I think the past few weeks may have been the most whirlwind adventure of my life so far! I have now been in Orlando for 3 weeks and it has been non-stop and crazy but also absolutely incredible. I’ve been MIA on most things, aside from on my Instagram @yazinwanderland (go and follow to stay up to date!) due to how busy I have been but I think a proper update is well overdue. The first two weeks were pretty full on so get ready because it’s going to be a long one…
I guess we should start from the day I left the UK. Our flight was at 10:10am on Saturday 15th June, although it actually didn’t leave until after 12pm due to delays and we almost all missed the flight due to Gatwick telling us at 11:55am that gate info would be up at 12:01 and then a minute later changing it to gate closes at 12:05. I don’t think I’ll ever forget seeing a wave of CEP hoodies charging through the North Terminal. Aside from those dramatics, the flight was really good and we were straight off the plane and onto the Magical Express when we arrived in Orlando.
The first two nights staying at Art of Animation were so much fun. There were so many of us here and everyone was exploring and socialising around property. On the Sunday morning we went to the Ohana character breakfast at the Polynesian resort and it was such an amazing start to the Disney adventure. We ate endless Mickey Waffles, drank a tonne of POG juice and met Mickey, Lilo and of course, Stitch. We rode the monorail and explored the resorts and then had our first Blaze pizza at Disney Springs.
Monday was check in day and we were up early (partly due to jet lag) and ready to head to Disney housing which also meant the first of many Lyft rides! We were so lucky and all 4 of us girls who linked were placed in the same apartment. We got given a 2 bedroom 6 person Chatham Square apartment and are living with two lovely girls from Hong Kong.
However, after moving in and unpacking most of our belongings it was time to head to do the infamous Walmart shop and let me tell you know, it was an experience… 3 hours, a lot of stress, a few exhausted giggle fits and quite a few dollars later and we piled ourselves and around 50 bags into a taxi and headed back to housing. It was rather traumatic in the moment but it has to be experienced and looking back it is definitely something to laugh about. My top tip would be order your bedding in advance! Most people were smart and had done this but I didn’t and I therefore have ended up with kids bedding, although I’m not complaining as the butterflies are pretty cute! Getting our shop back to the apartments was a challenge as taxis aren’t allowed into housing, so we piled it into carts and on lobby trolleys and dragged them through Chatham and up to our place.
Tuesday was a day of meetings but it’s Disney so even the meetings are fun! We got to go to the iconic Casting building for our onboarding appointments which was so exciting and our first proper experience using the Cast Transdev buses which we soon would come to know and not really love.
After Casting a small group of us girls went to Target and let me tell you, compared to Walmart it was a HEAVENLY experience! In the evening Alice, Leah, Bethan & I all went to the Boardwalk resort. It was stunning and we got ice-cream and then watched the Epcot fireworks from there. Flat bonding at its finest if I don’t say so myself!
On Wednesday we all had a day off from any meetings so we decided to head to Universal for the day! Most people bought annual passes but we decided to save $150 and just get a 4 day ticket deal. We got there for opening and spent the morning doing all we could fit in, including the new Hagrid coaster which we only have to queue an hour and a half for (which is VERY short for it) and was an amazing ride! However, in the afternoon a storm hit and there was a tornado warning meaning most of the rides in Islands of Adventure closed. So we ended up heading home and having an evening in the apartment to try and rest up. However, something I’ve learnt since being here is you don’t get rest and you don’t sleep. You can sleep when you’re home but it’s non-stop in Disney!
Thursday was Traditions Day and probably the most magical day of my life! I can’t say too much because it’s one of those things that if you are ever lucky enough to do it you have to go in not knowing! It was 5 hours of essentially ‘introduction to the company’ but really it was just 5 hours of excitement, constant smiling and even a few tears! It was true magic and true Disney and it was just another one of many moments where it hit me that I am actually here working for this amazing company in the most magical place on Earth?!
I had the afternoon Traditions class which meant a quick change and then a taxi over to Magic Kingdom as we were now able to get into the parks being full cast members! If the morning was magical, the evening was just as much too. It was the first time we watched Happily Ever After and it was not only amazing because of how good the show is but also because I was stood in front of the castle, with all my friends, watching this show about finding your own happily ever after while literally living my dream. Let’s just say it got emotional! I will never forget that day.
And then on Friday my first of two days off before starting training and so of course I spent the day back in Magic Kingdom playing in the park all day and I obviously had to take a photo at the Casting door. We went all out and danced to Move It Shake It, rode the people mover twice, got very competitive on Buzz, sang along to Festival of Fantasy & conquered 2/3 mountains before catching the fireworks as we left. I bet you can guess what I’m about to say… it was magical!
Saturday was another day off for me. I got really lucky with not starting work immediately and so a group of us went to Blizzard Beach for the morning. It was my first time going to a water park and it was such a laugh! We didn’t do Summit Plummet though… saving that for another, braver day! We then went over to Hollywood Studios that afternoon with the aim of watching Fantasmic and to visit Toy Story Land for the first time. Fantasmic was cancelled but we had a lovely evening regardless and slowly all filtered home exhausted.
It got to Sunday and I couldn’t believe that I had been here a whole week already. It went by so fast and even since it’s been going by in a flash, not one moment has dragged. With Sunday came reality though. There was training to be completed & work to be done and honestly, in those first few days of training I spent half the time I was sat down fighting off sleep.
