Wednesday, 26 January 2011

One little spark

This week I’ve had a further two vlogs in production but haven’t actually got editing on them yet. To be fair though I didn’t actually do anything I’d planned to at the weekend so I can’t really get away with saying I was doing something else that was really important instead. I did though spend a fairly hefty chunk of Sunday feeling really overwhelmed by people’s responses to my vlog. So thank you all very much.

I’m fast discovering this semester that I have to be careful about my enthusiasm levels in class. In the last week I’ve had classes on 2 of my favourite film-related topics: musicals and animation. There was a point in my musicals class when everyone did seem to be staring at me. I did refrain myself from talking about High School Musical too much and I wasn’t the one who brought that particular topic up. Work at WDW for a few months and you become a bit too familiar with Troy and the gang for normal people to comprehend. Especially when you’re my age. Moving on....

I was having a chat with a fellow vlogger earlier today about food at WDW so I thought I’d share some of my favourite places to eat in and around the World... (These aren’t in any particular order!)

1) Sanaa (Animal Kingdom Lodge, Kidani Village). It’s a range of African food and it’s completely different from anything else you’ll find at WDW.

2) Le Cellier (Canada, Epcot). The chocolate moose is incredible as is the rest of the menu.

3) Deluxe Hotel QSR. The quality of the the quick service food in the more expensive hotels has really gone up in recent years. Particular favs are Captain Cook’s (Polynesian), and the ones at the Contemporary and Saratoga Springs.

4) Earl of Sandwich (Downtown Disney). Think Subway but a gazillion times better. The sandwiches here are amazing.

5) Santa Fe (next to Vista Way). This only opened last summer but the food is pretty good, cheap, and the portions are big enough that you can make several meals out of it.

6) Perkins (Crossroads). Everyone should try a pie from Perkins.

7) IHOP (near Crossroads). It’s IHOP!!!! They’re famous for their pancakes but the other food is good too. Last year they were doing these special flavoured lemonades that were fantastic.

8) Boston Town Tavern (Celebration). This place has great food and a great atmosphere and not many tourists know about it.

9) The Melting Pot. I have no idea where exactly this is (a quick google will tell you). It’s a fondue restaurant and is absolutely incredible. It also has a price tag to match though.

10) I’ve been trying to decide which character meal to put in this slot. Almost all of the buffets serve really similar types of food so it really just depends on which characters you want to meet.

Ok so I’ve now just made myself feel really hungry. There are so many different places to eat and I haven’t even come close to visiting them all. Some of the more recent offerings look pretty exciting so hopefully I’ll get a chance to try some more places this summer! Who wants to join me?

Friday, 21 January 2011

SDA: Episode 16 - What do you mean it's January?

One Step Closer

So I keep getting asked what attraction I’d like to work at and a couple of blogs ago I listed off 10 attractions I’d like to work at (look out for some vlog specials coming up related to this).

In the meantime there are 2 attractions that I KNOW I won’t be working at....because they won’t have opened!

The first was only officially announced this week and that’s the Seven Dwarfs Mine cart ride due to be in the new, improved version of Fantasyland.

The second is also going to be in Fantasyland but for those who can’t wait until 2012 it’s arriving in Disneyland this year. Check out this video for more info about a long overdue attraction.

Friday, 14 January 2011

She treats me like sashimi left over from last week.

Ok so it hasn’t been a week, it’s been 3 days but I did eat sushi this week, my friend sent me a pic of an Ariel bear she made and that is quite possibly my favourite quote from a Disney song EVER. I just find it hilarious every time I hear it.

If I haven’t mentioned enough already The Little Mermaid is my favourite Disney movie. A few years ago I was at the premiere for Enchanted and while my sister was having a meltdown at being 3ft away from Dr McDreamy I was jumping up and down because I’d seen Alan Menken. As a kid I used to sing “Under the Sea” complete with Jamaican accent so really I guess I was singing “Under da Sea” but whatever.

