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Cast Member Spotlight - Eilidh McMillan (Custodial Hostess)


Cast Member Spotlight - Eilidh McMillan (Custodial Hostess)


Name: Eilidh McMillan
Home town: Glasgow, UK
Hire Status: ICP
Role: Custodial Hostess
Work Location: Blizzard Beach





What did your training consisting of? 
There was obviously a lot of emphasis on cleaning cause that is the main part of the job. A biiiig emphasis on the process of cleaning up blood and vomit which was a bit scary and intense but you got used to it. Telling us the chemicals we'd be using, showing us the trash cans of Disney (I have to admit, I am a huge loser and really love the different designs of the trash cans of Disney so I kind of enjoyed that bit). There was then a lot of talk about how to create magical moments for guests and how we should basically be walking information booths!

What did your day to day job consist of? 
Keeping the area of the park I was assigned clean, doing trash runs, picking rubbish, talking to guests, giving them information and just being a helpful, cheery son-of-a-gun.

What did you enjoy most about your job? 
I loved the freedom to roam about the parks and talk to guests. Like the fact you were actively encouraged and expected to interact with the guests was really nice. Custodial is such an underrated job, so many people give me a look of pity when I told them that was my role and it's ridiculous! They don't know what they're missing out on. yeah, cleaning up vomit isn't overly pleasant but the pros outweigh the cons.

What was the worst thing about your job? 
Let's just say the women's toilet was not a particularly pleasant experience and I found a lot of unpleasant things in there. Also the heat was pretty hard to get used to since we're out and about all the time.

What magical moments did you perform and what was your favourite? 
The only issue with Blizzard Beach was it was a bit more difficult to make magical moments. Most people aren't really up for chatting or don't speak much English and you miss out on things to help create magic, like the free buttons Disney give out for birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Nonetheless I took what moments I could! There was one time I found out it was a girl's birthday and I sang happy birthday to her using my pick as a guitar and I got a big group of people to join in. Then I swung by my pals at I.C. Expeditions and got her a sneaky wee sundae.

What is your best guest memory? 
Because Blizzard Beach is a water park and there is a heeeell of a lot of lightning in Florida it closed quite often. When it did the lifeguards and slide ops entertained guests by playing quizzes and things. One time I kept slyly giving this kid the answers and everyone was like "it's you!" and I was like "nuh uh, I'm just sweeping..." so later on when the park opens the girl asked me to come on a slide with her as a thank you. I told her I couldn't but I walked up the stairs with her to the queue and she asked me about where I was from and I told her Scotland and then she asked about Merida and I told her she lived in the castle next door to mine and so on and so forth. Anyway, I saw her and her family leaving the park later and the parents came up to me and said she wouldn't stop going on about it and they really appreciated it. I honestly nearly cried it was so nice to have that recognition that you just don't get in your average day to day job. Apparently she wants to visit Scotland now cause she thinks we all live in castles! haha.

What is your best memory overall - whether guest or not? 
I don't even know if I can pick a certain memory. It was pretty darn special getting to watch fireworks across all of Orlando from the top of Mount Gushmore (the mountain in Blizzard Beach) and that's also how I met one of my best friends. I also had the most amazing graduation day!

What have you learnt whilst working on the program / at Walt Disney World? 
In hindsight, surprisingly I didn't learn that much. Potentially more so on the run up to it when I was silently freaking out (in a bad way) about going because I was scared it wouldn't live up to my expectations and I had to build up the confidence to make it an enjoyable experience. But I definitely became more confident in myself when I was over there. I also learnt a lot about America and Americans! haha. And I guess living with 4 girls from Hong Kong gave me an insight to their way of life too!

What was the hardest thing about the program? Leaving it...? 
Nah, there were obviously difficult guests that made you want to tear you hair out but it's no different from any other job. Also the culture shock was pretty intense but I got used to it quickly enough. I just had to avoid saying worlds like "rubbish" cause that would get me laughed at!

