Wednesday, April 20, 2016

First Time at Cafe Orleans

I've been visiting Disneyland regularly for nearly three years now since moving down to Southern California, but there are still plenty of things on my Disney bucket list that I haven't accomplished. Many of these tasks include eating at various restaurants around the resort. In early January, I was actually able to check off Blue Bayou! (It was too dark to take photos...but I definitely had an emotional experience with the steak. It was SO good.) Most recently, I made reservations with my best friend at Cafe Orleans to once and for all try the ever famous Monte Cristo Sandwich. All I have to say is I was NOT disappointed!

My friend and I ordered and shared the Monte Cristo Sandwich and a bowl of Pommes Frites (garlic and parmesan fries). We also both had pomegranate lemonade, which never fails to be delicious and satisfying during a long day in the parks.

I first dove into the fries - I can't resist anything covered in garlic. Even though I love garlic, I was a little pleasantly surprised because the last garlic fries I had at Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney weren't as good as I had hoped. I don't know how much different they are compared to the ones at Cafe Orleans, but I definitely enjoyed the ones at Cafe more!

I honestly had no idea what I was getting into when I ordered the Monte Cristo. I only knew that the bread was a donut and that hardly any of my friends could finish one on their own. As soon as I took the first bite I understood what the craze was was amazing! The ham and cheese inside was warm and delicious, and the berry jelly was the perfect compliment to dip the sandwich in on the side. I simply had never experienced any food like the Monte Cristo before, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

My best friend and I were definitely happy campers with our experience at Cafe Orleans. It was a beautiful day to eat outside, enjoy the cold lemonade and devour our new favorite sandwiches and fries. Can't wait to someday go again!

Have you been to Cafe Orleans? What did you think?
What's your favorite restaurant in Disneyland?

Have a magical day!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Top 7 Favorite Rides at Disneyland

Like many Disney fans, I've been going to Disneyland since I was barely three-years-old. Through those years both the Disneyland Resort and myself have changed in many different ways, but one thing remains constant: I love rides.

Attractions have always been my family's favorite part of going to any Disney park. We never really spent much time meeting characters or watching too many shows...probably because I was deathly afraid to meet characters, but that's another story. I remember always loving it's a small world back when I didn't know any better...and now I can barely stand to ride it barely once a year.

Now that I've lived in Southern California for almost three years and have frequented Disneyland too many times to count, I thought I'd share my top seven favorite rides within the Disneyland Resort (including California Adventure). Let's see if any of mine are your favorites too!

Top 7 Favorite Rides at the Disneyland Resort

Lights on Paradise Pier

7. Toy Story Midway Mania - I'm so ridiculously competitive on this ride, but it's just because it's so much fun! For the longest time I had an undefeated streak, but my brother broke it a couple times within the last year. It's a complete must-do whenever my family comes to visit, mostly because my dad is obsessed!

Daring Big Thunder - EXPLORE

6. Big Thunder Mountain - I remember loving this attraction when I was younger, but I would always close my eyes whenever the train dodged and weaved through caves and dark tunnels because I was scared something would jump out at me like the yeti in the Matterhorn. However, with the most recent refurb and added updates to Big Thunder Mountain after closing for the big incident, I have to say this is one of the most fun and enjoyable attractions in the resort. Great for anyone, really! Even those who don't prefer roller coasters!

A Paradise Pano [Explore]

5. California Screamin' - One of the biggest and probably most fun thrill rides within the park. You can't really ride Screamin' without a giant smile on your face.

Grizzly Peak Airfield

4. Soarin' Over California - I honestly wasn't the biggest fan of Soarin' until recently...I always liked the ride, but I felt like it was a "one and done" kind of experience since it was the same film every time. However, this place now has a very special place in my heart because it's been the location I've grown personally and professionally the most at work, as well as where I made the closest friendships with my coworkers. 

