Sunday, September 27, 2009

D23 Expo: Recap and Geeking Out

In the Studios...
A Toy Story 3 plot that sounds like it will make me CRY.
A Cars 2 plot that sounds decent and means I might have to see the first one.
A NEW MUPPET MOVIE WRITTEN BY JASON SEGEL!!! And maybe featuring Gonzo, my favorite Muppet! (He is severely underappreciated.)
Concept art from Pixar's next project, The Bear and the Bow - the first Pixar film to feature a female heroine (Reese Witherspoon) and a female director.

In the parks...
A HUGE expansion of Fantasyland featuring more princesses and a Little Mermaid attraction!
An upcoming Star Tours refurb. I'm a big Star Wars fan and I'm honestly not sure how I feel about this, as I think the original trilogy is far superior to the silly new movies.

Oh, and did I mention Johnny Depp showed up in full Jack Sparrow mode? Though honestly, I'd be just as (if not more) excited to see the Imagineering legends presentation featuring X Atencio, Marty Sklar, and Alice Davis, among others.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Info Post #3: The Phone Interview

So you've submitted your written application, passed the web-based interview, and set up a time for your phone interview. Whew! For some applicants, this is easily the most nerve-wracking part of the process. I've heard of interviews lasting anywhere from 10 minutes to upwards of half an hour. Generally they fall somewhere in the middle. Disney says to expect a 20-30 minute length.

Disney also provides the following tips for interviewees:
  • Limit noise and distractions. 
  • If possible, avoid using a cell phone because of possible issues with weak signal, etc.
  • If a "Blocked" or "Unknown" caller calls around the time of your interview, make sure you answer because it's probably Disney!
  • Prepare for your interview!
    • Familiarize yourself with the roles and which ones you'd be comfortable performing.
    • Check your availability and familiarize yourself with the time frames of the program seasons!
    • Be prepared to discuss your background and interests. As Disney puts it, "You will be asked about the one topic that you know more than anyone else, YOU!"
    • Make a list of questions for your interviewer.
    • Be prepared about 5 to 10 minutes ahead of your scheduled interview time.
  • But at the same time, be sure you're at least somewhat relaxed. That might mean something as simple as taking a few deep breaths.
  • Take notes.
  • Take your time - a moment of silence while you collect your thoughts is perfectly okay!
It's also helpful to have your application handy, since you will be going over it during the interview. And, if you're slightly OCD like I am, it might help to jot down a few things you'd like to mention about your strengths, especially in guest service. If you like, it might be nice to have a copy of your resume with you as well.

A tip I've heard over and over again is to smile during your interview. Sure, it sounds dorky, but it really does change the tone in your voice and your interviewer will probably notice a more enthusiastic tone. Try to answer the questions completely yet as succinctly as possible - not an easy feat for a chatterbox like myself. It’s okay to take a moment to think about your answer, and remember that silence is preferable to “um,” “uh,” and “like!”

Generally, interviews follow a pretty similar pattern:
  1. Review application and role checklist.
  2. Why are you interested in the CP/why do you want to work for Disney?
  3. Probably some questions about work flexibility and handling a difficult situation or person, and how you resolved the conflict/situation.
  4. Some kind of question regarding previous work experience.
  5. The interviewer will then move to asking questions about specific roles on your checklist. Some great advice I’ve heard repeatedly is that if you’re unsure, err on the side of guest safety and happiness. I’ve collected a bunch of previously asked questions from people on the DisBoards, so if you’re interested let me know!
  6. You may be asked about the best guest service you’ve ever experienced, Disney or otherwise.
  7. Something about how receptive you are to living with others - basically you should be receptive to whatever living situation Disney has available, I think. The interviewer may include a question about dealing with roommate conflicts.
  8. Finally, it’s your turn to ask questions! And be sure to thank your interviewer!
Up next... (hopefully next week but don't hold me to it!) Info Post #4: The Roles!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

D23 Expo: Ariel's Adventure

So I really really really really really really wish I could be at the D23 expo in Anaheim this weekend - but alas, I cannot. I was pretty busy yesterday, so I've just started to follow what was going on there. A DisBoards/LJ friend brought this to my attention:

"Fans of Disney's animated classic, The Little Mermaid, will journey under the sea to meet Ariel and her friends on an exciting new musical adventure. This new attraction will take guests through beautifully rendered scenes featuring classic songs from the popular animated feature. The attraction will be part of the expanded Fantasyland that was announced at the D23 Expo on Saturday by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo."

