Monday, November 18, 2013

After Earning my Ears



When you start working for Disney you get a name tag and a special badge that says "EARNING MY EARS." I'm not sure if this is the same for office jobs or positions at ABC, but it is true for all the positions at the theme parks and resorts where a cast member is interacting with guests face-to-face.

The only time this isn't the case is with Push, the talking trash can. He's a great guy and you can only find him in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom!

This small little badge tells the people you work with and the guests you serve in the parks that YOU ARE NEW! You have not worked at Disney for years, you do not know where all the hidden Mickey's are, and you probably don't even know the quickest way to get to the Spinning Teacups, or Splash Mountain, or even the exit.

Technically you can keep the badge on for the entire time you work for Disney (although maybe not after a year when you get a special pin for your name tag. They may not let you keep wearing it after that.)

I kept my badge on for one day. I thought about keeping it on for a week or two, but I wanted to look cool in front of the newbies. That's right. I'm that kind of person.

But looking back I'm glad I didn't keep the badge on for too long. It forced me to learn my Disney stuff really fast. Not Disney movie trivia, but theme park trivia. Here were some of the questions I was asked in my first week at The Magic Kingdom.

Where can I buy those turkey legs I see everyone else walking around with?
Where is the closest bathroom if I'm going to the Haunted Mansion?
What time does Epcot close today? (Answer. Epcot closes at 9 p.m. tonight, and this is The Magic Kingdom.)
Why isn't my Key to the World card working?
I have reservations at this restaurant at 6 p.m. and my fastpasses for Space Mountain are at the same time. Is there anyway I can change my dinner reservation?
When does Tinkerbell fly through the sky?
When is the 3 o'clock parade (Yep, totally legitimate question)
Where is the best place to see the fireworks? No, where is the super secret really really awesome place you only tell to special guests like me?
Can I have one of your pins?

In my first week of work I didn't know any of those answers. If I had been wearing my badge those guests may not have asked me their questions or I may not have felt the pressure to find them the answers. Because all cast members look exactly the same, guests assume that we all know the answers to their questions.

By the end of the week I knew so much about the Walt Disney World theme parks, because whenever a guest asked me a question, instead of saying, "I don't know, I'm new here," I said, "I'll find out."

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Butterbeer: Frozen vs. Liquid

Frozen

This summer I worked at Walt Disney World, and although working for Disney meant that I could enter any of their parks for free (even the ones in Tokyo and Paris!), I sometimes spent my days off at the Universal theme parks.

Something to note. If you're working and living in Florida, even just for a few months like I did, and you think you're going to go to Universal two times or more that year, purchase the annual pass. It's almost $200, but a day pass to enter just one of the parks is around $85. So essentially if you buy the annual pass, visit the two theme parks for two days, you have already gotten your money's worth from the pass.

I went to Universal five times when I was in Florida this summer, and each time I went it was mandatory that I and my party get butter beer. We usually did this sometime between lunch and dinner when the weather was hottest.

It didn't matter who I was with, Harry Potter fans or non-Harry Potter fans, the debate on whether the frozen butterbeer or liquid butterbeer was better. 

Here are my thoughts.

They both taste exactly the same. Don't believe people when they say the frozen one is sweeter, or the liquid one has a more 'caramely' taste to it, none of it is true. I had so much butterbeer this summer, frozen, liquid, liquid that used to be frozen but melted in the heat, and they all taste the same. 

They both use the same recipe, it's just that some of the liquid gets put into the slushy machine to get frozen and spun, and some of the liquid gets put into a cooling tank, like actual tap beer. 

Liquid
So here is my recommendation for you. If you go to Harry Potter World in the summer, buy the frozen. It will be so hot you'll be glad you did. And then there's always the possibility to try the liquid version if your frozen butterbeer melts quickly enough. : )

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Visiting Harry Potter World





This summer I learnt that Disney isn't the only one capable of creating magic.

I worked at Walt Disney World this summer, and while that allowed me to go into any Disney theme park for free (even the ones in Paris and Tokyo!) sometimes my friends and I decided to go to one of  Universal's theme parks on our days off.

Universal definitely had some of the coolest roller coasters I have ever been on (The Hulk ride will forever be my favourite), but the best part about going to Universal's theme park Islands of Adventure was visiting Harry Potter World.



There are a lot of amazing things about Harry Potter World, so I'll sum things up as best as I can.

Hogwarts is amazing, and the ride inside of the castle is even better. The ride takes you on an adventure with some of the coolest effects. I felt as though the characters were really talking to me as I flew through a quidditch game, past the whomping willow, and then battled against a ferocious dragon Hagrid accidentally let loose.

The line for the ride may be long, but there is a single riders line that usually has a quarter of the wait time.

