The Disney Adventure

The Disney Adventure
The Cinderella Castle!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Author Albert Einstein Quote Fish Need To Swim - pix | placebo

Author Albert Einstein Quote Fish Need To Swim - pix | placebo

Junior Achievement

Hi Everyone!! I'm so excited for the Junior Achievement Bowl-A-Thon on sunday! They made our shirts today!! My team is totally the most awesome team! (I may be a wee bit prejudiced) I'll take some photos for you guys for sure! If anyone wants to donate a few dollars (even $5 is helpful) that would be very much appreciated, all funds raised go to the Junior Achievement Foundation, so we're doing it for the kids!! CLICK HERE!! That link will take you to the page where you just need to select my name and donate a few dollars. If you're not interested, no worries, I'm bowling either way!

There were thunderstorms here today, at which point I was outside doing curbside. It was definitely exciting stuff!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Disney's Hilton Head Resort

So in case you weren't aware, I have a love for the southern states, I love the accents, I love the idea of the old south. I'm not sure why, but I just do. It's always been on my list of places I'd like to live and work for a little bit. So imagine how excited I was when I heard that Disney's Hilton Head Resort on Hilton Head island in South Carolina has some professional internships opening up!! SO EXCITED!! Right?! I know, exciting. Check out the property, it's stunning. So I've got an email into Disney careers and we'll see where that takes us. At the very least, if I get to apply and interview and they say no, I'll have more practice interviewing. Wayne Gretzky once said "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." It's a great philosophy and I'm applying it to my life.

Team Canada went to Blizzard Beach today after class. So much fun. Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are Walt Disney World's water parks. Typhoon is a little lower key, except it has the worlds largest outdoor man-made wave pool!! Which, lets face it, is so awesome. So us cast members have free access to the water parks until the beginning of june, at which point we pay a small fee, so we're going as often as possible right now. I LOVE Blizzard Beach, today was our first time there because it just re-opened. It has a waterslide with a 120 foot drop and you go at speeds up to 60 miles an hour (don't ask me what that is in kilometers, i JUST started to figure out miles). There's super cool tube rides and more water slides and a river called the 'lazy river' where you can float on tubes around the whole park. It was overcast today so the park was pretty quiet so we had the run of the place. Definitely worth checking out, we had a blast!

I know I had like another four things to mention but I've currently forgotten them all, I've been writing a Corporate Analysis paper and my brain is now shutting down for the night. More later.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

One on One

So us front desk cast members have a lot of leaders. Our leaders have leaders. It gets confusing. So the system they have in place is that all of us cashiers and concierge cast have 'homerooms' so that we have a homeroom leader who is our direct go-to person. Obviously we are able to go to any leader with a question or comment or concern, but our homeroom leaders are kind of like our primary contact person. I adore all the leaders, but my homeroom leader is super awesome, such a great guy and a really hard worker. Today we sat down and had a one on one meeting. It's kind of like a progress report, or an evaluation if you will, but not super formal. We sat down and talked about how I like my job, if I have any concerns, if there's any questions I have and then things he thinks I could improve upon. It's a great opportunity to touch base and see where we're at both from my point of view and the point of view of my management. We at the lodge are working really hard right now to keep up our four diamond service standards because we have the CAA assessment people coming in soon to decide whether we get a fourth diamond or not. We call it 'the diamond safari' (everything keeps with the themes, always). So service is of the utmost importance right now. So anyway, we had a lovely meeting and I really love that I have that resource of having someone that I can check in with who knows what my goals are and is committed to helping me achieve them.

I have also started the Harvard online courses. I did the budgeting component of the certificate yesterday and it was really interesting. They have a lot of material for you to use as a reference and video lecture pieces built into the course content that are really interesting and applicable. I'm going to do another class tomorrow. Should be exciting!

Oh I'm so excited, my family is coming to visit soon!!! We're staying at Old Key West resort, so that's exciting too.  I miss them so much and I'm so excited to have them here so I can show them my new world!!


So in my quest to get to know everything about WDW, I am now onto resort hopping in my spare time. Yes, I said spare time. A few whiles ago, my friend Tasha and I went to the Polynesian. It's a gorgeous resort and I thought you might enjoy a few photos! When we went it ended up being nighttime-ish so I don't have a ton of photos, I'll get more next time, but here's a few!
Everything is very lush and green and Hawaiian feeling!

My new friend!

