Thursday, March 31, 2011

A GREAT couple of days!!

Oh my gosh, I don't even know where to really start! My last two days have been amazing! So yesterday was Wednesday (i know, that doesn't make sense since you're reading it now, but to me, yesterday was Wednesday) and I had picked up a 2.75 hour shift at MK, from 9:30am to 12:15pm. I left really early, taking the 8am bus from Vista Way which dropped off at 8:30am, to make sure that I gave myself enough time to get thoroughly lost in the tunnels.  Which I succeeded in doing nicely.  But I only was lost for about 20 minutes before I found my way to the MK DPI base.  The cast members there were super helpful in showing me where to find maps so I'd know where I was going, and letting me know what my camera settings would be.  Despite having the same weather as EPCOT, they have completely different camera settings o.0 so I was a bit lost at first.  At 9:30, I grabbed a cast telecast, which has all the park info on it so we can answer guests questions. (Note to self: Next time, make sure to check that the telecast is in English.  Go high school level Spanish!!) I grabbed an assignment from the computer and saw that I was working Popcorn Stand, which is RIGHT in front of the castle!! Yay!! It turns out that my friend Wes who is also DPI at EPCOT had also picked an MK shift, and he's a full timer and has worked MK before, so he took me through the tunnels and showed me where to go.  As I was relieving Vanessa from the Popcorn station, she says, "so you know what to do with the bands and during the parade, right?"  To which I say, "huh..." Oh man, you should have seen the look on her face when I tell her that it's my first day in the park!! Turns out, I pulled one of the most active locations to start my MK experience with! Disney had invited some high school bands to come through and march down Main Street, and as photopass I was responsible for taking their pictures.  So from 9:30-10 I was a normal DPI member.  At 10, the bands came through, and I had to change all my Metadata in my PDA from Popcorn Cart to Marching Bands. I was responsible for standing in the middle of the road and capturing a picture of the band's banner, then quickly moving to the corner of the road and taking picture after picture of the bands as they marched by me.  There were three bands that I got to do this for and it lasted about 10 minutes. I then switched back over to Popcorn Cart setting and take normal pictures of guests until.... 11am? (I think) when Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It (or as we call it, MiSiCi) started, which is the parade.  I then switch my data to MiSiCi 2, and run across the street where I stand there for the first 10 minutes or so as the parade goes on around me.  At a certain point, the announcer invites everyone into the street to dance with the characters, at which point I become a rover and take pictures of kids and guests dancing with the characters in the street. I have to make sure to scan the correct photo's to the correct cards, and at one point had three different cards going on. I then had to figure out who the children belonged to and pass the photopass card off to the correct parents. I have since talked to my roommate Traci who actually works at MK, and discovered that I made this harder than it should be.  She just follows one family for the event, while I think I did like five, lol.  After the parade I went back to Popcorn Cart settings and finished out my shift. Time just flew by, and I will definitely be looking to pick up more of those shifts!!!

Today I had character training, finally!!! And it was SOOOOO much fun (with the exception of the weather, which has STILL been freaky.)  The rain was pouring, the lightning was flashing, the thunder was booming, and for a few hours we were under a tornado watch! I got soaking wet walking around the park to our different character locations, but once we were with the characters, it was amazing!! There were four of us, and at first we split into groups of two and one pair took turns shooting Marie the Cat, while the other two shot Chip and Dale.  When it rains, they move all the outdoor characters into this long hallway, so try to imagine, if you will, we had C&D by the door, next to Snow White. Then there was Tinker Bell and Terrance next to Marie the Cat (from The Aristocats). It was hysterical when Tink and Terrance came out, as they were totally in character and tried to "sneak by" Marie, so she wouldn't see them and try to catch them (since you know, cats like to catch and eat flying things). So they're walking slowly along the wall all afraid, until Terrance yells, "run for it!!!!" and they ran screeching down the last 15 feet to their spot. It was great.
I did not take this photo, but it's great!
We then had lunch and went to shoot Donald Duck in Mexico. Now, if you've never seen him at this location, he's great!!! He has so much energy and loves to move around and interact with the guests, and I really learned a lot. I hope that I'm placed with Donald a lot this year, even if he is outside (except when it's raining, at which point he goes inside the Mexico pavilion to a little tiny area where it's hard to move around).  After Donald, we headed over to China where we met up with Mulan who was also amazing, and had lots of great tips and suggestions for us! It was so nice to hear her talk with the guests about her friends Mushu and Cricky, the cricket her grandma gave to her as a good luck charm.  She also thanked them for coming all the way to China to visit her, but to look out for the Huns as she had heard that they were in the area.
Now that I'm trained, we'll see where I end up tomorrow! Probably closing down Character Spot (C spot) as that's where most people end up, lol.
Oh man, I just looked at my little counter and I've been here for 52 days already!!! I can not believe that! That's just insane to me, as it doesn't feel like that long.  It's supposed to be sunny tomorrow, so here's hoping for better weather!
Note to self: Buy rain boots.... :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Drip drip drop and the rain is falling...

