Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Now It's Time to Say Goodbye to All Our Company

Remember that time I worked at the Walt Disney World Resort and kept a blog but never finished it? I can't recall that time because it never happened. 
My last Sunday working for Disney World was topped off by dinner at Oliver Garden (Olive Garden, I shall miss you) with Sam and Bailey after a unnecessarily late shift. Afterwards, I retreated to the Commons to sadly gather all my awards, titles and stuff to be given away (including all of my "siblings") and went over the Patterson Court to what was the largest throw-out I had ever experienced. With me, there were six other hard-working and magical Canadians departing the pavilion - Jackie, Ashley, Steve, Alana, Theresa and Zach. It was a terribly sad and tragic evening but it was a great way to say goodbye to my lovely and magical Canadian-Floridian family. The motto of the night was be nice and work hard. Also be magical. 
My last Monday working for Disney World was of course started by being at work, followed by slowly packing, followed by picked up Rhys from work and Lesley from Pop Century, having returned from Canada to Disney World aka home. We were able to squeeze in one last trip to Steak & Shake (I shall miss you Steak & Shake) before going back to Rhys' for my final Games night. It was a rousing and as always, slightly dirty, round of the Game of Things with Zach, Robyn Jodey, Veronique, Rebecca, Shelby, and of course Rhys and Lesley. The evening ended with unexpected Iron horse Fairy Tale champagne, c/o Rhys, and the passing down of my title, as well as Rhys' (Governor General and Prime Minister of Games) to the very worthy Shelby and Rebecca.

The always cool Games crew. Keep it classy, kids. 
My last Tuesday working for Disney World was a rainy one, and having switched shifts with Sam, I was able to get out early for packing and various errands that definitely didn't involve taking a nap (no sarcasm here, there was very little sleep this week). 
My last Wednesday and my very last day at Disney World was a day I thought and hoped would never ever arrive, but alas all good things must end, apparently. I had to wake up early to make sure I had all my ducks in a row for what would be my last trip to Epcot. I traded pins one last time, and got all the FriendShip Boats just cuz I could, and walked onstage all the way to the pavilion for the very last time. 
I kept it together for my very last morning meeting, which I shared with Sammie, UK merchandise from my arrival group. 
The very last morning meeting crew.
What a gorgeous bunch.
Sammie and I on our last day.
One of us is clearly happier than the other. 
Lindsay, Lesley and I on my last day ever.
We're all in a very deep state of denial.
Lindsay and I took control of the cart for most of the day until 4:00 (my farewell ceremony got pushed back a little), when I was ushered upstairs in front of the massive authentic Canadian totem pole with a rather large crowd of my favourite current and former cast members for my favourite ginger (Chase, do you even read my blog?) to say a few nice things about me, which honestly I barely heard through my sobbing, and I think I said some things that I can't quite remember, probably along the lines of "Keep being magical, kids."Group pictures were taken for quite awhile, then I was relieved from work for the last time to go eat some much-welcomed and much-photographed cake brought in by Dana. 

I chose this picture because no one can tell I've been bawling my face off.
And Chase. 
With some assistance from Lindsay, I was able to get my painted handprint up on the ceiling of the back room with everyone else's, and even managed to legibly sign it.  Mickey thanked me one more time for making magic, I changed into real clothes and half-successfully tossed my year-old hiking boots into the waterfall and walked to Cast Services for one more round of Company D and to return all my costumes. 
Some of my absolute favourite people - Rhys, Lindsay, Robyn, Zach, Ashley and Alison (it was Ashley's last day too) - joined me at Magic Kingdom for a round of Lindsey's Favourite Attractions - Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Journey of the Little Mermaid, Peter Pan's Flight, the People Mover and finally Celebrate the Magic (the castle slideshow) and one more Wishes. Ashley and I watched our very last "Kiss Goodnight" - Cinderella Castle sparkles and tells people to get out of the park, and were reunited with the rest of our crew for one last musical monorail ride (the song of the ride was the Carousel of Progress song). 

"Lindsey, Perth Ontario.
Today is My Last Day."
My very last Thursday in Florida, Lesley came over during her vacation to help me pack and not panic. Both were achieved and Lesley went to Hollywood Studios while I got to be an adult and get an oil change for my car before her big trip back to Canada. Rhys and I went to Hollywood Studios for one more round of park food (alright, Disney chicken nuggets are the best) and met up one very large group of people for one more Fantasmic (spoiler, Fantasmic is fantastic, as always). 

