watching the guests who are coming in for the first time or are just so excited for their vacations. Definitely a highlight of my day.

Friday March 20, 2013

All Star Movies Cashier OJT (Day 4) 0645-1515

Friday I was at Movies again. Pretty much the same as the rest of the week, except I didn't take any cash, so bank out was very quick. I definitely enjoyed that!

For the last hour of so of my day, my trainer took me the break room to look over the written test that goes along with Front Desk. It was like the written test I had as a lifeguard, in that it was more of a talking point than a real test. Yes, my trainer had me physically do it, but it wasn't truly graded. He just talked about the questions that I asked about and explained the ones I missed. Then we still had close to half an hour before clocking out, during which my trainer decided to tell me about what a good trainer he is and about all the cast members that he has trained, which have gone on to be FSAs... Read my next post on Front Desk training if you'd like to know why I was so utterly bemused by these stories.

Check back for Part Three!
 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Guarding the World: Why lifeguarding is NOT a horrible role

FACT. Lifeguards are as cool, if not cooler than pirates...photo credit

Regular Schedule

When compared to pretty much any other role you might get on the CP; lifeguards come out with the best hours. Winter hours (September-late March) are 9-10 hour shifts, which are really exhausting, but once you get used to them they aren't horrible. The best part is that you can easily get days off if you want to go on a trip during your program. And if you don't want that many days off, you can usually pick up shifts from other people pretty easily. When you're not on winter hours, you're on split shifts. I've only worked split shifts for one week, so I can't really tell you anything definitive. I worked PM shifts from 1500-2230. The AM shift is like 900-1630. I think different resorts have different hours so it will depend. The good thing about split shifts, besides not working 10 hours a day, is that you can work double shifts, which is great if you're looking for more hours. Or more days off. Depends on what you want out of your program.


Exercise

"Any stand can be a roving stand, if you just believe!" This quote is like this running gag I have with myself. It's probably only funny to me....Anyways.

I tend to rove a lot, even on stands with a chair. Sometimes I challenge myself to see how long I can go without sitting. Personally I think it makes the time go faster. And plus when I'm walking, it's like I'm getting paid to exercise at work. Who else can say that about their job? I've worked an office job before, and I had to make a conscious effort to walk during my shift. But lifeguarding I'm guaranteed to get a good level of exercise during every shift. Plus guarding in the Florida heat? That'll help you shed a bit of weight if you're interested in that.

Costume

You have a pretty simple, not horrendous costume as a lifeguard. Also since you wear a swimsuit as part of your costume (at least for a girl), I had very little laundry to do on my program, since I could return all my work clothes for clean clothes at Costuming. Also since I wore a hat and sunglasses every shift, I never had to do my hair or makeup for work. I did wear makeup once in a while, just for fun.


Training

Although your lifeguard training is only good for use with the Disney company, it is very comprehensive training. And with regular inservice trainings, you will really know your stuff by the end. I have gone through YMCA and Red Cross lifeguard training before Ellis, which helped me, but I felt a lot more confident and capable after the Disney Ellis training. And I can tell that even lifeguards just starting out with Disney are very well prepared.

On top of the training (at least for Pop/Art), our coordinators did regular VATs and audits. As stressful as the idea of getting audited at any moment is, I loved live audits. First of all they made a normal, kind of slow day go faster. But more importantly they validated my skills as a lifeguard, which really helped my confidence. Or they showed me exactly what I knew and what I could focus on in my next inservice.

Camaraderie

I've read somewhere before that Lifeguard CPs have the best social lives... While I can neither confirm nor deny this statement, I can say that I made some amazing friends as a lifeguard. Also you bond with your coworkers differently than any other role.  You practice lifeguard skills together, you watch each other's backs, you stress out about VATs/Ellis audits together, you share the same weird tanlines, etc. Plus you get away with a little more as a cast member. Even though you're "onstage" even at the pool and on stand, you still have more chances to joke around with your coworkers.