Hmm.. I've managed to get behind a bit, so this post is going to be a summary and catch up at the same time.  I've gone back and re-read my old posts and there's some weird stuff I want to elaborate on.

First off, we're having some CRAZY weather right now.  This morning at 4:50am a lightening and thunder storm moved through.  How do I know it was at this exact time? Because of the HUGE crash of thunder that had me flying out of bed.  And I'm not even joking about that. It was so loud that literally my arms and legs were flying everywhere as my body flew upwards. The dork that I am (after unplugging my laptop and iphone from the wall) went straight to facebook to post about it, where a bunch of us from Vista and Chatham had a great conversation about how we all almost peed ourselves, lol.  The thunder continued for several hours, and one at like 10am was so loud that it sounded to me like a gun shot.  It has not stopped raining yet today, and I'm going to call in to base to see if they still need me to come in today.  There are only a few EPCOT rain locations so I'm not sure what they'll do with all of us.  We shall see how that goes.  Work has been kind of slow for me.  Don't get me wrong, there are LOTS of people in the parks right now as we're going through spring breaks, but because I"m not character trained, there are only so many positions I can work.  3 at entrance, the view room, 3 at backside and test track.  I won't even list how many character locations there are, let's just say there are more character spots than non character spots.  But after thursday this won't be a problem!! Yay! However, there have been several days where I haven't taken a single picture. :(  The other night at the View was hard because I had a family from India who spoke English with a really thick accent and we spent 45 minutes on 4 pictures.  They were really nice but I felt bad because the line behind them was super long.  I'm usually really good with accents, able to understand them really well, but this one was hard.  They left happy though, and that's all that matters.

Back tracking
So, first off I referenced my car in MANY previous posts, and at this moment I do not have it and so far don't regret it.  It's been almost two months (eek!) and it's okay.  I know several people with cars so we've gone some places. I have taken the bus to Wal-mart, and it wasn't that bad! (just make sure you go on a day when there are 2 buses running, instead of only one.  That way a bus comes every 30 minutes, rather than once an hour.) It IS a challenge to get on the EPCOT bus at night. It can be a crush of humanity to get on, which is stupid, and a few times I have been one of the last ones allowed on and we've left people behind, but there's a bus every 20 minutes or so, so you're not stuck forever.  I do want to still go out to the beach and to the space center, so I'm trying to find a day where I'm off and so is my roommate Traci, who has a car and could perhaps be bribed to go out there. :)

Item Two: So originally before I came down here, I had a set of roommates. Chelsea and her roommate June, Me and my roommate Hillary, and two other girls who I didn't know at all. We had hooked up on the FB page and agreed to room together.  Now if you go back to my post about when I originally arrived, I met up with Tracy, who I kind of knew from the FB page, and we went to Downtown Disney in the taxi-limo.  The next day was the Super Bowl and Hillary and Chelsea flew in.  Hil, Chels, me, Tracy and HER roommate Traci (we call them T2...) all went out to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the game and discovered we REALLY hit it off.  T2 had their own set of roommates (2 other girls) and of course we had ours.  That night we all decided that we would rather all room together, and I will admit that while it was REALLY hard to let the girls know the night before that we were breaking the agreement, it may be the best thing I have ever agreed to.  They are so much fun to hang out with. Tracy is from Chicago while Traci is from El Paso, and we've taken to calling them by their first and middle name to differentiate who we're talking to, lol.  (As a side note, we actually lost June the first day.  She's from China and her government visa hadn't cleared fully in time.  Disney sent her home but she was able to come back two weeks later on the 21st when her work Visa had arrived in the mail. Mary ended up joining us as a room move from Chatham and she's really cool, so we lucked out! :) )

Things I wish I had brought: MORE T-SHIRTS!!!!! Seriously, I do not have enough normal clothes to go out in.  Even if I'm not going to the parks everyday, I hang out with my friends and I hate putting on the same clothes all the time. I've acquired a few Disney shirts (of course!) but seriously! Try to bring at LEAST 10 shirts, lol.
I wish I had brought more shoes.  My feet are tired of the same work shoes, tired of the same tennis shoes, and I don't really have any shoes I want to go out to the clubs in.  Which is another thing. There is a party bus almost every night that picks up outside of Vista Way, but my roommates and I decided that we don't dress..... ahem... in the types of clothes that everyone wears on the bus.  Yes, that's putting it diplomatically.  So if you like going out, bring your best dress clothes because EVERYONE goes on the party bus!! :)
A cork board. Okay, I don't wish I had packed it, but I need one.  Price Management is serious about onlyh putting stuff on cork boards, which is STTUUUUUPPID.  I mean, have you watched the e-presentation? You know that lovely decorated room with the curtains and the stuff on the walls? Yeah, none of that is allowed. No curtains, no posters on the wall. You can't even put a calendar on the wall, which, wait for it.  You are allowed two holes in you wall to hang a cork board, on which everything is to be hung from.  Hillary has a calendar on her wall.  JUST a calendar, and they docked us on our inspection and we didn't get the white glove award.  SO, I can have two holes for a cork board, but i can't have one hole from which a calendar hangs?  No ticky -tack, no push pins, no stickers (which I totally have on my wall, haha!!) no command hooks.  You get a cork board.  So my goal is to now find a GIANT cork board and put all my pins on them, as I have acquired quite a few....

