A Few Months Later…

Okay, I definitely, 100% did not keep anyone updated throughout my adventures at Disney.  I know.  I’m terrible.  I was stretched so incredibly thin I got an average of 4-5 hours of sleep a night (and my schedule was an enviable one; I didn’t have nearly as many hours as some of my coworkers) and I was also constantly terrified of being fired for something I’d say on this blog.  It was so easy to get termed at Disney.  I knew people that had gotten termed for less than a disgruntled blog post.

Yeah, at the time I didn’t have a lot of nice things to say about Disney.

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I had an awful cold here and was dying from working through the holiday season, but at least I got a cute pic.

 

I think my main issue with the Disney College Program (though there were plenty) didn’t come from Disney at all – it came from requirements put in place by my university.  In order to get the internship credit offered by my college (and, if I didn’t complete the internship I would lose my scholarship) I had to complete 540 total work hours, take and pass a collegiate course offered by Disney, and take one additional online class offered through my university.

This was too much.  Oh my god, it was too much.

If you do the program, make sure that’s your main focus.  My peers were having fun going to clubs, exploring the state, and taking advantage of our free access to all Disney Parks while I was stressing about homework and dragging my tired ass out of bed at 6 am in order to make it to my morning class.

I took the Creativity and Innovation class that was offered by Disney, and in my opinion?  It wasn’t worth it.  I felt like I didn’t learn very much and I nearly failed due to attendance absences because I ditched class so often.

Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe?  I hated this work location.  The leaders there were angels, and most of my coworkers were also angels, but I just despised the incredibly repetitive tasks that I would be assigned to for hours.  Once I bussed tables for 6 hours before finally (mercifully) getting my break.  You could be in charge of changing trash cans for a whole day.  That’s it.  Just trash.  You’d wheel around your trash cart, stopping at all your assigned trash cans, change the ones that were full, and repeat this process for hours and hours and hours.  My coworkers were the ones who made it bearable.  I love them all to death and I’m still in contact with quite a few.

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The Pecos crew in our iconic Christmas uniforms, taken after hours in the iconic Pecos lobby.

I also worked in the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, and I liked this location much more.  The work was hard and hot, but I felt like the time went by more quickly and I made a lot of friends through the festival that I was sad to leave when it ended and we all returned to our original work locations.  There’s a reason they call it Tragic Kingdom.  The smell of the tunnels underneath the park will haunt me for a very long time.

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One of the only pictures I have in the hideous but functional Epcot flag shirt, taken backstage in the Epcot cafeteria.

My roommates also ended up becoming a huge reason why I was able to do so well in this program.  I became very close with my french roommates and I’m currently planning to visit them in France.  Who would’ve thought, right?  Disney will definitely introduce you to incredible people from all walks of life.

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My roommates and me in the Chatham stairwell before a night of clubbing in downtown Orlando.

In short, I struggled with the Disney College Program, but now that I’m gone I do miss the constant excitement that the Disney culture provided.  I’d recommend the DCP if you don’t have to worry about any classes in addition to work and if you’re looking to push yourself to your limit, both mentally and physically.  You will cry, and you’ll probably cry a lot, and it’s likely that you’ll cry in front of guests.  So just make sure you have tissues.  I’ll probably work for the Mouse again after I graduate, and tissues will be my first purchase in Orlando.

You might be wondering why I decided to resurrect this blog 10 months after abandoning it.  Well, I’m going to be studying abroad in Spain this fall, and one of the requirements of a scholarship I was able to get is to keep a blog.  So, this time you can rest assured that I won’t drop off the face of the planet and you’ll be able to read tons of new super interesting, not-garbage posts created by yours truly.

Thanks for stopping by,

V

Week One

I’m here! Actually, I’ve been here for a week, but everything’s been super overwhelming and I haven’t had a spare moment to give y’all an update.  Boy, Disney’s pretty crazy.  But crazy in the best possible way, of course!

I moved into my apartment last Monday.  The check in process was quick and easy, which was nice, but (unfortunately) I was placed in a two bedroom apartment with five roommates.  This means three people to a room.  I’d done my very best to avoid this scenario.  When signing up for housing, you listed all your different housing options from most desired to least desired.  I put every combination of two people to a room, regardless of the housing complex they were located in, at the top of my list.

