Happy Halloween 2014!

Queen Elsa & Princess Anna!

Queen Elsa & Princess Anna!

When we saw the ‘Frozen’ movie at Downtown Disney in November 2013, we knew instantly what our costumes were going to be for Halloween in October 2014!  Queen Elsa and Princess Anna, of course!  We love that movie!!

Elly's Queen Elsa costume that she mae.

Elly’s Queen Elsa costume that she made.

So glittery in the sunlight!

So glittery in the sunlight!

Caroline also had her costume handmade just for her!

Caroline also had her costume handmade just for her!

Anna's boots!

Anna’s boots!

November 2013 – Seeing Frozen for the first time:  https://collinsrace1.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/frozen-dinner-and-a-movie/

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At our book launch in Boulder, Colorado.

At our book launch in Boulder, Colorado.

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 (Fall 2013/Spring 2014) 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.

http://www.amazon.com/Girls-Mouse-Tale-Elly-Collins/dp/1941500110/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430687055&sr=1-1&keywords=two+girls+and+a+mouse+tale

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

***

When Changes Come to WDW

Backlot Studio Tours trams being hauled off-site.

Backlot Studio Tours trams being hauled off-site.

Generally, the time between Disney announcing that a ride or shop at WDW is closing and the actual closing date is less than two months. If the attraction is very popular or iconic – like Maelstrom – it can be longer, like three months.

But, once a ride closes, within 24 hours workers start to dismantle it and within 48 hours, ride pieces start getting moved off-site.

Maelstrom's long boats being hauled away.

Maelstrom’s long boats being hauled away.

Such was the case with both Maelstrom and Backlot Studio Tours earlier this month.

A few weeks ago, a guy driving on the highway near Disney World caught some cool video of the Maelstrom boats leaving WDW!
Adios Maelstrom longboats: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqiVbM3iQdc

Many cast members are hoping that some memorabilia ends up at Cast Connection/Property Control (https://collinsrace1.wordpress.com/2014/05/31/disneys-cast-connection/)

This monorail could have been yours for only $200,000!

This monorail could have been yours for only $200,000!

Anyone remember earlier this year when a car from the old WDW monorail ended up on ebay?
May 7, 2014: Real Disney World Mark IV monorail car for sale! It’s for sale on eBay until roughly 5 PM today (05/07/14) and has 48 offers, the highest being $189,000.

Monorail's controls

Monorail’s controls

Have a seat!

Have a seat!

*******************************
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

Throwback Thursday: Halloween!

Halloween 2007:  With our princes!

Halloween 2007: With our princes!

I guess we should have known that Disney was in our future based on how many Disney princess costumes we wore from our early pre-school days through college!  🙂

Caroline and her Disney princess girlfriends!

Caroline and her Disney princess girlfriends!  2007

College days at CU:  Halloween 2012

College days at CU: Halloween 2012

Halloween2012a

Caroline as Princess Ariel  2012

 

*******************************
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

Good-bye to Mickey’s Hat at Hollywood Studios

Standing at Mickey's Magician Hat in Hollywood Studios

Standing at Mickey’s Magician Hat in Hollywood Studios

The well-known – yet much-maligned – sorcerer’s hat at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is coming down next year, in early January 2015.

Disney confirmed the giant hat’s impending demise on Friday. The company said it is “reimagining” the area where it stands. Disney would not provide details about what will replace the hat.

Many changes are coming to Hollywood Studios in 2015.

Backlot trams being hauled off-site.

Backlot trams being hauled off-site.

Already Disney’s Hollywood Studios said goodbye to its Studio Backlot Tour, one of the theme park’s original attractions. The last day of the attraction was Sept. 27, 2014.

Cast Members working at the American Idol Experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios have been recently told that the attraction will be closing in early January 2015.  The close is not that surprising.  The show has never really gotten solid traction and it seems Disney is ready to pull the plug.

Also, the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is slated to close at the end of the year. All of this is happening to make way for the major Star Wars additions coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2015.

Compared with other theme-park landmarks, the hat mimicking the one Mickey wore in Disney’s “Fantasia” had a short life. Disney installed it in 2001 as a focal point. From the beginning, many people didn’t like it. They complained it blocked the view of the Chinese Theatre and ruined the ambience of the park’s section dedicated to Hollywood’s “golden age” of the 1920s, 30s and 40s.

“A 122-foot tall hat at the end of the street just kind of threw off the story that the studio was trying to tell,” said Jim Hill, an industry blogger.  “To have it removed, to have Hollywood Boulevard return to its old golden days of Hollywood, well that means a lot to the theme-park community,” he said.

With our mom during our DCP program, February 2014.

Our mom visiting us during our DCP program, February 2014.

Still, Mickey’s hat has appeared in millions of tourists’ photographs, including ours! 🙂

We even liked how it looked at night all lit up!

We even liked how it looked at night all lit up!

We actually liked the hat a lot.  Prior to that, the symbol for Disney’s MGM (the name prior to Hollywood Studios) was the iconic water tower with the mouse ears.  We didn’t love that so much and it was at the edge of the property where you couldn’t walk up to it for photo like you could with the hat.

The Hollywood Studios water tower.

The Hollywood Studios water tower.

We’re excited to see what the new DHS park symbol will be going forward in 2015.

 

*******************************
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

2014 DCP Alumni Reunion at WDW

They limited the DCP Alumni group to 400...there are over 7,000 DCP Alumni on the facebook page alone! A lot of people were unhappy to miss it!

