Disney’s Cast Connection

Not much to look at!

Not much to look at!

3/24/2015:

Cast Connection has moved over to near DAK.  Read our updated blog:

https://collinsrace1.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/cast-connection-is-now-open-at-new-location/

NOTE: You must be a Disney Cast Member, or a guest of one, to visit this little slice of shopping paradise. It’s called Property Control at Cast Connection, its located in the MK Cast parking lot. You need a Cast ID to gain access into the Property Control trailer/store. CMs can bring friends into property control, but only CMs can go into the damages trailer.

Cast Connection for CMs and friends.

Cast Connection for CMs and friends.

Located just north of MK (you can see Fantasyland), this place is a mecca for Disney Cast Members and their guests. You can get discounted theme park merchandise, hotel furniture, and discounted basic grocery and candy items. A potpourri of Disney stuff!

Loaded with merchandise!

Loaded with merchandise!

cast connection4 (2)

A little bit of this, and a little bit of that…

There are two trailers. Cast Connection is the cast exclusive store that sells out-of-season or discontinued new merchandise, holiday merchandise, damaged merchandise from the Parks (wrinkled/stained clothing), and some groceries (like what guests can buy at Fort Wilderness grocery store). Everything is at least 50-75% off listed price and you get an extra 10% CM discount off at checkout.

Property Control shares the space and sells decommissioned company items (industrial equipment, furniture from resorts, TVs, etc.), broken merchandise, and unclaimed lost and found items. Everything is 75-90% off the original price.  No additional discount at checkout.

The day we were there, they were selling really nice brand new PhotoPass winter jackets for $5. There were over a dozen nice padded chairs that looked like they came from the Grand Floridian going for $20 each. My friend bought a table that came from the Polynesian Resort for $5. We got some Disney Blizzard Beach tee shirts for $6.99 (down from $29.99).

The groceries available were: white sandwich bread, pasta, gallons of milk, eggs, HUGE bags of shredded cheese, HUGE bags of lettuce, 20 lb. bags of rice, fresh fruit (bananas, lemons, limes, oranges, pineapples), and fresh vegetables (potatoes, onions). No meat.

Price examples:
Gallon of Milk: $3.25
Orange Juice:  $2.50
Dozen eggs: $1.25
HUGE industrial size bag of romaine: $2.50/bag
Oranges, Lemons & Limes: .25/piece
Whole Pineapple: $2.50

Store Hours:  8:30am-6:30pm (seasonally adjusted)

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Two Disney Sisters

Two Disney Sisters at Disneyland.

Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

   by Elly Collins & Caroline Collins

Ever wonder what it’s like to work for Disney???

We worked at WDW for a year in the Disney College Program and have written a book about what it’s like to be a cast member working for Disney.

We’ve included advice on how to successfully get into the DCP program, including some of the actual phone interview questions, how to have a successful internship, and how not self-term before your program ends. Our book is filled with lots of behind-the-scene stories of the magic of Disney.

Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.

Book link on Amazon.com:  Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

book

Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

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Epcot’s Hidden Gem – China’s Lotus Blossom Café

Epcot's Hidden Gem – China’s Lotus Blossom Café

Lotus Blossom Cafe in Epcot China pavilion

Lotus Blossom Cafe in Epcot China pavilion

When we’re in the mood for a quick lunch at Epcot, the Lotus Blossom Café is our first choice. We love the Orange Chicken with fried rice there, and also the pot stickers. It’s all covered seating so it’s fun to people watch while having lunch.

Pretty tiles inside cafe.

Pretty tiles inside cafe.

Orange Chicken - delecious!

Orange Chicken – delecious!

We always see Mulan when we’re there and there’s never a line to see her.

Mulan is one of the nicest characters at Epcot!

Mulan is one of the nicest characters at Epcot!