OMG YAAAAAAAY!!! I wonder if the attraction will bear any resemblance to the one they featured on the Platnium Edition DVD release of The Little Mermaid. Also, if you enlarge the picture, you'll notice that the concept art has two lines - one for Ariel's Adventure, and one for her grotto. So maybe it'll incorporate elements of the old 20,000 Leagues attraction. We shall see!

I may post more about the Expo soon, or just do my second info post. I will be updating a LOT for like three days, and then it will get less frequent as I will FINALLY leave for Kalamazoo on Wednesday! (Yup - haven't even started yet!)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Info Post #2: So You Want to Do a Disney College Program.

Or, The Application Process.

First of all, it's an excellent idea to make sure you meet the application requirements before going forward with your application. You must:
  • be enrolled as a full-time or part-time student and taking classes. High-school seniors with dual enrollment are not eligible to apply. You must have completed one semester of school. As long as you are taking classes at the time you apply, you can do the CP - so graduating seniors can apply while still in school and do the program immediately following graduation.
  • meet your school's requirements for participation.
  • be at least 18 years old by the time your program begins.
  • have unrestricted work authorization.
More information, especially about the first point, can be found here.

Okay, then - on to the actual application process!

Step One: View the online E-Presentation.
I recommend the E-Presentation as opposed to the campus presentation because it is almost always available before the first campus presentation, and the sooner you apply, the better. Let me repeat that, because it's important: The sooner you apply, the better! As far as I can tell, acceptance to the Disney College Program is done on a rolling basis. If you want to view a campus presentation as well, you can always do so after your application is in - personally, I'll probably do both myself, because I've heard the live presentations are fun to go to and there's a chance to win Disney swag!

Step Two: Complete the Online Application/Role Checklist
The following roles are available: Attractions, Bell Services/Dispatch, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Hostess, Concierge, Character Attendant, Custodial, Full Service Food and Beverage, Hopper, Hospitality, Housekeeping, Lifeguard, Main Entrance Operations, Merchandise, PhotoPass Photographer, Quick Service Food and Beverage, Recreation, Resort Hopper, Transportation, Vacation Planner, Costuming (backstage role), Quick Service - Kitchen Only (backstage role), Character Performer, Culinary Assistant - Cook II, and Culinary Assistant - Baking and Pastry.

The Culinary Program differs slightly from the "regular" program. I'm not in culinary school, so my knowledge of the culinary aspect of the CP is limited to what's available on the WDWCP website!

So, that's a grand total of 24 roles available! Another valuable piece of advice: Checking off more roles greatly improves your chances of getting into the program - especially if you are willing to do QSFB or custodial. (From what I've heard Custodial can be loads of fun, actually.)

I'll talk more about the different roles and their descriptions in a later entry - and Entertainment will probably get a separate entry talking about the audition process and whatnot.

Step Three: Complete the Web-Based Interview
Ah, the dreaded new step: the Web-Based Interview! Sadly, this simple survey/GALLUP poll can make or break your college program dreams. It's something a lot of employers are using these days, and thanks to the DisBoards, I've been able to find some great tips to help you pass! Unfortunately, some Spring 2010 hopefuls learned this the hard way, as they were the first to take the "web-based interview."
  • Take a deep breath! Read the questions carefully. There are very few trick questions.
  • Avoid "neutral," "agree," and "disagree" - pick stronger answers. However, they might throw in a negative question after a bunch of positive ones, so watch out for that.
  • Make sure your answers are consistent with each other. Some of the questions will be the same, just phrased differently, so make sure your answers are the same/similar.
  • Think about yourself in a work environment, even working at Disney if it helps. Don't picture yourself in a school or social environment as they may handle things differently.
  • It's timed, so make sure to answer all questions.
Step Four: Notification
You will be notified immediately whether or not you passed the web interview. If you did, you will be invited to set up your phone interview. After the phone interview, you will receive notification regarding your acceptance into the program in approximately four to six weeks.

Ah, yes, the phone interview. Considered by some to be the most nerve-wracking part of the process - personally I'm afraid the entire thing will be completely nerve-wracking, but that's just me!

Luckily for you, I will be updating shortly with...
Info Post #3: The Phone Interview!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Info Post #1: Overview, Dis-Speak, and Acronyms

I'm a Planner. Some might call it anxious and ... well, anxious, but I call it well-prepared. I don't remember exactly when I first heard about the Disney College Program - I think it was back in junior high. Well, around this time last year I started really looking into it, reading blogs and lurking on the Dis Boards College Board. I thought it might be a good idea to post some of the information I've gathered in one place for others to easily view - that, and it should give me at least a little something to write about until next year!

