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

Cast Member Spotlight - Marie-Pier Ouellet (Fantasyland Attractions)


Cast Member Spotlight - Marie-Pier Ouellet (Fantasyland Attractions)

Name: Marie-Pier Ouellet
Home Town: Québec City, province of Québec, Canada
Hire Status: Ex-CM/ ICP (International College Program)
Role: Attractions Hostess
Work Location: Peter Pan's Flight and "it's a small world", Fantasyland, Magic Kingdom

What was your training like? 
I was shown all the safety procedures about my rides and how to open and close them. I had books to read and exams to pass. I also got to ride a few attractions.

What did your day to day job consist of? 
My job was to ensure the Guests' safety. I was responsible for making sure they respected the rules and requirements and I had to stop the ride if something was not up to standard. I had to load Guests on the attractions and unload them. I had to help Guests with disabilities and make sure they could ride safely. I also had to greet the Guests in the attractions and answer any questions they had about my rides or any question about the parks. I also had to park strollers, distribute and collect Fastpass and create magical moments.

What did you enjoy most about your job? 
I loved the amazing guest interaction I had. I loved to create magical moments or do that small thing that would make the ride unforgettable, like snapping my fingers to make the lap bar go down on Peter Pan's Flight. I enjoyed talking with families and giving them advice on how to make the most of their visit. I especially liked chatting with guests from Quebec and Canada that were so happy to meet someone from their country.

What was the worst thing about your job? 
The days were too short (most were only 6 hour shifts) and three months was clearly not enough!!

Seriously though, as much as most Guests made my job amazing, some Guests could totally ruin my day. Sadly, I have to say that I've met the meanest people I've ever met in 5 years of working in Guest service.

Oh, and it's not always easy to work in the floridian weather: heavy rain, humidiy, heat...

What magical moments did you perform and what was your favourite? 
My favorite magical moment was to let people in the Fastpass line on Peter Pan's Flight. I couldn't do it very often, but with an hour and a half wait time it was something people really appreciated ! I could also re-distribute Fastpasses, blow bubbles, give stickers, wish Happy birthday or Happy anniversary to people celebrating a special event. On "it's a small world", I also liked to give nice families or birthday kids the chance to ride in the front row or to do the ride a second time in a row when there was no wait.

What is your best guest memory?
I was parking strollers in the Rapunzel area at night when 2 little girls were dressed as princesses and I started to dance to the Rapunzel music. We danced for almost 10 minutes and their mom told me I had made their day. She said they would remember me and talk about me back home :').

What is your best memory overall - whether guest or not?
The people I met at work or in housing. I worked with amazing people from all over the world that were so happy to work at Walt Disney World. I had a blast playing in the parks with them and I'm so glad I still keep in touch with many of them.

What have you learnt whilst working on the program / at Walt Disney World? 
I learnt more about my strengths and weaknesses. I learnt about other ways of living and thinking from my friends from other countries. I also learnt about how rides are operated, it's so interesting!

What was the hardest thing about the program? 
It's way too short. I wish I could have stayed for 6 months instead of 3. The hardest thing was saying goodbye to all my friends and coworkers and having to leave my job and the magic of Disney. Going back to 'real life' is hard.

What was the best thing about the program? 
The amazing perks you get for being a Disney Cast Member. Going to the parks for free anytime you want is incredible. I also enjoyed the cast member resort hotel discounts and had friends come visit me for free. Most of all, working for the Walt Disney company in Orlando is a dream come true and I lived extraordinary experiences during that program. I am very proud to have been part of the magic and to have helped create lifetime memories for thousands of Guests.

Any funny stories? 
My favorite day at work was when we had to evacuate "it's a small world"! It was not because of an emergency, only a mechanical problem. I had so much fun putting on waders and jumping in the water to push the boats towards the emergency exits. I had to talk to the Guests to calm them. I worked very hard that day, but I felt really useful !

Is there anything you wish you knew beforehand? 
Since I had done the program in 2011, I knew what to expect. I made sure that what I didn't like from my first program didn't happen in the second, so my experience was way better the second time. For example  I brought my car this time, and I made sure to work in a very busy place (I couldn't have worked in a busier place!) because in 2011 I worked in Merchandise in Port Orleans Resort where the time went by slowly and I got bored.

