Hollywood Studios here I come!!!

After two days of training, I’m am now preparing for my first day at work at Hollywood Studios!!!!! 😀 😀 😀

Training was all pretty fun 🙂 On Friday I returned to the Disney University for 4 and a half hours of different training videos and exercises teaching us all about how to work in Food and Beverage. However, it was very confusing trying to learn all about the different temperatures as they are all in Fahrenheit rather than Celsius, but I think I am slowly learning 🙂 Also, we watched a very funny video that spent over 10 minutes explain how to wash your hands ….. step by step!!!! (Firstly you turn the tap to your left to release the water ….. etc) We also received our work shoes today! 🙂 Luckily for us, all Food and Beverage Cast Members, and all Custodial Cast Members are given their shoes for free as we need special ones with extra grip! 😀

After all the training was finished and we all had our shoes we visited a huge shop called Cast Connections. Here, cast members can get certain Disney Merchandise for very low prices 😀 I managed to get an Animal Kingdom lanyard for $0.50!!!!! 😀 That’s like 35p!!!! 😀 Amazing!!!! 😀

That evening was definitely an evening to remember!!! Me and one of my flatmates, Jamie, decided to go to Hollywood Studios so that I knew where I would be going for my first day of training there. We had a very enjoyable couple of hours where we went on the Tower of Terror twice, watched Beauty and the Beast, met up with Laura and went to the newly revamped 3-D Star Tours. It was then when it all began to go a bit crazy as we were heading to the buses. Me and Laura were trying to find a bus to Downtown Disney where we were going to meet up with another fellow Disney ICPer called Heather. Whilst we were walking around the bus stops trying to find the right bus we felt a couple of drops of rain ….. within a few seconds the skies had opened up and we were being pummeled by the rain! This was not just ordinary rain …. this was rain that within 5 minutes had flooded the road so much that when you crossed it your whole foot became submerged under a very warm pool of water! After 10 minutes of running around in the rain we discovered there was actually no buses to Downtown Disney, so after saying a very quick goodbye to a drenched Jamie, we jumped onto the closest bus which was heading to the Disney Pop Century Hotel. We had a quick change at Pop Century and we jumped onto another bus to Downtown, where it was still absolutely pelting it down. However, by this point, we could actually get any wetter so just strolled through all the rain to the World of Disney where we met up with Heather, who was just as wet as we were!!!  This actually then turned into a really nice and relaxing evening just wandering around the shops and making funny Mr Potato Head characters 😀

Training yesterday was very fun ….. we had our theme park orientation! 😀 So we got given a big tour of the park and told all about the history of it and of the rides and special details about all of the rides. This then lead to us being taken to the break room where it was surprising to find out that we actually have our own cast members subway!!! 😀 We were then taken to do some more training through watching videos and doing interactive exercises. Then we got our very exciting folders in which we received our training schedule for the week and a training guide full of information abut the different temperatures, holding times and general park information that we get tested on at the end of the week! And apparently we can fail this test! So then next week will be spent with me revising everything about the food. I also found out the places where I could be working on Sunset Ranch. These include: Anaheim Produce, Catalina Eddie’s, Fair Fax Fare, Starring Rolls Bakery, Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner, Hollywood Scoops, Rosie’s All-American Cafe and Toluca Turkey Leg Company. I apparently will not be working in all of these, just a few, but I won’t find out which ones I will be working at until a bit later on. The other thing we got given yesterday, was our costumes …….

Mine is interesting to say the least …. unfortunately, it is not letting me upload the photo onto this blog (maybe it is trying to say something), but I will try and get it up sometime soon, so you can all have a good long laugh!!!! 😛

After lugging 5 tops, 5 shorts, 5 aprons and a hat back to the apartment I met up with fellow ICPers Laura, Ashleigh, Heather, Leroy and Can and we had a very nice and relaxing evening at Disney’s Boardwalk where I had the most humongous ice cream …. ever!!!!! It was huge!!!!! 😀

Anyway, today I start my actual first day at work on stage and in costume, so wish me luck and I will let you all know how it goes real soon!!!! 😀

Hollywood Studios! Here I Come!!!!!! 😀 😀 😀

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Walt Disney World – Where Dreams Come True – And now you make the magic!

