Thursday, August 27, 2015

Working in the Magic Kingdom

First and foremost, actually working in the Magic Kingdom is such an experience in itself. If you are in the College Program and are not working in the Magic Kingdom, make sure you pick up at least one shift at MK before your program is over. Be prepared for a slightly stressful and confusing day, but then you'll carry that experience with you forever and have a new appreciation for the park! And a new appreciation for not working at Magic Kingdom every day!
My goal is to work in all 4 parks and as many as the resorts as I can. I've already worked at Animal Kingdom, so now I've got to get working on the other 3. My goal is to work a Fantasmic shift at Studios, do a Temporary Assignment (TA) working Food and Wine at Epcot, which just left me with a shift at MK. So when there was a PAC (Parade Audience Control) shift on one of my days off around spring break (with detailed instructions on where to meet), I hesitated, called my mom, and finally went for it.

This is a very detailed description of my day at Magic Kingdom. I wrote this post about a day after my shift, and I made it as detailed as possible for myself in case I need to remember how to get to the "Adventureland Veranda" again and for anyone who wants a little preview of where they might need to go if it's their first time navigating the utilidors.

Pre-Shift 1045
I left my apartment a little before 10:45am. My shift was 11:30-17:45. I needed time to get a parking spot, pick up a coat from MK Costuming (it was freezing that morning-plus then I'd have a place to stash my things), take the bus from West Clock to the Utilidors, and then have a few minutes to eat my lunch at the Mouseketeria and hopefully find someone to walk with to my location. I ended up parking at Disney University, walking through to use the restroom and then heading to Costuming. I had already picked up my costume a few days ago, but I hadn't thought to look for a jacket. I asked a Costuming cast member for help finding the jacket for the PAC costume. They pointed me toward the winter gear (the far right wall of costuming). All I could find were XL wool jackets. I grabbed one because I didn't want to be cold. It turned out that I grabbed the custodial costume's jacket, but it did keep me warm so that ended up being fine. 
Costume Hopping- MK PAC/Main St Costume
I checked out and headed to the bus stop, and the bus was right there, so I headed straight to the tunnel and the Mouseketeria (refered to as 'the mouse' by MK cast members). I sat down in the Mouseketeria and ate the sandwich that I brought with me. Once I was finished I saw a girl in the same costume as me eating lunch. I approached her and asked her if she was doing stroller parking, and if we could be friends (yes, I asked just like that). Her name was Amanda, and it turns out she normally works attractions in Adventureland and the Haunted Mansion, so she knew the managers and coords we’d be working with. Basically I hit the jackpot finding someone who knew exactly where to go and that I could follow around. I followed a lot of people around during the day, but they didn't seem to mind. If anything I think they genuinely liked being able to help me out. Amanda even admitted that outside of the places in MK that she normally works, she gets lost in the tunnel and backstage area. Like the meeting place for the EHH posting said to meet at the Pecos Bill Break area, and she didn't really know where that was. It ended up being right behind her normal managers office.

Finding our Location
At 11:15am we clocked in on CDS. If you're like me and normally use a time clock, CDS is a little different. You type in your perner number to clock in, which you can do 15 minutes before your shift. Then you'll select "Get Assignment," and it will print you out your assignment. In most roles, you'll be bumping someone onto a new position or bumping someone on to break. I know Food Service uses CDS, so your assignment might be Cashier 1, so you'll bump whoever's on Cashier 1 to busing tables. And then they'll bump whoever was on busing tables onto their break. Just a hypothetical example. For my PAC shift I wasn't bumping anyone, so I didn't have to pay attention to my assignment.

After clocking in we headed to the Adventureland coords office. Again Amanda said she didn't know where the Pecos Bill break room was, but she knew the coordinators who would be in charge of the PAC shift, so she said I could come with her. I was extremely happy to follow her. I had gone a few days prior to figure out the path I would take to find the Pecos Bill break room, but I still didn't really have a clue where I was going.

We kept to the right side of the utilidors, past the Mouseketeria (left would have taken you to Fantasyland), which took us to Adventureland. We took the hallway on the right to Adventureland Veranda and took the stairs up to the Pecos Bill Break Room. Neither of us knew that we were actually in the Pecos Bill Break Room, so Amanda kept going, first trying to get into her manager's office, which was locked.

We went back into the stairwell and took a different door which led us out into Adventureland backstage and then somehow we found her coordinator's office. I took notes on my phone about where I went, but it's still so fuzzy to me about where I was.

When is the Parade?
We met the coordinator, Robbie, who would be instructing us where to go. Myself and 2 other people would be stationed on the Riverwalk (Liberty Square) as well as helping with Captain Jack Sparrow's Pirate Tutorial. Robbie told us he wanted us for the parades and the pirate tutorials, but otherwise we were free to do whatever, like help with stroller parking by the Haunted Mansion. And also that we needed to take our 2 breaks, one 15 minute and on 30 minute, in between those 2 obligations.

After we found the other cast members who were going to be helping me, Robbie took us over to Liberty Square and showed us where we’d be stationed. Then he showed me the Haunted Mansion break room, where I was able to leave my purse. I kept my phone on me. At that point it was 12pm and time to be in position for the 12:30pm parade. Our job was to keep the walkway from Haunted Mansion to Frontierland moving

“Keep to the left! This is a moving walkway. Please keep moving.” "Just keep swimming folks!"

That is exactly how the entire parade played out for me. Actually add in some kids climbing on the rocks and now you have an accurate depiction.

Two Way Traffic and Captain Jack Sparrow
After the parade was over, we redirected people to the streets. Then I headed over to Haunted Mansion to help direct two way traffic. Then I took a 15 minute break in the break room by Sleepy Hollow (custodial  break room 1:45pm-2:05pm). After my break I headed outside of the Pirates of the Caribbean for the Jack Sparrow Pirate Tutorial. Since a crowd gathers for the Pirate Tutorial, they put out tape indicating where you can stand or sit if you are staying for the show. Otherwise you are in the walking path and you have to move. Insert your PAC team.

"Stay inside the white tape. Stay to the right. " More moving walkway and two way traffic lingo.

The show and our traffic patterns lasted until about 2:50pm. After that it was back for the next parade. Since it was almost Easter, they were showing a little pre-parade with the Easter Bunny. It was o cute! Even though I didn’t really see ANY of it from my position.

After that I took a 30 minute break with Amanda back in the Mouseketeria. She wanted company, and I wanted to stay with someone who knew where they were going. After that break Amanda went back in front of Haunted Mansion for stroller parking, and I headed back to the Pirates' tutorial once again.

After the last Pirates' show Robbie thanked me for my help and said to do what I wanted for the rest of the time and make sure to clock out at 5:30. I’ve heard this before but didn’t think about it for this shift. Magic Kingdom cast members get 10 minutes of paid walk time after their shift, since they have to walk back through the utilidors to the bus. 

I clocked out at 5:35 which felt so wrong, but it is allowed at MK.

Whew. That was my day. I know that probably seems like too many details, but you were warned! I'm so glad I did it, but wow is Magic Kingdom confusing.

Some Notable Moments From My Day: 
  • I got to be that happy Cast Member that says Happy birthday!, Happy anniversary!, and Hi Princess to every guest that went by! Seriously. I tried to catch every one.
  • I caught some cast members cussing each other out behind stage. And they weren't even that far backstage. If guests were being nosey and hanging out by the wall they probably could heard everything they were yelling about. 
  • I saw Gaston (a somewhat manly version), the Beast, and Belle backstage!! Also Drizella and the evil stepmother. And peter pan multiple times.
  • I had to give a lot of guests directions. Thank goodness I know where everything is in Disney!

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