The stairway up to the second floor

A neat pond by the entranceway

3rd shift

So the other day I got into work at 6pm and was approached by one of my managers who was wondering if I'd mind extending my shift right through to cover the third shift. The third shift is the overnight front desk shift that goes until 8:30am. Being the busy little worker bee that I am, I jumped at the chance. On the third shift there's either one or two cashiers and an ops person. At that hour there's a lot of paperwork to do and also you are responsible for all the online check in distribution. Which means I got to run around hanging bills in envelopes from people's doors. We also need to be near the front desk all night in case anyone has questions or problems. So I worked my first shift from 6pm - 1am then moved to graveyard shift and the fun began. Hotels at night are always entertaining. Very few people around, sometimes there's drunk guests, and usually there's plenty of coffee!! The night cast members are really awesome and I was excited to have a chance to work with them. You do definitely start to feel a little wierd being at work all night, though. Like some kind of front desk zombie. I loved it. It was really interesting to see the graveyard processes in action and we had a ton of fun! It was 14.5 hours of fun and excitement! It did result in me sleeping most of yesterday, understandably I think!! It was still fun, I'm looking forward to my next third shift!

Oh and I got the sweetest guest thank you letter the other day from this couple that I checked in who were just amazing! We had a great chat and they decided that they would like to see hidden Ericas in the lobby instead of hidden Mickeys. They also decided to write a letter to my managers stating that. I loved it, I'm saving the letter forever!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Epcot: Norway

So today was my Epcot shift! I didn't really know what to expect or even where I was supposed to be going once I got my costume, however I did know where the cast service center was at Epcot so that was where I started. I got my costume, very flattering, by the way, and tried to find out where I was supposed to be. Turns out that was the hardest part of the day. On the Hub it doesn't really give you much information if you have no idea where you're going. I knew I had to go to Norway and that was it. All the parks and resorts have different backstage areas and when you work in the parks it's different than a resort. With resorts I know I can just walk right up to the front desk and someone will tell me where I'm supposed to be. This was more challenging. However, I asked around, figured out where I was going and then once I got backstage, no one knew where I was supposed to be. So then they called the Attractions Supervisor. She knew where I was supposed to be, which was reassuring. She was lovely, really cheerful and happy that I was there to help. She gave me a radio (and you know how much I love having a radio) and told me that I was on stroller duty. Which pretty much means that when people randomly leave their strollers in places to go on rides, I move them to the 'stroller parking' area and keep them arranged in an orderly fashion. It also means that every second person can and will ask random questions to which I'm supposed to have all the answers. Strangely enough, it seems that I have done my homework and was able to answer almost every question that I got. It was a really fun day. I met the Norweigan cast members, most of them were really friendly. I got to spend the whole time outside and got to put things in neat tidy rows, which I love! It's really interesting to get to do something different. Don't get me wrong, I adore my regular job and all, but switching things up keeps the learning curve steep! I really love the personal bubble that being on the front desk allows me, guests can only get so close to you. Out in the parks it's a whole new ballgame. There were a whole lot of people in my personal space today, and surprisingly enough, it didn't even annoy me at all. I did a lot of giving directions and taking pictures and telling little princesses that their dresses were pretty. Since I pretty much have a PHD in talking to strangers, it all worked out. You know, I think I've talked to strangers since I was young, I must have been a nightmare as a child, talking to everyone all the time. Turns out it's paying off now!!

The shift manager seemed pleased with me, she actually gave me a Great Service Fanatic card, which was really nice. I'm starting a little collection of them, and I really love that they go on our record cards. The more I can prove that I'm worth employing, the more likely Disney is to keep me here! So I should probably show you a photo of the lovely lovely costume I wore today. Feel free to laugh. I did.
I know, right?! So special.
So when you're checking people in on the front desk, sometimes the computer is a little slow, or there is a problem you need to fix or something and your guests need to wait. Now, some people are comfortable with awkward silences. I however, hate them. I feel like the guests are silently judging me. So to eliminate this weird awkwardness, I talk. A lot. All the time. About nothing really, but as long as I can get the guests to engage in conversation, the waiting doesn't seem as long. So, I started playing a little game with guests and it's actually been really interesting. It's actually my new favorite game. As soon as I find out where someone is from, I say one of two things:

#1: "Ahhh, I see you're from ______, I've never been there, tell me something interesting about _______" (sometimes I say "tell me a fun fact",  I'm really never sure what's going to happen when I open my mouth)

#2: "What's your favorite thing about _________"