The shops in Harry Potter World are beautiful, full of details that will make you squeal, and are super crowded. From what I've been told by the super HP fans I went to the park with, J.K. Rowling wanted Hogsmead to be crowded and bustling like she envisioned it. If that's true then she got exactly what she wanted.

The bathrooms have sounds of Moaning Myrtle talking to you as you... do your business.

And the whole place is filled with music from the movies. As soon as you enter that section of the theme park, you immediately feel as though you've walked into the movies (or books, whichever you prefer), and the music helps create that effect.

Right now Universal is constructing Diagon Alley in their other park, Universal Studios, and their plan is to build platform 9 3/4 with a train that will take you from Hogsmead to Diagon Alley.

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Friday, November 1, 2013

Paper Fastpasses a Thing of the Past



When I was working in Walt Disney World this summer, magic bands were on everyone's minds. They were doing beta testing on the new magic bands a few weeks before I left in August, and so almost everyone I worked with was lamenting the loss of the paper fastpass.

That's right! The new magic bands can act as a credit card, room key, park ticket, AND fastpass.

So before all of the paper fastpass machines were removed I spent some of my last days at Disney collecting as many paper fastpasses as I could.


I really like the paper fastpasses, because, well, I love anything that I can collect. But I also like the different designs that each one has. When fastpasses first came out, they all had the same design and all that was different on each ticket was the name of the ride.

The tickets that I saw this summer were much more colourful and unique. My favourites are the tickets for Rockin' Roller Coaster and Mission Space.


Now something cool that I don't think many people know about (I never would have known until I started trying to collect them all) are ghost fastpasses. I've never worked in attractions before, but my friend in attractions explained that ghost fastpasses are basically test tickets that tell the cast members working there how the machine is doing (with numbers and stats that I don't understand).

One day I was at Animal Kingdom and the fastpasses for Kali River Rapids had all been given out for the day.* I explained to the girl working there that I only wanted a ticket for my collection, not to use to get onto the ride. She said she couldn't give me one, but could give me a ghost ticket. And that's how I learned about ghost tickets.

*Reminder, don't go to Walt Disney World in the summer, the lines are waaaaay too long.

Soarin'! It is so rare to see fastpasses for this ride because honestly, going on the ride is so much better than having the ticket in your collection.

I only have this ticket because one day when my friend Chris and I were hanging out in Epcot we went out for dinner and then decided to watch the fireworks, completely forgetting that we had gotten fastpasses for Soarin' earlier in the day. We both didn't mind too much though because we had both been on the ride so many times before.

And that's another reason why I love my collection of fastpasses. Each one has a story behind it and reminds me of the happy times I had with friends in the parks.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Having a Show on Red River Radio

 Get ready for some shameless promoting!

That's right. I have my own show on Red River Radio and it's called K-Pop Town where, you guessed it, I play k-pop music and update listeners on the latest news about idol groups and solo artists in South Korea. It airs live every Thursday from noon-1 and you can listen to it on the TuneIn radio app (just search Red River Radio) or you can stream it online at radio.rrc.ca.

So far I've done three episodes and you can listen to them at the following links.

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3

After three episodes I'm just starting to feel comfortable in the hot seat, whoops, I mean host's seat. Haha.

Now that K-Pop Town has been around for a few weeks, I felt it was necessary to create a Twitter account to connect with my audience and find out what people would like to hear on the show. So if there's a k-pop song you'd like to hear on my show, tweet me @rrcKPopTown to let me know.

And don't worry if it's an old song. A little birdie told me K-Pop Town might be having a 'blast from the past' episode with some of the popular classics kpoppers will love.

Is kpopper a word? Yes, yes it is.

Tune in to K-Pop Town every Thursday from noon-1 on the TuneIn radio app or online at radio.rrc.ca!


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Friday, October 18, 2013

Disney Pin Trading 101



Here are 10 things you need to know about Disney pin trading before you go to one of the theme parks.

1. Pin trading is soooooo addictive. You think you'll just stop at 10, maybe 12 nice pins that mean something to you, but then you discover that two of those nice pins are part of a five pin set. Well now you just have to get them all. BAM! 50 pins later and suddenly you have multiple sets and lots of specialty pins you never would have gotten before.

2. All cast members wearing a black lanyard with Disney pins are able to trade with any guest.

3. Cast members wearing green lanyards only trade with children. I don't agree with this, because there is nothing worse than seeing that one pin you've been looking for for ages and then finding out that because you're an adult you can't have it. It can really dampen your vacation. I know it's happened to me a few times. : (
Now there have been rumours that this rule was going to change, and it may already have since I left Florida in August.

