1/17/2018

The Magical World of Strollers

The second most popular question I get about my DCP experience, following "how was Disney," is "what did you do?"

Oh, let me tell you. The technical name for my position was Magic Kingdom Park Arrival Merchandise. But because that's a mouthful, we just called it Magic Kingdom strollers.



Going into this position, I felt really nervous. I remember crying to my mom the night before I moved in because I had no idea what this job was or how I would like it. It appeared to be mostly outside, which concerned me to no end. The probability of being inside was the whole reason I chose merchandise!


However, I soon began to make friends with my coworkers. They became my family, and strollers then became my home for the next five months.


I still haven't answered the question, though. What did I do at my job?



Well, I mostly rented out strollers, wheelchairs, and ECVs (scooters). I also could work at two little gift shops on either side of the train station. Sometimes I would bring out strollers to families. Other times I would put ECVs back in the storage room. I could help people rent ECVs (which mostly meant telling guests that we were out). I might stand out in front of the train station during the end of the day and direct guests where to return their strollers but mostly tell guests how to get to the monorail.


My job involved a lot of diversity and movement that most merchandise locations didn't include. I liked how it kept me moving, changing, and talking. I always got my steps in for the day. It offered on stage positions with lots of guest interaction but also a few backstage positions which gave me a relief from constantly telling people where to find the restroom.




Outside to the left, by City Hall. 

That phrase is engraved on my tongue now. Naturally, we took a picture in front of the restrooms, as shown above.


My job also was perfectly positioned. I got to see almost every guest as they entered and again as they exited. From various positions, I had front row seats to the parades, fireworks, and atmosphere of the park. Watching "Boo to You" for the Halloween party never got old. Crowding around with my coworkers to catch "Happily Ever After" got more magical every time. I felt proud of how I memorized the rhythm and patterns of the fireworks.


The best part of my job, though, was my coworkers. They made me laugh off the hard days, cherish the good days, and wish my days at strollers was longer. We became a family unlike anything I've experienced before. I learned so much from my coworkers, especially the ones that I differed from in personality type. I got to be friends with wonderful people from around the world, and now I really want to travel to new countries and places. The strollers family showed me a bit more of what loyalty, community, and fun look like. I'm so glad we found each other!


My favorite moments of my program were at two in the morning. At the end of the day, after all the guest left the park, we went to get the strollers that guests left behind. All of the Lands (Fantasyland, Frontierland, etc) brought their abandoned strollers to the Hub (right in front of the castle). We simply went to the Hub to bring them back down Main Street and into the train station.


I would stroll down Main Street, which was finally still and peaceful. Ghosts of laughing children and busy moms lingered in front of the store fronts, but right then, it was only me and Main Street. The music still played, as if it was just for me. I saw details on the buildings that I missed in the crowds. I also saw a lot of strollers for me to bring back.


Then I got to the castle. Oh, that view never got old. There she was, tall and beautiful. As I circled the Hub getting strollers, I often got distracted looking at the castle. There wasn't a crowd of people around the castle trying to take selfies. The smoke from the fireworks cleared away. The chaos of Snapchat and Instagram and Facetime disappeared. It was just me and Cinderella's Castle.


Is it weird that I feel as if I know the castle a bit? As if she has a personality that only truly reveals itself after hours? Maybe this is too much of a Toy Story vibe, but nonetheless, I miss the castle more than I miss a lot of other things about Disney. I miss her sparkling lights and sense of wonder. I guess Cinderella's Castle is the flouting lights to my Rapunzel dream.


Those moments of strolling down Main Street and enjoying Cinderella's Castle with just myself and my coworkers were my favorite moments of the program. They made me wonder, laugh, reflect, and cry. They made the hard parts of my job fade away from the lights of my favorite place on earth.


So yeah, that's what I did. It wasn't always glamorous, but it was magical.

Princess Hannah

1/10/2018

"How Was Disney?"

After living in Disney for almost five months, I came home this week.
I already miss Disney.

