March, 2014

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14th Mar 2014

I wish someone had also told me…


This is part 2 of the ‘I wish someone had told me’ series, where I am going through the things I wish someone had told me before I started my Disney CRP program as well as things other participants have suggested.

…To get up early

For work in the UK I frequently get up at 6.30am, on my program I rarely ever got up before 9. It might seem like a really small difference and when you are tired and maybe a little hungover (!) it can be hard to make an early start but don’t waste a whole day off sleeping. You might only have 100 days off all year, do you really want to waste half of one in bed? People hated me on occasion for getting them up at 6am to go for a Character breakfast before work but I hope they would think it was worth it in the end.

…To go out more

Before my program I never really thought of myself as a ‘going out’ kind of person. I was not a massive drinker and I thought it wasn’t really my scene. The truth is I came to really enjoy it. Going out in Orlando is not like going out in the UK, you don’t really have to get very dressed up, you go straight after work most times and it has to end at 2am as the bars close. This makes for nights which are pretty quick to recover from and a lot of fun. Orlando also has some great places to go out; when have to you been Line Dancing with unlimited beer or gone to an outdoor street with 10 different bars you can just wander between? Even if you are not a ‘going out’ person I suggest you try it at least once… you might surprise yourself, I know I did!

…To make the most of the perks

You get some amazing benefits – use them! I didn’t use my dining discount for months and regretted not eating at more Disney restaurants. You also get some great discounts outside of the parks. You are only a Disney Cast Member for a very limited time – make the most, once they are gone, they are gone!

…To stay in more resorts

I stayed in Disney resorts 14 times during my program from a night at the Contemporary to my last few days in Pop Century. I wish I had stayed in more, in off peak season you can get 60% off already low rack rates making a room as low as about $30 a night. Stay with some friends and that could be less than $10 each! What’s not to love? Sometimes a comfy bed (the one’s in housing are fine but not exactly luxury), a flat screen TV and some time away from housing can be just what you need to get back in the zone.

…To do stuff that makes you smile

The nature of the program is that there is always someone doing something you could tag along with, but sometimes there is something you want to do that nobody else does. Do it anyway! It’s your program, make the most of it. I got up at a stupid time of the morning to go to the New Fantasyland Grand Opening, no one would come with me and they thought I was mad. Do I regret it? No. I had a fun time and met up with friends later after they had a lie in (See above!). Big group stuff is great fun and organising stuff for groups is even more fun but if you want to do it and nobody else does, don’t stop, you might not get another chance!

…Not to sweat the small stuff

During my program I worked with more than 150 different people – to put that into perspective it was more than the total number of the people in my year in secondary school and more people than work in my entire division in my current job. That is a lot of people. Inevitably with that many people working long hours together, living together and hanging out together you are going to have your differences. People gossip, people bicker, it’s life. Don’t sweat it! It is a totally crazy environment where the high pressure of the job and the lifestyle means tiny issues can grow to major problems, just remember to put it in perspective and it probably isn’t that bad really! What seems like a major issue today will be forgotten next week, life in Orlando moves fast and this weeks gossip is old news very quickly.

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6th Mar 2014

I wish someone had told me…


Now that I have done the program once there are so many things that I learned when I was out there that would have been so much easier had someone told me them before I went. I figured other people had the same issue so I put a plea out on Facebook to other alumni for the one thing they wish someone had told them before they did their program and they answered. In this post I have put the best ones…

…To take photos, lots of photos!

Anyone who has read this blog will know that I take a LOT of photos. But on my program I didn’t really start taking them until more than halfway through. When you come home at the end of the program the photos are all you have to trigger the memories, the more photos, the more happy memories you will retain. Take LOTS of photos of everything, nights out, nights in, sitting on the bus, wandering around the parks, that stupid sign you saw that one time… Take it from me if you don’t the memories will fade and you will have a hard time remembering if you saw that silly sign when you were at Universal or at SeaWorld and whether it was with Joe or Jack.

