Wednesday, December 16, 2009

To see Dick

I (Katie) am writing this blog with out Emily's permission. (Yes, Emily I do feel that I need your permission or approval for a blog idea or a blog in general haha).

So this past summer, when we drove to Canada to see Coldplay, we noticed that Buffalo, York was much closer than we thought. Now this is important because one of my good friends that I meet in Disney lives there. We haven't had the opportunity to see each outside of Disney since we meet. So this gave me an idea. Over winter break, Emily and I should drive up to New York to see him! (Actually Emily would be doing most of the driving because she criticises everything I do when I drive.)
I brought this idea up to Emily today, and she shot me down. She said that there is nothing to do in Buffalo, that it was like Pittsburgh- but worse. Yes those were her words.

So, in order to prove her wrong, because that is what we do. I did some research and found gems of Buffalo.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin Martin House
Apparently this is some house that was built by Frank Lloyd Wright, and it has cool stuff like ceilings and stuff and its like 10,000 feet long. And you have to have reservations. I would say this is a must see.

Niagara Falls State Park
I have always wanted to go to Niagara Falls!!! Wait, Emily and I have both been there many times. But never in Winter!! What could be more fun than riding the Maid of the Mist in freezing temps! I don't think I could think of anything else. (Wait I was wrong, when doing some research today, I found some water cave in PA that we could go see. I don't think that you could top Emily and I fording cave rivers in freezing water, that is what I call fun!!)

3. Buffalo City Hall
O my God! I have always wanted to go see the City Hall in Buffalo! City Halls are so much fun. If I could only tell you the amount of cities halls that I have been too......that would be maybe one...maybe. But the website I am on does that that you can see Lake Erie from the 28th floor! I have always wanted to see Lake Erie!! hmm damn.. I have see that too....

Buffalo Zoological Gardens
All I am going to say about this is that it is the oldest Zoo in the United States! Come on Emily! Oldest Zoo in the US!! What could be cooler than to add that to our list of destinations!!!

5. My Friend Dick!
The main reason to go to Buffalo! I would put that I heart Dick- but I have a feeling that would be taken out of context times like ten, so I won't. Dick is pretty cool. Although since he is from Buffalo he is a Bills fan..and he hates the Steelers. But he has a lot of good qualities too! Like he would fight me when we would party in Orlando. I would always lose of course. But I would fight a good fight.

Now after reading all these amazing gems of Buffalo, I need your help in convincing Emily to drive with me up there. So if you would like to see us visit these places--let Emily know! Also if you know of locations around Buffalo or in Buffalo that you want us to visit--let Emily know!!!!!

Thanks for your time! Good luck on finals if you have them!!!!


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Forks, Washington

I remember distinctly two summers ago, sitting in my little room in attic of my host parents' house in Dublin, Ireland, browsing through Facebook bumper stickers out of boredom. Much to my dismay, I had no idea what half of them meant, so there was no amusement there, and on top of that some of them were disturbing to say the least. What would you think when you saw a picture of a pale guy with the words: 'I'd let Edward Cullen bite me,' written above the picture?

After several minutes of looking at the bumper stickers flash in front of me as I scrolled through them, I noticed that my friend Christie was signed online and immediately sent her a message: Who the hell is Edward Cullen and why does everyone want him to bite them?! She was just as disturbed as I was immediately, both thinking we had missed some psychotic cult that had emerged from who-knows-where. We were sort of right about that part, actually.

Finally, Christie copied and pasted an entry from Wikipedia:

Edward Cullen
( Edward Anthony Masen) is a fictional character from Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. He features in the books Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn, as well as the Twilight film, and the as yet unfinished novel Midnight Sun - a re-telling of the events of Twilight from Edward's perspective. Edward is a vampire who... (I deleted the rest so that nobody can blame me for ruining the end of the series. You can search Wikipedia if you want to read on.)

Ah...okay, so he at least wasn't real and biting people, but there was definitely a cult forming. Reading the entire entry, I was determined to never read these book, which I decided were not worth my time and were probably the most mindless, melodramatic teenage soap opera stories ever written. This declaration to avoid all things Twilight was completely successful -- until about two weeks ago.

I'm now almost done with the fourth book and seen both of the movies that have been released. It's kind of ridiculous how absorbed I've become in all of this. Half of my friends are thrilled I've joined there side, the other half are completely disgusted with my choices (My choices were mostly to read...that's all I can say back).

After seeing the second movie and having the mental images of Edward and Jacob going through my mind, I've decided that Forks, Washington is the place to be. (Katie was among the trilled group of friends.) After researching the area, it looks like a really rustic and the scenery looks gorgeous...not to mention, if some shirtless guy looking like Taylor Lautner comes walking out of the forest at any given time, who wouldn't want to go there?

Not to mention Edward. Sigh. Team Edward all the way.