Space Mountain, Disneyland

3. Space Mountain / Hyperspace Mountain - The original Space Mountain has always been a favorite of mine, but I have to give huge props to the new rendition with Hyperspace Mountain. They did an excellent job with the new score and effects, I almost don't want it to ever leave!

Disneyland 2011 - Temple of the Forbidden Eye

2. Indiana Jones Adventure - When I participated in my college program in Florida, this was the one ride I missed the most. It's so different from anything else in the parks, combining thrills and incredibly fun animatronics and effects. Even the queue is fantastic!

Disney California Adventure - Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

1. Tower of Terror - This ride stole my heart the very first time I rode it. I even found a short narrative the other day that I wrote about my first experience riding Tower for a school project back in middle school. The theming, the story, the bellhops, and the drops...everything together just makes this ride (in my eyes) nearly perfect. It's been such an honor and great experience to be a bellhop for the past year!

I originally tried to keep this at only five favorite attractions, but it was nearly impossible to narrow it down to only that many!

Which are your favorite Disneyland attractions? Do you agree with my list?

Have a magical day!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Interview a CP: Christie (EPCOT Photopass)

Christie was kind enough to share her experience as a Photopass cast member during her college program last year! Here's her story:

What role did you have during the DCP, and where did you work?
I was a PhotoPass photographer in Spring 2015, and while my home park was Epcot I had the chance to work in all of them!

What was a typical day like at work?
PhotoPass training occurs in a few different stages, so my typical day actually changed about about a month into my program. Usually I worked in seven or eight hour shifts, and I tried to get to base about half an hour before my shift started just in case there were problems with traffic or finding a parking spot (I think they’re trying to work on it, but when I was there parking at the Epcot cast lot was a hot mess). Once it was time to clock in, I would grab my camera and other assorted pieces of equipment and get everything set up, and then I would check the computer for my first location. I would shoot in that spot for two or three hours, then someone would come take over my spot and I would go on break. After break, you check the computer for your next location and repeat the same process over again. It works pretty much the same way no matter how long your shift is, with different amounts of time in a location before going on break for however long. The only time this routine changed was when you were with a character who was going or their lunch or returning home for the day, or if you were in a location that was closing at a certain time. Then, you would just call base and have them figure out what you should do next! Depending on how long your shift was you’d get a certain number of breaks, and the length also varied based on how long your shift was. The shortest break is 15 minutes, and the longest is 45 minutes. Your breaks are your time to eat, check over your equipment, reapply sunscreen (a huge must for PhotoPass, since we spend so much time outside!) and relax before heading back on stage.

As I said, although the timeline of each shift was pretty consistent, there were some aspects of my typical day that really changed depending on what stage of training I was in. For PhotoPass, training takes and entire month! Most of that time is spent working, with daylong training sessions partway through to teach new skills. Basically, they want everyone to get the hang of one kind of shooting situation before moving on to the next. You start with general Icon [Landmark] training, and then you move into park specific training where you learn about all of the different photo locations, break rooms, etc. After that, you get to hop in and start working (while still 'earning your ears'!). During this time, you’ll do day shifts only and solely shoot families in front of Icons.  After a few weeks of that, you get Night and View training, so that you can shoot Icons at night and help families figure out which photos they wanted to keep and if they’d like to add any extra magic to them!  Once you have Night training down, you start getting the typical CP closing shifts, which I actually really enjoyed since I’m not exactly a morning person. One of the nice things with Epcot is that since park hours are shorter, even if you  generally shoot in daytime conditions. Daytime shooting is more fun and creative. My favorite was always shooting a family hug.  Besides this, daytime shots can also have a little extra splash of magic, as sometimes characters may show up in your pictures afterwards! Olaf was a guest favorite during my program, although sometimes Stitch, Tink, or some others popped up as well. Different parks have different magic shots, so it was always fun getting to learn some new ones when I picked up in different parks! 

