Saturday, September 27, 2014

That Corner Booth

The Backlot Tour closes today.  That is, quite honestly, a good thing.  I'm told it was good when it first opened, but I never saw the glory days . . . and even the first time I rode, TEN FREAKING YEARS AGO this December(!), it was only a shadow of what it was meant to be.  It was constantly in a state of barely hidden disrepair, and the upper levels of management really didn't even pretend to care.  It was tired, outdated, corny, and couldn't hide it if it wanted too.  Rumors about it closing for good have been swirling for years - in fact, they were probably swirling that Christmas Day in 2004 when I rode it and whilst riding decided that yes, I was going to apply for the Disney College Program after I graduated because man, wouldn't it be fun to be the person up front giving the tour?  Frankly, it has needed to be closed down and replaced for a very long time.  No one knew that more than the people who worked there.  No one complained about how awful that ride was more than them either.  No one talked about the attraction's days being numbered and counted them down more that BLT cast members.

Including me.

I was one of them (although it's sometimes hard to believe now) and we all hated that place with a passion.

A passion so intense it became both hatred and love.

Because no one defended that place to outsiders like we did either.  No one complained about replacing live tour guiding with an autospiel more than we did.  No one got more frustrated on Catastrophe Canyon's behalf than we did when management made it clear that non-working effects weren't going to be fixed.  This was our home, for better or worse, and we were going to defend it, dangit!

At this point I hope it goes without saying that my heart is breaking today, just a little bit.  It doesn't matter that we've all seen this coming for years, I think a lot of us are feeling a bit like Inigo. For me in particular, those couple of years were a defining moment.  Obviously it's where Luke and I met, and so the thought of the whole place being torn down feels like a desecration from that view.  I mean, this is exactly the sort of thing that corny country songs are made of.

But there's so much more to it than that.  I've often told people that the first time I lived in Orlando it was like living a real life version of Friends.  Which is true, but at the same time doesn't go far enough.  Unless you've actually lived in a situation where you had no family nearby but still had a big group of people who had your back no matter what even though there were just as lost as you were and you all knew you were making it up as you went along and everyone was roommates with everyone and everyone spent all their free time together because no one knew anyone else and life was always some degree of crazy and everything was a new experience . . . well, it's one thing to watch the show, and it's completely another to live it.

I think about that moment in time often, especially now that we're back.  I have to say, at the risk of sounding overly hyperbolic, that they were easily the best and possibly the most important years of my life.  I've never felt so completely, one hundred per cent and then some, accepted for who I was in my entire life.  I have never met another group of people as non-judgmental.  I wouldn't even know where to start looking for another group of people as unquestionably welcoming. It was an absolutely new experience for me - possibly even the most foreign one I've ever had.  And because of that, I had no idea how to react when I made mistakes.  I expected rejection and judgment, so I distanced myself from people before they could do it instead.  It took a ridiculously long time, but I finally saw that that never would have happened.  This group was truly one of kind among any I've encountered . . . well, ever. (are you tired of all the adverbs yet, lol?)  so I have a few regrets, but for the most part I look back on those two and a half years with just happy nostalgia.  It was a simpler time in life, even though it felt so complicated in the moment.  And while the seeds of getting me there then were planted looooooooooooooooooooooong before I got there, those first blooms that sprouted in those years are the reason I am where I am today. (that may be the most garbled metaphor I've ever created)

Luke started a facebook event last Saturday after the closing announcement.  One last ride for former BLT cast members who were still around, the last tour ever given by the old shuttles.  We figured we could meet up with a dozen or so old friends.  Within, like, three hours fifty people had said they were coming and with everyone inviting everyone they were still in touch with the invite list has already broken three hundred and I swear there are more people every time I look.  A lot of them are coming, some of them flying in from around the country just for the weekend to see old friends and say goodbye to what was, for pretty much all of us, our first real job.  I don't even know most of these people at this point, but we're going to spend an hour together today, laughing and crying and saying goodbye to the bane of our existence . . . and one of the best things that ever happened to us at the same time.  It's slightly incredible.