Appetizers
Potstickers $4.99
Egg rolls $3.99
Entrees
#1 Orange Chicken – Served with steamed rice. – $8.49
#2 Beef Noodle Soup Bowl – Beef noodle soup bowl. – $8.49
#3 Shrimp Fried Rice – Served with an egg roll. – $8.49
#4 Vegetarian Stir Fry – Served with steamed rice. – $8.49
#6 Sesame Chicken Salad – Sesame chicken salad. – $6.99
Desserts
Choice of ginger or red bean ice cream. – $2.99
Drinks
Smoothies – Choice of mango or strawberry. – $4.25
Cold Drinks – Choose from Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Sprite, Nestea, and Fanta orange soda. Regular $2.09 or Large $2.39. Dasani Bottled Water $2.00, Bottled green tea or oolong tea (no sugar added) $2.99, Peach oolong tea $3.79, Orange juice $1.99, and Milk (regular, low fat, or chocolate) $1.29
Hot Beverages – Chinese Hot Tea, Nescafe coffee, or Nestle hot cocoa. – $1.89
Beer & Wine – Budweiser Draft Beer (regular and lite) $5.25, Plum Wine $4.49, and Tsing Tao bottled beer $4.79

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Adventure Book Cover

Adventures in the Animal Kingdom

Lions and Tigers and Strollers, Oh My!

This is not Caroline’s first time in the Disney College Program. Along with her sister, she was previously accepted into the program a few years earlier.  Back in Colorado, Caroline was wishing for a little more pixie dust to brighten up her life.  On a whim, she decides to apply to the exclusive Disney Alumni Summer Program.

Now that she’s back, things get wild.

Wild, as in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where Caroline is assigned to work in Stroller Rental.  While not the most glamorous position in the park, it’s often ground zero for humanity at its best and at its worst.

While Caroline makes many “Magical Moments” for deserving guests whose pixie dust has gone temporarily sideways, she also receives magical moments of her own through the friendships she makes, going to Disney cast member exclusive events, and all the spectacular dining opportunities at Disney World.

Caroline tells all – from the ins and outs of Disney’s secret training class called Traditions; to learning how to be a happy cast member during on-the-job training; to what it’s like to interact with fellow cast members and the guests who are ready to explore the most magical place on earth.

Join Caroline as she takes you on a wild ride through her adventures in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. But be careful, it’s a jungle out there!

Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.

Book link on Amazon.com:  Adventures in the Animal Kingdom

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dak tree costume

Adventure is out there!

About the Author:

Caroline’s love for all things Disney, and desire to grow up to be a Disney princess, is the reason she always wanted to work for Disney.  Her dream came true working as a cast member at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Caroline is the co-author of the book, Two Girls and a Mouse Tale, about her adventures working at Disney World with her sister.

She is currently a 7th grade middle school Social Studies teacher in Colorado.

Daily blog link:  https://collinsrace1.wordpress.com/

***

DAK-Entrance

Welcome to Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

 

Epcot’s Hidden Gem – Norway’s Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe

Epcot's Hidden Gem – Norway’s Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe

Kringla Bakeri is located in the Norway pavilion of Epcot’s World Showcase. Walk through the door and you’ll find yourself in a quaint, Scandinavian kitchen. Kringla Bakeri is best known for School Bread, a semi-sweet, roll-like pastry filled with vanilla custard.

After reading some excellent online reviews about it, we decided to give it a try.

Sweet treats

Sweet treats

This treat is a sweet bread roll, injected with vanilla custard, then covered with sweet icing and toasted coconut. The School Bread recipe comes from a classic Norwegian snack (properly called “Skolebrød”), which kids took to school in their lunches and parents sold at bake sales.

The bread is a cross between a cinnamon roll and a dinner roll. It’s not super moist, more like a dry dinner roll. It has black flecks of some spice – cardamom? – in it that we wished was cinnamon instead.

Four of us split one roll. Two of us didn’t like it at all, and all four of us decided that we probably wouldn’t ever order it again, even if we were in Norway.

The Kafe features a selection of other traditional pastries like lefse, and also a large selection of sandwiches, many of which contain some sort of fish. (No thank you!) There is seating outside, which is nice.

Olaf marshmallows on a straw.

Olaf marshmallows on a straw.

It’s considered good luck to touch the troll’s big nose…it means that you’ll be back! 🙂

We always stop by and touch the troll's nose for luck!

We always stop by and touch the troll’s nose for luck!

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Adventure Book Cover

Adventures in the Animal Kingdom

Lions and Tigers and Strollers, Oh My!

This is not Caroline’s first time in the Disney College Program. Along with her sister, she was previously accepted into the program a few years earlier.  Back in Colorado, Caroline was wishing for a little more pixie dust to brighten up her life.  On a whim, she decides to apply to the exclusive Disney Alumni Summer Program.

