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


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. 

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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