"So Do You Live at Disney World?" My Eight Months as a WDWCP-1700+ Photos!
Hey! I'm Gretchen, and I spent January through August of 2012 working at Epcot. Half of that was as a college program participant, and the other half was as a seasonal cast member. Some of you may remember that I had a blog that discussed aspects of working at Disney that I was encouraged to make private. This "trip report" will only consist of things that do not relate to working. :thumbsup2
Right now I am currently also writing a Pre-Trip Report for our upcoming December trip, which is up in the air right now due to financial issues. I'm a first year graduate student at the University of Buffalo studying for my doctorate in clinical audiology. I'm 21 years old, and I love reading, Grey's Anatomy, and Harry Potter. And of course, I love Disney and answering questions about Disney. Ask me anything!
So, how did I come to be a WDWCP? Well, in November 2010, my college announced the deactivation of my department-Communicative Disorders and Sciences. While I would be allowed to finish my degree, it really put a damper on my experience. And when my mom and I went to Disney World in October 2011, I seriously considered applying for the college program. I only needed 12 elective credits in spring 2012 to graduate, and I could either get them taking useless things like Calculus and Latin, or I could get them while working at Disney. No brainer, right? ::yes::
So I applied on October 17th, had my interview on October 23rd, and was accepted to the program after nearly three long weeks of waiting, on November 11th. (11-11-11!) I was accepted for Main Entrance Operations and would be checking in to the program on January 11th. Two months from acceptance to arrival.
In the meantime, I did some prep work. First my purple postcard came.
I booked flights on Southwest (needed those two free bags!) and a one night stay in a studio at Old Key West, booked through a DVC member. I ordered some guidebooks from the school library (although I basically have the UG memorized anyway, and I never actually made it over to Universal or Sea World. I bought vacuum seal bags for the first time, and they made all the difference in the world.
And finally the day came when it was time to depart!
Table of Contents
Prior to Beginning
January 10th-Part 1
January 10th-Part 2
January 10th-Part 3
January 10th-Part 4
January 11th & 12th
January 15th-Part 1
January 15th-Part 2
January 15th-Part 3
January 15th-Part 4
January 25th-Part 1
January 25th-Part 2
A few days before I was supposed to leave, I fell down the stairs and hurt my knee. It was diagnosed as a sprain, and I was given painkillers and advised to rest it and ice it. But they didn't tell me I couldn't go!
January 10th came dark and early. My bags were packed and ready to go, and my mini-countdown calendar was crossed off.
Mom and I headed to the airport around 6am, stopping so I could get breakfast on the way. We parked in the long term lot, not far from the walkway to the terminal. Upon entering the airport, we found we were on the ground level near baggage claim so took the elevator upstairs and walked down to the Southwest check in counter. I printed my boarding pass and weighed my bags. My biggest suitcase was exactly 50 pounds! Then Mom and I walked towards security where I prepped to go through, then we said "See you in 30 days!" (she was coming to visit). I walked through the security queue and Mom went off to the side to watch me. There was no wait and I got right through.
Even when I have a plan I feel like an unorganized frump walking through security. I had to take my laptop out of my bag and put that in a bin, as well as my 1 quart bag of liquids. My jacket and shoes had to go through the scanner as well. Then the carry on itself. I almost forgot to take off my belt, and since it has metal grommets all the way around it that definitely would have set the detector off!
After that mess, I waved goodbye to Mom and headed for Gate 18. There weren't many people there yet so I grabbed a seat next to the window.
I tried to get myself reorganized which was quite a challenge. Then I wanted a drink and since I was traveling alone I had to take all my stuff with me. Ugh. I went across the way to Which Wich and got a bottle of apple juice. Then I came back over. I people watched, played Solitaire on my computer and listened to music. Just after 8am, we started boarding. I had boarding number A53. There were a lot of older people in wheelchairs who needed to pre-board so they took a while. Only one person was in business select (the first 15 As), so I wasn't too far back in line.
When I got on the plane I saw that the pre-boarders and the 30 or so people ahead of me had taken up a lot of the front, so I walked toward the back, and sat on the right side (facing front) window seat right on/behind the wing. The flight was completely full so I did have two other people sitting in my row. The flight was smooth and calm as always. I had a sprite and a 100 calorie pack of Honey Graham Cinnamon Roll cracker things. During the flight I listened to my iPod.
We landed about 25 minutes early, around 11. Of course, since there were so many people ahead of me I had to wait awhile to deplane. Once I got off, I called Mom and walked down the terminal before stopping in the bathroom. Then I headed towards the shuttle train and arrived in the main terminal. I had no problem finding Magical Express and when I arrived the queue was empty as usual. I've never seen it full. I was directed into line 3.