4. You can only trade 2 pins with cast members at a time. Pretty much every cast member follows this rule, but there are no specifics about trading again with a cast member later in the day.

5. Hidden Mickey pins are cast member exclusive pins. Basically these pins can't be bought in stores, you can only get them by trading with a cast member. Are they more valuable? Not really, but some pin traders enjoy collecting the different sets. In my opinion the really valuable pins are the ones that were released in the early 2000s and aren't made anymore because the molds have been destroyed.

6. There are fake pins floating everywhere at Walt Disney World. Probably at Disney Land as well, but I've never been there before, so I can't confirm it. These pins are cheap knock-offs that use old or incorrect molds, low-quality paint, and different kinds of metals. The pins you buy in Disney stores are real, but some sellers on eBay will sell bags of pins and most often a lot of those pins are fake. Sometimes there will be fake pins on cast member lanyards, so if you want to trade with a cast member, ask to take a closer look at the pin first. There are a few ways to check and see if the pins you have or are trading for are fake (I'll make a post about that soon), but one quick way to see is to look at the back and examine the design in the metal. Scroll down to the bottom to see pictures of fake vs. real pins.

7. Pins are expensive. They're usually $8-$12 for individual specialty pins, and $30 for a 7 pin set. Lanyards also cost $10-$15. I used my 20% cast member discount a lot on pins this summer.

8. When you trade pins with a cast member, keep your pin back! I recommend the small metals ones instead of using the black rubber pin backs that come with Disney pins and that cast members have.

9. Cast members have to trade their pins with you. This summer I ran into a few guests who complained to me about cast members not trading pins off of their cast lanyards. One reason was because the guest was trying to trade a fake pin. The guest explained that she had gotten the pin from another cast member, so how could it be fake? It didn't matter, the cast member wouldn't trade with them.
If this happens to you, talk to another cast member in the store and ask for a manager.
Another story a guest once told me was when a cast member traded a pin with another guest, and then immediately put that pin into their own pocket. When the guest asked to trade for the pin, the cast member said no because they were saving it for someone else.
Now it is common for cast members to trade pins between each other backstage for fun (as a cast member who had a lot of fun talking to guests about pins and trading with them, I always traded with my friends for their best pins if I knew they had no interest in pin trading). It is also common for cast members to use their lanyards to trade pins from their own collection. I'm not sure if there was a rule against this (if there is it isn't really enforced) but it is looked down upon. My understanding this summer was, it is fine as long as the cast member is trading with pins they bought instead of just taking the pins from their lanyard, but they shouldn't be doing that on stage in front of guests, and they definitely should not refuse to trade a pin with a guest.

10. Beware the mystery pins. Mystery pins are pins on a cast member's lanyard that they have put on backwards so that the face of the pin is hidden. Cast members like myself who understand how special pin trading is to some guests will take any really special pins we come across while trading during the day and will turn them into mystery pins. Other cast members will use it as a way to get rid of fake or unpopular pins they don't really like.

Above you can see three different pins. One is fake. Can you tell which it is?

It's the first pin of Eva from the movie WALL-E. The paint doesn't have a gloss coat of paint like the Epcot pin below it, and when you look at the back the 'Mickey head' design has a border around the edge. This design should go right to the very edge without getting cut off before, just like in the circular Epcot pin. 

The last pin is one of my favourites. It is real, but doesn't have the Mickey head design on the back.

That is because the pin was first released in 2002, before Disney created the Mickey head design. Even though this pin is still sold in stores today, it still looks the same because Disney probably still uses the same molds they did years ago. 
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

10 Dos and Don'ts for Walt Disney World


1. Don't go to any of the theme parks during the months of June, July, or August. It's Walt Disney World's peak season, and not in the way fruit and vegetables have a peak season and you buy as many as you can and put all the left overs into the freezer to enjoy the rest of the year. No, Disney's peak season is nothing like that. It's HOT, it rains every day (sometimes so hard, the rain rips bark off of trees), the parks are over crowded with kids on summer break and tour groups from all over the world, and the lines are way too long. Just avoid all the parks during those months.

2. Don't go to Blizzard Beach. Go to Typhoon Lagoon instead. Other than the slide Summit Plummet, Blizzard Beach doesn't really have any good water slides. Typhoon Lagoon however, has three great slides and a lazy river that is longer than the one at Blizzard Beach.

3. Don't waste your time waiting around for a parade to start at The Magic Kingdom. Instead, go have a meal at Columbia Harbour House and watch it from the second floor of the restaurant.

4. Don't be mean to the cast members. Please. They're nice people and work very hard for not a lot of money.

5. Don't watch all the fireworks shows, pick one and enjoy the other four hours of your vacation spent going on rides with no lines. I recommend Illuminations at Epcot.

