10 Must-Dos in London

10 Must-Dos in London
10 Must-Dos in London

Venice Trip Report

Venice Trip Report
Venice Trip Report

Disneyland California Trip

Disneyland California Trip
Disneyland California Trip

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 57 - The Philhar crew is back - 29th July 2013

After the fun we all had together at EPCOT last week today it was time for the Philharmagic crew to spend more time together. Cheryl and Marie-Pier from Pan/Small World were there too before I make it sound too exclusive. We all went for lunch at Golden Corral which cost me a total of about $10 for a buffet of food and unlimited soft drinks. There was everything from pasta and tuna to chips, chicken and roast beef. It was incredible and the dessert selection was even better. I ended up having 4 or 5 plates of food - I definitely need to go back!

Just some of the Golden Corral dessert buffet
With two cars we all drove over to Magic Kingdom but before going in we had a quick visit to Company D - the Cast Member exclusive shop. There I bought a Cast Member decal, a Cast Member pin and a Seaworld ticket - I ended up spending about $95 total but that did include a $87 Seaworld one-day pass.

In the park it was time to take advantage of one of the unofficial perks of working on attractions. When people go on rides such as Peter Pan and it breaks down they are given a re-admission card, a.k.a. a re-add. This allows you entry into any WDW ride whether it has fastpass or not. When guests use these we put them in a fastpass bin - these then go on to be recycled. One way or another we had access to 28 of these re-add tickets so we managed to fastpass Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain and the Jungle Cruise. We also waited in the regular line for the Haunted Mansion.

On Splash Mountain!
All in all we rodeAll in all we rode five of the busiest rides including two Splash which is about a ten minute ride in itself all in about 90 minutes. To compare, the queue for Splash Mountain alone was 100 minutes. We were pretty chuffed to say the least. I also got the last of the Magic Kingdom FASTPASSes that I was collecting with Buzz Lightyear, Barnstormer and Dumbo now checked off too!

Work was pretty good and it was a smooth 6 and a half hour day. I forgot my nametag though so I was Stephen from Orlando which of course was annoying when I was called by guests. One guest even asked me if it was pronounced like "Steven" and I was like "Yeah, of course!". I had a meeting with a manager today which was my final performance review - I was given the top rating which is "leading the way" which is great to hear - my customer service skills in particular were noted, as was my ability to lead. I could definitely see myself in some kind of managerial role in a theme park so that was great to hear.

After work we got to add one more ride to the list as we had a late-night flight on Dumbo after the park was closed. It's always lots of fun, but today some of the Cast from other rides were leaving, which made for a sad leaving speech and it's sad to think that next week I'll be in that position too!

Closing the park isn't so bad. Especially when you get to see this...

Seaworld tomorrow!

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 56 - The final stretch... - 28th July 2013

Today was my day of realisation that this whole is experience will very soon be coming to an end as I got my work schedule for my final work week today. To give you an idea of how action packed my next few weeks are I'm going to give you a run down. Bear in mind that today is day 5 of 9 of work in a row as well. This will also give you a sneak preview at some of the post topics that will be coming over the next few days and weeks.

Mon 29th July - Buffet lunch with fantasyland crew, then Magic Kingdom then work from 17:15-23:45
Tues 30th July - SeaWorld in the morning hopefully! Then work 17:30-23:45
Wed 31st July - Disney Graduation ceremony! Then Work 16:30-23:30
Thurs 1st Aug - 11:00 to 23:45 shift. Trying to give this away as my family arrive in the evening
Fri 2nd Aug - Day Off - Spent with family in Magic Kingdom
Sat 3rd Aug - Day Off - Spent with family in EPCOT
Sun 4th Aug - Morning at Hollywood Studios with family. Work 16:00 - 02:45
Mon 5th Aug - Work 11:00 to 23:45
Tues 6th Aug - Work 11:45 to 00:45
Wed 7th Aug - Work 18:15 to 00:45
Thurs 8th Aug - Day Off spent with family
Fri 9th Aug - Day Off spent with family. End of program.

The shifts in bold are during my last week and as you can see they are horrific. One of them is little more than 8 hours away from the other and I need to allow 2 hours to get each way to and from work.

As you can see the next 12 days are going to be action packed and I'll be running on almost zero sleep. Anyway...that's next week, a quick update on what happened today now:

My morning was fairly boring I had to do my laundry and then caught the bus to work. Whilst on the bus I was facebook-ing Oriol as the idea of going to Seaworld on Tuesday before work popped into my head and it looks like it's going to happen. I was going to check the prices at Company D (cast member store) for SeaWorld tickets as we can get discounts but unfortunately it was closed on weekends.

There were a couple of moments to note today: At the end of Philharmagic there is an animatronic Donald Duck halfway through the wall and he falls through into a cloud of smoke. After the show ended a dad came up to me and asked me to reassure his little daughter that Donald would be OK and that he'd be in the next show as she was feeling sorry for him. It was cute and I got to make a little bit of magic and told her to come back again and she'd see that he'd be fine.

Gore warning: The other thing of note was that when I was greeting at the carousel I felt an itch on my leg - I looked down and found a cockroach climbing up my sock onto my leg and shaking my leg wasn't getting rid of it. Quick secret: those fastpass machines are full of roaches underneath...I see them come out and they are huge. The bins aren't much better. This also explains the bites on my leg that I had the other day. Horrible.

Finally, I mentioned earlier that today was day 5 of 9 in a row and surprisingly I don't feel extremely tired so I'm going to take that as a plus! Looking at that schedule though - ask me how I feel in 12 days time!

Quick note: to illustrate how crazy life is here on the college program note that I haven't even seen some of my housemates in over a week.

Next Post: Walt Disney World ICP - Day 57 - The Philhar crew is back - 29th July 2013

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 55 - We're 101! - 27th July 2013

Today I got up early to visit Silvia who has been working here since last year and whom I met at work in London. We went to Starbucks as we did last time and had breakfast, it was nice to actually have breakfast for once as my schedule doesn't usually fit it in. Then we went to Publix and finally I went to the gym.

After the gym I thought I'd take the golden opportunity to soak up some sun as I very rarely have the time. It was beaming outside when I was in the gym, I got changed went back out and clouds had come over. Undeterred I lay down ready to soak up some rays. 5 minutes later I was stuck in the middle of a thunderstorm. Not fun.

I wasn't yet hungry so I decided to visit another resort to check that off my list and today it was time to visit the Wilderness Lodge. This was a bit of a surprise to me as I didn't expect it to be anything like it was - the lobby was stunning and the pool and outdoor areas were incredible!

Wilderness Lodge was stunning! Ignore the fact it's raining in this pic...

I called my parents and boarded the ferry launch over to the Magic Kingdom. 10 minutes later I was at the gates. I had just one attraction left in Magic Kingdom - the Liberty Square Riverboat and I knew it had to be timed well - it left on the hour and at 30 minutes past the hour until 8PM. I made perfect timing and got on the boat just a minute before it left - it was a relaxing voyage but I don't think I'd do it again due to the lack of seating and the fact that it doesn't really serve any purpose.

The Riverboat - my final MK Attraction!
But ignore that...because I have officially now completed every single attraction in the Magic Kingdom! Only 3 parks left to go!

After that it was a trip to costuming and then onto work. I had been wishing for an attraction to be down (or 101 in Disney speak) for a while but until today there was nothing. Yes, Philharmagic had been down before and the carrousel too but never when I was in the theatre or at the carrousel. Today it happened. I managed to press a button to early and I E-stopped the carrousel. I had to call maintenance and a manager who had to talk to me to make sure it wouldn't happen again though she was very nice.

