Monday, July 29, 2013

Interview a CP: Meredith (Innoventions)

Meredith (right) in Innoventions!
Innoventions is an interesting role for attractions. Definitely not what one would originally expect! I'm glad Meredith was able to share with you about her experience working in the unique location during her program!

What role did you have during the DCP, and where did you work?
I was a presenter at Innoventions in Epcot!
What was a typical day like at work?
Get to work, clock in, pull an assignment. As a presenter, I learned the shows StormStruck (a show about how to protect your home in case of severe weather), Vision House (a tour of an environmentally-friendly home), UL Safety Smart (a little cartoon about home safety with Timon and Pumbaa), and Where's the Fire? (an interactive game about fire safety). I could pull any of these assignments at any time during the day depending on who needed a break. Since there were only so many positions, if no one on the floor needed a break at the time, you could pull a task. Tasks at Innoventions were almost always 15 minutes and were things like "East Welcome Front Door," "Clean the Break Room," "Assist Guests at Tip Board," that kind of thing.
Is this the role you originally wanted? If not, are you happy you got it?
Well, I have a vague memory of mentioning in my original phone interview that I always enjoyed Innoventions as a kid. In July before my program started I received a phone call asking me if I would be okay with being placed at Innoventions, since it's a multiple-spiel role and there's a lot of guest interaction. That sounded fine to me, so I accepted! So I'm one of those lucky people who got to know where I was working a month in advance. For the most part, I'm glad I got to work there, even though it got a little monotonous doing the same spiels over and over. Also, Innoventions is kind of obscure, in the sense that a lot of people who work at Disney don't even know what it is. Sometimes I wished I could have worked somewhere a little bit more high-profile. But all in all, I wouldn't trade it for anything! I made some amazing friends at my work location, and learning and performing the spiels was really fun!
Meredith and a friend in Epcot!
What are your favorite and least favorite parts about your job?
Innoventions has wonderful hours for CPs, since we always closed at 7:00. As presenters, we got paid almost a dollar more per hour, which was definitely nice. Also, not having enough hours was never a problem since presenters were often in short supply, so if you wanted to pick up some extra hours and make some extra money, there was almost always a shift to pick up on the HUB or someone trying to give away a shift. I loved being part of a big team of presenters, since we all worked together really closely and got to know each other really well. As for the things I didn't like so much... Doing the spiels over and over really got monotonous toward the end of my program. There was really only so much you could do with the scripts to make them more interesting, and after a certain amount of tours through the Vision House I had about had it. Innoventions was also full of drama all the time, which got a little exhausting. Also -- and this is not a unique problem -- guests can be ridiculously annoying and clueless. Christmas Day about did me in.
Any specific magical moment you want to share?
I didn't witness this one, but one of my other CP friends did. Between the two Innoventions East and West buildings is the tip board and a little grassy area. Right there in that open area a family came in and started setting up a whole situation, with cameras and everything, so the son could propose to his girlfriend and make it really special, and everyone could watch. I always wished I could have seen it happen!
What made you want to do the DCP?
I've always been really into Disney World and Disney in general, and one day it just popped in my head that I really wanted to work there. I had a vague idea of what the DCP was, so I spent my winter break researching it and applied in January.
Is there something you wish you would have known before doing your program?
Just how monotonous spieling can really get. It was easy to get into a slump when I'd been doing the same spiel over and over, even if when I was first learning it I thought I'd never be able to do a good job and it would never get old. I was wrong. ;) But on the flip side, if you can figure out a way to make the spiels fun, doing the shows can really make the time fly! It's all about the effort you put in. Also, I didn't realize how sad I would be to leave my friends when my program ended! They were seriously some of the best friends I've ever made and it was the the saddest thing ever to leave them.
Visiting a fellow Innoventions cast member!
What advice would you give to those who are going to be participating in your role?
Since my role only has a handful of CPs assigned to it, I'll try to give some more general advice. If you're in a spieling role, do whatever you can to keep it interesting. Don't let yourself get into a slump. Also, for anyone in any role, you will deal with annoying and awful guests every single day, but try to let your good guest experiences outweigh the bad ones. If pin trading is an option in your location, do it. I never had a bad pin trading experience. There was really nothing like having four little kids gathered around me all looking at my lanyard. I loved that! (My roommate who was in merchandise would get annoyed with guests trying to trade with her when she was trying to help a guest at the register, but I obviously never had that problem. If I wasn't in the middle of a show I was almost always standing around doing nothing, and a pin trader was always welcome.)
What advice would you give to people who are interested in doing the DCP?