After Night training, my typical scheduled shift started around 2:00 pm and ended around 10:00 or 11:00. Finally, after a few weeks, the most anticipated training shows up on your schedule: Character! Character training for everyone involved in Entertainment happens in Epcot, and involves quite a mix of them! My group trained with Pluto in Future World, and then we moved over to World Showcase where we worked with Donald in Mexico and Mulan in, of course, China. After this training session, you are officially a fully-fledged PhotoPass Photographer! Your abilities now include ability to shoot at almost every location, and pick up shifts in any of the four main parks! I took advantage of this at least once a week.

Is this the role you originally wanted? If not, are you happy you got it?
PhotoPass was one of my top choices, and I am still amazed at the fact that I got the chance to do it! This was my first and only CP, whereas most of the other people I knew who were PhotoPass were on their second program. I also didn’t have any real photography experience going in, as I always loved taking pictures on vacations and things and had a decently nice point and shoot, but I had never used a DSLR or taken any photography classes. Of the thousands of people doing the College Program, only around 70 are chosen for PhotoPass, and I am still so surprised and happy I was among that number.

What are your favorite and least favorite parts about your job?
My most favorite part of this role was being able to capture so many happy memories for our guests! I treasure all of the photos I have from vacations I’ve been on with my family, and it was always such an honor to be able to give people pictures they could hold onto forever. I also loved the fact that, with our help, the entire family could be a part of the photo. I learned some pretty useful skills as well to get children to give me genuine smiles, most of them involving stickers, so it was always pretty wonderful when I could turn a child’s day around and give their parents a happy memory.

Another favorite part for me was working with Characters, as there’s some extra sort of magic that floats around a Character meet and greet! I loved seeing kid’s faces light up when they finally got to meet their favorite character, especially if they came dressed like them. I also enjoyed the opportunity to take candid photos, since we’re trained to keep shooting throughout the interaction. Some of my best shots were candid shots, especially hugs! Although I thought I would enjoy working with the Princesses the most, my favorite characters were the fluffier ones. I loved helping to interpret what they were saying. Getting to help be the voice of the character was such an honor, and it made my day whenever they told me later that I’d done a good job doing so!

Another thing I really, really enjoyed with PhotoPass was the chance to pick up shifts at different parks. Although I spent most of my time at Epcot, once I had finished training I tried to pick up at least one shift a week in a different park, usually Magic Kingdom. I loved getting that variety in shooting locations, as Epcot is a wonderful place but can get a little monotonous after a while. It’s also a fun challenge, as instead of having a full day of training devoted to learning where the shooting locations and break rooms are, you get a map and about 15 minutes’ worth of description from the Coordinators. I found Hollywood Studios to be the most difficult to navigate, although most of the other parks weren’t too hard. Besides getting to shoot different Icons, working at other parks also gives you the chance to work with different characters. Mickey and his buddies tend to pop by every park throughout the day, but besides that there’s a lot of variation in who meets where. By picking up at other parks, I got the chance to work with Rapunzel (!!!), Stitch (!!!), Anna, Elsa, Peter Pan, Gaston, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Jessie, the Tremaines, Fairy Godmother, and Jake the Neverland Pirate, among others. 

My least favorite part of my role was working with guests to add borders and things to photos in The View. It was always difficult for me to add some of the bigger borders to pictures when I felt like they were better in their original condition, especially because I knew how hard my fellow photographers worked to set up just the right shot. Besides that, I was not a fan of shooting the Anna and Elsa topiary during Flower and Garden Festival, because guests just went a little crazy when they got within a 10-foot radius of the display. However, these were fairly minor annoyances, and overall my program was wonderful!

