"We allow no geniuses around our Studio." -Walt Disney

Today was my first day of training in Hollywood Studios, a little program they call "Merchandise Tier 1". Basically it involved an introduction to the park, as well as each of the three places I will be working (Rock'n Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Fantasmic carts). First I got to wear what they refer to as the "High End Merchandise" costume. I don't have any pictures of myself in it because I was a little too excited to think of that sort of thing, but basically there were a lot of red with white polka-dots involved and a VERY interesting green skirt. One thing to know about costumes...women wear about two or three sizes larger than their street clothes. So I'm a size eight dress, but I wore a 14 skirt and a 10 blouse. Made things a little difficult, especially because seemingly every other girl has the same sizes as me. =P
So you've all heard of the tunnels under the Magic Kingdom for cast members to use to get from place to place? Keeps people in princess costumes out of Adventureland and vice versa. Well they don't have a system like that at Hollywood Studios. Rather, they have a whole lot of "backstage" area, which is accessed by tons of little Cast Member Only doors and passages, which I have begun to refer to as "Secret squirrel holes". Doesn't make any sense, but seriously, it's so easy to get lost back there. No signs, just your own basic knowledge of the park (which we call "On Stage") and maybe you can see some big landmarks along the way. Luckily I didn't have to navigate by myself most of the day.
Training was fun. My trainer was a "Disney Legend", Don Rogers. Pretty cool! It was Star Wars Weekend, of course, the second to last one of the year. I got in at 10 and by the time I was dressed and we were ready to get going, the 11 o'clock Star Wars parade was getting set to go. Because Don was such an awesome guy, and because he QUICKLY learned how big a Star Wars fan I am (it was a little obvious with how much my nerd was showing), he took me around back to see all the performers preparing for the parade. I got to see Shaak Ti, Kit Fisto, Mace Windu, Ahsoka Tano, Darth Maul, Darth Revan, Vader, Chewbacca, you name it! I also got a brief glimpse of Sam Witwer, who voiced Darth Maul for the Star Wars: Clone Wars show, and is the vampire Aidan on "Being Human". Let me just say, it's SO WEIRD to see someone in person when you're used to seeing them on television. Seriously. I also saw Warwick Davis (Ewok and Professor Flitwick) and the voice of Admiral Ackbar ("It's a Trap!"), Tim Rose.
Today was overall just a great introduction. I traded a bunch of pins and got to learn my way around. I even helped find a little boy who'd ran off from his grandmother. I got to meet tons of people who I'm going to work with over the next few months and I feel a little better now, at least having some idea of how things are going to roll. I also got these...
...my "Earning my Ears" ribbon and my pin-trading lanyard. Ignore the "I <3 Food and Beverage" pin. Merchandise is better anyways =P I had a great time and I'll let you know how the rest of my training goes!

"I never called my work an 'art' It's part of show business, the business of building entertainment." -Walt Disney

After half a week of twiddling my thumbs and watching my roommate's impressive DVD collection, I've finally started. I'm sure in a few weeks it will sound crazy, but I just really want to get the ball rolling, to get to work! Blasphemy, I know.
This morning was an eaaarllyyyy morning. And you have to groan it out like that. A nice and early five AM wake-up call so that I could attend Disney Traditions. What is Traditions? Well, it's a training course. Not only do you learn about the history of the company, but you also learn about their standard of business and some basic legal dos and don'ts. Then you get into what they refer to as "The Four Keys" of Disney. They are a basic service model, designed to provide castmembers with basic tenets to aid their on-the-job decision-making process. They are:
I'll give you the short version, but basically Disney asked it's guests what they cared about most and what they liked the most about the Disney Experience and these are the four basics that they came up with. After we were introduced to these four keys, we were then taken to the Magic Kingdom, to see these four keys in action. THIS was the cool part. Unfortunately I have no pictures because most of the day I was in an area that was considered "backstage" and you DO NOT take photos of backstage. EVER. It's a fire-able offence and you know why? Because of that third key, Show. Nobody wants to be that guy/girl who crushes the hopes and dreams of every five-year old.
So we went down to the Utilidor, actually the FIRST floor of the Magic Kingdom. "Onstage", the park we all know and love, is actually not at ground level. Go figure. Being down there was pretty cool, and believe it or not, if you had even a semi-decent understanding of the layout up above, you could keep track of where you were below ground. We passed right under Cinderella castle and Ariel said hello to us. We went in around Fantasyland and came out at Main Street, U.S.A. It didn't seem all the far, but then I suppose you don't have to wind around all those twisty pathways like you do in the park.
After we came back to the classroom, they went over the keys in more detail and talked a bit about The Green Standard (Disney is as sustainability conscious as Dickinson, go figure) and a few of their other programs. Then we had a special visitor, Mickey Mouse!
Up until that point, everyone in the room had begun to resemble the bored college students in the middle of their three hour lecture. But as soon as Mickey Mouse stepped through the door, it was like everyone had reverted to five. And he brought some really cool stuff with him...
Ta-Dah! Yup, so it's official. I've got the nametag and the awesome ID badge that lets me play in the parks for free and get super cool discounts at a bunch of places nearby. Me and one of the girls from my group this morning decided to try out that free-admission perk and went back to Magic Kingdom. I will say, it's very different going to the park with a friend, or a peer at least, versus your family. We had so much fun and got to go on a lot of things. And the park was not nearly as crowded as I'm used to it being, going in June and July. Word of advice, if you can go in May, do it! Same stuff, less people. Not a single Fastpass kiosk was sold out and I could actually show up at a show five minutes to and be able to see the show without being rammed into by strollers and people in scooters. WAY BETTER.
So my next stop is Hollywood Studios tomorrow where I will be training for eight and a half hours in...well I'm not really sure. BUT I have to go to Costuming, so maybe it will be some more fun stuff.