From what I can surmise, the reason I got stuck with one of my last choices for housing is because I wasn’t that picky.  Ironic, right?  I was fine with random roommates since I thought that might give me a better chance of getting the housing unit I wanted.  But, everyone I talked to who found people they wanted to room with in advance got nicer housing.

What I didn’t know was that some of the housing units here have people checking out and checking in at different points in the year.  Not everyone moves into their apartments at the same time.

So, when I walked into a decidedly lived in place (located in Chatham Square, which is actually pronounced “Chattam”), I was confused.  There were bags of food all over the couch and the dining room tables and the counters, dirty dishes in the sink, laptops and books on the coffee table…  Did I have the wrong room number?

But no, there was a sign on one of the doors that said “Welcome!”  Inside was one empty bed.  The top bunk, of course.  No one ever wants the top bunk.

As it turned out, all my roommates are ICPs, or international students in the Disney College Program.  I think this is awesome.  There are two girls from Africa, one from Italy, one from France, and one from Norway.  A girl moved out of their place and since I was alone, I simply took her spot.

While I enjoy hearing about my roommates’ cultures and they are all super nice, I kind of wish I had the experience of moving into an apartment with a bunch of other newbies.  All my roomies already have their own lives, their own groups of friends, they’ve already been working for a while, etc.  (I think it’s kind of funny that most of the ICPs work at Epcot in their respective country.)  I can’t really hang out with any of them, so I had to go out of my way to meet new people.

This was fine with me.  I was up to the challenge!  I came to Disney to get out of my comfort zone, after all.

This brings me to another problem: because the CPs in my apartment have come and gone on a rotating basis, I don’t know the last time this place has had a good, deep clean.  If everyone moves out all at once, the tenants have to scrub the whole apartment from top to bottom in order to get it ready for the next batch of CPs.  That’s not the case, at least not where I’m staying.

Remember how I said I arrived to find a ton of food strewn everywhere?  That was because our place has roaches and the girls had to move their food out of the cabinets so the bug guy could come spray.

Ew.

I haven’t eaten in a week.  I refuse to go near the kitchen.  Once I walked over to put my dirty coffee mug in the sink, and a roach was scuttling over the dishes.

Granted, this is partially our fault.  Before I got here there was a ton of dirty dishes in the sink and multiple bags of trash.  I got the place back in order, though, and hopefully if we’re all a little bit cleaner the bugs will find another apartment to terrorize.

I was complaining about this to some people at the bus stop and another girl chimed in.

“Oh, yeah, when my roommates and I moved into our apartment in Patterson, we decided to clean it.  We tried moving the fridge to sweep underneath it, and hundreds of cockroaches scuttled out.  The exterminator came to spray, and immediately he went right back to the front desk and declared our apartment unlivable.  We had to move buildings, and Disney had to pay for us to wash our laundry because the roaches lay eggs in everything.”

Now, keep in mind that this is just a story I heard and I have no idea if it’s true or not.  I’m not trying to defame Disney’s good name.  And most of the other places I’ve seen have been pretty nice.  I guess I just got the short end of the stick this time.

I do think it’s kind of ridiculous how much rent is.  It’s about $100 a week for me, which means between the six of us we pay $600 a week.  That comes out to $2400 a month for a roach-infested two bedroom apartment.  Orlando is expensive, but not that expensive.

Other than my housing arrangements, I love it here so far.  The people are nice and friendly, I get free access to all the parks (and I’ve visited almost all of them so far, except for the water parks), and I’ll be working at Pecos Bill’s Cafe in the Magic Kingdom!  It’s basically a cowboy-themed fast food place in Frontierland.  I know Magic Kingdom is the busiest of all the parks, but I’m glad that I’ll be in the center of the action.  Plus, you get a tiny bit of a raise if you work in MK.

Today I had my first day of training, which was basically eight hours of safety videos, food prep instructionals, and lectures on Disney’s core values.  Nothing too bad (I was thankful just to be in the air conditioning) but it was very difficult not to fall asleep.