Any specific magical moment you want to share?
Oh gosh, it’s hard to narrow it down! I actually had quite a few, but I’ll try to limit it to my top three:

During my in-park training, I was shooting guests off to the side at the front entrance to Epcot, and I had this adorable family with a special little girl come up to me and ask for a photo. I said of course, and after doing the usual family pictures, I knelt down to the girl’s level and asked if she might want to do some special pictures, with just her. She loved that idea, and I managed to catch some pictures of her with just an absolutely beautiful smile on her face! She clearly had difficulties with muscle control, and I managed to catch a shot right at the exact moment she gave me a big, wide smile. Her family was there through the Make-A-Wish program as well, which made the whole moment that much more intense. When we looked over the pictures we’d taken that day, the ones of her were the only ones I wanted to see, and they turned out fantastic! I almost cried on the spot, and this is probably my most meaningful memory from the entirety of my program.

My next magical moment was during one of the first shifts I picked up outside of Epcot. I was working in Magic Kingdom, and specifically in Tomorrowland. After my break, I checked the computer, and found out the next part of my shift would be with Buzz Lightyear! I was beyond excited, and headed over there eagerly anticipating how much fun I was going to have working with him. One of the guests who came up to meet Buzz was this adorable little boy who was dressed to the 9’s in his Buzz Lightyear outfit, and he was so excited that his mom had to hold him back while the guest before him had their interaction. The second it was his turn, he ran straight over and gave Buzz the biggest hug, and he spent the next few minutes just talking to him and having the time of his life with his hero. It was so neat to see him so jazzed to meet Buzz, and I think he was the most excited I’ve ever seen anyone during a meet and greet. 

My last top magical moment happened during one of my last shifts, which probably made it that much more meaningful for me. I was at the backside of Spaceship Earth, which isn’t the most exciting spot but can be fun, and it wasn’t a very crowded day. I had a family come up to me who had a little girl, and once I’d finished taking pictures for her family I took some pictures of just her, since we weren’t busy. Afterwards, I asked her who her favorite princess was, and she said Belle because both she and Belle love books. I told her I loved Belle too, because she was so smart, strong, and brave, and I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. She told me that she loved math, and that she wanted to be a rocket scientist someday! Her parents chimed in as well, and we talked about how much she loved school, and they also asked me about medical school. Right before they left, I pulled out my Sharpie and a PhotoPass card, and I asked if she might be willing to sign it for me, since I could tell she was incredibly smart and would be a very successful rocket scientist someday, and her eyes got all big and excited and she gave me the biggest smile ever! I do think that was a very inspiring moment for her, and it was so neat to be such a big part of that! I still have the PhotoPass card with her autograph on it, and I fully expect to see her in the news someday working with NASA.
What made you want to do the DCP?
I grew up in Northern California, and my family went to Disneyland many times during my childhood. We moved to Texas when I was in middle school, and after that we started going to Walt Disney World more. My parents are pretty big Disney fans as well (obviously!), and I’d actually known about the DCP for a long time. As a Biology major, I didn’t think I would have enough time to do the program without having to take an extra year or semester, which I really didn’t want to do. However, between AP credits and summer classes, I figured out I could graduate a semester early. I started medical school in July of 2015, and I needed something to do between then and graduation! The DCP ended up working out perfectly!

Is there something you wish you would have known before doing your program?
I actually did a lot of research before my program, and pretty much every moment not spent studying involved me Googling to find different blogs and information. I can’t really think of anything DCP-specific I wish I had known beforehand. I would suggest looking up if any rides and such are or will be under refurbishment or going away during your program, as that does happen and it can be really frustrating to not know in advance, especially if it’s a favorite and you only have a week to ride or watch it before it goes away.

What advice would you give to those who want to participate in your role?
Even if you don’t have photography experience, this is still a role that’s open to you! Disney will train you, so while it’s good to have at least a bit of a passion for it, you don’t need a Photography major, your very own DSLR, or anything like that because Disney will give you the training and the equipment they want you to use. PhotoPass is all about guest interaction, so make sure you show that off in your phone interview! If you enjoy talking to people, show off your enthusiasm for it and do your best to sound as approachable as possible over the phone (Believe me, I know how hard it is! It is beyond awkward to try and make a joke and hear…nothing. Not even a chuckle. Just keep smiling and being friendly, as weird as it is). 