Do your research! Make sure that the DCP is right for you and where you are in your college career at the moment. There are some people out there who have some nasty things to say about the DCP, but seriously, don't let them change your opinion on whether or not you want to do the program. 99% of people have the time of their lives down there, and if they don't, it's usually their own fault. Don't forget to take advantage of the time you have down there! You only have a few months, so make sure you have as much fun as you possibly can. You'll regret it if you don't.

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!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Interview a CP: Holly (Slide Operations)

Holly in front of the Blizzard Beach sign!
Before Holly emailed me saying she would like to participate in an interview, I honestly didn't know that slide ops was an option for recreation! (Learn something new all the time!) Because of this, I'm definitely glad that she was able to share about her role during her second Disney College Program!

What role did you have during the DCP, and where did you work?
I was a recreation cast member working as a slide op at Typhoon Lagoon & Blizzard Beach.

What was a typical day like at work?
Every shift started at 9 am unless you were an opener then that shift started at 8 am. You checked in with the base coordinator of that day to get your morning job which was normally pushing or raking sand or re-setting a sand zone.  At about 15 minutes before the water parks opened you had a morning meeting where you got your rotations for the day which is the schedule of what stand you start at and the time periods you'd be at what stand.  Through out the whole day you were rotating to different stand about every 30-40 minutes which made the day go by super quick.  We also got 2 half hour breaks during the day which was a nice break.  After the park closed you did your closing jobs which were normally to just pick up trash, towels & life jackets off the beach and then a breakout at 5:30 pm.  A lot of the days during a spring program will be cold weather closings.  When the temperature is forecasted to be below 70 degrees the water parks won't open and they give you the option to take the day off or get deployed to the other parks to experience different roles.  Weather closings happen a lot during the late Spring & Summer, when the weather is inclement the park will temporarily close and you get to have a lot of interaction with the guests in the weather stations. 

Is this the role you originally wanted? If not, are you happy you got it?
My first program was the Spring of 2012 so when I came back for Spring 2013 I knew exactly where I wanted to work & under what role so when I had my phone interview I told them I only wanted to be a slide op & when I ended up getting the role I was super quick to accept it.

What are your favorite and least favorite parts about your job?
My favorite parts of my job were just being outside in the sun all day, definitely the people I had the amazing chance to work with, and the fact that I had the set schedule of 9-5:30 everyday.  Another favorite part was getting the chance to be deployed. I was able to work in all four parks, both water parks, and ESPN.  My least favorite part about my job was the morning jobs because you did them for an hour before the park opened and it was just the time of the morning when the sun started getting hot. Some of them were just kind of tiring.

Any specific magical moment you want to share?
A little blurry, but Holly's in front of Typhoon Lagoon!
Being a slide op we didn't really have very many opportunities to give guest magical moments.  But my favorite one I ever did was opening up Summit Plummet in the morning because at Blizzard Beach we have a family of ski captains (the first guests allowed in the park) and we bought them all up to Summit before the park opened and let them be the first guests go down and have the rest of the cast members & guests count them down.  At Typhoon Lagoon our magical moment was the Big Kahuna, every morning we took the first family to arrive on a private tour of the park before it opens and then they get to "control" the waves in the wave pool for the whole day.

What made you want to do the DCP?
Well this was my second program and half way through my first program I knew I wanted to do another one.  I know so many people say this is the opportunity of a lifetime, but it literally is.  Now that I'm home so many people ask me about my experience and a lot of my friends did the program or are going to in the next few months.  Both of my programs were the absolute time of my life, I had the best role and I met so many amazing people that I became so close with and will be life long friends.

Is there something you wish you would have known before doing your program?
Even before my first program I had a really good idea of what to expect because I had friends and coworkers that had done it in past years, I also became obsessed with reading a lot of vlogs and blogs like this one. The blogs and even the DCP intern site give you a ton of information that will really help you out.

