Sunday, December 29, 2013

Adventures in Fastpass+ at Disney's Animal Kingdom and the Holiday Season

Animal Kingdom always gets to test out new things. First we got an "Allergy Kiosk" where guests can find information about dining with food allergies, purchase allergy friendly snacks and more. The feedback has been overwhelming positive and many guests hope that this will continue to spread to the other parks as time goes on.

Because AK has less attractions than the other parks it made sense for them to begin the next stage of testing MyMagic+ there. So about a week ago they covered up all the old Fastpass machines that guests would recieve paper tickets from. All guests, even those staying off site are now able to book their 3 FP+ attractions. (Onsite currently gets the benefit of booking ahead of time, but we will see how that pans out in the future for offsite guests). Gone are the days of  "double dipping" which is when resort guests were using their 3 FP+ booked ahead of time and then using their room keys to get extra paper ones. Basically it has leveled the playing field for all guests (somewhat).

Now when I heard about this, I'm not going to lie, I panicked! I was unsure how this would all play out, how guests would react, and what if the system crashed! But everything worked out very well. We did not have guest complaints, many guests were confused and needed a little extra guidance along the way. They even beefed up the staffing for the FastPass+ kiosks bringing in cast members from other parks to help us out. The test doesn't seem to have an end date in sight and I would guess they will start at the other parks soon. Just part of the next phase in this huge undertaking.

Working through the holiday season at WDW is something I have never experienced before. I've done Easter, Spring Break and busy times in the summer but never around the holidays. Thanksgiving was crowded as was Christmas. What was nice is that our area had a pot luck on both of those days. The company provided the Turkey and gravy and people brought in side dishes and desserts. AK was not as crowded on the actual holidays as the other parks but still had a high attendance.

I've been spending a lot of time on our Regional rotation out in the parks and not a lot of time in the lobby. We have a new Service Center for guests who need help with their Magicbands and so far things seem to be going really well. I think the whole process has really come a long way and the issues we were experiencing earlier in the summer at the beginning of the test have really died off. There are still issues but things seem to be running quite smoothly.

This week begins my last week at DAK, starting on Jan 5th I have training at my new location at Downtown Disney. I love my DAK family but I am also looking forward to joining the team at DTD! I'll post more about that in the coming days!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Extending my Internship

I have been offered to extend my current internship in Guest Relations! I will be moving to Downtown Disney in January and staying there until June! I am very excited to start my new experience at DTD but also very sad to leave my Animal Kingdom family!

It was with careful consideration that I chose to accept this opportunity. As you recall I had planned to apply for a full time position and was hoping for a role in lodging. However at this time it makes more sense for me financially to extend my internship.

Downtown Disney is an area with a lot of shops and restaurants, an AMC movie theater, Splitsville (a bowling alley) and home to Cirque Du Soleil. Downtown Disney is going under an extensive remodel and will be transitioning into Disney Springs in the future.

This location will allow me to work the Marketplace Lobby, the Window location on the West Side as well as GRAPE (Guest Relations at Park Entry) for the Waterparks and the ESPN Sports Complex.

This location will also allow me to gain extensive knowledge on ticketing. As many people choose to take care of their ticketing issue at DTD because there is no admission cost to visit there. I am very excited to start this new adventure and I have heard great things about this location from other Cast Members.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Please Donate!

 It is very difficult to be far away from your family when something is wrong. I have never shared a lot of personal information on this blog. I have been told that others have found the info here helpful, and now I ask if you can please help me and my family.

My beautiful sister Kennedy is in need of a service dog because she suffers from seizures 3-5 times a day. She is so smart and has big dreams, having a service dog would allow her to attend college and make her dreams a reality. In high school, Kennedy was an Honor Student, involved in drama club productions and on the track team. However now she is unable to function in her daily life because of her seizures. 

A service dog can alert others to her seizures, retrieve a phone for help, retrieve medication, and lay beside her during a seizure to prevent injury. The dog can also help balance her during minor seizures and help her be more independent. 

We have started a fundraising site as these dogs are very expensive. Please consider donating anything if you can, every dollar counts. Even just a few dollars can move us closer to our goal. 

If you would like to donate you can visit our donation site HERE


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Professional Internships Process: What does getting a drop down mean?

It's getting closer to the deadline for Professional Internships and a lot of people on the Facebook group are getting "drop downs" for specific roles on their Dashboard!

What is a drop down?
Well if you applied for internships with multiple roles, such as Alumni Only, they are all lumped together on the dashboard as something like "Professional Internships: Alumni Only"

As the process continues some people will get a new drop down for a specific role. Mine says "Guest Relations Internship" but of course other roles can pop up here based on what you applied for. You may even get more than one!

But What does it all mean?!
If you receive a drop down for a specific role it is a pretty good indicator that you are being seriously considered for that role. Likely it means that the department has already pulled your resume and a leader is looking at it right now!

Does this mean I will get an offer?
Perhaps. It is very unlikely you would get an offer without getting the drop down. (particularly if others have gotten one for that role) Remember that not all departments will use the Dashboard the same, so your role may not get drop downs. However some people will get a drop down but then will not receive an offer.

What if I didn't get one?
If you have seen others getting a drop down for a role you want, it may mean you haven't made it to the next round. There is a chance they could pull more resumes and you could recieve one, but remain realistic.

If you haven't seen anyone else getting a drop down for the role you want it could be that department does not use the Dashboard for this function, or the people who did get a drop down aren't on Facebook.

What happens next?
More waiting! But seriously, some departments will have second interviews at this stage. Others will only use your screening interview. Think of getting a drop down as passing onto the next level. You may get a background check email asking you to fill out the DWWS form, again that would indicate you are being seriously considered. Then finally (hopefully) an offer!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Future Plans

There is only 11 weeks remaining of my Professional Internship! I cannot believe the time has gone so fast. I have loved every minute of it so far. One thing that I really like is because Guest Relations is changing so much at this time, there is something new to learn everyday. I truly enjoy learning and this role has really challenged me to keep learning and asking questions each and every day!