Closing Spiels

Okay, so this category would probably not be on a lot of people's lists, but I loved doing closing spiels in the evening. For me this was the one part of the evening where I could be creative. Since I worked at Art of Animation I always did a "themed" closing spiel depending on the pool. About a month into my time at Art, management came out with specific "themed spiels" for us to say. I never used them. I said a different spiel every night, and personally I loved that.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Conquering Concierge: Front Desk OJT, Part One

photo credit
I was really nervous going into this week. To actually be out on the desk with real guests? They trust me to do that? But now that I'm halfway through with my on the job training (OJT) for front desk. I'm feeling pretty good about the whole situation. Personally I just get nervous when I have to put off doing something, so just diving into the Front Desk was exactly what I needed.

Read on for an overview of my first two days of training.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Challenges: Flights of the Kingdom

I just love flights!
So this is one of the Challenges that I'm the most excited about. It's unique, creative, and it's something I love! I love flights. Flights of beer. Flights of Tequila, Flights of whisky. Oh goodness, that sounds like a good day. This Challenge takes a bit of research on my part, also something I enjoy. So keep checking back to this page if you want more information on flights throughout Walt Disney World Resort, and reviews once I've tried them

The Challenge: Try Every Type of Flight in the Kingdom

Personally I am aiming to try every flight at Walt Disney World, but in order for the "every Disney fan" to complete this challenge, you must try one of each type of flight, so one beer, one tequila, one margarita, one martini, one sake, one whisky, and one wine.

Difficulty: 4 Out of 5 Tiaras

This is a quite difficult challenge. I think the martini flight at the Brown Derby or the Whisky flight at Le Cellier may be the most difficult ones to complete because they will probably require advanced planning and reservations. Otherwise most of this challege can be completed at Epcot with a little dedication and a drinking partner (or a few!).



My Results: Ongoing Challenge---Keep Checking Back!

I'm posting all of the flights I've done on this page with photo evidence. Once I've finished a category (or just about finished), I'll create a separate post with more information on the experience as well.

#flightsofthekingdom: Beer, Margarita, Martini, Sake, Tequila, Whisky

Beer Flights: 

Beer Flight at Big River Brewery on the Boardwalk
Price: $
Ranking: FAVORITE!

 
Beer Flight at Raglan Road at Downtown Disney
Price: $
Ranking: Okay.

Beer Flight at The Wave Restaurant at Disney's Contemporary Resort
Price: $
Ranking: Good.

Imperial Sampler at The Rose and Crown in Epcot
Price: $
Ranking: Okay.

Farm Fresh Beer Flight at Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival
Availability: Seasonal & Subject to change
Price: $
Ranking: In love.


Beer Garden Beer Flight at Epcot's Food and Wine Festival
Availability: Seasonal & Subject to change
Price: $
Ranking: Good.

Big River (Boardwalk), Rose and Crown (Epcot), Ragland Road (Downtown Disney), the Wave (Contemporary), Seasonal Beer Flights

 

Margarita Flight: 

Hollywood's Brown Derby (Studios)

 

Martini Flight:

Yet to complete any Martini flight.

 Hollywood's Brown Derby (Studios)

 

Sake Flight:

 
Sake Flight at Tokyo Dining at Epcot

Tokyo Dining (Epcot)

Tequila flight: 

My brother and I did one of the tequila flights during Food and Wine festival, which was like one of the flights offered in the tequila cave. Currently searching for photo proof.

Prepared Tequila Flights at La Cava De Tequila
 
Tequila Flight at La Cava De Tequila
 
La Cava de la Tequila (Epcot), Mexico booth (Food and Wine Festival)

Whisky Flight: 

Whisky Flight at Rose and Crown in Epcot


Le Cellier (Epcot), Ragland Road (Downtown Disney), Whispering Canyon (Disney's Wilderness Lodge), Rose and Crown (Epcot)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Conquering Concierge: Front Desk Class, Part 2

I see that you must be on the Platinum Dining Plan, Goofy.
I decided to split up this post about my first Week of Concierge Training, so if you haven't already read Part 1, I invite you to do so first! The is the last two days of training at Disney U, before heading on location to the All Star Resorts.