I am now officially a Cast Member at Walt Disney World!!!!!!!!!! 😀 😀 😀 😀

Wow!!!! Yesterday was crazy!!!! Amazing!!! But so much happened in it that I can’t believe that it was only one day!!! So much excitment!!! And the day before was pretty exciting as well!!! As was today!!!!

So what is all this excitement I hear you say? Well, it started on Tuesday 21st June …..

After a nice relaxing morning, the excitement really started at about 1:30pm when I had to go to the Vista Way Pavilion, where I thought we were just going to be handing in a load of paperwork. Turns out I was wrong! Well, I was partly right, as we did have to hand in and fill out a lot of paperwork, but we also received our time tables for the next few days …. which also included our work places!!!!! I will be working in Hollywood Studios at Sunset/Dockside Complex (not sure quite where this means yet. I have a general idea but I will actually find out where in the next couple of days!) But ‘Hooray For Hollywood’ Studios!!!!! 😀 😀 😀 😀 So after all of this excitement, I decided to get a nice early night so that I was ready for the big day on Wednesday the 22nd June ………. TRADITIONS!!!!!!! 😀

Wednesday started very eventfully. I also missed the bus to the Disney University! :/ I was running slightly late to begin with …… and then I got lost! So at 6:50am I was running around Vista Way with no real idea where I was going …… and then the bus drives past me!!! Major panic!!!!! Luckily though, there were 3 bus, and by the time I found where I was suppose to be, there were still 2 buses left! Phew!!! The bus took us all the way to the Disney University next to the Magic Kingdom, where we were all taken to rooms to be taught all about Walt Disney World: How to act/behave and the history of the company and the park and all that, which was really quite interesting! Did you know …. The Magic Kingdom that the general public see is actually like the second floor on a house, with the ground floor being the pathways between areas for the cast members!!!! It’s all fascinating stuff!!!! 😀 We also were given our cast member card!!!! (Very, very exciting moment!!!) 😀 This now gives us access to all the parks and allows us to get discounts from any shops!!!! 😀

After learning all about the dos and don’ts of the company (for example, you would never point with just one finger as it could be classed as too sharp an action, you would either point with two fingers or use your whole hand), we had a short break, which was followed by ………….. a trip to Magic Kingdom!!!!! 😀 So we quickly hopped on a bus which took us all over to the backstage entrance of the Magic Kingdom, where we got a mini tour backstage and then walked along Main Street USA! (What else would you rather be doing at 9:30am!!!! :D) On returning to the Disney Uni we began to learn all about how Safe-D Begins with Me! Halfway through however, we were interrupted ….. by non other than Mickey Mouse himself!!!! 😀 It was amazing to see a room full of 18 year olds + getting very, very excited about Mickey Mouse entering a room!!!! Mickey then gave out little “critters” as prizes for answering questions correctly. I was lucky enough to win a Donald Duck figure off Mickey for knowing that Walt Disney’s main animated character before Mickey was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. This was a very exciting moment to get a huge hug off Mickey Mouse on my first day of training!!! 😀 Not long after Mickey had left, the training ended and we received our badges to become …… official Walt Disney World Cast Members!!!!! 😀 It is now in our hands to help create the magic of Disney and to create happiness!

