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!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Interview a CP: Jeremy (EPCOT FriendShip Boats)

Did you know college program participants can also be in charge of the FriendShip boats between EPCOT and Hollywood Studios? Jeremy took the time to tell us all about his experience in transportation with these lovely boats!

What role did you have during the DCP, and where did you work? 
I was transportation at the FriendShip boats! These are the boats that are in the World Showcase and they run the route between EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, with a few resorts along the way. 

What was a typical day like at work? 
At the FriendShips, you were lucky if you didn’t have a closing shift. I usually started somewhere between 3pm and 5pm and get off anywhere from 11pm to 2am depending on Extra Magic Hours. I’d clock in and then sign up for the next available boat. Sometimes I’d get the one scheduled to arrive next, sometimes I’d have to wait up to an hour. While waiting, I just stood at the entrance/exit gates and talked to and helped guests.

Is this the role you originally wanted? If not, are you happy you got it? 
Concierge was my #1, but I didn’t think I’d get it since I’m not a hospitality major. Transportation (specifically FriendShips) was my realistic #1. 

What are your favorite and least favorite parts about your job? 
My favorite part was piloting the boats. They aren’t on any tracks or rails or anything. The captain has full control of the boat at all times. I loved fine-tuning my docking style to get to smoothest and best dock I could get. I also loved timing my lagoon (World Showcase) shifts around Off Kilter’s show times. I got to work on a boat and listen to Off Kilter; it doesn’t get much better than that! My least favorite part would have to be working in the rain and Hollywood Studios Extra Magic Hours nights. When the Studios has EMH, the docks get really busy and you have to anticipate how many people are going to be at each stop so you don’t fill up the boat too soon. 

Any specific magical moment you want to share? 
During Christmastime there is a special ending added to EPCOT’s fireworks show. You can actually see it from the Yacht and Beach Club boat dock and some other areas out there. One night my deckhand and I were way ahead of time and due back just after IllumiNations ended. We were going between Yacht/Beach Club and the Boardwalk when the holiday tag started. Since we had so much time, we stopped the boat and just floated for the rest of the show. It gave the guests a chance to see the show that they would have otherwise missed from a different perspective.

What made you want to do the DCP? I love Disney and WDW is my second home. I had heard about the program several years before I started college and knew I had to do it. It gave me my first opportunity to live away from home and really find out who I am. I met my best friend during my program and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything! Is there something you wish you would have known before doing your program? I don’t think so. I spent a lot of time researching so I had a really good idea of what to expect. What advice would you give to those who want to participate in your role? Go in with an open mind. Training may be overwhelming at first, but it is so worth it! If you can, work a few opening shifts too. Opening is such a different experience from closing and is worth getting up before sunrise. What advice would you give to people who are interested in doing the DCP? Do it! It is such a life-changing experience. The opportunities you have on the program are incredible. Also, if you can, take your car! The buses are notoriously unreliable (to say the least).

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!

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

Friday, December 18, 2015

Interview a CP: Noelle (Animal Kingdom Custodial)

It's been a while since I've posted a college program interview! I apologize for my absence...I was focusing on finishing college! Now that I'm done, I'm ready to dedicate more time towards this blog and share even more interviews with you, like Noelle's!

What role did you have during the DCP, and where did you work?
Custodial at Disney's Animal Kingdom during Spring Advantage 2014! (Jan-Aug)

What was a typical day like at work?
Typically, I got street shifts and mostly closing. With that, I'd usually work 6-8 hour shifts where I'd be assigned to a specific area in the park. I'd have 1-2 trash runs and would get a radio for my area depending on the schedule. When I didn't have a trash run I'd be sweeping and interacting with guests (and also watching the animals or doing water art!) I'd occasionally get called for codes (I actually rarely had anything: 1 BBP, 1 code U, and just a few code Vs during my whole program). DAK is really relaxed and I loved the people I worked with. I'd get restroom shifts too which would typically start an hour before the park opened and end an hour after it closed (10-12 hours or I'd help cover a restroom which is a much shorter shift). Restrooms are either one or two depending on how busy the restroom or the park is. I'd even get back of house shifts (too many) which is really relaxed and you clean the restrooms backstage.

Is this the role you originally wanted? If not, are you happy you got it?
It was my top choice! I have anxiety so I loved how relaxed this role is! I wanted to be in a park but my last choice was DAK because I heard it was the hottest. Of course I'd get it but I'm so happy I did and wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else! It's actually not as bad with heat because there is so much shade (heat and humidity in FL will always suck).

What are your favorite and least favorite parts about your job?
Least: POPCORN SPILLS. Especially after it rains. People seem to love to spill all of their popcorn and no matter how many times you sweep up around a popcorn cart, there will ALWAYS be popcorn. It's even more difficult cause people step in it. I also hated when it would rain because the drains have to be cleared and they're terrible at DAK (and MK) and cause massive floods. Some people aren't always helpful but I had a lot of other coworkers who were amazing. I didn't like getting BOH shifts because I like keeping busy and being in the park interacting with guests.