Tuesday March 12, 2013

Disney Lodging: destination cashier (Day 2)

 

So day 3 was WAY better than the first two days. I had been warned about day 3, since there is so much information to learn, but I loved it. I would much rather just be thrown into something, than to discuss it theoretically and stress out about not knowing whether I'll be able to handle it or not. Right off the bat we covered cash (we were given real fake money to work with) and practiced our new skills with a lab, since up until now, we've assumed that all of our guests are paying with credit card. It's not common that guests will pay for their hotel rooms in cash, but of course we need to know how. We learned how to do personal checks and travelers checks (also not common). Then we learned about packages, which are either retail (just the room) or wholesale (room plus tickets or rooms plus tickets and dining).

So for wholesale packages, we have the Magic Your Way park tickets and the Dining Plans. Oh my goodness, the dining plans. There are now 5 Dining Plans: Quick Service, Disney Dining Plan (the original), Deluxe, Premium, and Platinum. The Premium and Platinum Plans include unlimited tours, recreation, and Cirque du Soleil tickets. They sound amazing! If I ever did one of those, I would do EVERY tour possible, and it would probably be the most exhausting vacation of my life. And I would definitely eat at Victorias and Alberts to get my money's worth.


We did our second lab towards the end of the day. It involved guests with a package and a few different scenarios. The lab actually took us a long time, even with only two people, so I'm sure in a normal class that's why this day seems kind of overwhelming. But I was just excited to do everything, so it didn't seem as scary as I built it up to be in my mind. After lab we went over banking out, which I am not excited to do in real life, and then we were done with the day.


Biggest Takeaways

  • I know pretty much everything about tickets and the Dining Plans now.

  • Any guest doing a package will be prepaid, so they will never have a balance when they come to check in with me.

     I know how exchange foreign currency pay a refund (like for parking), and charge for a fax.

     

     

Wednesday March 13, 2013

Disney Lodging: destination cashier (Day 3)

 

Day 4 went a little slow again. There wasn't a lot of information left. We covered Check Outs, Groups, Online Check Ins, and finally Service Recovery. We had two different labs, one covering checkouts as well as late check outs and later one very long check-in. The very last topic we covered was guest service recovery procedures (how to deal with irate guest).. At this point of the day I was so drained and I had aheadache and wanted to go home, but I was still pretty excited. Technical stuff, I get and after I do it a dozen times and more on my own, I'll get it. But mean guests yelling at me? I need all the help, tips and tricks I can get. I was pretty surprised they left this for the last second of the last day, but I'm hoping I'll see this a lot during my OJT training, so I get more comfortable thinking up appropriate solutions for guests' problems. I don't want to share many of Disney's procedures for guest recovery, but I will let you know that most of it is left up to the discretion of the Cast Member. There isn't like a chart that says, "If a guest comes up to you with X problem, provide Y solution." Every problem is  solved in a different way, depending on the situation/guest. Just another way Disney provides excellent, individualized service!

Biggest Takeaways

  • For a Check Out, we ask for a room key, since that is now considered a valid form of ID

  • To make it more personal we say "Can you remind me of your last name?" to imply that we've met them before

  • Guests are welcome to keep their keys or we can recycle them. But we want them to keep them as souvenirs

  • LILO automagically checks out guests at 11AM, unless the guest has requested late check out. That's regardless of the guest opting for express check out as well.

  • Online Check In is Disney's attempt of letting guests "fastpass" the normal Check In line


My training schedule! One week almost complete!
Woohoo! I finished my first 4 days of training! Next up on my agenda is my resort orientation at the All Star Resorts called "Rolling out the Red Carpet" as well as 5 days of OTJ (on the job) training before my first shift on my own. It's a long road to Concierge, but it's amazing how much I am learning already!