What was the best thing about the program? 
I just have no idea what to say. The friends I made, the adventures, having Walt Disney World on your doorstep to do with as you please, riding Haunted Mansion 10 times in one day, meeting the princesses whilst wearing a tiara? Also, not to be cheesy, but it was pretty special to be part of the magic and to have the ability to spread it.

Any funny guest stories? 
If there were too many custodians on you basically spent your day picking litter on the stairs to the water slides which was my FAVOURITE job. There's pretty much no litter whatsoever up there so I spent my time just singing the rocky theme tune at guests who were out of breath on the stairs and egging them on. This one time I kept running into the same two guys who obviously picked up I was Scottish so they kept saying "we're trying Scotland, we're trying so hard" and every time I walked past them they'd yell "HEY SCOTLAND!!!". Also one time I got a group of people to do the macarena with me.

Is there anything you wish you knew beforehand? 
I think when I first arrived there were definitely things I thought "ooh I should brought this or that" but it was never anything important. I do wish I'd realised how little time I had and that I'd done more of the things I really wanted to in my first month. I think when you first arrive you're spending so much time settling in that you forget 2 months really isn't that long. I missed a lot of what I wanted to do because of that.

Would you do the program again? 
In the past, given how hard I had to work to get there I probably would have said yes in a heartbeat, but my very good friend Julia (a Glaswegian ICP at Hollywood Studios) pointed out it could never be the same and it wouldn't be as magical. And I think that really hit home. As someone who actually cannot reapply (since I'm no longer a student) that gives me a lot of comfort. In saying that I would definitely consider it if I had the money to go back (The ICP is expeeeeeensiiiiiiive).
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Cast Member Spotlight - Jack Chandler (Full Service Food and Beverage)


Cast Member Spotlight - Jack Chandler (Full Service Food and Beverage)

Name: Jack Chandler
Home Town: Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham
Hire Status: Ex-ICP, CRP 14/15
Role: Full Service Food and Beverage (F&B)
Work Location: Coral Reef, Epcot





What did your training consisting of?
After traditions and my park orientation, my training started with a lot of health and food safety in the classroom and with online work also. After completing all this, I was taken to the restaurant and was taught each area I could work in. First I was trained in stocking, this is keeping all side areas for the servers stocked up so they can serve the guests as quickly as possible. Next I was trained on seating. This is where we take the guests from the lobby and walk them to the table and distribute menus. Finally I was taught greeter. This is the first Cast Member a guest comes into contact with at the restaurant. This position requires you to check a party in and to make any notes on the reservation such as if any high chairs are required or if the family has a special request such as a seat near the tank.

What did your day to day job consist of?
My day to day job was mainly seating with covering podium to cover breaks or on some days greeting all day. It also included talking to guests and just making magic for any guests in the lobby waiting to be seated.

What did you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoyed the guest interaction the most as I got to speak to so many people who would tell me stories about their vacation or ask me questions about reservations for other restaurants. I loved being on podium and helping guests get reservations to a restaurant they may not have been able to before.

What was the worst thing about your job?
The worst thing for me was probably stocking. It was just one area I didn't enjoy and it was more to do with the fact there was so little guest interaction and thats what I enjoyed most about my role.

What magical moments did you perform and what was your favourite?
In full service its a lot more difficult to perform magic moments due to the nature of the role. One of the main moments I could do though were to surprise guests with a preferred seat by the tank. One of my favourite magic moments though was when a family were on their last day of their vacation and got stuck on Test Track due to weather and missed their FastPass for Soarin' so I gave them a 'No Strings' card so they could ride Soarin' through the FastPass entrance. They really appreciated it and just being able to make their day so much better was amazing.