Me, my Storm Trooper hoodie and my very last Fantasmic.

A very obviously awesome group of Canadians.
My last Friday in Florida started off by vacating the Commons and a trip to the Florida Mall with Lindsay to acquire one more souvenir - a Disney Princess Build-A-Bear. It's a thing, I didn't make it up. 
I spent my last night in Florida in a king-sized bed in All-Star Movies with a Disney Dining Plan. There is no better way to go, people. 

My Disney Princess Build-A-Bear...

...Is a Disney Princess Hipster. She also has a lab coat.
I woke up late at All-Star Movies, eventually had lunch and got myself, my stuff and my car to the Sanford Amtrak station for the beginning of my epic trip back to Canada. My car was safely tucked away in one of twenty-seven vehicle cars (a total of forty-eight cars). I somehow got the front row on the top floor, one car from the dining car. I sat with a lovely family from Pennsylvania and had a lot in common with their fifteen-year-old daughter (Side effects may include...). 
I was off the Auto Train by 9 the next morning, having not really slept, and stupidly decided to drive the entire way home in a day. I don't recommend it and I'm trying to block it out.

So my Disney adventure has come to an end. I'm back where I started now, in my favourite lab in the world and my second favourite workplace. The pixie dust has all washed off, at least on the outside, and I can point like a normal human being again, but I can still tell you how to get to Soarin' and where the closest washrooms are ("Just to the left behind the Refreshment Port" or "In the UK by the red phone booths") but I have no idea what Limited Time Magic is for the week. And that's ok. This has most definitely been the best year of my life, I'm glad I kept this blog and I hope somebody's enjoyed reading it. 
As always, but not really,


Note: I only a little sorry about finishing this so late. I was waiting for a new dream.

Thanks to: Each and every magical person who supported my magical and financially unstable dream. 

Saturday, 23 February 2013

What is it Like, Out There Where They Glow?

It's crunch time as I near the end of my year-long dream job, but I'm trying not to focus on the end quite yet.
When we last left off, I was off to the Spirit of Aloha dinner show at the Polynesian resort with Sam, Chelsea, Jackie and Ashley. It did not get rained out (Huzzah!), we did see a couple get engaged (Awwwww!) and the food/whatever drink was in Sam's hollowed out coconut was so good (Mmmmmmm).
The Spirit of Aloha dinner show aka romantic Valentine's plans.
\The next day, I picked up Robyn (with whom I interviewed way back in the day), Zach and Courtney for a fun-filled park day. We started at Hollywood Studios, taking drawing classes, riding the Studio Backlot Tour and Toy Story Mania, getting pictures with inanimate characters (Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater) and generally fighting off hoards of Presidents' Day Weekend park-goers, as well as the standard crowds. After exhausting all options at Hollywood Studios, we spent the evening at Magic Kingdom celebrating True Love Week as part of Limited Time Magic. We had our picture taken with Cinderella's coach and saw Bert and Mary Poppins ride the carousel together. 
I find it hilarious that Magic Kingdom labels True Love as Limited Time Magic, don't you?
The only characters on property not requiring bathrooms breaks.
Saturday, I packed up the car with Rhys, Aimee and Courtney, as well as all their stuff, and we went to Port Orleans Riverside for a magical princess birthday weekend for the lovely Rhys. We stayed in one of Princess Tiana's Royal Guest suites, featuring gifts from all the Disney princesses - magic lamps as faucets, a magic mirror portrait and fireworks in the headboards. We headed to Raglan Road Downtown Disney dinner and drinks with Rhys' nearest and dearest. Getting up late to a rather cold day on Sunday, we bundled up and went to Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters Downtown Disney in lieu of facing epic crowds. We attended Magic Kingdom's extra magic hours in our winter finest (ie many many layers), playing until we couldn't play anymore.
Aimee, Rhys and I hanging in our new castle, Port Orleans. 
Pascal is cleaning the frying pan in our border!
Disney details for the win!
I was back to work for a couple days, in which I made magic like no other, and in return, had magic happen to me. I gave a six-year-old a magical, special Tinkerbell pin a few months ago, having been given it for the express purpose of making magic with guests. The girl and her family came in again, remembered me, and told me how special the pin was. On their way out, the girl said to me, "Thank you again for the pin, Lindsey, I'll keep it forever!" and I nearly died of trying not to cry. See guys, I make magic at work as often as I experience it in the parks.
I worked two days and was back to another few days off (let's all thanks seniority and vacation bids for that), in which Zach and I epically battled many a Disney villain, saving Magic Kingdom from imminent doom and destruction, aka played Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, an interactive way to explore Main Street USA, Adventureland, Fantasyland and Frontierland for the nerdy at heart. We did this all day long, so yeah it was tonnes of fun. We also did some rides, like Haunted Mansion, Journey of the Little Mermaid, Monsters Inc Laugh Floor and, for my first time ever, the illustrious Hall of Presidents. You have to do it, at least once, it'll blow your mind.
(One of these days, I'll get sick of this, but until then:)
It's called A Salute to All Nations, but Mostly America. 
Yesterday, Sam and I checked into Coronado Springs, the host resort for the Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend.  I bravely fought herds of runners to get my registration package and free t-shirt, not bothering to actually check out any Fit for a Princess Expo booths. So many female runners, I wanted to die. We woke up well before the sun this morning to get into our best princess running (ha!) attire, have breakfast, and board a bus to Epcot to get corralled in for the Mickey and Minnie Mouse Royal Family 5K, in which we mostly walked but most definitely ran for show whenever necessary. It was back to being really hot and humid. After a successful conquer of said 5K, we went back to Coronado Springs, donned our matching shirts and medals (uhhhh medallions) to actually check out the expo, where we still had to bravely fight crowds of lady runner for what is probably the cutest Disney-themed running attire on the planet. We'll see if I actually continue with my good intentions of walking/running.
Running with a sock bun is a hell of an accomplishment.
Well, there goes another excuse to procrastinate from packing.