People often ask me how I liked my experience at Disney. I'm never sure how to reply. How can I contain in one small-talk appropriate sentence how exciting and challenging and wonderful and lovely and hard and, well, magical my experience at Disney was? Where do I start? How can I finish?

I usually just reply with something simple, something like, "It was magical- everything and more."

In between each of those words, however, is a plethora of stories and moments. That sentence bursts at the seams with emotions and light and friendships. It is a true sentence, but it is much more.

If I could give a longer answer, though, it would go something like this:



It brought excitement into my life. 



I am a homebody. I didn't go away to college. I don't just love independence and adventure. My perfect afternoon involves cats, coffee, and Netflix.

Disney changed that. Suddenly, I lived on my own in a huge and adventurous world. Epcot was literally in my backyard. Animal Kingdom was within my reach on any day. I didn't have school or necessary engagements or pre-existing rhythms to tie me down.

I could do whatever I wanted.

So I learned how to fly.

Okay, so I didn't fly (much), but I did learn the art of spontaneity and adventure. I found joy in abandoning the systematic way of living and letting each day unfold with beauty.


It challenged me. 


Whereas the independence of Disney gave me lots of opportunities to have fun, it also presented some challenges. It was hard for me, a girl who lived with my parents most of my life, to do things like cook all of my meals, buy all of my groceries, and balance the craziness of life in a new city. I was thrown into an adult world- one with a very good escape place, though- Walt Disney World.


It showed me love.


I treasure the friendships that I made throughout the program. In a place where no one knows anyone else, no one knows what they're doing, and no one wants to be alone, friendships happened very quickly. Everywhere I went, I made friends and saw friends. It surprised me how often I'd run into someone I knew in a place as large as Disney World.

The deepest friendships that I made throughout the program made the whole experience magical. These friends made me laugh at 4:00 a.m. after getting off of a shift. They made the holidays away from home merry. They helped me understand what friendship really is.


It made me wonder. 


Disney made me wonder what different paths of my life would look like. It made me wonder at other people's stories. It gave me wonder for different cultures. Disney produced in me wonder at the grace of God and the faithfulness of the gospel. Disney made my heart wonder in joy at the bonds of family and friends.

With open eyes and a joyful heart, Disney taught me a way of wonder- both the questioning kind and the awe-inspired kind.


It made me work hard. 


In case you thought that the Disney College Program was a giant vacation, think again. We all work very hard. CPs get the worst and often the longest hours of any Cast Member. This means working long days into the wee hours of the morning, even on the holidays. A very typical shift for me started at 17:00 and ended at 2:00 (yes, we use military time).

The job itself wasn't always easy and fun, but it taught me how to genuinely care about my work and how it affected the guests. It taught me to put aside my personal problems for the sake of the guests.


It opened my eyes to magic.


Here's the part where I cry when typing out this post. Living in and working for Walt Disney World showed me magic. The magic of stories, love, togetherness, quality, imagination, drive, and a little bit of pixie dust.

Being able to call Magic Kingdom my home means the world to me. Being a small part of hundreds of thousands of vacations makes me smile! Working for Mickey Mouse will forever be one of my most magical experiences, one that I will treasure forever.



So, yes, Disney was magical- everything and more.

Princess Hannah

p.s.- many more Disney posts are to come. In fact, the whole month of January is dedicated to updating y'all on my Disney Adventure! Comment below anything you'd like to know more about. And thank you all for supporting me on this journey!

9/13/2017

Grace In Disney- The First Few Weeks


Once upon a time, in a land far away, a girl left her home and family to travel the countryside and move to the tallest castle in the land. She traveled over 800 miles, bringing with her everything she could, until she crossed into the happiest place on earth and found her new home. 

This is where our story begins. 



Yes, I do think that my life is a bit of a Disney story right now. I smile daily thinking about how I now live in and work for Walt Disney World! 

Let me take you with me on this journey. Come and see how the Disney Adventure has gone so far!!!

The Preparations:

The week prior to leaving for WDW was crazy! Not only did my family and I get back in town from Colorado three days before I had to leave for Disney, but suddenly, I faced too many "lasts." 

Last time with my kitty until next year.


