Thursday, March 19, 2015


I talked to a girl named "Peaches" on the phone yesterday.  I said her name out loud and the people around me in the call center started snickering.  It was all I could do to not laugh as well. I'm basically a terrible person.  But really, who names their kid "Peaches!?"\

I was taking out call ins the other day.  Disney has this new rule (started in October so I guess it's not really new anymore) where you have to call in at least thirty minutes prior to your shift or else you get a "No Call No Show" or "NCNS" notation on your record card (basically a nasty red X that looks really bad and stays forever).

Well many cast members decide that it's a great idea to wait until 32 minutes before their shift begins to call in.  Which would be fine, except that sometimes our department gets a backlog of calls and people sit on hold for five minutes before talking to us. And the rule is very specific in that you must be ACTIVELY speaking with a DA, calling in, more than 30 minutes prior.  NOT "you must dial the phone number" thirty minutes prior.

This rule has been cause for much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.  And also lying.  I can see when we have hold times, and honestly, our hold times are almost never very bad.  Two to three minutes at the max generally, if there's even a hold.  I had a guy the other day swear to me that he was on hold for "at least twenty minutes, so this isn't fair at all!"  Right.... okay.

Well my favorite excuse came yesterday.  The cast member called in 24 minutes prior to his shift claiming that, "My uvula was hurting earlier, so I couldn't speak to call in.  But it literally just starting feeling better just five minutes ago so I could finally call in."  Nice try there, buddy.  I told him to take it up with his manager if he wanted to fight it.  That is entirely possible that the manager will have sympathy for his uvula problems. 

And really, who am I to judge?  Maybe his uvula really was causing trouble.  Either way, my hands are tied. The union made me obey the black and white rules that were created, of course, by the union.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Stories of the ER

I know it's been a long time, but with the changes in my life lately, I've felt the desire to crank up this here blog again.  Seriously, my life is awesome.

I got a new job working in the Emergency Room at a local hospital.  I. LOVE. IT.  Now I understand what people mean when they talk about their "niche."  It feels like home.  I love the sounds of the ambulances and monitors, the varieties of people who I get to meet with and talk to, the things that I get to learn every single day, the paces, stresses, calmness, craziness, everything!

I don't love the smells.

Don't get me wrong, I still like Disney and I got to keep my job there too.  It's been a beast keeping up with both and we'll see how that goes long term.

Here's my story:

I work registration, which is basically verifying information, primarily insurance, and then getting signatures of consents to treatment (and a few other legal things).

Last night, I went into a room to verify info with the patient.  He looked confused when I asked if he had a minute, and then mumbled, "No, I don't know..."

It appeared he knew no English so I proceeded to figure out what language he did speak.  It took a few minutes, but I finally figured out that he spoke Spanish.  So I continued, in my broken Spanish, to try and get his info verified.

I asked for his address (in Spanish) and he pulled out his phone and pointed to a text he had received of an address.  It was the only message in the conversation which I thought was weird. 

Then I asked for his phone number and he just shook his head and said no.

I tried to not glare at him as I pointed at his phone and said in Spanish, "Yes, you do know. Your phone is there."  He still wouldn't tell me and finally I just moved on.

Email address?  He also said, "No. No, I don't know."

Annoyed, I proceeded on. 

You have a job? No.  Emergency contact?  He told me a name, and I tried to figure out how to spell it, but he wouldn't spell it for me.  So I just guessed how to spell it, showed him on the screen trying to verify, and when he shook his head yes, I was extremely proud of myself for spelling it correctly the first time! I also wondered if he'd given me a fake name just to get this over with. Then I asked for a phone number and he, again, just showed me a phone number on his phone (but when I tried to look for a name attached to it to further verify I'd spelled it correctly, I couldn't find one).

I was a little annoyed at how difficult he was being.  Most people who "only" speak Spanish at least try a little harder.  But we eventually finished the registration part and proceeded to the signatures.  Just as I pulled up the signature screen on the computer (everything's electronic these days) the nurse walked in.

I asked the man to sign and he just stared at me and said, "No, I don't know...." The same words he'd been telling me the whole time.  I told him, "Yes, you do know. Just sign. It's easy. I just need you to sign."  I had even brought up the consent information in Spanish so he could read and understand exactly what he was signing.  But he just shook his head at me.  "No, I don't know."  He just stared at his feet.

As the nurse came to help me, she explained in Spanish what was needed and he still just said, "No, no, I don't know" and hung his head lower.

Finally, it clicked.  This guy didn't know how to sign his name.  He didn't know how to read and he didn't know how to write.  And he was embarrassed.

As the nurse and I looked at each other, she told me out loud just what I was thinking.  Apparently she'd had a hunch about it from earlier.  She explained to him, in Spanish what was needed, and he came close to tears.  She showed him his name on a piece of paper and asked him to just copy that in the box.

And he did.  I read the consent info out loud to him in Spanish (I didn't even know half of what I was saying, but he seemed to understand me as I read).  Then, letter by letter, he wrote his name possibly for one of the first times in his life.  It was just his first name, and it was just in print, but he wrote it, slowly but surely.  He then smiled and we gave him high fives!  Then he had to do it twice more, and sign his initials.

I felt terrible for being so short with him and telling him he did know.  I've never encountered someone who's illiterate before, nor do I even remember what my life was like before I knew how to read and write because I was so young when I learned.  But not being able to read is his normal.  And I felt so bad for him.

While I like to believe I don't take things for granted and I try to remember to be grateful for things like a family, safe place to live, health, enough money, etc.  I've never thought to be grateful for knowledge or the opportunity for learning.  The ability to read is a gift that I've been given.  And I can't express how much I appreciate that literacy is my normal.

Friday, July 4, 2014


Tonight, I told my Coaster coordinator to please send me a teleportation machine. That way I could teleport myself over to Studios for the fireworks and head right back to work after so no one would miss me!

His answer: "I can't find a teleportation  machine.  But hey, I'll get you a really fast car.  A limo.  In fact, I'll make it a super stretch!  It's out in the alley!"