Note: This is the fifth year of Disney's Princess Half-Marathon Weekend. If you've participated in all five, you're a "Perfect Princess".
Thanks to: My new friend Mark at the Disney Institute, for the very special and unofficial pin I got this week.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

For the Time of your Life, You're Going to Find Yourself Here

Between work, the sudden inability to acquire an ER, and the last few days of the Family Holiday Celebration discount, it's been busier than usual here in the world of magic.
The 13th (ie yesterday) was the very last chance to use the Cast Member Family Holiday Celebration discount on merchandise throughout Disney World, ie instead of the usual 20% off, we were granted 40% starting at the end of October. As such, on Sunday I scoped out Magic Kingdom for any "tangible memories" I thought I might require back in Canada, taking breaks to ride, of course, the Jungle Cruise and I took in Wishes from the People Mover. On Monday I did the same at Hollywood Studios, but opted not to take any of my new things onto Rock'n Roller Coaster, less they end up on the floor of the show building. I did run into my former monorail pilot friend, Cam though, and let's just say that I don't have to wait in line if I decide to go back this week. Thanks bro, you're magical.
The nest morning I woke up early to do the same at Epcot, being a closer that evening. To my delight, the Odyssey (ie the cast cafeteria) had a pancake special for Pancake Tuesday, so my day started out with a delightful second (cheap) breakfast. I did a full lap of World Showcase (that's 1.2 miles, if you've forgotten) before getting my lumberjack on for the rest of the day.
See all those cheap pancakes? That's why i did a lap of World Showcase pre-work. 
 That night, I went to Downtown Disney with some of the lovely folks from the attraction, plus a fellow merchie, for probably the most intellectually stimulating thing I've done all year, the movie Side Effects. It made my brain hurt.
Yesterday, I returned to Downtown Disney with Rhys following my shift, making final rounds of Once Upon a Toy and World of Disney. There was an appalling amount of Cast Members in full costumes, no nametags, shopping. This is s huge no-no, by the way. I shake my fist at you, slacker CMs.
Very early this morning, Jodey and I clad ourselves in pink and went over to Magic Kingdom, where True Love Week in being celebrated. We met Snow White and her prince, then checked in for the main event of the day - the Keys to the Kingdom, a 5-hour onstage and backstage tour tour of Magic Kingdom (including lunch). Clad like guests with our Keys to the Kingdom nametags and earpieces (like during Traditions), we followed our Guest Relations tour guide, wearing the most adorable equestrian-themed costume, all around Main Street USA, Adventureland, backstage Frontierland, to lunch at Columbia Harbour House through the Haunted Mansion and into the (apparently) much talked-about Utilidoors (ie tunnels).
Want to feel poorly dressed? Keys to the Kingdom tour. 
Much to my delight, our group also got a private tour of my very favourite attraction, Jungle Cruise, featuring a lot of history and secret backstage information I nearly passed out from learning. Here's my favourite fact of the day: Although the roof of the Enchanted Tiki Room appears to be constructed of straw, it's actually very low maintenance recycled aluminum...and that sucker's a lightning rod. Whoa!
We got to watch the Trolley Parade as part of the tour. YAY!
Tonight, I am off to what hopefully won't be a a rain-soaked dinner show, the Spirit of Aloha, at the Polynesian Resort.