The place is tired, run down, with nothing even remotely exciting or fun or new about it.  Tonight is going to be as much a celebration that it's finally gone as it is a gathering to wish it wasn't going.  It's the end of several eras, and I'm so glad we got back here in time to say goodbye.  It's taking a little piece of my heart with it, but the BLT left me a better person than it found me.  And after 25 years Catastrophe Canyon finally gets to move on to take three.  It has certainly earned it.  Go ye gently, Cat Canyon into that long goodnight, whilst we who remain rage against the dying of the light.

(yeah . . . that's really cheesy.  but some things just require a little cheese.  as I sure will be demonstrated in the several hundred pictures I plan on taking tonight.  apologies in advance for flooding people's instagram feeds.)

Sometimes you don't realize how much things have changed until it's made obvious that they'll never be the same.  I'd love to go back to those days - but I don't think I would if I could.  I got what I needed, and now it's time to make the best of that . . .

But first a couple hundred of us are going to take a day to say goodbye.

P. ost S. cript
Throwback Th-Saturday to back when I used to be a big youtube star. (and no, I am not going to admit how long I spent looking for these . . . however neither of them are the one I was looking for . . . )








Monday, August 11, 2014

How It Goes

So.  Five days of orientation, five days of training, and three days of actually working (mostly) by myself.  What have we learned/relearned/remembered/discovered we'd forgotten?

~ King's Cross station has the most amazing air conditioning known to man.  Serious, it's at least thirty degrees colder in there than it is outside.  It's kind of fabulous.  Especially when you consider how much we have to wear at work.  Heavy black pants and two layers on top (shirt/vest) . . . and that's just the work wardrobe!  I've only trained on the Hogsmede side so far, but I have two shifts over there next weeks and I'm already dreading them.  (no air conditioning at all!!!!!)

~ Either people have gotten dumber in the last five years, or tourons are just stupider than I remembered.  No particular specific example here, just . . . yes, there are two different and completely seperate theme parks here; no, you are not a Disney World right now; and no, your ticket to SeaWorld is not going to get you onto the Hogwarts Express.  Also: if you choose not to ride because/complain about a TWENTY minute line and whine when I tell you that there is no express pass/fast pass . . . you need to get over yourself because that's pretty much the shortest line you're going to wait in all day.  Also I hate you.

~ Universal treats their employees a lot better than Disney does.  At least that's the impression I'm getting.  I haven't decided yet if I'm going to stay at Universal permanently - I had kind of carved out a mental career path for Disney before we got here, and it involves positions and places that just don't exist at Universal.  That said . . . I get a 35% discount on merchandise that goes up to 50% at Christmas (versus 20% and 40%) and there is some AWESOME Harry Potter stuff available.  I may just stay long enough to buy pretty much one of everything and then renew my oath of loyalty to the rodents.

~ The Wizarding World sections of the parks are among the most AMAZING things I've ever seen.  Seriously.  We're talking indescribably incredible here.  Especially Diagon Alley.  Ho.  Ly.  Crap.  There are no words.  And what does Disney do to compete?  Spends the summer gluing cardboard snowmen to popsicle sticks and builds Avatarland.  *insert sad trombone noise here*

~ That said . . . Universal's fireworks show is basically a fifteen minute trailer for every movie Universal has ever made on a water screen punctuated by fireworks whenever there's an explosion in the movie clip.  Compared to this, this, and this . . . well *we all know what goes here*

~ There seems to be a somewhat alarming number of people desperate to see the Harry Potter stuff when they have neither read the books nor seen the movies, and in fact, have only the vaguest idea of who/what Harry Potter is.  Setting aside the sheer bizarreness involved in wondering how that's even possible, it makes it rather difficult to be a Muggle working at King's Cross these days.  Watching kids giggle when you ask them why they're wearing a snuggie (Hogwarts robes) and carrying a stick (wand)?  Fun.  Telling a couple of twenty-somethings you have no idea what Diagon Alley is and having them say "oh that's right, you don't!" and hurry away?  Fun.  (getting away with playing dumb and not actually answering people's question?  very fun!)  Watching an eight-year-old's eyes go wide as she frantically hides her wand in the pocket of her robe when her mom whispers to remind her she's talking to a muggle and that's why I don't know where platform nine and three-quarters is?  Fun.  Having people say they can't find Diagon Alley anywhere?  Less fun, but then you ask them if they've read the books, and then you ask them if Diagon Alley was out in the open for anyone to see and their eyes get all big as things start to click and you just say "think about that for a minute" and they turn around because now they know exactly where to go even though you didn't actually tell them anything.