I’m champing at the bit to get out there and actually start work.  I’ve heard mixed reviews about the program from my fellow CPs (last night on the bus, there were two guys from custodial who didn’t have a single nice thing to say about Magic Kingdom), but I’m still confident that I’ll enjoy it.  I like people, I like interacting with them, and I hope I have lots and lots of chances to brighten someone’s day.

Even in the short time I’ve spent exploring the parks, all the employees are so nice and friendly.  With luck, all the guests will think the same thing about me!

More later,

V

P.S.  Disclaimer:  None of my views in any of these blog posts reflect the views of Disney in any way whatsoever.  (Please don’t fire me, Disney!)

P.P.S.  Three of my roommates know that I’m gay, and they seem fine with it.  I feel really safe being open about my sexuality with Disney, since they’re such a big ally.  I’m lucky to work for an inclusive company!

Tomorrow’s the Day!

Hi guys, I’m coming to you live from Orlando, Florida!  It’s been a week since I touched down in the Sunshine State, but I’m still in the process of adjusting to my new home.

Things are different over here, that’s for sure.  No one has heard of pizookies (tragic, I know), everyone says “highway” instead of “freeway,” and there are tolls everywhere.  It rains almost every day (sometimes more than once a day) which I don’t think I’ll ever get used to.  I can be lounging around by the pool in the blazing sun one minute, and then the next thing I know I’m caught in a torrential downpour.  There are tons of frogs, lizards, and a surprising lack of mosquitoes.  I was fully prepared to douse myself in repellent before going outside, but I haven’t gotten a single bug bite.

Taken from bjsrestaurants.com; oh beloved dessert, how dreadful are the lives of those who’ve never consumed you! 
So far I like it here, though!  Once you make it through the horrendous traffic, there’s no shortage of things to do.  SeaWorld, Universal Studios, and Disney are all around the same area, but there’s more to Orlando than just the big amusement parks.  There’s the beach, of course, as well as a bunch of shopping areas with cool, local cafes and stores.

Personally, I’m most excited for the Halloween nights at Universal Studios, but that doesn’t start until next month.  This year they’re creating American Horror Story themed haunted houses too which is quite possibly the greatest idea in the entire universe.

Taken from insidethemagic.net
I must admit, I’m a little bit homesick, bu not in the way I expected.  I’m homesick for California.  Which doesn’t make any sense at all, because I didn’t live there.  It just feels so far away, and that means there’s no chance of me taking a quick weekend trip over to San Diego.  I’m looking into spending my next semester over in LA on an exchange program.

Taken from pinterest.com
Homesick or not, I’m here for the next four months so I might as well make the best of things.  Which I’ve absolutely been doing!  I already went to Universal Studios, Cocoa Beach, and walked a ferret on a leash.  All while battling humidity that makes it feel like you’re swimming through the air.

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This was the little walkway down to Cocoa Beach, which I thought was prettier than the beach itself, to be honest.

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This is the view from Cocoa Beach Pier.
I had a lot of fun (the beach is my favorite, after all), but Cocoa Beach really made my heart ache for the SoCal beaches that I’m used to.  There were no pretty mountains in the background, dotted all over with big mansions.  No cute little beach shops or street vendors or anything like that, and the weather was hot and humid instead of a little bit chilly.  I couldn’t even smell the salt from the ocean.

It was all very touristy.  You could order fried gator at the pier.  (Which, by the way, was a single, gargantuan restaurant and not a wooden walkway that jutted out over the water like I expected.)  The water was warm, which was nice.

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For a hot minute I got to wander around Universal after it closed and got a nice picture out of it.

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This was the biggest record shop I’d ever been in.  I can’t remember the name, but I think it was in Ivanhoe.

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I know, I’m a nerd, but I was still excited to see the SunTrust building.  Margo and Q break into it in Paper Towns, remember? 

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And finally, please enjoy this picture of ferrets on leashes.
I’ve gotta run guys, still getting everything ready for tomorrow.  I’ll write again once I get settled into my apartment -in Chatham Square!

