Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Behind the scenes tour of The Haunted Mansion

From time to time they offer a behind the scenes tour of the Haunted Mansion to Cast Members. Space is very limited as they only take about 10 to 15 people on the tour. I wanted to do the tour on my last program but I never got the chance. Well this time I did. We weren't allowed to take pictures on the tour, so I don't have any to share.

The tour is at 7am while the park is empty of guests, and it was a walking tour of the attraction. We got to walk through the entire ride with the lights on and really look at all the details. There are so many things that you never even notice because of how dark it is and because the cars are moving. But if the ride needs to be evacuated then the lights come on and guests would be able to see everything, so it needs to be complete.

So we walked through and our guide showed us how the effects worked and shared some interesting facts. For example in the room where they have all the staircases only 1 staircase is real on each side, and all the rest are just from a mirror behind it. And they can change the size of the footprints that appear on the staircases, so one day they might be really big and the next really small.

We also got to go into the Ballroom, the scene with all the ghosts is really just one big special effect. If you have been on the ride you know you are looking down into the ballroom from above. Well the audio animatronic figures are actually located in the space below and above the track, and large pieces of glass separate the ballroom and the figures. What you are seeing is the reflection of the figures on the glass. Many of the figures are also in the Pirates of the Carribean ride and if you look closely you will see that the ghost in the rocking chair is the grandma from the Carousel of Progress. It was really cool to go into the actual ballroom and walk around inside.

The graveyard scene was also neat to walk through, we got to pet that little dog (whose name is Bones) and he even has a little dog treat in front of him. Finally the Hitchhiking Ghosts have the names of Gus, Ezra and Phineas. They originally were named The Prisoner, The Hitchhiker and The Traveler, but the CM's here at WDW came up with the other names. Guests would go to Disneyland and tell the CM's there that these where their names. Finally Walt Disney Imagineering came to WDW and asked about the names, and then changed the names offically. Now in all the Disney parks throughout the world they are known by the names that the FL CM's came up with.

Finally we went into one of the two stretching rooms to view that part of the ride. If you stay long enough after everyone leaves the Gargoyles in the room talk to you and giggle to eachother. Then the guide instructed us to lay on the floor and look up at the ceiling, so we did and she reset the room and made the ceiling come down. It was really strange to see the ceiling coming down at you.

It was a really cool tour and I was so glad I got to do it this time. I really learned a lot but there is only so much I can post on here because it is considered a "trade secret" or information that I'm not supposed to share. I'm hoping to take another backstage tour before I leave, but we will have to see.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Working and more working!

Since I've been finished with training I have been working a crazy amount of hours. Like 11 hour shifts and 6 days a week! One of the leaders told me it is because we are in between College Program groups and people are leaving before new people are coming in. So hopefully once we get some more CP's I won't have to work 53 hour work weeks!

I work almost every night until 12am or 2am on Tuesdays for Extra Magic Hours. Now I know what you are thinking "But doesn't Epcot close at 9?" and yes you would be correct. This is how a typical night goes. At 9pm the fireworks start and they finish by 9:20. As everyone rushes out of the park they stroll right past our store and think "Oh hey, I wanted to buy an Epcot shirt!" or "Aww crap I forgot to buy something for so and so" Which is why we stay open. Guests shop in the store until around 10:30-10:45pm, and we begin to close the registers at that time, so by the time 10:30 rolls around there is only one person on register. Everyone else has a closing assignment.

Closing Assignments vary and of course some are better than others. Jewelry, no thanks, all those earring and necklaces and charms to organize. Souvenirs is another one you don't want to get stuck with because its all key chains, magnets, postcards, basically small things that people don't put back where they belong. Any of the softlines (clothing) isn't too bad. Toys is ok too. Consumables can be a pain in the butt because you have to clean up a lot of stuff. Home Dec is my favorite because the stock room is right through a door in the area, the other stock is backstage or downstairs and sometimes you have to go to multiple places to find what you need. Home Dec is pretty easy, you just refill the displays and organize things.

Closing assignments take until ten of 12 or 2 and then we have a meeting where we talk about our sales for the day, share guest stories and have other announcements. Then it is time to clock out!!

I'm pretty much always on register, which I don't mind, It really makes the shifts go by faster, but I could also be scheduled as floorstock sometime.

Our location is getting new costumes starting June 12th. So tomorrow I have to go to Costuming to get fitted for my new one. I'm sort of annoyed because everyone got to go while they are at work, but since costuming closes at 6pm I have to go before my shift starts.