I only waited about a minute before being directed to a bus. At that point there were only three other people on the bus, two grandparents and their young grandson. We waited about 15 minutes before we left, and in that time some more people got on. The bus was about 2/3 full.
We were informed that there would be only two stops, at Old Key West and then Port Orleans French Quarter. Along the way I saw Characters in Flight.
Finally we were approaching the arch! And thanks to the fact that the grandpa ahead of me moved his head, I was able to get the best picture of it I've ever taken.
Just a few minutes later, I saw this sign.
As we pulled into the resort I was thinking how pretty the buildings were. Approaching the Port Cochere, there was an ambulance at the drop off point and some EMTs with a family checking out a lady's leg. A CM came running up to us and asked if the driver could just drop us off quickly in the first loop where the normal buses stop, so he did. I received my carry on and headed to check in and start the next phase of my life that would change me forever.
Joining in! This sounds like fun! Hope you liked OKW as much as we do!
I'm along for the ride!
I'm in! Its my dream to work at WDW!
Great start! I want to move to Disney and work for them SO BAD! I can't wait to read about your experience.
Arrival Day Part 2
I walked into the lobby and approached the online check in counter. Anthony from Puerto Rico greeted me enthusiastically. He was very excited when he found out I was doing the college program and said that he had done it himself and never left. He was just "earning his ears" in his new resort role. My room was not ready yet and he wasn't sure exactly what number it would be, but that it was on the second floor of building 11. This was the top floor and close to the Hospitality House so both of my room requests had been met! There was only one minor snafu when he said I didn't have a credit card attached to my room key, but I know I had put one in during online check in.
After that, I walked outside and took out my shorts, bathing suit, and some other items and put them in my small backpack. I walked a short way to Bell Services and gave them my carry on, then headed off to find a locker room. There was one attached to the fitness center...with no keys for the locks, and I didn't find anyone to ask about it. So I just changed and left my stuff in the locker, taking important things with me. Now it was a little after noon and I was kind of hungry, so I went over to Olivia's. I explained that I had a lunch reservation for 2pm, but if they had availability I'd like to be seated now.
It was no problem and I was seated right away. My server was J'nette.
I was trying to keep costs down for this meal so ordered water to drink (plus I was really thirsty). I knew pretty much right away what I wanted to order, and chose the Traditional Club Sandwich - Layers of Smoked Turkey, Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, and Mayonnaise, served with Honey-Lime Fruit Salad for $11.99. It arrived a short while later.
It was a pretty average sandwich. I thought the bread would be toasted but it wasn't. The fruit salad was good but tasted simply of honeydew and cantaloupe, not really any honey or lime flavors that I could detect. It was a very large sandwich so I ate only half and a few bites of the other half. I did finish all the fruit salad.
Several minutes passed before J'nette came out to see if I was through and when she did she admitted that she had been "chatting in the back" and then worried that I was waiting for her.
I decided to try the famed Key Lime Tart-with mango and raspberry sauces ($5.49). for dessert. I expected either a slice of key lime pie or something like the Sunshine Seasons key lime tart, but this is what I got instead:
I ate half of the crust, which was very good, then dug out the middle key lime filling. I ate a couple bites of the meringue but scooped most of it off-nothing against the meringue there as it's not something I care for in general.
Overall the meal did fill me up and I was pleased but I wasn't wowed. Both the service and the food were just average. I would recommend it if you are staying at the resort, but wouldn't say you should make a special trip over there just for the restaurant. I'm in no great hurry to go back.
While I was eating I got a text saying that Villa 1123 was ready for me-only about 20 minutes after I had checked in! So after lunch (which I paid for with a $25 Disney gift card that Mom had snuck in my purse) I went off to the locker room to pick up my stuff and then went off to building 11.
The building is kind of confusing because the upper walkways don't connect and I went up the wrong set of stairs at first. There were only 10 villas in the building. So I found my room and open the door to see this:
My jaw hit the floor as I realized I had been upgraded to a one bedroom! I was almost crying with excitement and immediately called Mom to tell her!
After I hung up with her, I went down to the front desk to ask about my box that I had shipped down ahead of time. They didn't have a note of it but were able to find it in the back room. Phat from Vietnam (I think) brought that and my carry on over to my room.
I took a bunch of photos and a video.
I loved how much light the windows let in!
The door to the right goes to the living room, and straight ahead is the bedroom access.
After all that excitement I settled down to take a nap, since I had slept maybe 4 hours total in the previous two nights. I set my alarm for 4:15pm to allow me time to go to the pool and get ready to go to Downtown Disney.
Arrival Day Part 3
After I woke up from my nap, I stepped out onto the balcony to see if it was warm enough to go swimming. It seemed a little cool but humid, so I decided not to go swimming but walk around the resort instead. I put my jeans back on and added a sweatshirt and headed out. This is the directional sign for building 11.
