Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Real World

It's been three weeks since I left Disney World and the magical, totally immersible, fantastically overwhelming whir of what we alumni like to call "The Disney Bubble". Life back home is nice, but I find myself in near constant boredom. Even if I'm constantly keeping busy, I still feel underwhelmed with my surroundings here. I think I got so used to being oversensitive to everything around me to soak it all in and now I don't know how to turn it off without this feeling of slowing down more and more with every second that I'm home. And again, being home is nice, but even that short amount of time in Florida made me feel like Disney is my home, almost as much as my real home. I made friends, who became family, who will continue to be some of the most important people in my life. My time there changed my life and my being in such a substantial way that five months felt like five years. And its incredibly difficult to let go of.

The count of people reapplying for Fall Advantage 2011 is climbing. Hopefully we'll have a nice little Spring 2010 reunion next year! I was going to end this blog when I got home but since I'm going for a second program in less than a year, I think I'll keep it and just have a little Disney hiatus while I write about Texas life until I make it back to the sunshine state. During this time, I'm going to try to update as much as possible. I don't write enough, and I'm an effing writer for goodness sake. haha. I thought, a time or two, about xeroxing my real life bounded book journal and uploading it here but I think I'll just stick with my new moving forward life slogan and try my best to put everything up here as well. Hakuna Matata.

So, Texas life in a nutshell: I'm looking for a job and its proving difficult. There are plenty of opportunities out there but they all fall flat to Disney. Of course nothing is going to come close to touching it, so I think I'll go the materialistic route and look for a job that can be fun and where I can make bank, mainly to save up for next year in Disney, but I also really want to visit some friends from my CP and see the country a little bit. Thats of course on top of going to school and having to pay for it myself this time since I dropped below my financial aid's regulation of taking two classes last semester. I'm still kicking myself in the ass for that one but whats done is done and I just have to make the best of it. Story of my life lately but that's alright.

I've also been going out and seeing friends that I unfortunately neglected in the last few years like the jerk I had accidentally turned in to. It wasn't anything personal, ever, but I just stopped going out and found my nice little niche of people and places and stuck to it. Now I know better and I'm trying to make up for lost times. Its so strange to me that even after a year or two, some people, while their lives are different, they're still the same silly amazing people. I love it and I'm glad we can find the time to hang out now. Special shout out to Lillie who helps me get my Disney fix every weekend when we watch Disney movies (and their sequels) on her big screen TV. haha. I'm actually heading over there shortly so I'll end this update here. I hope all of you are doing wonderfully and good luck to those heading to Disney in the next (or last) few weeks! You'll love it and please keep the world updated better than I did. haha. I'm looking forward to keeping up with yall!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Now its time to say goodbye to all our family

M-I-C-K-E-Y   M-O-U-S-E!!!!

My college program is officially over. This experience has given me so many wonderful memories, skills, and personality adjustments. I am so very appreciative that I was able to do this program and meet all of the amazing people I was able to become close with while in Florida.

My last few days were quite fun and exciting but of course terribly bittersweet. My very last day in the parks, Sean Chip and I spent the entire day in the parks hitting our favorites one last time. We went to DAK at opening and rode Expedition Everest twice in a row with a 5 minute wait, once in the back and once in the front. Since it was our last day on the program, the ride operators were extremely helpful all day with letting us sit where we wanted to. We then went to ride Dinosaur and get our picture in front of the tree. I ran into Tyler Kia, my DAK photopass friend and while he was taking our picture, a coordinator started talking to us about the end of our program. He asked what our plan was for the day and we told him we were just heading out the exit to go to Studios. He then told us that was too bad because he was going to ask if we wanted to be VIP guests and ride on a float in Mickey's Jammin Jungle Parade. What an amazing amazing offer, but we had to turn it down because we couldn't afford to wait all that time in DAK on our very last park day. We thanked them immensely and suffered on the tram ride back to the car.

When we got to Studios, we went straight to Tower of Terror. This was the second time I've ridden it and it is still just as nerve wracking and terrifying as it ever was, but I'm glad I was brave enough to go on it one last time. After ToT, we got something to eat then went on Rockin Roller Coaster and got to sit in the very back. It was so much fun. On the way out of Studios, we stopped and talked to some street entertainment people who were ridiculous and hilarious, and we made our way to the parking lot to stop for food on our way to Magic Kingdom.

Once in Magic Kingdom, we tried to catch a ride on Space Mountain but it was 101ed for some reason so we continued on to ride Haunted Mansion and meet Mickey and Minnie in the Judges Tent one last time. The fairies had an hour wait so we skipped them, and went back to Main Street to watch the 3:00 parade and shop for friends back home in the Emporium. After that, we left to take Chip to work to fill out last minute paper work and go home to shower and chill for a minute. We came back to Magic Kingdom to ride Haunted Mansion again and then find friends to watch Wishes with for the very last time of the program. I ran into Khristine and all of her roommates and I'm getting emotional just thinking about it all. I think I was the only person in the castle hub that wasn't crying during Wishes. The crowd was at least 90% leaving CPs and was a tear fest if I've ever seen one.