I had applied for Management Internships in Theme Park Operations and Lodging. I had an initial interview but did not receive the second panel interview. Having seen the process unfold in previous cycles I knew this meant I was pretty much out of the running for an MI. I was sad, being in leadership at Disney is something I really want to achieve and I felt I would have been an excellent addition to the team. But there was no point in feeling sorry for myself. I have already had amazing opportunities that others have not, and there are still ways to achieve my goals. On a side note, several of my fellow interns did get that second interview!

After speaking with my leaders I had a lot to think about. If you are in a similar situation as me maybe my thought process can help you out as well. First you need to decide where your passion is. Do you love this company? Do you want to have a career with this company? Or would you be okay with working for another company? For me, Disney is where I want to be, and there aren't many opportunities for me if I return home.

Next you need to figure out what your passion is. I really wanted to get an MI in Lodging because I love working with guests at the resorts. Some feel that the parks is where all the "Magic" happens, but there is a different kind of magic that happens at the resorts! There are other ways to get into leadership at Disney, management internships is only one way.

I have decided it would probably be in my best interest to seek a full time position in Lodging after my internship ends. My leaders suggested this, explaining that although my Guest Relations experience is valuable, I would benefit from being closer to the operation, and having the support of lodging leaders when applying for the LCC (Leadership Casting Call).

Additionally, I should be able to remain in the "pool" for Guest Relations and be able to be pulled for TAs (Temporary Assignments) The benefit to having a full time role is that when your TA ends you have a "home" to go back to.

In order to apply for full time positions I need to visit Casting 6 weeks before my internship ends. But until then I am enjoying all the time I have left in GR.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party!

One of the best things about being at Disney in the Fall (other than Food & Wine Festival, but  more on that later) is Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party! The party is held on select nights throughout September and October. This is a special event that you need to purchase a ticket for and it is held at the Magic Kingdom.

If I could pick one word to describe this event is would be: AWESOME! I was lucky enough to receive a free ticket to this event as a Guest Relations Cast Member but there are also discounted tickets available to Cast Members for certain dates.

First thing to know is that almost everyone wears costumes! Even adults! In fact many families dress up in themes, I saw families where they were all characters from Alice in Wonderland, Wreck it Ralph, and the Wizard of Oz. It is really cool to walk around the Magic Kingdom and see everyone dressed up! Some people go all out for their costumes, and some look better than our characters look! I wanted to pick a Disney character but wanted one that I didn't think everyone would choose! You see a lot of princesses at this event! I chose to be Lilo from Lilo and Stitch.

Then there is a fantastic parade called Mickey's Boo to You Halloween Parade. This is the best Disney parade I have ever seen, and is regarded as one of the best parades on property. My friend in entertainment says the performers are the best of the best here at Disney and to be selected for this parade is a huge honor.

Next, special Hallowishes fireworks! Which like the parade can only be seen at the Halloween party! I wasn't as impressed with these fireworks as I was with the parade but they were still very good!

Many of the attractions were open but I didn't bother with that because there was so much else to do! There are many character meet and greets with characters that are not normally present in our parks. If you want a picture with the 7 Dwarfs this is your chance! The lines for rare characters can get very long so make sure you plan ahead! I didn't get to meet any characters but next time I will for sure!

Finally, the most important part: CANDY. There is trick or treating locations throughout the park where kids and adults can get candy. It is pretty good candy but they only give you a few pieces at a time, however as it gets later in the night they start becoming more generous.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Managment Internship Interview

Hello Everyone!

Yesterday I completed my interview for an MI! This round I have applied for Lodging and Theme Park Operations. And I am In Progress for both! I was invited to do the initial phone interview for Lodging but was told by the recruiter that it potentially could be used by Theme Park Ops as well.

I was pretty nervous to begin with but my phone was giving me a hard time! Because I am cheap I have put off buying a new iPhone even though I was elligible for an upgrade for the past 2 years. I sort of figured why pay money for something newer when what I have works just fine. Except now I'm at the point where it doesn't always work just fine! I have this problem while I'm talking that the mic stops working and the other person can't hear me! Not exactly ideal for the phone interview! I scoured around for friends who I could borrow their phone but after no luck I realized that I never had the problem when the phone was connected to the hands free calling in my car (since the mic being used was the one in car) So I decided to do my interview there! (Parked of course)

My interview was scheduled for 8pm but was a few minutes late, I've done enough phone interviews feel that this was actually a good sign and that my interviewer probably was very thorough. My interviewer was Nancy and she was fantastic! She kept right up with typing all the things I was saying, I even apologized for talking so much and she said not to worry that her fingers were nice and warmed up from previous interviews.

This interview was a little bit different then the Alumni Only interview I took last year. There were less questions but I felt the questions asked were more detailed ones.

I was asked:
What do you hope to gain from an MI?
What qualties do you think a leader has
Tell me about a difficult situation with a guest, co worker or manager
Tell me about a leadership position you have held
Tell me about skills you have learned from these position that will help you in this role
How do you manage interuptions to ensure everything gets done
Did I have more of an interest in Front Office or Housekeeping
If I had anything else to share
Disney look questions

The interview was 26 minutes long and I felt went pretty well, but you can never really tell. Only time will tell if I get a second interview!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Management Internships

This season I have decided to apply for Management Internships as my #1 goal. I have chosen to apply for Lodging and Theme Park Operations. There are several segments within each of these roles so I'll give you a little more detail.

Lodging consists of: Front Office (front desk, concierge, bell services), Housekeeping and Resort Custodial. My first choice here is Front Office, as my background is in front desk, as well as this role has a lot more guest interaction, something I am very used to from my previous roles. I am not discounting Housekeeping or Custodial however and feel that I could shine in those roles as well.

Theme Park Operations consists of Attractions, Transportation, Custodial, Main Entrance (Park greeters, parking, auto plaza, and sometimes Guest Relations). My only TPO experience is in Guest relations, however I think I could enjoy and excel at any of the positions if given the chance and would be a great opportunity to learn about a new line of business. 