Having now received our badges and passes, we made full use of our new positions and, after a small relax, we headed into the Magic Kingdom. First things first ……. time to go and actually meet Mickey and Minnie!!! So we did! After this we headed towards Tomorrowland (with the slight disruption of the Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party along the way :D) where we discovered Space Mountain was not working 😦 Sso we hopped onto the PeopleMover …. which then broke whilst we were on it!!!! The first ride we went on in Walt Disney World …. and it broke on us!!!!! Oh well, not to disheartened. So we finally got off the ride to head around to Fantasyland where we boarded the legendary ride ….. “It’s a Small World”!!!! 😀 Which was, as always, brilliant ….. and I ended up singing it for the whole day! After a quick bite to eat at Pinocchio’s Village Haus we wandered over to Liberty Square where we entered the Haunted Mansion. This ride had been redone since I last came to Florida (not too much, just a few extra touches here and there to make it even more entertaining :)). Things such as the interactive garden in the queue up to the Mansion, and extra objects and things inside the ride. One of the most incredible one for me was when we looked into a mirror to discover we had a ghost sat on top of our chair ….. which then swapped my head and Laura’s head with one another!!!!! This was incredible!!!! I actually can not get my head around how they did it!!!! After this, we strolled back through the park to Tomorrowland again, where we then went on Bus Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (an interactive shooting game) in which I failed miserably!!!! We then found a nice spot in Liberty Square where we settled down to watch the new Disney’s Electric Parade, which has replaced Spectromagic. Here we met a lovely American family from Indiana, who really wanted to know all about the Royal Wedding! 😀 Suprisingly, they seemed to know much more about it than we did, but we did spend a lovely amount of time talking to them! 😀 The parade itself was very good 😀 Lots of lights and lots of Disney characters make for a very entertaining parade 😀 As we were on our way towards the castle after the parade had finished …. a very unexpected thing happened! The castle changed colour!!!! And I don’t just mean it just changed colour …. it rippled, it mosaiced, it … did everything …. it was just amazing!!!! 😀 And then came the Wishes firework display above the caslte …. which was spectacular!!!!! 😀 An amazing end to finish off an amazing day!!! 😀

Today was EPCOT day! 😀 Although we didn’t get into the park until later on in the day, we still managed to go on Spaceship Earth, Journey Into Imagination with Figment, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, we went to the United Kingdom, met Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, enjoyed chips from the chippy and then watched the Illuminations firework display, with the day ending with a nice walk all the way around the world!!!! 😀

Tomorrow will be my first proper training day, so I will be at the Disney University again, this time between 8am and 12:30pm (which means getting the nice and early 6:57am bus ….. I had better not be late for this one!) Here I should learn all about how to work all the different aspects of working on Quick Service Food and Beverage. And the my training for Saturday will be my Theme Park Orientation at Hollywood Studios between 8am and 2pm which is guaranteed to be exciting 😀 And you never know …. I may just be able to find some time between all that to go and enjoy the magic of Walt Disney World even more!!! 😀

Thanks for reading again,
Hopefully next time I write my next blog I will have completed all my training and will be starting work!!!! 😀

Collette!!! 😀

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1st full day in Florida!!!!!

Over the last 48 hours …. I lot has happened!!!!

It all began at 6am on Sunday 19th June when I woke up, ready to disembark for a journey of a lifetime!!! After some minor packing adjustments, we were ready to go! So we arrived at Manchester airport in plenty of time, and after saying goodbye to my family about 20 times, I ascended on the escalator into the airport. After several checks and going through the beepy machine (which luckily didn’t beep on me this time), I made it into the main part of the airport where I bumped into several people wearing Walt Disney World International College Program 2011 UK Cast hoodies! So after a couple of hours waiting, a group of about 18 very excited Disney ICPers boarded the Virgin-Atlantic flight to Orlando International Airport. The flight its self was really not a bad flight at all. Except from a small amount of turbulence, it was a very smooth trip! Also, as we were on one of the new Virgin planes we got to experience the new entertainment system. This was great … through the use of a touch screen we could play games, listen to music, watch movies and watch the flight path of the plane to Florida! 🙂 There was a bit of everything in there! And also a lot of new things there too! I got to watch the new Disney film “Tangled”, as well as other new titles such as “127 hours” and “Black Swan”. All in all, a very good flight, and then you have the amazing moment of getting off the plane and to be greeted by a way rush of air known as the heat of Florida!!! 😀

After landing in Orlando at about 15:10 (local time), we all sped through the fingerprinting, only to find that we had to wait for half an hour in a very scarily official looking office to wait for them to double check all  of our VISA documents. This turned out to be not scary at all, and soon we were out of there and picking up our luggage of the spinny circular machine! After going through more checks we managed to get onto the fancy glass monorail transportation system that they have at the airport through to …. yet another part of the airport! However, this time we were very close to our final destination …. the Mears Transportation Shuttle desk!