The last week has been full of essays, deadlines, dissertation stuff and an exam. I did manage to squeeze in a West End show as well although the dissertation was partly to blame for that one. My writing technique mostly consists of staring at my computer screen, writing a sentence and then going on various Disney related pages etc. I think I might have to revise this a little because today as I went to write Dickens I started writing Disney (and I did it again writing this sentence). Luckily for me it was quite possibly the first and last time I will write Dickens in an essay (didn’t do it that time - phew!)

So in the time i spent procrastinating I discovered several things:

Firstly, the Magic Kingdom is closing early on Tuesday for a press conference. Most likely something to do with the Fantasyland expansion a.k.a. FLE

Secondly, that there’s a Disney meet up happening in Birmingham (the UK one, not the Alabama one). Last year someone organised one in London but I was working that day which unfortunately involved me being confined to my halls complex over the weekend. This time I’m free the day of the meet up - yay! The downside is that it’s in Birmingham. I’ve got nothing against the place, it’s got a lovely theatre and is close to Cadbury World. The problem is that getting there is an absolute nightmare. To go by train I’d need to travel into London (1 1/2 hours) then travel across London (allow 1 hour) then get the train up to Birmingham (2 hours+). That’s fine in itself I spend 3 hours a day travelling for uni. The main issue is that to be up there by lunch National Rail says that I have to leave home the previous night and then i wouldn’t get back home until well into the following day. Solution = car.
I recently did a mini road trip with two friends to Birmingham. It was a blast except for when I was driving IN Birmingham. I generally don’t do too well with city driving. I LOVE open road driving though. It’s so relaxing. I suspect one of two things will end up happening. Either I’ll completely psych myself out of going or there’ll be an incredible vlog made as a result.

Speaking of which....

I’m hoping (don’t hold me to it though) to finally make another vlog this weekend. Life at home has calmed down considerably now and I am work-free until Tuesday so signs for a new vlog are good. As i’ve said in several of the vlogs if there’s anything you want me to do (within reason) or questions you want me to answer etc then please let me know.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Keep Moving Forward

Yesterday I had my one and only January exam. That means that, barring any mishaps, I have one exam left until I graduate - wahoo! With the amount of time I’ve spent in education I could be a qualified doctor. I’m not. So for me that aspect of graduating is really exciting. Then there’s the thought of going to Disney for 3 months once I finish in May so there’s really a lot for me to look forward to this year. But the prospect of life post-Disney seems to bring a cloud of unknowing into my life. Other than “entertainment” I really have no idea what I actually want to do.

Well that’s not entirely true. I would quite happily be condemned to a life of being paid minimum wage if it meant working for Disney for the rest of my life but as of right now the only way that would happen if if I went to work for the Disney Cruise Line. That’s currently a very serious consideration of mine.

I once read that Jodi Benson (voice of Ariel, Barbie, Lady and others) gets to go on trips to Disney parks all around the world every year. If someone wants to give me a job as a voice artist for a Disney movie I won’t complain!

Last year I didn’t spend too much time worrying or imagining where I’d be working in the summer. This year I’ve found myself thinking about it a lot and it’s only January! The other night I dreamt that I was working at Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom. I know I’d love working in some of the more “hands on” attractions because of that performance element so here’s my list of attractions I’d like to work at this summer:

1) The Great Movie Ride (I’m a film student what do you expect me to put)
2) Jungle Cruise (only downside would be getting bitten)
3) Pirates of the Caribbean (I’d get to dress up as a pirate all day long)
4) Voyage of the Little Mermaid (Ariel’s my favourite character)
5) The Animation pavillion at Hollywood Studios.
6) The Backlot Tour
7) Haunted Mansion
8) Finding Nemo the Musical
9) Lights Motors Action (because I know how much fun my friends had/have working there)
10) Star Tours 2 (It’s new, it’s Star Wars and you get to legitimately say “May the Force Be With You” a gazillion times a day. This should actually be much higher up on the list)

I know I haven’t listed any Epcot attractions but I would probably be quite happy to work anywhere. There are no “definitely don’t want”s on my list.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Vlogging and Blogging

So right now my blog is kinda filling in for my vlog. Mostly, because vlogging takes time and recently that’s something that I’ve been short of. Fingers crossed I should have some more free time in a couple of weeks from now and once we hit April I’ll have loads of free time so this little hiccough will resolve itself.