What advice would you give to those who are going to be participating in your role?
  •  Definitely bring your rain jacket, even if it's sunny in the morning because the weather is so crazy especially during the spring and you will get caught in the rain.
  •  BUY CROCS! They are a total lifesaver when your on your feet all day, even though they're completely hideous.
  •  When you get the chance to deploy out, take it because it's a nice change to see how other roles besides your own works.
  •  Even though you're living in Florida and working at a water park, pick up the long sleeve shirts, pants, and fleeces from costuming because it does get really cold up on the mountains.
  •  Get friendly with your coordinators, leaders, and lifeguards because they all help you out tremendous amounts and will be your best friends.
  •  Try an opening shift if you can because it gives you a chance to do different morning jobs and no closing jobs.
  •  SLIDE TEST! It will literally be the best part of your day because you can test the rides and go in the lazy river.
What advice would you give to people who are interested in doing the DCP?
Make the most of your program.  There's so much to do on a limited amount of time.  Go to all the parks, resort hop, eat in the restaurants, hang out at Downtown Disney, explore Orlando, go to the beaches. The DCP is seriously a life changing experience and I wish I could just be a permanent CP.  Network a lot because you never know when you'll do it.  I networked with a bunch of my leaders and became close with them and I'm now a seasonal slide op at both the water parks.  

If anyone has any questions about the DCP in general or specific roles you can contact me/ follow me:
Instagram- @princesshollyx0

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!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Interview a CP: Jeffrey (Epcot PhotoPass)

Jeff hangin' with Mickey & the gang!
Jeff runs a beautiful Disney photography blog on Tumblr, and he's also a really sweet and nice guy! I'm so happy he was able to take the time and share with you about his experience as a PhotoPass Photographer in Epcot the semester before my college program!

What role did you have during the DCP, and where did you work?
During Fall Advantage 2012, I was a PhotoPass Photographer at EPCOT!

What was a typical day like at work?
I would start each day by setting up all of my camera equipment. After getting my first assignment, I would go onstage! One of the benefits to PhotoPass is having the chance to take pictures in a few locations during each shift (unless you’re scheduled for something otherwise). I was able to work with Characters and take pictures with Icons (like Spaceship Earth in EPCOT) during a single shift! At the end of the shift, I would head back to base, check my work schedule, and talk to my coordinators and managers at base. It wasn’t very complicated really - I was always put in areas with lots of guests so I had the chance to interact with people from all over the world constantly!

Is this the role you originally wanted? If not, are you happy you got it?
It was my second choice behind being a Character Attendant. I’m very happy that I got the chance to be in PhotoPass ‘cuz it’s a mixture of everything in Entertainment!

What are your favorite and least favorite parts about your job?
Being a part of the Disney Entertainment family was the best! There’s nothing better than getting to capture magical moments for all of the guests in the Parks & getting to hang out with the characters at work! Taking pictures of proposals is one of the most memorable experiences as well and I was lucky to capture four of them! 

It’s very hard physically and emotionally to be a Cast Member sometimes. Carrying 10 lbs. of electronics can be tiring after awhile if you don’t exercise and stay healthy. Closing shifts and longer shifts can be rough at times.

Any specific magical moment you want to share?
One of the most magical moments of my time in the DCP happened at the entrance of EPCOT. I was taking pictures of the guests with Spaceship Earth in the background. I watched a large family with “Make A Wish” shirts come through the turnstiles and smiled and waved to them. They approached me with their PhotoPass card out and assembled near the flowers. There was a young princess in a wheelchair whose wish had come true to go to Walt Disney World with her entire family (who were the most kind, funny, courteous and gracious people I’ve met). She couldn’t speak due to her condition but it was impossible not to see the sun shine through her ear-to-ear smile!


I took a ton of pictures with the whole family! I took the normal family pictures then asked if we could have some fun with it. We took ones with hugs, funny faces, superhero poses, princess poses and so much more. They were laughing and having the best time and that made my heart soar.

I turned to the young princess in the wheelchair and asked if she wanted to take some very special magical pictures, to which she smiled even bigger and nodded. I told her Tinkerbell was flying around and she would join us for some pictures. We took some pictures with her and the young princess couldn’t stop smiling.

Jeff and the Great Goofini!
When we were done and ready to part ways, the mother came up to me and thanked me by name for making the beginning of their day magical. She also pointed out to me that her daughter, the young princess, was saying that she loved me in Sign Language. It broke my heart in the best way ‘cuz I was able to help that family and that young princess start the day on a good note that would only get better. They left smiling and waving to me and the young princess smiled at me until they passed out of sight.