Of course the first step is applying and getting your resume through the scanner. I had multiple people look over my resume before I submitted my applications. So far I am "In Progress" for TPO and "In Submission" for Lodging.

Also today I got an email from a recruiter basically saying "based on your major here are some internships you might be interested in" They are all advertising related ones. I applied for most of them last round, not sure if I want to apply again this round or not.  I also have the option to extend in GR but will need to apply again via the Alumni Only posting. I am not sure yet if I am going to apply to extend or not. Wish me luck!

Monday, September 2, 2013

How to keep calm when dealing with a difficult guest

Anyone who has worked in the service industry knows that sometimes customers can be difficult and at Disney it is no exception. One of the most important things to know is that when a guest is upset or yelling at you, it is not personal. The guest is frustrated at the situation, not particularly at you. Sometimes just letting the person vent is really all the guest really needs, other times you may need to provide some type of recovery for the guest.

Sometimes there are guests who just leave you feeling frazzled once they leave. Yesterday was really the first time for me that a guest left me feeling that way. To make a long story short, she confused me (and I think was a little confused herself) which led me to selling her the wrong ticket type. Then as I was feeling frazzled I made another mistake while trying to correct the initial error. In the end I was able to fix the error and the guest walked away satisfied. However I felt particularly hard on myself for making such a silly mistake in the first place.

It would have been really easy for me to blame the guest for me selling the wrong ticket type, or ignore the mistake I had made, but that is poor service. First regardless of fault, the guest had the wrong ticket and it needed to be fixed for them, end of story. Second ignoring the mistake actually cost the guest additional money they were owed, which would be unethical. And would have made the guest more upset when they discovered it later on.

What is nice is that there is almost nothing you can do that cannot be fixed. If you make a mistake and you are unsure of how to fix the situation reach out to other Cast Members or a Leader to assist you. Yesterday I had a really great fellow Cast Member who helped me through the situation and how to resolve the error I made.

So in summary if you have a difficult guest situation remember to keep calm, listen to what the guest is really upset about, and if you can't solve the problem yourself reach out to someone who can help you!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Application season is among us!

Hello everyone!

Although it feels like I JUST STARTED my Guest Relations PI, it is already time to apply for the next season of internships! Applications have gone out for Professional Internships, Animal Programs, and Mangement Internships, and very soon for Spring/Spring Advantage College Programs. I have several posts that can help you with applying, interviewing, and then waiting to hear back!

Please check out my "Informational Posts" on the Right hand side of the blog for information about the process!

I myself am planning on applying for Management Internships in Lodging and Theme Park Operations. I have not decided if I will apply for others yet. Although I have been through this process before I still am nervous and anxious about the outcome. Good luck to everyone who applies!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Writing a Disney Resume

Now I am no expert, but with the next round of PI and MI applications quickly approaching I thought I would share some insight on preparing your resume. Having a solid resume is really the first step in getting an offer!

The most important thing to remember is that Disney uses a computer to weed out potential candidates. So you could get eliminated before a real person ever looks at your resume! To avoid this you should tailor your resume to each individual position you apply for. If you are applying for Alumni Only make sure it has relevant information to the jobs you are selecting. You will have the chance to upload a different resume for each position. Make sure your experience is relevant (This is something I particularly struggle with, because I spent most of my time in college doing everything I possibly could and feel that all those experiences have given me skills and knowledge)

The best way to do this is to look at the job description and qualifications. If it says "Proficient in Adobe Photoshop", make sure you use that same language instead of  "Proficient in Adobe Creative Suite". Try to outline all the qualifications and make sure they are included in your resume.

 Also if you have former Disney experience make sure you are using proper names of roles, locations and attractions.  So use Attractions Host/Hostess instead of "Ride Operator" and use Disney Words like "Guest Service" instead of "Customer Service."

It is always best for you to have multiple people look over your resume. If you are currently on a College Program, I know they offer resume classes, and you can always ask your leaders to help you out as well. If you are at school visit your career services center or ask professors for input.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Product Knowledge!

Animal Kingdom has some great tours available for guests to book. Recently I got to go on one of the best tours for FREE. The Wild Africa Trek. Guest Relations at Animal Kingdom were invited to take the tour in order to have a better understanding of the experience and communicate this when booking the tour for guests.

The tour is 3 hours, and offers a unique look at the Safari, includes a small meal and a private safari ride. The cost is $189 per person, but until October if you book a tour that starts after 11am you get $50 off per person. A cast discount is available as well. I know this seems like a lot of money but everyone should try it at least once.

The first step of the tour is signing a waiver, putting your personal belongings in a locker and getting your safety harness on. You are given a cool water bottle and a name tag as well. Once everyone is situated its time to begin.

The tour starts in the Pangani Forest trail. You don't spend much time there as this area can be viewed for free. You take a secret entrance near the hippo pool and the real fun begins. First there is an area where they will hook up your harness and you can walk right out the the edge of the embankment and view the hippos. Of course your tour guides are there to educate you about these animals and their habitat. Next you get to walk across the plank bridge above the Hippos and then above the Crocodiles!

Now what I found to be interesting is that all the crocodiles here are male, and all 27 of them came together from another zoo. Because they have been together for so long the guide explained that they would not add any additional crocs to the group, because it could interfere with their hierarchy. Again you get to walk right out to the ledge and get a closer look.

 After the crocodiles it was time to take off the harness. It didn't feel that heavy when I was wearing it but I could really tell the difference when I took it off! Next we boarded our private safari truck. As you can see from the picture this truck is not like the ones from the ride at all. The truck is smaller and because of this they are allowed to pull over and stop so we can take longer looks at the animals. After driving around for a while we were taken to a private platform in the savannah.

During the normal tour, this is when you would have your food. We didn't get to have the food but while were were there they did have a book with pictures of the offerings. They have breakfast items for the earlier tours and then lunch items for the later ones. The views from this platform were amazing! You could see out over the whole grassland area, the elephants and their was an area to view the lions!

So while the tour is expensive, it definitely is a cool experience if you have the time and money to do it!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

My Magic+ Guest Testing!

