Thursday, December 4, 2014

Interview a CP: Ashley (Animal Kingdom Photopass)

Selfie with Tigger!
Photopass has the unique opportunity to help guests capture memories through pictures that they can keep for the rest of their lives. Ashley was able to experience this opportunity through her college program in Animal Kingdom. Here's what she had to say!

What role did you have during the DCP, and where did you work?
I was lucky enough to be a PhotoPass Photographer at Animal Kingdom! I did Spring Advantage 2014!

What was a typical day like at work?

I usually got to work a little bit early. I usually worked morning to night shifts. I would park, and make my way backstage. I always got myself a sub from Subway for my break later on and would go sit in Base until it was time to clock in. Base was usually a busy place and I would catch up with any cast members that were in there. I was lucky enough to work with an amazing group of people. By the end of my program these people felt like family to me. 

After we clocked in we would pick up a blue bin from our coordinator that had all of our gear. We would have to set it all up and put it all one. This took me a while to get used to but everyone is always willing to help! 

We were deployed to one of these zones: South, North, or East. Each one of these had multiple locations and characters. The locations were: 

South- Entrance of the park, The View station, and multiple locations on the bridge and plaza in front of the Tree of Life.

North- Mickey and Minnie, King Louie and Baloo, Pocahontas, Everest Corner, Everest Bridge, Africa Drums, Tree back-side. 

East- Daisy, Donald, Goofy and Pluto, Dug and Russell. 

Once we ready with our gear we would hit CDS (cast deployment system) . Which deployment we assigned to depended on what location CDS gave you. I spent most of my program working in the North. When I was in the North, I always loved working with the characters instead of shooting one of the icons. Mickey and Minnie we amazing to work with, specially because they were in the AC. 

I was the most excited when I got East shifts because the day was filled with just characters. Getting to work with the character attendants and characters made the shift go by much  faster, which made it more enjoyable. Goofy and Pluto were amazing to work with! They all messed around and could make anyone smile! Goofy loved to throw autograph books and pens at me all day. 

Working icons was a nice break from the busyness of characters, but was unfortunately usually in the sun. This made it hard because it go so hot in the summer. Being from Boston, I wasn't used to the heat! I loved being able to have guests do magic shots and create poses. This gave guests unique photos to remember their time in Disney. 

No matter where you working, Photopass is a very social job! We engage with so many guests all day long on a one to one level. We have to be outgoing, confident and excited for our job! The more outgoing and excited you were, your photos showed it!

Once our shift was over, we headed back to base to turn in our equipment and to clock out. Since I usually closed the park, a whole group of us would all take the bus to the parking lot together, those bus rides were always interesting! Everyone I worked with was amazing!!!

Ashley and the boss!

Is this the role you originally wanted? If not, are you happy you got it?
When I first learned about the college program, I wanted to be a photographer before I even knew it was possible. During my phone interview I expressed my interest in Photopass and talked about all of my experience with photography. Getting this role was beyond exciting for me and I couldn't have been happier! 
I am an Art Education major, and love children.  Photography is a passion of mine. This role brought photography and working with children together for me! 

What are your favorite and least favorite parts about your job?
As every job at Disney there were many ups and downs! My favorite part was being able to capture families memories in the park. Years down the road families will look at my photos and remember certain moments of their vacation because of me. My other favorite was getting to work with all the amazing characters! Spending a few hours with Mickey and Minnie was truly amazing. Seeing them interact with guest of all ages was magical! From them seeing new born babies, recently married couples, children to people who were meeting them for the first time. The amount of times I cried while working with them can’t be counted… happy crying of course. 
My least favorite parts of my job is what every other Disney cast member hates.. the heat and the thickness of our costumes. But that is something we are unable to change!

Any specific magical moment you want to share?
I was told before I went to Disney that I would be part of many magical moments. Little did I know that many of these would be life changing for me. I got to meet a little girl was very very sick. She was at Disney as a Make a Wish child. She was visiting Donald and Daisy with her parents. She was lucky enough to come when there was no one else at all in the area. She interacted with Daisy and did many cute poses with her. She came over to Donald and I instantly went picture crazy. Her parents approached me already crying and I soon realized the little girl was crying too. We brought Daisy over and let interact with both together. I can’t tell you the amount of pictures I took. There was not a dry eye around. The family thanked us so many times and gave us so many hugs. After they left we spent a good amount of time getting ourselves together for the next family. Once we all finally did the mom came back in crying again. She thanked us all again, and gave out another round of hugs. She gave each of us a little card thanking us for everything. All me and my fellow cast members did was do our job and let her take pictures with both of them together yet we made this little girl's vacation. She got to meet her two favorite characters regardless of how sick she was. I remember this day like it was yesterday and I don’t think I will ever forget it. Cast members can do truly amazing things for the guests. 
This isn’t the only magical moment from my program. Sometimes simply getting a guest a new Mickey Ice cream sandwich made their day, or taking the extra 5 minutes to show a guest where to go. Magical Moments happen all the time while you are working!

What made you want to do the DCP?
I told my parents when I was about seven that I was either going to move to Disney World or Australia. Of course, my parents laughed at me. I learned about the college program but was unable to do it at that time. I waited a year and decided to just go for it. What made me wants to do it from such a young age was just simply enjoying my vacations at the parks. I wanted to be part of it! As I did research about the program I learned more about how much people learned and appreciated their time at Disney. I wanted to experience everything I was reading!!

Is there something you wish you would have known before doing your program?
I wish before my program I understood how hard the program would honestly be. I knew we worked long tough days in the heat, but you truly don’t understand this until you worked a 13 hour shift, in the direct sunlight, with a heavy costume on, carrying your camera gear and dealing with hot angry guests. But as these days happened they were something to learn from. Each day is what you make it! For ever five rude guests, there's one guest who couldn't appreciate your hard work any more. Those long days become worth it! 

Ashley with Pluto and Goofy!
What advice would you give to those who want to participate in your role?
Having some prior knowledge about photography is helpful but a few people I trained with had none! It is helpful but Disney teaches you everything you need to know! I feel as though to be a Photopass Photographer, you need to have lots of energy, create, be social and love your job! If you are able to do all of this, you will love Photopass!! (And of course be able to smile all day.)

What advice would you give to people who are interested in doing the DCP?
There's a lot of advice I would give to people interested in the DCP. Do all of your research before hand and talk to people who have down it before. That gives your a first hand experience of the DCP. Don’t just talk to one person but talk to many different people from many different roles! Its helps you be prepared and to know more about your future at the company!
When you get the awesome email saying congratulations on being accepted, that is when your new adventure starts. When you finally get to move in, from day one take NOTHING for granted. Meet as many people as you can. Pick up shifts anywhere you can. Instead of going to bed early, go see Wishes for the 50th time. Go meet Mickey for the 20th time. Just eat ice scream on Main Street. Ride Space Mountain 10 times in a row. Because at some point your gonna have a week left in your program and you don’t want to leave with any regrets. Your last week, enjoy it with your roommates and your best friends. Say good bye to your fellow cast remembers and of course Mickey. This could be a once in a life time opportunity and take advantage of it!! 

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!

I hope everyone has a magical day!

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