That moment in time will always have a special place in my heart.

What made you want to do the DCP?
I’ve always wanted to work for Disney. One of my best friends had applied for the DCP before and that got me interested! I was tired of being in school so I wanted to try working in my dream job while taking some time off of classes!

Is there something you wish you would have known before doing your program?
I wish I had known not to bring so many things for downtime in my apartment. I brought quite a few things with me from California to Florida and barely used them! I was out in the parks and hanging out with people most of the time!

What advice would you give to those who are going to be participating in your role?
You have the chance to help people capture the magic of their time in the parks! You get to hang out with characters like Mickey! You can work in a lot of different places in the resorts! Make the most of your time in this role. It is very rewarding on every level. You’ll be able to incorporate your skills in the Arts and many other areas. Have fun and make every moment magical for those around you!

What advice would you give to people who are interested in doing the DCP?
Be honest with yourself! If you’re trying to be a part of the DCP, you should be very honest with yourself and the Disney CM’s who interview you about your strengths, weaknesses, abilities, experience and desires for the program. If you go into the program with weak or false intentions, you will be crushed by the pressure of working in the Disney Parks. If you’re honest (while trying to make a good impression), they’ll recognize that and you’ll enjoy your time in the DCP so much more! Just stay open to the countless opportunities to grow while you’re going through the entire experience ‘cuz it’s something you will never forget!

If you want to get in touch with me to talk about the DCP or being a part of PhotoPass/Entertainment, you can reach me at any of these places:


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!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Homesickness During the DCP


Many of you have been asking me how I dealt with homesickness during my program. To be honest, I never really got homesick! (I had some moments but not many.) However, here is my advice for how to deal with homesickness during your Disney College Program!

PS...I swear you can make a game out of how many times I saw the word "home" in this video...*cringes*

You can see the rest of my DCP videos here!

Make sure you stay updated by following The Disney Den on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

My Disney Class: Exploring Marketing



During the Disney College Program, you have an option to take classes on the side for around eight weeks. Disney offers collegiate classes, seminars, and professional sequences. I took a seminar all about Disney's marketing, and even though I had to get up super early and walk to Chatham every Wednesday, I thought it was completely worthwhile and gave me a really good insight of what Disney does with their marketing team in many different areas of their company.

We learned about how Disney does branding, as well as how they market special events, the Disney Cruise Line, the Vacation Club, and much more. My favorite week was probably when we learned about branding, I found it really interesting because I had never really heard much about how someone does business in that area of marketing before. It was really nice taking this class because I had never taken any marketing classes in school before (even though I'm a marketing major), so it gave a really good look at the real world and how they manage their business. 

The Exploration Series is also a really good way to network with possible important people in your future career with Disney. Each week someone came in the classroom to talk about where they worked and what they did, and after the class you had the opportunity to walk up and talk to the speakers one on one for a short bit. They all gave my students their contact information (email, Twitter, etc.) in case they were interested in connecting outside of the classroom and having a one on one meeting session. Networking like this can be extremely beneficial if you want a career with Disney.

The video above generally explains about the class from some of the students' perspectives, and you can actually see me in the blue shirt asking a question for a split second at around 1:45! ;)

If you have any more questions about the class or classes in general, feel free to ask!

Also, if you'd like to check out the official DCP Youtube channel for more information about different classes and roles, you can see it right here!

Otherwise, I hope you have a magical day!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Interview a CP: Rebecca (ABC Commissary)


Rebecca at work with some special guests!
Rebecca was one of my closest friends during my College Program. She was actually my one and only Blog of the Month way back when, and made some appearances in my DCP Experience Vlog! She worked in my favorite park, and I'm super happy that she was able to share about her experience with all of you!

What role did you have during the DCP, and where did you work?

I worked in Quick Service Food and Beverage at ABC Commissary in Hollywood Studios. I really loved my area and enjoyed the role a lot more than I had expected to!

What was a typical day like at work?