Now that she’s back, things get wild.

Wild, as in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where Caroline is assigned to work in Stroller Rental.  While not the most glamorous position in the park, it’s often ground zero for humanity at its best and at its worst.

While Caroline makes many “Magical Moments” for deserving guests whose pixie dust has gone temporarily sideways, she also receives magical moments of her own through the friendships she makes, going to Disney cast member exclusive events, and all the spectacular dining opportunities at Disney World.

Caroline tells all – from the ins and outs of Disney’s secret training class called Traditions; to learning how to be a happy cast member during on-the-job training; to what it’s like to interact with fellow cast members and the guests who are ready to explore the most magical place on earth.

Join Caroline as she takes you on a wild ride through her adventures in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. But be careful, it’s a jungle out there!

Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.

Book link on Amazon.com:  Adventures in the Animal Kingdom

******

DAK costume

Adventure is out there!

 

Lack of ‘Frozen’ Merchandise at WDW

Lack of ‘Frozen’ Merchandise at WDW

Not much to pick from!

Disney woefully underestimated the popularity of ‘Frozen’ and especially the ‘Frozen’ merchandise. In the Epcot Norway shops, there is almost a complete lack of Frozen merchandise, although there are signs everywhere limiting you to 5 items and they even have a security guy assigned to the shop.

We wish there were 5 items to pick from!

We wish there were 5 items to pick from!

When merchandise does come in, such as 700 stuffed Olaf snowmen, it is completely sold out within hours.

The only way to get a Princess Anna or Princess Elsa little girl’s costume at WDW is to purchase ‘The Castle Package’ at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique ($200+).

These may look like Frozen dresses, but they are Cinderella dresses!!  :(

These may look like Frozen dresses, but they are Cinderella dresses!! 😦

“The unprecedented global success of Disney Animation’s phenomenal Frozen continues,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger in an earnings call. “Demand for Frozen-related merchandise remains extremely high.”

We found more ‘Frozen’ merchandise available at our local Target than at WDW!

Anna dress at Target, $19.95.

Anna dress at Target, $19.95.

Frozen, the Oscar-winning movie that became the highest-grossing animated film of all time, was released in November, but its impact continues to be felt throughout the company.

Sales of the movie’s DVD and Blu-ray began on March 17, and, in just two days, it became Amazon.com’s best-selling children’s movie since 2001. Its soundtrack is the best-selling album in the U.S., and a Broadway production based on the movie will be launched.

Frozen accounts for nine of the 10 best-selling items at Disney stores!!

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We’ve written a book about our year working at Disney: Two Girls and a Mouse Tale.
Available now on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle. Published by Theme Park Press.
http://www.amazon.com/Girls-Mouse-Tale-Elly-Collins/dp/1941500110/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1409410046&sr=1-1&keywords=Two+Girls+and+a+Mouse+Tale

Frozen-Inspired Norsk Kultur Gallery at Epcot Norway

Frozen’-Inspired Norsk Kultur Gallery at Epcot

Epcot Norway gallery

Two weeks before ‘Frozen’ opened in November 2013, the Norway pavilion was updated to include an Anna & Elsa meet & greet area (big mistake!!) and the dreary Viking stuff was removed from the gallery and replaced with Frozen stuff. The shops were stocked with movie merchandise and the wait to see the princesses was less than 5 minutes. https://collinsrace1.wordpress.com/2013/11/08/disneys-frozen-character-meet-greet/

5 minute wait to see Anna & Elsa.

5 minute wait to see Anna & Elsa.

Anna and Elsa meet & greet

At the Anna and Elsa meet & greet – so pretty!

And then the movie opened Thanksgiving weekend. The wait jumped to 200-300 minutes every day, security was onsite all day long and all the Frozen merchandise sold out. It was crazy. (We went there in November for a character breakfast and had a great time!)

Five hour wait to see Anna & Elsa at 10am!

Five hour wait to see Anna & Elsa at 10am!

The Anna & Elsa meet and greet was finally moved to MK in May 2014.

New Frozen update.

New Frozen update.

The Frozen village.

The Frozen village.

Pictures from the real Stave church in Norway used in the movie.