Angry people (these one are always angry) complaining that they've been up and down this area twenty times (they haven't) and this ride is on the stupid map so where the *insert colorful word of choice here* is it, and you personally have ruined their entire vacations and by extension their entire life because you personally designed this new addition and personally deliberately misprinted the map so that they would look in the wrong place and they're going to have you fired on the spot if you don't tell them where this thing is YESTERDAY and no, they haven't read the books, who reads books in this day and age and no, they haven't seen the movies, why would they watch movies made for five-year-olds, just tell them where the *insert string of colorful words of choice here*  ride is already!

Those people . . . I long to ask them what they're even doing here.  But you're the peon (and the part-time peon at the moment at that) so you smile and say "to the left"and hope they just go away instead of asking for more specific directions, forcing you to break character in front of half a dozen little kids carrying wands and wearing robes and spectro-specs amd deathly hallows necklaces and Hogwarts house lanyards and holy crap I am seriously getting myself one of everything and Rogan is getting one of everything too because DID I MENTION THEY HAVE PLUSH HIPPOGRIFFS AND PLUSH CORNISH PIXIES?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! 

~ AND ACTUAL QUILL PENS?!?!?!?!?!?  AND SOME OF THEM ARE EVEN OLD SCHOOL STYLE WHERE YOU HAVE TO ALSO GET A BOTTLE OF INK?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

~ On that note, if anyone would like a postcard that is post marked from Hogsmede, let me know.  I'll also, you know, need your address.

~ So Pottermore sorted me in Slytherin, and I feel like that's pretty official, you know?  Like, as compared to just some random person making up an internet "what's your house?" quiz.  But I've always sorted myself into Ravenclaw, and I prefer that house's colors.  So I'm not sure which house colors to collect everything in (although I am seriously considering both).  Any advice/opinions would be appreciated.  (also if you're on pottermore you should add me)

~ They also have plush spiders.  Rogan is NOT getting one of those.

~ Butterbeer is pretty much the most amazing thing on the face of the planet.  I'm told it's eclipsed by butterbeer ice cream, but I haven't tried that yet.  I'll keep you posted.

~ Should I get a pink pygmy puff, and purple pygmy puff, or both?

~ Say purple pygmy puff five times fast. :-)

~ It's quite a different thing having to leave for work an hour before your shift starts.  Especially considering a few months ago I could leave seven minutes before I was supposed to be at work and as long as all four lights were green I could get there with time to spare.  On the other hand, I could not get off work, change clothes, and go hop on a roller coaster before going home.  You win some, you lose some.

~ Universal is really hard core about taking pictures backstage, so if anyone wants to see me in either outfit . . . well, you'll just have to come visit me while I'm working I guess.  Or search twitter/facebook/instagram for any pictures tagged Harry Potter or Universal or Wizarding World or anything like that.  I've posed for, like, a million already.  I know I'm out there somewhere, I just need to find me . . .

~ You should all come visit me anyway.  :-)


P. ost  S. cript
Going to have to start checking youtube for me again . . .


Sunday, July 13, 2014

And Then

Did I mention that I applied at every single operating participant at Downtown Disney?  Well, no . . . because last time I blogged I hadn't done that yet.  (side note: operating participant = there's a bunch of stores at Downtown Disney that aren't staffed by Disney cast members so I theoretically had a shot at at least working on Disney property and getting a smaller amount of perks)  Anyway, that happened.  And then nothing happened. 

And did I mention that the owners of Basin are in our ward?  And that I totally love those stores and could totally work there?  And apparently half the people who work there are also in our ward and every time we've told people in the ward I'm looking for a job they ask we've talk to Brother Basin (not actual name, lol) yet because half the ward works there and I should totally do that?  And that they don't think they'll be hiring anybody in the foreseeable future, but they have my application?

Because, yeah.  All that happened.

So I applied at Universal.

And they got back to me pretty much immediately. (And before you ask, there was a personality test which I totally took myself.)

And I had an interview on Friday.

