Tuesday, 31 January 2012

ICP 2012 Bucket List

Well hello there

This last weekend was the reunion of 3 of the fab five! It was so good to be able to talk about Disney almost non-stop for a whole weekend without feeling that you're boring or annoying anyone by your incessant chatter! Plus they actually understand what you're talking about when you say it :D

So this meet was very cold as it is winter and chester, like the rest of the UK is not particularly warm right now! So what's the best way to fix this minor detail? Make a summer 2012 ICP bucket list of course! Helped by my friends Ashleigh and Zoe, I have begun to compile my bucket list; as of yet it is not complete and there will be more things added onto it when I realise/remember what things I have forgotten to do or missed out due to lack of time! So as you can tell by the fact that I have a bucket list on my second program the Walt Disney World Resort is one almost never-ending playground! It is amazing :D

Anywho, here is my current and dynamic bucket list:

  • Visit Miami
  • Eat at the '50s Prime Time Cafe
  • Collect every fast pass in the parks
  • Visit each resort on property and get photographic proof
  • Take a picture under the 'umbrella' in hollywood studios which rains
  • Be an extra in the Backlot tour and Indiana Jones stunt show
  • Drink around the world in Epcot
  • See a movie on the beach; resort movies
  • Visit IHOP
As you can see, some of these things are not Disney related and it is apparent that Orlando has many other exciting offerings for a ICP about town :D

Right, must dash, TTFN

Have a magical day everyone!

Thursday, 26 January 2012



Well I have now done reunion one! I went to Birmingham yesterday to see my friend from the ICP Kate before she jets of to the US for another year on placement! Which is so exciting! It was so great to see her and have a great catch up, reminisce a little and plan my visit to her when I am back in the states this summer :D it sounds like this is really a realistic trip, so that is awesome. I also tried my first pop tart! I can't really believe I spent 3 months in the states and never tried one, but now I have! It was pretty yummy, not sure what my degree would say about them really but it was pink. Pink is good. The evening was most obviously finished off with a bit of a disney fix in the form of Mulan :D It was sad to say goodbye but onwards...

ICP reunion 2 begins on Saturday with 4 of the fab 5 coming to Chester! This has been one exciting week :D in addition it's nearly February and that means one thing. Welcome Pack!!! Yay!!! (and the visa appointment...)

Anyways, I'm tired now, long long weeks these days...

Have a magical tomorrow :D

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Culinary Capers..

This has been a mega week and a pretty busy weekend too so feeling a little bit stressed and out of my depth at the moment, so here goes my mind into a Disney ICP nostalgia blank :)

Ok so lets review: The Kitchen Sink

This epic dessert available at Beaches and Cream in the Walt Disney World Resort, it one mammoth task which must be completed at least once in your life time! It must be said though, that this dessert defeated me and 6 of my friends! We didn't finish the thing and the remaining ice cream melted and became a pool of mixed  mushy ice-cream ness. It was a pretty interesting taste experience really, there was an awful lot of peanut butter in it, so if you love peanut butter then it's definitely the dessert for you! If not, steer clear of the peanut butter blobs. Don't worry too much though, there is cake, chocolate and oreos amongst other sweet treats on the sink. You look at the thing coming out and think it's small and not going to be a challenge. It is here that your eyes deceive you, the sink is never ending, or so it seems. I had a sugar high for so long after eating it! I would definitely recommend going along and challenging the sink but I'm not sure I'd do it again! I could be convinced perhaps but it would take a little persuading!

And the whet your appetites... here is a little picture of the monster:

Other culinary delights of the Walt Disney Resort are Dole Whip. That is once again ice cream but this time a fresh take has been created. There are 2 flavours of dole whip; pineapple and orange.This is a picture of the orange one which is amazing but pineapple wins the taste test hands down!!! You've got to try it to believe it. You can also have them made into a juice float.

For Halloween the parks have themed cookies and candy as well as there usual offerings. Here is a cinnamon sugar pumpkin Mickey cookie. It looked amazing, unfortunately it didn't live up to my expectations as the cinnamon wasn't strong enough for me! I love cinnamon!!

This yummy meal was eaten at the T-Rex cafe at downtown disney. Complete your epic meal with a side dish of dinosaurs which come to 'life' every 15 minutes or so! This was easily one of the best meals I ate on the program :D

However I think the Grand Floridian's breakfast beats them! Imagine any breakfast foods you can and then add more! This was one big buffet. We didn't eat for the rest of the day it was so filling! Plus as well as this kind of breakfast offering you also get to meet Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, the mad hatter, Alice and Mary Poppins! I would highly recommend this character breakfast!!!

Anyways that's quite enough food for one night, I'm making myself hungry just remembering it! Start planning your epic eating adventure at the Walt Disney World resort today, let me know what your favourites are!!!

Have a magical day!!!!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Tax Returns and Stress..

Well hello my faithful friends.

