Saturday, August 6, 2011

What I'm Reading

After a 7-month-long trip to Walt Disney World in hellish Orlando, FL, I figured I’d cleanse a little via some Disneyland literature. The book: Disneyland Through the Decades

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cars 2: My Belated Thoughts

Pixar means many things. Most obviously it's the name of the pioneering film studio in Emeryville, Ca.

 For me, Pixar means much more: quality, excitement, entertainment, wonder, thrill, joy.

And, for the first time ever, it means disappointment. It had to happen, the law of averages tells me. To be fair, I saw it coming, but now that it's here, my acute foresight does not make the pain of seeing an average film that is of the Pixar brand any less searing.

The motifs, the morals and the jokes of the film lead me to believe that the movie is more Disney than it is Pixar. The $10 billion in projected merchandise sales also leads me to this conclusion, as does the special toy sections in Target and Ride Makerz, or anywhere else where money be be exchanged for goods.

Pixar's productions, as with most Disney related films, are about overcoming a difference or obstacle. In "UP," Carl faced living a life without his wife and an unfulfilled dream weighing down on him, "Ratatoullie," a rat that loved to cook; "WALL-E," a robot that could love. With "Cars 2," it’s a red neck truck that gets mistaken as a spy, and in the process, gets rejected by his friend, who wants him to change.

I wanted Mater to change, too. Next time, be a little less of a push over, Lightning! I'm not endorsing rejecting who you are, but if who you are is as unfunny and bland as Tow Mater, change might not be a bad thing. Especially if you're that kind of person/car and you happen to be starring in a movie produced by my favorite studio. In that case, change, and change quickly, preferably into a new, original character that has nothing to do with a sequel. Like say, a red-headed scottish girl. That sounds like a good idea. A one eyed green walking sphere? Don't change into that.

"Cars 2" could have been made by any studio. That emotion that Pixar films elicit, that connection that is made with the characters, the excitement the plots bring, it's always magical. None of that exists in "Cars 2." It's just one stupid, fart/red-neck/ignorant joke after another. There are some hints of humor that remind you that what you're watching, at one point (the PS, and the PPS from Mater, that was funny), had The Business’s most original minds behind it, but the rest of it makes apparent you that they had to hand their baby over at some point to Rumpel Stiltsken. Those 11 films of spun gold had to be paid for. "Toy Story 2" took the necklace, "3" the ring.            

It's a movie made for a specific audience, something that has not been done by Pixar: that's how I see it. Obviously, Lasseter and Co. want to make movies that people enjoy, and have been successful in doing so.  But the secret to that success is that the movies were made for self satisfaction.They're huge film fans making movies that they would like, which seems like an obvious way to make a film. And it's what they did, until Disney took over, made them release the film a year early, and slowly stripped them of their artistic integrity. When I visited the studios late last year, I was informed that the people in the rooms around me were a little peeved, having been forced to put the film out a year early. Their frustration shows. It also lives in me and all others who truly and devotedly love what they do at Pixar.

Here's to waiting for their next original film, "Brave."

Friday, June 10, 2011

Disney Related Review: The AMC Dine-In Theaters

Today I shall talk about something only slightly related to Disney: The AMC Dine-In Theaters located in the Downtown Disney District at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, United States, Planet Earth, Milky Way Galaxy (just to clear up any confusion).

What welcomes you
I came upon this experience in a most unconventional way: I was forced into it. I wanted to see the 6:30 Kung Fu Panda (yes, a Dreamworks film, sacrilege, I know), and it turns out that the 6:30 was in the Dine-In Theater. I was not going to change the time, so I bit the bullet and paid the extra $2 for the Dine-In experience, and then the extra $2 for the 3D experience, and then the extra money for the food and tip. So because of my stubbornness, I spent an extra $15ish more than I wanted to. But I got a blog post out of it, so, priceless? For you, at least.

After walking from the normal ticket booth to the entrance of the Dine-In Theaters at the other end of the 24-screen theater, I hurried in, got my ticket torn, received a weird look from the ticket taker (it wasn’t because my fly was down: I’d pulled it up at that point), walked in, sat in my assigned seat, and took in my setting.

The seats were much larger than your typical theater recliner, accompanied by a small, bar-esque table in front of you that is just far enough away from your seat to make eating a dish a comfortable activity, all of it lit with some classic movie theater rope-light .

After sitting for about 10 minutes, I pressed my waiter button (which all restaurants should have. I’m a guy who needs around 8 refills a meal, and I’m too passive to just ask, so a “waiter, come hither!” button would be perfect for me), and eventually the waiter came hither, sat next to me in the empty seat, and took my small order of a popcorn and a Diet Coke.

A couple minutes later, he delivered, and I started eating at an extremely rapid pace so I could take advantage of having the waiter refill my popcorn. I didn’t need to try to inhale my drink because that’s a natural thing for me (technically so is eating a lot, but an entire large popcorn, that took some Kung Fu Panda-like concentration.)
My "meal" a Diet and popcorn

Overall, the waiters walking through the theater, taking and delivering orders, was not as distracting as it could be. Neither was the brighter-than-usual area lighting, and the air must have been circulated in the theater better than the non-dine in theaters, because unlike when the person behind me orders a hot dog with everything, and the person in front of me orders nachos con jalapeƱo, thus making the theater stink like a flamingo corral, the other-people’s-food-always-smells-like-a-garbage-can problem was not a factor.

What was a problem was going through the menu, getting an order, getting a bill, paying it and the distraction all of that caused. I’m a guy who likes to be completely immersed in a film at the theaters, and generally am. That’s why I’m willing to drop so much dough at the box office every month. The things that should have been the obvious distractions were no problem, but the Dine-In experience still has its flaws. If you’re serious about your movies, then skip it.  Dining in at a movie is a novelty, and like all novelties that have to do with the film going experience (3D, Drive Ins, Sing-alongs), it’s more distracting than anything. If you want to see a movie, than do that and only that.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Going Behind the Scenes at Expedition Everest

While here on the College Program, many opportunities have been presented to me. The Spring formal, trips to Tampa Bay Rays games, speaker session with Meg Crofton, networking opportunities. They do a pretty OK job when it comes to leading us CP horses to water when it comes to activities and networking opportunities. I’m a horse that likes drinking too, so for me, I’ve tried to take advantage of every opportunity presented to me.

Unfortunately, if the event doesn’t happen on a Wednesday or Thursday, I’m out of luck, because the first priority assigned to me as a CP is to work. Work I do, all day for five days a week. I’ve been able to squeeze a few CP Alumni speaker series events into the mix, and I went Busch Gardens Thursday, but generally, I see an event that interests me, I look at my schedule and go “Oh well, can’t do it, I work that day.”

Not this week! As aforementioned, I went on a the Bush Gardens CP housing event and experienced Cheetah Hunt (and it’s 90 minute queue), then the following day, I was lucky enough to go on a backstage tour of Expedition Everest. Backstage tours: this is why I did the College Program, people!