So, at 5pm we got onto the Shuttle bus, after spending our last 2 hours attempting to work our way through the airport! However, this was definitely not the last of the long waits …. as the journey that  should have only taken 30 minutes from the airport to Vista Way, actually took us another 2 hours!!! This was crazy!! So we finally arrived at Vista Way at 7pm where we all recieved our Disney Welcome Packs full of goodies such as the Disney Program guide, some washing powder, a bus guide and our key to our apartment! 🙂

After a brief welcome session, we all were escorted away to our apartments in vans, just in the nick of time! As at this moment the weather decided to open up on us and suddenly buckets full of rain was falling down on us. And to add to this, the thunder and lightening came as well! When the rain began to stop 10 minutes later, we all exited the van to enter what will be our new homes for the next 10 weeks.

I arrived at my apartment to find the rest of my flat were all out at work, so I quickly settled in and (most importantly) made my bed for me to collapse into later on. Then a group of us met to get on the bus to go to our local supermakert – Walmart. Now, in the UK at 10pm you would very rarely find a supermarket really busy, and especially on a Sunday as they are all closed. However, on a Sunday evening at 10pm in the USA, Walmart becomes the busiest place you could ever imagine!!! People dashing everywhere with trolleys, bashing into anyone they possibly can, items of food and clothing flying everywhere, and everyone dashing to try and grab the newly released offer on Oreos! Anyway, after an hour of carefully making our way around the shop, we manage to buy some things and get back on the bus. So we finally arrive back at 11:30pm, by which point everyone from the UK were exhausted as our bodies felt like it was 4:30am!!! So after a very brief meeting with one of my flatmates, I dived into bed to try and get a nice night sleep …… which did not happen ….. and after only 2 hours sleep … we were up and out again to meet at 8:05am to be taken to The Commons, where we sat through 4 hours of presentations and document filling out …. only to come back to Vista Way to fill out even more documents! However, by this time, the sun was fully shining and the weather was really nice and warm, so nothing could dampen my spirits!!! 😀 😀 😀

This time when I arrived back to the flat I met the rest of my roomies. So I am now living with 3 other girls, one from Ohio (Korey) and two from Puerto Rico (Jamie and Helen), who all seem to be really lovely people 😀 😀

That afternoon, one of my flatmates (Jamie) and her friend (Luis) took me to Downtown Disney where we spent a relaxed few hours just wandering around the streets and shops, just generally having a nice time! 😀 This was followed by a really nice meal at Taco Bell (a sort of McDonalds but for Mexican food) which not only was cheap, but was really quite tasty! 😀

So there you have it ….. I am now in Florida!!! I have spent my first whole day here and hopefully from now on, it can only get better and better!!!! 😀 😀 😀 😀

Thanks for reading,

Collette 😀 😀 😀

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10 hrs, 20 mins until your next flight with us!

“But Peter, how do we get to Neverland?”

“We fly of course!!!”

Peter Pan and Wendy (Peter Pan, 1953)

So there you have it! Today is the day!!!!! In just a few hours I will be flying to the place where dreams come true!!! Fair enough, I do have to go to bed before I actually go to Florida, but at the moment ….. I’M TOO EXCITED!!!!!! 😀 😀 😀 😀

Bags are pretty much packed now, just need a few more double checks, but it is now pretty much official!!! I’M GOING TO FLORIDA!!!!!!! 😀 😀 😀 After  7 months of waiting for it to come true, a year of hoping it will come true, and 10 years of dreaming that something like this will happen ……. it is now only 10 hours and 20 minutes until I fly over to Florida where it will all come true!!!!!!! It really truely is the place where dreams come true!!!

