It’s been just over a month since I’ve arrived at Disney World. Where has the time gone?!
I’ve been so busy since my last blog post. If I’m not working crazy long hours, than I’m either sleeping or playing in the parks. OR preparing sketches for my Fringe show. Busy busy busy.
I’ve got to say, there are many perks to my job. All my lovely friends on facebook who have creeped my photos will be all too familiar with the fun I’m having. But this job isn’t all fun and games, to tell you the honest truth. I’ve just been posting the highlights because they keep me positive, and who wants to hear me complain on facebook when everyone is already jealous that I just get to BE here? So I’ve decided to compile a list of pros and cons here on my blog about my summer job here as a College Program participant at Disney World.
Let’s just say children are cray.
And no one is crazier than a cray child’s parent.
I probably have more stories about horrible children and parents than I do good stories. Seriously. It’s like tourists here think they’re entitled to everything special and magical just because they’re here. It’s like they left their brains at the gate, is what I say to myself every single day. They complain about everything. They get especially outraged that they have to wait in line to meet a character. It’s not like everything else you do at Disney has a line to wait in. And when the character is about to go in for a snack, and they can’t line up to see them, they throw a fit. Like, I’ve seen grown adults throw fits that rival their children’s. I’ve also witnessed one attendant get physically pushed by a gentleman guest because he was outraged that she wouldn’t cave to seeing his disappointed child’s face at not getting to meet a character.
But oh man, the children can be worse. Way worse. Maybe it’s because my job requires interaction with mostly the children guests. But holy crap. I’ve seen characters punch Winnie the Pooh in the head. One pre-teen was so snarky because her family forced her to see the White Rabbit that she decided it was a good idea to use one of those cool-down spray bottle fans to spray White Rabbit in the eye. Which, you know, actually sprays him in the eye. Or when the children think it’s an awesome idea to wind up and high five you with all their might, resulting in more of an actual hit/slap than a regular high five. There’s some great parenting going on nowadays.
Then there’s my job. It’s a really cool job, right? Right. But. What I haven’t discussed yet is the physical stamina it takes to do my job. Winnie the Pooh is a round, chubby, heavy, covered-in-fur, big guy. Being friends with him means I’m pretty tired at the end of my ten and a half hour shift. Yes, my friends, you read that right; Winnie the Pooh tends to work for 10.5 hours a day. Not to mention the buses that get me to the parks take about 45 minutes. Disney property is huge, roughly the size of San Francisco. Don’t believe me? Google it.
So. It’s about 35 degrees celsius here during the day. Plus 40 degrees with humidity. Character sets are about 20 minutes outside, 40 minute breaks in between. Oh, 40 minute breaks, you say? That sounds like a pretty lax job, you think? Nope. Not counting the ten minutes it takes for Poohbear to look show ready to go onstage, plus the five or so minutes it takes him to take off his sweater when he comes back for his break, he’s got around 30 minutes to hydrate, eat, maybe nap and try to prepare his sore, dehydrated muscles for the next 20 minutes of work. Let’s just say Poohbear comes backstage drenched in sweat, looking like he just walked out of a swimming pool.
So, handling five work days in a row? Not a piece of cake, my friends. By that point I want nothing but to stay in my bed forever. And that’s not ideal considering my days off should be spent in the parks while I’m here, especially because you only get two days off a week. I usually give away undesirable shifts so I get at least three off, and I don’t have to work six days in a row.
But you know what? When I honestly think about it, all of the horrible guest interactions I have and the physical drain I experience doing my job is pretty much balanced out by all the positive things I have going for me in this program.
My favourite interactions with guests would have to be the Make a Wish Foundation families. I’ve had a few now, and I have to say that interacting with them really opens my eyes to how fortunate I am. I saw one little boy, who couldn’t walk or talk very well, have assistance walking up to Poohbear and ask him, “Did you like your honey, Pooh?” and it was just the sweetest thing, as Poohbear rubbed his tummy happily and the little boy smiled. Or when you get foreign old ladies come up to Poohbear and fawn over him, hugging him at least six times and saying loving words in Portuguese. Or the bros that come up to Pooh and give him the biggest hug, telling him that (even though they’re big strong grown up men) they love Poohbear so much, and that he was their favourite stuffed animal as a kid, and they’ve been waiting their entire lives to meet him. Now that’s special.
I’ve witnessed two very beautiful moments with the White Rabbit. One day White Rabbit wanted desperately to ride Alice’s Teacup ride, and so his attendant snuck him on. On the way to the ride, White Rabbit and his attendant decided they would make a magical moment happen for a guest, and White Rabbit took the hands of the two little girls waiting first in line to meet him, and lead them over to the ride. They then got to ride the Teacups with White Rabbit, and their parents were thrilled.
The other beautiful moment was when White Rabbit was scheduled his first park opening shift, and that meant getting to ride on the Welcome Train, a train that a bunch of Disney characters get to ride to greet guests as they open the park. There’s a show to welcome the guests to park opening, complete with singing, dancing, streamers, the works. Well, at the very end of the show, the train pops out from the sidelines and stops right above the park entrance gates, with all the characters waving at the crowd below. It was amazing to hear the collective gasp from the thousands of people as they realized the characters were on the train, and to witness the large crowd of people cheer and wave and take pictures of the characters above. These characters are truly celebrities, and it feels amazing to witness these moments.
So no, I don’t get paid very much money, I have long work days, I get a real workout and submit myself to heat stress every day. But you know what? There’s more positive to this experience than there is negative. Some days it’s really hard to remember this. Some days are long and I’m tired and sore and sleep deprived. But on the days where I get to play in the parks, or that one guest that truly loves to meet that one character, the magical moments and the experience of working at the happiest place on earth, all of these positive things are why I came to work here in the first place. I know now that I don’t want to work here for the rest of my life, like I had previously planned. But getting the chance to work here this summer is a great honour, and I count myself very lucky and fortunate to have this experience. This summer, I have the chance to continue Walt’s great legacy, and provide children with memories to last a lifetime. Not many people can say they’ve ever done that in their life.
I miss home. I miss the Phoenix. I miss Tim Hortons and poutine and free healthcare. This experience has taught me just how lucky I really am to live in Canada, and just how lucky I am to work for the Mouse.