Friday, August 28, 2015

Things I learned in my 5 weeks of working at Disneyland

There aren't any cool underground tunnels, cast members don't automatically get into Club 33 (I met cast members who have worked there for over 10 years and never been), and Disney employees really do sell their souls to work there.

But the most important thing I learned in my time at Disney was: every single person on that property's number one priority all the time is for guests to have the most magical time possible.  And that is pretty darn impressive.

I used to think that the prices to Disney were absolutely insane.  But after working there I can tell you exactly why it costs so much.  On any given day at Disneyland, in order to provide the best possible experience for all guests, the ratio between guests and cast members is about 3 or 4 to 1.  Now hopefully that number seems outrageous to you.  That number seemed outrageous to me until I spent enough time there to see how much freaking work goes into every single detail of the entire operation.  And now I understand why it costs so much.  And sadly the mass majority of those cast members are getting paid less than they would working at In & Out Burger.  But they do it because they love it.  They do it because of the perks.  They do it despite they literally have to sell their souls to be there.

Random Facts:
- Disney hired Bush's entire FBI staff to do security for Disneyland after Bush left office.
- Disneyland has to be 60% full for the park to break even financially.
- There are very few doors leading to back stage at Disneyland so if a guest wanted to walk back stage if they acted like they knew where they were going they could go backstage all they wanted.
- Disneyland is still very conservative and strict about employees appearance.  No tattoos can ever be showing. (Which shockingly is a huge deal for most people in southern California.)
- There is a hotline a cast member can call to find out when and where a character will make an appearance in the park.
- If you drop your ice cream/food/toy and it breaks, tell a cast member and they can give you a voucher called No Strings Attached to replace the product.

- Jungle Cruise Tour Guides cannot use their own material unless it is put into the permanent collection of jokes.
- There are secret security in normal clothes all throughout the park.
- Technically no one has ever died in Disneyland because they don't declare someone is dead until they are outside the park.
- When a ride has to make an emergency stop like because someone had a selfie-stick or took off their seatbelt, the ride has to go through a huge long process that takes up to an hour.  Hence rides shut down from time to time.
- Selling balloons is a lot more difficult than they make it look.  Of course if you pop your balloon somehow you can get it replaced, and if you want a picture with the balloons just ask!

- Pirates of the Caribbean is the dream of the old guy sleeping in his rocking chair in the bayou as the ride starts.  I HAD NO IDEA.

Disneyland tries to do good:
- All the produce grown in Tomorrowland is given to a homeless shelter.  (All plants in Tomorrowland are editable or editable producing plants.)
- The train is powered by used oil that cooked french fries.
- To conserve water especially with the CA drought all melted ice water is reused to clean.
- All coins collected in water is given to different charities.

But the bottom line is...... seeing the whole place.  The ins and outs.  The good the bad.  The nasty and dirty and smelly....... just made me love and respect it so much more.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I Don't Want to Grow Up

I wonder if anyone has every tried to sue ToysRUS.  Because really, they did my generation such a disservice.  Or maybe it was Peter Pan.  Who knows.  All I do know is that there is no question that I have a fear of growing up, being an adult, a fear of responsibility.

I know, I know.  Not completely true.  I graduated from college.  I got a real grown up job.  I earned a masters degree while still working a full time grown up job.  I have a fantastic credit sore.  I vote every election cycle.  You could call me a grown up.  

But then you dig a little deeper.

As I have stated before, my life hasn't really changed that much from the time I was 17.  Well, besides now I do have a partner in crime, which thank the heavens means I no longer have to try and impress the opposite sex hoping for a free meal or eventual a commitment.  But besides that - which is huge- my life is exactly the same.  I get up, go to school, come home, and dream about summer vacation.

Examples of this lack of grown-upness.  I am wracking my brain thinking of the most expensive thing I have ever purchased - excluding my European Excursion around the Mediterranean which all and said and done cost me maybe $2500? or tuition for my masters degree. My road bike and my DSLR camera were both purchased with the help of Christmas money from my parents, I have never purchased a personal computer, my car was on contract with my dad for which I sold my soul (to help him with the art business),  all my beautiful valuable paintings have been gifts, seriously, I am wracking my brian.  I personally have never purchased a piece of furniture, appliances, or expensive electronics.  The most expensive thing I've ever purchased.... probably new tires on my car.  Not kidding.  

I am 32 years old.  Graduated from college for 10 solid years.  And I am still fighting like heck to not grow up.

But alas times have to change.  Big step in my life to lead me to being a grown up.  Within a week of my life I moved to "the big city" and left the magic bubble of Utah Valley and..... I bought a car.  My very first one.