They limited the DCP Alumni event to 400…there are over 7,000 DCP Alumni on the facebook page alone! A lot of people were unhappy to miss it!

By all accounts, the first ever DCP Alumni reunion of 2014 was a huge success!

Mickey Mouse showed up on Saturday night at Hollywood Studios...in a new costume!!

Mickey Mouse showed up on Saturday night at Hollywood Studios…in a new costume!!

Donald and Daisy were there too!

Donald and Daisy were there too!

homecoming3

The weekend events

Busy, busy weekend! The details: 2014 DCP Alumni Homecoming Weekend

We want to go in 2016!
DCP photo

Our DCP Alumni package came two weeks ago!

DCP Alumni t-shirt, car decals, stickers & more!

DCP Alumni t-shirt, car decals, stickers & more!

*************************************** 

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

***  

Skulls at Disneyland?

That skull & bones are real!!!

Those skull & crossbones are real!!!

With Halloween being on Friday, we though we would do a creepy, scary blog!

For most Disneyland fans, there is a lot of joy in finding hidden secrets about the Park that we all love to visit. Today, we present to you a very interesting fact about the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in Disneyland:  The skull and the crossbones that sit above the bed in the treasure room of the ride are actually real!!

Pirates of the Caribbean definately has the most skulls and bones!!

Pirates of the Caribbean definately has the most skulls and bones!!

Back in 1967 when Walt Disney had hardly just passed away, the Pirates of the Caribbean first set sail at Disneyland. But along with singing pirates and fair maidens, it once held a dark secret.

Disney lore has it that while the ride was still under construction, the Disney Imagineers were displeased with the false skeletons placed about the ride. They didn’t think they looked authentic enough. The solution was simple: to use real human bones! The UCLA medical school provided cadaver skeletons to Disneyland from folks who had donated their bodies to “science”, which were then positioned in the classic poses we see today on the ride.

There’s a pair of skeleton friends playing chess, one sitting atop a mountain of gold coins, a dead captain with a sabre in his ribs… While it may seem grotesque using real bones, they remained for quite some time. It hasn’t been officially stated exactly when the skeletons were replaced with dummies, but they slowly were swapped out and the remains returned to UCLA during the various ride refurbishments.

But, they didn’t remove them all!

Although the skeleton in bed looking through a magnifying glass is no longer the remains of a deceased man, the bones on the headboard behind him are! Those are a genuine skull and crossbones and it is not known why Disney chose to leave them there when the others were removed.  (Possibly, they came from a different source than UCLA and couldn’t be returned.) If you look closely, you’ll notice that they’re darker and more aged than the rest of the skeletons on the ride. It is the skull and bones of a Caucasian male.

Human skeletons were never used when the next Pirates rides were constructed at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World in 1973, or at Tokyo Disneyland in 1983, or at Disneyland Paris in 1992.

Sailing into a hurricane!

Captain sailing into a hurricane!

Yo ho ho!   Dead men tell no tales!  😉

We went to Disneyland last year with a first time visitor, and he was like, “What’s with all the skeletons everywhere?”  When you think about it, there are skeletons all over Adventureland, all the skeltons in Pirates of the Caribbean, the skeleton in the water that rises when you complete the treasure map, some over in Fantasyland on Peter Pan’s Flight, a dungeon skeleton reaching for water in Snow White’s Scary Adventures, a skeleton hanging in the stretching room of the Haunted Mansion, the pile of animal bones signaling the entry to the pirahna pool in Jungle Cruise, and a dinosaur fossil in Big Thunder Mountain RR.  No bones about it, that’s a lot of bones!!!

 

The ghostly host at Haunted Mansion

The ghostly host at Haunted Mansion

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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

***   

‘Frozen’ Fun Continues at Hollywood Studios

oaken (2)After being extended almost a month, Frozen’s Summer Fun came to a close on Sept. 28th at Hollywood Studios.   But, the event was so extremely popular with guests that Disney has extended some parts of the event through to the holiday season.

“For the First Time in Forever: A ‘Frozen’ Sing-Along Celebration” is remaining, playing in the Premiere Theater on the Streets of America.

At the Forzen Sing-a-long

At the Frozen Sing-a-long

Guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios can continue singing along to “Frozen” songs with Queen Elsa and Princess Anna. The number of shows vary per day, up to a maximum of 10 shows, playing every ½ hour. There’s some speculation that the show will ultimately move to the now-closed American Idol location, but this has not yet been confirmed.

Frozen Olaf's as far as the eye can see...

Frozen Olaf’s as far as the eye can see…

Wandering Oaken’s merchandise location and play area was moved to the former American Film Institute Showcase, located at the exit of the Studio Backlot Tour. It features a larger play area with real snow (in Florida!).  So while the ice skating is gone, there’s a real snow playground, and loads of Frozen merchandise is available for the holiday shopping.

(Gone are the Royal Procession mini-parade, the Frozen Fireworks show, and the Ice Skating rink. We’re sorry we missed the Frozen fireworks this summer!  We heard they were great!)

“Frozen’s” popular characters will also have a bigger presence at Magic Kingdom Park this holiday season.

New for 2014:  Queen Elsa!

New for 2014: Queen Elsa!