It was awesome. Totally worth waking up at 5:30 in the AM after a day of Busch Gardens excitement, and before a 5:15 PM-3:15 AM shift.

A small group of us was vanned over to Animal Kingdom, and we drove around the massive outer circumference of the Walt Disney World Resort’s largest theme park, square footage wise. It smelled terrible, like there was a bunch of animals back there or something...

We then parked behind the Everest peak, and were taken to meet our tour guides in front of the ride. They introduced themselves, and then started the tour. We first walked into the mountain range, and it was spectacular. Well, to me at least. To anyone else, it was a bunch of steel beams, cement blocks, and a cement slab floor. I was fascinated by the intertwining steel tubes and bars, holding up the mountain range itself, the coaster’s track, and the walkways around the track. The three never touch, and are all separate structures. They informed us the mountain was built around the track. Then there was a fourth structure: one specifically to hold up the massive Yeti.

The ghastly Himalayan primate was the next stop on our tour, and seeing the beast up close with the lights on was worth the price of admission (the price was $0.00, not to demean to tour, just to be funny). The thing was massive, its face horrifying, even in a well lit environment. They explained to us how the fur weighs a ton, is made of up actual animal fur, and can be completely removed to expose the audioanimatronic skeleton. We also learned that the attraction itself cost $90 million, and the Yeti alone was $20 million. And it hasn’t been fully operational since 2009. The sweeping motion it executed every time a train went by was too much for its foundation, causing so much force it was tearing its roots out of the ground. To fix the beast, they would have to shut down the attraction. To shut down to attraction would mean a loss of five to eight thousand guests in the park a day, and they do not want that. A complete ride rehab is rumored to be happening next year, but as of now, it’s just a rumor.

We then left the good old Yeti behind to walk to 14 flights of stairs to the ride-switch, where the train stops and then proceeds to go backwards. This provided a beautiful vista of all three of the parks, as Expedition Everest is the tallest structure at the Walt Disney World resort, just a wee bit taller than the Tower of Terror, and just a wee bit shorter than what would lawfully require it to have a blinking light at the top to warn planes, and ruin the show.

The detail of the surrounding area of the ride switch, with Yeti foot prints, the broken track, and the prayer flags was a sight to see up close.

After all this, we walked over to the lift, which was an even more fantastic sight. Not only was there a great view of the other Disney World resorts, theme parks and surrounding area, the entire Animal Kingdom park was right there, under my stuffy nose (I think Busch Gardens got me sick). I’ve always enjoyed looking around when I rode the train up the lift as a guest, but getting to stand up there and take it all in: it was one of the greatest and most unique experiences I may ever have.

Everything that happened after that was much more informative, much less breathtaking, and not really worth mentioning. They showed us the hidden Mickey’s in the queue, talked about all the inside jokes and references in Asia and in the queue, and gave us a ton of other insider information that I’m sure i’ll bore whoever’s in line with me the next time I partake in Expedition Everest. I’ll spare you, no worries. Especially since you’ve read 900 words deep into this post. Good job.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Star Tours: My Adventure Continues

My adventure continued unexpectedly the other day. After checking my wait times app, I noticed that for Hollywood Studios, Star Tours was registering a time. I asked around at Epcot, and as seemed to be the rule of the week-long vacation I took (to go to the place I work), I got a lousy answer that left me back at where I started. The only way to find out if the ride was indeed open would have to be to check it myself.

Your Starspeeder awaits
So, me and my girlfriend who was visiting headed over to Hollywood Studios from Epcot. (To emphasize how slow those friendship boats are, we missed the one leaving from Epcot, so we went to the bathroom, then walked to the Swan and Dolphin and caught the same boat. But that’s besides the point) We walked into Hollywood Studios, walked over to the area where Star Tours is, and were greeted with a glowing red wait time sign reading “45 minutes.” Hoorah! The new attraction was having its soft opening!

So we got in the queue, and waited. It was boring until we got inside, and were greeted by the new queue. It looked pretty much the same as the old one (at least Disneyland’s old one, I don’t know what the old Hollywood Studios queue looked like), except much shinier, and with that new carpet smell.

Looks are about where the similarities started and ended. The new screen advertising the different destinations Star Tours offered, as well as flight statues, was crisp and gorgeous, advertising all the new destinations available that the adventure is being continued.

IN the second part of the queue, I noticed Rex, the old Star Tours pilot droid voiced by Paul Reubens, sitting in a box labeled “defective,” waiting to be shipped back to the manufacturer. It was one of those touches that makes Disney stand out above the rest.

Move up the queue, and there were silouhettes of different inhabitants of the Star Wars universe walking by, boarding their Starspeeders. Before that, there’s a hilarious little robot performing baggage checks, who talks to the queue about himself, his desires, and the contents of the baggage he’s inspecting. In front of him sits a screen, showing those in the queue the contents of the bags, which includes things like Indiana Jone’s hate, the Incredible’s suits, and many other Disney references, making it wholly entertaining. After that, there’s a droid taking infared shots of people in the queue, adding a slightly interavtive element, like the green-screen at the end of Magic Kingdom’s “Space Mountain.”

Then there’s the actual attraction. Before boarding, a video is show of what’s going on outside your star Starspeeder as it gets ready to take off. Some droids provide a bit of slapstick humor as they try to clean the Starspeeder. Then, C-3PO goes in to fix some problems with something that has to do with binary, replacing the pilot in the pilots seat, and becomes stuck in the cabin. This is when you’re greeted by Aly, voiced by Allison Janney, who tells you the business (don’t take pictures, smoke, yada yada.) You then board your Star Speeder and the Adventure begins.

C-3PO greets you in the queue
First off, there are two options, you either get stopped by Storm Troopers or Darth Vader, both of whom are looking for a Rebel Spy who happens to be on your star speeder. This rebel spy could be you, as a picture is taken of someone in the Starspeeder and used in the ride. This got a good laugh the five times I went on the ride, and is a great way to make each tour through the universe seem unique and personal. Then you take off to a Tatooine, Hoth, Kashyyyk, the Death Star, Naboo or Corsucant leave the planet, get a transmission of either Princess Leia, Yoda or Admiral Ackbar, then take off to one of the aforementioned planets that you haven’t visited yet. The order is always interception, planet, transmission, planet, but different combinations are possible, making there 50-something possibilities, all of which you can log on your Star Tours passport at on your mobile. Take advantage of that. It’s cool, at least to me, but I like to keep everything recorded.

Congratulations! You’ve made it this far. You must really be interested in Star Tours. My thoughts on the ride are: it’s a gigantic improvement on the last Star Tours, which was great for its time, but desperately needed an upgrade. It got one worthy of the Star Wars and Star Tours names. There was a family that rode behind us our second ride, and it was there first time. They went into the ride apprehensive, sighting the aged style of the original, and they came out of it ecstatic. I was also ecstatic that second time because it was completely different than the first. The third-through-fifth times repeated certain aspects, but were never exactly the same. Though I never got a transmission from Yoda, which I was disappointed about.

