Hi friends! So I’ve been in Orlando for almost two weeks and so much has happened that it feels more like two months. I will try to do some recap here! (But bear with me as all the magic and pixie dust and sleep deprivation have clouded my memory.)
I’ll start by talking about my roommates/living situation. One of my roommates, Stephanie, went to school with me, but we found the other three via Facebook groups a few months ago. Contrary to all the internet safety issues I’ve learned about over the years, I was happy to see in person the day before we moved in that my roommates were 21-22 year old women like they said they were and not middle aged men who had been catfishing me. We all (along with our moms) met up for dinner at Disney Springs on that Sunday night and my nerves about moving in got so much better. They are all so nice, funny, fun, and easy to get along with. We hit it off really well and it’s been fun getting to know them. The day we moved in, we were all a little freaked out upon learning that we’d be living in a 2-bedroom, 6-person apartment – our last choice of all the housing preferences. But it has actually turned out really well. First of all, we only have 5 people, so the space isn’t filled. It’s also the cheapest apartment you can have and I won’t be sad to hang onto some more of my paychecks. And the space itself is actually pretty big! I don’t feel like we are living on top of each other (with the exception of Stephanie and Laura who are in bunk beds - badum tssssss) and we have plenty of space for all our stuff. The location of our complex is also convenient, close to a lot of things with plenty of parking. I’m even getting better at parallel parking, which is all my driving test administrator could have hoped for after he let me pass with five failed parallel park attempts. #memories
Anyway, the first week was filled with a lot of free time and this, a lot of roommate bonding. On night 1, I found out that everyone was on board for watching the horrible reality show Bachelor in Paradise, and I hate myself a little for how happy that made me. Over the first few days, we all had our casting where we found out more specifically where we would be working (I got Adventureland/Liberty Square attractions but would have to wait to find out which ride), housing orientation, drug tests, etc. In between meetings and after they were all over, we got to do some resort hopping! For those of you who don’t know, Walt Disney World is actually massive. In addition to the four theme parks (which we couldn’t get into until we had our company IDs), there are a ton of really freaking cool resorts. I’ve been lucky to stay in three different ones that I can remember, but there are so many more to see. So we went to the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Art of Animation, and Boardwalk. While we watched the fireworks and ate Dole Whip at the Polynesian, it started to feel for the first time like I was really at Disney. Cue my face turning into the emoji with hearts for eyes.
That Friday, I had my first big welcome-to-the-company event called Traditions. It was a really interesting day that introduced some of the values of the Walt Disney Company, showed how we as college program interns fit into their vision and mission, and gave some inspiration in the form of cool videos about Disney history and what Disney means to different people. I really enjoyed it and by the end, I had my company ID and nametag, meaning that I was an official employee and (of equal importance) I could get into the parks!
In the days since then, I’ve been kind of going non-stop with training and a little bit of playing. On Saturday evening, my roommates and I went to Magic Kingdom and rode some of our favorite rides before ending the night watching the fireworks. It was honestly the best first parks visit as a cast member that I could’ve hoped for. A couple of days ago, I made it to the second park since I’ve been here, Animal Kingdom. My roomies and I got to watch the Festival of the Lion King (hands down, best show in Disney World) and meet Pocahontas.
On Sunday, I went into the Magic Kingdom for the first time as a cast member on the clock. That was wild. Most everyone knows about the tunnels that run under the park where all the behind the scenes stuff goes down, but exploring around there in real life was crazy. I don’t really want to give away all the magic secrets that my good pal Mickey and co have done such a good job of keeping under wraps for so long, so I’ll just say that it’s an incredibly impressive, well-oiled machine down there. As a longtime Disney lover, it feels so cool to be on this side of things, see the inside perspective, and feel like I’m actually a part of making it all happen. Call me cheesy, but I love that.
Also on Sunday, I got the news of my actual specific ride placement. Drumroll please…I am now a maid at the Haunted Mansion! I was honestly shocked to find this out. I think I could have probably been happy placed anywhere in any of the parks, but this was the greatest surprise ever. I LOVE the Haunted Mansion. I really thought I was going to cry when I found out. But then I remembered spooky ghost maids don’t have feelings.
My Haunted Mansion training started Tuesday, and I am loving it. Admittedly, I was so intimidated at first and maybe still am just a little. The Haunted Mansion is a fan favorite with a huge cult following, and people have high expectations for the maids and butlers there. My trainer has been absolutely awesome, though, and is helping me feel more confident about it all. The past few days, one other trainee and I have been learning all about how the ride works and what each different position does. We’d generally watch our trainer perform each position for a while, then try them out ourselves. My favorite positions so far are the ones on the load belt (getting those steps in) and outside the mansion in and around the queue where you get to talk to guests a lot. It’s pretty hilarious and perfect that I have Transylvania University on my nametag, and I’ve already been asked about it a lot. The college tour guide in me has been responding “Transylvania is Latin for ‘across the woods’ and we were the first college west of the Allegheny mountains,” but I really need to come up with a better story than that. Now accepting submissions in the comments below. It’s also so fun to be “in character” and act all spooky with lots of puns about death. Everyone who finds out my position says “OMG that’s perfect for you!” I’m not 100% sure how to take that, but I think it’s a compliment. A couple of my roommates even said that they thought I’d be great at Haunted Mansion before we knew I’d been placed there. It’S a SiGn OoOoOh.
Seriously though, there was a time early this week when I was freaking out about being here, wondering if it was right and feeling homesick already, but I’m now starting to feel more happy, confident, and at home. Last night at the end of our closing shift, my trainer took us through the whole ride with the lights on and explained some of the backstory and props that you’d never notice as a normal rider. We got to take pictures enjoy familiarizing ourselves with the place where we’ll be spending a lot of time over the next few months. We also got to meet a six year-old girl who was dressed up as a maid and whose favorite ride is the Haunted Mansion. She had been on it five times already that evening, so when she came through the line again, one of the butlers brought her and her parents inside and let her do the big door-opening for the next group of guests and welcome them to the Haunted Mansion. She was SO excited, her dad filmed the whole thing, and it was the CUTEST MOMENT EVER. We took pictures with her in our matching maid outfits afterward. Last night made it all feel more real and now I’m probably more excited than I’ve ever been about being here, living and working at Disney.
And now…I have four days off! Woohoo! So my roommates and I will be going to some more parks (Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Blizzard Beach) and I’ll be getting a lot of sleep before I go back to finish my training on Tuesday and take my assessment. I’m excited to have some time to enjoy Disney as my normal touristy self. Hopefully I don’t spend my entire paycheck on macaroon ice cream sandwiches?
Until next time…