Starting on November 5th, the Snow Queen will be filling Cinderella’s shoes as the new host of the Magic Kingdom’s Castle Dream Lights show. Instead of the Fairy Godmother waving her wand and illuminating Cinderella Castle with over 200,000 holiday lights, it’ll be Queen Elsa using her icy magic to turn the Castle into a winter wonder.

**Sigh**  Lovely!

The Castle Dream Lights. **Sigh**   Just lovely!

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party-goers can see Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf riding in Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade.

Lastly, Maelstrom closed earlier this month, and Frozen is indeed coming to Norway in early 2015.

A new, yet unnamed attraction will replace Maelstrom and will take guests to Arendelle and immerse them in many of their favorite moments and music from the film.

Anna and Elsa meet & greet

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Norway meet & greet

The Arendelle pavilion will also include an expended royal greeting location where Anna and Elsa can meet our guests.  (We met them there last November and the meet & greet area was way too small and cramped!)

We think these “Frozen” elements are great complements to the Norway Pavilion, which showcases the country and region that inspired the film.

*******************************
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

Current and Upcoming Closures for Disneyland Resort, 2014-2015

60th Diamond Anniversary

60th Diamond Anniversary

In anticipation of Disneyland’s 60th Diamond Anniversary Celebration kicking off in Spring 2015, Disneyland is sprucing up a lot of their attractions.  But, that’s bad news in the short-term as this means many rides will be shut down for weeks or months! 😦

This is a centralized list of attractions and dining venues that are currently closed or are scheduled to be closed for refurbishment. We also list here attractions and dining venues that will soon close permanently or that have recently closed for good.

These attractions and dining venues are scheduled to formally re-open the day immediately following the finish dates listed below.

Disneyland Refurbishments START DATE FINISH DATE
Mark Twain Riverboat 9/5/14 11/28/14
it’s a small world 10/20/14 11/6/14
Plaza Inn 10/27/14 11/6/14
Big Thunder Ranch 11/1/14 11/6/14
Space Mountain 11/3/14 11/3/14
Pinocchio’s Daring Journey 11/12/14 11/13/14
Snow White’s Scary Adventures 11/12/14 11/13/14
Storybook Land Canal Boats 12/1/14 12/18/14
Matterhorn Bobsleds 1/5/15 5/13/15
Splash Mountain 1/12/15 4/2/15
Peter Pan’s Flight 1/12/15 5/7/15
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh 1/12/15 2/5/15
Haunted Mansion 1/12/15 1/22/15
California Adventureland Refurbishments
ATTRACTION OR DINING VENUE START DATE FINISH DATE
The Bakery Tour 10/21/14 1/16/15
Turtle Talk with Crush 10/28/14 10/29/14
Goofy’s Sky School 12/1/14 12/8/14
Toy Story Midway Mania! 12/8/14 12/11/14
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 1/5/15 1/8/15
Soarin’ Over California 1/6/15 5/14/15
World of Color 1/7/15 3/12/15
Luigi’s Flying Tires 1/12/15 12/1/15

Recently Permanently Closed Attractions

Attractions that recently — and sadly — have been scubbed forever:

*******************************
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

Making Magical Moments at Disney

Welcome!

Welcome!

We’ve been collecting Magical Moment stories since we started working at WDW in the Disney College Program.

Almost all of the MM stories come from fairly young DCP cast members, all in their early 20s, all working for almost nothing (Florida minimum wage).  Almost every day at work, we create Magical Moments for our Disney guests.  We do it for the joy of seeing a child’s face light up with the knowledge that something special is happening to them at Disney World.  We live for Magical Moments!

My MMs generally involve pin trading with young guests, while Caroline’s MMs generally involve talking to young guests about their baby stuff animals at Creature Comforts in the Animal Kingdom.

Making Magical Moments

Whether big or small, cast members have the opportunity to bring magical moments to a guest’s visit.  And they get to do it all day long!  From the small (wishing guests wearing a celebration button “Happy Birthday!”) to the big (escorting guests onto rides, bypassing the wait lines), cast members are given a huge leeway in making every guest’s visit special and memorable.

Magical Moments with Cast Member Mystery Trading Pins

Princess Jasmine pin

Princess Jasmine pin

Something that we have a lot of fun with as Disney cast members is pin trading with guests.

In our merchandising roles, we both get to wear cast lanyards and stock them with 12 Disney pins provided by our managers.  If we give away pins to guests during the day as part of a Magical Moment celebration, we can re-stock our lanyard during our break.

For extra fun, at least once a day we turn over a pin and pin it on our lanyard backwards.  This is a “mystery pin”.  Guests aren’t able to see it before the trade and they have to trade for it if they select it.  Those are the rules.

Usually our mystery pins are pretty good pins, typically having something to do with our work location or a Disney princess, but not always.  That’s what makes mystery pin trading nerve wrecking to our young guests!  Is it worth trading a pin for or not???!!!

I was working at Agrabah one evening and had turned over a Princess Jasmine pin on my lanyard as a “mystery pin”.  I was saving it for just the right guest.  Just before the Wishes fireworks show started, a little girl came in with her father and wanted to pin trade with me.

The Princess Jasmine pin was just what she wanted.  She was so excited when I turned my lanyard over to show her the special pin!  We talked about her being in the land of Agrabah now, which she thought was great.  (The dad was laughing the whole time.)  She had already been on the ‘Magic Carpets of Aladdin’ ride and loved it.  I gave her a Magical Moment card that said:  I got a Princess Jasmine pin!   Elly

Pin trading tips: The best way to get a good pin trade is to trade with CMs early in the day when we have “fresh” pins on our lanyard.  During the course of the day, our pins get pretty picked over even with us replenishing the selection at breaks or shift changes.  Surprisingly, some of the best pins can be found on custodial lanyards, so it’s always worth a look; you might get lucky!