Last time with my family until they visit.


Saying goodbye, even for a temporary time, was hard for me. Even when I was saying hello to a joyous journey!

The Journey:

It was... long. I drove for two days. For a girl who hadn't driven more than three hours at a time, 12 was a big step, but I did it!

With the help from many Chick-Fil-A stops and Emily P Freemen podcasts, of course. 


This sign greeted me at the finish line, letting me know that my journey had just begun. 


Mother/ Daughter Day:

My mom and I planned a fun weekend before I checked in. We began it with this little beauty- Mickey Mousse.  (How punny!)



Our first full day of fun began in the best possible way: TANGLED CHARACTER BREAKFAST. You heard me right. We ate at Trattoria Al Forno, which has a character dinning experience for breakfast. 

First, we gobbled up these delightful pastries. Can we talk about how cute this is? 


CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW CUTE THIS IS? 


Then we met Rapunzel...



Ariel...


Eric and FLYNN RYDER!!!


Then we resort hopped, meaning we gave ourselves a little tour of the Disney resorts. We looked at most of the deluxe resorts, including Fort Wilderness, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Contemporary, Boardwalk, Beach Club, and Yacht Club. Guys, Disney has some really cool resorts. 


But you really can't have a Disney day without just a peak at Magic Kingdom. Although we chose to not go to the parks to save money, I did pose in front of the train station, the very place that I now work. 

If you can't already tell, I love breakfast food. So our next adventure was perfectly perfect. We had this delightful spread over at the Grand Floridian. It truly was grand. 




Move in and casting: 

Five other girls and I met on Facebook and chose to room together. Even though we had a few bumps in the application process as Disney changed the process on us last minute, we ended up able to room together! It was an answer to prayers!



Then I went through casting, a fancy word for paperwork. I did get to see this pretty cool room, though. 


Training: 

Disney holds a cast member orientation called Traditions. Like most things Disney, it was magical. Yes, there were several long rule videos and such, but at the end of the day they gave us our NAMETAGS!!! 




FUN, FUN, FUN:

We had several days to have fun before work began. Unfortunately, we didn't have our passes to get into the WDW parks. This left us only the Dark Side- Universal Studios (a.k.a.- Harry Potter World).




We also celebrated Natalie Anne's birthday with some late night ice cream on the Boardwalk!



EXPLORING THE PARKS: 

Finally, we got our passes to get into the parks for free! Of course I went to Magic Kingdom first. I stepped inside and giggled. Smiled. Soaked in how this is my new home. 





Then Jenna and I hoped on over to Animal Kingdom to meet Thumper and Miss Bunny, a rare character meet and greet. 


The next day, Hannah (yes, there is another Hannah in our apartment) explored the wilderness of Animal Kingdom, including the immersive Pandora! (BTW, the two hour wait for the "Flight of Passage" was totally worth it.)




Next up, Epcot! Now is the perfect time to go to Epcot because it is Food and Wine Festival, where 40 food vending stations set up around the park offering unique and delicious options! Hannah and I tried fancy ravioli, scrumptious mac and cheese, and delectable chocolate lava cake. 






Hollywood Studios was the last park I explored. Jenna and I had a blast meeting characters! 











Can one go to Epcot during Food and Wine too many times? Jenna and I tried chocolate baklava and some creamy pasty thing. 





Also, we visited what is fondly called the "bubblegum wall," a perfect Instagram spot! 



 Work, Work (Angelica):

My life here isn't all fun and games. I am here to work. I am a merchandise cast member at Magic Kingdom's stroller location. This means that I rent out strollers, wheelchairs, and ECVs to guests. We also have a couple of small gift shops.

The first couple of weeks consisted of mainly training, both in the classroom and on location. Just recently I started working on my own, though!

Here's my costume:


And here's my location:



And that sums up my first few weeks here in Disney World! It's been magical, scary, exciting, and fun! 

Please update me with what's going on in your lives!!!! Also, if you have any questions about Disney, the college program, or what I'm doing, please comment below! I'll be sure to answer them in future posts!

Princess Hannah