Thursday, 31 March 2011

When you wish upon a star...

Tomorrow I will have my last university class ever (hopefully). It will mark the end of 6 years of studying and the end of a really stressful week.

On Tuesday evening I genuinely thought that I wouldn't be able to go to Disney due to finances and date conflicts. I had hoped that Mickey would be able to switch my departure dates around but apparently the Mouse has been so popular this year that his schedule is overflowing with ICP arrivals. For the 24 hours that I thought all hope was lost I stopped believing in the magic. Thankfully, on Wednesday, after what can only amount to a long, emotional chat with my dad, the magic began to sparkle once more and it was decided that some way, somehow I would get to Florida this summer.

Over the last 12 months I've read a lot of blogs relating to both the CP and ICP programs and it always astounds me that some people's parents/family do not support them with their decision to go to work for the mouse. I am so grateful that my parents have been supportive throughout the last 18 months (and my life for that matter), because without that support I don't know that I would have been able to go and do the things that I have done throughout my life.

So to all the friends and family out there that help support CPs, ICPs and CRPs through their Disney journeys I send a big THANK YOU because you too help make the magic happen!

Monday, 28 March 2011

Goofy's How to Guide: FAQs about applying for a Visa

There have been lots of questions appearing on the various ICP groups about Visas so here are some of the common ones. I highly recommend logging into the Yummy Jobs website and downloading their visa guide. It runs through the process step-by-step and makes the whole thing a lot easier.

What is the address of the US Embassy in London?
24 Grosvenor Square
London, W1A 2LQ

What is the phone number to call the Embassy?
09042 450100. Calls cost £1.23/min so make sure you use a landline. Phone lines are open Mon-Fri 8am-9pm and Sat 9am-4pm.

What forms do I need to fill out?
You'll need to fill out a Sevis form and a DS-160. Both are electronic and can be found at the following links:
Note that you cannot start the visa process until you are in receipt of a DS-2019 which Yummy Jobs will send you in your Disney Welcome Pack.

Can anyone come with me to my visa appointment?
Only visa applicants are allowed into the US Embassy. This means that parents/partners/etc must wait outside. The only exceptions are where the applicant is under 18 or disabled and requires assistance or a translator. Further information can be found here

What documents do I need to take with me?
You'll need:

- written confirmation of the appointment and the MRV (appointment fee) receipt. These will have been e-mailed to you after you booked your appointment.
- A copy of the Sevis receipt. This can either be the copy provided electronically immediately after the transaction (make sure you've printed it out though!) or the copy posted to you.
- A copy of the DS-160. This should have a barcode on the front and the barcode needs to be clear enough to be scanned.
- Your passport.
- Any supporting documents. For example, proof that you'll be returning to the UK.
- Money to pay for the courier that will return your passport.

What can I take with me into the Embassy?
Large bags and electronic equipment are not permitted. This means no suitcases, phones, ipods, electronic car keys, etc. There are pharmacies nearby that can provide secure left luggage services for a small fee. Books, magazines,etc are allowed though.

How long will I be in the Embassy for?
This varies quite drastically and is impossible to accurately predict. Current wait times seem to be between 2-5 hours at the moment.

How long does it take for my passport to be returned?
Again, this varies. You'll be told at the embassy whether your application has been approved. It then takes up to 2 weeks for your passport to be returned. The US Embassy currently states a processing time of 4 working days. Last year I received my passport the next day.

I'm having problems uploading a photo. Help!!!
If the photo thing is really proving difficult then I suggest going to a photo company like Snappy Snaps to have one done. They can provide you with both paper and digital copies. Last year I had both done and uploaded the digital one to the DS-160 and took the paper one along to the appointment as back up.

How much is the visa process going to cost?
Here's the current breakdown (excluding transport costs):
- $140 MRV fee (paid for over the phone at time of appointment booking by Visa, MasterCard or Amex. NOT Visa Electron or Maestro).
- $30 SEVIS fee (paid online during the Sevis process)
- £14.50 Courier fee. This varies depending on exactly which service you pick and is payable by debit or credit card only.
- Cost of phone call to the embassy. £1.23/min. Length of call varies.

SDA: Episode 21 - How To Get Your Visa

Lots of people have been asking lots of questions and getting worried about their visa applications so I asked a friend of mine to simplify things a little.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Someday this post will come...

I realise it's been a while since my last blog post. Once again, it's down to it being my last semester at university and everything being a bit crazy.

Lots of people have been receiving their Disney packs which is all very exciting. My travel plans are in a constant state of flux although I'm hoping to have them all sorted within the next 2 weeks.