Rules: CM trading pins provided to us by Disney and we will accept whatever trades are offered regardless of whether it’s “fair” from the perspective of value. The only requirement is that the pin being traded an official Disney pin.

Magical Moment at Pin Traders

Working at Pin Traders

Working at Pin Traders

I worked at Zone 1 in Downtown Disney for two programs: Fall 2013/Spring 2014.  One of my roles was Merchandise Hostess at Downtown Disney’s Pin Traders.  Guests would often make a special trip to DTD just to visit the biggest pin retail location on the WDW property, Pin Traders.

I had the pleasure of meeting one young boy who had spent the day at Epcot and was visiting us to find this one special pin that he wanted.  Earlier that day, he had experienced the “Journey into the Imagination with Figment” attraction, and he was on the hunt for the last Figment hidden Mickey pink/purple pin to complete his collection.  He had spent his WDW vacation looking at every Cast member’s lanyard he could find and had found 7 out of 8 of the pins, but still had one more to go.

The little boy told me about his search and how he was leaving the next day to return home.  Luckily for me, I talked with Tinkerbell and she was able to work her magic.  I placed the special pin in a small wooden treasure box with a gold clasp that the boy could hold in his hands.  He was so excited when I gave it to him!

He slowly opened the box and there was the last pin that he’d been looking for during his entire vacation!

He proudly put the last pin on his lanyard while his mom took a picture of him. It was a Magical Moment for the boy and his family, and for me as a Cast Member.  I gave him a Magical Moment card that said:  You collected all the pins!

Making magic is what we do!  Elly

Tinkerbell and Pixie Dust

While working at Sir Mickey’s, Tinkerbell loaned me some of her pixie dust and a special pink wand to sprinkle it with.

I love creating Magical Moments for guests!  I walk around Sir Mickey’s and ask little girls – and also grown-up girls – if they want some ‘magical pixie dust’.  It is a really fine, iridescent, sparkly glitter that they also use for hair glitter on little princesses in the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.

The glitter rules are that:

  • the pixie dust can only go on the very top of the head,
  • the guest has to be over 3 years old, and
  • we need parental permission before sprinkling it.

Then, I tell the young guests, “Close your eyes”, and wave the Tinkerbell wand over their hair and say, “Make a wish and with a little faith, trust and pixie dust, all your dreams will come true!”

The little girls are always so excited, almost hopping up and down with happiness, and they all want to go look in the mirror right away.  Naturally, their moms are taking photos of them having their Magical Moment at the Castle the whole time.  It’s very sweet.  Elly

“A dream is a wish your heart makes….”

A Magical Moment with Magic Wands

A new magic wand

A new magic wand

It was getting late in the evening and I closed down my glow cart and moved it inside Team Mickey at Downtown Disney.  Just then, a little girl around 4 years old came in with her mother.  She was very upset.  Her mom had bought her a LED magic wand over at the Magic Kingdom earlier in the day.  The little girl had left it on the ferry when they left MK to head over to Downtown Disney.

I looked at the mom and told her that I would be right back.  I went over to the Disney phone and called the zone manager and asked her if I could damage out a magic wand and give it to the little girl.  She said OK.

I went back to my cart and got a magic wand and turned it on.  I walked over to the sad little girl and said, “Here you go, this is for you!”  Her face just lit up with the biggest smile! She was so happy!

I told her, “You saw me talking on the phone?  I was talking to Mickey Mouse…he said that he saw you earlier today and remembered talking to you!”  (I looked at the mom and she nodded her head.)

“He said that I should give you a new magic wand, but that you should really take care of it and not lose it again!”

The little girl was like, “I will!  I will!”  Just magical.

I gave her a Magical Moments card that said:  “Mickey says hi!”  Elly

Characters in Flight

Characters in Flight lifting off.

Characters in Flight lifting off.

The big balloon at Downtown Disney is properly known as Characters in Flight.

After only a week working as a cast member at Downtown Disney, I realized that Characters in Flight was the most popular locations to get engaged at in DTD.  In my first month, I had a newly engaged couple come into my store and the guest talked about how her new fiancé just proposed to her 15 minutes ago in front of Characters.  She couldn’t figure out why he proposed there as she doesn’t like heights and they didn’t ride the flight, but she was thrilled to be engaged!

I decided to make it a Magical Moment for them.  I gave them some free PhotoPass pictures of the engagement moment, along with a Magical Moment card and a Mickey and Minnie in love trading pin.  It was a lot of fun celebrating the moment with them! Elly

Magical Moment at the Wishing Well

Making a wish at the wishing well

Making a wish at the wishing well

This morning I got a special little girl for the total princess makeover called the Castle Package.  We spent several hours chatting while I did her hair and make-up and dressed her in the princess costume she selected.