Look who's turning into a grown up.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

I had a dog once.  Well technically my family had a dog.  And quite frankly I hated that dog.  Anyone who knew Akela would understand why.  Her nickname was Bad Dog because in order to survive my family she had to turn into a bad dog.

But when I was home alone and scared she was there.  When I didn't want to eat my lima beans she was there.  When I would come home from date and a boy would get anywhere near me... you get the hint, she was there.

And then she died.

After 15 years of my life, she died.

I wasn't able to talk about her without crying for the next 5 years of my life.

Hopefully, this new loss won't take nearly so long, because, well.... I'll look ridiculous.  People understand the love for a dog, or a cat, or even a parakeet.  I highly doubt most people will understand when I burst into tears over a 2003 Silver Honda Accord.

I was given the car the Christmas of 2007 with only 90,000 miles on it.  Now almost 8 years later with almost 260,000 miles on it........ it's time to let it go.

8 years this car has been my most trusted companion through the thick and the thin.  Absolutely nothing has given me as much happiness during that time than this car.

People say things don't bring you happiness and although I absolutely agree the freedom this car has given me to create more opportunities for happiness is more than anything else imaginable.

I wish I could make a list of all the things we've done together.  All the trips.  All the sunsets.  All the hours on the road with just me and that car.  But it's too many to count.

I can't even try.

And so with that I have to say goodbye.

I couldn't even walk out my front door and meet it's new owner.  I couldn't face the reality that it's gone.  All I could ask Jason with tears running down my face was, "Does she seem nice?"

Whether it is the truth or not, I am so glad he said yes.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Disneyland: What was my job really like?

I wrote this weeks ago and am finally getting around to posting it.

So after a 5 week process of interviewing, orientation, and training I am finally actually working at Disneyland!!

Now I'll first shoot you straight. Through the orientation and training there were plenty of times that I hated it. It's awful being treated like a uneducated ignorant 18 year old. Disney employees are treated like robots that are easily replaceable. 

But I already knew that. I expected that. 

What I didn't expect????

How much I absolutely LOVED my job. 

I loved it so much! I got to stand (who knew how much your feet hurt when you stand for 10+ hours) in all different lands of Disneyland, sell ice cream bars, and be a part of thousands of guests having a magical day at Disneyland. 

I got asked all sorts of questions. I got to share all my Disneyland knowledge. It's amazing. I got to help people have a magical day at the park.

So first: what I actually did.  Before starting I thought I'd be selling churros, turkey legs, popcorn, pretzels and such.  Thank goodness that was not the case!  My job was much easier!  Well kind of.  I worked on carts that looked like this:

I only sold frozen wrapped treats, bottled drinks, bagged caramel corn, cotton candy and things like that.  I never had to handle food.  I worked on carts on Main Street, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Critter Country, and Tomorrowland.  

My job started by meeting in a back warehouse behind Splash Mountain and the Haunted Mansion.  Every shift we started with watching a 10 minute video of stretching and strength training using one of those colored rubber band things.  I wish I could find a picture of how hilarious it was watching all of these cast members in their Disneyland costume stretching.

After stretching we had role call where we went through a Disney news letter of important things everyone needed to know or be reminded of.  After they always had Disney trivia questions.  The only question I really remember was, "What is the oldest attraction in the park?"  Answer: the petrified wood in Frontierland.  

Next I was assigned a cart with a given location.   If I wasn't already in the costume for that land I had to walk the mile back to the entrance of the park where the costuming building was.  The costuming building was probably the most remarkable thing of the whole experience.  It was a huge room the size of a cultural hall filled with 27 aisle 3 levels high of different cast member costumes.  It was nuts.  They have a whole system on how to find your costume.  Then each piece of a costume had a sensor in it so when you walked out of the costume area the machine automatically sensed what you took with you and then when you turned it back into the laundry it marked it all off.

 Here is the best example I could find online of what it kind of looked like.  (But there were 3 levels of clothes on each aisle where this picture only had 2)

Anyway then I would walk the mile back to the warehouse to get started on my cart.

The system for the carts was pretty archaic to say the least.  Stockers would load the cart with all the merchandise that would be on our carts.  We would have to count out the merchandise again to make sure we have the exact amount they said.  Then we would set up our cart back stage.  After our cart was ready to go we would tie our "cash register" around our waist in the form of an apron and off we went.  We would each have to drive our cart out on stage.  The carts were not very easy to drive and you can imagine how intense it was go on stage where guests were constantly trying to get around the cart as I drove it.  It was a little nuts but when I got to my area the fun would begin.