Pictures from the real Stave church in Norway used in the movie.

Norsk Kultur, meaning “Norweigan Culture,” showcases a collection of artifacts and objects that inspired the world of Disney’s “Frozen.” Such as: an authentic hand-made bunad, the traditional costume of Norway; a hardanger fiddle and other handmade instruments; hand-carved artisan furniture; examples of rosemaling (traditional Norse decorative painting) and more. Some artifacts on display date back as early as the 1200s.

Recreated Stave church style for gallery.

Recreated Stave church style for gallery.

Sod roof with flowers.

Sod roof with flowers.

Rune stone out front.

Rune stone out front.

While we haven’t been to Norway – yet – we have been to the Stave church in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The Chapel in the Hills is an exact replica of the Borgund stave church in Norway. The Borgund stavkirke was built around the year 1150 and is considered the most completely preserved stave church still standing in Norway. The Norwegian Department of Antiquities provided a set of blueprints of the Borgund church to be used in the construction of the Chapel in the Hills.

Stave church in South Dakota.  Been there!

Stave church in South Dakota. Been there!

It is amazing! 🙂 frozen3

*******************************
We’ve written a book about our year working at Disney: Two Girls and a Mouse Tale.
Available now on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle. Published by Theme Park Press.
http://www.amazon.com/Girls-Mouse-Tale-Elly-Collins/dp/1941500110/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1409410046&sr=1-1&keywords=Two+Girls+and+a+Mouse+Tale

Elly’s Final DCP Schedule

Elly’s Final DCP Schedule

My last two weeks working as a CP at DTD were a lot of work. I tried to put in for time off because my parents were coming and we were moving out of our apartment, but Disney Scheduling denied it. I worked 7 of my last 9 days!

Way more days than I wanted to work!!!

Way more days than I wanted to work!!!

I was scheduled for a mix of working Tren-D merchandise at DTD, and also as a Zone 1 Coordinator at DTD.

Last day at Tren-D.

Last day at Tren-D.

Me and my friend, Doug.  He was so funny and nice to work with!

Me and my friend, Doug. He was so funny and nice to work with!

The Spring 2014 DCP program officially ended on May 9th and thankfully Scheduling didn’t schedule me all the way through until then. I worked with another CP who also had been there for a year. She had a plane ticket to fly home but couldn’t get out of her last night of work, so she got “restricted rehire” status for not working her last 6 hour shift…after being there a year! 😦

Last day as Zone 1 Coordinator.

Last day as Zone 1 Coordinator.

Zone 1 glow cart.

Zone 1 glow cart.

But, I did get a chance to say goodbye to all my friends and coworkers. It was a fun year.

*******************************
We’ve written a book about our year working at Disney World in the Disney College Program: Two Girls and a Mouse Tale. It’s filled with advice about the DCP program and how to get the most out of your internship.
We worked at WDW for a year in the Disney College Program (Fall 2013/Spring 2014) and wrote about what it’s like to be a cast member working for Disney. We give advice on how to successfully get into the DCP program, including some of the actual phone interview questions, how to have a successful internship at Disney, and how not self-term before your program ends. Our book is filled with lots of behind-the-scene stories of the magic of Disney.
Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.
http://www.amazon.com/Girls-Mouse-Tale-Elly-Collins/dp/1941500110/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1409410046&sr=1-1&keywords=Two+Girls+and+a+Mouse+Tal
 

Cinderella Castle – Different Looks

Cinderella Castle

Earlier this year, as the Cinderella Castle at WDW was being spruced up (Castle Refurbishments), we got to thinking about all the changes we’ve seen the Castle go through since our first trip to WDW in 1993.

The most dramatic change was for the 15 month-long celebration of WDW’s 25th Anniversary (October 1996 – January 1998).

At the Castle, October 1996

At the Castle with my mom, October 1996

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of WDW on October 1, 1996, Disney transformed the front of Cinderella Castle into an 18-story “birthday cake.” Complete with red and pink “icing,” giant candy canes and 26 glowing candles, the castle served as the centerpiece for the celebration. This was no small undertaking.