After we got home from the Magic Kingdom, I went home and finished packing and then met everyone over at Chip's apartment where I got to see Nick for once last time too! We all just hung out and talked about leaving the next morning and how awesome our programs were and who all we still had to say goodbye too. Chip and I left for a bit to go to Vicky's to say bye to her, then went back to his apartment to sleep. We didn't get to bed until 2 AM and we had to wake up at 6 AM for his flight.

After Chip left, I finished packing my car and went to Khristine's to say goodbye to her and all of her roommates. Lauren eventually showed up and I was so glad I got to say goodbye to her as well. Nick was downstairs so Lauren and I went down to say bye to him again and Robert was coming out of his apartment. Those of you that don't know me personally, don't know the situation between us but we had a big falling out about a month ago and haven't spoken since. As much as I had intended on never seeing him again, I'm glad we ran into each other just to get a bit of closure. Giving him a hello and goodbye hug made me feel a lot less angry and upset about things. It just takes the sharp edge off of the situation I think and I'm glad I was able to let go of some of those feelings. I called Sean and we woke up Ria and the two of them talked with me for a while before I got in my car to drive out of Chatham for the last time. On the way out of town, I stopped by Patterson to drop off all of our food for Taylor and Ivan and then I was on my way. I called about every family member to say I was on my way and I then started the 11 hour drive to my aunt's house in Birmingham.

The drive was partly fun and partly unbearable driving that long by myself. All it took to reenergize me was seeing the sign that said "Alabama State Border, 10 miles" and at that time, Sweet Home Alabama comes on the radio. It was the perfect epic moment. I was on the tiniest high way in the middle of nowhere, windows down, radio all the way up, singing my heart out. Ah, I loved it, especially because they sing about Birmingham AND Muscle Shoals, the two Alabama cities I'm going to.

So now, I'm in Birmingham. I'm going out to lunch with my Aunt at Olive Garden, then I'm driving to the other side of town to see the house I grew up in. I absolutely cannot wait. I want to see how different it looks than what I remember. I haven't been there in 10 years. Then I'm making the 3 hour drive to Muscle Shoals to my cousins' house for steaks and beer and a few days of relaxation. My cousin Jacob is then making the drive back to Austin with me, hopefully with a stop in Memphis to see Graceland!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dear Future CPs: Some Advice

With my CP coming to a seriously quick close, I've been thinking about how I would do things differently, or perhaps the same, for my next college program. While falling asleep last night, I had all these ideas running in my head and I thought to myself "What a great idea it would be to write all of this down", but of course now I've forgotten most of it so this might be a multiple part post.

The very first thing I want to touch on is how expensive living in Disney World actually is. If you're able to save up money before coming down to the CP, I highly highly recommend it. Of course, hundreds of CPs go without starving while living on just their CP paychecks, but it makes it difficult to do very much outside of the Disney parks. I never had enough money to make it to Universal or Sea World or the beach or Cirque Du Soliel... see a pattern here? All of these things aren't that expensive, its just the matter of having an extra $100 lying around for when your roommates want to go on a holiday to Miami. If you have it, it makes life here so much easier.

If youre a procrastinator like me and don't happen to save any money, there are a few places I can recommend.

Steak N' Shake: down the street from the housing complexes past the Crossroads shopping center lies Steak N' Shake. Not only does it have slammin' milkshakes, real burgers and fries for $4, and a cheesy 1950s diner feel, but its 24 hours which comes in super handy for CPs as our hours are crazy. Well, not mine, but people I know. haha. And the food is consistently better than that of Denny's or IHOP, so its always where I choose to eat for late night/early morning dinners.

Orlando Ale House: Always hoppin' but still manages an intimate feel among the dozens of tv screens playing any sport you can think of. Its always clean and always has good service. The best specials: Any time, $5 pitchers and $6.50 buckets. Once a week: Ladies night, where ladies drink free beer or well drinks until midnight, and they don't skimp on the alcohol just because its free.

Buffalo Wild Wings: or B-dubs as most people refer to it. A ton of CPs and ICPs head to B-dubs on Wednesday nights for karaoke unlike any I've seen before. They move half the tables out of the restaurant and the floor fills with standing and eventually dancing college kids, turning a wing bar into a club. The karaoke is performed on a low platform mixing the singers in with the dancers making it super personal. Its so much fun. On not crowded nights, my friends and I like to go to B-dubs and get what they call the College Keg.

For $25, you get 200 fl oz of Budwiser, Bud Light, or Bud Select. Yeah, look at that monster. haha.

Monday, April 19, 2010

On the Up and Up

I haven't been updating on here at all and I'm so very sorry. I am feeling MUCH better though. I'm done with all the drama and emotional mess here and I've moved on. Now I'm just trying to have fun. My application to extend my program was denied. Apparently over a thousand people applied to extend and there were only a couple hundred spots. A lot of people were denied who, according to the guidelines and what we've been told all semester, should have been able to extend. I was upset about it but now I'm okay. I'm ready to go home, back to the real world, and continue on with my life.

I'm pretty fond of the idea of doing another college program in the future. There is just so much this place and this experience have to offer that I didn't take advantage of. This entire experience was definitely one to learn from. Its unfortunate that it took me three-fourths of my time here to figure out what I really wanted from this program but at least I figured it out at all. For the time being, I'm thinking about applying for Fall 2011. That gives me a year at home to save money (very important), get further in school and settle into what has become my new life, complete with a new outlook on it.