In my experience, this gets just about anyone talking a mile a minute. And once the guest starts to interact with me, all of a sudden it doesn't matter that they have to wait ten minutes for a room change, because they spent the whole time telling me the best thing about their hometown. There's a lot of other fun ones too, you get creative when you talk to strangers for a living. Plus, I get to learn something new about somewhere. I've also been getting guests to teach me American geography. It's working out well for me. I've also learned who's on all the American money (bills and coins) but I think I mentioned that already. Another fun application of my new favorite game is when I meet new cultural representatives. For instance today I asked the Norweigans what they missed most or what their favorite thing was about Norway. It was really interesting. I learned some fun facts about Norway. Learning is fun. And now I'm tired from being out in the sun all day. I like today. Today was a good day.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


So this week I got to work some curbside shifts. Curbside is a function of the front desk, whomever is on curbside gets to stand outside and work closely with valet, bell desk, security, and the front desk to streamline the guest check-in experience. Which means I get a clipboard with the list of guests that are arriving on it, AND I get a cool earpiece with a radio so I can talk to everyone. Anytime a guest comes through the front gates, security radios out and tells me their arrival number and what kind of vehicle they're driving. By the time they get to the door, I have their welcome packets ready and am prepared to check them in and direct them to their rooms. If they did online check in I can usually just get them from their vehicles right into the resort. If not I escort them to the front desk and find a cashier to assist them. I LOVE THIS JOB! It's so much fun. It's almost like a video game, you have to find your guests and get to them before they get to the door and greet them. Plus I love talking to strangers and on curbside you get to see everyone as they come in or out. People ask questions, ask for directions, or sometimes just feel like chatting. It's so cool. I work closely with the daytime ops supervisor in the back who monitors the check ins also and puts together the packages for me to give out. It's really beneficial to have someone out on curbside because it shortens the amount of time that guests have to wait in line and also can help us avoid guest conflict. Today our computer systems went down and I was able to intercept several guests outside and warn them about the situation and recommend something for them to do for a little while until our system was back up. That was people don't wait in line and get frustrated. Plus I get to stand outside all day, and did I mention how cool the little headset is? Super cool. Moral of the story is that curbside is awesome and I like it a lot.

Animal Kingdom Again

So there's a core group of us Canadians that are here from Camosun that talk every day and are very close. That would be Lindsey, Derrek, Johnny, Christian, Chris and myself. These days it's becoming more rare that we get a lot of time just with us. We've all made new friends and are working lots so it's really extra special when we get Team Canada time. Just a little while ago, one of these momentous occasions happened to occur. And it was glorious. We were missing one of us, but we suffered through and went to Disney's Animal Kingdom. I thought you might enjoy some of the photos we took that day. Photo credit goes to Derrek for the most part! And sometimes random strangers, and I took a few too.
Yup. That's us. What a team.

The tree of life is a big part of the Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom has areas that are made to look like Asia, and Africa, and then there's also Dinoland USA. This is on the bridge to Africa

In the distance you can see the Expedition Everest ride. Which is pretty much my favorite

In the line to get on the Kali River Rapids we found some cool Buddha statues and posed with them. Here's Derrek!


That's me!

Linds and I in an archway in Asia

Trying to decide if we really should take a photo in the bushes.

We decided it was a good idea

Best friends!

And there you have it. I feel really lucky to have such amazing friends here with me. We're such a dynamic group and have become family. I don't know what I'd do without them!

Friday, March 18, 2011


So I haven't found any hotel shifts in a different location to pick up this week, instead I found an Epcot shift that I'm eligible for!! Very exciting. It's a crowd control shift so it means I don't need any extra training to work it! I'm not sure exactly where it will be or what even I'm helping crowd control for, but I know it's in Epcot and that I need to make it to costuming first to get a costume for the day! It's just six hours but I think it'll be really neat to have a chance to work in a totally different aspect of the business than I'm used to. It'll be a learning experience for sure. I'll let you know how it goes (obviously)!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Handling a Crisis