And now I'm basically a conductor on the Hogwarts Express.  (it's slightly more complicated than that, so if you want a more accurate explanation of what I'll actually be doing let me know)

Luke is TOTALLY excited.  And I'm certainly happy . . . but strangely nervous.  After looking so long I just can't quite believe getting this job was so easy in the end (I got hired on the spot).  It's like there's got to be some sort of catch . . . and I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Or maybe I just can't believe that I actually have a "real" job again. 

I suppose one could consider the catch to be that it's only part time (sixty-something cent pay cut . . . but, like, triple the hours.  So it kinda works out, you know?) and there's no telling how long it will be before I could make the switch to full time.  But either way I have all sorts of paperwork and took the picture for my ID and picked a hometown for my name tag (cannot wait to hear people try to say Puyallup!) and have been told my youngest cousins are going to flip several times over when they hear what I do - but somehow it still doesn't seem quite real.  I suppose it won't until I start orientation . . . which isn't until a week from tomorrow, so this week should be interesting.  I am looking forward to the one day of just Harry Potter training; the guy who interviewed me made it sound like it's a lot of Harry Potter trivia and a little bit of training (and with any luck riding a few things, because we left before the first half of the Wizarding World opened so I haven't done any of it and it all looks AMAZING)  There was even a separate list of questions they ask for people they're considering placing in the Wizarding World . . . consisting of some of the easiest HP trivia known to man.  Seriously - name the four houses, what is Parsletongue, name three horcruxes (I named all seven), that sort of thing.  Of course, considering I haven't reread all the books since shortly after Deathly Hallows came out, this is a fabulous excuse to read them again (like I needed one . . . well, I guess I kind of did . . . ) and the PERFECT excuse to finally get copies of the first four (which came out when I was in high school and also when personal books were basically consider family books so I read Rian's).  So all in all it's a pretty win-win situation.

Conveniently enough, Luke's sister Emily was off yesterday so we went to Epcot to celebrate.  You know, as you do.  I mean, doesn't everybody celebrate getting a job by designing their own roller coaster?  And eating chocolate and caramel covered pineapple spears in Germany?  And ducking into a Canadian mine for half an hour to wait out the rain?  Other than an afternoon in Magic Kingdom about a week after we got here this was the first we've been into any park, so naturally it was awesome!!

Side note for those who've been there and might be interested in changes: holy Tron Track, that one was trippy!  Going to have to do it a few more times before I can decide what I think, other than it's a bit hard on the eyes.  (also - totally need to start a sunglasses collection so I always have a pair with me)  Club Cool has been completely changed out - VeggieBeta is still there, as is Beverly (of course), but everything else is new.  The pineapple fanta is good, but quite the odd choice considering you can get it at Walmart.  My favorite though, is this non-carbonated juice from (I think) Thailand . . . kiwi-mango, and holy crap, I'm pretty sure I drank a gallon of it!!!  Or maybe just a quart.  Seriously, it's good.  Someone needs to go to Thailand and send me, like, everything they can find.  I can't say I'm impressed with the idea of magic bands - what with facts of life like Brazilians and tourons and varying combinations thereof it just strikes me as asking for trouble.  Granted, I haven't exactly used the new system much yet . . . but the mere fact that they used it as an excuse to put fast pass at Spaceship Earth is enough to tell me that whoever had this idea spends, like, zero time in the parks and put zero thought into how a lot of things would actually work when put into practice.  Today's lesson: just because something looks good on paper doesn't mean it's actually a good idea.

Long story short, it was an immensely fun day, but it left us both a little exhausted since we're both totally out of practice with the whole spending-the-entire-day-in-the-park thing and I'm not entirely sure that I didn't get slightly dehydrated.  But I did successfully avoid any sort of sunburn and since I'll be working partly outside it would appear that in about a year that gradual, sort of almost-tan-ish-ness that I developed last time will happen again.  (I'll never forget the trip I made back to Utah between college program and going full time.  My skin had gone from its natural shade of deathly-zombie-pale-so-white-it's-practically-blue-from-the-veins to being light-skinned-but-clearly-living-human-being colored and pretty much everyone I saw had the same reaction: "Holy COW you got TAN!!!!!!!!"  Half the time I was still lighter than whoever said it.  Good times.)