Afterwards, I took my little princess over to the Cinderella Castle wishing well to make a wish.  After seeing her wish very hard, she told me that she wished for a new daddy for her mom because her daddy died 2 years ago.  I gave her a big hug. Then this fairy Godmother-in-training went backstage and totally lost it.  Lori

The Castle Package

Hairstyling

Shimmering make-up, face gem

Princess sash and tote

Nail polish

Complete costume of your choice plus accessories

One 6″ x 8″ and four 4″ x 6″ photos in a princess-themed holder

Caroline’s Birthday Magical Moments

For her entire birthday month, Caroline wore her “Celebrating My Birthday” button whenever we went out.  After months of creating Magical Moments for guests every day when we worked, it was fun to finally be on the receiving end of MMs!

She had so many Magical Moments happen to her while she was wearing her birthday button!  Literally all month long, dozens and dozens of cast members wished her happy birthday wherever she went.  What was surprising was how many former cast members riding next to her on the monorail or standing next to her in line also wished her a happy birthday!

Yesterday, we walked into the Main Street Confectionary Shop in the Magic Kingdom and the cast member was making fresh cotton candy.  It smelled so good!  When he saw Caroline’s birthday button, not only did he wish her a happy birthday, he gave her a huge free sample of freshly spun, warm cotton candy!  It was delicious!

Later on in the afternoon, we were walking through Fantasyland and stopped in at the circus tent by Dumbo for a snack.  We had another Magical Moment there when a candy maker gave us jumbo marshmallows on a stick, freshly dipped in warm white chocolate then rolled in colored sprinkles. To die for!!!!!

But, the Magical Moments weren’t over yet.  That evening, we picked up a funnel cake and the cast member noticed Caroline’s birthday button.  She asked what Caroline’s name was, then wrote H B CAROLINE in whipped cream on the warm funnel cake!

Elly

Magical Moments with Pressed Pennies

A pressed penny

A pressed penny

One of the best kept secrets hiding in plain sight at WDW are the pressed coin machines.  There are well over 200 pressed coin machines at WDW and they are everywhere: in all the Parks, at Downtown Disney, at all the resorts, at the two water parks, and even at the Disney Cruise Line ports

One afternoon while I was working at DTD, a family came into Once Upon a Toy.  The dad had a copy of the WDW Coin Press Map and four baggies of coins.  One baggie was full of shiny pennies, one was full of quarters, and two baggies had each of his children’s names written on them.  While the mom shopped, the dad and his kids found the coin press machine and the kids each selected the one they wanted.  The machines all have at least three coin press designs and some have four choices.

The dad told me how much his kids were enjoying searching out the coin machines everywhere that they went.  When they had downtime at a restaurant while waiting for their food to arrive, he would give them their baggies of pressed coins to admire and play with.  The coins are also great for pool diving games.  The copper sparkles like sunken pirate’s treasure in the pool water.

I gave the family a Magical Moment card celebrating: “Collecting Pressed Pennies”.  Elly 

Practically Perfect Magical Moments

In the evenings if it’s slow, I like to grab a roll of Mickey stickers and some Magical Moment cards and get busy engaging guests, especially the children.  I like to recreate the scene from “Mary Poppins” where Mary Poppins measures Jane and Michael Banks.

I walked up to a little girl who was around 5-6 years old.  I’ve gotten very good at guessing children’s heights and realized that since she was still under 48” she probably hadn’t been able to ride on many of the main attractions at the Magic Kingdom.

I asked her if she would like some free Mickey stickers.  Her face lit up with a big smile!

I measured her from the floor to the top of her head using my roll of Mickey stickers, and like Mary Poppins, I pronounced her “practically perfect in every way”.  I then tore off her height in stickers (about 4 feet!) and handed them to her.   I wrote on her Magical Moment card:  “Practically perfect in every way!  Have a magical day!”  Elly 

Magical Moments at the Animal Kingdom

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Caroline holding Pocahontas’ letter box

On Discovery Island at the Animal Kingdom, a lot of Magical Moments involve writing a letter to Pocahontas or Mickey Mouse.  The guests write to Pocahontas at Island Mercantile or they can send a letter Mickey Mouse at Outfitters.

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Inside Pocahontas’ letter box.

Pocahontas doesn’t have a mailbox because she is a free spirit and constantly moves around.  We leave out the box and her forest friends tell her when she needs to check it! At Outfitters, Mickey Mouse has an actual mailbox for guests to send him a letter.
This is a great way to start a conversation with super cute kids! I like doing the Pocahontas mail Magical Moment because you can only meet Pocahontas at Animal Kingdom and it helps create some magic for our guests. 🙂

I got to see a magical moment this morning when a little girl dressed as Pocahontas got to actually meet the real Pocahontas and together they raised the flag at Camp Mickey Minnie! I gave her a Magical moment card saying:  I met Pocahontas!  Caroline

Magical Moment with Disney Pins

Working carts at night is way fun, I wear at least 3 glow necklaces, the light up Mickey Ears, and hold a LED wand or a spiny toy.  Ah, Downtown Disney at dusk, when all the lights come on and the music starts up…it’s just magical!  The guests are always in a good mood and ready to have a good time.  Seeing the twinkling lights reflecting off the lagoon water and smelling the delicious dinner smells in the air from all the restaurants; it was just so much fun to be there in the evening.

During my evening shift, I was sent back to restock the cart.  One of the rules is that you’re not allowed to go down the main drag of the Downtown Disney area when we’re walking to and from locations.  So, unlike in Magic Kingdom where you can just take any cast member door and head underground, I have to walk all this roundabout way, do this long loop around the parking lot, then follow all these random sidewalks just to get back to my zone.  It’s a long walk.