What is your best guest memory?
This is one of the things that made my whole program. I was on a close and was stood at the podium talking to a couple for a good 2 hours about everything from hotels, to attractions to restaurants. They had tried to get several restaurants like Le Cellier and Be Our Guest that they couldn't reserve as they fill up quickly. So a quick look on my system and I managed to get them a reservation at Le Cellier which is the steakhouse in the Canadian pavilion. Whilst nothing was available for Be Our Guest, I told them how the best way to get in was. I also just helped them with some restaurant choices and gave them my opinion. Several days later in Magic Kingdom on my day off, I was taking a picture for another guest when that couple walked by and stopped whilst I took the picture as they recognised me! They told me how they managed to walk up to Be Our Guest and how they loved all the restaurants I recommend. It was just amazing that people remembered me out of costume and out of my home park and appreciated what I did for them.

What is your best memory overall - whether guest or not?
The above memory is probably one of my best. It just reminded me why I was there and how much I loved my job and that I felt like I was able to create magic like so many Cast Members had for my family and I in previous years.

What have you learnt whilst working on the program / at Walt Disney World?
The program gave me so much more confidence in myself, in being able to speak to people and taught me how to relax more and enjoy life and not worry, something that I struggled with at home. The program gave me a chance to just find myself.

What was the hardest thing about the program?
The hardest thing about the program was probably leaving, seriously. I loved every second of being there and wanted to continue so much. I thought it may be hard being a long way from home and just being in a different culture totally but it was great. I loved every second.

What was the best thing about the program?
There are so many amazing things about the program both work and social! I loved work as it was such an amazing role. I loved the guest interaction and loved the people I worked with. It gave me skills that no other job could do. On the social side, I made friends from around the globe, I got to try so many restaurants I wanted to and got to go into Disney on my days off, not many jobs give you that!

Any funny guest stories? 
One funny guest story I have is one day when I was on podium and a guest came up to the podium asking to make a reservation at the castle in Epcot. Well we all knew there wasn't and told her this but wondered if she meant the castle in Magic Kingdom. Nope she said, the one in Epcot. So we thought maybe she meant the princess Character Meal in Akershus in Norway. Nope, the restaurant in the castle in Epcot. Again we told her there wasn't a castle but suggested the same restaurants again. She then told us she was wrong and left still thinking she could go there. There was then a joke between us at the reef saying its the only place to make a reservation for the castle in Epcot!

Is there anything you wish you knew beforehand? 
I'm not really sure there is. I looked into it a lot and knew a lot as I wanted to be informed. I know the accommodation may not have been as amazing as they made out but it still wasn't as basic as Disneyland Paris but maybe I was lucky as I had American roommates so we had a TV, speakers etc. I just say look into it, read blogs etc and be as informed as you can be.

Would you do the program again? 
Yes definitely! I'm doing the CRP from June this year (2014) so that tells you how much I loved it!
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Cast Member Spotlight - Courtney Sharp (Front Desk)



Cast Member Spotlight - Courtney Sharp (Front Desk)

Name: Courtney Sharp
Home town: Las Vegas, NV
Hire Status: CP
Role: Hospitality - Front Desk
Work Location: Animal Kingdom Lodge, Saratoga Springs & Old Key West

What did your training consisting of?
After Traditions, I first had to take a class that prepared us in knowledge of what the Walt Disney World Resort as a whole has to offer, followed by a week-long training class where we learned the computer programs we would be using, cash handing skills, as well as guest service experience. From there, I got my first look at the resort I would be working at, my “home” location, DAKL (Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge) in a welcome class. I then began a week of OJT (On the Job Training), where I learned all the necessary tools of Front Desk as well as the layout of the hotel, with the last day being where they basically stand over your shoulder to make sure you are okay to be out of the nest and on your own. We had refresher training throughout my program such as: Four Keys Basics, and a Food/Beverage knowledge assessment (just got to eat food from DAKL locations.) After being trained as a Front Desk Cashier, I then got to be trained a
s a Runner, which is a completely different also long story. Basically, I had lots and lots of training.

What did your day to day job consist of? 
Once I was trained Runner, it was basically all I ever worked. No day was EVER the same, which I loved. I would do things from help with key assists when guests get locked out, deliver boxes and amenities to rooms, set up the flower arrangements in the Presidential Suite, get sent to the grocery store, run into Magic Kingdom to get a wand for a little princess, pick up luggage from the airport, anything you could think of to help the resort run more smoothly and efficiently.

