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 to participate!

I hope everyone has a magical day!

No comments:

Post a Comment