I was pushing this little shopping cart full of wands and toys back to the main glow cart.  There was a mom standing in front of the water feature with Mickey with her two kids.  I stopped and asked if they wanted a group photo, and the Mom was really happy and says sure.  I take their photo and say, “Do you guys want to pin trade?”

They look all confused, and the mom explains that it was their first time ever at Disney World and first time ever at Downtown Disney, and they had never heard of Disney pins or pin trading.

I explained it to her and her little boy starts to get really excited, he’s like ‘Ohhh, I wish I had pins because I love the Club Penguin one you have!’  He was just so cute.  The mom was like, “Well, we’ll have to get some pins.”

They were so nice.  I was on my way back to carts, but I’ll tell you what… I take off the Club Penguin pin and just give it to him and I said, “Welcome to Disney, have a great time tonight”.

The little boy starts jumping up and down and is sooo excited and gives me a hugeee hug!  I leaned down to hug him so it was one of those hugs where he pressed his whole cheek to mine… Omg, he was sooo happy!  The mom was really happy too.  It was just an awesome Magical Moment!

Make-A-Wish Magical Moment

A Magical Moment that I remember vividly is when I had a Make-a-Wish family come to the Hat at Hollywood Studios just when the characters were finishing up for the day. (At the Hat are: Minnie, Pluto, Goody, Donald, Daisy, Chip and Dale, and Stitch.) Make-a-Wish children always skip the waiting line, no exceptions.

They came up right when I was bringing Stitch in for the day and there was nothing I could do, when it’s time for Stitch to go surfing, it’s time for him to go surfing. But, I found a solution. I asked Stitch if he would mind doing a private meet and greet with him, and if anything he was excited to help out.

So, we brought them over to our private fountain and the family took some pictures. I decided to radio the other attendants and explain the situation to them.  Before I knew it, we had all the characters surrounding the sick little boy and they spent an extra five minutes with him, sharing hugs and taking photos. The mom cried and thanked me over and over again, and it was the best feeling in the world. Hollywood Studios Cast Member 

Sometimes Healing Comes Unexpectedly

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Big Woody hugs

As some of you know, my brother died last year. It was actually 8 months ago today. Anyways, when my mom and I went to Hollywood Studios yesterday, we decided to stop and take pictures with Woody and Buzz in my younger brother’s honor. We were the only people in line without little kids and got strange looks, but stayed anyway.

When it was our turn for pics, both Buzz and Woody were very fun and playful and posed for pictures. At the end, though, my mom started to tear up, followed by me tearing up. My mom quietly explained to Woody that her son had passed away in October and that he loved Woody growing up, that Toy Story was his favorite movie as a kid, and he had worn his Woody costume almost every day when he was little after he got it for Halloween.

My mom just said a quiet thank you and stepped back so that the next people in line could take a pic, but before she could get away, Woody pulled her into the tightest, sweetest hug. Buzz engulfed me in a hug, having heard what my mom said.

I’m not exaggerating that Woody hugged my mom for a solid minute as she cried on his shoulder and everyone just got quiet and let us have our moment. The cast member that had my phone took pictures and then started to tear up himself. Woody finally let go of my mom just to pull me into a tight hug and Buzz hugged my mom.

While the character actors aren’t allowed to talk, they made a kissing sound to blow us each a kiss while they hugged us and I could hear Woody sniffing through the costume.

We walked away feeling bad for taking up so much time, but the cast members just smiled and told us they were glad we could have that moment. As we walked away, Woody and Buzz waved by and blew more kisses.

My mom turned to me, with tears still streaming down her face, and said that it was the best hug she had been given by anyone since my brother had died.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the magic of Disney.  Disney fan Annie.

I was Alice in Wonderland

aliceLots of children really believe it [the characters] and that’s what made it special. The best kid story from my Alice days is a “Make a Wish” girl I met. She was 6 years old and almost blind from her condition, but she could see if you were close enough.

I spent hours with her on 3 different days that she was here.  On the last day, the mother was sobbing and telling me how I was her daughter’s angel and how they were so happy she got to see me before she lost all her sight. She asked if Alice could join them at the character dinner. In wonderful Disney fashion, my managers said NO, Alice could not extend her hours into character dining.

So I said screw it, got out of my Alice costume, went and bought her a small Alice doll with my CM discount and went to the dinner as myself to give her the doll. I figured she was almost blind and would have no clue I was Alice without all the blue. I approached the mother at dinner (who instantly started bawling and hugging me), I gave the little girl the Alice doll and told her I was Alice’s friend. I gave the mother my contact info and kept in touch with the family.

The little girl passed away shortly after but the mother sent me a beautiful photo of her daughter and me walking down a path holding hands. She also sent me a silver angel that hangs on my wall. I was told by the mom that they buried her with the Alice doll.

I cry thinking about it, but I’m glad I have those MM memories. There are so many more amazing stories about being Alice, but that is my favorite.  Alice

Best Friends

They had been best friends since childhood and grew up about 5 blocks from Disneyland. I was on my normal lobby rounds (at the Grand Californian) when I noticed the two sitting close to the fireplace. They were laughing and cracking jokes. In a scruffy voice, an elderly man motioned me over. I remember his gleaming blue eyes that were magnified by giant thick-framed glasses. The other man had hazy green eyes that disappeared when he laughed and were surrounded by wrinkles that all told a story.