Note: Alright, my second favourite fact of the day - they dye the water in Jungle Cruise so as not to reveal the actual depth of the river. Schweitzer Falls stirs up the dye.

Thanks to: My magical Scottish twin Linzi, who's program ended last week and is off for a North American tour before heading home. You're magical!
Same year, same month, same name, we're twins. 

Monday, 4 February 2013

I Can't Go Back to Where I Used to Be

It's been a week of rest, relaxation and vacation for most of the merchies in Canada, likely explaining our lack of staffing this week.
I contributed a little, getting an early release from my shift on Wednesday to purchase a very small Duffy plush (it's important) and to hightail it over to Disney's Beach Club for a stay-cation with Rhys (please note, if you do visit that site for the Beach Club, bear in mind my resort discounts are significant). We checked in and found our water-view (ie boardwalk skyline) room on the third floor, lounged in our luxuriously large and soft beds, watched Bedtime Stories with Duffy and made ourselves presentable for a dinner at the Yachtsman Steakhouse, in the Yacht Club, a very short walk from the Beach Club. We had a decadent steak and wine dinner and had to stumble only a short distance back to our glorious room. 
Bedtime Stories with my favourite, and Mickey's favourite, bear!
The next morning, it turns out we can still sleep in like champions, so we found our way to the newly re-opened Hurricane Hannah's, a poolside lunch bar, and the the Hannah burger aka the breakfast of champions. We then got our very exclusive Beach Club pool bracelets, allowing us access to the lazy river and sand-bottom pool, as well as the shipwreck-themed waterslide, for the rest of our afternoon. 
The glory that is Stormalong Bay, the Beach-Club exclusive pool
When the wind got just too cold and shadows fell over the lazy river, we cleaned ourselves up and took a tour of the boardwalk, finally checking out the Swan and Dolphin Resorts and getting dinner at Kimono, a fabulously filling sushi restaurant in the Swan. We were lazy and it was cold after dinner, so we boarded a FriendShip boat to the Yacht Club, where we disembarked and went to Beaches & Cream, a fantastically 50s-themed ice cream shop for massive amounts of dairy. We went to Martha's Vineyard, a lovely lounge, on our way back to our room, setting our alarms to actually catch breakfast the next day. 
A very pleased Duffy at Beaches & Cream
Sure enough, we woke up bright and early Friday and went to the Yacht Club's Captain's Grille breakfast buffet. Best breakfast buffet on property, I promise. So many Mickey waffles! We digested on the beach, soaking in some vitamin D and watching the awkward seagulls before picking ourselves up to go to Epcot. I composed a list a few weeks back of attractions I have yet to do, so we were able to tackle a couple. We did Sum of All Thrills, in which you design and test your own roller coaster, and Habit Heroes, which essentially guilts our guests into drinking more water, eating better and getting more exercise. Rhys hadn't been on re-imagined Test Track yet, so we went on that before taking the FriendShip boat over the Hollywood Studios. There we watched an entire performance by landscape-themed streetmosphere band Mulch, Sweat & Shears, we went on the Great Movie Ride and we went on Star Tours. We then experienced the magic that is Fantasmic and got back on our boat for more ice cream at Beaches & Cream. 
Duffy in Oz. 
 We were both back to work the next day after breakfast at the Marketplace in the Beach Club lobby. I closed but all was well due to an unexpected day off Sunday, in which I wandered about the Disney Store in the Florida Mall for an hour, went for groceries and gas, and then joined Courtney for a random night at Magic Kingdom.
Newly re-fur-bished (Get it? Cuz they're bears?)
Country Bear Jamboree
Back to work today, an open followed by dinner at Olive Garden and shopping Downtown Disney with Sam.
I'm a bit tired, but I'll be hibernating in Canada.