Your almost All Star,
Julie

Conquering Concierge: Front Desk Class, Part 1


photo credit

Oh goodness. Our heroine is headed back to Disney University (DU) this week, where she is going to be challenged, surprised, and readied for her future in a Concierge role.  
She's ready. Are you?

Sunday March 10, 2013 

Disney Lodging: the journey begins

The first day of my training had the lofty title of "the journey begins" like we're helping Frodo carry the ring to Mordor. Unfortunately, it's not half as fun or epic as it sounds. It's similar to the Welcome to Recreation class I had for lifeguarding. I expected to get a lot more out of the class, but we just didn't do much. We went over the Walt Disney World Company as a whole, we discussed each hotel, we planned a vacation for a family, we talked about the different roles in a hotel, we covered the basic, theoretical check in process, and that was about it. It was very little information stretched into an 8 hour day. And since it was just the two of us in the class, both of us being transfers, the amount of new information was pretty limited.

Oh right. I should explain. My class consisted of myself and one other girl. We were both transfers, both going to work at the All Star Resorts. So with our 2 trainers, there were only 4 of us. The other girl had already worked Front Desk before, so this was the second time she was hearing most of this. While it was mostly old news for her, there was new things for me to learn

Biggest Takeaways

  • Importance of not saying too much guest information out loud (like room numbers or full home addresses

  • Must immediately add "my pleasure," "assist" (instead of help), and "(you) folks" (as opposed to you guys) to my frequently used vocabulary

  • Luggage service is free (and convenient) at all the Disney Value resorts, while the other resorts use Bell Services which depends on tips and requires the guest to be in their room for delivery

  • Disney's Value Resorts are 2 Diamond (AAA rating), The Moderates and Villas are 3 Diamond and the Deluxe Resorts and Deluxe Villas are 4 Diamond. None of the resorts are 5 Diamond, though the Grand could be if the golf course was on property instead of across the street and the resort was exclusive, which will never happen because of the monorail going right through the hotel

  • Front Desk and Concierge's Coordinators are called Frontline Service Advisors (FSAs)

  • I will likely have the opportunity to become Segway trained, which includes about a 6 hour class at Epcot (sign me up now!).

     

     

Monday March 11, 2013

Disney Lodging: destination cashier (Day 1)

So day 2 (day 2 of my training, but day 1 of cashier training-sorry I know it's confusing!) was a little more exciting, but compared to Sunday anything would seem exciting. This time we were in a computer lab, so we could actually see LILO, the reservation system, in person. Once I got into LILO, I was pretty relieved. I've worked random computer systems before, and LILO is very user friendly. Even when I forget exactly how to do something, I just have to make a few educated guesses and I can usually figure out what I need. We covered the 8 Technical steps of Check Ins with credit cards. We also had our first Lab. At Disney University they have a mock Front Desk set up for us to practice checking in guests. It is great experience, so when we get to OJT (on the job), it won't be the first time we've done things on our own.

Biggest Takeaways

  • Always present information to a guest. Do not set it down in front of them.

  • I did my first Check In, and it wasn't that bad!

  • We have to Bank In and Bank Out for each shift, since we are technically cashiers, AKA we have a bank

  • Also as cashiers we have to fill our a check sheet for all payments we take in during our shift 

     

     Continued in Part 2! 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Guarding the World: Overheard by the Pool

photo credit

From Fellow Cast Members:

"I call those (kids) 'at risk' swimmers. At risk of me getting in the water."

