Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tales From The College Program: Housing

In my last College Program related post we basically covered the interview process and that I was selected as part of the Fall Advantage 2003 program.  Fall Advantage really just means that I worked from June to January instead of August to January (which is the Fall programs schedule).

At the time Disney had 3 apartment complexes where CP's lived.  Vista Way and Chatham were for regular CP's and The Commons was where the kids in the International Programs lived.  Chatham was much nicer than Vista Way, but in May they had moved everyone from Chatham to Vista Way to save money, so we had no choice.  At this point you might be wondering "Hey, where is Vista Way?"  Next time your driving down I-4 past Downtown Disney and you and your family are staring at the Casting Building, look on the other side of the freeway, thats Vista Way.

Vista Way is the oldest of the three, and from what I've heard has been used by CP's since the 80's.  Ralf and I arrived bright and early and were the second people in line to check in.  We were given 2 options for living arrangements.  We could move in with 4 guys from the Spring Program who would be moving out in July/August or move into an empty apartment that they would fill up that day with new recruits.  We decided on the already occupied apartment because the guy doing the check in told us we had a good chance of having the apartment to ourselves after our roommates moved out.

The gave us apartment 1205, which should be an important number to all of you Disney fans.  The apartment wasn't bad, especially for have 6 guys living in it.  There is a living room with an open kitchen.  Three bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.  One bathroom is off the living room and the other is inside one of the bedrooms, so four guys share one and two guys get the other.  The bedrooms have walk in closets and each guy gets a side, plus a locker to lock up any valuables.  We had a view of the parking lot, but there are plenty of man made ponds all over the complex.

Rent at the time was $65 a week which was automatically deducted from your check.  We did not have to pay for electricity, cable, or water.  If you are under 21 when you check in (like I was until September) you have to live in a "Wellness" apartment which meant no alcohol allowed.  If you are over 21 though you can live in an apartment with others of legal drinking age and have all the alcohol you want.  If you turn 21 during the program and want to drink you have to move out of a Wellness apartment.  That's pretty much it as far as College Program living.

During check in we also took pictures for our Vista Way ID.  You cannot get into College Program housing unless you have an ID or have been signed in for the day by a CP.  The Vista Way ID cards are color coded and change when one program moves out.  They also let security know if you are under 21 (in case they break up a party)There is a security booth at the entrance that checks the Vista Way ID of everyone in your car. As you will learn in future posts though, sneaking in is not very complicated. No overnight guests are allowed, security will come after midnight to make sure anyone you have checked in has left.

 We were also give our job/role (which will be the topic of my next CP post).  The first day of the program is actually very hectic, there are all sorts of meetings going on.  I actually still have all my paper work so I'll scan the first day schedule and post it.

Here's a much younger me at the door to 1205.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kitchen Cabaret: Update

Let's travel back to 1984, when Epcot Center was at it's best and look at a couple shots from Kitchen Cabaret inside The Land.  I do not remember much about this show, so your on your own for commentary.

I'd love to know what happen to these Animatronics, anyone know?

Cousin Orville was kind enough to share these amazing pictures with us!

He looks pretty beat, but at least he's still around.

 Our pals over at Imagineering Disney commented that some of the Animatronics are still kickin' around Epcot!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Disney Wedding: Simple or Giant Pain?

As you know, I went to WDW a few weeks ago.  Our main reason for the trip was because we are having a Disney wedding in November.  First, if you are planing on having a Disney wedding I can tell you right now, the most annoying thing about it is when EVERYONE you know asks you "Oh, is Mickey doing the ceremony?"  "Is the Beast going to be there?"  "What character are you going to dress like?"  Now, imagine 100 different versions of these questions.

So, you've decided on a Disney Wedding, what do you do next?  You send Disney a deposit to hold your date, location and time.  Once that is all set they send you a ton of paper work with venue and menu options.  Then you find time to fly to Orlando and spend an afternoon planning the entire thing.  Oh, and one more thing, Disney also sends you these:

Free (sort of) Annual Passes!

When you eventually go down to Orlando to plan the wedding you've already decided on the ceremony/reception venues and the reception menu.  You then meet with your wedding planner at Franck's Bridal Studio (named after Martin Short's character in Father of the Bride) located next to Disney's Wedding Pavilion.  Let the marathon day of wedding planning begin.  First though she takes you to the Wedding Pavilion and your reception.  Here's a few shots inside the chapel.

The planning is actually pretty easy.  I won't bore you with all the details but the planner basically just goes down a list of options and you pick what you want.  Then the person in charge of flowers comes in and goes through her list.  They bring you cake samples and you pick that as well.

After all the planing is done it's time for a break.  After an hour we met back up with the planner at the Contemporary Resort (our reception location) for a menu tasting.  I thought this was going to be a very causal thing, like walking through the kitchen with a hair net while we all take bites out of one entree.  This was not the case.  We walked into the resort and saw our names on the list of events happening at the resort that day.  

Our planner took us to one of the convention center rooms where we met the 2 chefs who would be preparing the food for the wedding.  There was a table set up for all of us to sit at, a bar with a waiter who would bring us drinks and serve the food, and another station with a chef who was making the food.  They also had a TV screen on the back wall with a congratulations Donnie and Becky animation on it.  We ate everything that was going to be served at the reception with the chefs right beside us taking notes on what he liked and what we didn't like.  It was much more than I was expecting.  After the menu tasting you are done.  All you do now is wait a few weeks for Disney to send you the budget, which is a list of everything you asked for and it's price.  From there you can add or trim away anything.

