Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Guarding the World: Live & Visual Audits

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


Live Audits

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

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

Most importantly not calling 911 will be an automatic fail.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visual Audit

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

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

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

Let me know if you have any questions! Don't forget to check out any of my posts with the Guarding the World tag, to learn more about the Lifeguard Role. If this is your first time here, check out my About Me page for a brief timeline about my CP experience.


  1. Hi! I'll be graduating with a hospitality degree in December. I just got accepted into the College Program as a concierge for next Spring and am weighing my options for when my program ends in May.

    I was just wondering if you were still in your concierge role and how you were enjoying it? Do you think it would be fairly easy to get a full-time concierge position after having the role in the CP? Also, how easy is it to request/switch resorts if you were wanting to work in a different resort category? And have you noticed how long it took those around you (or yourself!) to move into leadership positions?

    I love your blog! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk about your DIsney experiences!

    1. Hi Andrea!

      I know I'm responding to you months later... So hopefully you're already at Disney and you're doing a wonderful job! But I just wanted to respond in case you have any new questions and in case anyone else is reading with similar questions.

      1. Yes, I am still working in Concierge and I am still enjoying it! I've been made a trainer and I now work in the back office operations most of my time.
      2. For me, I went full time as a lifeguard and then they kept posting positions for Concierge cast members, so I applied and then voila! SO it really depends on business needs. With magic bands and MyMagic+ they hired SO MANY NEW CONCIERGE! So either that trend will continue... Or they may have hired too many and they may have to cut back for a while.
      3. If you are already full time in Concierge, you have to wait 6 months and then you'll be eligible to transfer resorts. I have been at All Star for over a year now, and I, obviously, have not transferred. It's just really fun to build a relationship with my leaders and fellow cast members at one location. So it's hard to justify leaving! I would definitely suggest trying to pick up shifts from other cast members, so you can see how the other hotel's operate. You will see some very different cultures between different resorts' cast members as well as guests.
      4. Well, I started at All Star in March of 2013. By like September I was made a trainer? I can't remember when exactly it happened. Might have been earlier. Then in December I was finally trained to work in the back office, which is where I have been ever since. It's a 6 month committment, and they do not have as many people trained for it, so if you have the training, you stay back here. The next step for me would be a Front Desk Service Advisor (FSA aka supervisor). I have not been selected for an interview, but some people similar to me who went into the back office before me have been selected for interviews, so it really doesn't take too long!