For anyone in Forks, we'll be seeing you sometime this summer. Let us know of any good places to grab something to eat or stay.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

With a little help from the Mouse

Many of our blogs up until this point have been from the travelers’ point of view and honestly why wouldn’t they be, this is in fact a blog about 2 people planning a cross country road trip. Although, yesterday while I was sitting in my Film and Philosophy class, my mind began to wander from whatever mind draining topic we were discussing. (If you know me at all, you know how little my attention span really is. In fact, just yesterday I was on the phone with Emily, and she stated how much she hates being on the phone with me because of my low attention span). But anyways back to the point….

So I was sitting in class thinking about this blog and what our plans were for the summer, and being a hospitality management major I began to think about the things that I would like to expect service wise out of this trip. But that was shot down quickly in my mind when I remembered that this was a very low budget trip. Example a Motel 6 will be considers luxury. Our bed will be the back seat of my Scion XD. If we are lucky we will get to spend the night at a campsite that way we can at least shower.

As I was thinking about all of this, levels of service and such. I thought about Disney. Now if you guys don’t know this, I work for Disney. I did the College Program in the spring of 2007 and stayed seasonal up until this August, I am now a Campus Rep., in this position I try to get more people to go down and work for the mouse. I thought that I would share some of the “magical” situations that I encountered in my few years with the company.

My program started on January 15, 2007. When I first moved to the Kissimmee area, I am not going to lie, I was scared to death and all that I wanted to do was come home. Here I was, fresh out of my first semester in college and now I was 800 miles away from home with no car, pretty much on my own. The Disney College Program offers a Living, Learning and earning experience. (I really won’t get into this too much; I am just programmed by them at this point). In a nutshell, this program offers you a place to live (for rent of course), a job on Disney Property and the opportunity to take classes taught by Disney Leaders (managers are considered leaders there).

My role in the company (yes, with Disney you are a cast member in the “show” and you have a “role”, all of these words are supposed to invoke a feeling of importance in the cast member, and I’m one of those suckers that it works with) was a operations cast member at the attraction Mission: Space. Mission: Space is located in Future World in Epcot. The description of the attraction is as follows: Mission: SPACE Attraction is a 5.5-minute motion simulator ride for big kids, teens and adults that realistically mimics what an astronaut might experience during a space flight to Mars. This was taken from the Disney website.

This attraction is intense, there is really no other word to describe it. There are currently two different versions of the rid, a more intense version and a less intense version. With the more intense version, you a get about 2.5 G-forces, this is created by you being spun at 35 miles an hour, but because of the “Disney magic” you really have no idea that you are being spun. With the less intense version you get the same visual effects as the more intense version does, but you don’t get the G-force sensation. When the attraction first opened in 2004, there was only one version and that was the more intense version. Okay, there are warning signs everywhere at this attraction; I mean every five freaking feet there is a sign or an audio warning. One thing that you quickly learn when you are a cast member with Disney is guests leave their brain at the gate. It’s almost as if they expect Disney to think for them, and because of the money people pay to vacation there, who could blame them. But for goodness sakes if there are signs warning if you have motion sickness, heart problems or are pregnant etc. don’t ride, you better damn well listen. After many protein spills (Disney’s cute work for puke/urine/shit) and a few incidents, it was decided by someone high up to convert half this attraction to a non motion sickness version. This was done overnight sometime in 2006. This provided everybody a chance to get to ride this attraction.

Due to there being two versions of this attraction, They had to figure out a way to let both the guest and the cast member know what version they will be traveling to Mars on. The launch ticket was born . A launch ticket is either green or orange, you are asked as soon as you enter the line of the attraction what version you want. More intense or Less intense? Spinning or no Spinning? Green or Orange? You are asked these questions by a cast member, who normally stands out in the 90+ degree FL sun, for 45 minutes at a time, asking the same question over and over and over again. So you can imagine that this cast member can get quite cranky at times. Especially when you asking “Spinning or no spinning?” and they ask you “well what is the difference?” I think after I was asked what the difference was for the 1000 time in a week, I actually spun in a circle and said this is spinning, then stood stationary and said this isn’t spinning. The guest looked me and replied they still didn’t get it. I wanted to throw all my tickets on the ground and walk away. We also got the reply “ I don’t speak Spanish”. To which I would reply, “Neither do I “and they would say “okay so what did you ask” and I would say “SPINING OR NO SPINING” once again they would say “I already told you I don’t speak Spanish, _________ (insult)” they then would walk way.

Speaking of insulting (this happens all the time to every cast member daily), some of the most interesting insults took place when I would check the height of children. The height requirement at Mission: Space is 44 inches. We leave no leeway on this, and it all boils down to safety. So I would be checking heights of children, and letting people in line or not in line depending on the height. It’s a pretty easy job. On more than one occasion I would have a guest that child would not be tall enough and politely I would explain “ I’m sorry sir or maim but your he or she didn’t isn’t tall enough, you are more than welcome to do a rider switch…” I would be cut off with this statement “Well you aren’t very tall….you shouldn’t be judging my child by their height.” I would start to apologize again and state that it’s not my rule and there are other rides they can experience and once again they would hound me on my height so I would state “Well, I maybe short, but I can ride, I meet the requirement” and I would walk away from them or ignore them until they got pissed off enough to leave. This still makes me laugh that a 30 + year old would me insulting me on my height or at least trying to. Come on people.