What did you enjoy most about your job? 
Never knowing what was next. I remember driving all the way to Port Canaveral one day to get a suitcase a guest left, and then the next day I was setting up roses for a honeymoon couple. I loved the randomness of being a Front Desk Runner. It made everyday interesting.

What was the worst thing about your job?  
The hours, you will hear this from every CP there ever will be, but it is entirely true. I love the hospitality industry, but coming in I forgot that Hotels are in fact, a 24 hour operation. Which meant late nights, and back for even earlier mornings, back to back, 5-6 days a week.

What magical moments did you perform and what was your favourite?  
There are so many magical moments that happen every day in the resort. I feel like I could never decide on just one. There was this one time though where a little girl made a magical moment for me. I went to crown her princess of the day in our lobby, and she said she was too little to be a princess, I told her that isn’t true and anyone can be a princess if they want to be, she then set the crown on my head and said no, you are the princess. I cried.

What is your best guest memory? 
There was a family that was staying with us, it was a vacation re-do because their last trip was cancelled when their son was diagnosed with brain cancer. They decided they needed to do one last family trip together to celebrate his life and have his dream of going to Disney World be fulfilled. We put together a really grand entrance for the family with the drums out front and some little gifts and plush for him. When he got out of the car with the support from his parents and walker, he began quickly running over with excitement, crying because he was so happy. The light in the little boy’s eyes, just pure excitement to be there was the most magical and tear filled experience I ever had.

What is your best memory overall - whether guest or not? 
Just being with friends, enjoying last days together and cherishing every moment you have left in the program. Standing and watching Wishes for the last time, saying goodbyes that I knew would later turn into reunions, staying up far too late to talk about nothing or dance in a living room, attempting to watch every show WDW has to offer in one night, and looking back one last time at the place I have called home for eight months.

What have you learnt whilst working on the program / at Walt Disney World? 
I have learned more about myself than I have ever before. I learned to conquer my fears, step out of my comfort zone, and how to show people who I really am. You learn that sleep really is an option sometimes. I found out not only who I am, but what I want to do with my life, places I want to see, and experiences I want to bring to my life. I have never been more self educated until this program.

What was the hardest thing about the program? 
It was difficult being away from family in hard times.

What was the best thing about the program? 
Meeting people from all over the world, gaining knowledge of yourself and who you are, and exploring things outside what you normally would. The experiences I had while on my program with the friends I made…made it the best semester of my life, and now I can’t call anywhere but Walt Disney World and the beautiful state of Florida, home.

Any funny guest stories? 
There was a woman with a celebration button on in the hallway and I asked her what she was celebrating, she replied with, “The divorce of my husband.” She said it so cavalier with a smile slightly on her face, I couldn’t help but laugh when I told her congratulations and to have a magical day.

Is there anything you wish you knew beforehand? 
How humid Florida was (you get use to it), to not bring so many pairs of shoes, and how to correctly make jell-o shots.

Would you do the program again? 
In a heartbeat, in fact that is what I am doing now, only in Disneyland. It’s been a magical experience here too, but nothing beats my WDW College Program.
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Cast Member Spotlight - Dan Pippen (Downtown Disney Operations)


Cast Member Spotlight - Dan Pippen (Downtown Disney Operations)

Name: Dan Pippen
Hometown: Plymouth, England
Hire Status: Ex-CM ICP
Role: Operations
Location: Cirque Du Soleil, Downtown Disney

What did your training consist of?
I had 2 jobs: one was a box office host and the other was as an usher, so I had 2 separate weeks of training and 2 weeks of wearing my "Earning My Ears" ribbon! I was trained in the box office first, where my training saw me shadow my trainer for a couple of days, picking up the different aspects of the job, before being let loose myself for the final few days, and the assessment. For my usher job it was a little different. I worked alongside my trainer in the various positions that we work in, progressing through all the different pedestals and curtains (for admitting guests to the theatre). He showed me what to do in the first couple of days, then once we had worked through the different positions, it was time for me to take the lead, with my trainer there to help me if I got stuck.