Here is a new blog for the end of, what has been, a pretty crazy week. I haven't stopped for a breath all week it seems and sadly not much of it was about or based around Disney! But on another note, since my last post I have received my W-2 tax form from Disney and filed my US tax return. This is basically how you claim back the US government's tax from your wages during the program. There are a few websites which can help you through a US tax return. I used turbotax.com and I received an email from them on Wednesday I believe to tell me that my tax return had been accepted and my money will be in the post in cheque form at the beginning of February! This means a nice little addition to this years money pot :D

On another happy note, Monday is the beginning of an epic set of ICP reunions! First on Wednesday I shall be travelling over to Birmingham to meet my friend from the program Kate. It's just a flying visit, but it is so exciting to be able to have a massive catch up! It's been so long, too long, since I saw her! I think the plan is to meet up have a catch up, meet some of her friends and eating will most probably be involved! Sounds like a great way to spend a day of uni which I should be doing assignments! Oh well I deserve a break right?!?

And next weekend we have another ICP reunion, from the fab five! Instead of our original plan to meet in Manchester we are meeting in Chester as it's going to be cheaper for us all. As we are all students this seemed like the best way to help everyone out! This visit will definitely involve lots of talking probably resulting in sore throats and loss of voices! Food and the Disney store will also inevitably be involved in this meeting. I can't believe how busy we've all been since the program ended and how it has taken us all this long to get it together! But in the end it all came good :D

Finally in today's blog we have the epic story of my beginnings at Cirque du Soleil last summer! So I left off last time at day 4 having completed all generic training. I had an orientation day at Downtown Disney. This involved getting information about the area; having a tour and getting costumes ready for work. It was an interesting day and involved basic health and safety training too. So if you've already been training in manual handling etc it will be pretty repetitive but it makes it kinda easy too :D The Saturday of this week also involved a trip to Disney University where basic training for ticketing was given. This included how to use the operating system and produce ticket media. It was a really interesting but very intense day! Especially as I was so unsure over currency also! Don't worry too much a lot of guests do pay with card, but some do pay with cash so it's good to improve your knowledge.

This was then followed by 2 days off to play in the parks :) this was just my schedule not everyone had these days off, you generally get 2 days of a week, this is known as your 'weekend' regardless of when in the week these days fall. My 'weekend' was mostly a Sunday and Monday during the program, although some weeks it varied. After my 2 days of I was straight into training at Cirque. My trainer in the box office, Lloyd met me from cast services at downtown and took me over to cirque. I had a tour of the theatre and was basically shown the ropes. I was given some training about how to use the ticketing system and how to understand how the tickets work at cirque as they are very different to those in the parks! It was interesting day but it was quite tough as there was so much to take in and american money to me was so unusual I wasn't yet used to it! Training in a similar way continued for another 2 days with increasing independence expected and increased guest interaction. After this there was an assessment, basically this was how you were tested to see if you could do your role well and were therefore 'safe' to continue unsupervised. This does not mean that after this you're not allowed to ask questions, you are. In fact I would actually advise you of anything you're unsure of just ask the question! That's how I got trained for ticket operations at Walt Disney World :D

Have a magical day/night guys :D

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Because I can...here are the first few days

Good morning people, here is another blog, just because I can blog. Well I thought I would treat all you worriers out there to a snippet and basic run through of check-in procedure for the college program. Or at least how my check-in process went. I'm going to be thorough so I will begin my story here in the UK. Any questions as always, drop me a line :D Anyways....

So, on a slightly grey sunday morning in the middle of June I waved goodbye to my housemates and my house and got into a taxi to Manchester airport. The taxi, was typically early and I was at the airport within about 30 minutes,  so was stupendously early for my flight and not many hoodies were walking around yet. Either way, I arrived at the airport checked in with the nice people on the desk who asked me about my trip and commented that there were a fair few of us on that flight, so that was cool. They seemed a little jealous lol! Anyways after this started the random wanderings around the place to find others. I came across Jade about half an hour later, also looking for people. We had all agreed to meet at the bar area and finally most people did show up :) then we headed to the gate and waited to board. We got onto the plane pretty soon after this and were on our way. The plane ride was the same as ever and I was surprised at how quiet it was really considering how many us there were, but oh well.

On arrival in Orlando, we had to go through customs and security. Be warned, they are strict. Do not even joke with them, they do not laugh! After which all of us were escorted into another room to have our visa and paper work checked before admittance to the states. After about 2 hours all of us finally managed to get through and had located our bags. Then there was the epic wait for mears to get a shuttle together for us. We waited probably another hour for the bus and then were ceremoniously driven about almost all of Lake Buena Vista before finally getting to the Vista Way welcome center only about 2 hours later! It took a long time! Although this was the drivers fault, there was no need for the trip to have taken so long!

At vista we we received a warm florida welcome with a spot of thunder and lightning. Which we were whisked under cover to check in. Bags were put to the side and we followed a line system through a bunch of tables, where we received info and told them who we were and showed them our various documents. Then we got a brief welcome talk, 'hello, welcome to vista way and the college program etc.' then we were all taken to our apartments, in vista you were walked over, I believe the Chatham and Patterson people were taken over on the bus. Chatham and Patterson are so much prettier than Vista, but I can imagine on that first day it was not great to have to go even further to get there...