Favorite: The park, guests interactions (for the most part), and my coworkers. DAK is so great with all the entertainment and animals! It's super detailed and easy to keep yourself from being bored. Guests aren't usually ever out right rude to custodians (but some can act superior but you start laughing at it and it's not bad and most are super kind and grateful). I had a lot of cool interactions with guests especially because I LOVE facts about Disney and the park. I also had a really great group of coworkers that I still talk to all the time and some are even my best friends. It's like a family at DAK  cause it's small enough to know everyone but big enough to not feel lonely. 

Noelle and her best friend creating pre-parade water art!

Any specific magical moment you want to share?
I LOVED getting to do pre parade water art! One of the best times I ever had was when I got to draw Donald with my best friend who drew Mickey and see all the kids get excited and trying to pump up the crowd (which is really hard and you learn to have a great time even if no one is listening haha.) A specific magical moment was that time because I got to draw Donald for a little girl that was sitting away from the crowd and couldn't see. I got to talk to her one on one and had her guess what I was drawing. It's such a magical experience to watch as kids try to guess what you're drawing and she was so excited to guess Donald correctly! While some of my friends were more into interacting with larger groups and making everyone super excited, I loved getting to have special smaller moments. Having preferences for magical moments is so much easier in custodial because it has more freedoms and is flexible.

What made you want to do the DCP?
I wanted to do the program as soon as I found out it existed! Doing the program also helped me figure out more specifically what I want to do in school and after I graduate.

Is there something you wish you would have known before doing your program?
After a "Harambe Nights" special event shift!
Don't panic during training and as soon as it's over. Your team won't just let you loose without knowing you're ready. Most of the job is learned through doing. Don't take things personally. Don't trust Transtar [company in charge of the bus system for the DCP]. Do as many thing as you can including housing events. It can be really hard transitioning back home after your program if it was amazing so be prepared and keep in contact with the friends you make. Go into work at 100%, your worst personal days are some of your best work days.

What advice would you give to those who want to participate in your role?
I think custodial is probably one of the best hourly paid roles because it's low stress and has lots of freedom. Don't be scared of the responsibilities and what people may think of you because I LOVED it even though I came in with a low tolerance of anything gross (you can work on it too!). It's a great role for anyone with anxiety! DAK is a perfect location too so I'd highly recommend requesting it!

What advice would you give to people who are interested in doing the DCP?
Research the program! Make sure it's something you want to do and you understand it. It's not a vacation and it can be super hard and stressful but for me and so many others it is life changing. If you have roommate or work drama don't let it get to you and try to work through it. Do things that are outside of your comfort zone but also don't do anything that makes you uncomfortable to the point of panicking. Make a bucket list and set time aside for your roommates because it can be so hard to stay in touch when your schedules are conflicting. Also make sure you know a staff member from your school who understands the program and how it will affect you if you're taking a semester off. 

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!

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

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Top 5 Songs from "We Love Disney"

Remember the days of Disney Mania, when pop singers covered popular Disney tunes? Man, those were the days. For some reason, Disney stopped producing these albums after quite a few editions. I was thrilled to learn that a similar album was recently created called "We Love Disney", which includes a few of my favorite artists.

Here are my top five favorite songs from the new album, "We Love Disney"!

5. "Ev'rybody Wants to Be a Cat" - Charles Perry

I'm actually not much of Aristocats fan, but I was quite impressed with Charles Perry's rendition of this song. I didn't know Perry before this song, but I like the fun jazzy feel in this honestly more than the original. Most likely because it's rather modernized, but still good nonetheless!

4. "Friend Like Me" - Ne-Yo

Tackling this song after Robin Williams' death is a rather tough task, but I think Ne-Yo pulls it off rather well. I love Aladdin, Robin Williams, and Ne-Yo...so I guess it's no surprised that I'm a fan of this song. It's similar, but has its significant differences to differentiate from the original and give it it's own style.

3. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight / Nants' Ingonyama" - Jason Derulo

The Lion King is my all time favorite Disney movie and I absolutely adore the soundtrack, so any different version of these songs is a dangerous task. I really like Jason Derulo originally, and I have no idea if he's a Lion King fan himself, but I feel like he loved singing this song. (Unlike Ariana Grande's Zero to Hero...which was disappointing.) It's fun, slightly different from the original, but still beautiful and captures the spirit of the movie everyone loves and adores.

2. "Rainbow Connection" - Gwen Stefani

When I heard Gwen Stefani was going to cover this song...I was rather skeptical. My first concert was actually a Gwen Stefani concert, but I'm rather hot and cold with her music. Gwen and The Muppets seemed like a rather random pairing, but I was pleasantly surprised! Definitely one of my favorites on the entire album. Makes me reminisce the time Gwen and I rode on the rafts to Tom Sawyer Island (or Pirates' Lair...whatever) in Disneyland earlier this year. Yes, that actually happened.

1. "In a World of My Own / Very Good Advice" - Jhene Aiko

It's funny, if you asked me if I remembered this song or had even heard of this singer before hearing this song, I'd draw a blank for both. I'm not a big fan of Alice in Wonderland, and I've never heard of any Jhene Aiko songs. None of this actually matters, because her rendition of this song is absolutely wonderful. I have it on repeat many mornings while walking to class or finishing homework. It's so serene, pretty, and unique. I'm definitely going to look into more songs from Aiko, because I've also fallen in love with her voice.