Ahhh! This post is so long! I love to talk, that's probably why I love my job so much. :) 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Work Schdule: 3/27-4/2

3/27 1545-21:45
3/28 1615-2145
3/29 off
3/30 off (although I picked up an MK shift from 0930-1215)
3/31 0900-1730 (Character training!!!!!)
4/1 1615-0015
4/2 1545-2145

Work Schdule: 3/20-3/26

3/21 1545-2145
3/22 off
3/23 off
3/24 1515-2145
3/25 1600-0015
3/26 1515-2145

Friday, March 18, 2011

It's gonna be warm..

(Note, I started this post on the night of St. Patty's Day, and finished it the next day, so there will be different references)
Ugh.. today was a really warm day for me, and it was only 85! What am I going to do when it's like a billion outside with humidity?  lol One thing that I'm really glad about is that they supplied us with a clip on water bottle holder as part of our uniform, and it's really handy.  Today I worked 1500-2145.  From 1500-1730 I was at Entrance 2, or right at the turnstiles when you first enter the park, and it was HOT in the sun, let me tell you.  My entrance partner Jose is really cool so it was fun to hang out with him today, although I have to say that the weather was not leaving people in the bests of moods.  This is probably the first shift where I have seen guests snapping at, well, me, as well as at each other.  Something that is hard right now is that people really want an unobstructed view of the Toy Story topiary's. There are three of them, Buzz, Woody and Lotso (who FINALLY showed up, two weeks later) . However, we are now going into busy season and so it's not always possible to NOT have other people in your shot.  One lady actually got upset and said that she had been waiting for 15 minutes to take a picture and I could wait just one moment.  I had asked my lead's just what I should do in a scenario like this, and they told me that I should just place my people in front of/around them and take my picture.  We shouldn't wait for the perfect shot, because there isn't really going to be a time where there will be no people in your photo (especially if you're on main street!)
Speaking of main street, I really want to pick up a shift there but I'm a little leery of picking up shifts where I don't know where the break rooms are, the base, or even my location.  My leads encourage it, and one even offered to draw me maps, so maybe that will be my challenge for myself.  To make myself branch out and try different locations, especially to see how they run different from EPCOT.
Yesterday was St. Patty's Day and I have to admit that several of us were really dreading this day, lol.  Many people come to EPCOT to drink around the world (something that will run you around $100) and then are REALLY excited to either ride Soarin' or to get their pictures taken.  My Photopass friend and I were comparing stories of people that we've run into (you're my destiny.... giving suggestions and compliments on the photo's your taking even though you can't actually SEE the photo) and so we assumed that yesterday would be even BETTER!!! However I actually had no intoxicated guests at all, and I was at entrance most of the time.  (To be fair, Soarin' did not fair as well, as they had a mini-riot when guests got tired of waiting in the 3 hour standby line.... everything eventually worked out there as well, though...kind of)
Still no character training.  There are apparently 3-4 trainings a month, and I hope I make it in before the end of the month, even though you take like 600 pictures in 5 hours there.  Some people have reported wrist issues from rotating the camera so much, but Base provides us with wrist supports if we ask for them, so I'll tackle that when I get there.  Today I work 1615-0015 and it's supposed to be 85+.  Wish me luck!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