6. Don't buy the Photopass Plus. Any cast member would be more than happy to take a picture with your camera for you. Do buy the Attractions Plus card though if you are in a group of 5 or more, are above the age of 20, and are staying for 5 days or more. The price (49.95) is a really good deal for the amount of ride photos you'll get during your vacation.

7. Don't assume there's a monorail for all the parks or all the resorts. One day when I was at the Polynesian Resort I ran into a family from Australia who were looking for the resort's monorail station. I asked them where they were going and when they said they Animal Kingdom, I informed them there was no monorail that went to the Animal Kingdom, so they would need to take a bus instead. They said no, they'd rather take the monorail to Animal Kingdom. I told them again that Animal Kingdom had no monorail and that I was a cast member. They still didn't believe me. I pointed them in the direction of the bus stops. I assume they weren't happy when they found out what I had done, but at least they didn't end up wasting half of their day figuring out that only Epcot and The Magic Kingdom have monorail stations. 

8. Don't go to a park the day you fly into Florida. It is such a waste to go to the parks when you're only at half battery. Instead spend that day in Downtown Disney or at Typhoon Lagoon soaking up the sun, getting your souvenir shopping out of the way, and eating at some great restaurants. 

9. Don't eat at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre Restaurant at Hollywood Studios. It's not as cool as it sounds and they play the same five-minute clip over and over again during your meal.

10. Don't go to a park alone. I went to all of the parks so many times this summer and my happiest memories are of going on rides with my friends and seeing the different sights with my mom when she came to visit (even after I had seen them everyday for a month already). I did go alone a few times and those days were nice and peaceful, but I would often find myself wishing I had someone with me to share in the experience. 

1. Do eat at the Rainforest Cafe at Animal Kingdom. It's one of the 20 places in Walt Disney World where you can get a really really good meal.

2. Do use the single rider lines at Rockin' Roller Coaster and Test Track. They will cut your wait time in half. But please don't use those lines if you have kids under the age of 12 because the cast members will separate you from your children. It's a single rider line.

3. Do the character drawing class at Hollywood Studios. It's a lot of fun and you'll be left with an impressive souvenir to show off to your friends when you go home. Plus it's free and you can keep going as many times as you want. That's right, every half-hour drawing lesson teaches you how to draw a different character. Also, bring your own eraser because they won't give one to you, no matter how much you beg.

4. Do purchase the dining plan. It's a good deal and from my own experience it gives you more food than you can eat on your own.

5. Do stay in Walt Disney World for at least a week. There is so much to do, and after spending almost three months working at Walt Disney World, I still have a long list of things I never got to do. Rides I skipped because the lines were too long, restaurants I didn't eat at because there was a waiting list, live performances and parades I missed because I didn't know about them. On the top of my list of things to do when I get back is participate in the wilderness explorers challenge at Animal Kingdom.  

6. Do buy a pillow plush. Just do it. They are so soft and fluffy and you will love your pillow plush forever. I love my Pluto pillow plush so much. : )

7. Do go on the Living With the Land ride at Epcot. It never has a wait time and it's a really neat ride where you get to see the green house where Disney grows the fruit and vegetables for the Garden Grill restaurant. 

8. Do go on the Kilimanjaro Safaris ride at Animal Kingdom, and make sure to go early, between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. That's when the animals are the most active. Now you wouldn't think that riding in a safari truck and taking pictures of animals would be a lot of fun, but it really is. Maybe it's because you get to see the animals so close, maybe it's the mildly funny script the cast members repeat for every ride, or maybe it's the chance to sit down and enjoy the sights after so much running around the parks. 

9. Do pin trade. It's so much fun, and a little addictive, but most of all it's a way to get to know people in the park and potentially hear some really interesting stories from cast members.

10. Do visit all the parks. Sure Animal Kingdom closes early, and yes Hollywood Studios doesn't have a lot of rides, but each park has some amazing sights to see that are unique to those parks. The biggest example of this are the shows. At Animal Kingdom you can watch the Lion King acrobatic musical performance and Finding Nemo the Musical, and at Hollywood Studios you can see the Indiana Jones show and even participate in the American Idol experience show. 

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Music all Around


There are a lot of things that Disney does really well. Keeping things clean, transporting their guests, making magic, all those things.

But one thing Disney does so well it's almost annoying, is theming. Everything from the costumes the cast members wear (more on those later) to the small and seemingly insignificant props that make all the difference. The design and look of each Disney location makes you feel as though you've stepped into another world and any thoughts of the 'real world' vanish. 

Disney themes all of their locations including resorts, restaurants, and even their washrooms. But if you want to see some impressive theming, go to one of the parks at Walt Disney World. 

