Monday, 25 July 2011

Mountain Climbing

I've literally had the first 2 sentences of a blog post on my computer screen for the last 2 weeks and have failed to write anymore than that.

I'm now approximately halfway through my ICP program and have been having an amazing time. I've been hanging out with people from Everest, met up with my sister for an action-packed 24 hours and have spent a fair bit of time climbing the same mountain over and over again.

Now, I could go into loads of detail about every day so far but quite frankly I think I'd bore myself. So instead I'm going to talk about some of the differences between this year and last year, starting with............


Obviously I have no idea what's going to happen in the next 5/6 weeks but as life stands I have loved working in both Attractions and Merchandise but they are very different.

Last year I spent a lot of time talking to guests whereas this year I spend a lot of time using a raised voice and repeating the same things over and over again while learning very little about the people I'm coming into contact with. Phrases such as "How many in your group?" and "Please pull up on your lap bar" are now a permanent part of my daily routine.

Side note: If a cast member ever asks you to "pull up on your lap bar" please do just that. Thrusting your pelvis in their face achieves nothing and will only mean them continuing to tell you to pull up on your lap bar or forcing them to push further down on it themselves.

Other differences that I've noticed is that guests get far more upset when something is wrong with something that is included in the price of admission than if they have to pay extra for it, which surprises me a little. So attractions requires a lot more skill in the damage control department because we can't issue refunds in the same way that you can in a store but on the upside we don't have to handle money on a daily basis so you don't have to concentrate on whether you're giving someone the right change or not while trying to converse with them at the same time.

One potential bonus of attractions (depending on what attraction you get) is that you'll get to ride your attraction - a lot! So far I've ridden Expedition Everest over 28 times and get to do so most days that I work (all for health and safety reasons, of course!). If you don't like riding the attraction you're working on then I can imagine this getting a bit boring after a couple of ride-throughs but so far I've not got bored of my mountain.

Before I sign off again I would like to state a few facts about my ride that I'm questioned about on a daily basis.

1) Everest is 3.5 minutes long.
2) You do NOT go upside down.
3) It is both indoor and outdoors.
4) The yeti is real, she does exist and her name is Betty.
5) The yeti is still in the same place as she was when the ride first opened.
6) The yeti is DEFINITELY there.
7) You do NOT go upside down.
8) It's a bit like Big Thunder Mountain except better, smoother and with a backwards section.
9) You only go around the mountain once.
10) There's only one drop and that's the one you can see from next to the bazaar
11) Yes I have been on the ride.

BTW if you want to feel like you're going upside down then the best place to sit is the front of the train. If you want to go faster through the double spiral then sit in the back of the train.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

A Week in the Himalayas

The last week I've been waking up at some ridiculous time in the morning to head over to Animal Kingdom for training at Expedition Everest.

The first day was a bit "Aaaaaaaargh" because for the first time I got to do a ride at Disney with the lights on, got to see Betty the Yeti up close, walked all over the mountain and was trying to absorb a lot of information very quickly.

Occasionally I had to clear up some differences in wording of things. For example, Patrick (my trainer) kept saying stuff about trains being backed up and it took me a while to realise he wasn't talking about trains reversing but being stuck in a sort of traffic jam.

Over the first week I was taught how each position worked and where everything is in the mountain. On Monday, after 5 days of training, I had my assessment day which is apparently always done with a trainer that hasn't trained you. There was a written test, some oral questioning and then I had to show that I could perform each position correctly.

Attractions is completely different from Merchandise. Obviously, you're operating a ride so safety is more of an active concern but also the way you interact with guests is completely different. Very rarely am I able to wish people a happy birthday because most of the positions simply don't have time to do it or you have to be focussed on something else so can't do it.

One thing that I love about Everest is that you're only on each position for about 45 minutes with a break roughly every 2 hours and almost every position has you moving constantly so while I have suffered with blistered feet this week they're never suffering because I'm basically standing still for 3 hours which would happen in Merch. Some of the positions are pretty straightforward in a kind of "watch the train and hit a button" way while others can be a little more overwhelming at first because it feels like there's a lot you're trying to juggle at once. I've found that the key is sounding like you know what you're doing even if you're not 100% sure.

As for everything not work related....

Today lots of people had their social security appointments. Thankfully, I got to just sleep in instead because I'd already done that stuff before. I've been going to the parks a lot during downtime - either on days off or after work and then in the evenings we've mostly just been chilling in the apartment.

This week I've been to Earl of Sandwich twice which was obviously awesome! Those sandwiches taste soooooooo good!

Oh....and yesterday I found out my degree classification - 2:1 which caused me to burst into tears so I celebrated with a trip to the Magic Kingdom with Kirsty where I FINALLY went to Tom Sawyer Island. The place astounded me because there's so much detail there and some of the stuff was quite fun too, especially the barrel bridge and waving to people on Big Thunder Mountain and the paddleboat.

For those that are interested I have, in the last week, ridden Everest 10 times. It'll be interesting to see how many times it'll have been by the end of the summer.