Friday, March 27, 2009

My Disney College Program Experience

Name: Caitlin Nicholas

College: Lipscomb University

Major/Minor: Theater major, English minor

Are you a campus rep?: Sure am! I’ve been one since fall of 2006.

Current age: 22

Age at time of program: 18, but I turned 19 during the program

Time and type of program: Spring of 2006

Type of job: Attractions

Work position and location: A Great Movie Ride Tour Guide in the Disney-MGM Studios

What did your job entail?:

A big part of my job was performing shows, but I also loaded guests onto vehicles, parked strollers, and facilitated lines, among many other things.

What was your costume like?:

Man, that was back in the day of the good ol’ costumes. Black polyester pants, white button-up shirt, red bowtie, red suspenders, and a red newsie cap. When I worked outside, I wore an orange Chinese jacket called a “pumpkin jacket” and a matching “pumpkin hat.”

What other nametags did you use?:

I was Kimberly on and off…it was my default name when I couldn’t find my own, and I took the tag home with me…

Where did you live?:

Chatham Square…I’m pretty sure it was building 22, on the second floor.

How many roommates did you have?:

I had two. Most apartments house 2, 4, 6, or 8 people, but there are three-person apartments for those who request them.

Did you know anyone before you went down?:

I knew the two girls I lived with, and since we were all nervous freshman, we chose to live together. Katie worked merchandise at Coronado Springs, and Brittany worked QSFB at Port Orleans.

Did you leave a significant other behind?:

There was a guy I had a crush on before I left, but we weren’t dating. However, we started dating by long-distance halfway through my program, and we kept dating once I got home. Despite the unorthodox factor, it all worked out, and we’re getting married in March of 2010.

Did you bring a car?:

I did not. I relied solely on the buses. It actually worked out really well. Outside of grocery shopping, it was easy to work with, and even shopping wasn’t that bad (it was just hard to get everything home).

Did you take a class? Which one?:

I took the Entertainment Professional Development Series, which is only open to entertainment majors (like theater, dance, music, etc.). I really enjoyed it! We met with Disney professionals who showed us how a show, parade, or attraction is put together from first idea to close, and we even got VIP seats for Fantasmic! and a backstage tour.

Did you participate in the housing events?:

Just a couple of them. You definitely can’t miss graduation, and I went to a cast member-only pin-trading event and the Studios Spring Fling

What was the best thing you brought with you?:

My laptop and my Ipod. My laptop kept me in contact with people back home without going to the apartment computer labs, and my Ipod kept me entertained on the bus to and from work when I wasn’t riding with friends.

What did you wish you brought with you?:

I wish I had a lunchbox. Seriously. I got tired of eating in the CM cafeteria.

What was your favorite souvenir that you brought home?:

Probably my collection of Alice in Wonderland tee shirts.

Did you pin trade?:

Oh, heck yes, I did! I even have the dorky pin bag with 200+ pins in it…

What’s your favorite Disney animated movie?:

#1 (tie): Little Mermaid and Alice in Wonderland

#2: Beauty and the Beast

#3: Treasure Planet

#4: Meet the Robinsons

What’s your favorite Disney live-action movie?:

#1 (tie): Newsies and Enchanted

#2: Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl

#3: Mary Poppins

#4: Candleshoe

What’s your favorite Pixar movie?:

Definitely The Incredibles!

Who’s your favorite character?:

Alice from Alice in Wonderland, Giselle from Enchanted, Ariel from the Little Mermaid, Wilbur from Meet the Robinsons, and Jim Hawkins from Treasure Planet

What’s your favorite Disney Channel TV show or movie?:

High School Musical (3, 1, 2, in that order). And I loved Even Stevens back in the day, although Wizards of Waverly Place is pretty fun.

What’s your favorite Disney song?:

“That’s How You Know” from Enchanted, “She’s In Love” from Little Mermaid on Broadway, “Carryin’ the Banner” from Newsies, and “Little Wonders” from Meet the Robinsons

What’s your favorite park?

Well, I am partial to the Disney-Hollywood Studios, but Epcot is freaking amazing. And MK is always a classic.

What’s your favorite Magic Kingdom attraction?:

Peter Pan’s Flight, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, TTA, and Pirates of the Caribbean

What’s your favorite Magic Kingdom land?:

Fantasyland, with Tomorrowland as a close second

What’s your favorite Epcot attraction?

Test Track is phenomenal! But I also love Mission: Space and Maelstrom (in the Norway pavilion).

What’s your favorite Studios attraction?

Definitely Great Movie Ride. I also adore Star Tours and MuppetVision 3D.

What’s your favorite Animal Kingdom attraction?