Well played, sir.  Well played.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dear Angry Guest:

You're not supposed to punch people.  Like ever.  Except maybe in a rare case of serious self defense.  But, if you're a guest and want to get on a ride before that other guest who you don't like, punching people is not the best solution.  In fact, the best solution would be to resign yourself to the fact that you can't always have everything you want as soon as you want it and move on.

But if you're a guest, and you're angry, and you want to ride a ride, don't punch somebody in order to get on the ride first.  Because chances are, the ride operators will be calling police very quickly.  And while you're on the ride, you're at the mercy of the ride operators, who can slow down or even stop the ride in order to prolong your existence in the area to ensure that you will be there when police arrive.

Chances are you'll also be escorted out of the park and lost your magical vacation.  And chances are you'll end up at some official center filling out paperwork instead of having fun with your family.

This is all hypothetical of course.

Moral of the story.  Don't punch people.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

That Awkward Moment...

That awkward moment when you comment on a Disney cast member's costume and ask where it's from because you don't recognize it..... only to find out it came from their personal wardrobe at home.

If anyone needs me I'll be sitting in the corner with my foot in my mouth.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Things NOT To Call My Office About

Yeah, I never finished cruise posts.  I'm just so hurt that my camera's gone...

Here's three funny phone calls I received the other day.

1.  I received a call on my back door line from Ontario.  My direct phone line is reserved for a very few, select coordinators/managers on property and that's it.  No one else should have it, and they should only call it for specific things when they only need to talk to me.  Well, I saw the number was from Ontario, but then I thought, "What the heck, I'll answer it."  Soooo, I did.

"Deployment, this is Dianna."

"Hi, I'm calling about my dietary restrictions?"

"Your.... um... okay..... sorry?"

"I need information about dietary restrictions for a few months from now."

"Are you looking for Disney?"

"Yes."  This woman obviously thinks I'm an idiot.

"Okay.  Are you're a guest?"

"Yes!"  She answered a little flustered.  "We're planning a trip and members of my party have dietary restrictions.  We need information."

I was so completely thrown of I actually started laughing part way through the call.  Fortunately, the woman wasn't upset at all (though I feel like she had all reason to be).  I got her the right number eventually and sent her on her merry way.

2.  Later, I actually was working phones, so it was more understandable that I get random calls.  A woman called me, this time inquiring about her daughters termination status.  "Yes, my daughter already put in her two weeks notice but she's still on the schedule.  We just wanted to be sure she's leaving in good standing with the company."

This girl had received FOUR "no call, no shows" starting two weeks ago, so I assumed that's when she thought she was supposed to be done working.  As I asked the woman which manager the daughter spoke with the mom said, "Hang on, I'll ask."  And she actually held the phone away from her as I heard her ask the daughter, "Which manager did you speak with?"  The daughter answered.  In hindsight I probably should have made the mom put her kid on the phone.

To make the situation better, the girl had put in her two weeks notice starting three days ago.  Of course she's still on the schedule, because you still have a schedule for two weeks after you put in the two week notice.  That's how it works.

The NCNS notations were before her two week notice and she didn't come in because she "didn't feel good" and she didn't call in because she "didn't know" and she didn't return our calls to her for not showing up because "we didn't know it was actually Disney calling, or someone else." 

And then the icing on the cake.  Her reason for leaving the company and not fulfilling her six month contract was, "I don't like working nights.  They make me feel sick."

I tried to be empathetic.  I truly did.  I'm sure there's struggles there I don't know about.  But... man.  Wow.  (Side note: I have no say involving the termination of cast members)

3. Finally, I received a call from a woman who told me, "Hi, I know this isn't the right number to call but I thought maybe you could transfer me to security?  I just found a woman passed out in the parking lot and she's just totally unconscious."

"Ma'am, I believe the number you're looking for is 911."

I know it's a serious situation, and I certainly hope that poor woman was okay!  But I struggled a bit to keep a straight face and steady voice on that call.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Second Disney Cruise: Day One

Well this whole thing started a few weeks ago when I found the discounted price of the cruise and realized that I could get the corresponding days off of work.  After a few excited phone calls and the agonizing wait to be sure that I could have time off of work, the cruise was booked!  We set sail for Cozumel, Mexico and Castaway Cay (Disney's Private Island) one week ago today.

At the last second our plans changed, so my mom and I had to drive to the port ourselves.  We didn't really want to pay the $20/day fee that the port charged.  So I whipped out my genius phone on the way and found a cheaper place to park.  It was right by the port. 

We pulled into the parking lot, which wasn't paved very well (or marked in any way, for that matter) and some random guys were sitting just outside smoking.  They told us it was $6/day for parking plus something like $4/person for the shuttle, both ways.  We paid cash and they gave us a blue sticker and told us to park wherever we wanted.

Yes, this situation felt a little sketch.  But I have to say, while the service was nothing grand, we felt we got our money's worth.  My mom left her GPS unit out in plain sight for the week in this parking lot and nothing was stolen (probably wasn't a good idea... we didn't do that on purpose for sure).  We waited a good twenty minutes for the shuttle, but we had a place to park, close to the port and it was far worth the money we saved.

After getting to the port, we began to wait in the many lines.  There was a line to get in the building, a line to go up the escalator, a line for security, a line to check in, then a waiting area for your boarding number to be called, then a line to get your picture taken, then a line to scan your ID one more time, then a line to board the ship.  While Disney has a lot of lines, the good thing is they were all fairly short.  I think the longest we waited in a given line was maybe ten minutes.  The whole ordeal felt like it took less than an hour.

Like I said, all my good pictures are gone, along with my camera.  But once on board we ate a great lunch of fresh seafood, then headed to the room.