For those of you who may not know exactly what the Disney College Program is, I'll just go over it briefly. You can find more information at the program's official website. I'll be applying for the WDW program - there is a program available at Disneyland as well, but it's smaller (and thus more competitive to get into) and, from what I've heard, less structured. The WDWCP people have it down to a science! Plus, with a much larger complex, there are that many more opportunities. And - though this is purely word-of-mouth - apparently it's a lot easier to get into Entertainment as a CP in WDW.

The Disney College Program began in 1981 and has grown in leaps and bounds since then. It's an opportunity for college students to spend a semester working for and learning from the Disney Company - and it's a paid internship to boot! Disney bills it as "a one-of-a-kind, Disney-designed combination of education and work experience," emphasizing the Earning, Learning, and Living components of the program. Granted, it's also a way for the parks to get cheap labor easily, and participants will be performing front-line hourly jobs. But for someone like me, whose ultimate goal is to work for Disney, it's an excellent way to get your foot in the door. There are plenty of networking opportunities available. Like any job, it's all about the attitude with which you approach it. And, given that I'm a full-fledged Disney nerd, I think I've definitely got the right attitude.

And, dear (imaginary?) readers, if you've found me through the Dis boards or somewhere else, you'll know about this next bit too: Disney-speak and acronyms. Gotta love the acronyms! I don't think there are too many associated with the CP (well there's one), but I'm probably not thinking of them because I know them, if that makes ANY sense.

CP = College Program
WDW = Walt Disney World
...thus, WDWCP = Walt Disney World College Program
CM = Cast Member
PI = Professional Internship. Sometimes Pleasure Island, but seeing as it's CLOSED I doubt I'll be using that one very much.
FSFB = Full Service Food and Beverage
QSFB = Quick Service Food and Beverage
EPCOT = Every Person Comes Out Tired, Every Paycheck Comes on Thursday, or Evil Polyester Costumes of Torture.
FA/SA = Fall Advantage/Spring Advantage

MK = Magic Kingdom
DHS = Disney's Hollywood Studios (it will forever be MGM to me!)
DAK = Disney's Animal Kingdom
Many rides and resorts are shortened too... Pirates of the Caribbean becomes POTC, Grand Floridian becomes GF, etc.
Those are all I can think of off the top of my head - if I use another, I'll define it in context and try to remember to add it to this list! There's also a nifty list of acronyms available here.

Finally, people who love Disney tend to speak in what sounds like a foreign language to the average person, and it gets worse when you start working for the Big Cheese himself! Dis-Speak, Disney-ese, whatever you want to call it, it's definitely a language all its own! And, since I don't yet work for Disney, I don't use as many terms as a current CM might, but I still might say some confusing things - unless, of course, you're a Disney dork like myself. Which you probably are. Regardless!

A lot of Dis-speak has to do with shortening things - which is why we like acronyms so much! Often, things without acronyms will end up with shortened versions of themselves... Splash Mountain becomes Splash, and the Polynesian Resort becomes the Poly.

Most of the Dis-speak I'll use will probably have to do with working and the Entertainment side of things. As an entertainment company, Disney uses terms like "Cast Member" instead of employee and "Role" instead of job. The tourists in the parks are "Guests" instead of "customers" - even Target uses that one now!

Secondly, since my first choice role is Character Performer, I'll be talking a LOT about the Entertainment division of WDW. They are (understandably) HUGE on Character Integrity and keeping the magic intact. No one "plays" Mickey, since there's only one Mickey... instead, you get to be "friends with" Mickey. There are different height ranges for the characters, things like duck height, mouse height, munk height, Pooh height, etc. The range is named after a certain character, but that doesn't mean that's the only one you can be friends with. There's also some overlap - like you can be friends with Daisy and Mickey, etc etc. I'm not sure if "Princess Height" is actually a range but luckily I fall into that one because I'm dangerously close to what's affectionately known as DEAD HEIGHT! Oh no! I think I might be Munk Height, but who knows what Disney will measure me as? (Disney height tends to differ from real height. Who knows why?)

Then there's the Face Characters - my ultimate little girl dream. (But then again, isn't it everyone's?) Pooh, Mickey, etc are "fur characters" - that is, they are completely costumed. Princesses, princes, and some villains are face characters - that is, you can see their faces. Not too tricky to keep straight. :) Disney in general has very strict standards for their face characters, and I've heard DLR (Disneyland Resort) is even stricter than WDW when it comes to this.

Entertainment CPs also have the opportunity to be trained as parade performers, but it's very rare. I'll talk more about that in a later blog, when I discuss what I've learned about Entertainment, color codes, etc.

Look for another personal blog soon and some more information posts! The next info post will probably be on the application process - seems like a good next step, don't you think?

Well, that's all for now. Have a magical day!
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