This whole program has taught me so much about myself and I'm so very thankful for it. While at times it was trying and even crushing, it was all worth it in the end because it got me to where I am now. I have 25 days left and I'm going to try to make the absolute most of it.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Apologies and picking up where we left off

I really should be keeping up with this more than I do.

The past few weeks have been such a mess. I'm going through a world of ridiculousness with a few people here so in reaction to being sick non-stop and depressed and all over the place, I haven't been as together as I'd like to have been while on my program here. I officially put through my extension and requested to move to character attendant, while having my current role/location as my second choice and attractions as my third. I hope they let me switch to attendant. At the same time though, aside from my wrist, I really do like my job whenever I'm in the world showcase. Its just Future World that I'm not particularly fond of. Spaceship Earth and I have a love hate relationship. Also, no one asks me how to get to Soarin when I'm in the World Showcase, which I don't miss one bit. haha.

After going through the toughest couple of weeks I've had to deal with in some amount of years, I'm hoping today is the start of moving forward. I woke up feeling a bit better, although everything is still lingering. I'm really hoping I can pull out a bit of bravery and put on a nice face and just let things fall where they may. I think most of my trouble is how much pressure I put on relationships I have here. I can't entirely help it, as these few people have become my life here, but I need to learn to be on my own. I haven't actually been by myself without depending on someone else since I was 15. Its something I have to learn to do, and while its a little late, better late than never.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Life Developments

In an attempt to collect myself and update the world abroad, here is my life:

One: I'm withdrawing from my classes. I'm so far behind its ridiculous and I just don't have the stress capacity to attempt to catch up. Unfortunately, this puts me in a bad spot in two ways. The first, Texas has a law where you can only withdraw from six classes during your college career. This will make three for me, and I'm probably halfway done with school. "Probably" because I have yet to pick a major or a university to transfer to. The second, I'll have to pay back the student loan I received this semester, which I've already spent. This adds financial pressure, which brings me to my next point.

Two: I'm broker than broke. Yesterday I went to the bank to pay back my negative balance of $362. Repaying my loan will be on top of paying rent on my apartment in Texas that I'm currently not living in since I'm in Florida, paying car insurance which I haven't been able to afford since January, and catching up on medical bills from my year of hell where I continued to be sick without health insurance... plus living here on eight dollars an hour. I'll manage, I just need to reorganize my spending priorities. 

Three: My boyfriend, Charlie, and I broke up. We ended six mostly wonderful years together and while I'm entirely devastated and disappointed that things didn't work out, I think we'll both benefit from it in the long run. Of course, I'll always love him and he'll continue to be one of the most important and influential people in my life, but I just don't think we're right for each other anymore. <3

Four:  Applications for program extensions go up March 15th and I'm applying. Khristine and I are going to try to be roommates. I'm still on the fence about whether I want to try to extend in Photopass or not. While I love my role, the equipment is really difficult for me to handle. Its ridiculously heavy and my wrist is in a constant state of injury. I've already been sent to health services and I wear a brace when I shoot, and most of the time at home as well. I think I'm going to try to extend into Character Attendant. The only downsides are that I love taking pictures. When I'm shooting characters especially, I still get super giddy and happy when I know I'm capturing amazing moments. Secondly, the paycut from PhotoPass to Character attendant is 75 cents less an hour. Considering my current financial predicament, I may try to choose another high paying role if I can help it. Happiness or security? The ever present life question. 

Five: I've been trying to consider different options I may have after the summer is over, should I get the extension. Since I'm moving out of my apartment with Charlie, my stuff and my dogs will be at my mom's house, where she said I could stay for as long as I wanted.  My mom is one of my best friends and I know we'd have a blast together. Should things continue to go well here at Disney World, I could extend a second time to stay here through January on the college program. Or, as a wild and exciting and not-well-thought-out idea, I could try to move into the Adventures By Disney side of the company and see the freaking world. We'll see haha. I have a few months before I need to pick a path. Hopefully the decision comes easily.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Home is where the heart is

First off, I wanna say: Hi family and Jami!! Thanks for reading my blog. haha. Also, thanks to my 40+ subscribers! Yall are so nice for being interested in my college program. Thanks so much.

Secondly, for the past couple of days I've been struggling with keeping up with my schoolwork from home. I'm taking two classes: College Algebra which starts in a couple of days and Creative Writing: Memoir which I've had for a month. Not only do I not really have the time for the work load required for these classes, but my memoir class is making me incredibly homesick because I have to write about my life outside of Disney in great detail. It makes me miss my family so very much. Its also difficult explaining Austin, my hometown, to guests when they ask where I'm from. Before I came here, I honestly could not wait to get the hell out of dodge. I love my family and friends but I needed a change desperately. Here, I have that change and its amazing the difference it makes in my overall feeling of accomplishment in life. I don't feel as stuck here. I feel like I'm actually moving forward in something, as opposed to just doing the same thing day in and day out.  I feel like I'm actually developing a talent, photography, as well as developing my social skills. I'm a pretty outgoing person in general but I think I got so comfortable at home that I stopped progressing and in the end, I wasn't gaining anything. Its really hard being away from home and I want to go visit so terribly, but at the same time, there are days where I feel like I could stay here forever. I'm incredibly torn and I wish they'd just build a Disneyland in Texas already.