I sat down by the fireplace and the two men introduced themselves as Ralph and Larry. I could tell from the very beginning these two shared a bond that only time could create. Larry told me how they had met at a local restaurant. It happened when Larry threw his straw wrapper across the room and hit Ralph in the head. At that moment, Ralph interrupted and said, “It was a spit wad and you know it.” At this, they both chuckled and teased each other (I never did get a straight answer out of them about which one it was). Well, Larry’s mom saw what he did and made him walk over to Ralph’s table and apologize. Because of this, the families ended up eating lunch together. As Ralph described it, this is when they became best friends and they spent the rest of the summer together.

After high school, they both enlisted in the Navy and were stationed at Pearl Harbor. I noticed that the conversation got really quiet and Larry’s eyes started to glisten. Larry broke the silence and said in a weak voice, “If it weren’t for Ralph, I would have died that day.” It took me a moment to figure out what they were referring to and then it dawned on me—the Pearl Harbor attack. Larry told me that when the attacked happened, a piece of shrapnel shot into his left thigh and he started to bleed to death. He was about to pass out when he heard a familiar voice. It was Ralph. Ralph had been onshore that day too and not on board. As Larry passed out, he felt Ralph pick him up and walk him to safety… At that point, Larry looked at me and told that no matter what happens in life, make sure someone always has your back.

They continued to tell me more stories about their life and how they married the loves of their lives. They even told me that on the night before the opening day of Disneyland they camped out so they knew they would get in. It was their weekly tradition since 1960 to go to Disneyland, find a bench, sit, and talk. Then I asked them what the secret to life was. Larry took off his glasses and with a grin said, “Live a good story, keep your friends close, and follow your dreams.” Then I heard a scolding tone, “Ralph! Larry! Are you bothering this nice lady?” I turned around to see two elderly women holding shopping bags. Ralph nudged Larry and looked at me, “Oh yeah, I forgot to mention…we married sisters!”

I reassured the women that they weren’t bothering me and asked if they had plans for dinner. They told me they had reservations at Storyteller Café. So I walked them over and shook their hands because they were such a delight. I then told the manager that their meal was on me, because both of these men were Pearl Harbor survivors. The manager wanted to make this moment special, so we ordered them special cakes from the bakery and arranged for Mickey to make an appearance. After the plans were all set, I left the restaurant with some of the best advice of my life.

I wrote that piece of advice down and kept it taped to the back of my nametag.  What struck me was keeping friend close. Often in this life we let friendships fade due to different paths, responsibilities, miles, and schedules. In fact, our idea of catching up is going through their newsfeed, perhaps liking their photo or commenting “LOL.”  But friendship is much more than that. There is something about sitting down with an old friend and talking about life. In fact, I often think about Larry and Ralph. Skipper Annie (http://www.talesofadisneylandcm.com/search/label/Jungle%20cruise)

The Proposal – A Magical Moment at the Grand Californian

He came up to the counter, nervous and excited. I inquired about how I could assist him and he just grinned ear to ear.  He finally said, “I am proposing to my girlfriend tomorrow and I need help. I want to make it incredibly magical”.

He went on to tell me how they met by the Grand fireplace a few years ago and he knew that the Grand was the perfect spot. I helped him devise a plan, perhaps the pianist could play their favorite song and they could dance. The tricky part would be clearing the fireplace area, so they could have their private moment. But, we mapped it all out- his friends would film from the third floor and her friends would bring her into the lobby. He shook my hand and expressed his gratitude.

Thankfully, I was working the next day. I came into work excited beyond all belief, here this girl was about to get the surprise of her life and I had a front row seat. He found me at the desk and said, “30 minutes till show time”. I cleared the area and tried to explain to guests the situation. Surprisingly, some weren’t nice about it. But, I wasn’t about to let that ruin the moment. Hugo, the pianist, was all queued up. At that moment, time seemed to slow down and he seemed to be getting nervous. I tried to offer words of encouragement while I waited with the man. He then said something I will always remember, “I am nervous because every time I see her, she takes my breath away. I am not afraid of her answer, it’s the fact I am not sure I can even begin to tell her how much she means to me…I feel like Prince Charming waiting on my Cinderella”.

With that, she entered the room. I made sure to watch his face, it was priceless. She walked across the lobby and saw him. Hugo started to play, “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”, the man took her hand, and they danced. I faded into the background and watched this moment unfold- It was truly beautiful. Then, he got down on one knee and she said “Yes!”. They kept dancing for a while and then wandered off into Downtown Disney… Skipper Annie (http://www.talesofadisneylandcm.com/search/label/Jungle%20cruise)

Living The Dream – A Magical Moment with Diane Disney

Daisy Disney Miller

Daisy Disney Miller

I feel compelled to write because of the recent passing of Diane Disney Miller. Now I know every blog, instagram, and twitter has paid their tribute—but I feel that I need to share my brief interaction with her.

This blog has touched many lives and hopefully caused many to pursue their dreams. I never thought this blog would become what it is today, nor did I ever think that I was that great of a writer. However, it was Diane who encouraged me to follow my dream of being a better writer and pursue publishing.

I first met Diane when I worked at the Grand and we had a very brief interaction. When she first approached me, I thought she was just a guest making small talk. I honestly had no idea who she was. I knew Walt had a daughter named Diane, but I didn’t know what she looked like. Who knew that she was charming and dedicated to preserving her father’s dream?