Hello everyone! Sorry I have been MIA lately, I have a few posts to share once I get some free time about some awesome opportunities I have had since I've last updated. But for right now I'll give an update about what I've been doing at work.

So as I've mentioned before the role of Guest Relations is really changing. One of the big changes involves the new MyMagic+ and the Magicbands. So in the near future guests will be able to do almost everything with a wristband known as a Magicband. This will function as their room key, park ticket, charging to their credit card and most importantly FastPasses. Guests will be able to book Fastpasses 60 days in advance of their stay. You can make changes by using an App on your smartphone or tablet, at your hotel front desk, Guest Relations or at kiosks throughout the park.

So in addition to working in the Lobby we now have what is called "Regional Guest Relations" At DAK they are located at the Fastpass attractions and by the tip board. We have two iPads, one is for guests to use to change their itinerary on their own, the other is for us to use if we need to do something for the guest. Right now we are doing at test with guests staying at certain resorts.

The first two days have been challenging to say the least. Mainly because many of us do not have much experience using the program and dealing with issues. You have to sort of learn as you go along. Second is there still are not many guests needing assistance (Which is good I suppose) so I seem to be standing around doing nothing related to Magicbands. In fact that is one of my only complaints. I sort of feel like while standing at the attraction I am doing everything but working with the Magicbands. There are lots of questions to be answered, directions to be given and descriptions of the attractions. I don't mind answering questions but it is difficult to stand around for hours and not really have a purpose.

So far the guests I have encountered have not had any serious problems and they were understanding if I was unsure of how to do something because just like them I am learning too. I also feel bad for my coordinators because it was very difficult for them to try to work with a rotation so we could spend sometime inside and not have to be outside all day. I think it will take a little bit to get all the kinks worked out, but will settle down soon.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Four Keys Cards

Disney is unlike any other company I have worked for before, I don't know if you have noticed but the people who work here truly love their job. Morale is very high at Disney and I think it is because Disney has several ways to recognize their Cast Members who are excellent.

One of these ways is a Four Keys Card. This is about the size of an index card and you can receive one for a variety of reasons and from a variety of people. Most people will receive them from their leaders or coordinators but they can also be given to you by fellow Cast Members or even by Guest Relations for getting a guest compliment. The cards have written on them what you did that demonstrated one or more of the 4 Keys service basics (Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency) So if you have a fantastic CM that really went out of their way to help you or make your day a little better, stop by Guest Relations and let us know! All you need to remember is the name and the location where they were working. CMs love to receive these cards, and we get to keep a copy, its nice to look at them from time to time or when you've had a rough day to remember that you can make a difference.  Additionally they get added to our record card which potentially could help us move up in the company.

Here is the card I got yesterday!

So you are probably wondering what I did to get this? Well this came from one of my Leaders. I had a guest who came and said she had lost a small black bag containing her ID, wallet, some cash and medication. It was near park closing but we still did not have the item. Sometimes lost and found doesn't come back to us at Guest Relations until after the park is closed and then those items are sent to our central lost and found location. We explain this to the guest and give them the lost and found card with the number on it to call the next day. The guest looked more concerned as I spoke and asked if she could wait around for a while and see if it turned up or if she could leave her information. We don't take guest info and we don't call guests telling them we have their item. I started to realize that the guest probably really needed the medication that was inside this bag and could not wait until tomorrow to retrieve it.

I went back to talk to the help desk and my leader. I explained that this woman was very concerned about this medication in the bag, and that she did not think she could wait to retrieve the bag tomorrow. She was staying at one of our resorts so I asked if it came in if we could bring it to her. This is not something we normally do because we simply do not have the man power to do so, also there is always the small chance that it is not the guest's item. My leader said this would be okay to do, and provided me with some other solutions for the guest such as getting her the phone numbers of local CVS or Walgreens to get it refilled. We also sent out an email to all areas describing the bag and where she thought she lost it. I explained to the guest that there might be a possibility that we could either return it to her at her resort or call her and she could return to the park to get it. She was very thankful and left me her name and phone number. Sure enough about 20 mins later the bag shows up with everything inside it. I called the guest and she was still inside the park so she came right over! The guest was very relieved and thanked me for helping her.

The next day I got the card from the leader who had been assisting me. It was not expected, which is the best part about these cards. I thought that interaction was simply me doing my job and what I could to help this guest so it was a nice surprise to get the card and be told that I had done a great job.

Monday, July 15, 2013

No Rainchecks!

I've been starting to feel more comfortable in my Guest Relations role, and I don't feel the need to ask people for help with everything. My first few days without my trainer I was a little nervous but all the other Guest Relations CMs were more than happy to answer my questions or show me how to do something I had forgotten. There is still a lot of things to learn and everyday I encounter something that we didn't go over in training.

A few days ago was a real test of my knowledge and skills! I was working a closing shift, 3 to 9pm and it starts raining at 3pm. Typical for FL, but this was not your ordinary rain shower. This was practically a MONSOON! It was heavy downpour and thunder and lightning. Because the majority of our attractions are outdoor many had to close. Our Safari actually began to flood in some places so we needed to close that attraction too. And as if that wasn't enough, Everest was not only closed but actually had guests stuck on the ride in the pouring rain and thunder and lighting. Sounds like a great day to be at Guest Relations huh?

Many people wanted refunds for their tickets or rain checks and unfortunately that is not something Disney does, as it rains every single day in FL. We advised many guests who had Park Hoppers to visit another park as their attractions were indoors and up and running. Other guests who did not we offered to set them up with fastpasses for tomorrow to try to make up some of their lost time.

The rain did not let up until around 6:30 pm and the park was closing at 7pm. Most of the guests were understanding of the no refunds but some were very angry. I was able to help a few guests out who had only entered the park at 3pm but one man wanted a refund even though he had been in the park since 9am! He declined the fastpasses I offered him and walked away angry. I felt bad that the options I gave him were not suficent to solve his issue.