There are no clocks in any of the parks, there are no TVs or any other technology that show footage of outside the park. Go to a park and try to catch a glimpse of the outside. It's nearly impossible. You sort of can on Test Track during the outside portion of the ride, but it's hard to get a good look when you're going so fast.

Today I want to talk about the background music that is constantly playing in the background no matter where you go in the parks. If you walk into Adventureland, you'll hear jungle sounds and music from Pirates of the Caribbean, if you go into Fantasyland, you'll hear music from Beauty and The Beast and The Little Mermaid, if you walk down Main St. you'll hear music from Up, if you walk into Liberty Square, you'll hear...music from the Hall of Presidents? Or maybe it's music from The Haunted Mansion, which would be so cool. I don't know because I rarely went to Liberty Square.

In Tomorrowland, they play 'digitized' versions of songs from The Carousel of Progress and Toy Story. You'd think months of listening to the same songs for hours would make someone hate them, but I loved hearing those songs. Sometimes I would play in The Magic Kingdom on my days off, and as soon as I walked across the bridge towards Space Mountain into Tomorrowland, hearing that music made me feel like I was coming home.

Sometimes after the park had closed I would be assigned to collect all the abandoned strollers that had been rented in the morning. That was the best time to listen to the music in the land. As I would walk around the land looking for strollers to pick up, it was almost eerie seeing the park as empty as it was and only hearing the background music, with no sounds of people laughing or talking. The only thing you can hear at 2 a.m. when the park is closed is the sound of the guy power spraying the ground, and the background music. It's a truly beautiful thing that only cast members get to experience.

Below is my favourite song that I listened to constantly while working in Tomorrowland. I have it on my iPhone now and listen to it every once in a while on the bus. 


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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The 'Build Your Own Lightsaber' Station


That's right, you can build your own lightsaber in Walt Disney World. Actually, you can do it in three places in Disney World. In Hollywood Studios after the 'Star Tours: The Adventure Continues' ride in the Star Wars shop, in Mickey Star Traders in The Magic Kingdom, and in the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney.

The station in Mickey Star Traders was always in tip top shape. I made sure of that. I really really loved the build your own lightsaber station. When a cast member is assigned to the lightsaber station they get to wear a jedi robe, the R2D2 Mickey ear hats, and they get to build lightsabers and then play with them!

Interesting fact, while I was working at The Magic Kingdom this summer, lightsabers generated the largest profit of all the products in the store.

To make your own lightsaber, all you have to do is follow the steps that are posted on the wall. Most guests don't know there are steps on the wall, most guests don't understand the steps posted on the wall after you've pointed them out, and most guests don't want help building the lightsaber they don't know how to put together, but that's okay. Somehow lots of lightsabers get sold.

In fact, there were even some days when we couldn't sell anymore lightsabers because we ran out of the handles. The handles make the light in the lightsaber shine. : )

So if you ever find yourself at a 'build your own lightsaber' station in Walt Disney World, I hope you will remember to read the step-by-step instructions posted on the wall, and I hope there will be handles there for you to build the lightsaber, because they're pretty popular and there's no guarantee there will be.
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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Reasons Why I Love Epcot, Part 2

China at Epcot's World Showcase 

Last week I did a post on why Epcot is my favourite theme park at Walt Disney World.  Because there are so many things that I love about the park, I just had to make a second post about it.

Today I'm going to talk about my favourite pavilions in Epcot: China, Japan, and France.

There are 11 countries in Epcot's World Showcase, and yes, Canada is one of them! Canada is a nice place to walk around and the waterfall they have is beautiful. But I'm all about the food and I've never eaten in 'Canada'. I'd like to, but the sit-down restaurant, Le Cellier, has a three month long waiting list and there's no quick service place to eat (not even a small poutinerie). : (

China, Japan, and France however, have some of my favourite things to eat. A lot of the countries have menus that are meat-heavy, like Morocco and Norway. When I go to a place like France, which is all about the pastries, or China and Japan, which have lot's of meat-free options, I don't feel so bad about being a vegetarian.

Plus the food at these three countries is delicious! Here are my three favourite dishes from each place.

France:
Cheese quiche
Chocolate mousse
Macarons (photo below)

Japan:
Vegetable curry udon noodles (photo below)
Japanese curry rice (I really like Japanese curry, can you tell?)
Okonomiyaki 

China:
Vegetable stir-fry with rice
Egg-rolls
Caramel-ginger ice cream

I'd also like to mention that the cheese empanadas at Mexico are also really, really good. 

