23rd Jun 2012

12 days of Disney

Another long gap between posts but this time I have an excuse, I’ve been working 12 days in a row with some very long shifts.

On the evening of the 10th I went to the last Hyperspace Hoopla. The show was a few minutes late starting and I received a notification on my phone of a severe thunderstorm warning for the Lake Buena Vista (Walt Disney World) area. The show was as awesome as ever but they were clearly rushing through to finish before the storm arrived. Just as the show was ending the sky went really, really dark; by far the most ominous sky I have seen since I got back. Then  we saw some distant lightning and then the fun really began. Being experienced florida residents by now we knew we needed to move indoors at the first spots of rain so we hid in one of old stores on Sunset Boulevard just in time for a massive storm to arrive which had spectacular lightning and torrential rain. I managed to get a nice video the tower of terror with real lightning behind it. After the storm had mostly passed we made a run for Sam’s car and got drenched before coming home to dry off.

On the Monday my epic work week began bright and early with my service class at 8am at Disney University. It was quite interesting and explained all about the Disney service standards and why they are important but I must admit it put me off going in to service even more. The thing I have always really enjoyed about working for Disney has been working with large numbers of guests in a fast paced environment and the class made me appreciate even more that service is about working with a small number of guests over an extended period of time and right now that is not something I want to do. As I have said to a lot of people I am not saying I never want to go in to service, just not right now. The afternoon was a wine class which was a basic introduction to types of wines and how to differentiate wines. Again it was interesting but as I had decided by that point in the day that I probably wasn’t going to go in to service it sort of felt a bit like a waste of time for me. We finished at 5 and went back to the Commons to get changed before Sam, Craig, Lesley and I went to Magic Kingdom for an evening of park fun.

Tuesday was another early morning where I had to be at work at 8.30 for a focus group/town hall with the Epcot senior management team. This was basically a 2 hour session where they discussed the new Four Keys Basics and some of their experiences. It was also a chance for us to meet all of the senior executives who are at the end of the day our bosses. It was quite an interesting session and it was certainly nice to put some names to faces so when you see people walking around the park looking important you actually know who they are! After the class I was in work at 10.30 to open Chippy so I had plenty of time to get it all ready. I finished work at 7.30 and met up with Sam and Emily who were spending the evening in World Showcase – we grabbed some food and watched a bit of illuminations before leaving in time to be ahead of the mob of people leaving work, it was nice to actually get a seat on the C bus for once.

The following day was my first training shift. I was training Amy & Aimee (who though putting them together was a good idea?!) on Seating. We met all of the newbies outside Cast Services as we got off the bus and Katie walked with them to the Pavilion while I went to get changed. The girls got the hang of seating pretty quickly which made my day nice and easy. I really enjoy training because I feel like I can help ensure that the pavilion works well for the next few months. After work we had our first Pizza night in weeks over at Lesley’s apartment – mmmm Dominos!

Thursday I was back in Chippy yet again but with my earliest finish ever at 5.45. It was Dave Sergison’s six month anniversary so he had arranged for a few people to go over to Hollywood Studios to the 50s Prime Time for Dinner. I walked out of Cast Services into a torrential downpour with no waterproofs and had to run in to MouseGear and pay $10 for an umbrella just to stay dry on the way. We had a really nice dinner although our server was not as good as I have had before and I think our 10-way cast discount split checks did not help matters! It was nice to finally eat in a WDW restaurant on this program, I only realised afterwards that this was the first time in 3 months that I have actually done that.

Friday was my standard Assigning shift which was going OK but then in the evening my Manager told me to not stop taking walk-ins and keep a 15-20 minute wait all night. I managed it but boy was it stressful – I beat the budget for the evening though so I was quite pleased with that. After work we went straight to McDonalds for another delicious yet enormously unhealthy dinner.

Saturday I was back in Chippy yet again (sensing a theme here) but I cam in and looked at the number of people on podium and it was obvious we were going to be in trouble later as we were massively short staffed. I offered to extend and ended up working open until close being moved around from podium to Chippy to help out wherever I could. It was totally crazy – we definitely need the newbies trained up as soon as possible! After work I was really tired but wanted to go to Cowboys as I had not been yet and it sounded fun. I had a fantastic night and will definitely be going back again although my line dancing skills definitely need some work. Sunday was another podium shift and another McDonalds dinner… I am going to get so fat!

Monday I got up early to go over to Chatham Square to do a college program class called “Networking 101” which is all about how to make contacts while on the program. It is run by David Horvath who used to work for International Recruiting and has some wonderful insights into how Disney works and is a really engaging speaker. He runs a whole series of classes and I am hoping to attend as many as possible, next week’s is about interview technique. It will hopefully be really useful to hear about what recruiters are looking for from a previous Fortune 500 company recruiter. I never did any of the classes on my previous programs which is something I really regretted and hope to rectify this time around. After the class I went to Epcot for another Chippy shift before coming home and crashing out from tiredness.

On Tuesday I was meant to be in Chippy but got moved over to Podium and spent most of the day bussing for Janet. As the restaurant is starting to get a little bit busier it makes the assigner’s life a lot easier if one of their seater’s busses for them and as an Assigner I feel obliged to help others out. After work I met up with some of the newbies, Emily, Andrew, Lesley and Bailey at MK. We did Stitch (I really hate that attraction), Mansion and watched the Magic, the Memories and you before grabbing some food and heading home. It was nice to get back to the parks in the middle of a long stretch of work, a little bit of a reminder of why I am here.

Wednesday was out arrival group’s 3 month anniversary. Just by chance Housing had arranged “Breakfast with the Characters” at Vista Way with free food and the chance to meet Mickey and Minnie. We could not get on any of the first few busses as they were too full so we got there about 30 minutes after it started and the line for food was already around the block. At one point they actually ran out of food! In the end we waited about 45 minutes to get food and did not have time to wait to see the characters. I headed off to work while the others went to Universal (sucks to be me…). I ended up getting extended by 2 hours and missed most of the 3 month anniversary celebration at Sam’s but got back in time to enjoy some drinks and chill time with the whole gang.

On the 21st I was supposed to be on podium but extended to Chippy registers to cover for someone who was not feeling well. It was the midnight screening of Brave that night so I was happy to stay as I had no plans until the late evening anyway. I ended up going straight to downtown via Port Orleans and was there in about 20 minutes. I met up with Aimee and some of the Canadians. I was really tired and I mean falling asleep in my feet tired at the end of day 11 but I really enjoyed the film. I did fall asleep for about 10 minutes but not because I was bored, it was simply my very long week catching up with me. In the end we got home about 3am and I was up again at 9 to go in for my final Assigning shift of the week.

Assigning on Friday I weeded myself badly at both Lunch and Dinner. We did quite good numbers considering the weather but it got pretty stressful at times. It is nice to know your limits and yesterday I think I found them! I did have a really nice moment at Diner though, we had a party of 4 come to podium and tell us there was a party of 7 with a reservation at the same time who were all part of the same family but they did not know that the 4 were in Disney. Originally they had not been able to make the trip but managed to change some things around and wanted to surprise them. We arranged it so the 7 would be seated and the 4 would sit next to them a few minutes later. It worked perfectly, it took the 7 a few minutes to recognise the 4 but then they were screaming and laughing – a nice magical moment to end my epic week.

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