It's been a big week over here. Lots of things happening. First of all the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan caused some turmoil. We have a lot of college program students from Japan and a few of their relatives are among the missing, which is really sad. We also have our new Disney Vacation Club property over in Hawaii, and luckily they suffered no damage, but were still on tsunami alert. Also, one of our cruise ships, the Dream, was in that area, and fortunately was able to dock at a different port to avoid the tsunami, as the port they were originally destined for had to be closed. Second of all, an Animal Kingdom cast member was killed this week during routine maintenance in the park. They've had one of the rides shut down for a while, and they've just started doing test runs. He was up working on the ride and got in the way of a test car, he suffered severe head trauma and fell off the ride. He eventually ended up passing away in the hospital yesterday. It's been very interesting to see how the company responds to tragedies like these. Firstly, everyone is very well informed. Anyone with a Disney email address (including myself) received an email from Bob Iger (the president of the Walt Disney Company) regarding the tsunami and what the company is doing to help out. FYI, any donations made by cast members to tsunami relief will be matched by the company, up to a million dollars. The Tokyo Disneyland park is also currently shut down, all the people that were inside when the earthquake hit are being taken care of within the park until it is safe for them to leave. What was really neat was that all the leaders were sent information immediately after the disaster, with details about which areas had cast members that were going to be affected by the tragedy and what steps the leaders should take to help the cast members in their particular areas. With the Animal Kingdom worker, Meg Crofton (the president of Walt Disney World park), she sent out an email to all of us expressing her sadness and telling us that the company is working with the relatives of the worker as well as the authorities who will be conducting investigations. The whole process is rather fascinating. I'll tell you more as I find out more. Oh, interestingly, that was the second death involving that particular ride, in 2007 another worker was killed in a similar situation. After the investigation, the Walt Disney Company was fined $21,000 and installed several new safety measures in that part of the ride to assure that it never happened again.

Air Conditioning

I'm starting to get used to this whole air conditioning business. In Victoria, there's never really any extreme weather. If it's summer and it's hot, you open your doors, let a breeze in and wear shorts. In the winter we might need heat but before that we bundle up. Not here. It get so hot that heat stroke is a serious concern for cast members and guests. They crank the air conditioning inside every building so it tricks you into thinking it's cold. So I bundle up. Then I go outside and the humidity hits me in the face like walking into a wall. It's taken some adjusting. I think I'm getting the hang of it now. It's only March. The summer is gonna get REALLY hot. I can't wait. I love the heat!

Monday, March 14, 2011


So I found the link to the bowling event! If you want to check out the event or donate to my team, all the proceeds go to the Junior Achievement fund for young students, click here!! It's going to be a really fun event. Also just for your amusement, here's a photo of a towel mouse. Remember how I said the housekeepers make all kinds of animals out of bath cloths? I wasn't kidding.

Change is good

So I still love my job. It's really fun. I get to go for my concierge training in a week or so which is also super exciting. I cant wait to be doing concierge shifts. I did a lot of guest recovery today, I actually really enjoy it. I think I'd do well in guest relations. I really like the guests with issues because it's so satisfying when you can solve those issues. Obviously it doesn't always work out perfectly every time but that's part of the job. I'm starting to realize now how much I like problem solving. Now that I'm comfortable on the desk, I'm noticing where my strengths and weaknesses are. I LOVE guests with questions. I would rather answer questions and fix mistakes all day then just check guests in. So I think I'll like concierge a lot because it's 90% questions and tickets and fun stuff like that. I had some meetings with the GM of my hotel and my other managers about my internship applications and all of them were so supportive and helpful. It was amazing. I really feel like I fit in here. I've always been told to tone down the enthusiasm or that I'm too cheerful and here they love it.

Remember those little Great Service Fanatic cards I was talking about? There's pictures. I got one from a guest this week, it was so sweet! And something else that's really cool is that those go on your record card as recognitions so it makes you look really good when you apply for transfers and promotions and stuff. I have 4 now, so hopefully that will reflect well on my for my internship applications.

Disney has so many volunteer opportunities too, it's so neat. And everyone does it together!! There's a charity bowl-a-thon coming up and I'm on a team! So neat! And if we log our volunteer hours on the Disney website they do all kinds of cool things for us at the end of the year. (Hopefully I'll be here for that). I'll take pictures and be sure to post them!! I'm trying to find the link that you can go to for donations but I'm having a tough time.

I know I had a bunch of other things to blog about however they seem to be escaping me right now. I've been working a lot, my brain is a little mushy!! Oh, we have a corporate analysis midterm tomorrow. I'm going to get studying!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Coronado Springs

So!! As you may recall, I picked up a shift at the Coronado Springs Resort and Convention Center. It was so much fun! It was a little weird, trying to find their costuming center and then trying to find the front desk. But it was an adventure and once I got to the front desk, the fun began. Obviously there's a lot that is the same at each of the resorts. They all run on Lilo, and they all have the same bank out methods. And other than that, things are different! Coronado is also a conference center so they have tons and tons of business guests. At Animal Kingdom Lodge,  when we check guests in, we have to go through a speech about the animals and their safety so the guests don't try to feed them or anything crazy. No other resorts have to do that, because we're the only one that has animals. So that took some adjusting. Each resort also has it's own themed greeting. At the lodge, we say 'Dumela, and welcome home'. Any property that has Disney Vacation Club Villas in it will have the Welcome Home greeting. Coronado's greeting is 'Hola' because it's a Spanish style resort. It's quite lovely. It's built around two lakes.
As you can see it's super cool and Spanish style and fun.
This bridge goes in between the lakes
This is a neat fountain that is in the front entrance-way
The lakeside bar
The Coronado front desk costume.
My new friend Kieth at the front desk
Cool snake rock sculpture thing
The pool! This Mayan pyramid has a 21 foot slide coming out of it
It was amazing to get to work at another property. I had a lot of fun and made some new friends. It's really interesting to see the discrepancies between properties. I'm making a goal of working in one new hotel a week (based on business levels, of course. Sometimes there's just not any shifts to pick up). I wonder where I'll work next week!!