Our room was fantastic!  It was on Deck 2.  We paid a little more for the port hole but oh. my. gosh. it was soooo worth it!  The room itself was huge as well.  We had a kind of double bathroom with the toilet in one room and the tub/shower in the other.  The closet was big enough so we could fit all our suitcases to keep them out of the way.  And we had plenty of space for our stuff in the drawers and closet, even though we had three fairly large suitcases full of stuff (I blame my mother for packing heavy... she kind of got excited for the whole pirate night ordeal).

We met our stateroom hostess who was named Sooshila.  She was from some island off the coast of Africa/Madagascar area.  She was incredibly nice and helpful.  Our room was missing the remote for the TV when we got in, but she had a new remote ready within an hour or two of finding out it was missing.

The welcome show was at 6:15 and it was basically a little "taste" of what was coming up for the cruise.  Then we had dinner at 8:15 where we met our servers who would travel with us across the dining rooms for the entirety of our trip.  They we spectacular as well.  There were eight of us dining at the table and I didn't know all the names at the end of the week.  Our servers, however, memorized our names AND likes/dislikes that first night so that by day 2 they had my mom's plate of lemons for her water on the table waiting before we even sat down.

That night my mom and I decided to go to the adults only area (18+) to hang in the hot tub for a bit.  It was deserted, which was nice.  One of the cast members approached me a few minutes later telling me that the area was 18+.  I told him I was aware, and then found out that his point in telling me was not to be informative, but to make me prove that I was over 18.  I'm 24 people.  I guess the good thing in all of this is that maybe when I'm 40 I'll still look 30?

He felt terrible for getting my age wrong, but I was more amused than offended.  Day one was finished, with a bit of humor, and a TON of relief that we were on the ship and about to embark on a journey of no worries and no chores!

5 Night Western Caribbean Disney Cruise: Wonder

That's right.  This last week my mom and I set out on a nice long Disney cruise to Cozumel and Disney's private island in Castaway Cay.

The bad news?  I lost my camera a few days in so I'm severely lacking in the photo department.  At least that's better news than the other thing I lost.... passports are no fun to lose, ya'll.

I think that just proves that I really, really needed a vacation.

Anywhoo... Disney knows how to get people vacationing, that's for sure.  You can read about my previous Disney cruise here:

Here for part one

Here for part two

Here for part three

Here for part four

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Foreign Taxi Service: China Edition

As I prepare to travel next week, I started thinking about taking the taxi in Cozumel to head to a place called Chakanaab that my friends suggested.  But as I thought of taxis, I was reminded of this story that I experienced once in China:

It was probably mid-October.  Saebra and I had just finished our trip to Chengdu to see the pandas and were nearly home.  Our plane landed at the airport around midnight, and we headed outside, tired and hungry, to grab a taxi home.  As we approached the parade of taxis we handed them the paper our liaison had given us with our address.  The first taxi driver took the paper, glanced at us, and held up his fingers, "Sam bai quai!" (three hundred yuan??!).  No. Way. 

We knew very well from experience that it was 40-45 yuan MAX to get home, even in bad traffic.  We showed him this with our fingers, and tried to gesture at the meter in his car, but he just walked away.  We headed to another driver, who had seen the whole thing, and gave him the paper.  He looked at it and scratched his beard... then grinned as he held up his fingers.  280 quai.  No. Way.

Frustrated, Saebra and I looked around for another driver, but they were all huddled around us, watching.  It's kind of hard not to draw attention to yourself when you're Americans in China.  The lowest price we found was 200 yuan.  None of them even spoke English, and a lot of them, we were pretty sure from their mannerisms, didn't even know where the address was.

Finally, Saebra said, "I don't care if we spend the night in the airport.  There is no way I'm spending 200 yuan (which is about 35 dollars) to get home."

I followed her as we made our way back inside.  We were about halfway, when we heard a shouting and turned around.  A man ran up to us and held out his hand for the paper.  We handed it to him and he read it.  He looked a little confused, then looked up at us, then offered sixty quai.

Sixty.  Saebra and I looked at each other.  I told him fifty.  He held up his hand and said sixty again.  Then grabbed Saebra's luggage and, still holding our address, walked off.  Of course, we followed and let him pack our stuff in the car.  Hungry, tired and frustrated, we succumbed to the tourist tax.  After all, he was driving a blue and yellow taxi which were supposed to be the best.  The greens we weren't supposed to trust as much.

I sat in the front, and the driver began to go.  He looked at me and said some stuff in Chinese and I just shrugged my shoulders.  A few miles down the road he stopped the car at an intersection.  He pointed in a direction and asked me something in Chinese.  Again, I shrugged my shoulders as he decided that direction must be right and kept driving.  He then pulled out his phone.  As he spoke to the unknown person on the other line I distinctly heard "mei guo da" which means "American" so I knew he was conversing about us.  I also heard him say the name of the Hotel right by our apartment.

He started yelling at the person on the other end.  Surprisingly this didn't surprise me since Chinese people often appear to be a lot angrier than they really are.  Then he hung up.  Then he lit a cigarette.  Then he apparently said something funny in Chinese again to himself because he started laughing.

Twenty minutes passed, then thirty.  It was only about thirty minutes to the airport.  I knew we must be getting close.  Forty minutes... fifty.......

The man slowed a little more.  We were on some giant highway all by ourselves.  He looked around, confused.  I started to look around too, desperate to recognize SOMETHING in this foreign country.  And then, I saw it!  High rise apartment buildings just like the ones where we lived.  I pointed excitedly and said "duay!!!" which is a form of saying "correct."  I was so thankful I had bothered to learn that word.

He looked at me, confused, and then got off at the next exit to head down there.  As he went, I recognized more and more and directed him, asking him to turn, only pointing and saying "duay" as that's all I knew.  I didn't know the roads, but I knew the direction I wanted to go and I just went from there.  Finally, we went past the school, and just a moment later we pulled up to the hotel which was just down the road from where we lived.  I gave him his sixty yuan, which was probably well deserved for going so far out of his way.  It was now more than an hour since we had left the airport and I was ready to be done with taxi drivers.