My step-sister Kayla is getting married in the first week of April and I got a couple days off from work approved and booked my flight home. Its still two months away but its better than the three months I have left before I move back home.

I wish money weren't an issue and I could just fly home next week to see everyone.
Such is the price you pay for moving away I guess,

Miss you my dearest friends and family <3

Monday, February 8, 2010

Love in the Hundred Acre Wood

So Wednesday, when I said I was working in the UK with Pooh and Tigger, I didn't end up doing that. They put me back in Future World. SO, yesterday I finally made my way there and I absolutely love it back there.

Basically, you meet Tigger and Winnie the Pooh in the back of this tiny toy store in the corner of the UK pavilion, so people hardly know its there and just happen to walk into the store, see a character attendant and a photographer, walk around the corner and BAM! there's Winnie the Pooh and Tigger too. They have it roped off so the attendant just lets one family in at a time and its amazing having the meet and greet set up like that because the families can take their time, which makes it fun for everyone and makes for great photo ops. A few more pluses of the location: its inside, they play the Mary Poppins soundtrack, and three or four times a day The British Invasion play Beatles covers right outside the exit doorway. Plus Pooh is adorable and Tigger is hilarious.

And the room, oh the room! I absolutely adore it. It has my DREAM library feel. Its amazing. I'll have to take pictures and post them. Ah, it wisks me into day dreams just thinking about it.

Additionally, on our big break during the day, Tigger's best friend said "I just wanted to let you know that you're a really good photographer. You were getting all kinds of really great candid shots and you were very helpful during the set. Thanks so much!". Aw shucks Tig. haha.

The day before, I also got a chance (5 hours) to work in Epcot's Character Spot. Boy is that place something else. Its cool because you wait in one queue for the fab 5 (Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald, and Goofy) but that also means that there is a constant line for every character the entire time the room is open. You can't take water breaks or stretch breaks or get this freaking camera off my neck breaks at all. Its consistently go go go until someone comes to take your post for a few minutes. I hurt my wrist pretty badly just taking so many pictures with that massive camera. I had to get a support brace at base at the end of the day and have been wearing it ever since. Its getting better but there are times where yesterday I would hold the camera a certain way and feel a shooting pain up the length of my forearm. Just thinking about it makes me hurt. Hopefully I won't be going back there for a while and I can recover.

Shortly, in other news, I've been here over a month now. Its a weird feeling. It feels like a week and a year at the same time. Working in Disney World on the college program feels like an alternate reality from the rest of the world. The rules of time and space bend continuously here. Never do I know what day of the week it is or understand why three in the morning feels like nine. This may not make sense but it feels like instead of there being time (in a general since, as a noun) to fill with things to do, I have this linear toe-to-heel list of events that progress time along. Time answers to events, not the other way around. haha. I love it and at the same time, its kind of scary in a Twilight Zone sort of way.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Character Training

On Sunday, I had my character training. It started out by me not checking the schedule that says where I am each day so instead of being at Animal Kingdom, I went to Epcot as usual haha. So I clocked in on time, but I was an hour late to the actual training. Turns out they were just piddling around so it wasn't a big deal at all. We got to train with seven characters and their best friends who had only been here for a week. It was nice that it was set up like that because it was less pressure for each of us. We set up in the stage area where Pocahontas' old show was in a big group. It was 4 photographers and Baloo, Big Al and Wendell from Country Bears Jamboree, Rafiki, Brer Bear, Launchpad McQuack from Tail Spin, Tigger, and Bolt. It was sooo fun. My first set was with Baloo, of course, because he's my absolute favorite. We danced a lot haha. Next was Bolt and let me tell you, he is one big puppy! He towers me. haha. He's absolutely adorable though and his fur is so very soft. After that I got to work with the country bears to see what its like to shoot two characters. It was definitely more challenging, especially since they are giant bears, but it was a ton of fun to watch them play. After that I worked with Launchpad for a bit and then moved on to Tigger who was very bouncy. I don't know how a tiger can have that much energy. It was wearing me out just watching him.

Over all it was a really fun time. Character shooting is so much more tiring than icon shooting. With icons, you pretty much stay in the same spot and just play with distance and portrait/landscape changes. With characters, youre constantly moving to make sure you get a shot of every little detail in the interaction. You move (run) from side to side and youre standing or squatting or on your knees completely with almost every interaction so you aren't looking down at a kid or getting the back of their head in each shot. Its exhausting. I think it also didn't help that there were no character attendants to work with that day so the Photopass people had to play both parts and make sure the lines were functioning and people had their autograph books out and to the right page, etc. Ive been told most character situations aren't that tiring because, well, there aren't 2 character lines to each photographer and we'll have attendants to help us out.

Today is my first on my own character shoot. I'm going to be in the UK in the World Showcase from 12:15 to 6:30 hanging out and shooting with Winnie the Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood. I'm pretty excited about it but there's a lot of details that I don't quite understand. Hopefully they'll be easy to pick up on and things will just come naturally.