What do you think of the new "We Love Disney" album? Which are some of your favorites?
You can purchase your copy of the album on iTunes now!
Have a magical day!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Book Review: The E-Ticket Life

The E-Ticket Life: by Kyle Burbank
I met Kyle through one of my best friends, who works with Kyle on a Disney podcast called The Disneyland Gazette. Kyle was kind enough to be the first person to officially review my own book on both the Gazette and LaughingPlace.com. While I was participating in an interview for the Gazette with Kyle, I learned more about his book The E-Ticket Life. I was definitely excited to read it myself, and jumped on the opportunity to finally meet Kyle in person at the D23 Expo and purchase a signed copy.
I didn’t actually get around to reading Kyle’s book until a month or so after D23, but I was immediately hooked. Each chapter is a personal anecdote about Kyle’s experience either in Disneyland or somehow related to Disney. He’ll take you through his journeys from Florida to Tokyo, with some stops in between. Kyle includes some of his personal life and lessons woven through his adventures, such as what it’s like to travel to a foreign country on your own, or how you can find a little bit of Disney in unexpected places.
One aspect in particular that I really enjoyed throughout Kyle’s book was reading his Disney experiences through the eyes of a true Disney fan and Annual Passholder. Before I became a cast member, I didn’t travel to Disney as frequently as I do now. Actually, I had only been to Disneyland maybe four or five times and Walt Disney World once before I got a job in Florida. I only know what it’s like to work and play in the parks together, not only see Disney as a place to frequent only for fun on a regular basis. I’ve always wondered what it was like for Annual Passholders to go to Disneyland as often as Kyle did and not grow tiresome of the place (people wonder the same thing about cast members, but that’s a different story).
There was one chapter in particular that really resonated with me. Kyle explains “The Disney Bubble,” which is basically the overall feeling you experience when attending a Disney park. You’re completely unaware of the outside world and simply enjoying the atmosphere and magic within the resort. If you attend as frequently as Kyle or I do, sometimes this “bubble” can pop, leaving you rather uninspired or possibly have a feeling that you’ve “lost the magic.”
Kyle makes an excellent point about being a Disney local or regular: You need to explore outside of the Disney parks to “keep the magic alive.” Disney fans use the parks as an escape from reality, but if you’re in the parks too often…they become your reality. The outside world and problems will follow you inside the parks of you don’t handle them in the “real world” before stepping foot inside your escape. Kyle explains an important lesson perfectly, that I feel more Disney locals need to take to heart:
“I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with wanting to live near the parks and visit often; I’m just saying that you shouldn’t define yourself by your fandom.”
This is something I’ve tried to explain to people who ask if I ever grow tired of going to Disney all the time. My answer is always plain and simple: I don’t allow myself to get to that point. If you maintain a healthy balance and attend the parks with a purpose (whether as small as grabbing lunch and people watching to as large as an all-day Disney excursion), you’ll most likely avoid popping the bubble that keeps Disney’s essence everyone knows and loves.
Along with Kyle’s fun and interesting anecdotes, I have to commend his writing. He’s fluid, professional, and tastefully adds his own personality and humor all throughout his story. If you’re a Disney buff, cast member, or simply want to learn about a young man’s journey traveling across (and out of) the country, I definitely recommend giving The E-Ticket Life a read.
You can find more of Kyle Burbank’s work on his blog at LaughingPlace.com, as well as purchase a copy of his book directly from Laughing Place Press or Amazon.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Disneyland Fall Bucket List

With the end of the year quickly approaching, my two-year anniversary with Disneyland come and gone (already!), and the recent announcements of many Disneyland attractions and locations closing either permanently or temporarily for the construction of Star Wars Land...I decided I need to finally make a bucket list for the parks of things I need to do before the end of the year.

Without further ado, here are a list of attractions, restaurants, and activities I need to do before 2016!

1. Big Thunder BBQ - I've eaten here once before, and I LOVED it! I already have a plan in the works to eat here at least one more time before it goes away permanently in January. (Completed: 11/17/2015)

2. Watch Fantasmic! - I actually haven't seen this show at all this year. I definitely need to see it before it's gone for over a year!

3. Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes - This may seem kind of odd...but I've never been on the canoes that paddle around the Rivers of America. I wanted to give it a try this most recent summer but it was way too hot for that kind of physical activity.

4. Ghost Galaxy - I love this particularly spooky version of Space Mountain during Halloween. I've actually had the opportunity to ride it with the lights on, but I haven't seen the regular version yet this year! (Completed: Oct. 14th)

5. Mickey's Halloween Party - Even though I've worked in Disneyland for over two years now, I've never actually been to a Mickey's Halloween Party. Thankfully, I have a ticket for next week! I'm so excited! (Completed: Oct. 14th)

6. Haunted Mansion Holiday - It's mandatory to see the new gingerbread house and changes Jack Skellington made to the Haunted Mansion every year! (Completed: Oct. 14th)

7. Doctor Who Day - I've participated in the last two "Gallidays" in Disneyland, and they're so much fun! Definitely made it into a tradition and plan on attending this November. If you're a Doctor Who fan, this is definitely a day in the parks you don't want to miss. (Completed Nov 8th)

8. Hyperspace Mountain - A new version of Space Mountain themed for Star Wars? Can't wait! (Completed 11/14/15)

9. Star Wars Launch Bay - Even though I'm not a huge Star Wars nerd, I'm really excited to see what they did with Innoventions for the new Launch Bay coming in November!