A typical day for me at work was working a little after opening until close. ABC opens up two hours after Hollywood Studios opens, so when the park opens at 9, we open at 11. I would usually start around 11:30. Closing varied every day. ABC closes half an hour before park close. So whenever there is EMH (Extra Magic Hours) the park would be open later, resulting in ABC also being open later. The Studios usually had about 3-4 different closing times a week, so I would get off anywhere from 8:30 to 10:00 pm. CP’s pretty much ALWAYS close the restaurant, which means I would get off at park close. I would usually work 8-9.5 hour shifts, 5-6 days a week. Once in a while a rare 6 hour shift is thrown in to my schedule, from 4-10. But I would almost always trade for a longer shift, just because on days that I was working, I would rather work longer and get paid more.  The busses for DHS ran about every 35 minutes, and from Chatham to DHS it was a 45 minute bus ride, so it was a hit or miss on how early I would have to get to work. I.E., if my start time was 10:30 one day, I would have to catch the bus around 9 to get to work by 9:45. If I wait for the 9:31 bus, I would get to the CP bus stop at 10:15, which would be cutting it pretty close to get to work. But if I started at 10:45 the next day, I could take the 9:31 bus and have plenty of time. After I got off at the bus stop outside of cast services, I would usually get a new costume for work, since costuming is right inside the cast service building for DHS. If I had at least a half an hour to kill before work, I would always get a new costume. It’s also a lot more comfortable to wear regular clothes on the bus to work and then change in the dressing rooms. Then I would cut back stage to ABC (I LOVED being able to walk through streets of America to get to work!), drop my stuff of in my locker, then walk to the CDS computer to clock in. ABC is a unique location, as we also share the same building as Sci-Fi Dine In Theater. So, we share a back kitchen, a GT, etc. I was able to meet people from a new location right in my area right away! Once I was clocked in, CDS would give me an assignment. 

During my time at ABC, I was able to do basically every job there. Options were: Fryer (frying the fries, chicken nuggets, shrimp, and fish—I hated this at first because the baskets were so heavy and I would always burn myself. I have 4 scars on my arms from being on fryer……my friend from work calls them Mickey Marks), Kitchen Assistant (running the food from the fryer to the line), Grill (grilling burgers and chicken), Stocker (keeping everything stocked up everywhere in the restaurant—this is the only job I was never assigned to. Although I did close stocking twice), Line/Wells, which entails of three positions: Anchor (putting plates on trays, putting together kids meals and sending them down the line), Middle (Putting the burgers, chicken sandwiches together, fish and shrimp platters and putting lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and onions on the sides of sandwiches) and Window (putting fries on the plates and sending the food to counter), Toaster (toasting buns for both sides of the line), Salads (hand tossing all of the salads ordered for the whole restaurant…..this was a high stress job but I was beast at it! If the restaurant was slow toaster and salads would be done by the same person), Counter (carrying the food from counter to the guest at their counter), Drink Filler 1 (Making all of the drinks), Drink Filler 2 (running the drinks and desserts to the guests), Cash (taking guest’s orders), Condiments (filling both sides of the condiment bars---keeping all of the sauces filled, plasticware filled, etc), Bussing/Trash (bussing tables and taking out trash---my least favorite job), and the best, Prep (getting to be in the back with a few friends getting everything ready for the next day—like making the burger/chicken set ups with lettuce and tomato, or making salad dressing, making power pack kids meals, or anything of that sort). 

In order to close the restaurant one person was assigned to each position to close. We have half an hour to close our position so everyone can go home. I was pretty fast at closing, so I would stick around to help anyone else close their position.
Rebecca with the VP of Animal Kingdom!

Is this the role you originally wanted? If not, are you happy you got it?
Not even close! Even in the interview I was asked questions about attractions, lifeguarding, and PhotoPass. QSFB was one of my picks for little or no interest, so I was skeptical to take it. Especially since I had never worked with food before and I had heard horror stories about getting that role. Honestly, the job isn’t anything special. But the people who worked with me and the guests that I got to interact with made my experience. I was very happy I got it, and ultimately I decided to stay seasonal with Disney after my program. I ended up getting a job as campus rep for my university, so now that is my status instead of seasonal.

What are your favorite and least favorite parts about your job?
My favorite parts of the job were definitely the people I had the chance to work with, and my location. Where else do you get to walk through a Disney park every day to go to work! Working at ABC is like living a soap opera. I made some of my closest friends there, and there was always some sort of drama going on, and most of the time, it was very entertaining. I loved being on register and getting to interact with guests, and I really grew to love working in the kitchen, making salads or running the line. My least favorite parts of the job were definitely bussing and counter. Because who wants to pick up trash? Yeah, you do get to talk to guests. But most of the time they are focused on eating and want you to clean up after them. I also hate being on counter, because then everything that goes wrong through a guest’s perspective is placed on you.

