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A Disney College Program How-To: An Overview

24 Aug

It’s that time of year: Disney College Program applications are online and ready for YOU.

Ever considered spending a semester away from the hard desks of college classes and instead working for Mickey Mouse?

I spent a year and a half of my life participating in the Disney College Program. I worked

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Just a regular night at Fantastmic!

Fall 2013 in the Magic Kingdom at the Stitch complex in Tomorrowland. I spent Fall 2015 at Disney Springs (then Downtown Disney) at DisneyQuest. And yes, #disneyquestisopen. I extended my program into Spring 2016 where I worked at Rock N Roller Coaster and Fantastmic! While I stayed an attractions cast member for all three programs, each work location had its own benefits and challenges. I had fresh experiences each and every day.

There are three elements to the application process:

  1. General application.
  2. Web-based interview
  3. Phone interview

For the next week, I’ll be going over each part of the application process in detail. Feel free to leave any questions you have in the comments below, and I’ll answer them in the posts!

Here are some basics if you’re interested in applying:

– Must be at least 18 years old.                                         

– Must have finished your first semester of college.

– Must be currently enrolled in college at the time of application.

(The following aren’t must-haves but seriously help if you have them)

– Enjoy dealing with people. You’ll have new roommates with whom you’ll hopefully bond. You’ll more than likely be enrolled in classes with people very different from yourself. Oh, and there’s that little bit where you’ll probably work with thousands of people each day. I’m not saying you have to be extroverted! I’m an introvert myself. However, it really helps if you have patience with the Guests (and sometimes cast members) who frustrate you.

– Experience being away from home. Sure, you might try to plan a visit home for a weekend, but not everyone has that luxury. Fall program participants will spend Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas without their families. For some, that’s very difficult. There were several people within two weeks of my Fall ’15 program who quit because they couldn’t handle being away from family/significant others/friends.

– Willing to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. You get out of the program what you put into it. If you never leave your apartment fearing Orlando itself, you will be miserable.

– Know and love the Walt Disney Company. No, it’s not a requirement. It helps enormously. I grew up entranced by Disney movies. I vividly remember my family vacations to Walt Disney World. I know why the magic matters in my life. If you can find that connection, it helps when things get tough. It helps when you have days when Guests yell at you. You find the magic in your memories and it reminds you why you pursued this opportunity in the first place.

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Mickey ears are all the cooler when you match your roommates. 

The perks are endless. There’s the whole getting-into-the-parks-free bit. You’ll rub elbows with all sorts of insanely talented people. You have opportunities to learn first-hand from professionals who are the best in the business. You get insane discounts for yourself and your family. You form close bonds with some of the best people you’ll ever meet.

You never know until you try! Apply today!

Applications for Spring 2017 are LIVE! Click here to apply!

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WATCH: Seven Dwarves Mine Ride

24 Feb

The final piece of the New Fantasyland puzzle appears to be in place.

Disney parks released this new on-ride video of the Snow White and Seven Dwarves mine ride, which has been in construction since late 2012.

What viewers might not be able to fully appreciate from the video about this attraction is how completely silent it is. No clanking track, no gears churning. It’s as silent as a sleeping bat in a diamond cavern.

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The completion date is “officially” May 2014. It was originally rumored to be completed before Christmas 2013; however, construction didn’t make that (unofficial) deadline.

Imagineers announced the attraction during 2011’s D23 Expo, almost as an afterthought to the existing Fantasyland expansion plans.

Personally, I’m ready for this thing to be finished. It will (hopefully) alleviate some Guest congestion on the Mountains – Space, Big Thunder, and Splash – by giving Guests another “thrill” attraction.

Plus, the previous Snow White attraction was absolutely terrifying… Princess Fairytale Hall now stands in its former place.

Ratatouille land coming to Disneyland Paris

12 Feb

This summer, Disneyland Paris will get even more French.

Disney announced a Remy-inspired ride to be revealed in Disneyland Paris’s Walt Disney Studios park. The attraction sets out to retell the Pixar story, shrinking Guests down to the size of its rodent hero.

In the style of Epcot’s The Seas with Nemo and Friends, the ride Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy will be attached to a small-scale restaurant called Bistrot Chez Remy. On the menu? What else but the finest of traditional French cuisine, including Remy and Linguini’s signature ratatouille.

As Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald explains in the video below, Imagineers worked for nearly 5 years on perfecting the concept, story design, and mechanisms used to run the attraction, working closely with Ratatouille‘s director Brad Bird. (Note: If you don’t speak fluent French, just fastforward to 2:00 in the clip.)

The ride will run on a trackless system, a relatively new innovation to attractions which debuted in 2000 with Pooh’s Hunny Hunt in Tokyo Disneyland. Only a handfull of rides use this Local Positioning System technology, and none of them are found within the United States. Aquatopia in Tokyo DisneySea and the recently finished Mystic Manor in Hong Kong Disneyland are the other two.

Ratatouille land will probably not be as expansive as its neighboring Toon Town Pixar section, but it will be just as intricately crafted. Bon appetit!

Have a Haunted Halloween! – Fun Facts about Disney’s Haunted Mansion

31 Oct

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE!

Welcome, foolish mortals, to this blog post dedicated to a staple attraction at every Disney park. In the spirit of Halloween, here are some rarely known, bone-chilling facts about the attraction.

1) Haunted Mansion’s backstory is the most complex of any attraction backstory in ANY Disney park.

2) Ever wonder what the Ghost Host looks like? There’s a portrait of him hanging in the knocking doors hallway.

Just in case the corpse swinging from the noose in the Stretching Room wasn’t enough for you…

3) There’s this hidden Mickey you probably never noticed in the graveyard scene.

And there’s also one on the table during the ballroom scene.

4) The Haunted Mansion (or Phantom Manor) at Disneyland Paris was designed to be the scariest variation of the attraction.

It also has the most variation from the original. The premise being a young bride’s father murdered her fiancé, only to have her father mysteriously disappear in a tragic accident. Overwhelmed by grief, the bride believes her fiancé will somehow return and is consequently haunted by a menacing demonic spirit.

And I speak from experience when I say it is a million times darker and scarier than its WDW companion.

5) Who is Master Gracey? Is he the same as the Ghost Host?

Nope, not quite. However, the name was taken from Imagineer Yale Gracey who was a lead designer of the “spectral effects” for the original Haunted Mansion.

6) Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion is already prepped for Christmas!

Well, Haunted Mansion Holidays that is…

7) Your doom-buggy’s backwards fall out of the attic supposedly symbolizes your inability to handle what you’ve witnessed thus far, so you jump out of the attic to your death.

Which also explains why the ghouls are suddenly so happy to see you in the graveyard scene, and might be why the groundskeeper’s dog is so scared of you.

8) Haunted Mansion CMs and Tower of Terror CMs are the ONLY Cast Members instructed not to smile on the job.

9) The newest Haunted Mansion, known as Mystic Manor, in Hong Kong Disneyland opened spring 2013 and uses Danny Elfman-produced score and trackless system.

So friggin cool.

10) In the WDW version’s pet cemetery, there is a headstone to Mr. Toad from Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, an attraction that closed in 1998.

11) Ever wonder how the stretching room works? At Disneyland and Disneyland Paris, guests step inside a carefully concealed OTIS elevator. At WDW and Tokyo Disneyland, the ceiling itself stretches as guests are already located on the base floor of the attraction.

12) Want to get to the front of the queue after the stretching room? Head for the pink lady’s portrait. That’s always the wall that will open, regardless of which room you enter. (This only works at the WDW version)

13) The organ found in the Disneyland version’s ballroom scene is an actual prop from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. All other HM’s organs are direct replicas of that one organ.

 

Happy Halloween! “Hurry baaaacckkk…. We’ve been dying to have you.” What’s your favorite part of the Haunted Mansion? Comment below!

AVATAR Expansion Announcement

13 Oct

As most of you might already know, Disney unveiled their plan for Animal Kingdom’s AVATAR-themed world late Friday night at Japan’s D23 Expo. (No, not the airbending Avatar cartoon. The Avatar with the tall blue people.)

In a statement on the Disney Parks blog, Tom Staggs, Chairman of Walk Disney Parks and Resorts, said the company will be working closely with James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment to bring Pandora to life.

Newly revealed concept art for AVATAR expansion in WDW Animal Kingdom

Newly revealed concept art for AVATAR expansion in WDW Animal Kingdom

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And speaking of bringing things to life, it was also announced the Tree of Life would be getting a facelift. As a part of the new nighttime “spectacular” planned for Animal Kingdom, the Tree of Life will be getting lights.