Earlier in the day the theatre also went 101 as one of the curtains wouldn't open. I wasn't there but I did help to sort out the situation. Apart from these two events it was a fairly mundane day at work with no angry guests at all - success!

Next Post: Walt Disney World ICP - Day 56 - The final stretch... - 28th July 2013

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 52 to 54 - 3 days of work - 24th-26th July 2013

Just finished three days of work so this is more a series of anecdotes than anything else.

24th July 2013
I went to Premium Outlets this morning to buy some new shorts. I left with nothing as most of the ones I saw looked horrible. The food at the Mouse wasn't too bad and I had some pasta and meatballs today, which was a welcome change from the usual burger or subway selection. The other day I even had a prawn salad. It's annoying that these options are only available for lunch though and by dinner we are only left with unhealthy choices.

I got asked by the head of Fantasyland if I wanted to stay seasonal which no-one else I know has been asked to do. He said my record was excellent which was nice to hear. I had to politely refuse the offer as I wouldn't be able to do 150 hours a year as I'd have to pay for a visa, for flights, accommodation, etc. but it was really nice to be offered something that no-one else had been. Yes, I basically turned down a job to stay at Disney. If I lived in the States I might have given it a bit more thought.

We rode Peter Pan after work today which was nice. I feel I've done quite a few rides after park closing now which is cool! After that it was dinner at iHop for the first time for me.

25th July 2013
Two stories at work today. I and Ashleigh dealt with a deaf guest today who wanted to meet Peter Pan. I called the CHIP hotline where I can find out where characters are and unfortunately he was done for the day, so I had to communicate this and so my friend Ashleigh wrote it down to communicate. It was sad but there's only so much we can do.

After work we have Track Talk which is where we discuss what happened today and a Cast Member told us a hilarious story...basically she had packed two right-foot shoes in her bag and had to wear them all day whilst on a conveyor belt at Little Mermaid and said that walking diagonally on the belt. She said it wasn’t very efficient which made me burst out laughing.

26th July 2013
Today I journeyed over to All Star Music to validate my Cast Member discount on my parents' hotel reservation which was painless. Whilst there I explored the resort and I was actually very impressed - I thought it was going to look tacky after having visited the moderate and deluxe resorts but there were actually some really nice areas and I'm certain my family will enjoy it. I had lunch in the food court and I cannot recommend the meatballs - they were disgusting, but there were plenty of other options.

Broadway area in All Star Music Resort

I took the guest bus over to the Magic Kingdom which took 20 minutes to come with a journey time of 20 minutes too. There I only had enough time to do the People Mover and walk around the park leisurely.

At work there was a family that knew of a place exactly where I was from within London which was cool. After work it was a trip to Applebee's - yes, I'm eating out a lot and I just had to throw away almost all my food yesterday which was depressing, but I do need to eat!

Next Post: Walt Disney World ICP - Day 55 - We're 101! - 27th July 2013

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 51 - My last day off...(kind of) - 23rd July 2013

So today was my last day off before my parents arrive. When they are here I'll pretty much be spending all my time with them and I've even scheduled what I'm doing on each day, so it was the last real free day out. It was also a chance to have a day off with my uni mate, Joe and my roommate Dan. Where's the perfect place to go? Universal of course.

We all got the i-ride trolley instead of a cab because it's so cheap. Just 25 cents for cast members ($1.50 for the public) versus $8 each for a cab. It does take about an hour total instead of 20 minutes, but we left early. I thought we were getting there for park opening at 9am but it turned out the park was open for 8am which was a bit disappointing.

On the i-ride Trolley

We rode Hulk to begin the day at Islands of Adventure - it was a 35 minute wait and the single rider line was closed which was annoying. Then it was Spider-Man which I still love - it was a walk-on as we single-ridered it instead of waiting another 35 minutes. These single rider lines are a godsend!

I said we should do the water rides before they got busy and it was due to rain in about an hour. Surprisingly all the water rides had a 15 minute queue or less. However, we soon found out that the lockers are NOT free for water rides - the place where you need them most. Being cheapskates and not wanting to pay $4 for a locker there was a simple solution - we trekked across to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and put our bags in the lockers where we had 1h 10m minutes of free locker time which we though would have been enough.

We rode Jurassic Park first with the aim of doing rides in ever-increasing wetness. We got pretty wet on Jurassic but it was nice in the heat. Surprisingly, we got on in just 5 minutes which was great. Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls was next. If you've never seen this ride, it’s like Splash Mountain on steroids - it has a huge drop and you get soaked.

The Dudley water ride - great times!
It was a 15 minute wait...we thought. After walking around a line that must have been over a mile long, 15 minutes later we got to where the queue of people was and then queued for another half an hour or so - the total queue time was closer to 45 minutes. The ride was fun and we did get soaked. I thought I wasn't wet after the big drop but then as I begun to laugh at the others water jets next to us soaked us to the core. It felt great, until it started to rain torrentially seconds later. We were now late for our lockers and drenched - the locker attendant was hardly going to believe us when we said we had waited in line too long if we were that wet - especially considering the Harry Potter queue is covered.

Joe went ahead to get our things from the locker as I and Dan got the on-ride photo added to my photo connect card (I highly recommend this!). He managed to sweet talk his way into getting the locker unlocked for free which I hugely appreciated and we had our stuff! Result!

Joe didn't have the 2-park annual pass as he had bought the power pass so he went off for the rest of his day as I and Dan ate near the Jurassic Park ride and then moved over to Universal Studios. Well that was what we were going to do but we were still soaked through so had to find a way to dry off. We did the Caro-seuss-el first hoping it would act as a tumble dryer with the spinning. It didn't. But whilst in line I got to hear this hilarious line from a little kid: "Mom, be careful that water is wet."

We then rode the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride and single-rider from the top of the steps to the front took 30 minutes which we were prepared to do considering the regular line was 90 minutes. We then did the Castle Tour so I could get some good photos. Then to continue to dry us off we did Dragon Challenge - first the blue dragon and then used the shorter re-ride queue to ride the red dragon in 20 minutes. Both are cool; the blue one has cooler inversions but the red version felt faster.

We went over to Universal Studios as there were still a few rides I had never done, but we had to hit the headliners first - Rip Ride Rockit claimed to be a 60 minute single-rider queue and even though the ride was down for 10 minutes, we still got on in half an hour. Mummy single-rider was 20 minutes versus 30 minutes in regular so next time I would just wait in the regular line as it moves faster. Terminator was a very cool show and the Horror Make Up Show was fun though I was glad I wasn’t picked to participate.

Me quite clearly loving life on the front row of Revenge of The Mummy

We saw the parade which, like the fireworks I had seen last time, wasn't great. We only waited a couple of minutes and I wouldn't do the same again personally. The Simpsons Ride was next and we got on in 30 minutes. The queue is actually quite fun as you just watch clips from episodes of the Simpsons plus I'm a big fan of their humour. I really enjoyed the ride and the screen is huge!

We checked the wait time for Men in Black: Alien Attack and it was a shocking 45 minutes so we skipped it with the possibility of coming back later. The park was packed with tour groups which didn't help things. I hope they aren't here when my family is over.

We went to watch the Beetlejuice show next which was alright but wildly out of date and that's how we ended the day after walking around and seeing how busy it was.

For reference of course the two busiest rides (which we skipped) were Transformers with a 100 minute wait and Despicable Me with a 120 minute wait. ET had a shocking 30 minute wait instead of the walk-on it usually is. The Seuss Train was 45 minutes and the One Fish, Two Fish ride was 35 minutes. It was a busy day but we did a lot. We left around an hour before park close. Now, 9 days of work in a row to look forward to!