…That having a bit of a breakdown is normal

Let’s be honest here, going to Disney is running away to the other side of the world. At some point in the year you are going to stop and think ‘Wait, am I doing the right thing?’. THIS IS NORMAL. For most people this tends to happen at two major times in their program, 2 months in and 6 months in. At this time I highly recommend taking Emma’s advice from the last post and taking time to head to the parks, chill out and remember why you did this in the first place. Working at Walt Disney World is not always easy and living and working with the same people day in, day out even more so. It is therefore important to take time for yourself every now and again and before you take any rash decisions visit the Magic Kingdom, watch Wishes and see how you feel in the morning.

…To get a Car

This is a controversial one. Disney provide Bus transportation which is not bad 95% of the time but clearly it does not go the most direct or fastest route to places. Buying a car is a big commitment both financially and in terms of the time needed to find a car, do a driving test and sort out all of the paperwork but hiring a car for occasional trips is very easy and can be as little as about $30 a day and you can walk to Hertz from housing. The car debate is a big one and there is no right or wrong answer but a car for a few days here and there is an amazing freedom. If you don’t have a car, make friends with someone who does… but maybe buy them a drink every now and again to say thank you.

…That taxis are pretty cheap if you know where to go

When you don’t have a car, get a taxi! There are various taxi drivers that basically only work with the various countries of the World Showcase. When you arrive in Orlando you will pretty quickly get their numbers from people who are already there, they are really pretty cheap. A taxi to work with a group of people is $2 each. When you just can’t face the bus journey or want to stop for a cheeky food stop on the way give them a call. They are a lot cheaper than the other taxi companies as well for longer journeys, if you want a trip to Universal you could save yourself quite a bit sometimes.

…To escape the Disney Bubble

There is plenty to do in the Lake Buena Vista and Orlando area but the USA is a big place and there is plenty going on. Doing all the Disney stuff is important, you will only get to do it once, but in between take time to escape. Go to Miami, go to Tampa, go to New York, go to Las Vegas… An internal US flight is a lot cheaper than a trans-Atlantic one and when are you going to be this close again? There are some crazy music festivals all across America, some of my friends went to Bonaroo in Tennessee, when are you going to have a chance to go to a Music Festival where there is a good chance the sun might shine most of the time?

Travelling is expensive so you have to manage your money. By all means don’t spend every penny you earn, you will need some of it when you come back, but don’t save every penny and miss out on the experience. It is a delicate balancing act but one that it is worth doing for the experiences you will get.

…To wait for Holiday Discount

Between October and February Cast Members usually get extra merchandise discount of 40%. If you have a Disney souvenir you just have to have try and wait until then to buy it. You could save yourself a bundle.

…Not to bother buying food

I can honestly say I think I cooked in my apartment kitchen on less than 10 occasions. Unless you are a gourmet chef or you know for certain you are going to be cooking a meal I wouldn’t bother doing a lot of food shopping. You will eat out a lot, even if it just McDonald’s because you are just too tired to do anything after work. Eating out is not expensive and quite often happens spontaneously after work, planning food ahead of time is a fool’s move!

…To get a taxi to WalMart on the first night

The night you arrive you are going to need to buy stuff, bedding, towels and something for breakfast. There will be a bus to WalMart but you will just have been on a 9+ hour flight and potentially been travelling for the best part of 24 hours – GET A TAXI. You will be there and back in under an hour and a half as opposed to almost 3 hours on the bus. It will probably cost you a maximum of $20, less if you are in a big group.

…That no matter how much you want to come home, a day later you will want to go back

By the end of your program you will probably be looking forward to coming home as well as sad to be leaving. Take it from me, the minute you are home you will be wanting to be back! A year is really not very long, make the most of every minute and every opportunity and for god’s sake if you are thinking of leaving early take time to think it through and remember all the good things you have.

To Be Continued…. Continue to Part 2

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