Oh and also, I had my 30 day review on Monday with my manager Rachel. She was incredibly nice and helpful. I got quizzed on my guest service and photography knowledge and then we went over my pictures. She said she was thoroughly impressed with how well I'm doing and that I have a "natural talent for composition". Also that she didn't expect me, as a CP, to be doing this well. Its not hard when you like your job. Speaking of, last night was my first time in the World Showcase and I got to work on the bridge to the International Gateway and take pictures of Paris lit up ever so beautifully. It was awesome to take a picture of something new that I could actually move guests around to get a different looking shot. It was awesome, I love it there. My second to last family came up to get a picture and afterwards they were like "Wow, you're awfully peppy for this time of night!". hahah. I just said "Well, I'm really happy to be here!" and she said "You gotta love Disney World!". And then we high fived. haha.

Yep, you gotta love Disney World.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cute Moments

I can't believe I didn't put these up yet.

Last week I was at the entrance in the late morning and this little girl, about 7, and her mom were getting situated to take a picture but were waiting on the dad to get a stroller. While waiting, the girl said "Oh, your name is Marina. Do you speak spanish?" and I said no and she started teaching me spanish words for some of the stuff around me or some things I may need to know when taking guests pictures. It was very sweet. Dad shows up, we take a bunch of pictures, I give them their card, say adios, and they leave. After walking about 30 feet, the girl starts yelling "Oh no! I almost forgot! Mom, wait!!!" and she comes running back over to me and she says "MARINA! Don't forget! When the fireworks start, make sure you have your BEST wish picked out, okay? I'll use my wish for you!!". I could have cried, it was the most adorable amazing thing ever.

Then a few days ago, I'm working entrance again and this elderly man walked up to me. At the entrance of Epcot, we have a huge sculpture called Leave A Legacy. Its a discontinued service but you used to be able to buy a little inch x inch plate with your picture on it to be put on the sculpture so in the years to come you could see what you looked like and remember that trip. One of the sections of the sculpture was covered with a construction tent. The man came up to me and said "Is there something wrong with that section? My wife's legacy is there and she passed away last month. I'd really like to see her." I didn't know what they were doing to it so I walked him in the direction of Guest Relations to see if they could help him out. He said thanks and went in and I walked back to the entrance to finish my assignment there. I finished out the rest of the day in other places in the park and my closing assignment was at the entrance again hours later. Who should come walking up but that man and he said "There was a crack in the foundation of that section and they moved her picture front and center inside the building so I could still see her. She's very well taken care of here and I feel very well taken care of by you. Thank you sweetheart. I'll be sure to visit you the next time I visit my wife's legacy as you're a part of it now."



So I have one and a half points now because I got sick and had to call in to work today and leave early yesterday. I haven't been sleeping at all so I'm having a hard time getting better and I really just end up feeling worse, which makes me sleep even worse. Its a terrible cycle. I think I've definitely been overdoing it here. I work all day in the sun then I end up staying out until 3 AM almost every night just hanging out and losing track of time. I need better time management skills.

I've been homesick a lot lately too. I can't help but feel like things are changing there, even if they aren't. Just the fact that I'm not there to see it, its hard for me to feel like I'm a part of anything there. I know I'm looking too much into it, so I'm trying to curb that as much as I can and just let things naturally go the way they will and hope that we'll come together in the end.

I've been here two and a half weeks and it feels like months already. I have zero sense of time. The day before yesterday (Sunday) I thought it was Tuesday until 6 PM. hahah.

I was night trained/view trained the other day and I really like the night shifts. They're easier because you're on a tripod and you only take one pose instead of at least three. Its difficult though because you have to constantly yell "Okay, everyone stay veryyyy still! Super still! Here we go, 1 2 3, very still!" because if they move, they look like ghosts with the one and a half second shutter speed. We also got the D90s yesterday and they are amazing. After every picture I would say under my breath "MAN that's a good picture". haha. Like every time. They boost your confidence as a photographer haha. I love it.

Now I'm going to watch Elvis movies super loudly because none of my roommates are home. <3

Monday, January 18, 2010


A couple things:
One: I was sitting on a ledge against the tank glass in the Seas pavilion in Epcot (aka the aquarium) minding my own business and fiddling with my camera when I happened to slightly turn to look into the tank as a massive and playful dolphin swam ridiculously close to the glass. Hilariously and unfortunately, I screamed and threw my hands in the air... and I broke the screen on my camera. Yeahhhh the one I just bought 4 months ago. BUT, I took it to the Geek Squad at Best Buy and luckily I had purchased a warranty when I bought the camera so they're shipping it off to Canon to be fixed. (phew). Sad news: it might take three weeks to get it back. So, no more POTDs for a while. hahah. Dang the bad luck.

Two: My best CP friend ever, Lauren, just got approved to move out of her laaaaaame apartment in Patterson and switch to Chatham. I'm so excited. Now, we don't have to worry about checking her in after 9 PM or making her leave at 1:00 AM. You think you won't be up until 1 AM but it's now 6:45 AM and I'm about to get ready for work and I was definitely up until 2. haha. But I'm a bad prioritizer.