Next Post: Walt Disney World ICP - Day 52 to 54 - 3 days of work - 24th-26th July 2013

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 50 - Team Philhar! - 22nd July 2013

Today was the day that team Philhar took EPCOT by storm. Most of the CPs and ICPs met up nice and early for the 8:30am C bus after only 2 hours sleep. I was first at the bus stop and was surprised to see no-one there, soon Oriol joined, followed by Argentina and Ana Victoria. We all wore sunglasses to mask how tired we are which made us laugh. The bus ended up getting to Chatham late, but we got to EPCOT early at just after 9am. We had others joining us later so we went to Soarin' first and got Soarin' FASTPASSes for later. The plan was that those that didn't have any later on would say that they had lost theirs. Soarin' was better this second time round than the first time I rode it as we got the middle seats on the first (top) row which made the experience more exciting. 

The girls didn't want to go on Mission: SPACE so I and Oriol went on it. The queue for the green version was only 10 minutes as apposed to 50 minutes for the more intense orange version. Green it was then! Neither of us had ever done the least intense version before. To be honest, I was very impressed! It was a lot more realistic than I had expected it to be but it's nothing like the orange version.

Ashleigh and Paul both arrived and we went up to the Soarin' entrance to get in - the guy wouldn't move - no FASTPASS, no way in. So we asked the young girl at the Soarin' desk next to him, and she gave them both rider switch passes. You should've seen his face when we showed him the two extra FASTPASSes - he was so pissed off! As we walked through the FASTPASS queue I looked back, he'd gone back to the Cast Member who had given us the FASTPASSes and he did not look happy. Soarin' this time was a bit disappointing - the back row really does not give you an ideal view at all as you can see the bottom of the screen which ruins the illusion!

Next it was time for Ellen's Energy Adventure - clearly no-one enjoyed it as much as I did. I loved it. And you get to sit down for 40 minutes!

Lunch for me, Ashleigh and Danielle was steak and fries from the American pavilion's takeaway restaurant. The others went for food in Japan!

Next we did the World Showcase rides in Norway and Mexico - whilst on the Mexico ride I got an alert on my phone that the royal baby had been born. I certainly won’t forget where I found out about the big birth! Whilst in the pavilion we also got a photo with Mexican Donald!

The Philhar crew - Oriol, Paul, Gio (me), Ashleigh, Argentina,
Danielle, Ana Victoria and Ali (Top left to lower right)

We wanted photos with the characters so we went to the EPCOT character spot next and got photos with Mickey, Minnie and Pluto. I only need to get a photo with Goofy now and I will have photos with all the fab 5 and that'll be another thing ticked off the bucket list!

Next it was off to Innoventions where I, Paul and Oriol found the Great piggy Bank Adventure which I'd read about online - it was so much fun and a great way to teach kids about saving. I really enjoyed it and there was some really cool technology there! The other Innoventions was cool too as we designed our rollercoaster on Sum of All Thrills and rode it. It went by so quickly but was a lot of fun! I definitely recommend taking a look at this.

We visited the Seas with Nemo and Friends and then Turtle Talk with Crush. Crush was hilarious and I definitely recommend a visit. It's really fun "dude".

Turtle Talk with Crush
Oriol was dying to do Test Track and it had been down almost all day so the park was busier than it should have been. He'd still never done it. We walked towards it and the wait time sign nearby said it was OPEN but had no wait time. We then ran towards it and saw that people were going in but the Cast Member was telling people that it was still down. They were cycling cars so we knew that it was going to open soon so we all got in the single rider line. After about 5 minutes the music turned on and we knew that the ride was back in operation - 5 minutes later we were on the ride!

Paul offered to drive us back so we did one last ride on Spaceship Earth and called it a day. Paul dropped me and Ashleigh over at Crossroads where we had dinner at a restaurant - I think it was called Uno - the prices were great, the staff was great and they had a fancy way of ordering and paying with these little tablets on your table which was really cool as you could see your bill all the time and re-order drinks, etc. Our server was really attentive and the staff were nice too. It’s worth a visit! The pizza was really nice - but the pizza they said was for 4 or 5 people was only just about enough for the two of us so keep that in mind.

By this point it was close to 10PM and I had been up for 15 hours running on just 2 hours sleep so we called it a night!

Next Post: Walt Disney World ICP - Day 51 - My last day off...(kind of) - 23rd July 2013

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 49 - Work hard, play hard - 21st July 2013

The morning started off with a visit to the Patterson gym where I encountered a big black snake both ways to and from Patterson which was unnerving.

After a shower, I visited Mickey's Retreat which is a private area reserved only for Cast Members and their guests - it has barbecue areas, volleyball courts, a swimming pool and boat rentals. Along with me was Argentina and Marly, both from Philharmagic. We rented a paddle boat and moved around the lake in the scorching sun for about an hour to relax before work, we also played a few games of swing-ball which is different to in the UK. Back home you have a tennis-ball attached to string, here you have a huge football. Admittedly I wasn't great at this. Marly however was a pro.

Mickey's Retreat as seen from across the lake on our paddle boat.

Work was uneventful apart from one of the stories from Peter Pan-side. I will warn you now, if you have a weak disposition please skip to the next paragraph. A guest - a grown woman - relieved herself in the queue line for Peter Pan. To make it worse lets just say it wasn't a code yellow, but a code brown. No more needs to be said does it. Absolutely disgusting, but at the same time it was hilarious when I heard the story.

Most of the Philhar crew and a few from Pan/Small World had a bit of a social as we all went out to Steak n Shake after work for lunch. Bare in mind that I finished work at 1:15am because it was Extra Magic Hours. It took a bus ride and two car trips to get there. We ended up getting there at around 3:00am - because the service was so slow it took almost an hour to be seated and we only left at 5am!! Many of us had planned to go to EPCOT tomorrow and plans were looking sketchy but I and Oriol (works at Philharmagic) asserted that it was wise to get up early for EPCOT anyway. So, we planned to meet at the bus stop at 8:30am for the 8:33am bus to EPCOT.

Steak n Shake at 3am!
I ended up going to sleep at 5:30am with an alarm set for 7:45am. It was going to be a looooong day in EPCOT tomorrow.

Next Post: Walt Disney World ICP - Day 50 - Team Philhar! - 22nd July 2013

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 48 - More resort hopping - 20th July 2013

Today was a bit of a wasted day to be honest, but it was nice to get a bit of rest in my busy Disney life. After a lie-in I and Dan went to Publix to buy food which is cheaper than always eating out. I did however buy one of their subway-style sandwiches which are great and I thoroughly recommend. They taste much fresher than Subway's.

I then skyped my parents which was mostly fine though the Internet connection is shocking at Chatham so the picture quality wasn't the best.

In an effort to do something and with no one I knew off, I went to tick a couple more resorts off my list. Remember, one of my goals is to visit every resort hotel whilst I'm here. In many ways its just as
fun as going to the parks and you really do get transported to another world at each resort.

I missed the Carribbean beach bus by only a couple of minutes so sat waiting for the next one for half an hour. Half an hour after that I was at the Caribbean beach. It was raining fairly heavily when I arrived but I wasn't going to let that dampen things (ha ha!).

The Caribbean Beach Resort
Image: (C) Disney
I walked around a large part of the resort and noticed how huge it was. I was expecting there to be a lot more beach though and a lot of less lake. It was weird. Determined not to be annoyed by the rain I walked onto the beach and lay in the hammock. It was dirty and wet but I wasn’t going to walk all the way over for nothing.