I'll keep updating this list as I accomplish each goal, and keep you posted on Twitter and Facebook!

Do you have any items on your Disney bucket list?

Have a magical day!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Win a Copy of "Sara Earns Her Ears"! (GIVEAWAY)

Hey guys!

I've been meaning to do this for a while, but I finally set up a giveaway! You now have a chance to win a free copy of my book, Sara Earns Her Ears!

From now until September 23rd, you can enter through some of the options below to win a copy of my book and learn all about my Disney College Program experience!

You can also enter through following on Tumblr and reblogging this post!

Feel free to comment if you have any questions. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 27, 2015

D23 Look: Baymax DisneyBound

My Baymax DisneyBound at D23!
For the first day of D23 Expo, I put together one of my all time favorite DisneyBounds. If you're not familiar with DisneyBounding, the concept is to put together clothes in a similar color scheme as some of your favorite Disney characters. It's a fun and creative way to dress similarly to these characters, but in a more modern and every day look that you can wear to the parks, school, or wherever you please!

I personally love DisneyBounding. My first ever look I put together was Snow White for Halloween a few years ago. I was immediately hooked.

Since then I've "bounded" as a handful of characters, such as Flynn Rider from Tangled and Megara from Hercules. One of my all time favorite outfits I pulled together was actually Baymax from one of my all time favorite movies: Big Hero 6.

I originally put together this DisneyBound for Wondercon back in April, but I loved it so much I thought it'd be perfect to revive it for D23. It's a very simple outfit, and rather easy to put together.

DisneyBounding at Wondercon!

Baymax Disneybound:
  • Earrings (Top Left): These were actually a birthday gift from a friend, but she found them on an adorable Etsy shop called The Little Surprises. She has more adorable handmade crafts and jewelry available on her website!
  • Baymax Bow (Bottom Left): This is one of my absolute favorite Disney bows. I found it on an etsy shop called Extra Sweet Bowtique! She has a fantastic amount of diverse Disney bows, some even non-Disney themed!
  • White Dress: I found this dress at Forever 21 earlier this year, just a few days before Wondercon. The fabric is actually perfect, which looks similar to the kind of "huggable" material that makes Baymax! I actually ran into the talented cosplayer, Cassie Wanda, who thought the dress could make a great Baymax before she even realized that was the character I was DisneyBounding!
  • Red Shoes: I wore red shoes for a couple of reasons. First, I already had these from a previous cosplay as Clara Oswald from Doctor Who on Galliday in Disneyland. Also, instead of finding new white shoes and risk them getting dirty, I thought the red feet could represent Baymax's charging station (as seen in the picture at the top). I found these Vans-like shoes at Ross!
  • Sunglasses: To put together a finishing Baymax touch, I was able to find some thick, round sunglasses from a thrift store called Buffalo Exchange. If you don't live in Southern California, it'd be really easy to find similar round/circular sunglasses from anywhere, especially Forever 21!
  • Baymax Purse/Bucket: Each time I've worn this DisneyBound, I've had a different kind of Baymax bag. The first time (pictured in the collage), I carried around a Baymax popcorn bucket from the Big Hero 6 pre-screening at the El Capitan. The bucket was filled with lollipops, which I gave out to anyone who wanted one! Right before D23, a friend of mine (Sasaki Time) found an adorable Baymax purse at a merchandise cart in the local mall! He immediately sent me a photo and I HAD to have it to use it at the expo (shown in the first picture). I love it so much!
That's everything I use for a Baymax inspired DisneyBound! My friend dressed up as Hiro and let me borrow an adorable stuffed Baymax to carry around with me during both Wondercon and D23. 

If you have any questions about this DisneyBound, DisneyBounding in general, or D23, leave a comment below!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

D23 Expo 2015 Recap: Day 1

Anaheim Convention Center for D23!
This year I was able to attend the D23 Expo in Anaheim, which is the huge convention for all things Disney related. I've never actually been to D23, so I was excited to see everything for the first time.

Since this was my first time at D23, I didn't really have much of a game plan (except for my cosplays for each day, hehe). I had some panels in mind that I wanted to see on day one, but I actually wasn't able to attend any of them except the huge Disney Animation/Pixar panel. I met a couple of my friends in line around 8:15 in the morning, but we weren't actually admitted into the convention center until three hours later around 11:15. It was rather chaotic and we were basically melting in the sun, but it wasn't too big of a deal. We forgot all about it after walking onto the main floor and witnessing all the booths and displays for everything any Disney fan could possibly desire.

The first booth we visited was the display for Shanghai Disneyland. It was really neat seeing the concept art, construction photos and videos for all the new and upcoming attractions for Disney's future theme park. I'm particularly excited to see how the new Pirates attraction, Tron Lightcycle roller coaster, and Soarin Over the Horizon turn out once the park opens.

We wandered around the show floor for a bit, but we couldn't really focus on anything specifically for too long. We were starving, and all of the booths/exhibits were rather overwhelming. Some of the lines to get into certain merchandise stores were over three hours long!