It took more than 400 US gallons of pink paint to cover the castle, which was then decorated with multicolored “sprinkles,” 26 candles, ranging in height from 20–40 feet tall, 16 two-foot long candy stars, 16 five-foot candy bears, 12 five-foot gumdrops, four six-foot stacks of Life Savers, 30 three-foot lollipops, and 50 two-foot gumballs. Additionally, more than 1000 feet of pink and blue inflatable “icing” was needed to finish it off. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinderella_Castle

Happiest Celebration look in 2005

Happiest Celebration look in 2005

We were there in 2005 for the castle’s most recent redecoration commemorating the Happiest Celebration on Earth in honor of Disneyland’s 50th anniversary.

The castle’s exterior was adorned with polished gold trim and accents, swags, banners and tapestries. Golden statues of Disney characters were also added to the exterior, including Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, and Wendy circling the tallest spire.

Stitich is King!

Stitich is King!

The least appreciated Castle transformation – which only lasted 1 day (Nov 16, 2004) – was when the castle was modified to appear as though it was strewn with toilet paper.

“Stitch is King” was posted on a turret as faux graffiti to mark the grand opening of ‘Stitch’s Great Escape!’ that day. The material was removed after the park closed that evening.

Disney got a lot of complaints over that decor.

Castel repairs, January 2014

Castle repairs going on, January 2014

In January 2014, after the millions of Cinderella Castle Dream Lights came down, Disney maintenance started an in-depth sprucing up of the Castle’s exterior as part of the planned MK Hub update for this year.

They are repairing roof leaks, re-sealing the exterior, cleaning all the Castle windows (a big job!), and touching up some of the Castle paint.

On Main Street USA, February 2014.  Note the crane moving things in the background.

On Main Street USA, February 2014. Note the crane moving things in the background.

For almost two months now, when you walk down Main Street USA, you can see the large crane moving maintenance people and supplies back and forth.

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two disney sisters

Two Disney Sisters

Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

   by Elly Collins & Caroline Collins

Ever wonder what it’s like to work for Disney???

We worked at WDW for a year in the Disney College Program and have written a book about what it’s like to be a cast member working for Disney.

We’ve included advice on how to successfully get into the DCP program, including some of the actual phone interview questions, how to have a successful internship, and how not self-term before your program ends. Our book is filled with lots of behind-the-scene stories of the magic of Disney.

Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.

Book link on Amazon.com:  Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

book

Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

****

Meeting Disney Artist Greg McCullough

Meeting Disney Artist Greg McCullough

We got to meet Disney artist, Greg McCullough, at Epcot’s Art of Disney Store. He was a pleasure to talk with about his Disney art.

He is the second Disney artist that we’ve met at WDW.

Epcot's Art of Disney

Epcot’s Art of Disney

So talented!  We really liked his Ariel drawings.

So talented! We really liked his Ariel drawings.

Walt Disney World Resort is pleased to welcome artist Greg McCullough! Join us at one of Greg’s special appearances and signings!

 May 7 – 10, Art of Disney, Epcot
 May 21 – 25, Art of Disney, Downtown Disney® Marketplace
 May 28 – June 1, Animation Gallery, Disney’s Hollywood Studios
 June 4 – 8, Animation Gallery, Disney’s Hollywood Studios
 June 18 – 22, Art of Disney, Epcot

Making his 2008 debut in The Art of Disney Galleries, Greg McCullough has finally found a place he can call his artistic home. A life filled with many personal and professional illustration achievements, painting Disney characters in oils has become Greg’s magnum opus, combining his joy of subject matter with love of the medium.

“I have a passion for the grace and simplicity of animated characters. Painting with oils allows me to challenge my skills further than any other medium.” Greg began his collaboration when Disney/Pixar approved Artifx for packaging illustrations for their upcoming release of Toy Story. A contract for Toy Story 2 and A Bug’s Life shortly followed.

One of Greg’s biggest thrills during this busy time was signing prints of his Pixar artwork for John Lassiter’ private collection. Several of his pieces have earned POPAI awards, including his artwork for Disney 100 Years. With a dozen years of Disney inspired work through advertising agencies, in 2007 Greg found himself producing graphics for the Disney Parks through the Disney Design Group.

His first assignment was the 2009 “dated” Disney Parks logo followed by over 40 additional illustrations that are seen by thousands everyday in the Disney Parks and the Disney Cruise Lines.