night shots

So a quick update since it's 2:30am and i should realy go to bed.  Going back in time a bit, in the beginning i had all morning shifts, since I only knew how to set my camera for day shots, and also how to work in Test Track.  Test Track started off fun because you got to see everyone's photo's and hear them talk about their ride.  A month later, it's tedious.  I imagine I will be super excited to be placed there when it's stinking hot outside, but until then, it's annoying.  I'm not sure if I touched on why, in an earlier post, so I'll just briefly mention it's because you always have the same issues (im remembering now that I did mention it, so I'll just move on).
Night training came and was really fun.  We were trained in how to work in the Camera Store (called the View) where people come in to look at their photo's, buy photo's, buy CD's and combine multiple cards onto one.  We were also trained on how to find lost photo's, which can be a bit hard.  It's really easy if someone comes in and knows that they had a photo taken with, say, a certain character and they know what time. Other times I get, "Well I was in France around...2 I think? Maybe 3?" So then we go in and look at ALLLL the photo's taken in France during a certain time. Sometimes it's in a 2 hour window, and that's a lot of photo's.  Most of the time I'm just redeeming gift certificate's for free photo's that people get if they have a Disney Visa credit card.
Night shots.  Hmm.... How do I feel about night shots? Night shots are not as creative as the ones you take during the day. We don't zoom in, it's a set shot, and we can't do magic shots. Also, the shutter on the camera is open longer to grab the light in the background (so Spaceship: Earth shows up) so we have to tell people to hold really still, which can be difficult with squirmy children (or intoxicated guests who can't stop swaying, lol). Also, in the dark is when you can have more camera issues if the light sensor doesnt' have enough light to focus on someone. This can happen if everyone is wearing dark colors. The camera doesn't focus and you feel really silly not being able to take people's photos. It's even funnier when I ask them to hold their hand up over their shirt, hoping that the camera will focus on the hand, I hold the shutter button down, then have them put their hand down before taking the picture. Does that make sense? I just need a contrasting color for the camera to work, but if the camera isn't that great, then nothing helps. Today I had a bad PDA so it wouldn't scan the photopass cards, and then after I swapped it out, the camera sensor stopped focusing for like 15 minutes, and would randomly work.  Some people got pictures and some I had to turn away. I know a couple people had out of focus pictures because QA (quality assurance) sent me a message saying so.  At that point I was just glad the camera was taking pictures, but it eventually resolved itself.
I'm only working 31 hours this week which is kind of sad so I'm going to try and extend my shift tomorrow, even just for an hour. Tonight I worked Entrance 3, Entrance 2 and then in the View.  The cp's that arrived in January are being charactere trained next week but not the February cp's. :( Hopefully that comes soon so that I can get a better variety of shifts.
Until then, enjoy this shot of Japan from World Showcase. Having been to Japan (Kyoto, Mt. Fuji, Tokyo and Nikko) I know what a beautiful place it is and am really saddened by what happened. (edit: The earthquake and tsunami happened this day)

45 minutes after this was taken, a HUGE storm came through. Lightening and pouring rain. Oh, Florida...

This is a photo of Kinkakuji Temple in Kyoto, Japan (not world showcase)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It's my birffday!

Huzzah! I got to spend my birthday in EPCOT today. Even though I work there, i love this park! :)

As promised, here are pictures of some of the topiaries around EPCOT:

Friday, March 4, 2011

A rainy day (short update)

So today was a lot of fun, and not for the reasons I' would have expected.  First, I made dinner today before heading off to work, which was both good and bad. The bad was that I TOTALLY almost missed the bus because I thought it came 10 minutes later than it did.  Luckily I looked before it was too late, but still only had 10 minutes to get dressed, grab said dinner and run to the bus. And I mean I sprinted, only to discover that the bus was PACKED. (Note to self: Do not take the 3:09pm bus to Epcot.  Take the earlier bus) Luckily people shifted and made room for me, but I honestly thought the driver was going to ask me to wait, and then I would have been late. The good part was that my dinner was AMAZING!! :) Totally worth it (I made noodles in alfredo sauce with chicken).  Eating that tonight made the panic not so bad.
Another good part was that it's Flower and Garden festival right now, and the topiary's are so cool! We have Toy Story 3 up front, with Cars 2 in the back. Sprinkled throughout the park are other characters such as Belle, the Fab 5 of course, and Winnie the Pooh and Friends on the backside of Spaceship: Earth. Because TS3 is up front, they have changed the entrance music to the TS soundtrack, so that's fun to listen to. We'll see if that joy lasts the whole festival through May. (edit: it did not, lol!)
I closed tonight and we had Extra Magic Hours (EMH) so we were open until midnight. I was supposed to close backside (by myself!) however then the rain came through!!! I had just set up when it began a heavy mist. I covered my camera with the detachable hood from my poncho when people weren't having their pictures taken, which was quite often. It's amazing how people don't want to get wet ;)  However then it really began to rain. I called base and they said to hang out to see if it would stop. I waited about 10 minutes under the overhang, and the rain only got heavier.  The really cool part (that just totally made my night) was that I was standing next to Bambi's Butterfly House (which was installed just for F&G) and what song was currently playing? The "April Showers" song from the movie! It was so cool to stand there in night and watching all the guests run about in the rain, and I couldn't help the big grin on my face. I'll admit it, I waited for the song to finish before calling it quits and heading in.  Base sent me to the camera store (called the View Room) to hang out the rest of my night.  I have more to post about night shifts, but that's for another time. I should have photo's coming soon of the topiary's, but for now, enjoy!