"Fantasia, to me is a whole new opportunity. For my medium it opens up unlimited possibilities." -Walt Disney

I'm back! And right about now I feel like a drowned rat, or I guess it would be a mouse ;) A thunderstorm blew in tonight and I was outside. Needless to say, I got a little soaked...
This last week I've been working Fantasmic non-stop. What does that mean? Well it means all of my shifts are from 6:30 pm (18:30) to 12:30 am (00:30). Yep, so they're at night, and a fair bit of the shift takes place AFTER the park has officially begun closing. Rather than go into detail about every day this week, I'm just going to talk a little bit about what a Fantasmic shift is like from the Merchandise side of things, and maybe I'll regale you with some of the more interesting stories!
Well, first things first, as I said, a Fantasmic shift goes from 6:30 at night to 12:30 in the morning. So it's relatively short, as shifts go. I mean, I've worked 10- and 12-hour shifts at Rockin' Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. Six hours is nothing. Fantasmic, either you like it or you don't. I've fallen into the category of liking it and here's why. Everything has to happen on a time schedule. We're working around two shows, one at 9 PM and one at 10:30. In the middle of that, the park officially "closes", i.e. we start to shut down everything and gesture people towards the exit, at 10 PM. So we have a very small window to sell as much glow stuff as we can. Usually by the time you've counted your stock and initial funds, you get out onto the streets around 7:15, 7:30. At this point, they begin to let guests into the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater to begin seating for the 9:00 showing. 
There are three different kinds of positions that the average Fantasmic merchandise cast member can be assigned to: a cart, one of the theater kiosks, or "necklace", which means you put on an apron and load as much stuff into your pockets as you can. I've been on a cart and I've done "necklace" in this week. The carts are okay, but the real fun is necklace! Those aprons can take A LOT of stuff. I'm talking upwards of twenty swords, a bunch of spinners, and then you hang as many light-up necklaces and Mickey ears off your arms as you can. It usually takes another person to help you put on your apron (sometimes two). Standing there with your arms decked out, being tied into your apron, I imagine it's just a small taste of what astronauts feel like when preparing for a space walk. Being on necklace for a night is a bit like being pregnant in that you weigh twice as much and you can't see your toes. By the end of the night, if your back doesn't ache a bit you're not doing it right.
Necklace is nice because you really have an incentive to sell items. The more you sell, the less you have to carry. Everybody wins! We walk around up and down the stairs in the theater until the first show goes. By then, I'm usually out of stock (those swords go fast!). During the show you re-stock and then head on back out for when the first group of guests leave. Lather, rise, repeat for the second show and you have a basic Fantasmic necklace experience. Oh, did I mention they play awesome Disneymania songs. My favorite to sing and dance along to is "Part of Your World". Sure it's done by Miley Cyrus, but it's so applicable and my shenanigans never fail to bring a smile to guests' faces. =)
On cart, things are a bit different. If you get a Theater cart, then your timetable is pretty much the same as the necklace people. But you could also get a cart that is stationed around the park. There are three locations, Sunset Boulevard, "HoJo" (aka, Hollywood Blvd Junction), and Main Entrance. The carts stay out, selling as much as they can, and then they come back in at set times, based on how the park typically empties (so Main Entrance is always the last one in since everybody has to leave that way).
Everybody who works at Fantasmic has to wear at least one item of "glow" (i.e. the merchandise!). Here is a photo of me with my Sunset Blvd cart...
It's part of "Merchantaining" and all that fun stuff. Basically it means that I HAVE TO play with the glowing light up Mickey Sorcerer Sword. It's what I get paid for! Actually it's rather interesting how much you sell of a particular item as soon as you start playing with it. Seriously, you let it sit there, you won't sell any. But if you twirl the sword around in a few figure-eights and suddenly it's amazing! Moral of the story, play with the toys. And switch it up too! Tonight I was giving high-fives with a glowing, Michael Jackson-style white glove. The night before I was wearing blue, flashing monster eyes on my head in honor of the Monsters U Homecoming party taking place at the nose (aka, the Sorcerer Mickey Hat).

In the end, the most important part about the Fantasmic shift is just to have fun. It's even more important than in the other shifts because it's late, people are tired, and let's be honest, parents hate the stuff that you're selling. But if you're smiling and dancing funny and just having a good time, then your good mood is infectious. I can't tell you how many people I've seen walk towards me with a tired, angry, annoyed, pouty face, and suddenly grin at some goofy thing I'm doing. It can turn a day around, I swear, and it sends the guests home with a good feeling at the end of the day. Because for the majority of the guests who attend Fantasmic, us cast members who work there are the last they'll see for the night and we're responsible for making sure they go back to their homes or resorts with big smiles on their faces. You want to wrap-up their day at Hollywood Studios on a high note and really make sure that from the moment they step into the park to the moment they leave, they get the full Disney Experience.
So I hope I've given you a good idea of what it's like working Fantasmic. Don't worry about me, I'll dry out.

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