A Month of Dreaming

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I went to my first Disney vocal audition today! I came down here planning to go to every audition I possibly could, and so far I’ve stuck to that! …Because only one audition has been open to me so far. Most auditions are closed to current College Program participants, so when I saw that the audition for the Voyage of the Little Mermaid was open to everyone I jumped on that opportunity. My roommate and I both auditioned this morning and while neither or us got a call back, I left the audition room grinning from ear to ear.

I have now met the head of casting for Disney World, and my audition went really well! Once I finished my piece, which was “Home” from Beauty and the Beast, the auditioner asked if she could give me some tips. Of course I said yes, and she then told me that while I am not the right fit for Ariel, I am “Belle Type.”

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This may not seem like a big deal, but I’ve wanted to play Belle in the Disney’s Hollywood Studios show of Beauty and the Beast since I was 12. And to finally hear someone from Disney tell me that I’m the type of girl they look for for that role was a dream come true! She told me to keep an eye on the audition schedule for Belle auditions and gave me a couple pointers to keep in mind for my next audition. Talk about a great morning.

I still can’t believe that happened… Now onto all of my other updates!

This may seem like a totally out of place story, but I don’t care. A few weeks ago I was walking to catch my 5 am bus, meaning it was dark. The moon and stars were still out, and I about jumped out of my skin when I heard a strange shuffling noise ahead of me. Sadly my startled jump scared the little armadillo that was walking ahead of me and he ran into the bushes before I could get a picture! We don’t have armadillos in Oregon, so seeing it felt a little like seeing a unicorn. About a week later I also saw flying squirrels for the first time! But this isn’t a Floridian wildlife blog… How about I talk about my college program?

Now that I’ve been here for a month I finally have a pretty regular routine. I’ve been working about 5 mornings a week. ‘Ohana’s breakfast is a character dining experience, so I see lots of children and let me tell you, little kids melt my heart every morning!

I talked the other day to two little boys who were in Disney World because they had been receiving letters from Buzz Lightyear. He sent them on scavenger hunts and eventually invited them to meet him in Disney World. I told them how lucky they were to be friends with Buzz and then excitement in their eyes just reminded me of how real Disney Magic is to children. Later, I made a little boy’s day when I got to be the one to tell him that Mickey Mouse would be meeting him at the breakfast table for his birthday. And I’ve never seen a happier face than his when I delivered a birthday card to him signed by Mickey, Pluto, Lilo, and Stitch.

Ah, and then there’s that adorable baby! I’ve probably told 20 people about him. I was taking a family to their table last week when I realized the dad was holding a baby boy about 1 1/2 years old. He had black curly hair, his giant brown eyes were beaming, and he making perfect eye contact with me! I gasped mid-sentence with I noticed him and suddenly a giant smile stretched across his face. “He’s such a happy baby!” I said and stepped closer to see him, but when I did, he stretched his arms out for me to hold him. BAM! Heart melted.

Also, I’ve of course been having a blast in the parks on my days off! Here’s some photo proof incase you need convincing 😉

Thanks for reading and I’ll try to post again soon!

Hannah

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Earning my Ears

I can’t believe I’ve been here for over two weeks already! So much has happened since my last post, so I’ll cover as much as I can. The night before Traditions, I went to the Woody’s Round-Up housing event with my roommates. It was a lot of fun! We got free food and cowboy hats, met Woody and Jessie, and did some line dancing.

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At Traditions, we were all required to wear professional attire and follow strict Disney Look Guidelines. After a really boring slideshow about working with integrity, we learned about the 4 Disney keys, watched some videos about the Disney Company, took a short tour of the utiladoor under Magic Kingdom, and walked through the park briefly. The utiladoor is essentially the basement under the Magic Kingdom through which all of the cast members get to work. After an exciting surprise visit from a special guest, we got our name tags and main gate passes, and officially became Disney employees.

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That night my roommates and I took full advantage of our main gate passes and went to Hollywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom. The Tower of Terror was our first ride of choice and it was even better than I remembered. We had so much fun, but were shocked to discover how hard it can rain in Florida. My next two days off also consisted of playing in the parks and getting rained out. I can’t complain though, because the rain is so warm! On Sunday, I met up with one of my best friends from home, who was just about to start her program and a friend we made at our character audition in March. It was great, despite all the rain.