By the fourth time I went on the attraction in a row, I was also pretty darn nauseous, as was my girlfriend. The combination of 3D and motion simulation gave my head quite a spin. So watch out for that. The new attraction was amaing though, especially since the wait got down to nothing by the end of the night, and I got to go on it before it’s official opening. In the future, I know the ride will be one that’s fun to repeat during a week or so long vacation. Going on it four times in a row, the repeats got a little tired, but over a couple of days, the ride will no doubt stay engaging. It’ll be a great addition to the ride-barren Hollywood Studios, and be just another cherry on top for Disneyland when it opens there in June.  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Which Attraction Is Better Where? Fantasyland Edition, Part II

Here goes part two, people. I’m just going to jump right into it:

Walt Disney World's Version of Peter Pan's Flight
Dumbo the Flying Elephant: It's the same same ride at both places. Not uncommon. They’re differences between to two, though. Much like “Snow White’s Scary Adventure,” the Walt Disney World version will cease to exist when the new Fantasyland opens, at least in its current form. A new Dumbo, with two different sections of flying elephants, doubling the capacity, and a first-of-its-kind deli-ticket style line will open as part of the new Fantasyland. As it stands, the Disneyland version has superior theming, with the ride doubling as a water feature, taking off over a fountain of sorts, while the Disney World version takes off over a drab, cement slab.

Disneyland's Version of Peter Pan's flight. It's prettier
Peter Pan’s Flight: It’s a little repetitive, but the attractions are almost identical. The biggest difference is that the Walt Disney World version has a Fastpass option, which is both a good and bad thing. It’s a good thing if you have the a Fastpass, and bad thing if you decide to wait in stand-by. The Fastpass options can make the stand-by queue up to an hour longer, as a friend of mine who works the attraction has reported. So in terms of equality, the Disneyland version bests its Florida counterpart. Also, the theming of Disneyland’s Fantasyland is much more detailed and much less circus-like, so the Disneyland version has a more attractive facade.

it’s a small world: To the untrained eye, these two attractions can seem very similar on the inside as well. Anyone that can see can tell that Disneyland’s version has the superior facade, so large and triumphant that “The Magic, The Memories and You!” are projected onto it. Also, the cukoo-clock aspect of the whole shindig is great, and during Christmas, the projection show that takes place on it is fantastic. Then you go inside, and you’ll notice that Disneyland’s version is much more throughly themed, with less visible wires, better hidden ceilings, and what seems to be a more routine maintenance schedule. For some reason, the World version just seems cheap compared to its the original attraction in California.

Disneyland also has the Storybook Cruises, Casey Jr., Mr Toad’s Wild Ride and the Matterhorn, which at the moment makes it a far superior land. We’ll see how it compares to the new Fantasyland expansion in Walt Disney World, which will ad a re-themed Goofy’s Barn Stormer, a Beauty and the Beast themed restaurant, Ariel’s Undersea Adventure dark ride, Gaston’s Pub, and the aforementioned larger Dumbo and Seven Dwarves Mine Train. My sentiments are it’ll make it almost, but not exactly up to par with the original in California.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Which Attraction Is Better Where? Fantasyland Edition, Part I

Now that I’ve examined Tomorrowland, I figured I’d discuss its adjacent land: Fantasyland.

It may seem that the two Fantasylands are similar, but that’s not the case. It’s my opinion that the duplicate lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World are more different than any other twin lands. This will be even more apparent when the new Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland Expansion opens in 2012, and the Florida version will almost stand a chance against it’s Anaheim counterpart.

I’ll start from East to West, which means:

Disneyland's Mad Tea Party 
The Mad Tea Party: The attractions themselves are similar. There are few ways you can vary on the concept of spinning tea cups. Where the rides differ, as with most other things in Disneyland and Walt Disney World, is the theming. And as is common, it’s weaker theming in the World. Over in Disneyland, the Mad Tea Party has it’s own little Alice in Wonderland area, with it’s sister dark ride sitting next to it. It also sits uncovered, with sightly vines and lanterns that hang overhead to form a canopy. At the World, the old bricks and Alice topiaries are a nice touch, but as it's under an unattractive old roof (which I know is necessary due to Florida weather) takes away the appeal. Also, the sort of island it creates makes it feel it’s obligated to be at Walt Disney World because of its popular counterpart at Disneyland, not because they had a place that it fit right into.

Walt Disney World's Mad Tea Party
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: The attractions themselves are almost identical, although in different areas of the parks, Disneyland’s in Critter Country and Walt Disney World’s in Fantasyland. What separates these two dark rides is the queue. At Disneyland, it’s just a queue, and one that is rarely full, while in Florida, it’s a new, revamped interactive queue, complete with Winnie the Pooh’s house (or Mr. Sanderz), touch-screen honey ooze, playground, and a number of other fun, interactive elements. It even has a Fastpass... on the opposite side of Fantasyland. It needs it, as the line often reaches 40 minutes to an hour, which could in part be because of the Fastpass.

Snow White’s Scary Adventure: These two dark rides also share very little variation, for now at least. Once the new Fantasyland expansion happens at The Magic Kingdom, they will share one huge difference: one will exist and the other will be but a memory, replaced with a hall to visit the princesses. In its place will be the thrilling Seven Dwarves Mine Train, a new age roller coaster experience. But it will still hurt; a classic attraction axed so a litter of princesses can be meet and greet with a specific audience, one much less general than the audience the classic dark ride appeals to. So I guess that makes the one at Disneyland the superior of the two, since it will exist next year.

Part II, with the rest of the Fantasyland attractions compared and contrasted, is coming soon! I didn't want to shock everyone out of reading the article with it's 1000+ word count, so I split it up. Yay!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Which Attraction Is Better Where? Tomorrowland Edition

Walt Disney World would not be here if it were not for the “Happiest Place on Earth,” Disneyland. The two parks share many attractions, amongst other things.

Disneyland's Tomorrowland Hub Signage
Often, when attractions are on both coasts, there are slight differences, and those variations are usually big enough to make a certain attraction better than another. Sometimes, the attractions are almost identical, which is, to me, ideal. Being on a ride on one side of the country and knowing for certain that the grass is greener on the other side can make the experience that much less exciting.

So I’ve decided to make a list of sorts, naming of the attractions that exist at both resorts, citing which ones are better, worse, or the same.

Today, I’ll go through Tomorrowland. In the future I’ll do an entry on the other duplicate attractions, not specificaly in any order. Tomorrowland just has the most cross overs.

