Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Interview a CP: Caitlin (MK Merchandise)

Caitlin with Sebastian at a cast appreciation party!
Caitlin was kind enough to share about her DCP experience working as a Merchandise cast member all over Magic Kingdom! 

What role did you have during the DCP, and where did you work?
I work Merchandise at Big Top Souvenirs in Storybook Circus, but I have also been deployed to Tomorrowland, Frontierland, and Adventureland as well.

What was a typical day like at work?
Pretty crazy!
One of the things that I love the most about the circus is that, even though I’m Merchandise, I get to do so much more than just stand at a register. We have a confectionary kitchen as well, which means you also have shifts spent entirely making treats.

Register Shifts – They’re great…until it starts raining! You have the ability to engage the guests in really interesting conversations, especially since there are so many kids in our store. You get to be extra silly since you’re working in the circus, too. They encourage you to step away from your register and make connections with the guests and to interact with them. So even when you have a register shift, you can get what we call “tasks” that are all about interacting with guests. We even have circus games that we can play with the kids like a ring toss. When it starts raining, though, it gets completely hectic. We’re pretty much the only covered location in the area, so we get overwhelmed with the crowds. People sit down in the doorways, block the aisles, come behind the register to ask you for ponchos, and it’s generally insane. But the time spent in rain scenarios is so little that most of your day will not be like that at all.

Kitchen Shifts- I like the kitchen more than registers because you literally spend your whole day dipping cake pops in chocolate and decorating them. You do have to make sure to keep your pace up to meet your daily quotas, but that’s not a problem. The kitchen is a big family and there’s never a dull moment. It’s especially fun when we get to make magical moments for the guests. Our favorite magical moment is making them a marshmallow on a stick with chocolate and toppings on it. It’s so simple, but it really makes people’s days. Sometimes we can even give them a cookie or a cakepop. People appreciate it so much and it’s great to know that you’re making their day. The only thing that’s rough is that you get extended more often in the kitchen than register, and clean up keeps you at the park 2 hours after it closes. So yes, I’ve been there until 4am closing the kitchen before, but someone has to do it.

Floorstock- These shifts are the the most tiring. You run around the store all day fixing things and stocking shelves, but you have so many opportunities to interact with guests that the time actually goes by really quickly. People think I’m crazy, but I really like working on the plush section. It’s tough because all of the kids walking out of the meet and greet next door run over to it and pick up and play with everything. At the same time, though, that means that you always have something to do and it’s not like you’re standing around searching desperately for a job.

I close the store pretty frequently – most of the time honestly. The days that I don’t are a rare gift – don’t take those days for granted.

With merchandise, though, you can be deployed. Being deployed means that they send  you to a different land or different park/resort for a week. I’ve gotten to try out tons of different places this way, as I mentioned earlier. The only bad thing is that it’s involuntary; it’ll just show up on your schedule. You feel out of your element, but it’s cool to see things from a different perspective and you learn so much more about the parks.

Is this the role you originally wanted? If not, are you happy you got it?
No, I really wanted entertainment, but that didn’t work out. I’m happy I got it, though, because it allows me to still be entertaining kids in a way with the silly games and such that we have. And I would much rather be in merchandise than a lot of the other roles!

What are your favorite and least favorite parts about your job?
Favorite- the people. You meet some wonderful people and get to make a lot of people’s days so much better.
Least favorite- The people. Working in merch makes you an easy target for angry guests. Even if you don’t do anything wrong, they’re angry about something else that’s going on in your day, and you’re there for them to yell at or attempt to scam. I have had some very very bad guest experiences or people who get angry at me for things that are out of control. For example, even though we sell treats and bottled drinks, we don’t have fountain drinks. People get very angry because we don’t have fountain drinks, especially since that means that we don’t have any free ice water for them. They get really upset about this and talk about how we’re trying to scam them when literally we don’t have any ice or any drinkable water for them.
Frontierland costume!

Any specific magical moment you want to share?
I had a few in Frontierland…the one was at their outdoor cart by Country Bears. I was playing with the bubble guns that we sell and was playing with a few kids. The kids loved it so much that they actually asked for a picture with me afterwards.

For the other, there was a girl who was visiting for the first time and wanted to know more about pin trading, so I told her all about it and helped her through the whole process of finding her first set of pins and lanyards and such. I made her first trade with her and she gave me a hug afterwards because she was so thankful.

It was the end of the night for the other one, and this young boy came in and we just struck up a conversation about his new vinylmation and that went into his favorite park, etc. etc. etc. and we talked for at least 15 minutes. He and his parents were so thankful that he hugged me before he left too.

In the circus, there was this one absolutely adorable princess I met while I was stitching some hats. We sang together and got her her first pair of Mickey ears with her name on them and she was just so adorable that I got her a free slushie. She asked for my picture before she left, too.

What made you want to do the DCP?
A girl that I had done shows with in high school did it and I looked it up and it just sounded so amazing. It was the perfect opportunity for me based on my majors and where I want to go with my career. I mean, when else was I gonna get the chance to work at Disney for a year, making magic for others and for myself? It sounded like the perfect thing to do to have fun with my 20s and to build up a great resume at the same time.

Is there something you wish you would have known before doing your program?
You are going to work a lot and you will be exhausted and yet you will never have money but you’re going to love it anyway.
What advice would you give to those who are going to be participating in your role?
Be proactive. Don’t be the person that stands around yawning. Be the person that does things that need to be done without having to be told to. Be ready to work, and if you’re not doing anything, ask what needs to be done. Be helpful and kind to all of the guests no matter how tired or sad you actually are. Your managers will notice and you will be rewarded for it.

What advice would you give to people who are interested in doing the DCP?
Do not let wanting a specific role ruin things for you. I know people who let their program be ruined (or who declined their acceptance) because it wasn’t the role that they wanted. Make the opportunity you have as amazing as you can. You can choose to let it suck, or you can choose to embrace it.This is fantastic opportunity and you will have the time of your life...don't let your role/expectations ruin it!

If you have any questions for Caitlin, you can contact her on her blog, goingthedistancedcp!

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

Have a magical day everyone!

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