What did your day to day job consist of?
With Cirque shows being in the evening, my shifts would always be around 16:00-23.30 ish, although the box office sometimes required me to come in for the mornings. If in the box office, my duties would include giving guests any information they needed on the show, helping them choose the right seats if they wanted to buy tickets, as well as providing a ticket collection service for those who had booked online. It was actually a really fun job, it sounds dull just sitting in the office all day, but we made our own fun with each other and the guests, and time would fly by, especially when it got close to show time!

As an usher, the shift was a lot more varied. We'd start by performing pre-show cleaning duties of the lobby and the theatre itself, attend a pre-show meeting to discuss the upcoming performances and if there was anything we needed to know in particular. We'd then admit the guests to the theatre and help get them get seated, and then do the show itself! This would consist of a great many things, and it all depended on which position you found yourself in. Regardless of your position though, you'd be helping to ensure the smooth running of the show, by taking care of guests and meeting your "cues": there were certain points during the show in which we would have to perform certain duties, which were normally when performers would come through the seating areas of the theatre itself, to check everything was clear and ok for the performers to come through. Disney doesn't want any little kids flattened by a bike, you know... After the show was over, we'd say good night to the guests, and then clean the theatre ready for the next show/day. It was a really fun job, which meant we got to see the show for free (which was incredible) and contribute to the success of each performance by keeping everyone safe and making sure everything was ok for the performers to carry out their job.

What did you most enjoy about your job? 
The whole Cirque atmosphere was quite incredible to be in. As an usher, you'd get to see 2 shows a night and get paid for it, which is awesome, seeing as a lot of the guests had paid more than $150 for their seat for one show. It was also incredible to get to know and hang out with the performers. The social side of Cirque was amazing. Regardless of whether you were primarily in the box office or an usher, everyone got to know each other, had a laugh at work, would hang out in the parks on days off, and meet after work on a Saturday night at the Ale House bar for a few drinks. The performers went too, and there was no snobbiness from them and they certainly didn't think they were superior to Disney staff. Everyone got on and had a lot of fun, so whilst the job itself was awesome, the best thing would have to be the people I met and the social side of Cirque.

What was the worst thing about your job?
In the box office, it could be a very long day if you were in for a 9 hour shift over the weekend when there was no show that day. People would ask about tonight's show, then disappear off when we told them the next show was either in 2 days or tomorrow, so we had little to do. Having said that, we made our own fun to make time pass. As an usher, the worst part was definitely the cleaning after a show, especially if kids had dropped their popcorn everywhere, or if their slush puppy had been spilled and had proceeded to solidify on the floor. Those things were not easy to scrape off with only a dustpan and brush...

What magical moments did you perform and what was your favourite?
At Cirque we only had one, which was for the guest during the show who got hauled up onto stage by one of the performers as part of their act. Having survived nearly being run over by a BMX guy accelerating towards him at the speed of light and screeching to a halt mere inches away from his/her head (trust me on this, there was basically no space at all between where the bike stopped and the guests' head, as I was hauled up myself on my last night!), the guest would return to his/her seat, and be provided with a special memento at the end for their part in the show.

What is your best guest memory? 
It's hard to pinpoint an individual moment, as there were several. The best ones were generally when I got to help a guest find their perfect seat in the box office: they often expected me to charge them for the most expensive seat when they asked for a good one, but I was often able to find them a really good seat without breaking the bank, which they were grateful for.

Sometimes guests would show up on a different day for the tickets that they had actually bought...if they were too early it was sometimes a problem if they were flying home the next day, whilst obviously if they were late, they had missed the show altogether. We were allowed to move their tickets to that day's show, so that they could still go. This was amazing, as they were so gutted when they realised they had wasted their money and wouldn't be able to see the show, but this misery soon changed to joy when I was able to sort it for them, which was lovely, as they were so grateful and happy. I loved doing that, and comments like "thank you so so much, you've saved our vacation!" were just the best.