France at Epcot's World Showcase 

Japan at Epcot's World Showcase 
French macarons from the pastry shop

Japanese Curry Udon at the Yakitori House 
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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Reasons Why I Love Epcot, Part 1


Of all the theme parks at Walt Disney World, Epcot is my favourite.

Before I start gushing over how much I love the park, let me start by mentioning what Epcot stands for: Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. The park is very tech savvy and has undergone a lot of recent changes to be more environmentally friendly. Even some of the rides have been updated to include the latest technology and look more futuristic.

The park doesn't have a lot of rides, but it does have some of the coolest games you can play at Walt Disney World. After Test Track, Spaceship Earth, and Mission Space, families can play a bunch of games related to the rides. There's even one game where giant groups of people face off in a race around the planets, and everyone has to work together to make sure the rocket has enough fuel and is not damaged.

When I was in Traditions at the Magic Kingdom, the instructor described Tomorrowland as a representation of the future that never was or will be. The robots scattered throughout the land, the ride designs, and even the theme music playing in the background, all represent 50-year-old ideas of what the future would be like.

Epcot does a much better job than Tomorrowland and is focused on current modern and prospective ideas.

One example is the digital sign that shows all the wait times for the rides in the park. It's updated every few minutes and even shows when a ride has been temporarily shut down due to weather or mechanical problems. It's a lot more convenient than the system at other parks where the wait times are just posted outside the individual rides.

Another example is the idea of iPads coming in to replace registers. When I left at the end of the summer the announcement was still fairly new, but I think that by the time I visit the park again next year they might be finishing the beta testing.


Now I like the technology, and the games, but what I really love most at Epcot is the atmosphere. There's something about walking on the sidewalks in the park that feels so relaxed and unhurried. The layout is really nice, with little paths in the grass leading from one ride to the next. And unlike the Magic Kingdom, the park doesn't feel like it's over flowing with kids and strollers. 

While almost all the rides at Epcot are appropriate for kids - even the super fast Test Track and the 'thrilling'* Mission Space - Epcot just isn't a huge 'must see' for some families, and I'm fine with that. : )

*Just a side note, I say 'thrilling' because to me Mission Space is boring, but other people can't handle the super fast spinning mixed with the graphics on the screen. This summer I convinced my mom to go on the ride and afterwards she said, "Oh yeah, Grandma could definitely do that."

There are many more things I love about this park, so look forward to a second part.


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Friday, September 6, 2013

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Game



One of the coolest things at the Magic Kingdom is the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game, and nobody knows about it!

Even I didn't know about it. I had been working at the Magic Kingdom for over two months before somebody explained it to me, and then I was hooked.

I love to collect things, and Disney World is a collector's paradise. There are pins, buttons, paper fast-passes (which will soon be gone once they finish testing the Magic Bands), and now the Sorcerer Mickey Cards.

One pack of five cards is included with your park ticket, and after that you can buy more card packs in a store on Main Street. The way the game works is you use your magic cards to battle different villains around the park. You also get a map that shows you where all the portals in the park are located. None of them are in Tomorrowland. Maybe that's why it took so long for me to find out about the game. 






The game is a lot of fun. The basic plot line is, Hades, god of the underworld, wants to rule the Magic Kingdom since Zeus stopped him from taking over and earth. Hades begins recruiting other evil villains like Cruella Devil, Ursula, Maleficent, etc. Each villain tries to do something evil to help Hades, but you must find them and use the power in your cards to stop them.

I played the game a lot after I found out about it, but I wasn't able to complete all the quests. I feel as though the game is perfect for those with annual passes who go to the park a lot and might enjoy a fun game to keep playing whenever they go to the Magic Kingdom.

Below is a clip of the introduction video. Merlin explains the story of Hades coming to the Magic Kingdom, and then teaches players how to use their spell cards to defeat different villains.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Let the Memories Begin

Photo credit: Natasha Woloschuk
Well it's been a while.

After almost three months of working in Walt Disney World this summer, and then another trip to visit my family in Ontario immediately after I returned to Canada, I'm finally back to writing for my school blog.

Last year this blog was a requirement for my Public Relations class, and this year it's still a requirement since I am majoring in PR. Woo! So get ready for some really interesting blog posts this year, because I'll be putting one up every week.

This summer it was really hard to tell people about my job at Disney because it was difficult to get past the 12 hour shifts, the homesickness, the torrential rain storms that took place every afternoon between three and four, the crazy room-mate I came home to every night after work, and the not-so-glamourous wages I was working for. But now that I am back home and have returned to eating regularly, and sleeping regularly, and talking regularly, I've had a chance to look back and miss the things I really loved while I was down in Florida.

This Monday was our first day of classes and all week I've been promising my class mates and instructors I would blog about my experience, so that's what I'm going to do.

So why not start this year's blog posts with a super cool topic?