Much love,

V

P.S  There’s a girl back home I’m kind of hung up on (she definitely doesn’t feel the same way about me, unfortunately), but I downloaded Tinder in an effort to get over her.  Let me tell you, Florida has some super cute girls!

Taken from popsugar.com; This is basically my gay self right now.

P.P.S. As a gay girl, I feel really welcome here. Nearly every establishment I’ve passed has an “#orlandounited” poster in the window, and I’ve seen a ton of people wearing t-shirts that have the same logo. 

Disney Developments

Breaking news!  I’ve officially been able to pre-register for the illustrious Disney Dorms.  I’ve set my sights on Chatham Square because out of all the research I’ve done on housing (believe me, it was quite minimal but I digress…) Chatham seems to be the best for someone who doesn’t own a car.

Let me categorize the information I’ve been able to find:

  1. Vista Way is supposedly a little ghetto, since it’s old, and lots of parties/general debauchery goes down there.  Don’t get me wrong, I love debauchery and whatnot, but I don’t want to get fired.  Disney doesn’t mess around when it comes to misconduct.  It is close to the grocery store, so that’s a plus.

    Vista Way, taken from aujord.me
  2. Patterson Court is the newest of the dorms; it was completed in 2008.  It’s also expensive, and there’s no bus stop (if you don’t have a car, it’s a 45-minute bus ride to get to work every morning).  The nearest one is a fifteen-minute walk over in Chatham Square.

    Patterson Court, taken from hannahsdcp.blogspot.com
  3. Chatham Square is your best bet if you don’t own a car, due to the fact that the bus stop is right outside.  It’s located right across the street from Mickey’s Retreat, which is basically a clubhouse for Disney employees.  There’s all sorts of good stuff there: a pool, all different types of courts (tennis, volleyball, basketball, etc.) picnic area, not to mention it’s located on the edge of Little Lake Bryan!  You can bet I’m going there on my days off.
    Chatham Square, taken from racheldoesdisney.wordpress.com
    The marina at Mickey’s Retreat, taken from flickr.com

    4. And finally, there’s the Commons.  The internet is unusually quiet about this location, and that might be because up until recently it was only open to international students.  It’s the most expensive out of all four complexes -but just barely.  The room with the highest rate in the Commons is only four dollars more per week than the one in Patterson Court.

    The Commons, taken from collinsrace1.wordpress.com

    If you want a little more detailed information on the Disney Dorms, I’d visit here or here.  These were my most helpful sources.

    I’m anxious for them to place me so that I can hopefully get in touch with my roommate(s).  With luck, I’ll be put in a room with only one other person, since that’s what I’m used to and frankly, three seems like it would be a bit cramped.

    Even though a random person isn’t ideal, I’m confident that I’ll be able to get along with almost anyone.  If they party?  Great!  We can hit the town together.  If they like to study, that’s fine too.  We can hit the books together.  I’m pretty good at adapting.

    Much love,

    V

    P.S.  Here’s a poem of mine.  Just thought I might share it.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    “Don’t forget about that day

    You know the one

    The time you smelled like sunscreen, sea water, salt and sand
    The air smelled fading sun
    Your legs are heavy and your chest is full
    You take a deep breath and your ribs expand until it feels like they might crack
    But it’s fine
    You’re not in pain
    Your lungs are simply overloaded with the fragrance of an evening well spent
    You’re not worrying about the rent that’s due or how you need to buy a new pair of running shoes
    You were running today
    Barefoot, on the beach
    Hard, wet earth under your feet
    The waves washing over your toes like the Lord bathing his disciples
    Baptizing you in foamy water
    You can feel the grains of sand in your hair
    It’s stiff and knotted but you can only grin because what the hell were you doing all day long if you’re not a mess when it’s all over
    Scrapes on your palms
    Blisters on your soles
    The gentle rolling motion of the sea still buoying your mind
    You float, suspended
    As your worries are upended
    Swallowed up by the thin sheets of sleep
    Until we meet again, my friend”

P.P.S. I just saw the Ghostbusters reboot and can I just say that I’m definitely a fan?  Jillian Holtzmann is a lesbian goddess and I 100% support the idea of an Erin/Holtzmann romance.

And seriously, who doesn’t love a crop top with overalls?