Props for Shanghai Disney's Pirates attraction!
After we bought lunch at the Hilton, we decided to start waiting in line for the huge Disney Animation/Pixar panel. We only had to wait for a couple hours, which wasn't too bad compared to what we tackled the following day for the Live Action panel. I was extremely excited for the announcements because they were forcing us to stow away our phones, which hinted that they were going to show some extremely confidential footage or information about upcoming movies.

I had no idea what to expect for the panel since it was my first time at D23, but as soon as the first video/introduction montage appeared on the screens, I was almost in tears. It was a simple montage of past and future Disney films, both animated and live action. The memories and emotions started pouring in during the video, and I was so excited to hear what they had in store for us.

I was not disappointed.

I won't get into too much detail on every single movie announced, but the movies they announced that I'm the most excited for are definitely Moana, Finding Dory, Zootopia, and Toy Story 4.

Fan art for Toy Story 4
I was a little skeptical about Toy Story 4 at first. I feel like I can speak for many fans and say that most of us were content and emotionally fulfilled from the last movie for the trilogy. However, John Lasseter revealed that the next movie was going to be about Woody and Bo Peep's love story...and everyone in the room nearly melted. It sounds like such a cute idea! I'm sure Pixar will knock it out of the park.
Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde from Pixar's Zootopia
Zootopia was a movie I wasn't quite sure about before experiencing the panel. After John Lasseter brought out Ginnifer Goodwin (one of my favorite actresses), as well as showed exclusive D23 clips from the movie, I can tell this is going to be an incredibly clever and wonderful film! I'm so excited to see the finished product!

Promotional photo for Finding Dory!
Hands down the best surprise for the entire D23 weekend was seeing Ellen Degeneres live and in the flesh. I'm a huge Ellen fan -- I used to tape her show every day and watch with my mom whenever we had the time. During the Finding Dory presentation, it didn't even occur to me that she could very well walk onto that stage and grace us with her presence. Well....she did. I screamed some sort of a noise I never thought was humanely possible, but it was all so unreal. We were able to see the rest of the cast for the movie, which included some great stars such as Ty Burrell and Ed O'Neill from "Modern Family", as well as more exclusive clips exposing some of the story behind Dory trying to find her family.

Concept art for Moana
Despite the thrill I experienced seeing Ellen, I have to say the movie I'm most anticipated in seeing out of everything announced is Moana. Moana is the next Disney princess movie, scheduled to release late 2016. Set 2,000 years ago in the islands of the South Pacific, this movie is going to have absolutely stunning animation, gorgeous music, and I think a beautiful story. We were able to see a few clips from the film, as well as learn more about another character named Maui, a demi-god played by Dwayne Johnson (who joined the panel on stage during the presentation). We were able to see a live performance of one of the songs from the upcoming movie, and I was almost in tears watching the sneak peek clip of baby Moana discovering the ocean for the first time. Everything about this movie reminded me of both working at the Polynesian Resort and my mother. My mom hula dances and loves Polynesian music, and we were able to visit Aulani in Hawaii earlier this summer. I absolutely cannot wait until this movie is released in theaters.

The animation announcements concluded with a live performance from none other than the legendary Randy Newman singing "You've Got a Friend in Me" with all the Toy Story characters on stage dancing around and singing along. By the time the panel was finished, the Expo had concluded for the evening, ending day one. After experiencing everything that had happened during the first day, I was incredibly motivated for the next morning's panel: Live Action.

I plan on writing separate posts about my DisneyBounds and cosplays from D23 Expo, explaining where I found and bought each article of clothing to help put each outfit together. Stay tuned!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Sara Squared Takes on Disneyland's 60th!

Sara came to visit me in Disneyland for the first time in almost two years! It was actually pretty crowded in the parks, so we did everything Sara's never tried in Disneyland before! We were also able to see each of the new shows offered in the parks for Disneyland's 60th anniversary celebration, such as the new fireworks and Paint the Night parade!


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Amazing Princess Rompers!

Some of you might remember a talented Youtube singer/theater performer that I featured a few times on this blog, Sidonie Smith. Well, after touring and performing in Europe last year, she and her husband have constructed their own cosplay/clothing company, Your Cosplay Closet!

Sid and her husband, Chris, started their own Etsy shop with creative Disney princess rompers, perfect for Disneybounding! Ever since their first romper (inspired by Tiana), they've created rompers ranging from princesses to heroines, and even villains! Here's a few of my personal favorites featured on their Etsy site:

Princess and the Frog Tiana

Model: Sidonie Smith (YCC Co-owner)

Snow White

Model: Amber Arden

Little Mermaid Ariel 
Model: Traci Hines


Model: Sarah Sterling

All outfits are handmade, made to order, and ship worldwide. They even make kids sizes! They'll discuss any of your requests, and are also willing to make full on cosplays! They're currently creating a Peggy Carter cosplay for me for the D23 Expo this August. I'm so excited to see how it turns out!

Be sure to follow Your Cosplay Closet on instagram for updates on new rompers and other wonderful creations!

Have a magical day!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Disney College Program FAQ! (Vlog)

I finally made a video with some of the most frequently asked questions about the Disney College Program! If you have any more specific questions that I for some reason didn't answer in this video, feel free to leave a comment and I will reply as best as I can!

