Monday, 27 December 2010

What happened next?

Hello again! (I told you I’d be better at updating this didn’t I!)

I’m begin to realise that that first week at Disney is now proving to be a bit of a blur. Looking back it’s almost like it was one long day so I’m going to look more at the key events rather than what happened on a specific day because quite frankly I can’t actually remember.


By the time you arrive at Disney, Traditions is quite possibly the single most anticipated event of week 1. If you want to I’m sure you can search for exactly what happens in Traditions class. I’m not going to go into great detail. Now in this case it’s not because I don’t remember what happened. No, this is because I think it’s better if that you don’t know about certain elements of the class until you get there. It’s all part of the magic. But here’s what I will say...

Traditions is where you receive your Disney ID and nametag. If you have a specific name you go by that you want on your nametag I recommend contacting them in advance although they did ask on the day as well. For me this is important because I don’t go by my official name and while they are similar I will, subconsciously not even recognise Suzanne as being my name if someone is talking to me (unless it is in an official situation). I do know people who had their official name on their tag and it took weeks for it to be changed. Your Disney ID gets you various discounts, allows you to go backstage and, most importantly, gets you into the parks for free, arguably the single greatest perk of working at WDW.

Traditions is also the first time during your stay in Florida that you will be required to wear professional attire.

*TIP* Make sure your shoes are as comfortable as possible and that your clothes are not too heavy. You will go outside during the class.

That’s all I’m going to say about Traditions other than I highly recommend you actively participate in the class. There are parts of it that are a LOT of fun.

Park Orientation

Obviously not everyone is based in a park so this may not apply to you but if you are in one of the 4 Theme Parks you get to have a Park Orientation. Again this is professional attire so the same clothing recommendations apply as before.

Each park orientation has a different name and most people will only ever take one of them so in my case I had Discovery Day a.k.a. Get to know Epcot.

As I mentioned before I spent some time writing an essay on the design of Epcot and the Magic Kingdom.( I’d go into details but I could guarantee that most people would fall asleep.) So the all-knowing arrogant side of me thought I wouldn’t learn anything new. I was wrong.

The day was essentially split into three parts:

- Lecture
- Tour
- Meeting an area supervisor/ getting your costume and locker.

*Fun Fact* Epcot is the one park where most guests go backstage without even realising. How? Because the outside section of Test Track is located backstage. If you look at this map you can see that everything to the right of Avenue of the Stars is part of the backstage area (roughly speaking).

View Larger Map

At Epcot the CP bus drops you backstage so you have to walk through it to get to the front turnstiles.

Now here’s why working at Towers was so great. We were located on the Future World side of World Showcase lagoon right next to the lake, right in the centre of the park. So here’s what would happen when you’d arrive.

- The bus dropped you off right outside Cast Services. This is where costuming and the lockers were located.
- From there it was a 2 minute walk to the First Aid entrance (located next to the cafeteria)
- Then it was another 2 minute walk into Disney Trader’s where you clocked in/out.

So within 5 minutes of the bus arriving you were at your location, ready to go and at break times it was a quick walk to the cafeteria so you never had to worry about making lunch etc. Fantastic!

Location/Area Training

Again, I won’t go into too much detail but for Merchandise training takes a total of 5-6 days. For Towers this was:

- Basics training
- Merchantainment class
- Floor training
- Baby Care
- Glow

Each part takes 1 day unless you are International. This is because you apparently require an extra day to familiarise yourself with the language, customs and currency of the USA. For me the extra day was slightly frustrating because I used to live in California and my native language is English but there you go, I had to do it anyway. There was one further area of training - stocking, although I managed to avoid this altogether, something I’m quite grateful for. Training was a lot of fun because it was the one time that you were guaranteed to be working with someone else. I recommend asking lots of questions because believe me it’s not so easy to do when the park is busy and you’re on your own.

Social Security

At the end of your second week in WDW you are taken en-masse to have your social security appointment. For everyone from the UK this is the equivalent of receiving your National Insurance number and is basically a tax thing. If you’ve already got an SSN then you don’t have to do it - lucky you!

And so ends my description of the more formal events that welcome you to your new life at WDW. Now I can start talking about the fun stuff :P

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