Walt Disney World's Tomorrowland Hub Signage
Space Mountain: Disneyland is by far the better mountain of the two. With it’s refurbishment taking much longer and having been much more extensive, the California version of this attraction is smoother, darker, and all around more fun. The new sound system installed on its Florida counterpart is a sad attempt at an “improvement,” and with the Disneyland version having speakers inside the “rockets,” Magic Kingdom’s Space Mountain just seems cheap.

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin/Astro Blasters: The scenes and almost everything else are the same at both parks, except one small difference: the guns and how they are mounted. In Disneyland, they are attached to a long cord, while at the Magic Kingdom they are mounted onto the ride vehicle. For me, this difference means I can get a much higher score in California because there is more freedom of motion, so for that the decision goes to Disneyland as the superior version.

Autopia/Tomorrowland Speedway: Tomorrowland Speedway seems like a copout. It’s just pavement and some speakers that make it sound like you’re on a raceway. There’s nothing to look at except the other drivers who you’re racing at a whopping five-miles-an-hour. The theming is nonexistent. So, again, the Disneyland version is better. It’s got more foliage and just a more exciting track in general. They both need some sort of update, though.

Astro Orbiter: This one goes to Disney World. Disneyland’s is on the ground, at the front of Tomorrowland, whereas Disney World’s is on elevated above the platform to board the People Mover in the center of Tomorrowland, providing a great view of Cinderella’s castle, the Contemporary resort, and the rest of Tomorrowland. How many version of Dumbo do we need? (three, apparently).

The People Mover: This one os more of a rhetorical question. Obviously, Disney World’s version is better, because it still exists, and for that I am grateful. Disneyland’s version of the ride went down years ago, and now the track just sits there, vacant.  Something needs to be done!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Port Orleans: It's Huge

I've been down here in Orlando, living the Walt Disney World life for a couple of months now. I've done just about everything I can do, with the exception of The American Idol Experience, because I'm a male and I'm not under the age of 15.

Oh. I also haven't gone to all the resorts at the Walt Disney World...Resort. There's a lot of them, and let's be honest for a second (all that other stuff I've written is a lie. This second, right here, this is going to be the truth second, so you better read what I intend you to read in the allotted time. Or your lollygagging will turn my truth into more lies. Lies!), making the choice between Rock N' Roller Coaster, even for the 42 time, or walking around a resort you'll never be able to afford to stay in, Rock 'N' Roller coaster seems like the clear winner.

It isn't always though. This time I went to Epcot first. Food! I got a bratwurst at Somerfest. Then I hopped on a bus and headed over to the Port Orleans resort, getting off at the first stop at the French Quarter, not knowing the marathon I was getting myself into. The place has like eight bus stops. Besides the Aligator Bayou, anything less would have been too small.

Some background: when I was a senior in high school, on spring break I did a service trip to Nawleans, touring the city and fixing up some houses. I apologize to the people's houses I wrecked with some cut rate dry-walling, and I thank the city of New Orleans for being so amazing. I fell in love with the wounded city, and I was looking forward to seeing how Disney captured its essence in resort form. It's already done a great job in land form with New Orleans square, which kicks Liberty Square in the pants, if you were wondering.

My first stop was the French Quarter. I enjoyed it immensely. It helps that Florida has the same, heavy weather that New Orleans and its swamps have, getting you in the right state of mind. They did a great job making the walkways feel like streets, and the buildings feel like crammed apartments. The water features were a sparkling touch. The pool, with its serpent, was a prime example of good theming, and the alligators surrounding it with their jazz instruments were a nice touch. Not as cool as the Polynesian's volcano, but it fit the resort well.

Then I took the pontoon over to Riverside, the grand daddy section of the resort. It had a magnificent lobby, retail store and quick service restaurant, with a mill theme. Then, like aforementioned, there was the Alligator Bayou. The flora and fauna were great, but the buildings were just buildings.

Later, I got to the sections themed after southern mansions, forgetting about all the sub-par stuff that preceded them. I've always loved southern mansions, with their grand stair cases, pillars, sprawling front yards, and weeping willows. Mostly this is due to my love of the film Forrest Gump. The pool was alright, not the best I've seen, but it also went well with the theme.

After the hike around the Port Orleans campus, I was a wee bit bummed that if I ever were to stay there, it would be a long while, and that it'd probably be just as long before I get to visit the Big Easy itself. But for now, the resort, and the square in Disneyland will have to do.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Animal Kingdom: The Best Themed Park of the Walt Disney World Resort

Walt Disney's Animal Kingdom is, in a way, the outcast of the four parks that make up the Walt Disney World Resort. It has the shortest hours, the least amount of attractions and is the newest of the four, thus giving it the most to prove. Being young, it's without that "legacy" the others can brag about.

But what it lacks in attractions, hours, and age, it makes up for in theming. The other three parks are okay when it comes to theming: Epcot with its World Showcase, Hollywood Studios with its Sunset Boulevard and the Magic Kingdom with just about ever land within its boundaries. But nothing can really compare to what imagineer Joe Rohde did with Walt Disney Worlds largest park, square-acreage-wise.

Being the newest park has its advantages, which is clearly seen in the detail of almost every square foot in the park. Walking up to the entrance gate, if you look down, you will notice the pattern of a tree. Walking through the gates and onto Discovery Island, you'll notice the hidden animal exhibits that hint to new guests at what they are about to experience. Then, once on Discovery Island, you'll notice the gigantic Tree of Life, which with its sheer size is impressive from a distance, but with its intricately detailed roots, is even more impressive from close up.

Go through the queues of Expedition Everest and Kali River Rapids in Asia, and you'll be wowed with the amazing features that surround you and set up the story you'll fully experience once on board the attraction.

Expedition Everest takes you through what feels like a classic Nepalise courtyard, then takes you through what  a small, home made-feeling museum dedicated to the Yeti you're about to encounter. With its sculptures, displays, artifacts and interactive features such as the bells that can be heard ringing throughout the queue, the whole experience perfectly frames the main feature of the roller coaster and almost outshines the brief ride you're about to experience.

Almost the same thing can be said about Kali River Rapids. The queue is amazing, with its different areas setting up the whole story behind the ride. With it's fallen, Asian themed statues at the forefront of the queue, accompanied by the sound of chainsaws roaring in the distance, the clash of history and destruction theme is set up. Then you walk through its gorgeously themed queue, with a big statue of an cat greeting you, looking to be thousands of years old. There are the Bollywood posters, the old plates, the colorful chandeliers, the cobra fountain and the carpeted ceilings.

The amazing theming of the Tree of Life
Walk around Asia and you'll see the roads, marked with bicycle tracks, the boats packed, ready to sail down the river to trade. The Quick Service food stations meant to look like authentic huts or mobile vendor and are splendid.

Head over to Africa and all the shops and restaurants are housed in what looks to be an authentic African village. And unlike Frontierland and Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom, that's all you can see. There's nothing to distract from the story the imagnineers created for you.

And of course there's the Tree of Life. With it's hundreds of animals cleverly carved into the roots and trunk of the enormous tree, it epitomizes amazing theming.