Greg’s style brings Disney characters, and the world they live in, to life. “My goal is to create works of art that allow visitors to take a bit of the magic of Disney home with them.”

Disney College Program End Evaluation


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When you first begin the Disney College Program, your managers will sit down and talk with you about all the ways you can get fired.

It is extremely intimidating! However, they never say that, if you manage to complete the entire program, you will be evaluated on your performance on your last work day.

I actually had no idea until Elly told me that her DCP friends had started asking around the managers to see if anyone would do it for them.

This is important because, although Disney looks great on a resume, Disney will not say anything about you. The only thing you can out get of Disney Human Resources is that Casting can confirm/deny that you worked for Disney at some point. They can’t say how you were as a cast member or the reason you left. Nothing. So this evaluation is something that you can keep as a record of how you were while you worked at Disney.

[Need to verify your time as a cast member?   Click here:  Disney Employment Verification]

My work location, Discovery Island, was nice because all the managers were able to put in comments about me so their evaluation was a complete representation of how they liked working with me for two semesters.

On my last day at work (it’s always done the last day in case it goes badly, so you can’t freak out on them!), I was pulled off stage and got to sit down with one of my managers.

She showed me my evaluation by revealing each topic one at a time while covering the rest of the paper. I basically stared at it trying to read ahead the entire time! So nerve-racking!

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My End-of-Program Evaluation

As you can see, I obviously was a competent, hard working person. I came in every day determined to create magic for guests and to provide positive experiences for everyone I came in contact with. Because there’s nothing worse than a grumpy CM!

I am extremely happy with my “scores”. However, I was a little surprised when I asked my manager to explain why I was only rated “satisfactory” on some.

One manager described me as “quiet, reserved, takes a lot of time to think things through and to speak up”. I was really surprised!

Literally, no one in my family or friends group would describe me as “introverted”. Haha! And I think if you polled the managers and the people I worked with, who really got to know me and were my friends, they know my real personality outside of my professional attitude at work, which is not shy and reserved at all.

I would not normally take that as an insult, because there’s nothing wrong with being introverted, but this personality type was being used to explain why I did not really have it in me to take on leadership possibilities/responsibilities at DAK.

Retrospectively, I really don’t mind how she described me. I think that I made it a point to not be seen chatting with my coworkers, but to be seen doing my job – talking with and assisting guests, organizing and refolding clothes, and making sure everything is show-ready. I am glad I was not seen by some of my superiors as a person who needed all this attention and couldn’t shut up! Good!

Here’s a screenshot of my Record Card.  It shows just some of the Four Keys Fanantic Cards that I got during the Fall DCP semester.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 1.04.59 PM

My Four Keys Record Card

Anyway, that was why I was marked down from “outstanding” to “satisfactory” in initiative/problem solving, teamwork, etc. I didn’t do anything wrong, per se, but when people thought of me, they thought of my time spent interacting with guests, not leading my peers. I’m still unsure of how I could have “led my peers” seeing as we were told what to do and how to do it…I also agreed with how my manager explained that the college program is set up in a way that there is no forgiveness and they would rather fire you than work through an issue, so there is little room for CP’s to be “brave” in that aspect.

Also, in case you’re wondering, I only have one point on my record card. It was from when I went back to Colorado for spring break and couldn’t find someone to take my shift on the day I flew back to Florida. I challenged that “satisfactory” ranking, because I have been here more than ten months and only have ONE point! It turns out that you can only be judged as unsatisfactory/satisfactory for that one.

Elly decided on not getting an evaluation done after hearing about how mine went. Her work does not have every manager put in comments so you really just have to pick the person who liked you the most. I’m sure hers would have looked similar to mine because, after all, they did pick her to be a relief coordinator!

The best part of my evaluation was getting to hear the nice comments all my managers wrote about me. All of them talked about how great I was to work with, how hard I worked, and how it was clear that I came in every day to work and was happy to be there. And, most importantly, the effort I put in to each guest interaction. I am so proud that my superiors took notice of all my efforts over the past ten months and that most of them think so highly of me!

IMG_67351

Me and Mara

This is my favorite manager, Mara. I love her!!  She is literally the nicest person you will ever meet. I have no idea how I could have made it through the college program without her willingness to listen to my issues and give me great advice. If you ever meet her, be sure to ask her about her “pumpkin pies” (her two adorable little boys!).