Dinosaur. And Kali River Rapids, as long as it’s not cold.

What’s your favorite water park?

I’ve actually never been to any of the water parks, if you can believe it.

What’s your favorite attraction that no longer exists?:

The original Journey Into Imagination ride. It’s one of my earliest Disney memories!

What’s your favorite 3D movie?:

Philharmagic and MuppetVision 3D are my favorites, but I hate It’s Tough to Be a Bug and Honey, We Shrunk the Audience.

What’s your favorite fireworks show?:

Fantasmic, with Wishes a close second.

What’s your favorite parade?:

The Christmas parade is fantastic, but I’ll always be partial to Disney Stars and Motorcars.

What’s your favorite stage show?:

Voyage of the freakin’ Little Mermaid, hands down.

What’s your favorite roller coaster?:

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad! I love that thing to death.

(If applicable) What was your favorite PI club?

The Adventurer’s Club! It was so fantastic.

What are your favorite places to eat?:

Magic Kingdom: Columbia Harbor House and Pinnochio’s Village Haus

Epcot: the Land pavilion and the French patisserie

Studios: Primetime Cafe

DAK: No clue, really. I guess the McDonald’s.

DTD: Earl of Sandwich, Wolfgang Puck’s, Raglan Road, and Ghiradelli’s

What’s your favorite Disney food?:

Mm…fish and chips! I got so addicted to it!

What’s your favorite Disney dessert?:

Dole whips! They’re only sold in Adventureland in MK, but they’re so freaking delicious. That, and the Nestle cookie ice cream sandwiches.

What’s your favorite resort?:

When I travel with my family, we usually stay in Caribbean Beach, and it’s wonderful.

What’s your favorite Disney shop?:

MK: Tinkerbell’s Treasures

Epcot: The UK pavilion toy store

Studios: Sid Cahuegna’s and the shops in animation courtyard

DAK: Really, no opinions here

What’s your favorite Downtown Disney shop?:

The pin store! The massive, beautiful pin store!

What’s your favorite non-Disney hangout?:

It used to be Bennigan’s, but they closed.

How many times have you gone to Disney World outside of your program?:

1987: offsite

1992: offsite

2003: Caribbean Beach

2007: Caribbean Beach

2007: Coronado Springs

(plus we stayed at Pop Century at the beginning and end of my program)

What was your most magical moment as a guest?:

Probably when a CM gave me the Jim Hawkins pin on her lanyard. I’d forgotten my pins so I couldn’t trade, but I was really excited because I hadn’t seen a pin of him before. She said she’d never met anyone who knew who he was, and gave him to me.

What was your most magical moment as a cast member?:

I was working on Mardi Gras, and a set of parents came through with lots of beads and two small children, a toddler girl dressed as Cinderella and a little boy about four. I talked to the little girl and greeted her as Princess Cinderella, and she just loved it. Then the little boy gave me a pretend Stitch experiment to be my very own. The parents thanked me for being so sweet to their children and gave me a string of Mardi Gras beads that I still have.

Did you meet anyone famous on your program?:

I did! The Barenaked Ladies came through the ride, plus I did a show from Scotty Pippin from the Chicago Bulls and I opened the vehicle doors for Roy E. Disney (Walt’s nephew).

Got a stupid guest story?:

So many stories…so little time. Well, I love the drunk man during the Wizard of Oz show. There were only five or so people on the vehicle, and it was the part when the munchkin mayor tells me to follow the yellow brick road. This genius stood up in his seat and started looking around anxiously.

Me: “Sir in row ten, please remain seated.”

Drunk Man: “Okay, but…but I really need to find the yellow brick road!”

Me: “…it’s okay, sir. I know where it is. It’s up here on the left.”

Drunk Man: “Oh, okay!”

Seriously. Hilarious.

What’s your favorite cast member memory?:

Honestly, I loved the camaraderie with my fellow Great Movie Riders. It was fun to just chill out and talk to people.

How would you sum up your Disney College Program experience?:

It was definitely one of the best things I could have done. I learned to live on my own and handle a full-time job, and it gave me a lot of performance experience. I absolutely loved my time as a CP.

Do you think you’ll go back?:

I’ve been accepted to the Summer Alumni program for 2009 in Attractions, and I can’t wait to do it again!

Any advice for new CPs?:

Come ready to work and ready to learn. If you come in with a bad attitude- you didn’t get your ideal work location, you think you already know what you’re doing, etc., you slack off a lot- you’re not going to do all that well. Your fellow CMs will get annoyed with you pretty quickly, and believe me, you don’t want to get on the bad side of the people you work with. Work hard and be nice. Then, as you get more seniority, you can get mad at all the new slackers coming in.

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