Three: Yesterday I got some training on the new Nikon D90s which are the cameras Disney is switching to in the coming weeks. They're brand new and I'm so thankful for that. The D70s we've been using are four years old and reach their "average yearly usage" and therefor wear and tear every few weeks. On a slow day at the entrance, I take about 600 pictures. Apparently once I get character trained, it'll be in the thousands. With Photopass, our training takes place in stages. First, you learn to shoot the major icon in your park and only in the daytime. You do that for a good week, then you get night trained and view trained. Night shots are always on tripods and they have different settings and focus points. The view is what we call our camera center and its basically training on how to use the viewing system in the parks, add borders and signatures, and print pictures. I'm not scheduled for view training yet but the other day they were short a couple of people so myself and Michael (another CP Photopasser in Epcot) were quickly trained on/thrown in to the view to help out. The system is easy to use but there are a lot of prices you have to remember. After that, I'll be character trained and be able to shoot character meet and greets. That's going to be a ton of fun. We get to take a bunch of candid shots and our pictures can be more creative. OH and another thing: all of the pictures that Photopass Photographers take get sent to a Quality Assurance team who look them over and make sure they turned out right before the guests can view them. There's an option on pictures to add tags and whatnot and two of my photos yesterday got tagged as especially good. Someone actually took the extra time to open my thumbnail and put in a tag to say I did a good job... twice. It was awesome.

I think thats it for now. Hopefully today goes by quickly and easily as I, probably mistakenly, got four hours of sleep. haha.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Real Work

Yesterday was my first day out of training and into real Cast Memberness. I worked all around Spaceship Earth all by myself. I think overall, I'm pretty darn good at my job. haha. Just sayin.

At Disney, they'll tell you that for every bad experience a guest has, it takes 3 good experiences to just bring them back to neutral so its very important that every single guest be treated special and with courtesy and efficiency. Yesterday I was stationed at the entrance/exit of the park for the beginning of my shift and the end of my shift. Since most people are either in a rush to get in or are exhausted and just want to go home, not many people stop for pictures, so most of my time is spent saying "Good morning! Welcome to Epcot!" or "Thanks so much for coming guys. I hope we see you again soon!". I would say roughly 1 in 4 guests that I say good morning to automatically say "No thanks, we're not interested". haha. Its like uhh okay, I was just saying good morning... and I'm not selling anything. Photopass is a complimentary service, but alright. Of course, I don't say that. I just say "Okay, have a great time in there! You'll just love it!" hahah. Its not until the middle of the morning where you actually have time to explain to people what Photopass is. And multiple times, guests would stand right next to me, take a picture of their spouse, then switch. I would just kinda pop in and say "I could take a picture of the two of you together if you'd like" and they say "No thanks" and then continue to struggle with getting Myspace style pictures with the entire Spaceship Earth in the background. I then have to continue with "We can take pictures with your camera" then all the sudden they're rushing at me with their cameras saying "Oh that would be wonderful! Could you really do that? Thats great, thanks!". Almost always, they hand me their camera and say "Its the big silver button on top". hahaha.

Aside from the skeptics, its a fun job. I'm really enjoying it. Especially when girls show up in Princess dresses and I get to ask them if they've met the Princesses yet, or when boys show up with light sabers or swords and they almost always duel as soon as you pick up the camera. The best part is when kids don't want to be in the picture until I tell them Tinkerbell put pixie dust in my camera and it takes magical pictures today. Then they light up "MAGIC?!?". Its the cutest thing. They have so much fun setting up the magic shots, especially boys. You tell a five year old boy to make his best grossed out face on the count of three and his face starts contorting on "one". I love it. I would say almost half the time that I'm taking pictures, I have a hand on the camera and a hand over my heart. I freaking love this place. haha.

Today is my first real day off. I'm going back to Epcot (yes on my day off because I love it) to walk around with Nick and Chip as they drink around the world. For those of you who don't know, drinking around the world is where you get an alcoholic drink in every country in the World Showcase. That's 11 drinks. And over $100. haha. Its quite the challenge, which is why I am not participating, only supporting. haha. Hopefully I can make it through most of the day. My body is definitely not used to standing up for almost 8 hours straight every day. My legs ache every time I move them. It also doesn't help that our camera equipment weighs about 15 lbs that slowly, after hours and hours, starts to feel like 30 lbs. Our trainer said that eventually we'll build muscles and it won't phase us any more but as for right now, I'm exhausted and in pain. haha. Alcohol is greatly needed.

Pictures: Back posts 6-13

January 6, 2010. POTD 6/365: Ryan beaming at the Christmas tree in Epcot. Our first night in the parks.

January 7, 2010. POTD 7/365: Celebration. Antique car in front of Celebration Hotel.

January 8, 2010. POTD 8/365: Chip and Nick on Main Street USA

Note: For January 9-13th, I was a bad photographer/busy CPer and didn't take any pictures, so I'm borrowing from my first few days here to fill in the blanks. From now on, I'll try my darndest to get a picture each day.

January 9, 2010: POTD 9/365: Celebration. Looking over the lake. 

January 10, 2010. POTD 10/365: Celebration. Looking out on the lake.

January 11, 2010: POTD 11/365: Lauren at Downtown Disney. From our first night here.

January 12, 2010: POTD 12/365: Wishes.

January 13, 2010. POTD 13/365: Main Street Christmas Tree

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pictures: Back posts 1-5

January 1, 2010. POTD 1/365: Rural Texas.