From Guests:

"Where do we go to hear the stuff?" 'To hear what? You mean the music in the pool?' (her friends) "Don't mind her. She's having a blonde moment." There is music piped in underwater in the pool at the Nemo section of Art of Animation. You literally just need to put one ear underwater to hear it.
"What do you call that technique where you look at the pool with your eyes?"  The lifeguards have to scan in and out of their zones, which includes us pointing at the water, which gets a lot of questions. And I think that's what he was referring to... I kid you not that's how he phrased his question.
"I can't touch here, but my lifejacket is making me float." 'That's right sweetie. You're floating. Just like the astronauts.'
Random littel boy floats by my in his lifejacket. He looks up at me and gives me the biggest smile and says, "I'm having a good time!"

Funny Cast Member/Guest Interactions

"Do you have a hot tub?" You're in it. Ya, in your bathroom. There are no hot tubs at Disney's Value Resorts, so Pop, All Star, and Art.
"You're from Texas? Do you know any cowboys or cowgirls?" 'Texas isn't all cowboys! Texas is for sassy people too.'
"Where's your chair?" We played musical chairs. And I lost. Every resort has a few roving stands, which means that the lifeguards have to rove their zone constantly. I was mid rove when I started talking to this girl

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Conquering Concierge: The Anticipation!

You may have noticed that I have a new category of posts called Conquering Concierge, which will obviously cover information about my new role, concierge!!

For those of you coming to my blog for Lifeguard information, do not worry!! I still have quite a few posts about the Lifeguard Role coming up, so keep checking the Guarding the World section. There were so few detailed lifeguard blogs before I started my program, so I'd like to remedy that as much as possible for future CPs and lifeguards. And as always if you have any questions, please leave a comment! I will get back to you with a comment or with a post to answer your question.

So it turns out, one of the ICPs (from England) working at Art of Animation now, used to work Concierge at Port Orleans. She absolutely loved it and already misses it! And I couldn't believe my luck, finding someone who could answer some of my questions. She is in the middle of a year long College Program, so she completed 6 months in Concierge before getting transferred into Lifeguard. She is still adjusting to the change. The roles are on opposite sides of the guest interaction spectrum! Concierge, all you do is talk! But as a lifeguard you have to watch your water and limit your guest interaction to when you are off stand. Which is only minutes of your day, spread out and far between. One of my managers said he used to work Front Desk and lost his voice from talking so much! Sounds familiar. My choir in college would "mingle" after our shows. So after singing for around an hour or so, we'd have another half hour of talking. I do tend to lose my voice when I'm not getting enough sleep, but I'm too worried! I feed off of other people's energy (or lack thereof), so that will help!

She also talked about all the emails she'd get for Concierge keeping her up-to-date with the resort and maintenance for whenever anything was closed. Also she got comp tickets for everything, because she needed to know about all the events, so she'd know how to explain it to guests. Basically she sounds like she knows just about EVERYTHING about the Disney Parks. I CANNOT wait for that to be me!

She did mention getting yelled at guests pretty much every day. I am not excited about that at all. And I'm a little worried about getting comfortable with checking in guests. It shouldn't take me too long to get the hang of it. But I know the first few days will be scary, since some guests will be impatient to get to their hotel rooms and on with their Disney vacations. But I'm sure that training will be extensive enough that I'll know how to handle most situations.

I start training at Disney University on March 10 (next Sunday). So Sunday through Wednesday "The Journey Begins" at Disney U. Then I have Thursday off and Friday I have "Rolling Out the Red Carpet," which is All Star's Resort Orientation, so I need to find All Star Cast Services for that. I don't have my training schedule beyond that, but March 17 or so I should start Training on the Job at All Star Music.

Tomorrow I start my last week working as a Full Time Pop/Art  Lifeguard. I'm really going to miss everyone there. So I'm going to make the most of my last few days.

See You Real Soon!
Julie


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Challenges: Mission Princess

I'm developing a few new Disney Challenges for any Disney fan to try. Since I can always go to the parks and sometimes I don't have days off with friends, these challenges make the parks a little more fresh and fun for me, even when I'm by myself. Also since I'm going into Concierge, I am trying to get myself to try EVERYTHING Disney. When it comes to drinking and Duffy, that's pretty easy, but when it comes to meeting Characters, watching parades, or trying new restaurants, I need a little push.