And so I will leave you with ‘On My Way’ from Brother Bear ….. Very fitting words for this precise moment in time 😀 😀 😀

Tell everybody I’m on my way
New friends and new places to see
With blue skies ahead yes
I’m on my way
And there’s nowhere else
that I’d rather be

Tell everybody I’m on my way
And I’m loving every step I take
With the sun beating down yes
I’m on my way
And I can’t keep this smile off my face 😀 😀 😀 😀

Goodbye for now …. and next time I will speak to you … will be from Florida!!!!! 😀 😀 😀 😀

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LESS THAN ONE WEEK TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D

SO! It has almost been 6 whole months since my last post, and a lot has happened in that time! I have finished my second year at Bangor and I am now the chairperson of Bangor University Music Society and the conductor of Bangor University Concert Band! And, most importantly …… I have been working on getting ready for Florida!!!! 😀 😀 😀

I now have officially finished filling everything out for Florida!!!! :D:D:D I am booked on flights, I have spend a fun day in London during which I got my VISA, I have paid the programme assessment fee and I am now ….. ALL SET FOR FLORIDA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😀 😀 😀 😀 Which is probably a very good thing as we set out to Florida ON SUNDAY!!!!!!!!!!! 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

It still doesn’t feel like it is real yet … still just a dream that I’m going to wake up from at any moment! However, a few days ago I received an email which did make it suddenly seem more real, as it was entitled:

Disney International Program: You’re Almost Here!

So! The time has almost come! At 15:25 (20:25 in the UK), on Sunday the 19th of June, I will have arrived in Florida!!!! Can you believe it!!!! It seems like only yesterday when I was reading about the program on the internet last summer ….. and now ….. it’s less than a week away!!!! Wow!!!! Still feels quite surreal!!!!

In 4 days, 17hours and 33 mins … I will be on a Virgin flight to Orlando along with at least 16 other very excited Disney ICPers who are all preparing for the trip of a lifetime!!! 😀 😀 😀 And hopefully, over the next 11 weeks, I will be able to help you all enjoy and keep up-to-date with what will hopefully be an amazing experience 😀 😀 😀

So, as Tigger says, TTFN (ta ta for now),

Thanks again for reading …… hopefully from now on this blog will just get more and more exciting and interesting 😀 😀 😀

Collette 😀 😀 😀

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And so it begins ….. Walt Disney World here I come!!!!!

So, my first ever blog! How exciting!!! And what better a reason to start a blog than Walt Disney World ….. I think that is a very good excuse to start writing a blog! 😀

If you hadn’t already guessed, this blog is going to be about Walt Disney World, and mainly about my Disney experience on the Walt Disney World international college program!!!! 😀 😀 😀 😀

But maybe I’m getting a bit too ahead of myself. I think I will start at the beginning ……

Firstly ….. Hi!!!! My name is Collette Astley-Jones, I live in Lytham St Annes and I am currently in my second year of studying music at Bangor University, which in itself is absolutely amazing, one of the best experiences of my life so far! Being a music student, this means I am in fact in love with music! So if I do randomly start babbling about music please forgive me! After music I have many other loves in life ….. one of them being Disney.

So, how did I end up on this once in a lifetime opportunity of working at Walt Disney World in Florida, I hear you ask. Well, it all beings in summer 2010 (Fancy flashback music – lots of use of wind chimes and string harmonics) …….

3 months summer holiday always sounds great, but after about 3 weeks you end up wishing you were back at uni being ridiculously busy and having a rehearsal every night, or at least I did over summer 2010. So by July I decided to think about what I could do to make summer 2011 a little less boring and more exciting, as there is only so much practising you can do each day before you get to the stage where you cannot play any more, you collapse in front of the television, and then spend the rest of your day doing absolutely nothing except sat on your bum watching the big square box of wonder! (It really is a fascinating thing!)

Right, I said, lets do something ….. this lead to me sat on my bum in front of the television, but this time with laptop on knee. After making a list of thinks that I would love to do over summer I finally narrowed it down to several items that would be possible and affordable (I don’t think flying to the moon is really possible for summer 2011, and even if it is …. it definitely wouldn’t be affordable!) So my list was narrowed down to 3 things: 1. Getting work experience with an professional orchestra (i.e. BBC Philharmonic as it is the closest BBC orchestra to me), 2. Working at Disneyland Paris, and 3. Working at Walt Disney World in Florida.