So there's our good news.  I know I should be bouncing off the walls right now, but I'm quite calm.  Glad, grateful . . . but calm.  Maybe I'm just getting old.  On the other hand, I didn't get nervous about the interview until I was walking out the door to go to it, so maybe I'll get all excited next week for orientation.  Mostly I'm just trying to tell myself that there's no catch.  (and did I mention that I get in free/almost free to basically everywhere that isn't Disney?  Not sure what kind of passes I get for other people I get yet, but if you want to come down let me know!)


P. ost  S. cript

Still wishing I could have this job (and still resenting that it's no longer a thing!).



Thursday, June 26, 2014

Off to the Same Start

So we're getting all settled here in Orlando . . . three weeks in and I have to say, it's a little weird being back.  The apartment complex we moved in to is seriously right in the middle of the area ( i.e.  it literally sits right on the WDW property line) we were most familiar with before so there hasn't been a lot of "learning the area" stuff to do.  Things have changed, but a lot of the stuff that was here five years ago is still here.  It's a little trippy to see how much is the same . . . but on the other hand we've kind of just slipped right back in.  Like we were gone on a ridiculously extended vacation and now we've finally come home and everything is familiar and homey because that's what this place has always been.  It's hot, and I'm learning again how to breather underwater.  Seriously, I was doing some major gasping for breath unloading the cars when we got here, but it wasn't from the exertion.  It's honestly not that much hotter here than it is in Logan this time of year (although I hear that's not quite the case this year).  I never understood the whole "it's not the heat, it's the humidity" thing you hear people say all the time until I lived here last time, but now . . . I understand!

The good news - we're pretty much set up in our teeny little place (which actually isn't that much smaller, it just seems that way because we went down a bedroom), and set up pretty well too thanks to room renovations at a few hotels.  We have a lamp that used to be in the rooms at the Polynesian, a work desk for Luke that was in the Grand Floridian, and a TV table (probably) from the Yacht Club.  The bad news - we have everything but a couch.  And sitting on the floor just gets old after a while, you know?  But overall we've got a lovely little set up here and as soon as we get a couch and are truly done moving in we'll do another video tour and put it on facebook with the others. (sad news for those who have been enthusiastically following our apartment tours: this counter is un-swim-able.  believe me, I'm feeling the tragedy as much as you)

In other news, I'm still job hunting.  Kind of wasn't expecting that.  I was planning on going to Disney Casting after we got here, but it turns out Disney's gone pretty much internet-applications-only, just like pretty much everyone else on the planet.  So I applied online a couple of days before we left thinking I could have an interview almost as soon as we got here and with my full rehire status I'd have nothing to worry about, even if all they had to start with was part time or something.  So then we get to San Antonio and while it is currently home to one freaking adorable nephew I have another reason to say nothing good ever happens in San Antonio.  I got an email saying I'd qualified for an internet interview, which it turned out was just code for one of those stupid Meyers-Brigg-ish personality tests that EVERYONE AND THEIR FREAKING DOG has made part of their application process.  And apparently there is just something fundamentally wrong with my personality because as soon as I finished it the "thanks but no thanks, you suck" page came up.  Phrased, you know, more diplomatically than that.  And now, a month later, I'm past all the emotional breakdowns and ranting and raging and all that fun stuff and just kind of numb to it all (except for noticing that now the internet ad I get the most is the "Come apply at Disney World! Now Hiring!" one.  Thanks, targeted advertising!  You suck too!) so I'll just say this: for the last five years I thought my biggest problem was location and that Logan just wasn't a place to get a job unless your fifth great-grandparents crossed the plains in the wagon behind the hiring person's fourth great-grandparents - and judging by the way I got the one job I did, that's partly true (and because it worked once I will always have mixed feelings about such nepotism).  But judging by the fact that the only three interviews I got were from applications that didn't have a personality test . . . clearly I'm the biggest part of the problem here.  And after five years of making cracks about how I'm apparently unhire-able to have it proved to actually be true . . . ouch.  That stings a bit.  But hey, when your problem is a personality so apparently awful you can't even get passed from the computer to a human being - what can you do?