I then suffered from wet hammock bum syndrome for the next hour or so which wasn't great. I only ended up spending half an hour at the resort and picked up a chocolate muffin on the way out.

I hopped on the cast bus and the next stop was Pop Century resort. I'm going to be staying here with my family so didn't get off. I am a bit concerned though as it did look really tacky and cheap from a distance which I hope isn't the feeling when you're staying there.

Next stop was the Art of Animation resort and I was really excited to see this one. It was incredible! There is a Lion King section, a Little Mermaid section, a Cars section and a Finding Nemo section and they were all incredibly well themed with icons throughout. I think this might be my favourite resort. Even in the pouring rain it was still so much fun! I loved everything about the resort and I'm highly impressed with Disney for building that level of detail at a value resort. Even the lobby and dining areas were stunning!

The main pool at the Art of Animation Resort.
Photo: www.tracygallagher.com
It was so impressive that I spent an entire hour walking around until I got the bus back to my apartment. I was only out for 3 hours but they were 3 hours very well spent.

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 47 - I'm a Guest Service Fanatic! - 19th July 2013

I had a few hours free before work today so what better to do than a quick visit to Epcot? As predicted, Soarin' was almost a 2 hour wait with fastpasses having run out, so it was Mission:Space orange first.
It's so intense but so much fun!

Then it was lunch at the sunshine seasons cafe where I had my favourite quick service meal at Walt Disney World - chicken, rice and black beans. It's so good!

I then called my parents for a bit as I hadn't talked to them in over a week and then rode Test Track with my friend Argentina. She called it track talk which made me laugh. This time we got to design our own car in the single rider queue which was awesome. The 30 minute queue wait time seemed about right.

Then it was time to fit in one quick ride on Spaceship Earth. We met Ana Victoria for the monorail, got it to the TTC and then got the express monorail to the magic kingdom. We entered the park, went into
the tunnels, got changed and worked from 17:15 until close at 23:45.

At work nobody could sort out the Wishes ropes to get guests out of the fallout zone so I helped out using all my strength to pull the ropes tight (you would not believe how difficult this is! It was a real workout!).

My GSF card!
Marly thought I helped so much that I got my first Guest Service Fanatic card. These are when a Cast Member sees that you have done something that was outstandingly safe, courteous, show-ready or efficient and they fill in a card. Then you can get your manager to sign it, put it in a box and every week/month a name is pulled out and that person wins a prize. I want to keep mine though, so it is staying with me and not being put in a box. I was recognised for helping with safety, being courteous and helping with the show. I was so happy to have finally got one of these as they seem to rarely be given out in Attractions. Thanks Marly!

Next Post: Walt Disney World ICP - Day 48 - More resort hopping - 20th July 2013

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 46 - Making magic! - 18th July 2013

Once again I ventured to the Magic Kingdom before work to continue ticking a few more rides off that I hadn't done. Lunch was a prawn salad at the mouseketeeria which was surprisingly nice and a change from all the junk they usually have on offer.

I walked over to Liberty Square and ended up walking into the lobby of the Hall of Presidents through backstage. It was good timing because I asked the Cast Member and it was just 3 minutes until the next show.

The Hall of Presidents
The show was interesting, emotional and it was really cool to see the technology used in the life-like animatronics. I recommend a visit.

I had 45 minutes left until I had to leave for work so I decided it was time to go on Pirates of the Caribbean as I hadn't done it since training. It is such a good ride in Disneyland Paris but here it just falls flat with one tiny drop and an incoherent storyline. It really isn't great but I was happy to queue for 25 minutes as the line never stopped moving.

I got to work and no-one wanted to sign in to get an assignment as it was time for the carrousel rotation to come up and the next person to pick it would more than likely be the carrousel operator. I reluctantly signed in but was greeted with the best message ever telling me to perform the sword in the stone magical moment for 30 minutes.

This was my second or third time doing it and I had the best ever reaction today. A couple went up to the sword and the guy tried really hard to pull it out, you could see he worked out and was a bit disappointed when he couldn't pull it out. When his wife got up to try she too tried hard, I pressed the button and her face lit up - she was SOOOO happy. She started jumping up and down and I could see that I'd genuinely made her day as when she walked off she couldn't stop smiling and bounced around. That really made my day. The kids faces all day were unbelievable too.

The day was great as I got to distribute fastpasses twice which was really fun and my break came before Wishes so I got to see the fireworks too! (I've definitely watched it about 40 times but it never gets old.) The fireworks cast member commented to me that she'd never seen a show like tonight's as it was so humid that the smoke wouldn't move and it became really difficult to see the main fireworks. She was right, you could hear them but you'd have trouble seeing them.

Marly drove us back to her apartment at Patterson with the promise of cake on arrival. Sure enough - she was right, there was cake! She'd bought a 48-person cake for 6 people in her apartment so needed help getting rid of it and the Philhar crew (and some of Pan) were more than happy to oblige. It was part of the Christmas in July celebration which I hadn't heard of, but a bit of research soon revealed that this is in fact a real thing they celebrate here - Christmas in July! Who knew?! After cake, someone suggested we jump in the pool fully clothed in our costumes - it was so much fun and a truly unforgettable moment as we all ended up walking home drenched. It was lots of fun, and something that I wouldn't have done anywhere else!

Next Post: Walt Disney World ICP - Day 47 - I'm a Guest Service Fanatic! - 19th July 2013

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 45 - A mixed day at work - 17th July 2013

My original shift today was set to be from 16:15 to 23:45. Park hours were extended to midnight, so my shift was changed to finish at 00:45. I was just under the threshold for overtime which was annoying.

I was put on the carrousel straight away and had an extremely rude guest that said I was unable to communicate and explain things properly as I needed his child to be out of the carrier he was in and facing forward on a horse. The whole ordeal lasted a good 5 minutes and he said I was being rude to him, but it was eventually resolved.

On the other hand I also got called a "very kind Sir" by a lady who's personal stroller was stolen. I searched for her stroller with her, called for security and found her a Disney stroller as a replacement for the day. She was genuinely thankful for me getting it. It was a huge task to get because there were no strollers left at the location they usually are at, so I had to use the tunnels/utilidoors and walk all the way over to under the Aladdin ride, fetch a stroller from an unfamiliar location and then get it all the way back. I was glad to have helped, and I offered her Winnie the Pooh and Under the Sea FASTPASSes for all her party to make up for her lost time. Her kind words really made my day.

The day continued to be great as I watched Wishes and then asked my coordinator if I could be at the Sleepy Hollow rope. This wasn't needed so I got to do castle back instead which is where we let people exit through the castle but not let them re-enter Fantasyland. I was asked to clear the ramps on either side of the castle and as it happened I got to see something I didn't know existed - the "Kiss Goodnight" ceremony where ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ plays and the castle twinkles. When I came back I confirmed the ramps were clear and the manager radio-ed through and then I got to see the doors of the castle close Main Street disappeared behind them. It was so cool! After the big door had been closed, a little door opened for the co-ordinators to come back through which was cute. I snapped a few pictures with the park clear of guests which is such a unique benefit - a lovely end to what could have been a challenging day!

Cinderella Castle from behind after park closing. Not a view many people will see.

Next Post: Walt Disney World ICP - Day 46 - Making magic! - 18th July 2013

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 44 - A bit more training... - 16th July 2013

Today I had been scheduled for something that to me seemed a bit random: a class. This is a class about the 4 keys basics which we were taught about in Traditions and it was scheduled to be for 3.5 hours. Along I went to the class beginning at 12:45pm expecting to be bored to death but I was actually pleasantly surprised. Our facilitator Sharon was full of enthusiasm and genuinely made us feel proud for working for Disney at the Magic Kingdom.