Any specific magical moment you want to share?

My favorite magical moment happened around St. Patrick’s day. At ABC, we don’t usually get to do very many magical moments, as the guest flow is always very constant and busy, not allowing us very much extra time to do things. This particular day it was fairly slow, and I was put on outdoor bussing. (I would much rather be outside than inside—less tables and more people to talk to!) A 10 year old boy and his dad were sitting at a table outside. We started talking, and I learned that his birthday was the following week and that they were celebrating it! It was his first time at Disney, and his family didn’t know about the buttons, so I would have never known it was his birthday otherwise. If you have ever been to a Disney park while wearing a birthday button, you know that you do get treated a bit more special. So, I told the family that I would be right back. I ran inside, got one of the special St. Patrick’s Day Mickey cupcakes, and brought it out and sang the boy happy birthday. He was so happy, getting a hug from him was so special! By this point his mom had come out with the food and she took a picture of us together. I made sure they got a Birthday button for him so he could show off what they were celebrating!

What made you want to do the DCP?

I have always loved Disney all my life. I grew up in Michigan, and my family never took trips to the parks until we moved to Florida when I was in 8th grade. From then on I loved learning about the history of Disney and visiting the parks. I was a senior in high school when I found out about the college program, and knew I would eventually want to do it while I was in college! During the fall of my freshman year I applied just for the heck of it, figuring I wouldn’t get in since I was a freshman. But then four days after my phone interview, I got the email saying  I was accepted!
Me and Rebecca on her last day in the parks!

Is there something you wish you would have known before doing your program?

I wish I knew how much you really work, and how hard it can be some times. I figured we would have tons of time to play in the parks and do things around Orlando. Also, you can’t expect to find the guy of your dreams during the DCP. More than likely if you get involved with someone you’ll just end up with a broken heart, because the relationship won’t go past the program (trust me, I found out the hard way).

What advice would you give to those who are going to be participating in your role?

Expect long and hard hours, and dealing with hangry (hungry+angry) people who have been outside in the parks all day, waiting in lines for rides who don’t want to wait longer than 2 minutes for food. But the experience is definitely worth it.

What advice would you give to people who are interested in doing the DCP?
Be willing to take advantage of any free time you have to spare. You don’t have much of it, so spend time with friends (because you’ll make some of the best friends of your life). Go to the parks after work, even if you’re tired and it’s only open for a few more hours. After you left, you’ll be glad you have some crazy pictures or that you got to go on a ride another time, or see Wishes AGAIN. You’ll miss it after you leave. Also, be willing that real life happens. Maybe you don’t get in the first time you apply—that’s ok, you’re just not meant to do it right then. Keep applying, because I wish that everyone got to experience one college program during their college career.  

If you have any questions for Rebecca about her experience or her role, you can find her on Twitter and sometimes on Tumblr! I can also ask her questions for you if you cannot reach her on these sites.

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!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

All About Quick Service Food and Beverage (Vlog)

Many cast members are placed in QSFB for the Disney College Program, and a lot of people ask me questions about what it's like. In this video I explain to you the basic jobs/positions you can have, the different options to be placed, and what training is like. If you have any more questions feel free to ask!



You can see the rest of my DCP videos here!

Make sure you stay updated by following The Disney Den on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Interview a CP: Stephanie (Hollywood Studios Custodial)

Stephanie and her best friend at work!
Custodial is one of those roles that people originally think negatively about, but honestly I've heard a lot of people say they really enjoyed their experience in this role! Stephanie is one of them, and I'm glad she could share about her experience for you!

What role did you have during the DCP, and where did you work?
I was a custodian at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

What was a typical day like at work?
I got to work in the afternoon, where I would clock in and find out which restroom or streets zone I would be in for the day.  Then after Track Talk (a discussion with our mid-shift managers and coordinators about park hours, show times, and who the closing leaders would be), I would get my keys and other equipment that I would need for the day.  If I was cleaning restrooms that day (which I mostly always was), my partner and I would walk to our spot to find our openers and get our radios from them.  If I was streets, I would normally get my radio from the Keepers' Klubhouse and then head out to my area.  For the rest of the day, it's cleaning, cleaning, cleaning until the park closes and the second Fantasmic! show lets out.