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Don’t hold your breath for Wishes-style fireworks, though. I don’t think they’ll be doing those ever due to the animals. There will also be a nighttime version of Kilamanjaro Safaris (I wonder how the animals feel about working later hours…).

In a comment, Staggs said the projected opening will be sometime in 2017. Best of luck to the Imagineers, because the concept art looks amazing!

Personally, this seems like an idea I should hate. What connection did Disney ever really have to Cameron’s AVATAR in the first place? But, looking at the concept art, I know I’ll be so giddy whenever they develop more. I’m sold.

Scariest Disney Attractions

6 Sep

Since I’ve started at Stitch’s Great Escape!, there’s no telling how many small children and parents I’ve escorted out of the chamber right before the show starts. The show could be set to begin and suddenly, up pops little Johnny who makes a bee-line for the door. He’s followed by his exasperated mom who asks for the nearest exit and a non-thrill attraction little Johnny can enjoy. I send them to Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor before heading back inside to start the show.

To avoid situations such as these, I’ve compiled a list of the scariest attractions WDW has to offer. You might scoff at some of these, but please remember everyone has different fears. What seems harmless to one kid might scare the pants off another.

1) Stitch’s Great Escape! – I adore Stitch, and I’m not saying that because I work there. The attraction continues a great story that entertains a wide range of Guests. It remains stationary and includes amazing special effects. However, it gets pitch-black dark. You will not be able to see your hand in front of your face (and you CANNOT pull out your cell phone for light. DO NOT BE THAT PERSON. I WILL escort you out of the chamber). In addition to utter darkness, you’ll be harness into a seat where Stitch can mess with you however he pleases. He’s innocuous compared to when the attraction was still Alien Encounter (and if you’ve seen Alien, you can only imagine how terrifying that monster would be escaped in a dark room…)

2) Tower of Terror – Fun personal story about Tower: I chickened out the first tiem I attempted it. Dad and I were at the elevator doors about to board and I couldn’t do it. The same thing happened to a coworker of mine this week when we tried to get her on the ride for her first time. Luckily, a Cast Member takes you down the real service elevator to the exit. Most Guests think as soon as you load the elevators, you drop. Nope. The suspense builds as your elevator mosesy through darkly lit hotel corridors with trippy Twilight Zone effects.

3) DINOSAUR – Kids love dinosaurs. It’s a phase 99.9 percent of all children go through. There are two kinds of dinosaurs: the adorable ones (Rex from Toy Story, Land Before Time, 2000’s Dinosaur) and the ones that will rip you to shreds (Jurassic Park’s raptors). The dinos featured in Animal Kingdom’s DINOSAUR attraction are the latter. If your kid will have problems with this big guy chasing your time rover around, you might want to opt for Chester and Hester’s Dino Land instead.

4) The Haunted Mansion – Yeah, yeah, I know. The Haunted Mansion is essentially a kid’s parody of a haunted house. But the skeleton that pops out behind the tombstone during the graveyard scene still makes me jump.

5) It’s a Bug’s Life – The only reason I’m putting this one on the list is one scene. Those who’ve seen the Pixar film know about the movie’s villain, despicable Hopper the grasshopper. In the show, Hopper makes an appearance. Upset with Flik for allowing humans to enter into bug territory, Hopper sets to destroy the audience like they do bugs. There’s a very thick smoke effect to replicate bug spray during this segment, followed by large animatronic spiders dangling feet from the heads of audience members.

6) Expedition Everest – Easily the best coaster in all of WDW, it’s also one of the most terrifying attractions. The audio-animatronic Yeti that you encounter when you least expect it can give even the bravest mountain explorer nightmares. It used to be worse: the Yeti was meant to take a swipe at Guests as the train passed underneath him. However, the Yeti got a little too close to the trains for Imagineers’ comfort, so they made him a stationary figure.

Parents, please understand what terrifies your kids before getting in line. Also, read the clearly marked descriptions of an attraction or ask a Cast Member before boarding. It’ll make everyone’s day a little more magical.

Ever get the pants scared off of you by a Disney attraction? Feel free to comment below. Also, comment with any attractions I missed that you find particularly chill-inducing.