'No strings', or as I like to call them, Freebies!

Most people working in custodial in the parks can give away stickers and pins off their lanyards (more about pins to come), everyone in merchandise can give those away too, as well as the occasional toy off the shelf, but for some folks in merchandise like me who are lucky enough to work in a store that sells photos after a ride, we get to also give away 'test' print outs whenever we feel it is necessary. : )

Now there are eight rides in all of Walt Disney World that take pictures; The Rockin' Roller Coaster and the Hollywood Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios; Test Track in Epcot; Expedition Everest and Dinosaur in Animal Kingdom; and Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, and Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin in the Magic Kingdom.

Because I worked in Tomorrowland in both the Space Mountain shop and Buzz shop, I feel as though I had the most opportunities to hand out test prints. I would almost always print them out at the end of the night. When it's almost 1 a.m. and the park's going to close soon, families are exhausted after a fun day in the park, and they're sad about saying goodbye to the happiest place on earth.

I can't count how many times I received hugs from guests who were leaving on a plane the next morning and appreciated the 5x7 photo I had given them as their last magical moment during their trip.

Moments like those always made the next two hours of cleaning the registers, stocking the shelves, and counting the inventory a little bit easier.

But more than giving printed pictures to families, I loved giving games in the arcade. You see, within the Space Mountain store is an arcade, and at one of the registers we had a special key that could open most of the games. We weren't allowed to open any prize games, but we could open all the racing games, the basketball hoop machines, and even the pin ball machines. Whenever a guest asked me to return their quarters after a game had ungraciously taken theirs, I would always offer them a few games at a different machine courtesy of Mickey. After I had successfully wowed a guest and saved the register from losing a few quarters, I would then move on to the next machines in the row and ask the surrounding kids to try playing them to “help me test them to see if they work”. Sometimes I would play with them. : )

When I started working at the Magic Kingdom, one fellow cast member told me that the more fun I was having at work, the more fun the guests would have. That wasn't always the case this summer because sometimes your smile just isn't big enough to make an angry person happy, no matter how wide you stretch it.

But it was true most of the time.  

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Farewell to First-Year

First semester, section #3 class. Section #3 for life!
Yesterday was my last day of classes for this school year, so naturally today I'm sick.

Isn't that always the case? You work and work until all your work is done, and as soon as the adrenaline stops pumping, the sickness you've been suppressing all these months finally takes over your entire system and knocks you out. Well, since I'm at home and tied to my living room couch, I thought I would share a few words of goodbye to all the amazing people I met this year.

I'm so happy to have made it into the Creative Communications program. The instructors are so knowledgeable and honest, and I feel as though they really care about their students and want to see them become the best in the business.

And I'm even happier to have met my classmates. We've gone through so much together during these past eight months and we've gotten so close, I consider you all part of my family. I know we'll all be going our separate ways this summer for our jobs and internships, but I can't help wishing we could stay together. Just know that I'll be very sad to say goodbye to you guys when I leave for Walt Disney World in a few weeks. Very, very sad. : )

I can't wait to see you all again at the end of August, and I especially can't wait to see all the new first-year students. Wow, there's a part of me that still can't believe that I'm done my first-year. Oh gosh, it's going to be even harder next year, I can just feel it.

Best of luck in your summer adventures CreComm family!

Second semester, section #2. You guys were great too! : D
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Monday, April 15, 2013

What's the Buzz on BzzAgent?


Today in PR class we had an interesting discussion about the idea of 'word of mouth'. Is is possible to measure such a thing? How could an advertiser encourage it? Could it be controlled?

My instructor introduced the class to an interesting website called BzzAgent.com. This relatively new website wants to reward people for spreading the word of various products, and I think it's cool.

So how does BzzAgent work? Well I just signed up, so I can't say I'm an expert, but the basics of the program seem fairly simple. After filling out a few surveys about my hobbies and products I already like, future 'campaigns' featuring products I may be interested in may ask me to become a BzzAgent for them.

After that, the company will send me some samples of their products and a brief instruction manual on how to use the products, some of the product's benefits, and even a few ways to bring the product up in a conversation. That last little bit of the process might seem a little fishy to some, but I don't think it sounds all that wrong.

People regularly talk about products, TV shows, and restaurants they like or don't like, this program just  puts these products into our hands and gives us the opportunity to talk about them (bad opinions are welcome too) whenever they come up in a conversation.

I know some people will disagree with this program and say that it might corrupt the way we interact with people or that we will become walking, talking human advertisements, but I don't think people would go to those extremes. Receiving some free product samples just isn't a big enough incentive to change the way we interact with other humans.