But while I haven’t been vlogging loads of people have been. This is such an exciting time of year because its when loads of people start making them. The Spring CPers are about to start their program, the Fall CPers are applying and the ICPers are either applying or getting psyched because they’ve just been accepted.

I’ve been trying to watch as many vlogs as I can during my revision/writing breaks and I guess (judging from the increase in views of my videos/blogs) that other people are doing the same.

I just want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone that reads/follows my blog and watches/subscribes to my vlog. It really means a lot. Also, if anyone has any questions or comments please feel free to leave them either here or on my youtube channel ( ). If you’ve got twitter then feel free to follow me ( ). If you let me know you’ve been reading/watching I’ll be sure to follow you back. I also recently set up tumblr ( ). I’m still getting used to that one and it has some non--Disney stuff on there as well.

If you’re reading this and you haven’t started a blog or a vlog yourself then I highly recommend it. I met some amazing people thanks to both bloggin and vlogging over the last year and its also a great way to let your family and friends at home know what you’re up to.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Hidden Joys of Disney

So I was watching some vlogs on youtube (a potentially bad sign because I didn’t start doing this until much later last year and it is hugely distracting when you’re supposed to be studying) and I came across this video, produced by Disney about Beverly. What is Beverly? It is one of the drinks available to taste at Club Cool in Epcot. They have different sodas from all over the world that you can taste for free - perfect in the summer heat! Well...

There’s also a similar video that was made by the Disney Vlogging Legend that is John Henselmeier. You can check that out here:

So, this inspired me to talk about some of the “hidden” things in Disney that most people either overlook or simply don’t get a chance to do while on vacation in the second happiest place on Earth.

I’ve already mentioned Club Cool and after that you’re taste buds will probably be needing something a bit more pleasant and for that there’s Dole Whip. Dole Whip is Pineapple soft serve and is amazing. You can either have it just as it comes or in a pineapple float (pineapple juice topped with Dole Whip) and you can find it in Adventureland (near Swiss Family Robinson) or at Cpt Cook’s Cafe at the Polynesian Resort.

Next up is the Animation Class at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s located in the Animation attraction and is one of the few opportunities to have a free souvenir. It does what it says on the tin! A Disney Cast Member teaches you how to draw a famous Disney character. It’s a different one in each class and you get to keep your drawing at the end of it.
*TIP* If you go to the Art of Disney store near the attraction’s exit and ask nicely they’ll be able to give you an elastic band to keep your new masterpiece safe.

Need something savoury? Then get yourself to Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney. Best Sandwiches EVER. (Anyone want to Fedex me one?)

Know which stores sell drinks. On the surface this probably makes no sense. One of the great perks that comes with being a Cast Member is you get discounts - yay! But the one place you don’t get discounts in the parks (resorts and AK are the exception here) is at the Quick Service restaurants. BUT you do get discounts on Merchandise. So if it’s boiling hot and you’re thirsty head over to the nearest shop that sells drinks. My personal favourites are the blue raspberry frozen drinks that they sell at several stores in Hollywood Studios.

When you’re living at the Disney Complexes you notice a lot of posters advertising events appear around the place. My rule is “if it’s free, go”. The pool parties come with a wealth of free food and drinks (non-alcoholic) as do many of the others and there’s plenty to go around. One trip through the line left me with 2 slices of pizza, a bag of crisps/chips and a soda. One less meal to buy/make!

One of the other great things about the complexes (mostly Vista Way) are the Disney Learning Centers. They have a mini library and free DVD and board game rentals. I read about this before I went and was slightly apprehensive. I was expecting a couple of Disney films and that was about it. WRONG! There were loads of films available, Disney and otherwise.

Mickey Ears. They’re attractive, they’re a must have and you get a free set (along with more free food) at Graduation.

Company D. It’s the exclusive cast members only store along with a couple of others near the Disney University. A must-visit.

The Kitchen Sink. For years I’d heard about it but never had the chance to try it. Get a large group (I recommend at least 6) together and head over to Beaches and Cream at the Yacht and Beach Club. It’s almost become a right of passage. Can you eat it all?