The main part I remember about the interaction was when she asked my favorite part about working at Disneyland. Without knowing who she was, I told her “it was creating a lasting memory for people and carrying on Walt’s dream”. I remember she smiled so gracefully at me and said, “Keep doing that… we need more like you”. As she turned to leave, another cast member ran up frantically congratulating me on speaking to one of Walt’s children!

I felt stupid and humiliated because I would have shaken her hand and just said thank you so much. I mean, Disneyland was inspired by her and her sister. Years ago, Walt sat on a bench, watched her play, and had this dream of Disneyland. After that brief interaction, I never thought I would get another chance to tell Diane thank you.

A few years later, I launched this blog and got an email from Diane. In the email, she thanked me for writing about Walt’s dream and encouraged me to get it published— these stories of positive guest interactions need to be told. From that communication, I was able to finally thank her for her contribution and for being a lifelong supporter of her father’s dream.  Skipper Annie (http://www.talesofadisneylandcm.com/search/label/Jungle%20cruise)

I’m Celebrating Disney

Once again, I found myself working the desk and waiting for the next guest. I remember I was working on a welcome packet when a gray-haired lady walked up to the counter. She had kind eyes and a wonderful smile, yet I could tell something was bugging her.

I welcomed her and did the normal check in. When I asked her if she needed any Disneyland maps, she started to cry. I was so afraid that I had done something, so I asked if she was alright. She managed to tell me how Disneyland was the last stop in her Disney Parks Tour. She had been to Tokyo Disneyland, Paris Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Disney World. I was quite impressed; this 70 year old lady had seen every Disney Park! She then told me that it was her husband’s dream to see all the parks. However, he had died of cancer a year ago.

They set out when they were in their early 50’s to see all the Disney Resorts, but he got sick and they never made it to Disneyland.  Heartbroken, I listened to this lady pour out her heart about 50 years of marriage, 4 kids, and a lifetime of happiness. She exposed how she struggled with deep depression, holding on to the past, and the way her heart broke. Then, she told me of the moment it hit her. She was on a walk and started crying about all the things that they didn’t get to do and the fact that he never saw Disneyland.

She said she realized that instead of crying, she could carry on the legacy and in fact, complete their planned Disney park tour. So, she booked the nearest flight and came to California. I stood there amazed at such a strong woman, I admired her outlook on life and the fact she was completing her and her husband’s dream. I asked what I can do to make this trip extra special for you. She simply said, “Can I have an I’m celebrating button?”

She then asked me to write the name of her husband on the button….I am Celebrating John.  This moment brought tears to my eyes; she was celebrating her life with a wonderful man and starting to live again. She pinned the button on, took my hand, and said “Thank you. You’ve made me and John’s dreams come true”.

After that, she took her park maps and went to celebrate life at Disneyland… Skipper Annie (http://www.talesofadisneylandcm.com/search/label/Jungle%20cruise)

Loving Minnie

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Letter to Minnie

Working in the lobby of the Grand California resort, I had many opportunities to interact with our younger guests. Every day, I would set out a mailbox that was labeled: “Mickey’s Fan Mail”.  Kids would color pictures and then ‘mail’ them to Mickey. I would sprinkle a little pixie dust on them to make sure they got to the ‘big cheese’.

Then, I would deliver a letter and picture back to the guests. That was my favorite part of my whole lobby ambassador job.  One day, I noticed a little girl in a red polka dot dress. She was clutching a small stuffed Minnie and watching the lobby cartoons. I went up to her and complimented her on her dress. She turned to me with a big smile and said, “Thank you. I wanted to be just like Minnie”. We then struck up a conversation about Minnie and Mickey.

I asked her if she had visited Minnie’s house in ToonTown and she told me “Yes, but I didn’t like the colors”. I had to laugh, because this little girl was so precocious. I questioned a little further and asked if she had met Minnie, to which she hung her head and said, “No, because the line was too long and I don’t have a special book”. She then told me that she did see her in the parade and Minnie waved back at her. I asked her what she meant about the special book and she described an autograph book.  I asked her if she would like to write a letter to Minnie, to which she enthusiastically replied yes.

As she was writing the letter, I went backstage, got an autograph book, and made a few phone calls. I saw that her parents were talking to guest services, so I went back to the coloring table where she was sitting. I sat down next to her as she showed me her letter; it was beautiful. I waited until her parents where there and I asked if I could get her the autograph book. They said yes, so I presented her with the book and a special FastPass ticket. That ticket would allow them into ToonTown before it opened and they would be able to meet with Minnie with all her friends.

She gave me a big hug and told me I really was the best friend any one could have. We said our goodbyes and as they started to walk away, she ran back and asked me “Would you sign my book first?” I got choked up a little bit, but knelt down and autographed her book.

She smiled and ran way to Disneyland with her parents…. It’s Magical Moments like these that remind me why Disney is the best company to work for – they make dreams come alive. Skipper Annie (http://www.talesofadisneylandcm.com/search/label/Jungle%20cruise)

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bookstore (2)

At our book launch in Boulder, Colorado.

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 (Fall 2013/Spring 2014) 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:

http://www.amazon.com/Girls-Mouse-Tale-Elly-Collins/dp/1941500110/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430687055&sr=1-1&keywords=two+girls+and+a+mouse+tale

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Denver Post Article: Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

In today’s Denver Post:

 

Upcoming Youg Authors event in Broomfield

Upcoming Young Authors event at Broomfield Library.

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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