Image: Witi.com
A quick Google search will reveal that for all Disney Cast Members we focus on 4 things: Safety, Courtesy, Show and Efficiency. In that specific order with Safety being the most important. We would never compromise safety for any of the other keys. Over the next few hours we acted, role played, completed activities and talked about the 4 keys in more detail with a huge focus of course on safety. It was actually really enjoyable and I was paid to sit for 3 and a half hours. We only got a 15 minute break though and by 16:00 when we finished I was starving and I had a shift starting at 16:15!

As soon as I got to the computer it said I had no breaks all day but after asking it for an assignment it revealed I had three breaks left to take and my first break was right now. I then worked for 45 minutes, had a half an hour break, worked for about another hour and had a 15 minute break and then finished the rest of my shift. The computer was trying to fit 1 hour of breaks into 4 and a half hours of work. I wasn't complaining! The shift flew by but believe it or not I was fed up of getting breaks at one point!

Next post: Walt Disney World ICP - Day 45 - A mixed day at work - 17th July 2013

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 43 - Return to Animal Kingdom...(and work) - 15th July 2013

In an effort to make the most of the next three and a half weeks I have left here, I have started to make the most of the time I have free before work, as well as my days off.

I and Courtney arrived at Animal Kingdom at 11:15am and noticed that it was very, very busy. The busiest I had ever seen it - a little check of my WDW Lines app told me that it was morning Extra Magic Hours today, so that explained the extra guests. It was already quite warm so we opted to go onto Kali River Rapids. The Fastpass was for 3 hours time and we couldn't guarantee it wouldn't be raining then so we queued for 60 minutes. This is tied with the longest I have queued for anything - the other being Space Mountain.

The incredibly well-themed Kali River Rapids queue.

The 60 minutes was exactly accurate and the queue was extremely tedious. This is one that could definitely do with some interactivity, as well as a re-design of a fastpass lane. The queue itself extremely slow moving but is very immersive and detailed. In fact, I'd say in total that Animal Kingdom is the best themed park I have ever been in!

We visited the Maharajah Trail and saw some cool animals including tigers and bats. Worryingly the bats could have flown into the room we were in as there were no windows - thankfully they are nocturnal creatures.

A tiger on the trail
Next it was time to go and visit my uni course-mate Joe Mason at Rafiki's Planet Watch but we couldn't find him - whilst there we explored the entire area and even met Rafiki himself. I got a Facebook message a few hours later from my friend Emma who is a character performer saying that Rafiki enjoyed meeting me today which was cute. There's loads of mini-attractions here and the train over was fun. Next it was time for the Kilimanjaro Safari - as with last time our guide was great!

We tried to go onto Expedition Everest and went through the normal queue. I predicted that we'd get to the front and it'd start raining, a manager would come along and the ride would shut down. Sure enough that's exactly what happened when we got to the front of the line. We made a dash for the exit of the park as I had to leave by 4PM in order to be at work at the Magic Kingdom at 5:15PM. On the way out we caught Mickey's Jungle Parade which I can't really recommend due to how boring the floats were (they're meant to be environmentally friendly parade floats!). We did see Joe doing PAC (Parade and Audience Control though!

I made it to work just in the nick of time without time to find a fresh costume. We caught the bus to the Contemporary. From there, I walked to the Magic Kingdom went through security, through the gates, into the utilidoors under the park, walked to the lockers, got changed and clocked in at work - all in about 30 minutes. That may not sound like a lot but that'd a huge distance travelled. Work was an uneventful 6 hour shift so there's nothing to report there.

Next Post: Walt Disney World ICP - Day 44 - A bit more training... - 16th July 2013

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 42 - Hollywood Studios and Hotels - 14th July 2013

I had the day off today so it was time to tick a few more things off the bucket list by visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I arrived just after 1PM and the line for Toy Story Midway Mania was 70 minutes. This is by far the park’s most popular ride in terms of queue times - with waits regularly exceeding 100 minutes. As such, 70 minutes is great. The ride is an interactive experience where you go from screen to screen shooting at things, popping balloons and trying to beat the 7 other people in your set of vehicles. I was pleasantly surprised by the queue as it was well themed, but unfortunately the interactive Mr Potato Head was having a few issues and kept missing the punchlines of the jokes he was making.

Inside Toy Story Midway Mania
I got on in under 40 minutes so I was chuffed - it was definitely worth the wait and was a lot of fun. I got the best score in the car which for my first time I was pretty proud of!

Next, it was time for the Studio Backlot Tour which I preferred to the Parisian version as it was longer and more about how films are made. They didn’t get anyone to star in the movie as they said they would which was weird.

On the Studio Backlot Tour

For lunch I fancied pizza so Pizza Planet it was. To be honest, I can’t recommend it at all for the food. It had arcade machines which I got suckered in to and ended up spending $10 and not winning anything - lesson learnt.

Star Tours was the next stop and it was a walk-on from the moment I stepped in to the moment I got on the StarSpeeder. The ride is meant to be different every time but I had already experienced that particular sequence bar one part which was slightly disappointing.

Next it was over to The Magic of Disney Animation which was a surprising gem with lots of character meet and greets such as Wreck it Ralph and the highlight for me was the drawing class where I got to draw Tinkerbell. I will definitely be going back as it was so much fun and interesting to see how the professionals draw the characters.

Voyage of the Little Mermaid was next which was an alright show though I wouldn’t particularly wait in line for it, but it was a fun distraction.

Courtney texted me to say she was off in the afternoon and we then met by the Swan hotel which was about a 20 minute way away from Hollywood Studios. We climbed to the top of the Swan hotel where you could see everything in Walt Disney World from Expedition Everest to the left, to Epcot on the right, and even Space Mountain right in front of you. We found a small balcony by a fire exit and took some great photos while up there.

As I wanted to visit all the resorts whilst I was here, it was then time to explore other nearby resorts as we visited the Dolphin hotel, the Yacht Club and the Beach Club. At the beach club we stopped for a snack at the magnificent 'Beaches and Cream'. This soon turned into a full blown dinner as I had a burger meal, a drink and shared a giant ice-cream sundae with Courtney. The total was $26 which wasn’t too bad considering but money was definitely starting to run out as I was left with just a dollar on my disney pay card.

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I visited the lobby and other parts of the Boardwalk next and then we got the boat over to Hollywood Studios to get a bus to Courtney’s old work location - Animal Kingdom Lodge. All I can say it WOW - it is spectacular in there. It’s so well themed, the lobby is stunning and I even spotted some giraffes and zebras in the safari area in the hotel. It was so cool and I definitely want to take my family there to visit it.

It was now nighttime and the savana at night was incredible. A great, if exhausting day. The plan for tomorrow morning before work - Animal Kingdom!

Next post: Walt Disney World ICP - Day 43 - Return to Animal Kingdom...(and work) - 15th July 2013

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 41 - Being Spontaneous Again... - 13th July 2013

The plan for today was to visit  Hollywood Studios and keep ticking items off the bucket list, but before that I had to keep fit by going to the gym. Due to the weights section at the Chatham gym being an absolute joke I went over to Patterson. After my workout and hungry for food I was walking back to my apartment when a red car stopped in the road next to me and a girl wolf whistled - it was my friend Marly. I asked what she was doing "Just going to the dollar store. Wanna come?" and there the day started as I hopped in and rode with her to the store. It's amazing what you can get for $1 here.