Note: Limited Time Magic for the week is football-themed characters preceding the parade at Magic Kingdom. Lame. Next week though, True Love Week at Magic Kingdom!

Thanks to: Veronique, who extended on Wednesday so I could leave early, and that one Cast Member in Pin Traders Downtown Disney who miraculously knows more about pins than Sam and I combined. And we know a lot. 

Saturday, 26 January 2013

I'm Like a Shooting Star, I've Come So Far

A new post. Already. I know! It's going to be a very busy month for me, what with so many magical things to do and so little time in which to do them. 
On Tuesday, we said a Canadian farewell to one of our very special and legacy cast members, DeAnna from Attractions. A bunch of (both costumed and uncostumed) Canadian cast members flooded the pre-show area of Oh Canada to watch DeAnna's last spiel, in which the movie is traditionally introduced but the leaving cast member gets a lovely introduction and gets to say some tear-inducing words about their program. Not a dry eye in the house, DeAnna.
Briana, Sam, Amanda and I bond on Christopher Robin's bed.
I know, Canada in the UK? Gasp!
The sadness continues Wednesday, when we said au revoir to Briana and Amanda, the only two remaining merchandise cast members senior to me. The ladies got the traditional gathering in the store of friends, Canadians, former managers, loved ones and parents but managed to keep things funny by speaking in unison when they were asked how their program went (answer: "It was great!"). After leaving their handprints (literally) on the ceiling of our backroom, we all gathered to watch Amanda, Briana and DeAnna all toss their well-worn hiking boots into the waterfall (DeAnna only tossed one, it's an attractions thing) in an epic tradition that likely makes Imagineering hate us.

Merchandise and Attractions folk posing prettily. 
In the evening, Briana and Amanda had their goodbye dinner at 'Ohana at the Polynesian resort. We stuffed ourselves with too much meat served from skewers and had drinks out of pineapples.
Thursday was graduation for all cast members with programs ending prior to March 1st (my end date is the 27th, for the curious). I got all dolled up and went over to the field behind Chatham Square, a residence like the Commons, with fellow graduating Canadians Briana, Amanda, DeAnna, Chelsea, Sarah, Sam and Ashley, where we proceeded to line up multiple times for our certificates, our graduation ears, our pictures with Minnie and Mickey Mouse, our pictures with our flag, and food.

Canada, your CRP class of March 1st, 2013.
Magical twins Lindsey and Linzi  celebrating our last days together. 
We then packed a change of clothes (jeans and hoodies, it gets cold at night still) and went to Magic Kingdom for a ton of castle photos, a few rides, dinner and the last showing of Wishes for Briana, Amanda and DeAnna. Darn you Wishes, why you gotta be so happy and so sad?

Friday was everyone's last day in housing, but obviously not mine yet, so I went to Animal Kingdom with Rhys to start crossing things off of my "I haven't done this yet" list. We tackled Rafiki's Planet Watch (featuring the Conservation Station), It's Tough to Be a Bug, the Triceratops Spin, the Africa Nature Trail and we met Russel and Dug from Up. In the evening, Lindsay and I spent quality time with the $10 dinner box from Pizza Hut, Molson Canadian and Mrs. Doubtfire.
The Conservation Station!
There was a lion having dental work done, but it felt rude to watch.
Hakuna matata Rafiki, Canada will help you save the planet!
I was back to work today for a surprisingly understaffed shift spent mostly upstairs making magic for the masses and not concealing my excitement when I saw the new FriendShip Boat trading pins for the first time.


Note: I found out yesterday that the entirety of Magic Kingdom, plus the 30 acres of parking, can all fit in the savannah of Animal Kingdom. How amazing is that?

Thanks to: DeAnna, for passing down her legacy award to me. It's now my favourite award of all time. 

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Tell Me Princess, Now When Did You Last Let Your Heart Decide?