January 2, 2010. POTD 2/365: Somewhere in Mississippi. My sister and I with the Colonel.

January 3, 2010. POTD 3/365: Entrance to the Birmingham Museum of Art. Birmingham, Alabama.

January 4, 2010. POTD 4/365: First site of Florida!

January 5, 2010. POTD 5/365: Downtown Disney. Characters in Flight hot air balloon.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Traditions and Training Day 1

I'm not sure if they always split it or if ours was just a large group, but our arrival date was split into two traditions classes. One at 6:45 AM and one at 12:45 PM. I was assigned to the 6:45 AM one, which was awful because I had to wake up ridiculously early, but it was amazing because you get your company ID there which allows you to get into the parks! I won't talk much about traditions because there are a couple of fun surprises and it'll ruin it if you know about them. haha. Traditions is about 4 hours long, maybe a bit longer depending on who you have so expect to be there a while. And you do walk around so don't wear heels unless youre comfortable walking for an hour in them.

After traditions, I went to Magic Kingdom with a TON of people and pretty much had the best time ever. It was amazing. Chip and I have never seen Wishes so we picked MK for the park that day so we could watch them. Low and behold, it was crazy foggy and you could see maybe 4 or 5 sets of fireworks. The rest of the show looked like the castle was under attack. haha. It was quite hilarious/depressing.

Fireworks behind Cinderella's Castle... and a lot of fog

Training Day 1
I had to take a bus to Animal Kingdom's wardrobe department to get my costume before we started training. There was no one to meet us there so I, and another equally clueless photopasser Madison, just walked around hoping to find someone to direct us to something. We eventually ran into Alexis, who is also photopass, fully decked out in her costume. She showed us where everything was and we had to try on about 5 sizes each. They are just awful costumes. haha. Some people get silly ones and I'd much rather have a silly one then what I have. Oh well, I'll learn to love it I hope. I do get a safari hat, which if you pull the strings right, can look like a cowboy hat. That makes me feel better haha. 

After meeting our trainers and other photopassers 45 minutes late (oops), we drove to the Disney Entertainment offices where we sat in a conference room for our first 8 hour day. We watched a powerpoint presentation detailing the aspects of our service and the parts of our cameras. It wasn't until the last hour when we actually got to use cameras. We were still in the conference room so it was just pictures of each other. It seems relatively simple. We get our cameras in a million parts and we have to put them together, reset all the settings, then adjust those settings to what we need for our area that day. After that, besides manual zoom, they stay just as they are for that segment of the day. We'll work 3-4 hours, then get a break, then get a new assignment to work a different location in the park, where we'll adjust the settings again.  On us we have: a camera, extra batteries, a neck strap, a flash, extra batteries, a PDA, a PDA sleeve, rain gear, Photopass cards, and maps. At all times. Our trainer said that our role is to be a park information center...who also happens to take photos. He said that because we're almost always in the middle of the street, that guests who are lost or have a question, will come right at us because we're the first Cast Member that they see, so we need to know not only our park front to back, but other parks, as well as the times of major events in other parks, such as Wishes or Fantasmic. We get handy little Times Guide books for that, thank goodness.

I don't know that I mentioned before, I'm working in Epcottttt
Its my favorite park of all time, btw. haha. I'm very happy with Disney's placement decision. <3

So in 25 minutes, I'm meeting a fellow photopasser outside of Chatham to carpool to our day 2 of training. Half classroom and half park I believe! Yesterday the weather was just awful. It sleeted all day. Today looks a bit better but I haven't been out there yet. Hopefully its nicer. haha.  

Oh and we found out the statistics. Out of 7,000 CPs here for the Spring 2010 season... there are 60 Photopass Photographer CPs. I feel super super SUPER lucky. Like REALLY lucky. <3 

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Okay, sooo much has happened in the last day. haha.

Firstly - Check-In:
My roommates and I met up at Vista Way at 7:20 am. There were about 20 kids already there and we had to stand under the awning of the security tent at the apartment gate until 8:00. Between 7:20 and 8:00, I would say 20 or 30 more people showed up, so I wouldn't get there as early as 7:20. I would say 7:50. At 8:00, they walked us into the complex. The line forms at the Check-In building, so as long as you are in the group they walk in, and you walk quickly, you can be first in line without being first to show up at the crack of dawn. The website says Check-In starts at 9:00 but it definitely starts at 8:00.

When we got to the Check-In building, they wrote our names on a nametag and gave us a purple booklet and some forms to fill out. You curl around the outside of the que until you get to some tables where you can fill it all out. After you fill it out, you go inside the building where you get your apartment assignment, your apartment keys, and take your apartment ID picture/get your card.

Our 6th roommate had to cancel her CP last minute so we had 5 girls (We'll miss you Damaris!!). Assuming we would be placed with a random 6th roommate, we went ahead through the check-in process until we were stopped. The guy directing people to each assignment station told us that a randomly placed 6th girl would feel too awkward since we already "know each other" and therefor we would either have to find a 6th girl on our own or split up before he would let us get our apartment assignments. SO, we went outside and literally asked every single girl who walked through the door if she a) had a roommate and b) was over 21. There was ONE. An hour and a half later. It was the WORST! But her name is Tonisha and she's super chill and I think we really lucked out in finding her. This same exact thing happened to some friends of mine a bit later and they decided to split up. So, from what I remember I've always read that if you get to check-in early and you're all in line together that you'll be pretty much placed together no problem. That is no longer the case. I would still show up early and stand in line together and hope for the best, but I think people were lucky if they ended up with suitemates they wanted in addition to their roommate.