He pulled our stuff out of the trunk and went to walk into the hotel with us.  We shook our heads, stood at the entrance of the hotel and waved goodbye to him.  It took him a minute, but he finally got the message.  He smiled and waved before getting back in his car and driving off.

We were finally home.

Or so we thought.  After that ordeal, we dealt with being locked out of our complex because it was the middle of the night, our liaison's phone was turned off, we awoke a street security guard who took off running after we showed him we were locked out, then a drunk guy came up to us to try and help.  The drunk guy grabbed our luggage and we ended up following him to get home.

I couldn't make this stuff up, people!  It's a miracle I'm alive today.  That's all I'm saying.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

How to Be an Awesome Disney Guest

I loved working front line with the guests.  Sure there were good days and bad days, but today I was trying to remember my favorite guests who I still remember, years later.  As I prepare for a Disney vacation of my own, I'm going to try and remember to be this way once I'm a guest again.

1.  Be happy.  This really is the number one thing I loved to see as a Cast Member.  Guests who were just happy, excited, and playful.  When they enter the parks with giant smiles, passing the happiness on to each other, it sure makes my job a whole lot easier!

2. Play the game.  There is one Mickey and only one Mickey Mouse.  There just is.  But have fun with it.  Talk about how Cinderella lives in the Castle.  Quiz Cast Members to see where they'll go!  One guy asked me question after question for about ten minutes trying to break me, "Who lives in that castle?" "Cinderella." "I thought castles belonged to kings?" "Come on, are you king of your castle?" (his wife was standing right there) "Okay, but where are the servants?" *indicated my nametag* "How many Mickeys are there?" "One." "Noo, I mean how many people play Mickey?"  "Umm, you're aware Mickey's a mouse, right?"  "But how many costumes does he have?"  "I don't look in my boss' closet, that's for Minnie's eyes only."  On and on.

3. Ask questions.  Never be afraid to ask for what you want.  A mother once came to me and said her son got sick and she just wanted some water to... erm... wash things down.  I remembered how my mom always gave me soda.  I ran over to a drink stand and got the mother a large water, and two Sprites (I only asked for one, but they made two).  She was so happy!  I love when families ask for a certain row on rides.  I warn them they'll have to wait a bit longer, but they're always okay with it and generally those families are most excited to go on the rides!  Also, I love being the knowledgeable one answering what are the best places to eat, the best rides, etc.  Don't be afraid to sound dumb.  As cast members, we've seen it all.

4.  Show respect and be nice to the Cast Members.  We really do go out of our way to help you, if you're being sincere and kind.  The only times I didn't go out of me way were when people were being ridiculous.

"My wife needs to sit in the preferred parade viewing area last minute (specially reserved) because she can't stand for a long period of time but she doesn't want to sit in any of the THREE handicapped viewing areas (with a complimentary wheelchair I offered to get them) because she doesn't want to be around handicapped people.  And it's too close to the start of the parade to sit in any of the other seating areas along the parade route."  I legitimately had that one night.  I didn't even tell them no.  In the beginning I told them "Maybe, I don't have my list yet so I don't know if I have room."  He wouldn't believe me, and said I had attitude when I tried asking him about why none of the alternative viewing opportunities were satisfactory.  But he yelled and screamed enough that he got his way (he demanded to speak with a manager and when the manager came, with the list-which I still hadn't seen to know if I had room-I had the guest speak to him.  The manager then let him in and apologized to me for not bringing the list sooner.)  We did make him sit in the very back of preferred viewing with the lousiest view. That's a story of what not to do, though.

Another time I was working the preferred viewing area and older man and his wife were walking by.  The man pointed at the area and asked, "What's that area for?"  I explained the preferred viewing for the parade and he asked how to get in.  "Well, your name has to be on my list!" I told him as I showed him my paper.  He reached in his pocket and pulled out a pen and said with a smirk, "Alright, let me see that list there..."  I laughed and the man put the pen back in his pocket chuckling, but suddenly an idea occurred to me.  The area was less than half full that night, so I had plenty of room for extras.  I gave him my list and said, "Go ahead and put your name down there."  The mans eyes were going to bulge out of his head when I told him to return approximately ten minutes before the parade and he's have a spot!  One of my favorite magical moments.

5. Be realistic in your expectations.  That doesn't mean lower your expectations.  Still hold Disney that high standard and complain when necessary.  Just... we can't control the weather.  If we had a nickel for every time a Cast Member complained that rain ruined their vacation, well... we'd be even more than a multi-million dollar company!  Sometimes, rides break.  You won't get an entire Disney vacation refund because Space Mountain was down for three hours on one day of your vacation.  That is what we call
unrealistic and entirely ridiculous.  You may, however, get a few Fastpasses for more rides or certain other forms of compensation.  We do make mistakes.  Bad things happen.  Don't hate the entire company based on one Cast Member's mistake. When you do complain (which is perfectly okay, and encouraged to an extent) just make sure you're being realistic and genuine in your complaints.  We really do want to make your vacation as magical as possible.

6. Enjoy the moments.  It's Disney World.  There will be lines.  There will be lines to get into lines.  There will be waiting for shows to start.  There will be waiting for parades.  There will be crowds.  Don't focus on the stress of being a part of a huge group of people herded from point A to point B.  You're on vacation.  You're with your family.  What happens happens.  Enjoy the people you're with.  And find the smaller things you can do like scavenger hunts for hidden Mickeys or playing with the new Disney apps or practicing Disney trivia, quoting lines from movies or something.  Even after living here for years, Disney is still a really fun place to be, in my opinion.  And honestly, there are ways to plan around the lines if your smart. I never wait in lines these days.  And I know a family who came quite close to the holidays last year who planned well enough to not wait in lines.  The trick is to come early and/or stay late.  Use the Fastpass system to the fullest.  Know the most popular rides.  Have a list of your top three or four things that you absolutely want to do.  And, most of all, recognize that you simply may not be able to do absolutely everything at once.