Questions Answered in Video:

  1. What is the Disney College Program?
  2. What did you pack for the program? (Packing List)
  3. How did you apply?
  4. Do you need previous work experience?
  5. Where did you live? Would you live there again?
  6. What were the buses like?
  7. What's check-in like?
  8. Did you enjoy QSFB?
  9. How many hours did you work a week?
  10. What was your pay rate?
  11. Did you take any classes? (Exploring Marketing Info)

(So sorry that this video is pretty lengthy, it was tough getting all the information into something shorter!)

If you'd like to see more of my Disney/DCP videos, please subscribe to my Youtube channel!

To stay up to date on all Disney Den news and updates, check out my Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr pages!

For an entire description about my full experience in the DCP, take a look at my book: Sara Earns Her Ears!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Our final day in Florida consisted of Animal Kingdom and a little bit of Magic Kingdom! This entire trip was absolutely amazing. I was so happy to see most of my friends from my college program, and have them meet some of my close friends from Disneyland. It's been wonderful seeing where everyone has progressed and what they have accomplished since our program two years ago. Reuniting back where it all began was a perfect way to start off the year.

Hope you enjoyed the series of videos of our vacation!

If you would like to see the others and more in the future, feel free to subscribe to my Youtube channel!

Have a magical day!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

DCP Reunion Part Four: EPCOT

Our fourth day in Florida brought us to the beautiful Epcot! I absolutely fell in love with this park all over again. I wish they had it in California!


Be sure to check out my other videos on my Youtube channel!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Interview a CP: Alyssa (Housekeeping)

Alyssa was lucky enough to spend her college program working in one of my favorite resorts in Walt Disney World. Here's what she had to say about her experience in housekeeping at the Wilderness Lodge!

What role did you have during the DCP, and where did you work?
I participated in the Spring Advantage 2011 Disney College Program. I was a housekeeper at Wilderness Lodge. Wilderness Lodge was very home like to me because I grew up in South Jersey surrounded by woods and I love the outdoors.

What was a typical day like at work?
A typical work day for me started at 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.  One awesome fact about housekeeping is that once you hit 90 days working, you get to leave at 3:45pm (if your rooms are cleaned and checked by a manager!)  On a regular day, housekeepers are given a board (just a piece of paper) with a maximum of 16 rooms to clean .  The rooms are categorized by linen change (every 5th day of stay), check-out, and occupied.  The occupied rooms were the easiest because it was a basic clean and check-outs were the hardiest.  Besides cleaning rooms, I was also trained in the telephone room.  This job contained answering phone calls from guests, managers, and other housekeepers.  It was also connected to Fort Wilderness Resort so my co-workers and I got calls from both resorts.  The phone room is always busy.  The housekeepers would call the phone room if they needed something in the room that they were cleaning and the same for the guests.  It was also another way for a guest or housekeeper to get ahold of the managers.  Another role I was trained in was custodial.  Sometimes I would help out the custodial team in the public areas in and area the resort.  The cool part about the custodial role was that sometimes I got to ride around in a golf cart all day going from Wilderness Lodge to Fort Wilderness. 

Is this the role you originally wanted? If not, are you happy you got it?
Yes. Housekeeping was the first role I chose.  I was definitely happy about it because I enjoy cleaning.  I was brought up in a household cleaning all the time.  To some people it may sound funny, but cleaning helps relieve my stress.  It was very difficult at times since it is Disney World and guests expect nothing but the best.  It is hard work, but the managers make sure you are getting help if you need it.  There were only a few College Program girls in housekeeping so we were able to get to know our managers on a personal level.  It was fun going to work knowing how appreciated you are.  The best week was housekeeping week.  We played games, got prizes, and even food... for free!  Sometimes the managers would make us breakfast! 

What are your favorite and least favorite parts about your job?
My favorite parts about housekeeping would have to be getting to know the different managers and housekeepers.  Every single morning I would clock into work and every was smiling and saying 'Good Morning'.  It was very different where I am from.  The other college program girls I worked with were just as fun and outgoing as me so we got along pretty well.  Everyone knows that Florida is very hot and humid in the summertime.  I was lucky enough to get placed at Wilderness Lodge where it was inside and air conditioned. It is also the prettiest resort to look at. A least favorite thing about housekeeping would HAVE to be being away from home during the holidays for the first time.  I was definitely feeling sad around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but 90% of people in the program are in the same boat.  Don't think that you're the only one missing home during holidays. 

Any specific magical moment you want to share?
A magical moment for me was when myself and five other friends were walking around in Animal Kingdom and got selected to ride on Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade.  Everyday guest service cast members select guests to be a part of the magic and ride in the parade.  We were on Mickey Mouse's float and if you know me Mickey Mouse is my all time favorite Disney character.  I cried for days and told all my friends back home how famous I was for being in guests memories of that day's parade.  I waved to everyone like I was in the Miss United States pageant. I couldn't have asked for a better day!
Alyssa and friends in Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade!

What made you want to do the DCP?
One of my professors at Community College told my class about the Disney College Program.  I've never heard of it before she announced it to the class.  She said that her daughter did the program and fell in love with the company. I figured why not? Even though housekeeping had nothing to do with my major (Education).  It was for me all about the experience of being away from home for the first time.  I never went away to college so I never got to experience being on my own.  Also, networking is definitely a reason I wanted to do the program.  The people I met through this experience shaped me into the person I am today.