The shift went by so fast because we were so busy! We constantly had a line out the door and people were also lingering around inside the lobby to avoid the rain. Once all the guests had gone I felt pretty good about the day and while I felt a little overwhelmed I also felt that I had been well prepared!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Assesment Day and First Day on my own!

On Sunday I had my Assessment! Even though I had gotten one less day of training than everyone else, the manager and the trainer felt that I was ready to take it anyway. This time my trainer was Lynda and she went over a lot of the assessment questions before we took it. There was a written part that was mostly multiple choice or true and false, then there was a section where Lynda would watch me interact with guests and see how I handled certain situations.  I only got 4 questions wrong on the assessment which was very good! After that we actually got to spend a little bit of time in the Window location, we did mostly ticketing transactions there and it wasn't too bad. Later on they will actually train me for that location.

I have been wearing our "Summer" option for my costume. This costume is not as fancy looking as the one with the vest, but so much more comfortable. Firstly, girls don't need to wear pantyhose, and second the shirt is untucked. A lot of women in Guest Relations don't really like the costume but I think it is okay. The skirt is actually a navy blue skort.

Today was my first day alone without a trainer. I was a little nervous but as the day went on I felt more confident. I did have to ask my fellow CMs for help or just to check to make sure I was doing the right thing, but they were more than happy to help. I also finally got to talk with one of our other PIs, Mehlanie as we were working the same shift. Later on in the shift our manager brought us our D-Pins! These are the gold pins that Guest Relations cast members wear on their costumes and is a long standing tradition at the Walt Disney Company.
So now it is official! I am a Guest Relations Hostess at Disney's Animal Kingdom!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

OJT Day 2 and Day 3

The past two days I have had more on the job training at Animal Kingdom. During these days we have focused a lot on being in the lobby and assisting guests. My trainer was there to jump in whenever a situation came up we hadn't covered or if I was unsure of something. Most of the day was filled with lost and found items, making dining reservations and converting tickets from the paper style to the new RF chip ones.

One guest we helped was a family who traveled from Europe. They felt that the FastPass policy was not clear and was confusing to figure out how it operated. The guest wanted to ride Kali River Rapids which is a raft ride. She wanted to put belongings in a locker, but was told by a cast member that the lockers were at the front of the park. By the time she walked across the park to the front, got a locker, in the pouring rain, and walked back she had missed her FastPass return time. Then she discovered that there were lockers at Kali River Rapids and she was more upset. To assist her we explained how the Fastpass system worked in detail, then provided some extra pixie dust she could redeem when visiting Epcot and Studios over the next few days. We also talked about the best way to experience each of those parks, what attractions we recommended for her children and set her up with a dining reservation. This is just one example of Guest Service Recovery where the guest was able to walk away happy.

I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of all of the policies, computer systems and what I can do, but where I struggle is communicating with the guest. I haven't yet developed what we call a "script' for what I will say to guests in different situations.

Today was my Day 3 of training and we are supposed to have 4 days and then an assessment day. Because of scheduling problems with my medical restrictions I missed a day. They decided that I knew things well enough to just take the assessment on day 4 instead of 5! Mark, Macky and I played a Jeopardy type game with our trainers and I won. (The secret is to get all the 800 point questions!) Tomorrow is my assessment!

Friday, July 5, 2013

OJT Day 1

Yesterday was my 1st day of on the job training at DAK! I was incredibly nervous and unsure of what to expect, or even where to really go. Backstage of DAK is very confusing! after making some educated guesses I found where to go for Guest Relations! I was relieved to see Mark and Macky there waiting to clock in.

The next few minutes was a whirlwind of people shaking my hand, introducing themselves, asking me questions! Everyone was so nice and welcoming. I met my trainer Zackery and we got started right away.
Since is was my first time being there for opening we went and did Lost and Found. All of our stuff was presorted from the night before and we had it in these really big canvas bags. We also stopped at Blizzard Beach to get their lost and found and took it all over to the Central Lost and Found. And wow are they ever organized! I've never seen so many sunglasses before in my life, but they have a system to keep track of them all.

On the way back Zack let me drive and we drove all around the backstage areas of DAK, he pointed out different areas we might have to drive to or park at for various reasons. Once back at Guest Relations he gave me a tour of the area and we checked to make sure my computer logins worked. The area for CM's is probably one of the smallest I have ever worked in. It was not uncommon that there would be 7-8 people in one small area at once. I constantly felt like I was standing in front of something someone needed or in the way!

The rest of the day was filled with meeting more people, discussing ticket issues, services for guests with disabilities and balloon daycare. Yes you heard right, balloon daycare. You see for the safety of our animals we cannot allow balloons in our park, and sometimes guests don't know or they are park hopping and bring one with them. We hold onto their balloons for them while they can enjoy the park. But many kids are very upset that we have to take their balloons, so we tell them it is balloon daycare and that we will be doing very special activities with their balloon all day!

After lunch, Zack took Macky and her trainer and I on a park tour. He really pointed out a lot of cool things about the park that we hadn't learned at DAKlimation. We even went into a few of the shops and restaurants to talk about the decor and theming. Something that I found hilarious, although it could have been from the heat is that the bridge that you walk under as you enter Dinoland is called the "Oldengate Bridge"

My first day was very good, and I feel that I am really going to like this GR location. Also since it was 4th of July I was glad to have an early morning shift. Mark, Macky and I made plans to head to Hollywood Studios to see the 4th of July fireworks there. And let me tell you, they were AMAZING. Don't let people lie to you and say MK or Epcot were great. Yes they both have fantastic fireworks displays for the holiday, but the one at Studios is definitely the best. Additionally Studios only does fireworks on the 4th and on New Year's so it is something special to see.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

ATS Training

For the past two days I have been at Disney University learning the ATS or Automated Ticketing System. This is the current system that Disney uses to sell its seemingly endless combinations of tickets. The class had a lot of information as well as what will be happening in the future with the new RF tickets and MagicBands.

We learned how to sell tickets, upgrade tickets, reissue lost tickets and a number of other functions. I thought the class was actually pretty easy and straightforward. I felt like the system was relatively user friendly. I'm sure there will be things I have forgotten but once I start training in my area and get more practice I am sure I will have no problems.