So that was the raging (although it would have been much longer a few weeks ago).  As for the ranting - when you leave Disney on good terms - which we both did - they tell you that you have full rehire status and make it sound like you'll be welcomed back with open arms anytime.  Maybe that was the case a long time ago.  But while one would think the fact that one worked there before and left on good terms would be like a Get Out of Personality Test Free card . . . yeah, no.  Rehire status turns out to be completely worthless unless you can get past the personality test.  Which five years of both answering honestly and trying every method known to man of answering "correctly" has proven I can't do.  So it's essentially as though I've never worked there before.  Yay.

So then I applied at this company that does in-room babysitting at hotels all over the area and childcare for local conventions and weddings and such.  Supposedly this is a pretty legit company.  Like, if you want an evening out without the kids on your vacation these people are the ones Disney refers you to.  And there's no personality test with their application!  So I send one off a couple days after we get here . . . and for all I know that application went to Pluto.  You download it, fill it out, and send it to their HR person who, the first time I called after not getting even an acknowledgment of receiving the email, was on vacation but going to be back in two days.  Fast forward a week and still no word and another call and now the HR person "is not in today, hasn't been in for a while, and there's no telling when they'll be back in."  Long story short . . . another bust.  I keep getting a different story from these people.  So we are oh-for-two.  Business as usual, really.  Remember how I was saying it sort of feels like we never left?  As far as job hunting goes, it feels like nothing has changed except the location.  And the fact that we haven't exhausted all our connections here yet (although we are moving down the list more rapidly than I thought we would).

There is a skylight in this tunnel though - this is the first summer where Luke's had this job.  So it's not like we're in the same situation we've been in previous summers after my paychecks dry up.  True, we won't be booking any spur of the moment "just because we can" cruises anytime soon - but it's also not like we're in danger of getting evicted from the apartment we just moved into either.  This isn't a frantic, urgent job hunt . . . just an obnoxious one.  Which is a faint light, but it's the most I've had five years so I'll take it.

But even as frustrating as the whole still-freaking-job hunting thing is, it's good to be back.  We've seriously eaten at Earl of Sandwich, like four (five?) times.  And Cici's twice.  And found a Christmas tree ornament that seriously made my year (suffice it to say that if you aren't following me on instagram you should be, lol).  And spent a fortune mentally shopping for Rogan because there is sooooooooooo much cute baby/toddler stuff . . . let's just say that when I do finally get a job that kid is getting seriously spoiled.  And spent an afternoon at Magic Kingdom mind boggled over all the changes (dear Disney: would it kill you to spend as much time/money/attention to detail on the BLT as you did on the freaking Rapunzel bathrooms?).  And eaten a ridiculous amount of grilled onions from the Pecos Bill's fixins' bar (thanks Sarah!!). And made two trips to Ikea because it's not a three hour drive just to get there.  And had dessert at Ghiradelli's three (four?) times.  And spent hours . . . a lot of time . . . combing over the Orlando groupon page looking at all the things we have to do.  Some that I've had on my list for years, some neither of us even knew existed.  And let's just say I honestly have no idea how I've resisted this one for as long as I have!

All in all I'd have to say this whole moving thing gets a solid A-.  Now everybody just needs to start visiting. :-)


P. ost  S. cript
Totally doing my best to channel Princess Unikitty these days.  On many levels.



Monday, June 2, 2014

Dear Florida




















We're here!

Ready to try this again,
Lacey


P. ost  S. cript
I'm not sure about popular demand, but we're totally doing the rest of this.
(one for the clip, one for the full song)






Saturday, May 24, 2014

Dear Utah






























I thought it would be different this time . . . and it was.  I thought that would be a good thing . . . not so much.  I've made some (hopefully) lasting friendships and had some great experiences and I have only a few regrets.  But the judgement was still there, and now I am not only willing but eager to leave.  Pretty sure I'm not going to miss you this time.

Disillunsioned-ly yours,
(and also totally going to miss those lasting friendship people)

Lacey

P. ost  S. cript

Top of the to-do list (although not necessarily first)? Finally swimming with these guys.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Lesson Number the Last

First graders hug regularly and without any particular reason.

Fourth graders don't hug without reason . . . but when they have one, they come back for four more and try to tie you to a chair with a jump rope and swear up and down that you can't go because they said so.

Those kids were in kindergarten when I started working there . . . gonna be feeling that all the way to Orlando . . .


P. ost  S. cript
My go-to for these sort of moments.