Would you do the program again? 
I wish I could !! I'm done with University so it's impossible for me, but I was very lucky to do the program twice. I might work for Disney Cruise Line one day !
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Cast Member Spotlight - Charlotte Jameson-McAuley (Blizzard Beach Lifeguard)


Cast Member Spotlight - Charlotte Jameson-McAuley (Blizzard Beach Lifeguard)

Name: Charlotte Jameson-McAuley
Home Town: Huddersfield
Hire Status: Ex-CM / ICP
Role: Deep Water Lifeguard
Work Location: Blizzard Beach water park

What did your training consisting of? 
Traditions and 'recreational training', then a Lifeguard test including a swimming test and eye test, then 3 days of lifeguard training, then physical and theory exam. Then finally it was location training for 3 days at Blizzard Beach.

What did your day to day job consist of? 
Guarding deep and shallow water at Blizzard Beach. Rescues were quite regular. Maintaining a 10/20 (meaning that you would constantly scan the water so that you would spot a guest in danger within 10 seconds, and rescue them in 20.)

What did you enjoy most about your job? 
 The adrenaline of performing rescues. No day was the same!


What was the worst thing about your job?
 VATS (visual awareness training) - co-ordinators/ Jeff Ellis (the people we qualify with) may come and drop a shadow in the shape of a person at the bottom of the pool, at any time of the day during your shift. OR they could come as a 'guest' and begin to drown/injure themselves in the water etc whilst you are on stand. This is an examination where you would have to maintain your 10/20 and rescue appropriately. This could happen at ANY time. VAT could also mean that you were filmed through a bush or something alike and then evaluated. I dreaded getting 'VATed'

What magical moments did you perform and what was your favourite? 
It was difficult to perform lots of magic moments as a guard, because you were constantly maintaining your 10/20, but when I did perform a rescue, I felt that I was creating magic moments for the guests. Blizzard beach also picked a 'ski captain' at the beginning of the day, where a family would be chosen to 'test ride' summit plummet, and then they would be given a cabin for the rest of the day and get special treatment. It was always really nice to be involved in that!

What is your best memory as a guest in Walt Disney World?
My best guest memory is meeting the princesses in Magic Kingdom. At 21 years old I was always starstruck meeting them, so I can't imagine what it was like for children!


What is your best memory overall? 
One of my best memories in Orlando was being given the opportunity to volunteer with terminally ill children who were on the 'make a wish' programme and other programmes alike. I would say that that was probably a life changing evening for me. I am studying to be a teacher so have a lot of experience of working with less fortunate children, but I have never had the chance to do anything like that. It was amazing.

Also being given the opportunity to watch the 4th July fireworks all over Walt Disney World and a lot of Orlando from the top of summit plummet!

What have you learnt whilst working on the program / at Walt Disney World?
To never give up! Not everything went right for me to begin with, but I didn't give up, and ended up turning everything around and having an amazing summer!

What was the hardest thing about the program?
Personally, I found the hardest thing was the pressure of being a lifeguard. I would become nervous every time I went on stand. But it was a good nervous!

What was the best thing about the program?
Meeting people from all around the world. I am still very close to a lot of cast members and still meet up with the English ICPs regularly.


Any funny guest stories?
A girl came up to me one day and started talking to me. I asked her where she was from and she said 'England', I asked her whereabouts and she said 'Yorkshire'. I asked her whereabouts in Yorkshire. She looked at my name tag and saw 'Huddersfield'. She started screaming and shouting,"MUM, DAD! SHE'S FROM HUDDERSFIELD!!" She couldn't believe that I was from there. The look on her face was priceless!

Is there anything you wish you knew beforehand?
I wish I had looked more into the accommodation. I loved my accommodation, but I chose it because I was told that it was the most social accommodation, which it wasn't!

Would you do the program again?
If I had the money, definitely!
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Cast Member Spotlight - Rachel Lambert (Magic Kingdom Attractions)



Cast Member Spotlight - Rachel Lambert (Magic Kingdom Attractions)

Name: Rachel Lambert
Home town: Manchester, UK
Hire Status: Ex-CM ICP (International College Program)
Role: Attractions
Work Location: Buzz Complex - Tomorrowland Attractions (Magic Kingdom)




What did your training consisting of? 
My training consisted of a few different aspects, I had to attend Traditions as everyone does to learn about the company, then I had to attend Once Upon a Time... Is Now! which is the orientation for Magic Kingdom itself, then I had a day called For Our Guests, which included some online lessons and a tour of Tomorrowland. I then had 6 days of training on the attractions I would be working on, learning about each of the roles on each attraction, safety procedures, emergency procedures and general attraction information. I spent 3 days learning about Buzz Lightyear Spaceranger Spin, 1 day at Monsters Inc Laugh Floor and 1 day at Carousel of Progress, and then a recap day at all 3 attractions. The final day of training was my assessment day.