I've recently been reading Adam Goodger's Mousemag (issue 2 was released earlier today). Some of it is really interesting. A couple of highlights include a Lego version of Main St and a segment on someone's Disney wedding. Mousemag is free to download here.

Also recently set up is a Disney social networking site called DisCOT. It seems to be a cross between twitter, facebook, et al. I'm on there with the username helium7suz. Go check it out here.

In what can only be described as a bit of a techie fail on my part I've recently discovered how to put HD videos on Youtube. Prior to now I thought I had to use Flip's software (which I hate) to do it and today I found the right export setting on Final Cut to do it. Don't know if there's a huge difference for those watching but if you think there is then let me know.

The bulk of university will be over for me by lunchtime on Friday. After that I have about a month to write 2 essays, finish my dissertation and sit an exam. I'm currently experiencing a combination of fear and excitement, especially as I'm not 100% sure of what I'll be doing post-graduation but hopefully things will all work out. The good news is that no class = more time for blogging and vlogging. It also means I'll have time to watch other people's vlogs which up until now I've been unable to do as much as I'd like. Becca Attfield recently reviewed my blog and vlog on her Mousecast (Episodes 6 and 7) so if you haven't heard those you should definitely listen here.

While I'm linking to stuff I highly recommend you watch the following video. It's a vlog by Kate Walsh (star of Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice) and about half way through she mentions me! Well, she answers a question I asked her (It's the one where she starts mentioning Elizabeth Taylor).

That's all for now! The vlogs and blogs will become more regular during April. As always if you have anything you want me to talk about or any questions you want answered then let me know by commenting on here or via twitter or youtube.

SDA: Episode 20 - Cooking With Suzie

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Poor Unfortunate Souls

Today DisneyParks uploaded some more vids onto youtube. One in particular got me really excited because it was more backstage footage from Ariel's Under Sea Adventure. This time it's all about Ursula. The animatronic they've designed looks amazing. I can't wait to see what the Ariel one looks like now because the original plans said that she was going to have lipsync capabilities as well. Now I must resist the temptation of going to Disneyland this summer to see the ride in person before it gets to WDW!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011


It's been 12 days since my last real blog entry and that's been down to 2 things: Firstly the crazy hecticness of my schedule over the last 10 days or so and secondly that I have had very little to say that's been Disney-related.

This week I decided to use my youtube channel for any videos that I make. I will continue to use the SDA prefix on any videos that are related to Disney and my experiences on the ICP so for those that have no interest in my other escapades it should be easy to spot the relevant videos. My apologies to those who 'accidentally' watched the most recent video expecting to see something directly related to Disney.

My little escapade away from SDA has taught me a couple of things:

1) People REALLY like my theme tune.

2) How amazing my life is at times.

I realise that both of those sound a bit 'all about me' so let me explain. The first one relates to a lovely comment I received via twitter from @Calloom who said he missed my theme tune on that latest video (and you know, having my theme tune sung in the middle of B'ham which STILL makes me lol). The second, again relates to some comments I received, this time about the new video...

For those that don't know what video I'm talking about (it's on the youtube channel) it is a short compilation of footage that I recorded on Saturday night at the cast change for Love Never Dies. The atmosphere outside the theatre was a bit like being at a rock concert except that it was a musical that has, for the most part, been (somewhat unfairly) ripped apart by attacks from people in the blogosphere. It was no accident that I was there and the inner vlogger in me (that always carries around a Flip Video) naturally started recording some of the events. Many of the comments i have received about the video (all of which have been lovely) are some variation of how lucky I was to be there. For me this is odd because while I was fortunate to witness the events (which I'm sure no-one predicted would involve the principal cast leaning out of windows and playing the guitar) my presence was planned. The comments did make me think about how lucky I have been to have had the experiences that I have had, many of which have been a combination of hard work and luck.

If I look back on the last 10 years and the events that occurred its incredible to think that if one thing had changed I might not be where I am today or had the experiences I had.
If I had not been bullied at school I might not have changed schools after my GCSEs.
If I hadn't changed schools I might not have been interviewed at Oxford and made the friends I did or had the opportunity to take Film Studies at school.
If I hadn't studied Maths at Royal Holloway I wouldn't have gone to study at UCLA.
If I hadn't gone to UCLA I wouldn't have decided to drop out and switch to Film Studies.
If I hadn't dropped out I wouldn't have met some of my closest friends.
If I hadn't studied film at school I might not have been accepted to study it at King's.
If I hadn't studied at King's I wouldn't have taken part in the ICP or been able to develop my interest in the theatre.

At some point every part of that involves some form of luck. Ultimately, perhaps I should be grateful to those instigators of decision #1. They potentially changed my life for ever and now, for two summers in a row, I get to make magic happen with a company that has inspired me since I was 2 years old.