Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Interview a CP: Sarah (Hollywood Studios Merchandise)

Sarah and some of her coworkers!
For those of you who are interested in participating in Merchandise during the Disney College Program, Sarah was kind enough to tell us about her experience working in this role in my favorite park, Disney's Hollywood Studios!

What role did you have during the DCP, and where did you work?
I did Merchandise in Hollywood Studios. I worked the entire back half of the park, aka the Backlands.

What was a typical day like at work?
I worked over 15 different locations so I never got bored in the Backlands. My days usually consisted of waking up, packing my backpack and taking the terrible Transtar bus to work! But really.....the E bus was awful. I'd walk back stage to my break room, change into the costume I had to wear that day (the Backlands has different 3 costumes depending on the location), hopefully grab some food, walk to my clock in location and clock in! The day consists of being at registers, restocking over and over again, creating Magical Moments, helping guests, and making sure my store had that Disney look. I'd open and close carts, or build lightsabers or droids if I was as Tatooine Traders, I'd talk with guests about their vacation. Then at the end of the night, I'd help close the store and registers, clock out, and fight to get on the bus to go back home! 

Is this the role you originally wanted? If not, are you happy you got it?
Like everyone else and their grandma, I wanted Entertainment. But I am actually really happy I got Merch. It's basically one of the best jobs ever and you learn valuable skills that translate well to any workplace. I got offered two jobs the week I came home from my program. 

What are your favorite and least favorite parts about your job?
My favorite part of it is the guest interaction. You actually have time to talk and get to know your guests. You get to know regulars and the guests that spend two weeks on property; you get to talk to them as yourself, not as a friend of Mickey or Goofy or Peter. You get to Pin Trade and create Magical Moments. You get to make kids smile and you get parents that thank you over and over again because you helped them have a great time. But of course, there are downsides. Guests can be THE WORST. When a guest has spent all day in the hot sun or the Florida rain, they get cranky and mean. When their child didn't get to participate in Jedi Training Academy, they take it out on you. When the foreign tour groups run rampant or the bratty cheerleaders take up most of the park, they will always and forever find a way to make it your fault. If you look ethnic in any way... everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, will assume you speak Spanish or Portuguese. I have had racial slurs thrown at me more than once. 
But the first time you make a kid smile just because you gave them a Mickey sticker, or when an 80 year old avid pin trader finds the pin he was looking for on your lanyard. When a mother cries because you spent ten minutes building a lightsaber with her son and his face lights up when he activates it... man... those are the moments to live for. 

Sarah hugging Peter Pan
Any specific magical moment you want to share?
I was building droids with three kids and their parents. I was a little stressed and I was close to going on break. But these kids were just so cute and polite, I almost didn't want to go on break. When they were done building them, the parents thanked me and each child hugged me, which just warmed my little heart. Then the mother handed me a card that they had made that said, "Oh boy!! You were great!! Special thanks from our family." Tears welled up in my eyes as I thanked them. I carried that card next to my ID for the remainder of my program and I still keep it in my wallet.

What made you want to do the DCP?
I am head over heels in love with that's a little self-explanatory. Also I was ready to see the world and I had a tad bit of wanderlust while I was stuck in my small little college town. The DCP was my Neverland and I was ready to stay young forever! 

Is there something you wish you would have known before doing your program?
BRING A CAR. DO IT. BRING ONE. You hear it all the time before your program...BUT DO IT. THE BUSES SUCK. I survived without one. But the time spent on the bus going to and from work or the parks adds up.

What advice would you give to those who are going to be participating in your role?
Get good shoes and good socks and wash them regularly. Your feet will thank you. Also learn the prices for color coded tags by heart.

What advice would you give to people who are interested in doing the DCP?
What you get out of it is what you put into it. You are there to work, remember that if you plan on getting wasted every weekend at House of Blues. It can be one of the best things you choose to do in your life if you have a good attitude. 

If you would like to ask Sarah any questions about her role, experience, anything, you follow and message her on Tumblr! She'd be more than happy to help you!

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!

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