7.  Be happy.  I just want to reiterate this.  The excited guests are the most fun.  That's the whole point of the parks.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Parking Lot Woes: Tales from a Disney Cast Member

A little back story to the Magic Kingdom cast parking lot.  It's big.  HUGE.  It has to be.  We'll call it "West Clock."

Did I mention it's big?  Well, even with a decent sized parking lot, West Clock sometimes overflows with Cast Member cars.  Therefore, when I first worked at MK, I realized it was better to park across the street and park at DU (Disney University).  It was a bit of a longer walk, but at least that way I was guaranteed a parking space since that lot didn't fill up nearly as fast.  I got into the habit of parking at DU for quite a while and it worked out nicely, despite the longer walk.  And it was nice because I could park in the same spot every day.

Then, I got a job in Deployment.  I got access to a special parking lot in a different area completely.  It even has it's own different bus that takes you to the mouth of the tunnel!  Fancy!  Trouble is, you have to remember that you parked in that special other parking lot (named "Pluto"), because at the end of the day if you got on the wrong bus... well... you'd have to take the West Clock bus all the way to West Clock, get off (because they clear the bus each time it stops), go back through security, get back on the bus, ride back to the mouth of the tunnel, go through the tunnel to where you catch the Pluto bus, and then ride it to the appropriate parking lot.  Ugh.

You still with me?  Good.  It's gonna get worse.

So here we have the parking lots.  The "main" one is West Clock.  The "side" one is DU.  And the "manager" one is Pluto. 

I stopped parking in Pluto because I'd forget that I parked there and the buses didn't come as frequently.  So I still parked at DU.  But Disney, in all their "safety" protocols, decided that they didn't want people parking at DU anymore because it wasn't safe to have so many cast members crossing the street, especially during rush hour.  So they put up cones and traffic blocks to make it much more complicated to get to the DU lot to discourage people from parking there.  It became so complicated that I decided to try parking at West Clock again.  Only West Clock was too crowded and I'd drive in circles for nearly twenty minutes before my shift searching for a spot. 

So then I started parking at Pluto, where I could be guaranteed a spot. (Keep in mind that my poor brain, through all this, is trying to recollect each and every day where in the world I parked!)  Only because they discouraged so many people from parking at DU, and because they were hiring piles of new Cast Members for the new Starbucks and the new Fantasyland expansion, they opened Pluto to everyone.  Pluto was no longer a guaranteed parking spot.

Back to DU.  I didn't care about the extra five minutes it took for me to drive back behind buildings and deal with all the stop signs.  I wanted to be guaranteed a parking space without having to stalk people for twenty minutes!

Well, then someone at Disney came up with this grand idea.  They decided to close the Pluto lot entirely.  When I said this was a grand idea, I mean it was a terrible one. 

They thought they'd be able to cram ALL the CM cars into the one, West Clock parking lot, on top of the new Fantasyland expansion, Starbucks opening, and the expansion that is to come.  Also, this decision came shortly before the Holidays.

Their reasoning was that they would expand the original West Clock lot.  And they did!  Let's use some rough numbers (these numbers are waaay off, but in the sense of relativity it feels accurate, at least to me)

Say West Clock had 1000 spots.  Pluto had 300.  DU had 200.  They cut off Pluto and DU, but added 200 spots to West Clock to make up for it.  That's still 300 spots less than what we originally had, and that was BEFORE the extra CMs that were hired! 

Then, on top of that, they decided to reorganize the West Clock parking lot because it was very difficult to navigate.  Decent idea, but in doing so they built a driveway straight through the center erasing about 100 more spots.  In the end, we have significantly less spots, with more cast members to come.

And this all happened right before the Holidays last year.  I remember as we approached December we discussed it in my department.  There is no way this is going to turn out well.  Not a chance.  As I drove through the parking lot on the first few days of the Holidays there were people parking in illegal park zones and even in the grass all over the place!  We were forced to reopen the Pluto lot.  Literally forced.

Then, they redirected the traffic back around so we could again have better access to park at DU.  They put a crossing guard out to help direct the traffic for pedestrians.  I find it funny that whoever was making these decisions never saw these problems coming.  Especially since you could ask any cast member in all of MK and they would have called it from miles away!  West Clock is simply not enough.

Well, during this whole shamboozle, my parking habits got entirely messed up.  Depending on the time of day I had to go to a different part of the lot that I knew would be open.  For a few weeks we actually had cast members out directing traffic around the parking lots with radios determining where the open spaces were and telling cars to go there.

The worst part in all this is that I wouldn't remember where I parked each day.  With three different parking lots, each one larger than the next, I was lucky if I even remembered which lot I was in!  It actually became quite hilarious as I'd wander aimlessly through the parking lot, trying to find where I thought I'd parked but then wondering if I was even in the right lot, and what did I even have for lunch today!?    I'd take frequent turns in circles and chuckled to myself telling me that "at least I'm getting my exercise."

Tonight, however, it was less funny.  When I forget my jacket and it's only 40 degrees and rainy... and I don't know which parking lot my car is in... my life becomes suddenly much sadder.  Put that at the end of a twelve hour shift of a sixty hour work week and you have a very dreary me.

Despite this long post complaining about parking, I have to say that I do love working for Disney.  I'm confident that the people in charge of these parking issues are working to find the best solution as quickly as possible. I am always able to get a spot, and I've never been late to work yet (except that one time when I accidentally slept through my alarm).  It's hard to keep that many cast members safe and organized all the time and I admire what they do.

Now if only I could get an app on my phone that remembers where my car is for me...

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Brain Overload

I distinctly remember sitting in my second grade class with Miss Fisher up front teaching us cursive letters.  I remember thinking the whole lesson was just silly because not only had my sister already taught me how to do the letter 'J' in cursive, but my dad had taught me how electrical circuits worked just the night before because my daddy knew everything and since I was clearly superior to the other kids with my science knowledge, I didn't need second grade anymore.

I remember tuning out the teacher and mulling over in my mind what Dad had taught me the night before and doodling a picture of a closed circuit lighting a light bulb on my paper, trying to make it look like I was making it some made up cursive letter.  Then, a thought occurred to me.