I fancied lunch and Marly fancied lunch, so a 3.30PM lunch it was...at TGI Friday's. Long story short I ate a lot - chicken wings, salmon, lobster and shared a dessert. I left $46 poorer - ouch. We left at 6PM so this was a decently long lunch/dinner.

Words cannot describe the meal at TGI's. Salmon and lobster bits. Wow.
Back at my apartment, I threw out the idea of going to watch Illuminations and Wishes. 90 minutes later Marly was back to pick me up. We drove to the Polynesian Resort, hopped on the monorail to EPCOT and walked to where I'd heard was a good spot. We got an incredible spot in the UK pavilion to the right of the pub, just before the bridge. We found our spot just as the intro began to play. It was my second time seeing it and I really enjoyed it! The music is incredibly good and the whole show really gives the feeling of unity around the world - if only things were that perfect in real life.

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. (C) Disney

We got the monorail back to the TTC, walked to the Poly and found Marly's friend who was off at 10.30PM so we agreed to wait for her. Meanwhile, we each bought something to eat on the beach for our fireworks viewing. The person who came up with the name for this deserves a raise - I bought a "Mickey Mousse" cupcake which was inc-red-ib-le. And Cast Member discount made it all the more sweeter.

Mickey Mousse Cupcake from the Polynesian Resort

We walked to the beach which was pretty busy though there were 2 free sun-loungers which people hadn't sat in because they were wet. Marly being the smart lady she is got a towel wiped them down and we sat down just as the fireworks started. An incredible view and an incredible time.

This gives you some idea of what I could see. Not my photo.  Photo: Kristin Ford
After the fireworks we moved to a swinging bench seat for a change as we waited for her friend and chatted whilst passively watching Wreck It Ralph which was being projected on the beach. We drove back home after a successful day! It wasn't quite what I had originally planned but it turned out to be much, much more fun!

Who knew that a simple visit to the gym could end up with me sitting on the beach watching Wishes a few hours later? Only at Disney.

Next post: Walt Disney World ICP - Day 42 - Hollywood Studios and Hotels - 14Th July 2013

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 40 - Checking things off the bucket list - 12th July 2013

It was my first day off in ages so I had a few household things to sort out including a food shop at Publix. I Skyped for parents for about an hour as I walked around the Magic Kingdom before meeting up with Jack Chandler (who I’ll be traveling with to LA and NYC). I also got 2 Thunder Fastpasses with just my Cast ID after sweet-talking the Fastpass lady into giving me a second Fastpass as Jack was doing a quick four-hour shift at Peco’s. It took a bit of persuasion but she gave me one.

I then waited for Jack whilst having lunch at Peco’s and waited for the parade came along - except it didn’t because it was raining, so I got to see the rainy day cavalcade which happens very rarely so it was cool to see that. I would have ticked that off the bucket list had it been on there.

The Rainy Day Cavalcade is shown when weather cancels the main 3 o'clock parade.
We then rode Big Thunder which has started to grow on me after my initial disappointment of comparing it to Paris - it still is really fun actually.

We then saw almost all of the Dream Along with Mickey show and then watched the Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party which was fun although it was shortened because of imminent rain.

Then I went and played the interactive card game, Sorcerer’s Of the Magic Kingdom. It was actually pretty fun and you can get cards to collect - up to 5 a day and I could see it quickly becoming addictive. Jack was clearly a big fan as he had an entire folder of them! A ride on the Carousel was in order next.

Then it was time to start ticking attractions off the bucket list, Tom Sawyer Island was interesting to take a look around and had a few very dark caves but I’m not sure I’d go back. It’s more of a crowd-easer, but it was good to do. We then used our Splash Mountain fastpasses which we’d got earlier on and that was fun.

Then I went back to Peco's for the apple juice as it’s great stuff. A large was a bit too big though. Frontierland Mercantile was next as I’d been told during training it was the place to go for pins - so I got a Walt Disney World one and a Magic Kingdom one. I still need to get one for Philharmagic and another for the Carousel.

More bucket list rides were ticked off as we did the Tomorrowland Speedway which was surprisingly fun and I’d say better than Paris as you can actually steer these cars, and then rode the teacups which we didn’t even have to wait for.

Little Mermaid said it was a 20 minute wait, from experience I knew it’d be less and we were on within 5 minutes. I then walked through the Casey Junior Splash n’ Soak while attempting to stay dry just so I could tick it off the bucket list, and Dumbo followed as it was just a 15 minute wait. We tried for a walk in for Be Our Guest as its popularity has definitely died down but had no luck.

We then rode Buzz which was a 5 minute wait, walked onto the Peoplemover and used our Fastpass for Space Mountain, where I sat on the really, really rough back seat. I’ll not profess my love for people mover again as I feel I’ve already done it enough times.

One of the things I really wanted to do was ride Big Thunder Mountain during Wishes. When we got there it was only a 10 minute wait, so why not hit two birds with one stone and complete another bucket list item by doing the ride three times. That’s exactly what we did.

Second row on Big Thunder Mountain

In 20 minutes we rode  Big Thunder 3 times, including going round and through the queue each time - 2 of those times it was a complete walk on. It was really cool to see the fireworks from such a different angle and they added to the ride, and the ride is definitely cooler at night in general. As we got off the third time, the post-wishes music played and we knew it had been a successful night.

We then got our stuff from my locker, got to the bus to Vista and went for dinner at Applebee’s - a shared starter, 9 oz steak with fries and a drink came to $18 including tip which was really reasonable considering the steak was great and only a few dollars more than a quick service meal in a theme park.

I got the bus to Chatham and it was the end of a good day - including the parades, shows and cavalcades I did 19 attractions in 7 hours or one every 22 minutes. Considering I went to my locker in that time, walked between attractions, watched 2 shows and did it all at a leisurely pace that’s pretty good! A great day and now I’ve done everything in the park except the Riverboat and the Hall of Presidents - great stuff!

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 39 - The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room - 11th July 2013

I had to get the bus which arrived at work an hour early today as the next one would only arrive 20 minutes before my shift started which wouldn’t be enough time to get from the bus stop to my work location.

It takes up to 15 minutes to get from where the housing bus arrives to work locations in the Magic Kingdom, so we get paid for 15 minutes of "walk time" at the end of the night. Basically, on the way to work when you arrive by bus or car you have to get on a bus from West Clock to the Magic Kingdom, IDs are checked, bags are checked and you board a bus which goes through another high-security checkpoint into the grounds of the Magic Kingdom and then you are at the entrance of the utilidoors - a series of tunnels under the Magic Kingdom which we as cast use to get around and to transport things. From there we walk to our location - luckily for me it’s only about a three minute walk, to Main Street it can take almost 10 minutes.

Anyway, all that to explain that 20 minutes doesn’t allow me enough contingency so I got to the parks an hour early. That was after my bus ran out of power / broke down 7 times. We also sat at Vista for 15 minutes, it’s all a huge waste of time.

I changed from my costume into normal clothes in my locker and went to watch the Enchanted Tiki Room which is a very odd experience which made no sense to me. It was cool to see but it doesn’t need to be there.

Inside the Tiki Room
At work the highlights of the day were that I performed the Sword in the Stone Magical Moment for 30 minutes which was my first official time doing it. I only lifted to sword for 2 people as everyone else was positioned wrong. Your palms must be facing up when pulling out the sword and there’s a bunch of other safety concerns we have to follow before releasing the sword. Only 2 people did that correctly, so only 2 got the sword. It’s great to see people’s reactions though.

I also closed the carrousel for the first time since being here which all felt very official with a checklist of my own to fill out. All in all, good fun.