Is there something you wish you would have known before doing your program?
I wish I would have known more about the Disney classes you can take during the program.  I definitely should have looked into doing so before I started my experience.  I feel like I would have learned so much more about the company historically.

What advice would you give to those who want to participate in your role?
To the future CP housekeepers: network, network, network!  Meeting new people from all over the world will allow you to travel and make friendships that last a lifetime.  Work hard, play hard (not too hard though).  I worked a lot during busy times; the whole month of a June I had off three days.  Working holidays and weekends are a must.  My two days off were usually Monday and Tuesday.  Also, Disney VoluntEARS is another great way to network and get to know different parts of the company.

What advice would you give to people who are interested in doing the DCP?
I would advice people who are interested in the program to follow the rules! Disney is a well-rounded atmosphere and has many strict rules.  If you are a rule breaker, this may not be the best internship for you.  Other than that, the Disney College Program Internship is the best thing that has ever happened to me.  After my program, I became a Campus Representative at my University.  I was still a cast member, but in order to get my maingates (passes to the parks), I had to go to Orlando and work at least one shift.  I have several friends that stayed in Orlando after the program so I made my work trip into a vacation.  I went down every January and stayed with a friend for about five days (worked one day) and played the rest of the days.  However, Disney no longer has the campus rep program anymore.  I graduate in two weeks from college and plan to work for the Walt Disney Company in the near future.  Disney created a whole new life for me and I can't wait to start a career (hopefully) with the greatest company of all time!

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!

I hope everyone has a magical day!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Behind the Magic Podcast Interview

A few weeks ago, I was invited to participate in an interview for the podcast Behind the Magic to talk about my book, Sara Earns Her Ears. I had never done an interview about my book before, much less anything for a podcast, so I was excited. The hosts, Rachel and Zeek were incredibly nice and tons of fun.

Feel free to listen to my interview below to learn more about my book, and some behind the scenes details about my experience during the DCP!

If you'd like to check out some of Behind the Magic's other podcast episodes, swing by their website! Also, feel free to follow them on Twitter!

I'm actually going to be interviewing for another podcast this afternoon, but this time for a brand new podcast from Theme Park Press, the publishing company in charge of the entire "Earning Your Ears" series. I'll keep you posted!

Also, make sure to like the Earning Your Ears Facebook page for updates and amazing giveaways!

Have a magical day!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Interview a CP: Olivia (Expedition Everest)

Olivia and her coworkers!
Ever wonder what it's like to work at the popular and thrilling Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom? Olivia was kind enough to share with us her experience during her college program!

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

My role was attractions, and I worked at Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom. I extended my program and remained in the same role and work location as well. So I worked there for a total of 8 months (April to January).

What was a typical day like at work?

Typical days were 6 or 8 hours total. I would be put into rotation (you basically move to a different position every 45 minutes) and I would have a couple 15 minute breaks and maybe a 30 minute lunch. The positions were varied. Some included greeting guests outside, answering their questions and checking heights of kids. There were also load and unload positions, where you send the train and check people's lap bars, or at unload you would direct people to the exit and check each seat for lost and found.

The best role was “Tower”, where you watch the trains on several monitors and make sure everything was safe. Why it was the best was for one simple thing: air conditioning! The entire ride is outside so most positions you are standing outside in the heat. “Tower” was a nice little break where you get to sit in an air conditioned room. I also enjoyed “Load” and “Grouper”. These are the positions that you help direct people to their rows to get on the next train. These were probably the most stressful since you have to fill a train with 34 people under 53 seconds, and the load area is very loud and people are very excited to get on the ride and don't exactly listen. But you get used to it and the positions actually become a bit of a game which is fun!

And as a CP, you are guaranteed to be a closer. If the leaders are in a good mood you get to do a ride-through once you close the ride for guests. I have so many silly ride pictures with my coworkers from those ride-throughs! But being a closer means you also have to walk up the mountain and check that the track is clear and for any lost and found. There's no elevator, so yes you walk all the way up to the top! In case you're wondering, there are 17 flights of stairs. But there's a fantastic view of Disney World, and you get to see Betty up close (that's the unofficial name cast members gave to the Yeti). At Everest, you definitely are going to be losing weight!

Is this the role you originally wanted? If not, are you happy you got it?

I always wanted attractions, and I always wanted to work at Haunted Mansion or Tower of Terror. But those are obviously really popular and I knew there was a slim chance I would get those. I remember thinking, “I'm fine with working at any park except Animal Kingdom” and then come check-in day of course I got that park! But I am so incredibly happy I got Everest. It was a stressful, and sometimes monotonous job, but I made such amazing friends there. It was incredibly worth it. If you get Everest, prepare yourself for working with some amazing and hilarious people. The Everest break room is legendary! Don't be surprised to walk in there and see one person turning the lights on and off and everyone else starting a twerking dance party. But you become a family. Once a Sherpa, always a Sherpa!

What are your favorite and least favorite parts about your job?

My least favorite part was some aspects of the job. Everest is known for being the best at getting guests on the ride as quickly and efficiently as possible. So out of the four keys, besides safety, efficiency is pushed more than anything else. Unless you're out at the entrance greeting guests, you don't really get to practice courtesy. That's something I really wanted to do more often, making magic for guests.