And this is looking at Building 11. I was in the green section on the left, but outside of the picture.
Then I just walked around the resort. I walked down to Turtle Pond and walked about halfway down that road then turned around. Here are a bunch of shots from that walk.
The resort really was beautiful. I would definitely stay there again. It was around 5:15 at this point and actually more humid than it seemed so I went back to the room to put my shorts back on and get out of my sweatshirt. When I opened the door, my luggage had been delivered from Magical Express. Up to that point, it was the longest my luggage had ever taken to be delivered-nearly five hours.
I changed and put on some make up and then walked down to the boat dock. It arrived within a few minutes.
The driver took a short break and we were on our way at 5:40. The ride was relaxing. There were some giant birds (herrings? cranes?) on the side of the canal by Saratoga Springs but they left us alone, thankfully. I hadn't realized that the boat was only going to stop at Pleasure Island, so I got off and walked over to the Marketplace.
My roommate, Casey, and I were meeting at Earl of Sandwich for dinner. She got there first and was waiting outside. She greeted me with a big hug and was so excited to be there. Casey had never been to EoS before so I was pleased I got to introduce her to it. I ordered the Veggie sandwich and she had the All American.
We hung around for a bit and chatted and then walked toward the bus stop to head for our next destination.
Arrival Day Part 4
I had never been to Downtown Disney at night before, so I was really surprised to see the twinkling lights in the trees. Our next stop was the Polynesian, so we walked over to the bus stop. The bus stops at the Marketplace are very confusing because they are double sided. We were at Bus Stop 3, for Polynesian & Contemporary, plus a separate bus for Saratoga Springs. It was a bit of a wait and then a bus flashing Polynesian and Contemporary pulled up...to bus stop 4. We walked over to get on and the driver asked if we were going to Ft. Wilderness/Wilderness Lodge...Um, no? We told him the sign on the bus was wrong and he was very confused, so he got out to check, and sure enough it was wrong.
So we walked back over to our stop and it wasn't too much longer before the correct bus came. One thing that drives me crazy about the buses is that they are always freezing. We had to stop at Pleasure Island, and then took a really long ride to the Contemporary before driving over to the Polynesian. An amazing surprise was that the Christmas lights were still up on Cinderella's Castle!
Inside Captain Cook's we each got a Pineapple Dole Whip. So good.
Casey had heard that the Wishes music was piped onto the beach by the Hawaii building, so we tried to find that, getting lost a couple of time. Lilo and Stitch was playing on a blow up screen along the beach. Finally we found a map that directed us the right way. We went to the beach by Hawaii and found some lounge chairs and took a seat. We had a great view, and saw a bit of "The Magic, The Memories, and You", albeit from a distance. That's Casey's favorite show.
Finally Wishes started and the music did indeed come over the speakers! It was a bit funny because the sound from the fireworks was delayed but then echoed so it wasn't completely in sync. My pictures aren't great, but here are a couple (my fireworks pictures greatly improve from here on out).
The show was amazing and I had forgotten how much I liked it. I decided to stop in at Captain Cook's again to pick up something for breakfast the next morning and decided on a yogurt parfait. After cashing out, Casey and I set out to get the monorail to Epcot. We got a little lost looking for the TTC but eventually found it and caught Monorail Yellow seconds before the doors closed. We did have to stand, but the trip was not long at all. Another great surprise was that the Epcot Christmas tree was still up! I don't have any pictures of that though either.
We disembarked the monorail and headed for the bus stops, finding that Casey was at stop 12 for Pop Century, and Old Key West was stop 9. I saw that my bus was there, so we said goodbye and I jogged over. The bus was almost full, but there were a few empty seats. I sat up front and most other people were in the back. The bus ride back to OKW was not long, but once we got to the resort, the bus made 4 or 5 stops before Hospitality House, so that added about 25 minutes to the trip. I was the last one off and the only one for my stop; it would have been faster to get off at the first stop (Peninsular Road) and walk back to my building.
When I finally arrived back I called Mom again at her request and then worked on some reviews for allears. I soaked for a little bit in the Jacuzzi tub-it took forever to fill. I also called to schedule a wake up call for 5:30am, a bell services pick up for 6am, and a taxi pick up at 6:15am. I was so tired that I fell right asleep and didn't wake up until the phone rang the next morning.
What a great TR so far ... I also worked at Epcot for a year as a CRP in the Canadian pavillion, so I'm really looking forward to reading about your experience!
great so far. What a place to earn credits for college. I would have loved that.
Nice you met your roommate.
OKW is so pretty.
Looking forward to more.
OKW looks beautiful. Love the bathtub! :)
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