Days Off

20th Nov 2012

Christmas comes to Orlando

It might only be the start of November but Christmas comes early to the Walt Disney World Resort. As soon as Food and Wine finished on the 12th the marketplaces were magically removed overnight and replaced with the Christmas decorations and only days later all the music changed to all your favourite Christmas tunes. It feels a bit weird having trees and Christmas music when most days it is 20+ degrees but it all looks very pretty so I can’t really complain.

This week G and I finally got our 1 bedroom apartment and are now residents of Patterson Court. This has its pros and cons. We have a lovely apartment and the walk to the bus stop is shorter than the old walk from 28 but we are a long way from the Commons. So far it hasn’t really been a problem though and it is definitely nicer here than in our old apartment.

With Food & Wine over I finally got 2 days off. The first started with a dash to Disney University to get a replacement debit card from Partners after I somehow managed to lost mine in the move to Patterson. The rest of the day was spent with Kristen, Stacey, Dave and Kieran at Hollywood Studios where we spent the day doing all the rides and the evening seeing the Osborne lights. Unfortunately I forgot my camera but trust me they are beautiful – I will definitely be going back a few more times to enjoy them.

The next day Rich, Stacey and I took Kristen to Universal Studios for the first time. It was really quiet with nothing more than a 20 minute wait. We covered most of the major attractions and I got a lot of photos of Kristen looking super-excited as we took her around the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the rest of the 2 parks. I had to leave fairly early as Dave had bought me a ticket for Mickey’s Verry Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom. I was going to get a cab by myself but the others decided to call it a day early and head back to the Commons which made my cab a little bit cheaper – yay!

Very Merry was amazing, I actually preferred it to Not So Scary. There are less characters but the decoration and the snow on Main Street is unbelievable and the fireworks are pretty spectacular  We also got to see the new ‘Celebrate the Magic’ projection show which replaced ‘The Magic, the Memories and You’ – it has some really cool new effects including a holiday section which is just around until January. We spent a good hour or so in one of the dance parties with Woody and Jessie which was a great laugh, by the end of the night there were only about 10 other people in there!

The last few nights I have really just chilled out. I went to ESPN at the boardwalk for Dinner one night and the cinema to see Wreck It Ralph (it’s awesome) the next. I know I have my Food Running coming up next week so I am trying not to tire myself out too much as I know it is going to be a very intense training period ahead and I want to make the most of it.

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31st Aug 2012

Spending time with my families

That isn’t a typo… last week was honestly the best week of my program so far. I got the chance to spend time with the two most important groups of people in my life right now, my family visiting from home and a night in Fort Wilderness with my ‘Disney Family’ consiting of my arrival group and friends!

Before my family arrived I decided to buy a Tables in Wonderland card since our cast discounts are blocked out until the end of September. The card costs $90 for Cast Members and gives a 20% discount. I worked out that in the 5 meals we had booked we would easily save more than that amount.

On the first night we had reservations at Mama Melrose in Hollywood Studios. We arrived to find the waiting area full of people and the Greeter used the words “We are a bit behind on reservations” and I knew what that meant! It turned out that they had to take all of the the Prime Time Cafe reservations as they had to close so fitting two restaurants in to one was naturally proving a challenge. I caught a glimpse of their Assigner and she looked pretty stressed, I know I would have been in that situation. We had a really nice meal in the end although I did order what sounded like a really nice cocktail only to discover it was bright pink and came in a champagne flute – girly much? I brought my sister and her friend Debra back to the commons before we went out with the rest of the UKs to cowboys.

On Sunday we ate at Wolfgang Puck at Downtown Disney which was probably my least favourite meal of the week. We had a fairly rubbish server and they forgot one of the Entrees. But I guess you have to have the bad to appreciate the good.

On Monday morning I had to get up super early to get a bus to Disney University to take a class which was my only scheduled shift for the week. It was called ‘Podium Excellence’ and taught all of the ins and outs of the table management system that we use in the restaurant as well as the central Disney reservation system. It also introduced the service standards which Disney is using for Podium cast members which I will soon be teaching to some of the new arrival groups in the next few months. It was actually a really interesting class. When it finished Ally, one of the new CPs who works as a seater at Cinderella’s Royal Table (the restaurant in the castle) offered me a lift home which saved me the extra-long bus journey which was much appreciated. I miss mixing with the CPs like on my other programs, I always think it is kind of shame that we really only mix with the other internationals and mostly just the other UKs.

Monday night was the reservation I had been most looking forward to. Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge. It really lived up to expectations – the food was absolutely delicious and unlike most of the other restaurants we ate at the portions were the right size and we left felling full but not ill. We had one of the best servers I have ever seen, Andrew, who was extremely attentive and did one of the most detailed and mouth-watering spiels I have heard. Jiko is definitely my new favourite WDW restaurant. I am already looking for reservations for my birthday in February.

On Tuesday and Wednesday I got to spend time with the Disney family. The day was spent at Universal with Geraint, my sister and Debra where we spent all of the time in Harry Potter and the night was spent at Wilderness Lodge with the rest of the gang. We arrived in the late afternoon along with the rain, the evening was basically spent inside the cabin chatting, drinking and listening to Craig on his guitar. It was a fantastic night with some great friends and it really reminded me just how good we have it out here.

Wednesday was Craig’s birthday, everyone who was working left pretty early so Bailey, Craig and I went to Trail’s End for their buffet breakfast where Craig, the Irishman, discovered there is actually such thing as Irish Breakfast Tea. We then took the boat over to the Magic Kingdom to pay there for a few hours. In the evening Craig had booked Narcoosee’s at the Grand Floridian which was another delicious meal where I got to use my Tables in Wonderland discount. It was nice to get all dressed up and go out, we don’t really do that very much out here so it felt pretty special.

Thursday’s reservation was for the Rose and Crown where I used my connections to get a nice table with a view for the fireworks! We got table 711 which is a table on lower deck with a great view and it is tucked into a corner so it is not too noisy or crowded. David served us and I really appreciated just how much fun he has with his guests, he spent the whole evening joking around while providing really great service. If I ever decide to go in to service I really hope that I can treat my guests as well as he does.

On Friday the cold that has been chasing me for a week finally caught up with me and I spent most of the day sleeping in my parents apartment trying to get over the fever I was having. At least it was a week when I didn’t have to work so I guess it happened at the best time. Sam had booked tickets for the Tampa Bay Rays vs Oakland Athletics Baseball on the Saturday. Sam, Lindsay, Amanda and I set out fairly early in the morning to drive to Tropicana Stadium. This was my first baseball game and I really enjoyed it. Lindsay had to explain quite a few of the rules as we went along but this is definitely a sport I could get in to – you get to sit down in an air conditioned stadium and food and drink is easily available plus you don’t have to pay too much attention as they recap everything on the scoreboard- what is not to love?

Everyone got very excited over the weekend about the possibility that Hurricane Isaac might hit Florida. As it turned out it missed and we just got a tonne of rain. Still more than a month of the season left though so there is still a chance – I really do want to see a small hurricane while I am here!

My family left on Monday and since then I have had podium shifts almost every day. It is nice to be back at work and with the build up to Food and Wine about to start it is going to get pretty crazy pretty soon and personally I can’t wait – work is so much more fun when it is busy.

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