Tommorrow is my first day of On the Job Training at DAK and I get to wear The Plaid for the first time! I have training from 7am to 3:30pm and later on in the day I have plans to go to Studios to see the 4th of July fireworks.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

DAKlimation and Days off before final training!

On Saturday I had my property tour of Animal Kingdom. Here it is called DAKlimation. The orientation group was very small and was mostly new full time cast members. Mark and Macky who are also doing GR at DAK were also on the tour with me. The facilitators were very good and I would said offered unique backgrounds and information to the tour. The one worked in Animal Programs and was an Animal Trainer, she is currently teaching a pig to paint for a new show at Rafiki's Planet Watch. The other was a Performer at the Festival of the Lion King show. They both had unique insights on how different areas of the park operated.

The class started with a tour of Animal Kingdom. At first I was worried because even though it was around 9am it was already incredibly hot out. The tour was about 2 1/2 hours and we were allowed to have a water bottle with us. Additionally we tried to stand in shaded areas as we walked around the park. We talked about the backstory to each of the areas at Animal Kingdom as well as the attractions and animals that could be found. After the tour we took a well deserved break and then started some classroom type stuff.

We went over the 4 Keys of Safety, Courtesty, Show and Efficiency and talked about how we could demonstrate each in our area. Then we talked about conservation and how they take care of the animals at the park. It was pretty interesting.

At about 12 it was time to break for lunch. It was supposed to be 1 hour and then we could meet at costuming at 1pm to find our costumes and finally clock out at 2pm. Since we already had our GR costumes Macky, Mark and I decided to just clock out at 12. We decided to eat at the Flame Tree BBQ at DAK because we had never been and decided it would be good product knowledge to share with the guests. Personally I thought the food was okay, one of the reasons I had never eaten there is because no one really feels like eating BBQ when it is 100 degrees outside and because it is outdoor seating. The seating area is covered and overlooks the water, so it isn't really that hot to sit there.

Later after taking a very nice nap I set out to meet up with TJ, Sal and Macky at Studios. We went on a few attractions and then decided we needed to try one of those Macaroni and Cheese Hot Dogs. After getting our food we just sat around and talked for a few hours. Not really about anything in particular but just getting to know each other.

I spent my next two days off doing nothing but watching Netflix and relaxing. On Monday night a few of us met up at MK because we wanted to see the special 4th of July fireworks that they happen to be showing all week long. It was really cool to see them without having to actually go on the 4th when there will be literally 75,000 people there. Not sure what plans I have for the 4th. I have seen Epcot's a few years ago so I am thinking about going to the Studios. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Cast App: All about the new MyMagic+ system!

Today I had another class at Disney University. This class was all about the brand new MyMagic+ which has recently been beta tested with REAL guests. It is expected to roll out completely by the end of the year.

This class taught us all about the applications that guests can use from home, their moblie device, tablet or kindle to manage their reservations as well as the system we use to help guests change or modify their reservations.

There is not much to share other than what has been previously released to the public. Basically you will be able to link your resort reservation, tickets, dining plans, credit card for charging and fast passes onto your MagicBand. These will be replacing the Key to the World Cards.

One of the more interesting components of this is that you can pre-select Fastpasses for each day of your visit. So similar to dining reservations you will probably need to book them ahead of time if you want to ride more popular attractions. Of course you can wait until the day of as well.

But here is the best part. It is entirely possible for you as the guest to do almost everything on your own, without having to visit Guest Relations or the Front Desk of your hotel for assistance. So if you have Fastpass+ booked for Magic Kingdom but then you decide you will be visiting Epcot that day, you are able to change the "reservation" yourself!

It sounds complicated and a little annoying to have to plan ahead of time, but the application and the MagicBands are very user friendly.  It is definitely an exciting time to be in Guest Relations with all the new changes!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Days off at Disney is like being on a permanent vacation!

So I've been doing some fun things on my recent days off. For a quick update on my medical restrictions problem, I did get my doctor to send a letter to change them and I should be able to start on the job training as soon as they are approved. I only missed one day which doesn't count against me, and the next few scheduled days are at Disney University.

Well I finally got my ID on Monday so after class a few GR interns hit up EPCOT. We walked around the World Showcase and I pointed out all the best snacks! We went to the new bakery in France but I didn't end up getting anything. We also rode single rider on Test Track, and I have to say I don't know if I like it or not. It's definitely different from the old version.

Tuesday I went to the Magic Kingdom to meet up with Josh who I've met from Tumblr and the Disboards. We had a great time and he showed me around New Fantasyland. We went on the Little Mermaid ride and I was so impressed with the figures! They look so real, its really different than any other attraction.

He also taught me how to play the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game which was pretty neat. I'll probably play again another time. After he had to leave I met up with some other friends to go on a few rides and watch Wishes. I got nearly soaked on Splash Mountain and finished off the night with some corn dog nuggets from Casey's Corner.

Wednesday I was so tired from my MK fun that I slept in late and then made plans to meet up with friends at Studios later on. Blake and I hung out for awhile and went on every ride.

 He beat me on Toy Story Mania by 300 points! So I vowed I would win the next time. Then he introduced me to something that looked completely amazing. A hot dog covered in macaroni and cheese. I didn't get to eat one though because my stomach was feeling a little uneasy from Star Tours. It is at Fairfax Fare which is near the Rock n' Roller Coaster.

After that we met up with Corey and Nick who are GR interns too. We saw Fantasmic! Which is my favorite show and then Nick, Blake and I rode Toy Story again and this time I WON! Blake was a very sore loser.

Thursday was my last day off before training starts up again. What? I'm here to work....Oh yeah that's right...My friend  Jill, from my previous program was visiting all the way from Australia! So another friend from my program John and I met up with her and her boyfriend Richard at Splitsville.

If you don't know Splitsville is a bowling alley at Downtown Disney, and it is really cool. We actually were on the second floor. Who knew you could bowl upstairs...ANYWHERE? We had a great time and it was so nice to see her again.