Is this the role you originally wanted? If not, are you happy you got it?
The first time I applied for the DCP, custodial wasn't even in my Top 5 (although that was what I was initially accepted for).  However, for this second application, custodial actually was my top choice and I'm glad it happened that way!

What are your favorite and least favorite parts about your job?
FAVORITE THINGS:
--My coworkers.  I love my coworkers so much.  They're the best people I ever could have asked for to work with.  We all click so well with each other that I'm sure guests around us wonder who the crazy people working for Disney are.
--The freedom.  My managers and coordinators are so easy-going about everything.  As long as we get our job done, then they don't have a problem with us.
--Knowing my schedule before it's actually posted.  I'll never work before noon and my clock-out time will be an hour and 15 minutes after second Fant starts or 45 minutes after EMH is over.
--The independence.  This goes along with the freedom thing, but there are days when I want to be myself and do my own thing.  I totally can do that and no one will question me.

LEAST FAVORITE THINGS:
--Training.  Don't get me wrong, training was a lot of fun and I love the woman who trained me, but it was only for two days (then there was an assessment and then Shadow Day).  Trust me, I was not ready to be on my own after only four days of preparation.  I'm much better now, but it was scary at first.
--Guests.  Every Cast Member has those days where they come home amazed at how awful people can be.  Custodians just seem to have more of those days than most CM's......
--International tour groups.  They get their own mention because they're uniquely awful.

Any specific magical moment you want to share?
Being a custodian who works mostly inside restrooms doesn't give a lot of opportunity for magical moments, but I have had a couple.
One time, I was cleaning my restroom and a grandmother and her two grandkids (one boy and one girl) walked in.  There was no one else inside, so I was able to hear a little bit of their conversation.  (Actually, all I could hear was the fact that they were speaking French.)  When the three of them left the stall to walk to the sinks, the grandmother started talking to me in perfect English.  I turned to the two kids (the boy was about four, the girl was probably two) and the grandmother said, "Oh, they only speak French."  I smiled at her and knelt down to get on the kids' level and asked them in near-perfect French how their day was going and what their favorite part had been thus far.  At first, the kids looked to the older woman, probably wondering if they should answer the weird lady in the bathroom who was speaking French, but she nodded and smiled at them and they answered me.  I ended up talking to them for a good five minutes and the grandmother thanked me when they finally left.  It felt really good talking to a couple of little kids in their language, especially when I kind of surprised them that I could.  (I didn't wear the language flag on my name tag because I was too lazy to get one.  And I'm horrible at giving directions in French, but that's a different story.)
Stephanie and her "twins"
What made you want to do the DCP?
The epitome of my field of study in college is working for ESPN at some point in your career.  (I'm a broadcast journalism major with a double major in sports management.  Ask me about sports and I'm your girl.)  The DCP was merely a way to get my foot in the door of the very large Walt Disney Company.  Even though being a custodian is very far removed from the Stats & Information department at ESPN (my practical dream job), just having this on my résumé shows that I've worked for the Company before, so I know how some things work.

Is there something you wish you would have known before doing your program?
I was fortunate enough to have a friend back home who had done the program three separate times, so I went to her when my parents had questions and concerns that I couldn't answer.  I'm a pretty independent person and I don't mind going into things without any background knowledge at all.  In fact, I prefer to figure things out on my own and in the moment then plan it all down to the exact second.

What advice would you give to those who are going to be participating in your role?
--DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP!!!!  We've all been there, we've all done that.  In fact, if you ask nicely, we might even impart some of our knowledge and wisdom free of charge.
--Don't be "That Guy".  You may have survived training, but you still don't know everything yet.  Act humble for a little bit.  Do your job exactly as your trainer taught you.  Go on break for as long as you're supposed to.  I'm basically telling you to act like a newbie.  It won't kill you.  (If you do this, the CP's who are just about to finish their programs will love you. Trust me.)

What advice would you give to people who are interested in doing the DCP?
Apply first and see where that gets you.  Life may give you something better to do instead (that's what happened to me when I applied the first time), but at least you gave yourself the option to do the DCP.  The program will always be there (until the semester after you graduate from college that is).  You need to make the right decision for you first and foremost.

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!