With all this, one of the aforementioned faults of Disney's Animal Kingdom is really one of its strengths: its young age. It was built in a more modern age, with more resources available, and thus it feels like a newer, better, more shiny thing.

Next time, when you're walking around Dinoland, Africa, Asia or Discovery island, take a couple of minutes to observe the excellent theming of Walt Disney's World's youngest parks, and appreciate the most well themed, and possibly most "Disney" of the parks at Disney World.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Mickey and His Magical New Space

"Where's that place with Mickey and Minnie's houses where you can meet them and stuff?"

That's a question I frequently get, still, even though the Magic Kingdom's Toontown shut down mid-February. It's always a great opportunity to make some type of economy-related joke about Mickey losing his house, though a huge void has been left ever since: an official place to meet Mickey. It gave Mr. Mouse a great opportunity to dust off some outfits in his wardrobe, such as his colonial garb for his meet and greets in the Hall of President's lobby, and his farm-attire when he was near Splash Mountain. 

When you experience an event as monumental as meeting "The Mouse that Started It All,"having it happen behind Space Mountain, or under Splash  just lacks that extra special feeling. The location has a lot to do with it, it's kind of like realty, except less boring. 

No longer is Mickey a transient mouse, as his new meet-and-greet spot officially opened in exposition hall on April 1. Many new features are included in Mickey's new space, such as interactive art and the first ever Fastpass option for meeting a character. My frequent observation has shown that the Princesses always have a longer line than Mickey, which I find a little odd as meeting them is not as essential to a trip to Disney World. I guess that justifies, only a little bit, why it was decided to tear out a classic attraction in "Snow White's Scary Adventure" to make room for essentially a room to meet the princesses. 

We're a very cute trio
When I went to go visit Mickey in his new space, the stand-by wait time was posted as only being 10  minutes, so I waited, checking out the interactive art and queue overall being pretty underwhelmed with the whole queue experience. Mostly, with the queue, there was just a ton of red-velvet rope, and a couple pictures here and there. If there was an actual wait, it would have been a pretty boring time. And a closer examination of the interactive art revealed that some of the components of the image were pixelated. Pixelation is one of my biggest pet-peeves, it's almost the epitome of lack of attention to detail.  

Once inside Magician Mickey's dressing room, I also felt like it was lacking something. Maybe it was just too small, but I'll get off the negative train at this station. 

I did greatly enjoy all the innuendo's and references to Disney classic that occupied the space in Magician Mickey's dressing room. From the punny titles of the books laying around, to Madame Leota's crystal ball sitting on the shelf, glowing and making noise, to the notes posted on the bulletin board, a high level of attention to detail was paid on the whole room. A lot of it was what I feel is essential "Disney," a mixture of clever wit and magic. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Boo! The new Haunted Mansion Queue

I've talked about my admiration of the classic Haunted Mansion attraction before, how I love it's mixture of campy fun, great storytelling and Disney magic.

Generally, when I talk about how I love just about anything Disney Parks, I'm talking about the Disneyland version. Well, lucky for me, Liberty Square's Haunted Mansion was built at just about the same time as New Orleans Square's, and the attractions are virtually the same. I may go as far as to say the World's version is slightly better, with it's haunted stair case scene. Now that it has the new hitchhiking ghosts and interactive queue, it's almost definitely the superior of the two manors.

Yesterday, I finally had some time off from my job at the Magic Kingdom, so what did I do? I went back to the Magic Kingdom. They've been getting quite the array of new features, so it made the most sense to go back to the place I spend 40+ hours a week.

First off, I went to visit Magician Mickey. More on that later.

Then, I went over to Liberty Square to visit the Haunted Mansion. Along with half the park.

One of the criticisms of the new interactive queue is that there's hardly anyone ever in the queue for the Mansion, seeing as it has an omnimover system, thus resulting in an extremely high rider capacity. Not the day I went. The stand-by wait time was posted at 50 minutes, which I ignored, because as the future often proves, it was a little exaggerated.

The Captain
Once I got up to the new and exciting features I came to, I was surprised to find that it was an optional part of the line. You could either go through and experience the new features, or go straight into the foyer and then the stretching room. I obviously didn't do the former.

What I found in the interactive queue was great. The touch-and-play instruments, the misty organ, the bookcase and the interactive poetry were great. Also, Madam Leota's living tombstone was very creepy, and thus fantastic.

My only negatives words on the subject would be that it was really more of an area than a queue. It was nice seeing everything in one fell swoop, but it would have been nice to see it while I was actually waiting in line, like "Space Mountain's: and "Soarin's" games. There was a tone of boring, chain-linked queue as a predecessor to the interactive part that could have been livened up.

Then, there was the other part of the Haunted Mansion that I came for, at the exact opposite end of the attraction: the new hitchhiking ghosts. I'll get to the point: they're amazing. I've always pantomimed petting or elbowing the previous, static hitchhiking ghosts, and now they do the same (kind of) thing to me! I went on a tour of the mansion twice, and I was a little annoyed that both times I got the bearded ghost, who both times put his beard on my face. The other ghosts seem to switch the heads of the guests it sits in between, and I don't know what the third one did. But it was cool, whatever it did.

People were raving about both the queue and the new hitchhiking ghosts, both seeming to be a huge hit. I though the imagineers did a great job enhancing a classic without changing it too much and respecting its legacy.

Have you been in the new queue or been in the company of a new hitchhiking ghost? How was your experience?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Living in this (Walt Disney) World

I live at Walt Disney World, as in, Walt Disney World is my home. When I want to go to the parks, I can just go. I can get on a bus, and be there within 45 minutes, though it should only be 10-20 minutes, but the bus system is horrible. Nonetheless, it's a lot better than the 6-8 hours it took me to get to Disneyland from my home in northern California. Though, I may add the idiom: good things come to those who wait.

It's something I always wanted: complete and unbridled access to the Disney Parks. And it feels...weird. When there's not that sense of urgency, that sense of fleeting excitement, it's almost just another day.

Now don't get me wrong, it's not just another day when you can go on Rock N' Roller coaster or see the gorgeous golfball Spaceship Earth, or you get to see a castle transform into a rocket and then take off. Really, just seeing a castle kind of makes that day a wee-bit more special than a typical day.

I'm going to be honest though, that pressure of a vacation, that sense of urgency, it really makes you look at things differently. I'm not saying I'm bored, because I'm not. I love having a main gate pass to all the parks here at Walt Disney World, but it's a different type of love than when you've got a Key to the World, and you're here with your family. It's different, not different in a way that is better or worse (maybe a little better, but not in a "I'm so negative about my current situation" kind of way), just different.

It could just be the fact that I'm spending 9 months at the U.S.'s most popular vacation destination, and I'm neither on vacation, nor is it a destination. It's a reality, not a vacation built on fantasy. That doesn't mean it isn't fun, though.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Do You See This Every Night?