What advice would you give to people who are interested in doing the DCP?
For application purposes, I think they do like to see if you have previous employment experience, as that shows them that you can handle having a job. Be consistent and honest with the web-based application as well! 

Also, try to spend some time before or during your program thinking of a specific and unique way to remember your program. Whether that’s through pictures, a blog, a scrapbook, etc...find something. Although I’m very glad to be in medical school now and wouldn’t trade this for the world, I do really miss Disney. Having all of the pictures I took while I was there is one of my favorite ways to remember the wonderful times I had, and I don’t know what I would do without them! One of the things I did was make a character board, which I had signed by every character I was a Photographer for. I kept a list going throughout, and on my days off I would go into the parks and do meet and greets, so that I could have both a signature and a picture with that character. It’s one of my most treasured mementos!

Finally, take advantage of all of the time you have there! Yes, Netflix is fun, but having free access to the parks is way more special than that. Take the time to go with friends, and if everyone is busy or if you just feel like it, go alone. I had a ton of fun just wandering around on my own, especially when I had my camera in tow.

If you're a current or past college program cast member and would like to share your experience, email your name and role to to participate!

Also don't forget to follow The Disney Den on FacebookTwitter, and Youtube!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

DisneyBound Look Book: Snow White

When I first got involved with DisneyBounding, it was Halloween 2012. I wanted to dress up as Snow White, but didn't want the full on fancy dress. I decided to take a stab at DisneyBounding, searching through my closet to see what I already had, and what I might need to purchase to finish the look. I was surprised with how well everything was pulled together, and to this day it's one of my favorite DisneyBounds I've ever put together.

I've done a couple varieties of this DisneyBound, wearing it at home for Halloween, Walt Disney World during my college program, and in Disneyland for a photoshoot with my lovely friend Courtney.

This DisneyBound is probably one of the most common outfits, but that's probably because it's rather simple. As long as you can put together an outfit that includes yellow, blue, and hints of red, you're set!

Here are the various pieces that I've included for the different versions of the Snow White DisneyBounds I've put together in the past!

Snow White DisneyBound:

  • Blue Shirt: I've actually owned this shirt for years in my drawer back home, but I just never wore it much until I started using this DisneyBound. Finding a solid blue shirt shouldn't be too hard, but I definitely recommend Forever 21 for solid colored clothes! I find plenty of my clothing pieces for DisneyBounding there.
  • Yellow Skirt: I purchased this skirt on nearly four years ago, so it doesn't look like they have the exact same skirt on their website anymore. However, any yellow skirt can work! I found a skater skirt at Forever 21 here as an affordable option!
  • Red Bow: My first couple times wearing this outfit included a red hairband bow from Claires!
  • Red Flower Crown: Third time I wore this DisneyBound included a red flower crown from my lovely friend Sidonie Smith. It's actually Incredibles themed (with small black flowers between the red ones), but I thought it looked great with my Snow White getup! You can find more creations from Sid and her husband on YourCosplayCloset!
  • Red Cape: Since the first time I wore this outfit was actually intended as a Halloween costume,  I borrowed a red cape from a friend of mine. You can wear a cape with your DisneyBound if you'd like, but I feel like it'd be a little less of a "bound", since DisneyBounding is supposed to be more everyday clothes you can wear anywhere. (Unless you love wearing capes, then by all means, go for it!)
  • Necklace: Jewelry can really finish a DisneyBound outfit. I didn't have any my first time, but the second and third time I used two different red heart necklaces. One was borrowed from a friend, and the other (on the left photo) was one my mom actually made herself. Other jewelry pieces such as apple necklaces or earrings would look great with this outfit!
  • Black Belt: Completely optional to use a belt, I just felt like adding it during the photoshoot to add a bit of a change to the look than my previous outfits. You can also use the belt as a way to add red or any other color within the character's scheme!
  • Black Flats: Shoe color is pretty optional here, but black flats were the easiest shoes I had in my closet at the time. Whichever you find works the best for you!
What are some of your favorite DisneyBounds?