It didn’t help that I had a 4:45am wakeup on Sunday to make sure I could be ready and get the bus to Disney University for our Welcome to Operations training. Let me tell you, Ops is nothing to look forward to. It is probably bearable if you aren’t running on a couple hours sleep but when you’re sat in a room being shown a 63 slide PowerPoint on how to correctly lift a box… yeah, you don’t feel the Disney magic. But it was necessary training and we survived. I had Food & Beverage Core in the afternoon which was a little easier to stay awake for. Maybe that was because I had downed some coffee! After class I had my first experience of costuming which surprisingly was when it really hit that I was working here. We picked up our super attractive non-slip work shoes, which while aren’t the cutest are at least free for QSFB cast members and then headed back to housing.
That evening I went back to Hollywood Studios and got to ride Slinky Dog Dash for the first time and had a great view of Galaxy’s Edge from the top of the ride and finally got to see Fantasmic that evening and once again ended up getting a pretty late night (hint, this is a common theme).
Monday meant that we had been living in housing for a week and also that today I was going to finally visit my home park for orientation or what they call Discovery Day! Again, like Traditions, I won’t say much but it was so much fun! In the afternoon I had my orientation of my work location at Electric Umbrella and also got to visit Epcot Costuming and pick up my costume! It really isn’t the cutest but I’m making it work and if you do happen to be around Disney World this summer then come say hi to me at Epcot’s Electric Umbrella restaurant!
Tuesday was my first day of training as a front of house cast member and there was a lot to learn. My schedule was backwards and I was doing what was supposed to be day two training due to trainer availability but it all worked out in the end. It was a busy 8 1/2 hours and even though it seemed overwhelming at times the work itself isn’t rocket science and the team are so lovely. It was a really good day, even though the spring popped out when I was rebuilding the slushy machine and water went everywhere right in front of a load of guests… you wouldn’t expect any less from me would you?! I was also given so much food, including a Mickey Ice-cream sandwich! Let’s just say the Electric Umbrella team won me over on Day 1!
Wednesday was my second day of training but this time I was doing what was supposed to be the day one training. This included bussing tables and maintaining the beverage and condiments stations whereas yesterday I focused more on stocking and counter work. It was a slower day but we still kept busy and everything was easy to get the hang of.
Thursday I had another day off so Alice, Bethan & I went to Universal Studios for the day. The park was pretty quiet and we managed to get onto most rides with barely a queue and took so many photos as well!
We left around 4 as by then we’d done all we wanted to do and then in the evening headed to our first experience of an American night out. We went to downtown Orlando and headed to Cowboys. And wow, it was wild! A bar playing non-stop country music with a dance floor dedicated to line-dancing. I was useless at it but it was so impressive to watch and a lot of fun to try! It was a cheap and cheerful evening with friends and I will definitely be going back!
Friday was my training assessment day at work and it was basically just a simple multiple choice quiz and then walking round through all the positions again. It was quick and easy and then I spent the second half of my shift assigned to bussing a section of the restaurant and it went really well! After work I got changed and went into Epcot for a little bit as I had barely been in or done anything in my home park?! However, this also meant it was finally time to try the ‘Beverly’ drink at Club Cool… and let’s just say it is as ‘unique’ as people say! I then spent the evening in Magic Kingdom, which is where I end up most days and watched the fireworks. I will never ever get tired of them!
Saturday was my first proper day in Animal Kingdom and I got to see Pandora for the first time as well as ride Flight of Passage (which trust me, it lives completely up to the hype it gets)! I also used my discount for the first time on food for lunch as the only quick service we get discount on is at Animal Kingdom. It was definitely nice to save some pennies! We even got snuck into the second row of Festival of the Lion King which is one of my favourite shows on Disney Property! In the evening I went over to Magic Kingdom (surprise, surprise) and played Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom for the first time which, if you haven’t tried it, is well worth a go! It’s free, gives you something to do to avoid long wait times & is actually so well integrated into the parks. Yes, it may be aimed at children but everyone’s a kid at Disney! You really can’t beat an evening in Magic Kingdom, it’s by far my favourite place to end up at the end of the day I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do when I’m home and can’t just hop on the monorail over…
And that’s it! That brings us up to two weeks! The third week has been just as fun and just as busy, especially as I now have full time work in the mix too!
To give you a brief lowdown of my third week here, it’s involved going to Jellyrolls, a duelling piano’s bar at the Boardwalk, on their weekly cast member night, eating at the Sci-Fi Drive In restaurant at Hollywood Studios, watching the 360 degrees 4th of July fireworks at Magic Kingdom, going on my first food shop to Publix, visiting Cast Connections, the discounted Cast Member shop for old and damaged merchandise, getting evacuated of Spaceship Earth (which I was ridiculously excited about), watching the fireworks another couple times because it’s a necessary part of my week, going to the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue at the Fort Wilderness Campgrounds which was an incredible show that I highly recommend, ended up back at Jellyrolls again, got a special guest compliment at work (which made my day!), finally watched Toy Story 4, attended the cast member exclusive night in Toy Story Land where we rode Slinky four times and last but not least, got an empty main street photo! A lot has happened and I’m still only just getting started but this brings you pretty much up to date on my wild Disney life!
I know this post is up so unbelievably late but I hope it was worth the wait and I will try to not leave it as long before I post another but I hope you enjoyed reading about the adventure so far and if you aren’t following my Instagram, definitely head over there as I post pretty frequently over there.
It still doesn’t feel real that I’m here and every time I walk up to the castle it feels like I’m in a dream. How is it possible that my after work activity is going to ride Space Mountain and watch the fireworks?! It really is a crazy magical life!
Applications just opened for next summer too, so if you are a U.K. student who is interested in having the chance to live and work at Disney World for the summer on their Cultural Exchange Program then head over to Yummy Jobs’ website and apply! You won’t regret it! https://www.yummyjobs.com/work/disneyculturalexchangeprogram
Have a magical day and I’ll be back soon!