As I thought of electricity, I thought of how that costs money... and my parents had to somehow pay for it.  Then I thought of our house, and how they had to keep up on payments for that.  Then I thought about school and how my parents had to keep up with that, my assignments, my dentist appointments, my meals, etc.  They kept up with our new address which had just changed even though we hadn't moved.  I thought about all that I required from my parents and then I realized that I had to multiply that by FOUR because I still had siblings they had to watch out for!  Then there was all the extra volunteer work that they did, Church things to take care of, vacations to plan, no to mention the times when we got sick or if something broke on the house or car!  I even thought about how ridiculous it was for our government to actually expect so much from people to actually keep up with all the extras they put on stuff like figuring out taxes or registering cars (I don't know how I knew about all this stuff at such a young age, but I do remember making a list and I definitely remember writing "government stress" on it as one of the things I thought should stress a parent out)

As I tried to think about all the stuff my parents had to think about my brain just wanted to explode.  I specifically remember wanting to cry as I thought about how maybe one day I would have to keep up with all that stuff (I was a very emotional child, people... and I may have taken things a little bit too seriously).  In the end, I decided that the brain of an adult simply had to be far superior than what my brain was in order to handle that.  Maybe adults had some implant they put in their brain to organize it all.  It just shouldn't even be possible to keep up with all that information.  I probably would have decided to simply hire a life manager to take care of it when I grew up... but I didn't know what a life manager was at the time.

Well, I sit here nearly twenty years later to confess that I have had no such implant, and my brain is, as predicted, ready to explode.  The last few weeks have stressed me out as I try to remember all the stuff with my church callings, the new CPs I've met, my job and all that entails, finances and bills, taxes, doctors appointments, dentist appointments, hanging out with friends, needing to exercise, spending time cleaning and eating healthy, etc. etc. etc.  My brain simply wants to explode.

I don't know what my parents secret is.  I don't know what anybody's secret is.  But at least I know how a closed circuit works.  I know the basics of life, I guess. I survive and where I fail or struggle there are people to help me.

And if all else fails, I can just go to Disney World and pretend none of it even matters in the first place.

Yeah, I guess that's why that company exists.  It is a pretty good purpose. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Disney In My Every Day Life

There's a pavilion in EPCOT which houses the "Journey into the Imagination with Figment" ride.  Of course, the title of the is quite a mouthful, so we usually shorten it just to "Imagination."  Well, that's still long, and if you know anything about Disney Cast Members we have a nickname for literally EVERYTHING.  So we shorten it even more to call it "Image" -- pronounced: "eye-mage" ('mage' rhymes with 'badge')

Well, even though we pronounce it weird, we spell it "Image" and that's how it's written all day as I go into the system and make changes to their location and cast members.  That means that now, when I see the word "image" I still pronounce it in my head as "eye-madge" instead-even when they legit mean image, as in an image on a computer screen.  Ah well.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Give Kids the World - VolunteEar-ing

I'm grateful for learning about Give Kids the World through Disney.  I don't tell many of my friends that I work there because the few that I have told just say things like, "It's not really a non-profit organization." or "I know someone who knew someone who knew someone who said that place is stupid.

Well, I don't care about the negative. I go there because I like it. Here are some stories from today:

I worked in "Amberville" today which is the train station they have there.  Cheesy names for stuff, I know.

A little girl went up on the platform to ride the train.  She was very clearly a very sick but happy eight year old girl who had undergone chemo, it looked like. As she hobbled along the platform she told me matter-of-factly, "My legs just aren't what they used to be!"  How do you even react to that!? Fortunately she was joking... sort of.... I think.

Most of the volunteers in the morning are people who are quite old.  One of the older ladies went to the volunteer hut to grab some cookies and brought some back for me.  There was this one that was a chocolate cookie rolled in powdered sugar and I commented that I really want the recipe.  The old lady came up to me a few minutes later and said excitedly, "I just go an idea for you to get that recipe?"

She then asked me, "Do you have access to a computer?"

.................yes.  It's in my pocket and doubles as a cell phone, calculator, GPS, flashlight, camera, and more.

I just responded with yes.

"Well," she continued, "There's this really neat website called google dot com.  You know.. on the internet, right?  Well you go there and they said you type in the words 'chocolate crinkle cookie' and then it'll pull up all kinds of recipes for it!"

I tried so so so hard not to laugh!  Great advice, I guess.

I love that place!  I'd recommend volunteering there to anyone. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

My Thanksgiving a year ago was spent in a Chinese Pizza Hut.  I traveled two hours by bus with the three other American teachers in Guiyang, China to get there after work.  But darn it, we were going to have American food on Thanksgiving whether it was easy or not!

I sat with my three new friends whom I'd only met months earlier, but were now my family.  At least for the sake of this day.
Note the little boy in blue staring
Let me clarify, China was one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life.  I chose it, and I'm completely happy and grateful that I chose it.  But that doesn't mean it wasn't difficult.

For Thanksgiving last year, I decided I would veer away from the pizza I usually got when we traveled to Pizza Hut (pepperoni, the only familiar one--and didn't have wasabi on it).  The mashed potatoes seemed Thanksgiving-y enough.  Since those are an "American" thing they didn't really have them anywhere else in China.  And we had issues accessing things like butter, milk, salt and even potatoes, so it was hard to make our own.  I didn't really trust the fresh produce much anyways, since there were always tons of unidentified bugs flying all around the produce section.

Now, a year later, as we approach Thanksgiving again, I'm in awe thinking about how completely simple my life is.

I left my house this morning and didn't have to worry about whether or not I had a piece of paper with me with the Chinese characters stating my address in case I got lost.  I saw an ambulance drive past, clean and shiny, and remembered how many injured people I saw on the streets in China.  And how grossed out I was on the rare occasion that I did see one of their yellow ambulances.  As I crossed the road, I knew I could trust the drivers to actually obey the red lights.