Mini Golf. Much to my family’s general annoyance this is one of those must-do things for me. There are two Disney run locations - Fantasia Gardens (Near the Swan and Dolphin) and Winter-Summerland (next to Blizzard Beach). You’ll often walk away with a mini-Sharpie and Golf Ball and the end of the round. My personal fave is the Gardens course at Fantasia Gardens. Go at night and you can see Fantasmic.

That’s it for today. Hopefully once I get enough free time I’ll do some more vlogs and I’m also going to do a series of blogs on Magical Moments.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow...

So far I’ve been focussed on what happened last summer. I had originally (back in December) planned to do a big video announcement about my application for the Summer 2011 program. BUT things happened in my life that kinda took priority. So, for anyone that doesn’t yet know....

I got accepted for WDW ICP Summer 2011!!!!!!!!

I haven’t really discussed my interviews this year with anyone so here’s a rough summary of what happened.

The entire length of process was almost exactly the same as last year with phone and face-to-face interviews happening at almost exactly the same time for London/South based applicants. Last year I knew no-one else applying. This year I knew quite a few. Some who were alumni and others who weren’t. This meant that I knew people at the same interview as me which in general, I found made the whole process a little less overwhelming.

This year the interviews took place at Chez Gerard (a restaurant) rather than Disney HQ in Hammersmith. Slightly disappointing but a lot easier to get to. especially as it was located 2 minutes away from my uni. By the time I arrived there were already plenty of people there and if I’m honest i found it fascinating to see the different types of people that were being interviewed.

When we entered the presentation room there was a trailer of sorts for the various programs playing. This featured CRPs, CPs and ICPs. I know this because I actually knew several people in the video. One of whom worked in Norway (who I met a lot thru doing Glow) and the other who worked with me in Towers. This provided much amusement for me while we waited for everyone to shuffle in.

Once again Jill (the Disney International Programs Recruiter) kicked off proceedings with a mini-Disney quiz. The questions were almost exactly the same as last year and once again I won a Disney prize. Put a quiz in front of me and I get competitive. I have mentioned this previously in my vlog where I mentioned Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Moving on...

I was paying a lot closer attention to the presentation this year in terms of what people had perceived had been said. Several people that I met over the summer had said that we had been told this and not that and I have to say that I actually found the presentation to be fairly honest about what to expect. It is hot and you do work long hours at a job that is rarely glamorous or dream-like, but it is what you make it and it is the experience of a lifetime.

Presentation over, interview times were announced and thankfully mine was fairly early on at about 1ish. I apologise right now to people that had to travel a lot further than I did because that is two years in a row that I was given an early interview time. I’m sure it must be a pain in the neck for people that have travelled further and have to wait until 4 or 5 in the afternoon.

I went and had lunch on the Southbank which was quite nice and double checked the paperwork. I will rarely comment on exact questions that are asked but here I will make a small exception because I think it is constructive to the process for people to be forewarned. At the beginning of the presentation you are handed a sheet of paper that describes the type of roles available. This list is very similar to the one found on the Disney International Programs website except it goes into slightly more detail about each role. You are then asked to tick/rank the roles that you would be happy to do. I would advise thinking very carefully about your answers to this question. Don’t panic tick all of them or feel that you have to tick any particular role. It is YOUR program. The #1 reason that people will fail to enjoy the program is because they were not happy with the role they picked. You could be placed ANYWHERE within that role’s description.

By the end of lunch I had developed a migraine. For migraine sufferers everywhere I will say that they are not merely headaches and usually all you want to do is lie down in a cool, dark room. So needless to say an interview was not the place I wanted to be heading, not to mention the fact that it was for a job I really wanted to do again.

On return to the interviews I got to meet the girl that I would be interviewing with. I confess that I am absolutely useless with names but I met her initially before the presentation, she is currently on a year abroad in Spain and she had previously worked for the Disney Store in London. I was quite relieved that she had visited WDW a lot because I was slightly apprehensive about being interviewed with a non-alumnus. This is mostly because i feel that it is slightly unfair to both parties but in our case I think it worked out well.

There are a lot of standard questions they ask in these interviews and I won’t say what they are but because I’d done the program before I wasn’t asked a lot of them. For this and various other reasons I felt the interview hadn’t gone particularly well for me. Again, though we were asked about the roles we had said yes to.