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Me and Karen

This is my manager, Karen, who introduced me to the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund and was always a great and helpful friend! Thank you for waiving points when the bus made me several hours late and I was all stressed out! And thanks for all the delicious DWCF cupcakes! 😉

photo 3

Me & Mary

And then there was my manager, Mary, who was my homeroom manager. There are so many CPs that they split us all up between all the managers so that at least one manager really gets to know their CPs. Mary was considered to be a tough manager by some, but I loved her! It was always a great day when we had our ‘basics walks’ and we could talk. 🙂

Coordinator Carolyn

My friend, DAK Coordinator Carolyn

And last, but not least, this is my favorite DAK coordinator friend, Carolyn, who was a lot of fun to work with!!  I will miss her so much!

🙂

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DAK pin trading (2)

Working the pin board at DAK.

Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

   by Elly Collins & Caroline Collins

Ever wonder what it’s like to work for Disney???

We worked at WDW for a year in the Disney College Program and have written a book about what it’s like to be a cast member working for Disney.

We’ve included advice on how to successfully get into the DCP program, including some of the actual phone interview questions, how to have a successful internship, and how not self-term before your program ends. Our book is filled with lots of behind-the-scene stories of the magic of Disney. Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.

Book link on Amazon.com:  Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

***

Backstage Tour of Expedition Everest

Backstage Tour at Expedition Everest I was lucky enough to go on a backstage tour of Expedition Everest with my DAK coworkers. This is my favorite ride at DAK! (Last week I rode it as a single rider 3x in a row!) A small group of us arrived at Animal Kingdom at 6:30am. We waited for about 15 minutes until our managers arrived and escorted us backstage all the way to Asia.

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Animal Kingdom at 6am!  Made it!!

So the concept of Expedition Everest is that there is a tea stand in the lowlands of Asia.  Because there is only one stand, people can make a fortune supplying tea leaves.  However, the best tea is grown on the highlands of Asia, around a tall mountain range called the “forbidden mountain”.  Only the bravest are willing to go collect tea from there and travel all the way back.  However, most people who find their way to Mount Everest never return!  There is talk of a huge beast – a yeti – terrorizing these tea traders.

Royal Tea Company

Royal Tea Company

The tea trade was abandoned for many years because the locals were too afraid to venture back into the mountains.  However, some people want to capitalize on the lore, so a British man Bob and his guide Norbu set out to build a railroad from the highland tea lands to the lowlands called “Himalayan Escapes” travel agency.   Ride it at your own risk….I heard that a yeti might be messing with the tracks!

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Real items from Nepal.

After we were taken to meet our tour guides in front of the ride, we got to do a walking tour of the mountains. We walked up the steep walkways around the track to see the Yeti’s cave. The attractions lights were turned on and the Yeti is HUGE! The tour guides explained how much the fur weighs (a ton), that it is made of up actual yak fur (yuk!), and how it can be completely removed to expose the animatronic skeleton. The attraction cost $100 million to build and the Yeti alone was $10 million.

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The Yeti monster.

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I got so close to him!

When the ride originally opened, the Yeti arm moved out as if to grab you, making it a really scary effect. However, the Yeti was so big and heavy, it was destabilizing the cement foundations and breaking apart the mountain!

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Cold and foggy morning at Animal Kingdom

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At the Summit.

If you look closely, the Everest mountains are actually a mountain range with three distinct peaks. They are actually individual mountains, built separately. This is because the Yeti is so huge, the builders put him inside and then finished building the mountains around him! DSCF2385 Because of his size and location in the ride, it is virtually impossible to fix the issues with his animatronics. There is no way to take him out, without breaking the mountain, no way to build scaffolding, and no way to propel from the ceiling safely enough to fix it. Instead, Disney decided to add strobe light effects so that when you ride past him, it looks and feels like he is reaching out to grab you!

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The long ride up, up, up….

Next, we walked the 14 flights of steep stairs to the ride-switch, where the train stops and then proceeds to go backwards. This peak provides a beautiful vista of all three of the parks as Expedition Everest is the tallest structure at WDW, even taller than the Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios.