For a limited time only, it actually snowed it little Canada last week. As part of Limited Time Magic, the thing for 2013 for Disney Parks, we had "Disney Magic" snow aka snowp (rhymes with soap, cuz that's what it is) intermittently blowing over the promenade in front of Canada, under the roof of our cart and, on more than one occasion, into our eyes and costumes. Accompanying the snow were Chip, Dale, Daisy and Donald Duck in their winter best. Donald was actually in Canada plaid, although I think he was visiting from Fort Wilderness, and the rest were in semi-Christmas gear. The event was billed as a Winter Wonderland in Canada, telling guests to come play in the snow. Naturally, guests thought Canada was going to provide their children with real Canadian snow with which to play. I actually told a guest that the Disney parks don't support hypothermia in children, and suggested a visit to real Canada.
How Disney interprets 'Canadian characters'.
Donald Duck...what are you doing?
On Tuesday, I went into work early to line up in my own pavilion to meet out characters. The keeners came out in droves, and the line was never shorter than twenty minutes. Luckily, I was the last "family" before the next set, so while the characters strolled off, I did the same. I went and visited my favourite bear, Duffy, and we both pointed to Canada for pictures, then I went to experience Fountain View Ice Cream in Future World. It's closing in March to make way for a Starbucks. I just barely had time to get a new outfit for my own Duffy bear (he's Peter Pan now) before going to work for the rest of the day.
Duffy loves Canada. It's just over my shoulder.
On Wednesday, I got a very slight early release from work and spent the night in the Polynesian resort with Bailey, Briana, Amanda and Sam. It was a little too late and dark to tan when I arrived, so we got to roast marshmallows on the beach instead. I think I had six. Then we got all dolled up, took the monorail from the Polynesian to Magic Kingdom, then a resort bus from Magic Kingdom to the Yacht Club for dinner at the Yachstman Steakhouse to use a remaining 50% meal coupon.
Safety begins with fire and children on a beach. 
Me, Briana, Amanda and Sam on the Hidden Mickey at the Polynesian. 
The next morning, Bailey got up early to work, Briana and Amanda got up early to tan, and Sam and I slept in the glory that is deluxe resort beds until 10, when we had to pack it up and check out. We had lunch (I had breakfast) at the Polynesian and did some shopping until the sky had completely clouded over and we took off. I spent the rest of my weekend mostly indoors, hiding from miserable weather, and attempted to score some cheap Disney merch at Property Control.
I've compiled a list (on Disney Parks receipt paper) of things I have yet to do during the remainder of my time. I hope to accomplish and document them all, for your enjoyment and mine.


Note: This week's Limited Time Magic is Long-Lost Friends week in Magic Kingdom. I shall attempt to track down Robin Hood.

Thanks to: Dana, for the Canadian treats (aka chocolate maple cookies that our guests would kill us for) this week!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

It's Our Problem-Free Philosophy

Hello! Sick again, of course, but still having fun.
On Tuesday, I worked a mid-shift (ie neither open nor close) but managed to sneak out a bit earlier, as my opening friends Briana, Amanda and Sam had already left Canada and checked into our family suite at Art of Animation, where we stayed for a few days for funsies. We were in the Lion King area (there's Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid, Lion King and Cars) and had Timon, Pumba and baby Simba guarding our building.
In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the merchies sleep tonight. 
This coffee table/ footstool in our living room had no worries.
 On Wednesday, we got up on the early side to hit up Hollywood Studios, not knowing that that was also the plan of some 35,000 other people. Long lines aside, we were able to do Rock'n Roller Coaster, Star Tours and an Animation Studios drawing class (we drew Minnie and mine was not bad at all), as well as the new walk-through exhibit, The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow, before a combination of the heat and yet another illness sent me packing back to the Lion King for the evening. The others came back after not too long and we went to Landscape of Flavours, the aptly-named food court of Art of Animation for dinner.
Sam, Briana, Amanda and I going from 0 to 57 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds.
On Thursday we all slept in until Amanda and Sam had to report to Disney's Health and Fitness Expo to pick up their supplies for the upcoming Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. Both were running the half-marathon (ie 13.1 miles ie 21.1 kilometres) and needed registration numbers, etc. We reunited at the Big Blue Pool, the main pool area of Art of Animation, belonging to the Finding Nemo buildings. Underwater speakers and salt water, not to mention jellyfish-shaped waterfalls. The lifeguards were leading kids (of all ages) in the Cupid Shuffle. There's a solid chance we outshined them all. We packed it in when the clouds rolled over, got all dolled up and took the resort bus to Magic Kingdom for a dinner reservation at Be Our Guest (if you're keeping track, this would be my second time in a week and third overall). We had a lovely, fancy, French dinner, complete with delicious grey stuff, and settled our tummies with Space Mountain and Journey of the Little Mermaid.
Friday, Amanda and Briana checked out of Art of Animation early to go open Canada, but Sam and I were able to sleep in, as a mid and a closer. We had a final breakfast (Sam had lunch) at Landscape of Flavours and headed home/to work.
Pagers at Be Our Guests disappointingly do not play "Be Our Guest". 
The next day was the WDW half-marathon, and I woke up to multiple text and facebook reports of my favourite two runners, not to mention gave away hundreds of stickers and congratulations to anyone wearing the Donald Duck half-marathon trophy. This morning was the full WDW marathon, which, although it started at 5:30 this morning, I had to cross onstage in order to get to work. Duffy the bear (the 20th mile character, characters at every mile, so Disney) and I stood across the stream of runners from each other, me wanting to cross and him likely wanting sweaty runner hugs. I literally had to be directed through by a special events cast member. We got triumphant music on the promenade until about 1:30 this afternoon, when the last runner crossed into the park.
Maybe Family Fun Run 5K for me next time, but absolutely no promises. Everyone knows how I feel about running (only for life-saving purposes, and even then...).