Yes. I see "Wishes," "The Magic, The Memories and You," "The Main Street Electrical Parade" and the "Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade" just about every day I work. Not all of them in the same day, but almost always at least one of them.

For many people, experiencing something in such a repetitive manner could cause complete disgust and disdain for whatever that reoccurring thing is.

The Main Street Electrical Parade
Often times, I am that person who is seriously annoyed by the same thing. Some examples of this might be: the horrible music they play in the Utilidoor. Apparently, Sirius XM's stations have a 12 song playlist they stick to religiously. Or maybe the music in Tomorrowland. Or maybe people asking me what I have at my wagon right after they walked by the menu. That stuff can get annoying. But that stuff doesn't blow up, glow, shimmer, or transform a castle into a number of fantastical things.

Sure, the shows aren't as spectacular to me the fifth time as they were the first time, but they still have that shimmer of magic that only Disney can provide.

One of the more fun things of seeing the shows dozens of times is that you slowly start to memorize the entire thing. For instance, I can tell what part of the "Wishes" is happening from the Westclock bus stop, located behind where the fireworks go off, just from what particular firework is going on that that moment. Or I can wave an imaginary wand and turn off all the lights in the park at the beginning of the Main Street Electrical parade, or say along with Walt "To all who come to this happy place, welcome" at the end of "The Magic, The Memories, and You" without even looking at the castle.

The fact that in a small way, all this makes me feel cool, is a little questionable, but that's ok. I'm a Disney nerd, I mean, you are reading my blog about Disney right now, so what do you expect?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival Topiaries

Today, the first day of the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot, I went on a topiary adventure. Most of the other stuff at the festival didn't really excite me that much.

But the topiaries, oh those topiaries. I've alway been fascinated with them. In fact, my whole family has been for as long as I can remember. When we stay at a hotel at Disneyland, it's more often than not the Stovall’s Inn Best Western, because of the topiaries, as as the "Best" denotes in Best Western, Best Westerns are the best in the west. In all other Cardinal directions, they're not as good. Nor do they have topiaries, which doesn't help.

I've been to Epcot quite a bit lately, to see Bill Nye, to experience all 12 of their rides, and because I just found myself there sometimes. Every visit, I've noticed the topiaries, and they have excited me. When I learned about the new Toy Story 3 sculpted-bush tribute, I about fell of my seat.

So, I had the day off, due to low attendance in the park and there being no need for me, so I took full advantage. My first stop was Hollywood Studios, where I did Rockin' Roller Coaster twice, since I went there last thursday, and it being a Fantasmic! night, there were 80 minute lines, and me having terrible luck, the single rider option was not available (Added to my log of terrible luck today, the first time I got on it, they sent 3 empty limos right past us, due to some technical glitch they were having.) I also went on Tower of Terror, drew Woody at the animation academy, and met Lotso. What does this have to do with topiaries? Nothing!

Then I took the ferry over to Epcot, and got down to the topiary business, much like I am now with my writing. For some reason, I chose to systematically go through the Flower and Garden Festival map, making sure I got a picture of every topiary AFTER I left the park. I discovered that I missed a couple. I have Friday off, too, so I'll get the missing T-P (topiary pictures, though now that I explained it, making abbreviating it seems to have lost its purpose). But for now, all I have are these 29 pictures. Enjoy.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Resorts of the Seven Seas Lagoon

I've been here at the Walt Disney World resort for almost a month now. In that month, I've done a lot. And by doing a lot, I've made it so there are less things left to do that I haven't done before. Yes, that sentence you just read made sense. I've nearly exhausted the four parks, and just didn't feel super excited to go to any of them of my last day off. So what did I do? Good thing you asked, because I literally just wrote that question, and it was rhetorical, which means I'm about to answer it.

I decided that it was time to explore the resorts of the Walt Disney World...Resort. Where better to start than at the Seven Seas Lagoon, with the originals, the classics? What some people consider the best. I wouldn't know, because the only other resort I've been to was the Swan and Dolphin, where I stayed when I was 12. It didn't have a white sand beach, so it was not as cool. It did have a mini-golf course near by and access to two parks via boat, not just the one via Monorail. But the Swan and Dolphin will gets its own post someday. Today, we are going to talk about the Contemporary Resort, the Polynesian Resort, and the Grand Floridian.

I started off my day with the Contemporary. It's the flashiest of the three, being one big, unique building and having the Express Monorail running through it.

The Contemporary from the dock
At first, I was impressed by the Mary Blair Murals and the huge windows, but really, the Grand Canyon Concourse with the shops and the restaurants really isn't any different than any other place that has those things. What was cool about the Contemporary was the lobby, which looked much more modern than the Monorail floor, and the beach and pool outside. Being right there on Bay Lake was a great feature, and the pool had a very interesting shape and design to it. I'm big on pools, and this one impressed me. I checked out the convention center as well. It was just a bunch of space, like all convention centers.

I really dug the benches at the
Next was the Polynesian, which I wasn't expecting a whole lot from. The Contemporary
and the Grand Floridian both have made a big name for themselves. The Polynesian: not so much. It's like the middle child, and also is physically in the middle of the other two. I was pleasantly surprised though. It's got a show, that I did not see, but I want to. It's got awesome water features, which I was impressed by, and it's got a great little stretch of beach, which I relaxed on, eating my lunch while listening to the Castle Party across the lagoon at the Magic Kingdom. Plus, it had the best pool, with the Volcano water slide, complete with smoking peak (and bathrooms in the bottom). The South Pacific theme was also great fun, having the whole resort feel like the a Tiki Room hotel.

The sun setting on the Grand Floridian
With the sun setting, I walked on over to the Grand Floridian. This was the resort I had the highest expectations for. It's the Creme de la Creme of the Walt Disney World resorts, and I expected to be impressed. I was, but not as impressed as I expected to be. It had the most to offer, with its beaches, pools, restaurants and shops. It had the best view of Cinderella's castle, and inside the main building was exquisite. But there wasn't that cool factor that the other two resorts had, just by the cheddar factor. The cheddar factor being that it costs a pretty penny to do anything that the resort, and expensive means exclusive means cool, if you're not the one being excluded.

If I had to choose to stay at one, I'd probably choose the Polynesian. I just got this sense that I was at a place of rest and relaxation when I visited. The other two were great, but they were almost a type of attraction. I hope to someday stay in all three, and rest and relaxation are not my top priorities, but that South Pacific serenity, it really rubbed me the right way.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Social Awkwardness and Kids in the College Program

I don’t mean to sound like I complain all the time. I mean, I have problems with many things, but I don’t complain. To me complaining is when you don’t like something, and you express your distaste for it without offering a solution. I have solutions. Therefor, when I “complain,” I’m actually offering haphazardly constructed criticism.

With that warning, I’m going to go into the area that some people might label as “negative” or “complaining.” For people who don’t like to read that, you can go on a run or go talk to your like-minded friends about how great everything is.