 Later I went to Magic Kingdom again with Blake and my other GR friend Nathan. I finally got to try LeFou's Brew at Gaston's Tavern. I also got a cinnamon roll in hopes that they were like the old Main Street Bakery, but it wasn't quite the same.
I hate to ruin the magic, but LeFou's Brew is basically just an apple juice slushy. It was a pretty ingenious way of serving a beverage that looks like alcohol in a park that doesn't serve alcohol.... We hit up some more rides and Nathan and I got to see a little bit of the Electrial Water Pagent while waitng for the boat back to the Poly.

Tomorrow I have training at Disney University again. The class I'm scheduled for I think is about the new My Disney Experience app that is available to guests. I guess I will find out!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Guest Relations Core Training

For the past two days I have been at Disney University to learn all about the basics of Guest Relations!

Day 1
There were 29 of us or so scheduled for the class and we learned the basics of Guest Relations. We talked a lot about the history of Guest Relations and of the Tour Guides at Disneyland. Something I was not really that shocked to learn was that originally to be a Guest Relations host you had to be female, attractive and a certain size. In fact there are Cast Members at the Magic Kingdom who can remember managers asking them to step onto a scale to see how much they weighed! Things really have changed! Now anyone, Male or Female has the opportunity to become a Guest Relations Host or Hostess. And you don't have to be a certain weight either.

Later we did a brief overview of services for guests who have disabilities, common forms and computer programs we would be learning later on in training. We also talked a lot about the future of Guest Relations and how the role is continuing to change with the new MyMagic+ bands and the new Fastpass+

Day 2

We were split into two smaller groups and learned about the different computer programs we would be using at work. We talked about lost and found items, guest messaging system, dining reservations and then did some E-learning. If you have read anyone's blog before you will know that E-learning is a complete snooze-fest. This wasn't so bad, and since I had already worked for the company and completed most of the basic modules before I was able to go home early since I was done.

I also finally got my Cast ID so tonight I will be going to Epcot with some GR friends. I also was able to contact my Dr's office and they should be faxing the letter I need tomorrow, so things are looking like they will turn out okay in that sense as well!

Sunday, June 23, 2013


On Friday I had to take Traditions (again). However this time it was for 8 hours instead of the CP version which is only 4. I've taken it twice before so it was pretty much the same thing I have done the other two times just longer and went into more details. Personally I don't see a need for it to be 8 hours as I feel the same amount of information was covered just dragged out forever.

I also have a problem with some of my medical accommodations. I had previously been told that everything was set up and was fine. Well then they informed me that they wanted to "recast" me into another role. I told them that was not an option and did not understand why these accommodations would be an issue. Later I discovered that my doctor must have misunderstood the form. I don't want to go into details but Disney isn't really set up for people who only need accommodations at certain times versus daily.  So as a result I cannot attend any On the Job training until my doctor sends a letter removing the restrictions. Since this all happened on Friday I need to wait until Monday to call my doctor.

I spoke with my leaders at DAK and we discussed the role and what type of accommodation I was "supposed" to be getting. We also discussed the role so when I call my doctor I can explain to him that I know I can work without the restrictions.

I am pretty positive that my doctor will remove the restrictions, I am just worried about how much time it will take to do so. I am unable to work at my location but I can still attend the 4 more days I am scheduled at Disney University in the meantime. Also there was a snafu in getting my ID which means I also have to wait until Monday to get into the parks, costuming and etc. It has been a frustrating start to say the least.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Disney Restaurant Bucket List

Just for fun I'm going to try to eat at every WDW Restaurant and Quick Dining location.  This is more for me to keep track of where I have been than anything else. I've already eaten at many of these locations while on numerous vacations and on my College Programs but there are still many places I haven't been to yet!

Magic Kingdom 

  • Aloha Isle
  • Auntie Gravity's Galactic Goodies
  • Be Our Guest Restaurant
  • Casey's Corner
  • Cheshire Cafe 
  • Cinderella's Royal Table
  • Columbia Harbour House 
  • Cool Ship
  • Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe
  • Crystal Palace
  • Diamond Horseshoe Revue
  • Gaston's Tavern
  • Golden Oak Outpost
  • Liberty Square Market 
  • Liberty Tree Tavern 
  • Lunching Pad 
  • Main Street Bakery
  • Main Street Confectionery
  • Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe
  • Pinocchio Village Haus
  • Plaza Ice Cream Parlor
  • Sleepy Hollow
  • Storybook Treats
  • Sunshine Tree Terrace
  • The Plaza Restaurant
  • Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant
  • Tony's Town Square Restaurant
  • Tortuga Tavern
  • Westward Ho Refreshments

Epcot World Showcase Dining: 

  • Biergarten
  • Chefs de France
  • Crepes des Chefs de France
  • Joy of Tea
  • Kabuki Cafe
  • Katsura Grill
  • Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe
  • La Cantina de San Angel 
  • La Cava del Tequila
  • La Hacienda de San Angel
  • Le Cellier Steakhouse
  • Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie
  • Les Vins des Chefs de France
  • Liberty Inn
  • Lotus Blossom Cafe
  • Monsieur Paul
  • Nine Dragons Restaurant
  • Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall 
  • Refreshment Cool Post 
  • Restaurant Marrakesh
  • Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room
  • San Angel Inn
  • Sommerfest
  • Tangierine CafĂ©
  • Teppan Edo
  • Tokyo Dining
  • Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar 
  • Tutto Italia Ristorante 
  • Via Napoli
  • Yorkshire County Fish Shop

Epcot Future World Dining: 

  • Coral Reef Restaurant
  • Electric Umbrella Restaurant
  • Espresso Coffee and Pastries 
  • Fountainview Ice Cream
  • Garden Grill 
  • Sunshine Seasons Food Court 

Disney's Hollywood Studios Dining: 