Also another note, if you have a car you'll need your license, your insurance with YOUR name on the paper, and your registration. A bunch of people didn't have their registration so don't forget it.

The final little station at Check-In is to get stickers and directions for the next two days. You have a trip to casting and a housing meeting set up at specific times and you have to take a specific bus all together that leave from the Chatham and Vista Way bus stops at your designated time.

The trip to casting is where you find out your work location, turn in your on-boarding paper work, sign forms for your background check, get fingerprinted, receive a TON of papers, and get your training schedule. This whole process is a giant maze through the building and it takes from an hour to two hours. I would bet on two hours just in case.

The housing event was split into two groups. Some people went yesterday in the afternoon and some people are going this morning. The housing meeting was held at the Commons which is down the street from Patterson and Chatham. Its walking distance but plan a good 10 or 15 minutes to get there. The meeting is really a presentation/slideshow and it takes an hour and a half or so.

After the housing meeting, we had a roommate meeting between the girls that I live with to decide what groceries are communal, who cleans what when, etc. I got a flat tire so I missed the meeting, haha, but I was filled in.

After that, I went to Robert and Ryan's apartment for a few minutes and then they took me out to Epcot and bought me dinner. It was so very sweet and I had such a great time. I saw Illuminations, the nighttime fireworks/water/laser/fire show, and it was SO impressive. Ryan cried 3 times while we were there, haha. I said "ooh look!" about 30 times and each time they were like "we know, Marina, we've seen it.... but isn't it AWESOME?!". hahah. We met up with Stefi to watch Illuminations and she was very nice <3. After we left Epcot, we went back to their apartment and talked and chilled and it was the best ending to such a stressful day.

Take home point: Check-In day is BUSY, especially if your casting trip and housing meeting are in the same day. It will be stressful, just keep breathing and remember how excited you are, not how stressed you are. Its all in what you make it.

Both of my things were yesterday so aside from taking my family to the airport in hour, I have a free day today! Lauren, Robert, Ryan, Stefi, and myself are going to drive around Celebration for a while. I think we're going to stop in a pub/grill thing and watch part of the Texas - Bama game, then go to MK to watch Wishes, which I've also never seen before. <3 <3 <3

SO excited. Everything is beautiful here and so much fun. I can't wait for the rest of you to get here. To those at home - I miss you so terribly and I hope you visit soon!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Welcome to Orlando!

I'm hereeeeee!!!!

We decided to come a day early and got into Orlando at 11:00 PM last night. After an hour of driving around looking at stuff/looking for a hotel, we ended up at Holiday Inn Sunspree which is where we (+ half of the incoming CPs) are staying tonight for our pre-check in meet ups. This hotel is beautiful. Its got touches of theme (like everything in this town) and is super comfortable with very nice staff. Plus, its a Disney partner hotel so we get a 24 hour Disney World channel. hahah. 

I met up with Lauren around midnight and we headed to Waffle House for some middle-of-the-night dinner where we ended up high fiving so loudly that a silence fell on the restaurant. hahaha. It was great to see her and I'm glad she's the first person I ran into in Florida. <3

Summer, my roommate, just got into town and we met briefly before her and her boyfriend Miles headed to IKEA. We're meeting our apartment mates for dinner tonight at 6, then afterwards we're heading to Downtown Disney to meet up with all the other January 6th arrivals.

As for now, my sister and Adrienne took my car to explore the free side of Orlando, specifically the M&M World or something like that, so my mom and I are walking around the neighborhood exploring and window shopping. Its a bit cold here, like 42 degrees, but none the less, I'm in Orlando!!

Pictures to come later :)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Halfway there

I'm in Birmingham! I've been here since this afternoon hanging out with my family and trying to regain my health. Oh yeah, turns out after standing outside in the cold wet air over New Years Eve, I got super sick. So I've been pretty much dying in the two days we've been driving here. I feel like I have pneumonia. I mean, I don't, because I've only been sick for two days but goodNESS I feel awful.

And I miss my lovely, and my puppies. I cried for like 30 minutes when I left home. I hadn't really thought about how it would apply to me but boy am I going to get homesick in Disney. I feel like my dang heart was ripped out of my chest when I left. and I was the one leaving! It was so hard. This whole internship means so much to me. The opportunity and the fact that I'm actually pursueing something haha. There's no turning back but its definitely difficult to push forward and I haven't even started yet.

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

On another note, I've never done a 365 project, so I figured this would be a good time to start. For those who don't know, its where you take and post one picture for every day of the year. Its primarily to improve your photographic creativity but it also serves as an amazing diary of the year. My laptop isn't picking up internet so I can't load my pictures yet. I'll just have to back-post with my picture-of-the-day for my traveling days to Orlando. Expect those soon. <3

I can't believe that this time in 3 days, I'll be unable to sleep and so terribly excited because the next morning I'll be checking in to my apartment and life for the next four months! gahhhh. Emotional overload. haha. I feel amazing.