If you need a new Disney Challenge, look no further! I have plenty of challenge ideas, which I'm going to attempt myself and publish for you to see. There will be several Drinking Challenges, Park Hopping (this IS Kingdom Hopping isn't it?), Show Challenges, maybe food, and also Character Challeges. Which brings us to today's challenge.

The Challenge: Meet all 11 Disney Princesses in One Day

You must seek out and get photo evidence of meeting Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Rapunzel, Ariel, Merida, Tiana, Belle, Pocahontas, Jamsine, and Mulan (I know Mulan is technically not a princess, but this is a CHALLENGE, so why not shoot for the stars?).

Difficulty: 5 Out of 5 Tiaras

This is not an easy task! It is time sensitive and involves some park hopping, but it is still so much fun to attempt.

My Results: I met 8 out of the 11 Princesses

I started bright and early at Magic Kingdom. Due to trouble with the monorail, I didn't actually get to MK until after 9, but that didn't slow me down! I had a plan in my head: get the difficult princesses out of the way first, Merida and Ariel, since they usually have very long lines. And then I would tackle the blondes, Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Aurora and then Tiana before I left for the next park.

#1
Just as I walked in the Magic Kingdom, I saw Snow White with no line. It was fate! I had planned on saving her for last at Epcot, but why not start with the original princess?
#1.5 "Bert drew me this dress this morning"
Across the way I saw Mary Poppins. Not a princess, but I LOVE her, and never get my picture with her, so I just HAD to take advantage. Now off to Space Mountain for a quite trip to space and then Fantasyland to find some more princesses!
#3 "I hear it's easy to lose glass slippers off human feet."
Ariel was super adorable. I waited in line with a bunch of little girls and their parents. I was a little out of place, but I had a challenge to accomplish and nothing would get in my way! After Ariel I needed to find Merida ASAP before the line got any longer. It winded around pretty far, so I jumped in it right away. I had to wait almost an hour before even getting in to the area where she was. I should have grabbed a snack for the wait, but I forgot. Ooops!
#3 "Angus and I want to tackle Space Mountain next."
When I finally met her, I forgot all about the wait. She was awesome! So energetic and friendly. She made me pose just like her. I'm very happy I obliged. Now down to the bayou to find Miss Tiana.
#4 "She got a promotion, y'all!"
There wasn't a very long line waiting for Tiana, thank goodness! I loved her southern accent. She asked me what I was celebrating in the parks, so I told her I just got a promotion (for Concierge!). She got excited and yelled to the crowd and cast members "She got a promotion, y'all!" I loved it! Before heading over to find the blondes, I walked through Adventureland to see if Jasmine and Aladdin were out. There was a line waiting for them, but they must have off playing with Abu and the magic carpet for a bit. I figured I would see her later on in Epcot anyways, so I headed to the blondes.
"Minnie Mouse is always trying to get me to wear polka dots."
The wait time was 65 minutes. UGH! But I had a challenge and this would knock out 3 more princesses, so I walked in and waited in line. I STILL hadn't eaten, nor had a picked up a snack for the wait in line. HUGE MISTAKE. I was starting to get a little cranky, and I had a very obnoxious family waiting in line behind me. The dad was threatening to hit his 13-year-old son and telling him to "shut up," and they just came across as very unpleasant company to everyone else in line. This ended up being the most uncomfortable line to wait in, even more than the line for Merida. But I made it through and I am so glad I did because the blondes were waiting for me!
#5
I had never been in the Storybook Hall to meet the princesses before (that was actually part of my motivation for this challenge-to make myself see it). It's pretty cute. The 3 princess are next to each other, so you can visit them all in a row pretty quickly. They each have a little table with a quill next to them for signing autographs, which is cute. But other than that I was a little disappointed by the backdrops. After reviewing all my princess pictures, the backdrops just did not cut it for me. They need some type of physical objects in the shot to create a little dimension. Merida, Ariel and Pocahontas just had such cool picture spots! So I think all the princesses should!
#6 "Have you seen a large white horse running around?"
Cinderella was first. Next up was Sleeping Beauty, one of my favorite princesses. She's definitely the most regal princess. You have to love that.
#7 "I don't have a lot of free time. My hair takes a lot of time to brush."
Last blonde was Rapunzel. She was so energetic! Just like the movie. And just look at ALL, THAT. HAIR. I guess she doesn't have a lot of free time, since it's always spent grooming her hair. Makes me want a hair cut.