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On monday I had my first day of training at Disney University, which was basically a Food Handlers Safety course, as well as some e-learning about Disney’s accommodations for guests with disabilities. My second day of training was a lot of fun though! I got to visit the Polynesian Resort for “Aloha Day” and learned more about my job and work location.

What’s wonderful about the Polynesian is the attitude the workers have toward one another. Our Aloha Day leader told us that the Polynesian’s workers are all about treating one another as family, and that attitude is extremely apparent. We got a full tour of our resort, met some really nice leaders, and got a hula lesson in the resort lobby.

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I then had a day of e-learning during with I was also fitted for my work costume, and I was really relieved to learn that rather than wearing high wasted shorts, like many Disney workers, I was going to be wearing a dress.

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The next day, I started my On-The-Job-Training, and I immediately felt so fortunate to  have been placed at the Polynesian Resort. I can’t walk through the hallway to work without another worker reading my name tag and asking me about myself. The first few days I was there, I felt a little like a confused puppy. I would be walking toward the locker room and someone would strike up a conversation and it would take me a moment to realize the conversation was with me, because the person would sound like they were talking to a close friend. That sounds weird, but I don’t know how else to describe it. Another funny thing that happens is a lot of people act like they’ve never heard the name Hannah before. Or they’ll pronounce it Hah-nah like ‘Ohana, but I don’t mind.

I have now been at ‘Ohana for a week. Yesterday I worked without a trainer for the first time and everything went very smoothly.

In case you were wondering, things are still wonderful with me and my roommates! It’s so great to have a group of friends built into my college program experience. We spend most of our free time together, and we’ve done so many fun things like taking the animation class in Hollywood studios, meeting the princesses in Magic Kingdom, seeing the dueling pianos at Jellyrolls on the Disney Boardwalk, exploring fun places to eat, and having game nights when we get off work.

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Thank you for reading and keeping up with my magical Disney experience. If you’re considering doing the Disney College Program, I’d love to hear about it and I’d gladly answer any questions you may have. If you’re a friend from home, thanks for caring about and checking in on me! I’d love to hear from you too!

Have a magical day everyone!

Hannah

The first couple days

So far, I could not have asked for a better experience. I arrived in Orlando ridiculously early the morning before check-in. So I loaded Disney’s Magical Express from the airport (which was wonderful because it meant Disney would pick up … Continue reading

We Can Fly, We Can Fly, We Can Fly… to Disney World.

I can’t believe this day is here. I’m now sitting in the Phoenix Airport waiting to board my flight to Disney World for the start of my Disney College Program. Pinch me.

This means I’ll be in Disney World for over four months straight! I’ll work there, take a class on the Heritage and History of the Disney Company, live with other college students, and get a little behind the scenes glance at what goes into making the parks so magical. 

I applied for this program the hour the application became available. I researched every aspect of the application process along the way, and had the most nerve wracking interview of my life over the phone with a really sweet lady named Jenny back in February. The interview, which was predicted to last 15-20 minutes, turned out to be a 45 minute conversation. 

After that, all I had left to do was wait to receive an update from Disney online, telling me whether or not I would be accepted. I became obsessed! Constantly checking my Disney Dashboard for an update. Finally after 10 days, I had a dream that I got accepted. I jumped out of bed and checked my dashboard, only to be let down. Still no update. I then made a rule for myself that I would only check my dashboard once a day in the evening. 

30 minutes later, I received an email informing me of my acceptance. Which, as cheesy at it sounds, reminded me of the famous quote from Walt Disney himself: If you can dream it, you can do it. 

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I’ve been mildly obsessed with Disney since my very early childhood, so this has really been a long time coming. While I have always dreamed of singing for Disney, there are no musical roles available to College Programers. I also attended a Character Performer audition in San Francisco on March 15, but I guess it just wasn’t in the cards for me. I’m keeping my chin up though, and will keep my eyes open for opportunities during my program. I’ll be a Full Service Food and Beverage worker, which is a fancy name for restaurant hostess, and I’m thrilled! I won’t know where I’m working until I check-in for my program on Monday, but I honestly can’t think of any place I’d not like to work at. 

Until my program starts I’ll be hanging out at Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, which I’ve never been too, so that’ll be an adventure in itself. I can’t wait until I can start telling stories from work. I plan to pack this blog full of stories, which you may be able to decipher from the title. 

I’ve already flown halfway across the country, and now have only one flight to go! So, to end with the words of Princess Tiana, “I’m Almost There!”