What did your day to day job consist of?
On a general day I would do a 6 hour shift, I would clock in and enter rotation (being assigned a position at an attraction) which at Buzz complex you can either be put into Buzz rotation or Monsters rotation (which is Monsters and Carousel Of Progress) then every 45 minutes you get rotated through the roles. You get a break every 2 hours. On a 6 hour shift I would get 2 paid 15 minute breaks. After breaks you would go to the computer and be re-deployed. You could be put back in the same rotation or in the other rotation so you always get changed around.

What did you enjoy most about your job?

Interacting with guests and changing roles every 45 minutes so you never got stuck in a bad position. Also getting the chance to watch Wishes if I was on greeter or strollers at 10pm.

What was the worst thing about your job? 
If you got stuck on load all day at Buzz it could become a little tedious, especially if you end up at load 2 more than once in a shift, as the doors at buzz all have to be closed by hand so your arm gets a bit tired. You really look forward to rotation when you're there, but even that was fun sometimes.

What magical moments did you perform and what was your favourite?
We had a few magical moments at buzz, most involved giving out fast passes or taking people on the rides. Occasionally people would want to trade fast passes for other rides for fast passes for Buzz, so we would have to take the other fast passes off them. This was good if they were valid for later on for any of 3 Magic Kingdom Mountains (Splash, Big Thunder and Space), as you could then find people to give these to at the time on the fastpass so they could get straight onto the big rides with no wait.

What is your best memory overall?
Being in Tomorrowland I got to experience some cool things, like watching the Monsters show from the greenroom and seeing the magic behind it. Watching Wishes from the top of Astrorbiter where the view is amazing. And riding Space Mountain with the lights on, on my last night was an experience I won't forget.

What was the hardest thing about the program?
For me the hardest thing was that I wasn't old enough to drink in America as I was 20 at the time. I don't drink that often at home, but not being able to order a pretty cocktail at the Polynesian or being able to drink around the world at Epcot was strange. But other than that I didn't have any issues really, I loved my role and my work hours were pretty good and I didn't get homesick at all

What was the best thing about the program?
Being able to experience a Disney park for the first time, and visiting America for the first time. If it weren't for the program I never would have thought to go there on my own and experience it, or get the chance to travel to Los Angeles or New York either. I even went to Disneyland in California so went from never setting foot in a Disney Park to visiting 2 different parks in 3 months.

Any funny guest stories?
I don't think I really have any funny stories. We used to close Carousel of Progress at the end of normal park hours as it wasn't popular enough to keep open for Extra Magic Hours, so we closed it as usual, I was working on Buzz Greeter and a little boy came up to me with his family in tears with a guest recovery fast pass, so I asked him what was wrong, he was too upset to tell me, so his mother informed me that his favourite ride (carousel of progress) had been closed, she was obviously not annoyed at this (if anything she found the whole thing hilarious). I told him that he was going to love this ride (Buzz) even more and that he was going to help Buzz Lightyear defeat Zurg and become a Spaceranger. He wasn't impressed but rode the ride and seemed happy enough afterwards. The whole complex was just telling the story of the little boy who loved COP for the next few days. (Carousel of Progress isn't the most popular attraction...)

Is there anything you wish you knew beforehand?
How tired I would be after the first week, the schedule is so hectic, but that plus the jet lag is draining to say the least. However, the adrenalin gets you through it and I loved every second and made myself do something before or after inductions or work to get every last minute out of my summer.

Would you do the program again?
Yes, in a heartbeat. I'm applying for the CRP (Cultural Representative Program) in Spring 2014.
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Cast Member Spotlight - Ali Lamberski (Magic Kingdom Merchandise and Attractions)


Cast Member Spotlight - Ali Lamberski (Magic Kingdom Merchandise and Attractions)

Cast Member Spotlight is where we interview an ex- or current Cast Member about their job to find out what it's really like to work at the Disney theme parks.

Name: Ali Lamberski
Home Town: Virginia Beach, Virginia
Hire Status: Ex-CP (College Program) and current cast member at the Disney store!
Role: Merchandise and attractions
Work Location: Formally Big Top Souvenirs and Fantasyland Attractions (Magic Kingdom)

What did your Merchandise and Attractions training consisting of?
My merchandise training took 2 weeks as part of it was learning to make food. My attractions training took a week and a half because my trainer called in [ill] on a day so we had to reschedule and I was stuck doing strollers for 3 days instead.