After I found all the blonde princesses, it was time to park hop. I headed to the monorail, to a tram, to my car parked in the Heroes section. Then I drove over to Animal Kingdom to find Pocahontas, who I don't think I've ever actually SEEN in the parks. Probably because I am never in Animal Kingdom, so I had no idea where she'd be. From the map I thought she'd be in Camp Minnie Mickey, which was unfortunate. There is nothing in Camp Minnie Mickey, besides Minnie, Mickey, and the Lion King show, which I didn't want to see. So I never go there, nor do I ever want to go there.

So I went and Pocahontas was nowhere to be found. My parents called, they were in town, so I invited them to come join my quest. It took them a while to get their butts to AK, so I got a late lunch at Pizzafari. I inhaled a veggie pizza and caesar salad. I was famished. Hunting characters is exhausting. At this point in the day I knew that I wouldn't be able to finish my challenge. Belle, Mulan, and Jasmine were all waiting for me in Epcot, but they stopped making appearances at 3:30-4pm. And I would not be able to make it in time.

But I was in AK and so were my parents, so we had to do Expedition Everest! After that my parents felt invested in my quest, so they helped me figure out where Pocahontas was. Turns out she was near Africa on the opposite side of the Tree of Life. Not at all where I expected her to be. But once I found her, I realized why they put her there...
#8 "Wingapo, Pocahontas!"
 So she could take the most gorgeous pictures ever! Look how beautiful the Tree of Life looks from this side! She was not easy to find, but I am so glad I did!

Are you ready to accept this challenge?

 

My Advice:

 

I definitely think everyone should try this challenge! I NEVER do pictures with characters, but because I was doing the challenge, I HAD to and it was so much fun. And I got so many fun pictures from it. But I do want to suggest a few things:
  • Plan ahead and know where you are going. This is time sensitive! Don't waste time getting lost if you can help it.
  • Pack snacks/lunch or buy something easy to eat in line. It'll give you something to do in line and is an efficient use of your time.
  • Use photopass AND your camera every time! I did this by myself, but was still able to get Cast Members to take a picture on my camera for every princess. I also used my photopass card for everyone. My Ariel pictures did not come out at all, so I was so happy to have done photopass!
  • Bring a camera, not just the camera on your phone. It's so much easier to hand a camera than your smartphone to someone. And as a cast member, it's usually easier for us to operate a camera than your smartphone.
  • Look cute! I know it sounds totally vain, but next time I'm drawing in my eyebrows. Compared to the princesses, I have none! You're in the presence of royalty, the least you can do is look good.
  • Try to play along with their characters and don't just focus on the picture. You never know what they'll say and that's usually the best takeaway from the experience!
EDIT: 4/17/2013
I met Mulan in China about a week after I did the initial challenge.  She was precious. I was wearing cheetah print pants, so she asked me if I had just come from safari. It actually took me a minute to catch on. I felt bad for her though because it was a windy, cold day and she had to keep blowing her nose.

On the same day I actually got in line to meet Belle, but she was wearing a cape with her hood up (since it was so cold), so I didn't think the picture was worth it, so I left the line. So I still have yet to meet Belle and Jasmine in person.