Next Post: Walt Disney World ICP - Day 40 - Checking things off the bucket list - 12th July 2013

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 36 to 38 - “it’s a small world after all!” - 8th-10th July 2013

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 36 - “30 minutes for Philharmagic?!” - 8th July 2013
Today was the longest shift I have ever worked. Not just at Disney, but ever. It was 12h15m from 11:00 to 23:15. Surprisingly the shift actually flew by and felt faster than some of my 6 hour shifts - I think when you have such a long shift you’re afraid to check your watch and just power through. I felt delirious for the last couple of hours though.

Photo: GrumpyMickey.com / Copyright (C) Disney
The park was surprisingly busy today and I was surprised that they didn’t extend park hours - Philharmagic had a 30 minute wait! We had lots of tour groups today and shows were full for most of the day.

My favourite position, Fastpass distribution was mental as all the machines kept eating people’s cards at the same time and then I’d have five people all vying for my attention at once. My bus thankfully came on time for the journey home - I didn’t get a seat so just made my own by sitting on a step. Simple.

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 37 - “it’s a small world after all!” - 9th July 2013
Today I started slightly earlier than usual and worked from 16:45 to 23:30. I’ve started to speak to two of the French girls - Myriam and Lydia - only in French so it’s a bit like being at Disneyland Paris all over again, but it’s nice to practice my languages. My basic Spanish definitely gets used a lot while over here. As does my Portuguese occasionally.

Speaking of almost being at Disneyland Paris, the weirdest thing happened. You may remember my friend who worked at Buffalo Bill’s in Paris called Francesca, well her friend Sammy’r who worked with her at Disney, went to school with her and lived with her in London was sitting on the bus two seats away from me. He recognised me as I’d met him once. If anything it really does prove that “it’s a small world after all!”

The French girls said they were going to the Pool at Patterson after work so I invited myself along and chilled from 12:30 to 1:00am. It was only half an hour but it felt so relaxing after work and it’s great to be able to be in the pool until that late and it not even be cold. The best bit was when Lydia told me that Myriam once said to a guest “Philharmagic is a 3D movie” and they thought she had said “Swedish movie” which was absolutely hilarious. A great day but also a sad realisation that I’ll be leaving Disney a month from today.

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 38 - Work again... - 10th July 2013

Pretty short entry for today. It was a pretty uneventful day at work though one guest I needed to use reflective captioning / closed captioning today which is where you position a small mirror in front of them and then subtitles are shown from the back of the theatre and reflected off the mirror for people who have hearing difficulties. I remember during training when Justine said that she’d only had it happen once in three years so I probably wouldn’t use it at any point. However, this is actually the second time this has happened this week! Just thought I’d mention it as it’s useful to know that Disney has this facility available for its guests at shows.

The night ended well as I was meant to be closing one of the attractions but instead I was actually put at the front of the castle at the Sleepy Hollow rope where I got to watch the entirety of the Main Street Electrical Parade whilst letting guests out of the castle but not letting anyone back into Fantasyland.

Next Post: Walt Disney World ICP - Day 39 - The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room - 11th July 2013

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 33 to 34 - The forgotten name-tag and a magical day at work - 5th-6th July 2013

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 33 - The forgotten name-tag... - 5th July 2013 
Today I went for my haircut in the tunnels at the Magic Kingdom ($15 plus tip), used the cast showers and as I still had an hour to spare before my shift, I went to play in the parks. In my goal to do every attraction in the park, I rode the Walt Disney World Railroad.

I caught the train from Frontierland and got on the second train even though there must have been about 80 or 100 people in front of me in line. They said there was a train every 4 minutes and the ride itself was actually really fun to see bits of the park I still hadn’t seen yet - the ride takes about 30 minutes to go around the park with most time spent at the stops.

I forgot my name-tag at work and as it is Disney policy that you are required to have one, I got a loan one. For today my name was “Jason” and I was from Dearborn, Michigan which I was told was just outside of Detroit. It might just have been because I had someone else’s name but it felt like more guests than usual were addressing me by my first name. The park today felt really quiet in comparison to yesterday and about 8 of us shamelessly stood in a line by the carousel and watched the fireworks - I thoroughly recommend watching the perimeter from near the carousel if you want a great 360 degree view.

Small World was down, as was Pooh and Little Mermaid so park hours which had already been extended from 11pm to midnight got further extended to 1am. 1am seems to be the standard park closing time now it feels.

A few more things I’ve noticed about the US...people literally will take a lift (elevator) up or down one floor instead of taking a flight of stairs, seriously...it takes longer by lift!

We were sharing guest stories and apparently when the cast are at peter pan load and ask “How many?” to find out how many people are in a party, one of the common answers is “All of us” which made me laugh.

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 34 - A magical day at work - 6th July 2013
Today was a short and sweet shift - 17:00 to 23:15 and we weren’t extended. The park once again seemed quiet. I was tasking for a while so blew bubbles for half an hour straight whilst on guest flow which was fun. I also got fastpass distribution twice which is still by far my favourite position.

The weirdest thing that happened was that Philharmagic went down - or 101 as we say. However, as greeter no-one informed me so for about half an hour I was admitting people saying it’d be a 10 minute wait not knowing that my attraction wasn’t actually working. This may have led to some disgruntled guests but most were understanding. 

In an example of guest stupidity someone smoked whilst on Peter Pan’s Flight today and set off a fire alarm - really, couldn’t you wait 3 more minutes?

Apart from that little hitch, a nice day - where else do you get paid to blow bubbles?

Next Post: Walt Disney World ICP - Day 36 to 38 - “it’s a small world after all!” - 8th-10th July 2013

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 32 - Independence Day- 4th July 2013

It was definitely the calm before the storm yesterday. The park started to refuse guests entry and reached a phase 3 capacity closing today which meant that it was very, very busy. However, I was all for independence day because to me it meant one thing...free food day! I also got a free US flag pin which was nice. At the Chatham bus stop I got a free hot dog and at work I got a free Mickey ice-cream sandwich. Both were really nice.

The crowd by the carousel in Fantasyland was huge for the fireworks and there was no way of getting through. This led to a lot of guests getting rude and asking to be let through the ropes into the firework zone. I understand it’s frustrating that they can’t move and get through but if as a guest you’re rude to me, I will not help you. One man and his wife thought they’d try and get through the ropes anyway - they didn’t. They started to become rude and therefore got no help.

At the mouseketeeria I asked the woman if everything was free as it was independence day, she said “I wish” and then when my order total came up I noticed there was a nice discount which was great. Ask and you shall receive.

It was busy as I say in the parks but it was nowhere near as busy as I would have expected it to be from the way people were talking about it. They should try getting on the tube at rush-hour over here or seeing the crowds at the Olympics and then come back and say that the park was crowded. Space Mountain did get up to a 160 minute wait but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be personally.

I closed part of Philarmagic today too which was only I think the first or second time I’d done it since training.

Next Post: Walt Disney World ICP - Day 33 to 34 - The forgotten name-tag and a magical day at work - 5th-6th July 2013

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 30 to 31 - EPCOT and a 3.30am finish - 2nd to 3rd July 2013

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 30 - Traveling around the World - 2nd July 2013
It’s incredible to think that I’ve already been here a month, time just flies by on the college program. I still haven’t even done all the attractions and I’ve been here that long.

Both my roommate Dan and I had the day off so we agreed to explore the World Showcase at Epcot and then go and watch Monsters University in the cinema. If you’ve never been to the World Showcase at Epcot essentially there is a huge lake and around it different countries of the world are represented with traditional houses, shops and attractions. Before doing the World Showcase there was still a few attractions in Future World which needed to be ticked off, so we went to Journey into Imagination with Figment which looks like it’ll be shut down any minute now judging by how dated it is looking, it was fun to go on though to see the rides of yesteryear.