  • 50's Prime Time Cafe
  • ABC Commissary
  • Anaheim Produce 
  • Backlot Express 
  • Cool Set Refreshments
  • Dinosaur Gertie's Ice Cream of Extinction
  • Fairfax Fare
  • Herbie's Drive-in
  • Hollywood and Vine 
  • Hollywood Brown Derby
  • Hollywood Scoops
  • KRNR The Rock Station
  • Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano
  • Min and Bill's Dockside Diner
  • Peevy's Polar Pipeline
  • Pizza Planet Arcade
  • Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant
  • Starring Rolls Cafe
  • Studio Catering Co.
  • Sunset Ranch Market 
  • The Writer's Stop
  • Toluca Legs Turkey Co.
  • Tune In Lounge

Animal Kingdom Dining:

  • Anandapur Yak and Yeti Restaurant
  • Dino Bite Snacks 
  • Dino Diner
  • Donald's Safari Breakfast at Tusker House
  • Flame Tree Barbecue
  • Harambe Fruit Market
  • Pizzafari
  • Rainforest Cafe at Animal Kingdom
  • Restaurantosaurus
  • Royal Anandapur Tea Company -
  • Safari Turkey
  • Tamu Tamu Refreshments
  • Trilo-Bite
  • Tusker House Restaurant
  • Yak and Yeti Counter Service

Disney Resorts Dining: 

Art of Animation:

  • Landscape of Flavors food court

All Star Resorts:

  • End Zone Food Court
  • Intermission Food Court 
  • World Premiere Food Court 

Animal Kingdom Lodge :

  • Boma
  • Jiko - The Cooking Place 
  • Mara
  • Sanaa 

Beach Club:

  • Cape May Cafe 


  • Big River Grille and Brewing Works
  • Boardwalk Bakery
  • Boardwalk Joe's Coffee Cart
  • ESPN Club
  • Flying Fish Cafe 
  • Kouzzina
  • Leaping Horse Libations
  • Seashore Sweets

Caribbean Beach: 

  • Old Port Royale 
  • Shutters


  • California Grill
  • Chef Mickey's Buffet
  • Contempo Cafe
  • The Wave

Coronado Springs :

  • Maya Grill 
  • Pepper Market Food Court 
  • Rix Cafe 


  • Bluezoo
  • Cabana Bar and Grill 
  • Fresh Mediterranean Market -
  • Picabu Buffeteria
  • Shula's Steak House
  • The Dolphin Fountain 

Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground:

  • Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue
  • Mickey's Backyard BBQ 
  • Trail's End Restaurant

Grand Floridian:

  • 1900 Park Fare
  • Citricos
  • Garden View Tea Room
  • Gasparilla Grill and Games 
  • Grand Floridian Cafe
  • Narcoossee's
  • Victoria and Albert's 

Old Key West:

  • Gurgling Suitcase
  • Olivia's Cafe 


Pop Century:

Port Orleans French Quarter:

Port Orleans Riverside:

Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa:


Wilderness Lodge:

Yacht Club:

Downtown Disney Dining: 

  • AMC Dine-in-Theatre
  • Bongos Cuban Cafe 
  • Cap'n Jack's Restaurant 
  • Cooke's of Dublin
  • Crossroads at House of Blues 
  • Earl of Sandwich
  • Forty Thirst Street Express
  • Fulton's Crab House
  • Ghiaradelli Soda Fountain
  • Marketplace Snacks
  • Paradiso 37 
  • Planet Hollywood
  • Pollo Campero/Bodie's All American 
  • Portobello 
  • Raglan Road 
  • Rainforest Cafe 
  • Splitsville Luxury Lanes 
  • T Rex Cafe Restaurant 
  • Wetzel's Pretzels and Haagen Daz Ice Cream 
  • Wetzel's Pretzels Express Kiosk 
  • Wolfgang Puck Cafe - The Cafe
  • Wolfgang Puck Cafe - The Dining Room
  • Wolfgang Puck Express

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Journey Begins!

Hello from Florida!

On Monday I moved into my new apartment and met my roommates Allyson, Sasha and Hannah. All of them are very nice and so far I really like the apartment. Allyson has a truck so she helped me go pick up a bed I bought on craigslist. I know you are probably thinking gross a used bed, but it was only 3 years old and it looks very clean. The lady who owned it is a teacher and she is selling because she is moving to Abu Dhabi to teach English! Anyway I bought these big giant plastic bags from Uhaul to put them in just in case it rained. And did it ever! It was pouring! When we got to the apartment we literally ran up the stairs carrying the mattress so fast! the side of the mattress and the box spring did get a little damp but I was able to dry it with a hair dryer.

Tuesday I spent unpacking and grocery shopping since my roommates are already doing their Guest Relations training. (They are both at Magic Kingdom). Tuesday night we had food trucks come to our apartment complex and I got a Hawaiian Hot Dog. It was a hot dog in a Hawaiian roll with coconut sauce and pineapple mustard. It sounds weird but it was really good. Then we had a Guest Relations meet up at Ale House. Only 7 of us went, but the people who I got to meet were really cool and it was nice to talk to a smaller group on a more personal level anyway.

Today was the big day to check into Casting! I was unsure what to expect because checking in for the College Programs was sort of a hassle. So I arrived at 10:15 am and had no idea where to go because there were no signs or anything. Finally I found the right place and met up with TJ and Nathan who I had met before at Ale House. We had to wait a long time to get fingerprinted but after that we were done. TJ and I met up with Nick at Downtown Disney for lunch at Wolfgang Puck Express and then we walked around a little bit.

I don't have Traditions until Friday at 8:45am so until then I will just be unpacking and hanging around my apartment since I don't have a Disney ID yet. Then GR Training starts on Sunday!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Saying Goodbye

So I am leaving for Florida in 4 days. On Saturday night I invited my friends to come out and celebrate with me. We hung out at a few local bars and just talked and had a good time! I was so excited to have everyone come out with me. I am excited to start my new adventure but sad to know that I am leaving so many wonderful friends behind! On the plus side someone pointed out that I just need to wait 40 years and everyone will retire there anyway!

I still have a lot of packing to do before I leave. I don't know why it is taking me so long, I think it is because I'm a teeny bit nervous and subconsciously I find packing to be screaming "OH MY GOD I"M LEAVING FOREVER"