Note: Disney Parks' big thing in 2013 is Limited Time Magic, in which cool and magical things happen, but only for a week or two. Next week's big special event is that, starting tomorrow, it's going to snow over the Canada Pavilion and we'll have characters for meeting and greeting. MAGICAL!

Thanks to: The cast of Hollywood Studios, for being just as magical as we were expecting.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Once You Find Your Centre, You Are Sure to Win

The new year has begun and the official countdown to the end of my program is on. I've been saying it wasn't a reality I had to face until the new year. And here we are.
My first days off in the new year were spent in true Disney fashion - at the parks, having a magical time. Thursday, I got up early (for us) to meet Aimee and Rhys for a trip to Hollywood Studios. After a few stops and lengthy cab ride involving servers from the UK pavilion, we arrived to an unexpectedly large crowd. Fast Passes for Toy Story Mania were long gone, and the waits for Rock'n Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror were in the triple digits, so we decided to just wander and do what we could do.
No lines for Studio Backlot Tour,
probably due to Rhys doing this face. 
We were able to do Drawn to Animation and Muppet Vision 3-D without terrible waits, as well as eat lunch and some snacks, but after fighting the crowds for slightly too long we went Downtown Disney to Fork & Screen. We were joined by Matt (from my New Years picture) for Les Miserables, the ending of which I never actually understood until now, even though I think I've seen the stage show twice. We wandered around Downtown Disney for a little while, and danced with the kids' entertainer for a bit, then went back to Rhys' for movies and wine.

Me, Aimee and Rhys at Hollywood Studios.
No lines for Photopass!
 The next day, my Sunday, was going to be an easy day of me and Supernatural becoming better acquainted, but I was invited via text by Jodey to join her at Magic Kingdom for dinner at Be Our Guest, where I thought I was never going to get a chance to go again. We went to Magic Kingdom well before our reservation in order to put in some quality time on the People Mover and Jungle Cruise (5 minute wait!) before dinner, as well as stopping by Storybook Circus to track down our former coordinator, Dave. We did a little shopping after our 8:45 reservation, as well as meeting the Beast and thanking him for dinner, and headed home.
A painting on the wall of the Rose Gallery.
Soon to be seen on the wall of my apartment...
Don't I wish. 
The Rose Gallery room in Be Our Guest.
Roses everywhere, unsurprisingly.
The next two days at work, I was able to pick up a few more hours due to people calling in for various reasons. The crowds were tapering out, and are now almost completely gone due to kids going back to school. Highlight story of my program though: Lindsay and I were at the cart when a rogue Guest Relations cast member strolled by. Guest Relations are normally only seen on the promenade on their way to work or with a group of guests, so we inquired as to the location of his guests. He said they were in the UK and he was giving them some time while he wandered round Canada. Lindsay told him  she'd like to be Guest Relations for the sole purpose of showing around John Stamos, who visited the park a few months ago and had actually been spotted the day before in the Rose & Crown Pub. The Guest Relations cast member's jaw dropped and he told us that's exactly who he was showing around today. This cast member then went above and beyond, stopping back at the cart with his guests, John Stamos and a woman he was with, at with point we all shook hands and had a merry random time dying of happiness.