Captain EO followed as Dan had never done it and I quite enjoyed it in Disneyland Paris.

I then wanted to try the Agent P Adventure, it was a bit tedious in the Mexican Pavilion to be honest and took about half an hour for a mission. I then put the phone in my backpack to return later and it kept vibrating every 15 minutes until I returned it. We rode the Mexican Three Cabelleros ride and worked our way around the World Showcase. We wanted to eat in the Italian pavilion but neither restaurant had walk-ins. It’s so frustrating to have to book anywhere to eat months in advance. Luckily when we got to the American Pavilion the quick service place did steak! It was really nice, if a little too salty but a steak and chips meal for $10 is great value! We continued to work our way back and forth along the World showcase exploring the pavilions and watching Reflections of China, Impressions de France, riding the Norway ride and seeing O’ Canada. We also had an  uncontrollable laughing fit in the UK Pavilion at how stereotypical it was - the biscuits were being sold in bails of hay!

Morocco was really cool and felt realistic, even though I hadn’t been to the real place itself. The American Adventure show was very glossed over according to Dan but I enjoyed seeing it and the technology wasn’t too bad either. Overall, even though it was obviously a glossed over and idealised version of all the countries, it was a fun time exploring other cultures.

We then met up with our friend Sarah who also wanted to see Monsters University and all walked to the Boardwalk and got a bus over to Downtown Disney. There we had dinner in an Italian restaurant ‘Portobello’ which was really nice and then went to watch the film. WOW. I know the film isn’t out everywhere around the world yet but do go and watch it. It’s funny, it’s heartwarming and overall it’s a really fun film - I think I might prefer it to the original and I loved that film. It was absolutely worth the admission cost, with Cast discount it was only $7.75!

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 31 - Finishing at 3.30am - 3rd July 2013
So, it’s day 1 of 9 in a row with no days off, so naturally I worked from 19:00-03:30. The park was open until 1am and then an extra 2 hours for those staying in Disney resorts. Believe it or not there were people riding the carousel at 2am. How do I know? Because I got the most dreaded of positions 3 times today - carousel operator. By the end of the night I was working in zombie mode and I was just doing things automatically without thinking. The fireworks were at 9pm today which really messed with everyone as they usually signal that the day is almost over, but today the park was still open for 6 hours after them!

I had to deny four kids boarding on the carousel much to the shock of the adults around me, but they were not old enough to ride on their own. I didn’t want to have to do it, but it’s the rules and for their safety. Luckily after such a long and late shift, the bus on the way home came instantly. The park was surprisingly quiet today but maybe it is the calm before the storm.


Walt Disney World ICP - Day 28 to 29 - Work and Animal Kingdom - 30th June to 1st July 2013

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 28 - Work again - 30th June 2013

I went to the gym in the morning, then it was a pretty standard day at work today. I worked from 18:45 to 01:15. The rotations were coming around really slowly so I was stuck in the same position for hours on end. I ended up being the Carousel Operator just before the fireworks so I got to see Wishes as we close the carousel for the fireworks. Today’s the last day of Wishes before the "Celebrate America/4th of July" week-long fireworks start.

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 29 - Another day off - 1st July 2013
No one I knew had today off but I wasn’t about to sit at home all day. So, my plan was to head to Animal Kingdom to see the shows there and then head to Magic Kingdom for the 4th of July fireworks.

I got to Animal Kingdom at around 13:30 and decided to go onto Expedition Everest before I had lunch. Using single rider I got on in 15 minutes which was great. Lunch was at the Flame Tree BBQ while it was raining really heavily. It’s incredible how much it rains here for somewhere called “the Sunshine State”.

After lunch I went to see the next performance of the Festival of the Lion King as I’d heard it was incredible. All I can say is WOW! It was such an awesome show with acrobatics, songs and audience participation. Photos just can't do it justice.

I had an hour and a half until the next show so I decided to go and watch ‘Tough to be a Bug’ which is a 4D show with giant spiders, cockroaches and more. If I were a kid I’d be petrified. It’s a good examination of how horrible humans are to bugs.

Still with time to kill, I got a Dinosaur fastpass and then visited the Cretaceous trail which was nothing but a few plants - disappointing. Then it was time for Finding Nemo: The Musical which was a cute, Broadway-style show.

I was wondering what I could do next and I walked past Expedition Everest and noticed that the regular line was only 20 minutes and I did want to see the full queue as it was on my bucket list so that’s exactly what I did. It was great to see the queue and I thoroughly recommend it, you really feel like you’re traveling into the Himalayas. It's very well done.

I then rode Dinosaur which is a fun ride, if a little rough and loud and wanted to tick off another ride by doing the spinning dinosaur ride but straight after I had sat down it started to rain again so I bailed before it started up.

Dinner was at Restaurantosaurus and I then caught the bus over to Magic Kingdom.

I rode the Magic Carpets of Aladdin and then watched the Main Street Electric Parade in full and then sat to watch the projection show ‘Celebrate the Magic’ - it was announced that this was cancelled and the family behind me thought that it was the fireworks which were cancelled. I explained that it wasn’t to them. The little girl with them from Qatar asked me where I was from, when I said London she went insane - she said she loved the English accent and had been to London before and loved it. We spent the next 15 minutes or so sat on the floor talking about London - she was so excited and before we knew it, it was time for the fireworks.

The 4th of July fireworks were great, with perimeter fireworks being fireworks from all directions - it was cool to see something different to Wishes, but Wishes means more to me personally. After the fireworks were over, the girl from Qatar said her favourite thing about the day was talking to me which was super cute. It really made my day and I wasn’t even working!

Next Post: Walt Disney World ICP - Day 30 to 31 - EPCOT and a 3.30am finish - 2nd to 3rd July 2013

Walt Disney World ICP - Day 35 - It’s [a] Celebration! - 7th July 2013

Today was a day to finally do something other than go to a theme park. Austin (on eof my American housemates) and Courtney’s friend Adrianne had been round the night before and had mentioned that she had a car and I’d said I really wanted to leave Disney property and go somewhere like Celebration. So, that’s exactly what happened today!

Celebration was a town designed by Disney, as such it is designed to perfection - the main street in the town looks like Main Street in Disneyland in terms of perfection, but it is a real working town now which is no longer owned by Disney. Most of the houses were huge and the entire area was stunning.

In the town of celebration
The main street in celebration

We then went to Old Town as that was apparently another cool place to go - it was really odd, it was like Texas and Mexico in the middle of Orlando. It also had some rides including one which was genuinely called ‘The Vomitron’. Classy, huh?

We went to Burger King and saw Fun Spot where they have “the world’s steepest go kart track” so I’ll need to go back there one day. Then it was off home for the night out we had prepared.

Due to everyone having different schedules this was the only real chance for the UK lads and Kevin to go on a night out together. House of Blues is apparently a favourite club round here at Downtown Disney. My opinion: Never again. The bus there was the loudest bus I have ever been on with people screaming and shouting for 45 minutes. The cover charge was $13 for under 21s but free for those over the age of 21 which is unfair, it was packed, it was sweaty, the people there looked greasy and rape-y and the worst of all the music sucked. In fact I think it was the worst night I’ve ever had out anywhere and makes me appreciate the UK nightlife much more - we know how to party there. What’s more Florida state law means clubs stop serving at 1.30am here and all alcohol must be disposed of or drunk by 1.55am, meaning that 2am is closing time everywhere. Wow.