Marketing Reflections

As I nervously wait for my phone to ring (I have a phone interview for a Disney internship position today) I'll just say a few things about my marketing class. The marketing class that I am taking is part of the Disney Exploration Series. It's really neat, every week we focus on a different aspect of marketing within the Walt Disney Company and we have a guest speaker. Today was global marketing strategies and we went through Disney's various marketing strategies for the last few years. It's really interesting. I'm finding myself more and more interested in marketing. I even applied for a few internships relating to marketing but since I have no marketing background I doubt that will happen. Our guest speaker today was telling us how hard it is to get a job with Disney in marketing right out of college. It took him 12 years. So if I decide to pursue marketing I'll probably have to go build a portfolio and then look at coming back to Disney if I want to.

On that note, I just got off the phone with my interviewer. They way it works is that there's applications for many positions and then they phone interview you and then pass on that evaluation to the various heads of management teams and then they make decisions. Now comes the waiting. I think the interview went well but it's so hard to say with phone interviews.

Oh, on the marketing side of things, I believe I've mentioned the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique before, where little girls can go to have a full on princess makeover and look like their favorite Disney princess? Well it's pretty intense, there's thousands of these little princesses EVERYWHERE. I got a photo of two of them the other day so that I could show you exactly what I mean!
Now that's marketing. These little girls' families pay anywhere from $50 - $200 to have their kids dressed as princesses, depending on which package they choose. For little boys, they get dressed as pirates. It's genius!! I'll find some pirates and take a photo at some point.

Oh, also, right now at Epcot the Flower and Garden show is on. It's the only place in the world to see topiaries like these. It's pretty cool. All over Epcot they have flower displays and characters made out of flowers. I was there yesterday and quite enjoyed it. I also have a photo of one of those.
It's Buzz Lightyear and Woody from Toy Story!! In flowers!! Cool, right? I think so.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Forgotten Tidbits

So in my massive uploading and posting of photos the other day, I believe I missed a few important ones, including MY COSTUME!!! Which I know you're all dying to see!!!
The sign from the lounge bar
This is in one of the gift shops, a cute little table where guests can play tic tac toe!
This is the King's door, just inside the doors at Kidani Village, African legend says you must touch the door on your way in for good luck
This is a piece used in the rites of passage to manhood in Africa. Young boys must wear this (if you look under the flaps you can see there's leg holes made of fabric attached) and carry it a certain distance to be considered a man. If he fails to complete this task he is shunned from the village.
It is very interesting to note that the Animal Kingdom Lodge actually has the greatest collection of African artifacts on display in North America. The Smithsonian has more pieces if you could what's not on display, but we have more on display than they do.
This is the indoor fire-pit where guests may gather round. Traditionally, African tribes gathered around fires to hear stories and receive wisdom from the elders. The metal grate you can see that runs around the fire-pit tells the story of a young man who was very generous and performed many selfless acts within his tribe.
The stairway down to our savanna lookout has one of these gorgeous pillars on each side.
This rock is built to resemble a lion. The stairs being his mane. There is a hidden mickey on the rock but it's much to small for you to see it in this photo. The stick that is leaning up in the middle there was used by tribes as a ladder.
The Presidential Suite. Celebrities like to stay here
The vice presidential suite
The theme throughout Jambo house is water, earth and fire. This water fall begins up at the Victoria Falls lounge and flows down (with an interruption for stairs) and outside. Here it flows down towards the pools. Jiko is on the right.
Resort map
This hot tub appears to be right in the savanna.
Take a seat!!
MY COSTUME!!! I also have a little neck tie thing that I'm not wearing there. Bad Erica. Please excuse the mess, we just moved. Anyway, that's my costume, I look like a safari guide!!
So Lindsey and I had a few hectic days trying to get all moved but we are officially living together and are now at the Vista Way apartments. The Vista apartments are louder but they also have access to a better learning center and all the other Canadians live here so we're really happy to be closer to them.