Note: Early January? Splendid time to visit Disney World. Downside? Very few College Program kids around.

Thanks to: John Stamos. For being so handsome and polite.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

It is the Summer of the Soul in December

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2013 to everyone!
In case you remember or were wondering, Christmas dinner at Rhys' house pre-games was just wonderful.
Christmas day, I continued my unprecedented 50-hour work week with a whopping 12 hour, open-to-close shift. The park was actually quite busy, and guests were (again, unprecedented) extremely polite and kind, as I was thanked several times by guests for working so they could visit Epcot on Christmas Day. You're welcome, and I'm in it for the holiday pay. And the glitter. That night, after a late close, a few of us were invited to Sam's parents' apartment for a late Christmas day dinner and general taste of real life. Again, just fantastic food. Three turkey dinners for me this year, how lucky am I?
Another whopping shift the next day, in which our Canada Santa (Nowell the lumberjack) wished me a very happy Boxing Day and I was very moved that he knew that. No Boxing Day sales in little Canada, I'm afraid. Not a lot of guests at all, but it was very cold which probably kept them all indoors.
The next day, after a very brief stop at the Mall at Millenia, Rhys and I paid a visit to a very appropriate and yet definitely unfrequented (by us) theme park. The Holy Land Experience. Sponsored by The Bible Network. And Chick-Fil-A, I think.
Caffeine, Holy Land-style.
We blasphemously experienced a glittery wax museum, a 55-minute walk-through exhibit of the history of the bible (complete with audio animatronics), many many stores, a few delicious-smelling restaurants, the tiny town of Bethlehem and the world's largest indoor model of Jerusalem (with its very own wailing wall, apparently).
Doctor Who references everywhere!
The park was crowded. It was a bit disarming. Especially when we had to line up for the day's main attraction in the more-than-slightly ostentatious Church of All Nations. Let's just say I was hoping for Jesus Christ Superstar and got Sunday morning TV evangelist times a thousand. The only cure was Olive Garden.
Oooh shiny. And seasonal!
The next day, Rhys and I set out on the late side for Animal Kingdom, and I most definitely managed to get lost on the way there. The goal for Animal Kingdom was Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade, one of the few remaining Christmas attractions still kicking around. It was magical. We attempted to go Downtown Disney to see Les Miserables, but it was completely sold out (guests, you ruin all my plans), so we went to Bob Evans instead. We were going to try to watch the Holiday IllumiNations later on, but it was just pouring rain so we watched Muppet Christmas Carol instead.
Earmuffs and mittens on the tiger! So cute, Animal Kingdom!
New Year's Eve, I had switched shifts to work over midnight, with some notion that it would be very exciting to work in the park during the countdown. I started at 7:00 and ended at 1:30. I guess I wasn't the only one who thought it would be fun to be in Epcot for New Year's Eve, as we almost reached capacity at an enormous and unbelievable 84 352 people present in the park (that includes cast members, and I legit got that stat from a manager). It felt like that many. And it felt like that many were in the park exclusively to purchase glow merchandise from the Canada cart. It was utter insanity and I've never seen anything like it. The same can be said for our fireworks. Although they did start a few minutes late, almost every pavilion got their own little fireworks display, in the order that they celebrated the New Year. Canada, Mexico and the US got the share the big epic fireworks following IllumiNations. The guests mostly just filed out in an orderly, herd-like fashion afterwards, and I pretty much stood there and waved for half an hour before remembering to close to cart.
Matt Perry and I at 2am with our festive 2013 hats. 
Part attendance is still predicted to be high for the week, but I think I've seen the peak attendance of my program.
Happy New Year. May you all resolve to visit the Canada pavilion this year.

Note: If you ever think spending Christmas or New Year's Eve at WDW is a good idea, find me. We'll chat about how wrong you are.

Thanks to: Everyone who sent me Christmas love in the form of cards, presents or facebook messages. Thanks for thinking of me, and if I couldn't spend Christmas at home, I'm grateful to have spent it at the happiest place on Earth.