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.