I walked into Publix and knew exactly which aisle to pick for the mayo.  I read the words on the signs, and could even read and understand what was written on the mayo jar.  I grabbed what I wanted, knowing I could afford it, and walked up to check out.

No one was staring at me.  No one was following me.  I didn't need to ask for help from anyone.

As the lady scanned my items she made small conversation with me.  "Did you find everything you were looking for?"

My brain nearly exploded with gratitude.  A year ago, not only would I have been grateful to be capable of physically speaking with someone other than the same three teachers I'd been with for months, but she was trying to be helpful.  I knew that if there was an ingredient I couldn't find, she'd be able to help me.  And further, she'd be able to simply speak to me to help.  I wouldn't have to resort to silly forms of charades to explain "milk" (that was a funny China story)(and no, we didn't find the cream).

"Yes."  I replied.  The bag guy asked, "Would you like this all in one bag?"  As I replied yes I was even more thankful.  Simple being able to converse with people is such a blessing that I realize a lot now.  I wonder if other people realize what a gift that is.

I grabbed my bag and headed home.  Grateful that I don't have to worry about whether this food will make me sick.  Grateful for a safe place to live.  Grateful for simple transportation. Grateful for my independence.  Grateful for my job, my life, money, friends, family, communication, religion, comfort, safety, health, peace, simplicity, and all that I'm blessed with.

I'm thankful for the country I live in.  I'm thankful for the opportunities that lie ahead of me.  I'm thankful for support from my friends and family.  I'm thankful for knowledge that I have.

The intangible things that I have are worth more than the tangible.  I'm more thankful for them.  And I hope my life will always be that way.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Backstage Lions Tour

Alas, no photos!  Unfortunately, the rule still applies: No backstage photos at Disney World.

But I saw the lion barn today at Disney's Animal Kingdom.  You'll have to take my word for it since I have no proof.  It was awesome!

I also got to drive my car backstage which means that I've now driven backstage at three of the four parks. Incidentally, the only park I haven't parked backstage is the only park that I have worked backstage in.  Weird...

So my friend Nell won a free backstage tour of the lion barn and invited me to join her and her two other friends.  We parked by the Animal Programs building which is close to Rafiki's Planet Watch and then a manager took us over to the barn.  It was a private tour and this guy Mike was super informative.  He basically walked us around the barn and we got to see Nairobi and Savannah (the other lions were all onstage).  We were literally just a couple feet away, the closest I'd been to a lion in my entire life.

Nairobi's eyes are gigantic.  Both the lions were much older so they mostly just lay there or groomed themselves.  Mike also showed us some of the fur they had from the lion, so we got to touch the fur.  But no petting the lion. Even the keepers can't touch the lions, with the exception of their tails in order to take blood.  And even then it's crazy how many safety measures are in place to be sure everyone is entirely safe.  Disney's big on the safety thing.

We basically just walked around the barn, looked at the lions, and asked Mike any and all questions that came to mind.  Almost like being at a private zoo.  As we were talking to him one of the ostriches showed up right behind us and was eating dirt by the fence.  We were right beside the warthog barn and I think it was a Rhino barn that was nearby as well.  It was so informative!

Anyway, super fun day!  I'm so grateful I have awesome friends who invite me to do cool things like this!  Lions are even more my favorite animal now!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

EPCOT Food and Wine

The Food and Wine Festival is coming to a close and I was lucky enough to get to start working shifts at EPCOT starting last week.  I'm really just in a trailer backstage, but it's been really fun for me and a nice change of scenery.

Tomorrow I work another one of the shifts, open to close.  My favorite part?  Getting to drive my car beneath Test Track.  I pretty much feel like the coolest person in the world when I do that.

I also like the radios they have for food and wine.  Even though the distance isn't as good, they're a million times easier to use.  For example, when you push the button on the side and talk... it actually WORKS!!! Amazing!!

It's also nice to be the only one there.  Not that I don't like working in a team at MK.  It's just kind of nice to be the main person fixing everything and it's nice to be the only one covering the radio for a whole day.  Sometimes it's hard to make sure everything gets communicated to everyone when different people cover the radio.

Oh well.  Now I'm rambling.  Suffice it to say, I'm excited to work at EPCOT again tomorrow!

Oh, and PS... Christmas has begun!  Wooohoooo!!!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

You Know You Work For Disney When...

Christmas starts two days after Halloween...

That's right. The decorations are up, the Castle has lights, and the first Christmas party starts in a week (well a little more than a week.)

Get ready for the most wonderful time of the year at the Happiest Place on Earth!

Monday, October 28, 2013

On Finding Success

There are two kinds of people in this world.  Or maybe I should say there are two ways to react to things in this world.

First, there are those who take things as they come and adjust themselves to accept the world around them.  When something bad happens, these people choose to be happy anyway.  They choose to accept life's challenges and continue on.  They have control over how they feel, for the most part, and are generally very happy people.

Then, there are those who make things happen.  They have an idea in their head on how the world should be and work hard to make it that way.  They will be quite angry if things aren't going the way they think things should be and absolutely hate not being in charge or having power.

Naturally, I'm the first type of person.  I prefer to sit back, take life as it comes, and when there's challenges just accept them (or ignore them).  The problem is, I'm learning, that this isn't necessarily the right way to live.  You don't get very far being the first type of person.  You just coast along in life until things happen to you.

The second type of person is the kind of person who changes the world.  Those are the ones who are leaders, scholars, doctors, scientists.  They find problems and insist on fixing them instead of just living life with them.

Of course, this can get to the extreme.  There are those who are never satisfied, always unhappy, and always wishing things would be different but their ideals of the world are simply wrong.  I guess it's necessary to have a happy medium.

Lately, though, I've been working on making my way to the other end of the spectrum.  I mean, I'm happy in life, I love my job, I love where I am... but I've decided that maybe it's not enough.  And I've learned that the people who are most successful are the ones who open their mouths and say what they want and then work for it with all they have.