So here I am now, looking forward to the first campaign I'm asked to become an agent for. Will I receive a food product? Or maybe a bottle of make-up? Or maybe I will get two giant canisters of Nabob coffee in the mail like my instructor received for his first campaign.
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Monday, April 1, 2013

The PR Proposal is DONE!

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Trade Fair to Remember


The long weekend is coming, but before you leave Winnipeg this Thursday to re-open the family cottage, stop by The Roblin Centre and check out the magazine trade fair in the atrium. 

The trade fair is going to be awesome. Why? Because Neat magazine will have their very own booth with contests, prizes, and even a lemon-tasting challenge. You know you don't want to miss something as sweet as that. Or perhaps I should say 'something as sour as that'?

Along with Neat's table will be a slew of other magazine booths including another beverage magazine, Brew. Not interested in beverages? Then maybe you'd like to learn more about Sprout, The Hack, or Audrey magazine?

Even if you aren't interested in magazines at all, just come to see the many beautiful faces at the trade fair. We here at Neat are a very good-looking bunch. Don't believe me? Just look down.


The Magazine Trade Fair
Where: The Roblin Centre (map provided below)
Date: Thursday, March 28
When: Noon-4 p.m.
Why: Because it will be a blast!


View Larger Map
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Monday, March 25, 2013

Why ebooks are awesome


Each student in the Creative Communications program is required to complete an Individual Professional Project (IPP) during their second year in the program. Projects come in many forms. Short documentaries, screenplays, promotional videos, ad campaigns, a series of articles, novellas, cook books, fundraisers, events, and even music videos.

Today I submitted my proposal to write an ebook for my IPP.

Ebooks are new and foreign to a lot of folks. Some people I've talk to still believe ebooks are only read on devices specifically made for electronic books. But the truth is ebooks can be read on almost any device today. From Kobo readers to iPhones, as long as it has a screen, it can display the pages of an ebook.

Along with easy accessibility, there are a lot of benefits to ebooks.

They're often cheaper than their print versions. I first discovered how different the costs can be when I was required to buy A Thousand Farewells for my journalism class. To buy the print version was $35, but to buy the ebook version was only $16. That's a huge difference in price.

They can be updated, expanded, or even redesigned. If the author of an ebook discovers a spelling mistake or any other error in their book, they can go back and make a correction. People who have already purchased the ebook before the correction was made will have their ebook updated to the correct version (at no extra cost).

Ebooks make it easier for authors to self publish their work, and give authors complete control of the ebook's content. No more rejection letters and no more altering the story to make the publisher happy. On top of that, authors can set the price they want to sell their book at. If they want to sell their ebook for $1.99 or $9.99, they can, and if after a while they want to change their mind and alter the price, they can.

There are so many more pros to ebooks, like being able to give small samples of the ebook to potential buyers, and never having to worry about the ebook store taking the ebook off the shelf because of 'limited space', but there are a few cons to self-publishing an ebook.

Having a book traditionally published from a publishing company means the book will get edited and looked over for mistakes by professional editors. The book will also have the name of the company backing it and providing support. There are some other benefits, but I don't know a lot about traditional publishing.

What I do know is I want to write an ebook.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ice Cutting at Selkirk, Manitoba


Head on over to Selkirk, Manitoba for your next vacation. They've got Ice Cutting, the Keenora boat, and the Happy Thought School. Come on, who wouldn't want to go to a place filled with happy thoughts?

So last Tuesday I traveled with four other classmates to Selkirk, Manitoba for a journalism assignment, and boy was I excited. I LOVE road trips! Listening to music, playing eye-spy games in the car, eating snacks you've picked up at the gas station during your bathroom break. Road trips are almost as fun as airplane trips.

But Selkirk is only 30 minutes away from Winnipeg. What!?

Why? Why did this happen? We barely got through four songs on my playlist and we were already rolling into the city. Why didn't anyone tell me Selkirk was so close? Why didn't we go somewhere farther, like Brandon?

Needless to say, I was disappointed in the travel part of the "travel assignment." But once we got to the city, my amazing tour guides (Kieran and Alicia) showed me all there was to see in Selkirk. I want to thank them for their 15 minutes of hard work.

After romping around town for a while, taking pretty pictures and hassling some folks from the neighbourhood with our hard-hitting journalism questions, we drove over to Kieran's old home and ate a delicious lunch made by his mom.

Hi Kieran's mom! Your vegetarian chilli was great!

After lunch we each went our separate ways to work on our assignment for an hour. We got together and decided that before we left the city we would eat at one of Selkirk's restaurants. Then we headed home.

During the trip back we all took turns talking about the stories we had discovered, the difficulties we had faced when asking people questions, and just how much we love Selkirk now.

Go journalism assignments!



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