I look young, I know this, and this often was pointed out to me down there by guests, acting if they were the first to think of it. Another great story took place when I was loading people into a rows to watch the first safety video of the attraction. I was loading people on the green side, and a man from the orange line started yelling to me. So I went over to him and he was like “How old are you?” I told him I was 19. He said “Well you look about 12 I told him that I get that a lot, but I’m not, even laughing while stating it because I know it’s true. He then said “No , I mean you really look 12, like you look 12, not anywhere close to 19” I laughed again. “No, I don’t understand why you are laughing, you look 12, is Disney violating child labor laws, where is your mommy? You need to go back to the 7th grade.” At this point other guests and cast members started to listen. I just smiled. His wife told me that I could say what I wanted to him, I wanted to be like “No I can’t lady, your fat ass husband is standing there harassing me about my young look, and I can’t say anything because I would get termed”. He continued on and I let him. He even asked to see my ID at one point. Unknown to my knowledge my coordinator was nearby this whole time and saw this happen. After the man was in the room to watch is video, he went in and spoke to him about harassment and how he won’t have it at his attraction and if he does it again he will get kicked out of line. I was amazed. I really didn’t care about this man demanding to see my ID and asking where my mommy was. But apparently my coordinator didn’t see it this way. While he was getting talked too about harassment of the cast members, the other guest cheered for me and told me I handled it well. He ended up getting sick on the ride anyway. Karma is a bitch.

Another fun thing for a cast member to do is to have to kick people out of line. I went back down to work over Christmas break in 2007. This is one of Disney’s busiest times of the year. Working six 16-hour shifts in a week is not uncommon at this time. I was working a 14-hour shift, and luckily was towards the end of it when this situation happened. The line for the attraction was 4 hours. 4 fucking hours. The fast pass line was over an hour. You can imagine the level of crankiness the guests possessed. So we are getting ready to load the next 40 people into the orange side of ride. When the ride breaks down. These 40 people are fucked over, and I have to tell them that they just waited 4 hours for pretty much nothing. I mean I could offer them a fastpass, but that is another hour wait. I am the one to tell them this. So I walk around to all 10 teams of 4 people, explaining the situation. I told them that they could sit and wait, but I wasn’t sure if it would work or long it would be. Everybody but one person understood. I’m sure I had approached every person with absolute fear in my eyes and on my face, I wanted to cry for them. This one person was a man of about 50 years old. To put it in a nut shell he called me a “magic stealing little bitch who enjoyed ruining his vacation, and I should go to hell and I was short and he wanted my name and he thinks that Disney sucks now because it happened to him at the Magic Kingdom the day before….” And on and on and on. I called my boss to come talk to this guy. Because of all the other situations that were taking place, It took my boss about 45 minutes to come talk to him. So for over 45 minutes I was standing here with this guy yelling at me to the point of where I was in tears. Luckily I had a tough old lady from New York City working with me and she put him in his place as best as she could. “Merry Fucking Christmas “was the man’s parting words to me. To which I replied “same to you.” I wish I would have “stole more magic” from that asshole.

A man almost hit me once, because I wouldn’t let him stand in an area that we had to keep clear because of fire codes. Yes, no joke, almost hit me. He has his fist up and ready to go for it. I was alone at this position so I was pretty much screwed if he did. So I stated “Sir, if you don’t put that fist down right now, so help me I will call security on you, and you will and I repeat will be banned from all Disney property for life. Gives yours kids there a great reason to look up to you huh, “my daddy punched a Disney cast member”. He looked at me and lowered his fist and apologized. The heat and lines get to people. I understand this, But don’t take your anger out on me.

For all the bad things happened, there were so many good, but those are nearly as fun to write about. Almost every shift you would leave happy, knowing you made somebody’s day or vacation. A guest would come through that would just bring a smile to your face. You really got to meet amazing people. I even met Dwight Howard on my program when I was working. He asked me to ride the ride with him and when he got off the ride the acted like he was dizzy and fell on me for support. No joke when I say this, I didn’t even come to his waist, so that was a fun sight to see.

I miss it a lot. I miss being able to help people experience their vacation better. I miss talking to the kids about seeing Mickey. I miss being able to know that I made a difference for their vacation in a positive way.

Moral of the this: I don't know if there really is a moral to this. But if you ever go to Disney and get pissed of a Cast member for whatever reason, step back and think they are most likely working a very long shift and they aren’t taking glory in making your vacation suck...well..most of the time at least.

-- Katie