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Disney College Program Vlogger Tag

My lovely friend Raisa came to visit the other weekend, and we filmed a few collab vlogs together! This one is all about our experience vlogging during the Disney College Program. Feel free to film your own video and comment below so we can see it and learn about your channel!


1. What is your vlog's name and why did you call it that?
2. Did you start vlogging before of after your college program?
3. What DCP vloggers inspired you to vlog?
4. How consistent were your uploads?
5. What type of camera/editing program do you use?
6. How long does it take for you to edit a video?
7. Do your family and friends enjoy being filmed?
8. What are some of your favorite videos?

We also filmed a video on Raisa's channel called The Disney College Program Tag! Make sure to check it out!

To see my other videos, as well as subscribe to my channel, head over to my Youtube Channel!

Make sure to follow and like The Disney Den on Twitter and Facebook!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Interview a CP: Zachary (Toy Story Midway Mania)

Zachary was kind enough to share his experience working at one of the most popular rides in the Walt Disney World Resort during his Disney College Program!  

What role did you have during the DCP, and where did you work?
I was attractions at Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney’s Hollywood studios. During my program I also had shifts working Fantasmic, Frozen fireworks, Osborn Spectacle of dancing lights, and Star Wars fireworks. 

What was a typical day like at work?  
As a CP I had almost completely all closing shifts. About halfway through my program they put our attraction in charge of clearing the park at the end of the night so I could be scheduled up to two hours after park close. I mainly had 6 hour shifts along with some longer ones thrown in. Working at Toy I would rotate through the different positions required to operate the attraction and also some extra ones like Fastpass kiosk. 

Is this the role you originally wanted? If not, are you happy you got it? 
Attractions was my top role when I applied, I was also interested in the hospitality roles but those are really hard to get. 

What are your favorite and least favorite parts about your job? 
My favorite and least favorite thing about working Toy Story was that it was the most popular attraction in the park if not on all of property. I loved learning all of the secrets of the ride and trying to beat my high score each time I got to ride it. 

Any specific magical moment you want to share? 
Toy story is one of the few attractions that anyone can ride at Disneys Hollywood studios. We had one ride vehicle that was able to transform so that people in a wheelchair could ride. It was always great to see those people coming back in after riding through and the smiles on their faces.

What made you want to do the DCP? 
I have known about the college program since high school and have always wanted to participate in it. I saw it as a way to get down to Florida and experience a semester down there. As a hotel, restaurant, and tourism management major it was the perfect opportunity to get experience working for one of the largest companies in the industry. 

Is there something you wish you would have known before doing your program? 
I wish I had looked into the location of CP housing more. I wish I had known what restaurants were around and also where the closest grocery store was before I came down. 

What advice would you give to those who want to participate in your role? 
Attractions is an interesting role, prepare to get people complaining and yelling at you for things that are out of your control. Many people do not understand how to use the Fastpass+ system so prepare for answering a lot of the same questions. 

What advice would you give to people who are interested in doing the DCP?
If you have a car bring it! I did not have one and relied on transtar. Transtar worked well enough but there were several times the buses were late or never showed up.

If you're a current or past college program cast member and would like to share your experience, email your name and role to to participate!

Also don't forget to follow The Disney Den on FacebookTwitter, and Youtube!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Update: I'm Alive! (Vlog)

Just wanted to show you guys that I'm indeed alive! Here's what I've been up to these past few months. I'm aiming to keep making videos and blog posts as much as possible now that school is over!

If you have any blog/video ideas for me, please leave them in the comments!

Thank you for sticking with me for these past few months!