 

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This is a drawing of what the tracks look like from above

We got to see the Yeti footprints, the broken track, and the fluttering Tibetan prayer flags. We walked over to the lift, which was an even more fantastic sight. The entire DAK Park was spread out below us in the early morning sunlight. The animals were just waking up and being moved from their overnight holding pens to their daytime areas and stocked feeding stations. The Florida birds that live at DAK were waking up too, moving from treetop to treetop.

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Beginning the long ride, down, down, down….

Next, we went on a walking tour to visit all of the animals in Asia. There are a family of moneys living near Kali River Rapids that do a calling/hooting song every morning and night. It is a pretty spooky sound to hear at 6:30am! The father starts and then the rest of the family joins in with their own “lines”. It is so loud that you can actually hear these moneys all the way at the end of the Animal Kingdom parking lot!

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Monkey Shrine.

They live on what looks to be an old Shrine that has lots of scaffolding. The DAK story is that this was an abandoned shrine that was recently rediscovered. The people decided to rebuild it back to its former glory. However, they woke up one morning and discovered that a family of monkeys has taken over and were playing on the scaffolding! Instead of forcing the monkeys to leave, they allowed the monkeys to live in peace in the shrine.

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Real gear taken from the mountain.

Another cool fact is that the area near the bathrooms in Asia are more interesting than you’d think! You can see the name of the “store” on the front is Gupta’s Gear, which provides supplies for your upcoming Everest expedition. Hanging on the pillars are backpacks which were actually found and collected from the real Mount Everest!! People attempting to climb Mount Everest have to make hard choices when it comes to what they can carry and what they must abandon. There are literally tons and tons of abandoned supplies, backpacks, and gear all along the climb to the summit. There is a group of Sherpa’s who regularly goes up and down the mountain and collects all the abandoned gear to preserve the mountain environment. Disney purchased some of this abandoned equipment and now you can see actual equipment used on Mount Everest! Animal Kingdom is amazing when it comes to detailing!! DSCF2379 Another secret found in Everest is actually found in the standby queue. Look around when you first walk into the building where you sign up for your expedition. On the table is a very old Disney’s Wildlife Conservation Fund sticker! Be sure to look for the Hidden Mickey too.

The DWCF sticker is on the table.  Can you also spot the hidden Mickey??

The DWCF sticker is on the table. Can you also spot the Hidden Mickey??

As the line wraps around, you walk into the second room which is where the owner of the tour and his guides live. There is a huge wooden ladder that leads to a bedroom upstairs. This is an authentic ladder which was purchased by Disney imagineers when they went to Nepal to find ideas for the ride. They went into a store and were talking to a really old woman when they saw this ladder. It’s unique because the entire thing is made from a single log.


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Wood in Nepal is very scarce, so to find a tree is this big and this old, and to cut it down to create a ladder….it is virtually priceless. In Nepal, wood is actually displayed on rooftops to display the family’s wealth. (Hint: Check out the rooftops of the buildings surround Everest!)

Sign found in standby queue

Sign found in standby queue, wood is precious.

The Disney imagineers wanted this ladder so bad that they offered three times the woman’s yearly income for this ladder. However, this ladder belonged to the woman’s great great great grandparents’! She refused them several times, but Disney kept upping the price and she must have cracked because this ladder is now in the standby line of Everest! Who knows what price she eventually agreed on??!!

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I was hoping to ride Everest with the lights on, but the backstage tour literally took three hours. The DAK Park as open by the time we were ready to ride it. But, we did get to be the first group to ride it that day! After the first ride, we all jumped off and got right back on to ride it again!

I love this ride! I can’t believe the incredible detailing that went into creating such a cool experience! It was the most unique experience I may ever have while working at DAK.

Hold on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hold on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Riding Everest with my dad.

Riding Everest with my dad.

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Working at DAK


Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

   by Elly Collins & Caroline Collins

Ever wonder what it’s like to work for Disney???

We worked at WDW for a year in the Disney College Program and have written a book about what it’s like to be a cast member working for Disney.

We’ve included advice on how to successfully get into the DCP program, including some of the actual phone interview questions, how to have a successful internship, and how not self-term before your program ends. Our book is filled with lots of behind-the-scene stories of the magic of Disney.

Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.

Book link on Amazon.com:  Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

book

Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

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