For the record my top 3 were:

1) Character Attendant
2) Character Performer
3) Attractions

Merchandise was #4 on my list. Last summer I had an amazing time at Towers, so amazing in fact that I didn’t want to risk repeating it in case it didn’t live up to the previous summer. I also wanted to do something slightly different. During the interview I was asked how tall I am which I knew would be the thing that would stop me being a character performer. 5’7“ is not the most ideal of heights for the role but I knew that there were opportunities out there for people that height. Unfortunately for me there apparently weren’t any slots available in that height range this year. :( I had dabbled with both performing and attending during the summer (something that I will explain more in another blog) so for me those were by far my top 2 roles. I had made a point of not ticking QSFB because I knew that personally I would find it difficult doing that role. With what had effectively become a top 2 list of Character Attendant and Attractions as well as not including QSFB I knew that my chances of going back would be fairly slim.

Post-interview I literally went straight home and into bed, feeling rather sorry for myself.

Fast forward to December 2nd when the results were e-mailed out to candidates. I was nervous and apprehensive reading the e-mail because for me it wasn’t just a case of whether I got in but what role I had been given. I’ve already said that I got accepted so.. the role I was accepted for was....


I won’t lie and say that part of me wasn’t disappointed. I REALLY wanted to be a character attendant. You are given a week to respond and last year it took me all of 5 minutes to do so. This year it took me 4 days. I don’t think I was ever not going to say yes to that e-mail, it was more that I wanted to be 100% sure of what I was saying yes to and needed those days to get over not being selected as a CA.

A month later and I’m really looking forward to going back. A lot of bad stuff has happened in my life since I went out there last time and a dose of magic is just what I need. I can’t wait to be back out there again and although this week saw the end of a lot of my friends’ CP experience i’m really looking forward to seeing the ones that extended, went seasonal or went on to do a Professional Internship.

So now I’m looking forward to the moment that I finish that exam in May, when, after 6 years this can happen...

Suzie, you’ve FINALLY finished University, what are you gonna do next?

I’m going to Disney World!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, 1 January 2011


Last year my halls at uni cost roughly £130 per week. That paid for my room, a small box-like environment with a desk, bed and small en-suite wetroom, access to a communal kitchen, internet and utilities. Everything else cost more money. So I then had to add on food, transport, gym, etc.

If you’re going to Disney to start your quest for wealth then you really have the wrong job. At the end of the day the wage isn’t great. But here’s the rent including transport, internet, utilities, pool and gym was $79 a week. So my wage was about 2/3 what it was in the UK but my living costs were probably about 1/3. Also, that doesn’t take into account the numerous benefits you receive such as free park entry, merchandise discounts, etc. Add that to the fact that working at WDW was easily the best job I’ve had and there was never really any doubt about me applying to go back for summer 2011.

I should point out that I was allocated the cheapest type of apartment available to CPs and ICPs, a 3-bedroom apartment in Vista Way. Trolling the internet you hear a lot of things about the apartments at WDW and the fact is they have their good and bad points.

I’ve lived in some pretty “interesting” places and I was dreading being put into Vista Way. I’m not a partier and it does have that reputation. Here are my thoughts on living at Vista Way.

1) The apartments are clean.
2) Utensils are provided (although are occasionally limited)
3) There’s a dishwasher!!!!
4) There are two pools.
5) The buses are based at Vista Way
6) It was only loud if you wanted it to be.
7) One bedroom ensuite, other 2 share a bathroom
8) 2 lockers in each bedroom (padlock not provided)
9) 3 washers and dryers at the bottom of each block of apartments.
10) Each block has a maximum of 12 apartments.
11) There’s was a Wendy’s, Chik-fil-a, a Santa-Fe and a Walgreens within 5 minutes walk.

Overall I was really pleased with the living arrangements at Vista.

Then I visited Chatham.

No doubt about it the apartments at Chatham are much, much nicer than the ones at Vista, although the bedrooms were slightly smaller.

If I had any say on the matter I would probably choose to live at Chatham this summer but would I mind if I was in Vista again? Not really.