I hope I articulated this correctly.  It's hard to turn my brain into words sometimes.  But there you have it.  Two types of people.  Let's find the happy medium in between.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Disney Keepin' Us Healthy -- Flu Shots

I usually show up to work 20-30 minutes early.  This is primarily because I don't really trust the West Clock bus to get me to the tunnels in time, but also because, well, I like to be early.  Well today it worked out just perfectly for me to get there to do my biometric screening.  That's where they take you height, weight, blood pressure, blood, and other such stuff to figure out if you're healthy enough to get money!  Apparently, I'm healthier than I was in August which is the last time I did it, so that's good I guess. 

After they poked me with needles there, I found myself being pulled into another random room to be pressured into a flu shot.  It's funny because as I told the story to my roommate I realized how creepy it sounded.

I was walking through the tunnels on my break when this random guy in a doorway asked if I'd had the flu shot yet.

"" I said cautiously, frightfully aware of what was coming next.

"Well, you should get one!  We have ten left.  It'll only take a second!"

"But... but... I don't want a flu shot!" 

Okay, I realize how crazy that sounds.  But really.  I've gone without for the last five years at LEAST and been totally and completely fine.

This random guy convinced me.  I mean, it took less than five minutes, cost nothing, and the pinprick wasn't that big of a deal.

Now, however, a few hours later, I'm remembering the real reason I avoid these shots.  My arm hurts!!!  Oweee!!

I really want to be a drama queen about this, but the really sad part is that no one's here to listen to me whine!  I guess I'll just have to endure this pain alone!  Oh, woe is me!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Lesson Learned: Cupcakes

I got my sister-in-law into the parks earlier this week.  It was her birthday.  We did the whole DIsney birthday thing and got her a button and rode the rides and even went out to eat at the Sci Fi Dine in theater.  I got the salmon burger which was so stinking good!  But that's not part of the story.

So we were very full with our delicious meals but the server insisted on bringing a birthday cupcake to my sister-in-law.  She was stuffed, (and it didn't help that the family who was sitting in front of us, and who was on the Disney Dining plan, and didn't want their free desserts, offered us their desserts and we gladly accepted) so when the cupcake came, we didn't really know what to do.

The server, in all his server wisdom, offered a child's cup to put the cupcake in, and then put a lid on top!  Perfect fit!  Couldn't be better.  We stuffed the cup into my bag, lid on, of course, and continued on our happy way.  We enjoyed a great show of Fantasmic, made our way to EPCOT for Illuminations, and then headed to the car.  The cupcake was still perfectly in tact. 

And then.  It happened.  As I started driving, there was a small but very evil spider who decided to "harmlessly" crawl across my windshield.  I was driving!  I couldn't smush it all by myself!  So, I did the only thing I could.  Ask my older and supposedly wiser sister-in-law to smush it for me.

I forgot how much she didn't like spiders.

Oh she smushed that spider all right.  That thing was dead as... as..... something really, really dead.  It was completely and utterly decapitated.

Unfortunately, she decided to use my bag in the process.  And the spider wasn't the only thing that ended upbeing smushed and decapitated.

That's right.  The free birthday cupcake, in all its glory was nothing but a pile of mush.  Not only that, but the gooey innard got all over my bag, wallet, trading pins, SOMK cards, nametag, etc. etc. etc.

Moral of the story?  When you get a birthday cupcake, eat it.  Eat it NOW. 

You Might Be A Disney Cast Member If...

Someone else posted something like this.  But I didn't really love their list very much.  So I decided to make my own!  Here goes:

1.  You know terms like CDS, ER, EHH, 101, "Can you 45 me at...?", MiSiCi, DAK, Flik Card, FOLK, TOTS, and "lunch."

2. You can't figure out what day of the week it is.  You're lucky if you keep track of day versus night. Have you ever tried calling in to work only to find out that you don't even have a shift that day?  Yeah, that happens.

3.  You find yourself spouting off random facts and stories as you knowledgeably walk through the park with your non-Disney CM friends.

4. You automatically tell people "Happy Birthday!" "Happy anniversary!"  etc. every time you see the pin whether you're in costume or not.  This can get awkward.  "Hi princess!  Happy birthday!"  Little girl: "Mommy!  The weird person is getting into my personal space!"

5.  You're sick of eating Subway.  And quite possibly Aramark burgers.

6. You see characters backstage and it's no big thing.  But onstage it's like, "Oh my gosh!!! It's MICKEY MOUSE!!! Can I get your autograph?"

7. You accidentally on purpose sing along with Wishes, Illuminations, Fantasmic, and other shows.  If you're not singing out loud you're probably mouthing the words along with the characters or saying the lines before they're spoken out loud.  This same principle goes for rides such as the Haunted Mansion

8.  Wednesday you have no money at all.  Thursday's all "Woooo!! Paaaarty!"

9.  You have a love-hate relationship with the CPs.  You love them because they work those hours you don't want.  You hate them because, well, they're CPs.  If you're a CP this principle is reversed.  You hate being a CP because you get the terrible hours.  You love it because hey, CP!

10.  You've heard the words, "You have ruined my entire Disney vacation!" at least fourteen times.  "I'm going to Guest Relations!" is another common one.

11.  Can the West Clock bus please get different music?

12. You don't plan to wear your Disney clothes to play at Disney World.  It just happens naturally.  Guests on the other hand, plan this picture with their kids with Mickey Mouse while they're wearing their cute Mickey Mouse onesie. 

13. When you see knock offs of Disney merchandise you can't help think "That's not right!"  Walking through Wal-mart and see the Mickey stuffed animals.  "But he doesn't LOOK like that!"

14. You talk bad about Disney all the time backstage, but if you overhear a guest talking bad about your park it's the end of the world.  You just don't understand how we run!  You have no idea how efficiently this line is moving.  Stop complaining about the eighty minute wait!

15.  The Disney point.  The Disney scoop. The Basics.  Offering to take a picture for guests.  Giving directions and answering questions.    Disney behaviors make it into your everyday life.

I love my job!