What is your best memory overall?
There are so, so many. I don't even know how to begin with this. There were just so many incredible, hilarious, fun-filled moments with my house and work mates, I honestly don't know if I can pick one...but one that springs to mind was my last day in the States, where I went to see the
show one last time. My work mates had arranged my tickets and put me in the front row (and without my knowledge) asked the performers to choose me to be the guy that gets hauled up on stage. As soon as I found out what seat I was in, I knew what was coming of course...but that didn't prepare me for it! I still sat there dreading it! The moment came, and I really enjoyed it. Cast members aren't allowed to even touch the stage, so to be able to go up on it and actually be a part of a show was just awesome. Not many people can say they've been in a Cirque du Soleil performance, and I was really touched and honoured that my friends and the performers took the time and effort to sort that out for me, and give me an experience I'll never forget!

What have you learned whilst working on the program? 
So much! I've learned infinite amounts about the American people and America in general, some of it good, some not quite so! I've learned what it's like to live abroad, so far away from home and everything that is familiar. It's scary, but so awesome. I've taken a lot from the training Disney provide and the general way they run a business: they really take care of their staff and they definitely showed up my employers from home! Their standards are so high so it's tough to constantly meet them, but at the same time these expectations push you to be the best you can every day. It sounds cliched, but it's true. I learned a lot about myself, other people, America, other cultures and just generally how to live!!

What was the hardest thing about the program?
I guess it took a little bit of time to adjust to a new culture and a new climate, but on the whole the experience wasn't as tough as I expected. I thought that being away from home and friends/family would be really tough and that I'd get homesick, but I was so busy having fun that it didn't impact me too much. I still missed everyone of course, but the fact that I was always with my friends or at work didn't give me a chance to dwell on it at all. I think the program length helped with that too - 3 months flies by. If I was there for a year, it may have been a different story. So on the whole, while the new culture/country, missing home and living with other people was a challenge, I was never depressed or upset, and just had an amazing time.

What was the best thing about the program?
I don't know where to begin with this one. There are just so many things I enjoyed and ways I benefited from my time with Disney. On the work side, I had an amazing job which blew anything I had ever done at home out of the water, got some great training and work skills which I know will help me forge a future career. On the social side, I made some of the best friends you could have, both from the people I lived and hung out with and from work. We'd play in the parks, go out for dinner, have the occasional night out and do all sorts of stuff. It was just a blast.

Is there anything you wish you knew before you started the Disney College Program?
Whilst the accommodation was ok, I was taken off guard a little bit by the basic-ness of the apartment I lived in. I think I was expecting something a little grander, perhaps having been swayed by the Disney videos which glam it all up a bit and gloss over the clunky drawers and the disgusting bathroom. It was fine in the end, but I think knowing that it was going to be very basic and not all shiny and new would have made arriving and settling in a little easier.

Would you do the program again?
Yes, without a doubt, at least on first thoughts...but on second thoughts, no. Don't get me wrong, I had an absolutely incredible time and it was without a doubt the best summer of my life, and it's precisely for that reason that I wouldn't go back. Sounds a bit strange, but it's true. I considered re-applying, and of course it would have been amazing to spend another summer in Florida. Yet at the same time, I had such a good time, and everything was so perfect, I think going back a second time would detract from the first a little.

I had some of the best friends you could ever have, a perfect job and had so, so much fun. It would be impossible for a second program to live up to those standards, I think. Whilst I'm sure it would still be awesome, I just feel that I would be unable to help compare the second program to the first, and without meaning to, think "this isn't as good as last time", which might detract from the experience of being there again. So I'd like to leave my time on the program as a special time in my life, that cannot be lessened by anything. I can't get bored of Florida this way, and the program will stay as a unique once in a lifetime event.
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