All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them

Walt Disney

I now discover my first problem …… number 2 …… I can’t speak French well at all! My extent of the French language is a few numbers, a handful of items and foods and ‘Je ne comprends pas’ (which means ‘I do not understand’ in French!) So, number 2 was out, leaving me two options, both of which would result in me living one of my dreams. So I looked at my two options, and I decided to start looking at the one which was probably going to be the less possible of the two, which I thought would be working at Walt Disney World. After searching several American websites for summer jobs at Walt Disney World and finding they were all for people who live in America, I began to loose hope. However, I finally stumbled across a website that looked fairly interesting …… a website titled: Disney International Programs. Within a few minutes of searching I found something that made me jump for joy! There was a Disney International College Program Summer Work Experience! A chance for students who don’t live in America and are at university, to go and work at Walt Disney World in Florida! It sounded too good to be true! But after searching for a loophole, I discovered it was in fact perfect for me! Without further ado I ran around the house to find my mum and dad and before I knew it I had sent off my application for the Walt Disney World International College Program Summer Work Experience! I was one step closer to living on of my dreams!

Several months later, after Disney had sorted through all the applications, on the 29th of September I received an email telling me that I had got to the next stage! This time I would have to go through a telephone interview! This was very exciting, I’ve never had a telephone interview before! But a couple of weeks later I was on the phone to a lovely lady called Hannah from Yummy jobs. After a series of questions about what I do, why I would like to go and work at Walt Disney World, and what I would like to do there, I hung up the phone to find that I was actually shaking! (This could have been because it was starting to go cold and the heating was on!)

Many weeks later, many rehearsal and concerts later, many lectures later, I finally received feedback from my interview, and this feedback came in the form of an email inviting me to the interview stages! Things were getting even more exciting! So on the 18th of November I headed to Birmingham. And lets just say, what an exciting day that was! We arrived to a 2 hour presentation all about Disney in a room full of people who love Disney as much as me! It was amazing! By the end of the presentation everyone in the room was so excited! We all left bouncing around discussing all the amazing things we would get to do at Walt Disney World if we got to go. This was followed by an interview, similar to the phone interview, which was just as exciting! Finally, the day was over and we were told we should hear by the end of November on the final decision!

The last week of November came …… and past! After spending several days constantly checking emails I have to say I was slightly disappointed, but this was all blown out of my mind by the very early hours of the 1st of December. Bangor finally saw snow! And not just little bits of snow ….. really thick snow that was several inches deep!!!!! So at 1 o’clock me and my four amazing house mates had the best snowball fight …. EVER!!!!! This drove the worry of waiting for an email from my mind, that was until 5 o’clock in the afternoon when I quickly checked my email to see something that made my heart stop! 1 unread message! In a flash my finger flew to my mouse and I opened the message …….

Dear Collette,

We hope you enjoyed the recent interviews, and we would like to thank you once again for your attendance. On behalf of the Walt Disney World Representatives and all here at Yummy Jobs we would like to say how great it was to meet you.

I am delighted to have been given the “go-ahead” to be the first to say…..


You have been offered a role on Disney’s Summer Work Experience

From:  June 19th 2011  To:  September 2nd 2011

Your role in the show will be in Quick Service Food & Beverage

HURRAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 (Handel’s Messiah: Hallelujah! plays in background!)

Yeah, so as you could probably expect, I ran around the house several times, then rang pretty much everyone in my family, then ran around the house several more times and finally collapsed on my bed with the biggest, cheesiest grin ever! It was true! I will be going to Walt Disney World! 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 Even now it still hasn’t sunk in!

So there you have it!

Walt Disney World here I come! I will be a cast member between the 19th of June and the 2nd of September 2011!!!!!

You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it requires people to make the dream a reality.

Walt Disney

Thank you for reading my first ever blog! I hope you have enjoyed it and hopefully I will have more news so I can keep you all updated on the process of getting to WDW and hopefully I can let you all know how it goes whilst I’m out there.

Once again, thanks for reading!

Collette 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

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