A pretty picture of Cinderella's Castle, because there's not really anything that
illustrates this story well, so this will have to do

College Program kids are weird. There are exceptions to the rule (me), but from my experience here so far, it’s definitely a rule. I’ve talked to non-CP’ers who work at Disney World, and they are the ones who put the idea in my head. With that idea, I’ve been observing, and my experiences have proven them right.

It’s not hard to explain why. Just think about what the program really entails. Going to Disney World. Which most people associate with fun. It’s fun, but it’s also a work. You think that second part would work as a sort of sift, a detractor of sorts. It doesn’t.

The program also gives you a job and a place to live away from home. For most people, they go to college to do this. People who didn’t go away to college go to Disney College, which isn’t really college at all. But it’s easier to get into than most four-year schools, and has a lot more appeal since it’s at Disney World.

You’ll notice when you look around at the name tags, most colleges aren’t four-years. They’re community colleges. Now, there’s nothing wrong with going to a community college. I have some very good friends who went there, and I’m one of the first people from my family to not go to a CC. Also, last summer, I went to a CC, so I’ve been there and experienced it. CC’s are great decisions when you’re thinking financially. They’re also a great decision if you don’t want to leave mommy and daddy and the comfort they bring.

So the CC’ers decide that Disney World is worth leaving mommy and daddy for a couple of months. One thing they don’t have in their bag of tricks is that whole living on your own thing, so most of them are in a bit of shock, which makes people act weird. Let’s be even more real for a sentence: there are also some people who go to a CC because they’re just not the most socially adept people in the world. Many of them decide to go to the CP, too. If you went to a CC and that offends you, I’m sorry...that I don’t care.

You ever walk into a room, look around, and say to yourself, “I’m the most normal one in here”? That's not a rare feeling for me here. And it’s not that I’m arrogant. It’s not that I’m not arrogant, either, but I’m not the only one who feels that way. There are many normal people here, or whatever word you want to use. Normal doesn’t really exist, but you should get the gist of what I’m saying. Socially inept might be better.

I can deal with it though. They’re just in it for fun. I’m here to leave a mark on the company, so people making fools of themselves in social situations means very little to me. That's my solution. For me, it’s just fun to comment on.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Job: Normal. Location: Amazing

 I get to work in a place where, when I’m cleaning a popcorn kettle, fireworks go off behind me. Sure, the former part of that experience isn’t the most glamourous thing in the world, but how many other places can the latter happen on almost a nightly basis?

The "Wishes" fireworks spectacular

Or a place where, when you’re breaking down your ice cream cart, the "Main Street Electrical Parade" goes by, with its spectacular festival pageant of nighttime magic and imagination in thousands of sparkling lights and electro-synthe-magnetic musical sounds is amazing. It’s one of the most iconic parades of all time, and on certain nights it’s ten feet in front of where I work.

Or at around three o’clock, the "Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade will go by. If I’m working the Liberty Square ice cream cart, the music is deafening, but oh so catchy.

 I wasn’t huge on parades before I got here, especially the afternoon ones, as they are geared for the younger crowd. Fireworks, those can be enjoyed by everyone. Same goes for "The Magic, the Memories and You!" nighttime spectacular. But parades: they have a more specific demographic that they’re geared towards.

The "Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade", which has grown on me
Having seen the "Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade" about eight times now, I have been converted. The music is so upbeat and fun, it’s difficult to fight off the urge to dance, so usually I don’t. The 40-year-old dancers are a different story, but I let that little indiscretion pass and just enjoy the cornucopia of Disney characters passing by.

Or, a couple of times a day, some petite fireworks go off for the castle shows with Mickey and friends.

Or the fact that yesterday, Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, was visiting the park where I work. Nothing like that happened when I worked at McDonald’s.

Sure, there are parts of my job that are not so enchanting, but they are dues paid for the things about it that are so unique and fantastic. So I’ll clean my popcorn kettle and count my drinks with freezing cold hands, and behind me, the "Wishes" fireworks who will be running, and I’ll be excited that I am where I am.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Two Weeks into the Disney College Program

Today marks the two week milestone of me being in the Disney College Program. I am happy about this.

My Liberty Square Costume
These past two weeks have been fun, but I am definitely glad they are over. If you read my last post, I talked a lot about training. It’s over now, and I have officially earned my ears. I could take the little red ribbon off my name tag at this point, if I wanted to, but I don’t. I don’t feel like I know enough about the Magic Kingdom, which is a little frustrating. If I were at Disneyland, I could tell people about anything, anywhere in the park. Not so with MK, but that is the precise reason why I chose to do the program here in Orlando rather than in Anaheim. Knowledge is power, and I want to have as much power as possible.

On my schedule, I am set up to work at stands in Tomorrowland, Frontierland and Liberty square. Which means I had to pick up three costumes, which I think is great fun. Not only do I get to experience working in all over the park, I get to wear all the costumes of all the different areas. This might annoy some people, but to me it’s just one more part of the Disney magic I get to experience. Though the knee-high pants for the liberty square garb have a funky crotch.

I get to work in view of a castle. Awesome. 
Eventually, I’ll get to work in Adventureland and on Main Street, the latter which I am really looking forward to. This past week, I got to work at an ice cream stand in Liberty Square, and when I closed, I got to watch the Main Street Electrical parade. The fact that 20 feet in front of where I worked for the day, the Main Street Electrical parade went by, and I got to watch it, really puts into perspective the unique nature of my job.

I’m very happy to finally be done with training, and to get to be on stage by myself, interacting with the guests five days a week. I’m sure I’ll have a few bad days, but I’m optimistic about the future. When I’m working, the day flies by, and I barely notice I’m working. My feet and back hurt after a while, and those are the only indicators. I really am looking forward to the next six-and-a-half months of going to work at the Magic Kingdom five days a week.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Earning My Ears

Training is a necessary evil. To do a job, you’ve got to train, and to train, I’m almost sure you have to be bored. For the last three days, I was mostly bored, so I was probably training.

My life for the next 7 months
Okay, it wasn’t all that bad. Some parts were good. What parts? The parts where I was working the register, making the popcorn, filing orders and interacting with the guests. Oh yeah, that’s called working.

So, some background. When I got here at the College Program, I got my assignment, went to the pre-training training, and then had a day off. Then, four days ago, I started training for my actual job, which is outdoor foods, which means I work the any and all of the popcorn carts, ice cream carts, lemonade stands and nut wagons throughout the Magic Kingdom. In order to do these things, there were some other things I needed to know. Since I just finished whining about how boring training is, I won’t bore you with the details.

Not all of them, just some of them. What I had to learn consisted of mostly inventory counts and radio codes. Numbers aren’t my thing, so I’m hoping I’ll just figure them out as time goes on.