Sounds simple right, and it is, unless you want to change something.  We decided, "Hey, since our wedding is going to be small why not just scrap the reception and take everyone to Ohana instead.

This new idea had us even more excited than the original plan, until we found out that Disney will not let you have a ceremony only, they force you to have a reception.  So even though we were having one by taking our wedding party to Ohana, by Disney standards it is not a reception.  We could however move our reception at one of The Grand Floridian restaurants (not including Victoria and Alberts) or the California Grill at the Contemporary.  To do this though we would have to move the wedding to 10 am and be done eating by 3 so they can get the restaurant back in shape before it opens to the public at 5.

This also requires that we pick a new menu since this will now be a brunch reception.  So, we pick a menu and a new location (California Grill).  Turns out California grill has a different menu than the GF resorts and has a $3000 minimum food requirement, not including the cake.

So, thats where we are now.  I know what you are thinking "Why don't you just go back to the original plans that you made when you planned the wedding?"  Trust me, we can't and the explanation of why would take me pages to explain.  There you have it kids, what it's like planning a Disney wedding.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Im Lazy

Hey kids, did you like old photographs?  Well I do, in fact I have another blog where all I do is post old pictures that I found in a box in my Mom's attic.  I think my Dad found them when he worked at a retirement home and kept them.  Anyway, since Im really too lazy to update both multiple times a week I'm going to start posting some of those pictures here.  Here is one of my favorite pictures from the box.

I posted this one a while back on the picture blog, but it's so good I decided to post it again.  Here's what is written on the back.

I looked at old St. Louis photos and I guessed it was the State Hospital.  Well I sent the picture to a St. Louis Historical Society and they actually researched it for me!

I did some research on your photos, and I think they are of the City Infirmary which was located at 5900 Arsenal Street. It was also called the City Isolation Hospital and U.S. General Hospital #40.  It was on the same street as the State Hospital (5300 Arsenal Street), so you were very close!

The architecture matches some photographs we have of the City Infirmary much more closely than that of the State Hospital. I also looked up the names of the nurses from the back of your photo in a 1914 City Directory and found a Bessie Bray listed as a nurse, an Alice Hachard listed as a housekeeper, and a Nellie Hatchard listed as an attendant all at the Infirmary.

Hope that answers your question. I enjoy solving these sorts of mysteries, so thanks for the challenge!

So there you have it kids, More posts coming your way, not necessarily Disney related, but in my opinion still pretty neat.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Interactive Queues...The Future?

Like a grand and miraculous space ship, our planet has sailed through the universe of time and for a majority of that time, we have been waiting in lines.  When I was a kid (and since the beginning of theme parks and DMV's) waiting in lines has just been a part of the game.  In fact whenever I tell someone I am going to Disney World the first thing they mention is the lines.  (but really I never wait over 15 minutes for anything)

I grew up close to Six Flags Astro World (RIP) and the closest thing they had to an interactive queue was TV screens showing old Looney Tunes shorts.  Disney World had something similar with the wacky video in the Space Mountain queue staring AC Slater. The first real interactive Disney queue I can think of was Indiana Jones in Disneyland and to a lesser extent the Madam Leota tombstone.  These were little touches that most people did not pick up on while they waited in line.  In fact, when a friend of mine told me there was a bamboo pole you could lean against in the Indy queue that would cause the ceiling to drop I called him a liar to his face.

I knew that Disney had moved the tree from the Pooh play area to the entrance of the Pooh attraction, I had no idea they had totally redone the queue!

The old Fast Pass area has been turned into a Tigger jumping area (which was closed the whole time I was there).  The new Fast Pass area is located at Mickey's Philhar Magic, because that makes sense.

Next we see Rabbit's garden.

When kids pump the see saw (whatever it's called), water pours on the plants and the pumpkins grow.

I really like the "Kids this way/Adults this way."

 One of the more annoying aspects of the interactive queue is the noise makers.

The box at the back left is by far the worst idea in the queue, kids turn handles and make balls pop inside a cage, it's constant noise.

Hey look, it's Eeyore's house!

Kids can pull a rope here that will make gopher and his friends pop out of the ground.

Finally we come to this bee hive.  It has plastic bees that kids can push along the track.

The first night we rode Pooh, the line was short so we just admired this dripping honey wall as we walked past.  The next day though we realized you could play with it!

I listened to Mitch and Lily from Imagineering Disney talk about how Ipad like screens are a bad idea for an attractions queue, but I thought this was pretty great.  You can move the honey around to reveal the Pooh characters.  (I understand their dislike though)

Final Thoughts:

Some people claim that the new Haunted Mansion grave yard has ruined the attraction for them.  My opinion, these queues are made for little kids to pass time while they wait for an hour to spend 2 minutes with Pooh and his friends.  What's wrong with letting the kids immerse themselves in Pooh's world while they wait?  Word on the street is Peter Pan is next, and personally i'd really like to see what Imagineering has cooked up for that queue.

What do you think????

Friday, April 1, 2011

Farley Granger: 1925-2011

I had no clue that Farley Granger passed away on March 27th.  If you are not familiar with him, he starred in two of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock films, Rope and Strangers on a Train.  Last year I wrote him a letter and he was kind enough to sign this picture for me.

Spoiler Alert: Strangers on a Train ends with a carousel fight...

As far as I know he has no Disney connection, but if you're an avid reader of this blog you'll know that I sometimes stray from Disney topics.  So, search your netflix (or whatever you people use to watch movies) and watch Rope and Stranger on a Train this weekend for my boy Farley Granger.