And you are working at Animal Kingdom, where basically everything is outside and it can get very very hot. There can be a lot of grumpy guests! It is not uncommon for a parent to yell in your face because you cannot let their child ride since they are too short. It never happened to me but I had coworkers get punched or hit by a guest. Luckily that's when security steps in! But I have had all sorts of guests yell at me. One time a woman thought I was laughing at her and yelled "Shame on you!" at me multiple times. I was confused to say the least but you just keep your composure and try to calm the guest down. You become a bit used to it, really :)

Everest CM's modeling the latest trends

Any specific magical moment you want to share?

There are two. One morning I was opening which was rare, and I was feeling awful for personal reasons. These two guests were waiting for the ride to open, and I got to have a wonderful conversation. They talked about where they were from (Georgia) and we got to discuss everything we loved about Disney. It was a nice way to start work. A few days later I got a fanatic card from a leader, and found out the two ladies I talked to went to guest relations to write a compliment about me. I never expected such a nice thing on what I thought would be a terrible day!

Another moment happened during an event shift. Companies and people can rent out Everest after hours for parties or conventions, so sometimes I was scheduled for those extra events. One time a family had an event there for the 4th of July weekend. They got to have the Asia area decorated with candles and prayer flags and there was music, food, drinks, dancers and even actors playing the characters in the Everest storyline (there was a Bob and Norbu, if anyone knows that reference!), there were people on stilts dressed up as yetis. And there was a Bollywood dance mob! The best part was they had a projection of the yeti moving around the outside of the mountain. It was so amazing, and you could hear the yeti roar. The cast members working got to witness everything (There's a photo of us that night wearing these beautiful flower leis that were given to us) It was so beautiful and magical and I wish everyone could experience Everest and Asia that way!

What made you want to do the DCP?

I am studying film, and I absolutely adore the Disney parks and films, so it's my dream to work for Disney Animation or Pixar. I thought it would be a great way to open the door a bit into the company. There is also a part of me that just really wanted to work in a Disney park. That was the kind of thing I dreamed about doing as a little kid, so it was very cool being able to make that childhood dream come true. I am pursuing the professional internships right now, I definitely see Disney as a home!

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

I always read that the Transtar buses were awful, but because I live in Oregon I felt it would be easier to just use those then drive all the way to Florida. And I thought the transportation system here at my school was bad. But I was very wrong. If you have a car, TAKE IT. It is so much easier to have a car and not worry about the bus schedules, which usually don't matter because the bus is late. I was late for work a couple times because of Transtar, thankfully my leaders were understanding and I didn't get any points. And if you want to go to Universal or anywhere outside of Disney, you have to depend on someone with a car. It really is a hassle. If there is no way you can bring a car, Transtar does its job of taking you to work and back and to go to the parks on your days off, but not much else. So make friends with people that have cars!
Also, stop worrying about making friends. It is going to happen, and they are going to become some of your closest friends. Seriously, stop worrying!

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

You have to be creative. With attractions, especially popular ones like Everest, safety and efficiency will be more important than courtesy. And we all really want to create magical moments every day at work, but it can be hard when you're in attractions. So you have to be creative! When I was at a console at load (where you send the train), a friend and I would tell the whole train that we would not send it until everyone put their “yeti paws” up and roar. Kids and, surprisingly, teenagers loved this. Instead of the usual magical moments that we cannot participate in, we made up our own. And Everest has a really rich back story, so it was fun to talk to guests about our travel company Himalayan Escapes and that there was no need to worry about yetis, it was just local folklore and that our trains are totally safe ;) So my advice: think a bit outside the box so you can create those magical moments!

What advice would you give to people who are interested in doing the DCP?

Take advantage of everything! The housing events (FREE FOOD), the trips that they set up (I went to a trampoline park with my roommates one time), as well as the classes. And I think everyone that does the DCP wants to continue working for Disney, and my advice for that: network like crazy, and stay in school. Managers, leaders, coordinators, they are all there. But you have to seek out communication with them, let them know you want to continue working at Disney. If you see a manager, ask how their day is going, see if they need any help. Just make your presence known with them and set up meetings to discuss your resume, find out if they know anyone that is in your field and that you can contact for future jobs or internships. Seriously, managers know a lot of people. And if they like you, they will help you!

Also, getting to work in Disney World and going to the parks for free- it can be addicting! I know a lot of people that stopped going to school and just moved down to Orlando and got a full-time or part-time frontline job at Disney. But it is so difficult to move up in these jobs. I got great advice from an area manager at my work: Disney will always be here. There will always be jobs available. So after your DCP ends, go back and finish school, get your degree, and then come back. And if you have already graduated, find a job that utilizes your degree, get a year or two of work experience there. Keep in contact with leaders, check in with how they are doing, and tell them how you're progressing. With a degree and more work experience, you will have so many more opportunities to work for Disney, ones that pay better and utilize your skills much better, rather than just those full-time and part-time roles in the parks which can get monotonous. I know how hard it is to stay away though, I'm currently living it! So appreciate every moment you get during your DCP. Collect keepsakes, photos and memories, stay in contact with the friends you made. Use those wonderful memories to help push you to work harder, get better grades, be more professional, so when you do go back to Disney, not only do you get to go to the parks again, but you get to work at your dream job!

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!

I hope everyone has a magical day!