What did your day to day job consist of? (Attractions)
My day to day job was pretty easy. I'd start around 3pm and most times I would pull [be assigned] the carousel rotation so I would be [carousel] operator for a while and then move to a lot of stroller positions. Then when the other CPs would come I would start getting a lot of tasks (instead of being put into rotation) so I would walk around blowing bubbles with little kids and then at the end of the night I would be late closer so I would make sure everyone exited through Cinderella Castle. It could get pretty lonely just standing there by myself but I got to watch the electrical light parade so it wasn't all bad.

What did you enjoy most about your job?
My favorite part was when on all the CP's last day we all got to ride the carousel because it was going down for repairs. It was amazing to see everyone from fantasyland act like little kids again. It was the perfect way to end my program.

What was the worst thing about your job?
Probably when we would get yelled at by guests for moving their strollers even though there were signs that said you couldn't park there. Or when it rained and you had to clear everyone from the Philharmagic exits.

What magical moments did you perform and what was your favourite?
My absolute favorite was right as I was about to close the carousel, a child who was there as part of the Make a Wish Foundation and his family came running up trying to ride one last time before he went home. So, I showed him to Prince Charming's horse and he got to ride twice and his family were the only ones on the ride and he just had this look of pure joy on his face and it brought tears to my eyes.

What is your best guest memory?
My favorite was on gay pride day because everyone was so nice! I was actually having a rough time because my family had just left that morning so I was a bit upset and a man came up to me and said "you look like you need this" and gave me a big hug! He said 'thank you for working today and its really made this day truly wonderful for us'. It made me smile and feel better!

What is your best memory overall - whether with a guest or not?
One of my favorites was actually when I was in the Big Top kitchen (in New Fantasyland) and one of my friends had broke the faucet so the water wouldn't turn off and the hose was flying around spraying water. I was like a scene out of a movie! We even ending up getting a couple of coordinators wet so everyone was hysterical.

What have you learnt whilst working on the program / at Walt Disney World?
I've learned to be more independent and take more risks. I've also learned to not be afraid to put myself out there and try new things.

What was the hardest thing about the program?
The hardest thing about my program was leaving my family. My program started 2 and a half months after I turned 18 so I was really young. This was my first time away from home but I was really lucky because I had some really good people looking out for me.

What was the best thing about the program?
The best thing about my program was the people I worked with. In both my work locations I was really lucky because I was friends with the people I worked with so I really enjoyed working and never dreaded it.

Any funny guest stories?
A really funny guest story would have to be the time someone tried to ride his scooter through the wishes ropes which stopped guests from going into the fireworks fallout zone and then got upset when he fell over and tried to convince everyone it was our fault. I was laughing so hard.

Is there anything you wish you knew beforehand?
The one thing I wished I knew beforehand was how much free time I would have. On the website and in the interview you they tell you all the amazing things you can do, but what they don't tell you is that you don't get the time off to do them because you are working. 

Would you do the program again?
I would absolutely do the program again!
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Web of Links - Week 13

It's time for the weekly round-up of some the most interesting and thought provoking articles, videos and websites I saw this week.

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Celebration, Florida - Photo Trip Report

One day in Summer 2013 I took a day off work at Walt Disney World to go and explore the small town of Celebration in Florida. The town was developed in association by The Walt Disney Company  with the aim of being something almost akin to the EPCOT Walt Disney wanted to created - a perfect looking community where things were up to scratch so much they could have the Disney label on them.


My friend Adrienne had a car so drove me and Courtney to Celebration to see what all the fuss was about.

The town was only developed in the 90s and so has drawn much of its inspiration from the theme parks.

The houses were big and glamorous...


The place does, however, have an almost "Truman show" quality to it where everything is too perfect and starts to look fake.


The extent Disney went to creating a perfect looking place is felt.

According to Wikipedia: "Homes and condominiums are constructed along streets, with garages and garbage pickup done in narrow but paved alleyways behind the homes, keeping the look of home fronts and sidewalks pristine. Utility service is underground."


Only about 7000 people live in the small town of Celebration.


There are numerous pathways and walkways as the town is designed to all be walkable, or cyclable.


A stunning lake.




Celebration really is a beautiful place.


This traditional mailbox was cute.


As are the street signs.


Even the benches have inscribed with the town's name.


This area looked heavily inspired by a Disney park.


A handy flag just in case I ever forgot what country I was in.


A random British phone box...because, why not?





And then there was the equivalent of Magic Kingdom's Main Street USA, called "Market Street"...





This ice cream parlour looked to me to be inspired by Disney's Hollywood Studios.






Gardens galore...


There were even quaint little cars...


This looks like something off Disney's Boardwalk area of Walt Disney World.






The Industrial area of Celebration.



And a final bit of house hunting before we leave...






This house had an outhouse...which had a garage.


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