Probably the craziest part of the whole experience was: they expected us to know the prices of 15-20 items in our cart and be able to calculate the prices in our heads.  Not kidding.  Typically it was pretty easy.  One or two ice cream bars was a piece of cake.  But here is an example of a not so rare occurrence.  A mom walks up with 4 kids and says
1 frozen banana - $4.50
1 Micky ice cream sandwich $4.75
1 Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich $5.75
2 frozen lemonades $4.25 each
3 waters $3.00 each
1 Diet Coke $3.25
1 Vitamin Water $4.00

Try doing that in your head.......... (The answer is $39.75)  It was nuts.  But always kept me on my toes.

Then at the end of the night we had to haul our cart back to the ware  house, count all our products, and make sure our monies was within $20 of our inventory.

(not to brag but the two times I did this completely on my own, I was exactly on. :) even though I would have been fine if  I was up to $20 off.

And that was my job.  Of course it was so fun to come to work early or stay late to play as well....

I'm ready to go back..............

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Leave Me Here and Let Me Die

So I feel bad.  A few weeks ago I just got finished writing a post stating how I think Yosemite is the most fabulous National Park that ever existed...... but then I went back to God's Country as my dad would call it.  You see you can't just say Yellowstone because it also includes Grand Teton National Park and Island Park and everywhere in between.  You can't say Idaho because it includes Wyoming and Montana.  So the only way for my dad to describe it is... heaven.

I just got back from heaven.  It's true.  

But let's get back to the title of this post.  "Leave Me Here and Let Me Die."

You see my dad and his brothers are some of the most competitive outdoors men around.  Outdoors was so much of their life that in a previous life my dad wanted to be a biologist or work for the park services also one of my dad's brothers spent most of his career as a wild life artist...  Now I state this for one reason and one reason only, to explain that when it comes to hunting, fishing, or just about anything with these guys, nothing is easy.  They needed the biggest and best when it comes to outdoors.  When they find a location of the biggest or best they call that location a "No Tell'em" spot.  (Obviously because if you want a place to say the best it has to stay secret.)  So the fact that I am about to post this is kinda risky because out of all the No Tell'em locations in all the years of adventures, this location might be the Cadillac of them all.  

Since I was little I have heard the tales of this No Tell'em fishing hole located deep in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.  There is no real trail and as far as we can tell only a handful of people even know it exists.  My whole life I have heard the tales of the near death experiences (literally) of trying to hike/climb/slide to get to this magic fishing hole.  But most important I had heard legends of catching 50-100 fish in one day.  Can you even imagine?  The reason for the great fishing of course is the treacherous, dangerous hike to get there.  I have heard the tales of boy scouts being enticed by the use of M&Ms on the trail (or lack of trail) as the only way to get them to continue.  But the most notorious tale of them all.... well besides the 2 different times my uncle almost died and had to be rescued by Yellowstone Park Rangers maybe even with helicopters..... anyway the most notorious tale was when my uncle took his uncle on this adventure back in 1982.  The hike up and out of the Grand Canyon is so grueling, so awful that even with his son and future daughter in law pulling and pushing my great uncle, out of pure desperation he uttered out the statement that will go down in history as the only true way to describe the hike, 

"Leave me here and let me die."

So without further ado, due to the fact that 2 of my brothers are gone to med school right now and couldn't participate in this yearly male bonding ritual, I was invited to go.  Like my dad has often said, "This is where boys become men."

To say I was scared is a bit of an understatement.  And of course to scare me a bit more we stopped and checked out the canyon before going down.  Yes, we hiked, climbed, or slid down this canyon.... all in the name of fish.
Of course not without a few traffic jams due to DUCKS!  No joke.  We waiting for 30 minutes to get through a traffic jam in Yellowstone because of a group of ducks in the river.
Anyway, we didn't take any pictures on the way down the canyon.  But it's kinda every man for himself because the first one that gets down is the one that gets to the best fishing hole.  So here it is.  Here is Del and me fishing on probably the best fishing hole in the whole place.
Now mind you........ I am not a fisherman.  Not one stitch.  But to give you an idea of what this fishing is,I caught 10 fish in my first 12 casts.  Yes!  INSANE.  And insanely beautiful.

How many fish we caught, no one knows.  But to give you an idea after fishing for a while I gave up because I got sick of getting fish off my hook.  And as I was sitting there basking in the sunshine enjoying a beautiful day,Broc came and joined me and said, "Man, my arm is just getting so tired reeling them in!"

It was a perfect day.  

And the hike out.  It was tough.  But we survived.  Here is me at the top.  

And it wouldn't be Yellowstone without a "Bear Jam" as Del has always called them, that ended up being a Buffalo.  This stupid buffalo walked right down the middle of the street for a solid 15 minutes.
Then we headed south through the park to Grand Teton National Park.  Man oh man it was beautiful!  Pictures of course couldn't do it justice.

We stopped in Jackson for the traditional pizza dinner.

And I was convinced once again that no place is like here.........