What did learn for certain is that I absolutely love working with the guests. The way I look at it, selling popcorn and ice cream and caramelized nuts is what I have to do in order to interact with the guests. It’s a normal job, and the time passes by quick, but when little girl comes up dressed as a princess and I get to address her like she is one: it’s a great experience.

Obviously, this blog being proof, I’m a Disney fanatic, and one of the reasons I love it so much is their unmatched customer service. Now I get to be a part of that, and it really is amazing. Yes, there will be moments when I’ll be forced to acknowledge the real world, but most of the time I will be doing what Disney hired me to do: spread the magic. So all that boring training: totally worth it. Now that it’s over I get to make everyone’s day a little more magical full time. I’ll worry about those radio codes later.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Main Street Electrical Parade, Back on Main Street

I almost forgot that being here at Walt Disney World brought with it a very important thing: The Main Street Electrical Parade.

The Parade
It's been quite a while since I've last seen the classic parade, and I've only seen it on Main Street. We never messed with that California Adventure stuff.

In those many years, I've listened to the theme song dozens of times, in the car with my mom, on my iPod, wherever and whenever. It's got to be in the top 10 of my favorite Disney songs. It's got everything the essential classic Disney songs needs: an upbeat tempo, whimsy, and basically all the famous Disney songs worked into it. That last part definitely helps.

Now, I'm not the biggest Disney parades fan. I watched them when I was little, but when I was little, there were much better. So it could be me aging that caused me to become disinterested, or over the ages the parades provided little to be interested in. I mean, c'mon, I grew up in the era of the Lion King parade and the original Main Street Electrical parade. I was spoiled.

One of the newer features, using the same tech
used for Madame Leota in The Haunted Mansion
 and Buzz Lightyear on his Spin

To prove my devotion, I waited on the curb, alone, surrounded by Brazilians. Our culture over here in the US, it's not anything similar to those down by the Amazon. Their sense of space is nonexistent, something us Americans don't understand. One person picked up my bag without warning, and when I snatched it back, his "Sorrrr-eee" made me look like the bad guy. But I could deal, because I was about to see the ultimate parade of my childhood.

And then the lights on Main Street went out, I stood up, and the thousands of lights began making their way down Main Street, and that familiar tune began pumping through the Magic Kingdom speakers, and I became giddy.

It was just as I remembered, with al the different Disney characters and their accompany techno music. There were some new tweaks, but overall, it kept its classic integrity, even after the trip from California to Florida.

Lucky for me, I'll be working in the park most nights, so I will definitely be seeing the parade again, and again, and again, and I'm alright with that.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day Five, Gettin' in the Jive

Out of all the days that preceded real training, today was probably the second most important one, next to traditions, where I got my Cast Member name tag.

Me and my uni
Why? Because today is the day that I got my costume and got the final news on where I will be actually working. Turns out I got almost exactly what I wanted: I'll be working at Ice Cream and Popcorn carts and the Nut Wagon in Fantasyland. At least that's what I'm going to be trained for.

Since I got here, my work location has been my biggest question. I wanted some type of outdoor cart from the start, and that's what I got. Originally, I was not too keen about working at the Magic Kingdom. I wanted basically any other park. Like I've mentioned, Disneyland is the park that inspired my Disney devotion, so when I go to the Magic Kingdom, it seems almost sacrilege to me.

I don't feel like that anymore, so you can hold your white steeds. I've seen the light, and after being here for a couple days appreciate the Magic Kingdom for what it is: a inferior imitation of Disneyland, that is not Disneyland. I'm joking, kind of. It's it own thing and I'm learning to appreciate that. After seeing The Magic, The Memories and You!, the MK definitely went up a couple notches on my respect notch pole thingy. And, like I've said before, with the Fantasyland expansion, it'll be almost on par with its california forefather.  

Spaceship Earth has nothing to do with this post,
but I went there and took picture, and I think it's
gorgeous, so I'm using it. Deal. 
But back to Day 5. It was a day that started off at 4:50 for me. I had to be at Disney University at 7:15, which means I actually had to be there at 7:00, so I had to catch the bus that arrived there at 7:04, which got to my complex at 6:25, which meant I had to be at the bus stop by 6:05, which meant I had to leave my apartment at 5:55, and before all that I had to make myself breakfast. It was an early morning.

When I got to the Disney U, I met with my group and we got to tour the Magic Kingdom, getting to know the place we would work, and would no doubt be asked thousands of questions about.

While touring the MK, we got to go on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, which I swear has a problem with its laser guns, because I keep on getting super low scores, and that's not how I do it at Disneyland. We also got to go on The Haunted Mansion, which stalled halfway through.

Then we had some computer training, which was as fun as computer training can be (Hint: it can't be fun). Finally, it was off to costuming where we got to get our threads. I'm pretty psyched that I got a simple uniform, and though the colors are odd, I get to wear shorts in the summer and a nice warm jacket now, and it's not horrendous, so I can work with it.

Tomorrow, I begin my first day of legitimate training, where I have to wear my uniform and all. I'm pretty pumped.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Day Four and the Mischievous Bus Driver

Day four, and the job finally gets started, kind of.

The training got started at least, which was quite the adventure. Mostly, the adventure was getting there. Here at the Disney College program, those of us who don’t have cars take the bus everywhere. Which means we rely on the bus drivers and a little bit of fate to get to where we need to be on time. Both those things turned out to amount to very little this morning.

My ride
I did my part, by getting up at 5:30 so I could make food, get dressed and be out of the door at 6:40 to catch the 7:05 bus that got to where I needed to be at 7:43 so I would be early for my 8:00 training. Everything was going smoothly at the Chattham square bus stop, the one nearest to my Patterson way apartment complex. A bus even got there early.

Then, all us trainees got on that early A bus to the Magic Kingdom, and when we arrived at Vista, the second stop on the way, the bus driver told us we all needed to get off, for there would be a bus waiting for us.

So we went to where the bus driver told us to go. And we waited, and waited, and then waited some more. That mythical bus never came. I called the bus services’s hotline number, and was told that there would be only one bus coming to where we were all waiting, and it would be at 7:50. Training for most of us was at 8, and it takes 15 minutes, on a quick trip, to get to the Magic Kingdom. We were not a happy bunch of people.

I decided to go over to the main bus stop, where an A bus, the one I needed to take, was leaving, filled to capacity. Another person called the bus hotline, and was told that the bus we were told to wait for was meant for people going to Traditions, the program most people from ou group had completed the previous day, where you get your name tags, which all of us had on, and apparently something the bus driver turned a blind eye to.

Eventually, another A bus pulled into the station, and when our angry mob of a group tried to get on, we were told to that we couldn’t get on. That was not the answer we were looking for. So kicked into a mob mentality, and were eventually let on the bus.

I got to where I was supposed to be at around 8:20, but our the people training us were understanding, see as about eight of us called in to tell them we were going to be late.

Then training started, and if you want to read about that, you’re a masochist and I will not enable your odd lifestyle by writing about it.