On getting to my room I met my room mates and discovered that my actual room mate was on my flight and at my uni, so all was good. This was followed by a spot on unpacking and manic panic, 'oh my gosh, why am I here, what am I doing... am I crazy'. So if you feel like that, don't panic, it goes away. Then we headed over to walmart to get some bedding, by which time I think it was about 10pm or the like and we went on a late night walmart shop, for expensive sheets and pillows :/ On return to vista it was bed time!

Day 2 involved the main welcome meeting over at The Commons (Cultural representative housing and meeting rooms). It was a general welcome and info about the program, a little about place of work (park/resort) but no specifics. This involved details about health and safety and the law. I'm afraid it wasn't too exciting but it only took up a few hours and then we had the rest of the afternoon free to chill.

Day 3 was further information about roles, i.e. where you will work, details on shoes and sock requirements and other pieces of info, such as the pay cards. This again didn't take long and we had the rest of the day free for fun times :) housing cards/bus passes were also issued too.

Disclaimer: Please note I may have mixed day 2 and 3 up, I can't remember exactly which way round they came, but the details are the same either way :D

Day 4 was traditions, where some Disney basics information is shared. It's still training and requires smart attire. This is also the day you will receive your name badge and ID card, which allows you to go and get into the parks for free, finally :) The afternoon again was free and we made our first trip to the Magic Kingdom :) Some traditions classes are in the afternoon however so you may not be able to get into the park until later in the day.

That's it for check-in procedures and the first few days of the ICP.

Hakuna matata :D

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Reunion? yes please :D

Bonjour mes amis, well here it is we have a real reunion on the cards for me and four of my ICP friends (UK ICPers) in the next few weeks! We have been attempting to make a reunion happen for around about the whole 4 months or so we've been back in the UK, but what with uni, jobs and stupidly expensive trains it hasn't happened yet! But not for long, I am so excited to see them again! The fab five will finally be reunited to make more epic-ly random stories. I believe the plan will be to attack Manchester with our Disney ways and see what the city has in store for us. I have one piece of advice for the city; it better have a Disney store! I'm sure it will, I'll have to go and do a spot of research, oh such a shame lol

In other news, the flight has been confirmed and we are all set and ready for take off (in 157 days)! The exciting thing is now that Virgin will count down my flight with me when I finally log onto their site to book my seat on the plane, hopefully with all the other crazy ICPs! If you are perhaps reading this are on the flight and not doing the ICP this year, I apologise, we will probably be loud and crazy and over-excited! Having said this though, I was surprised how quiet we managed to be heading out last year, but that could've been because they had put Tangled on to keep us company until we were 'home' with the Mouse :D

To keep my mind from becoming all grown up and disillusioned I have started listening to Disney music on another online radio station, as suggested by a fellow ICP on facebook. The best thing about this radio station is that it has different channels; for park music, general disney music, show music etc...check it out....


The hoody plans have also jumped forward humongous paces! We now have quotes and plans for their actual production, thank you Carly and Scott :D so hopefully we can get those sorted and everyone can really rub it in other friends and family's faces where they're going to be spending their summer vacation :D

Anyway, I think that's it for now, back to the dissertation and non-fun but Disney inspired times :D

Hakuna Matata :D

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Oh to be so high in the sky...

Well hello there, time for another post, although it has only been a very short time since my last post! I have now booked my flights! After waiting around to be able to sort them today I finally rang STA and booked my direct virgin flight to Orlando for June 10th at 11am! So excited now, cannot wait. I have to admit though, parting with such epic amounts of cash for the flight so soon after Christmas makes me want to cry a little inside but hey what can I do, I need this flight!

I am returning to the UK on September 9th, mainly because this was the first day where flights dipped below the £600 mark and I wanted to travel/relax after I finish the program anyways. Coming straight back and heading into a placement in a hospital probably won't really compare to spending my days out in the summery sunshine of Fl!

The only problem with having now booked my flights is how much procrastination is involved with thoughts and ''researching'' Disney! It also means that I am on the hunt now for all the other ICPs who will be heading out on the same flight as me. If you are reading this and are going to be on that flight let me know, it'll be great to meet you and get to know you! To help in this task I have created a little facebook group for it, it should also help all of us who are on the flight and want to sit together to attempt to organise that. Well as soon as the Virgin website lets me on to their system!

On another thread of thought, I am heading back 'up north' tomorrow to uni and awaiting me is my 'That's what I call Disney' CD. Perfect for long, dark evenings dreaming about Disney world and attempting to do uni work but not really getting very far! In addition to this we are now a month closer to the arrival of the fateful Disney packs! The lovely blue folder coveted by so many will be flying out to us all in around about a months time! I'm sure I will stress my uni out a lot as I will resume my checking daily at their arrival to the travel abroad office at my uni. Last year I had to get my hands on the DS2019 (visa petition form) early to book my visa appointment over the Easter holidays as I was on placement in Blackpool (no where near London!) for the whole month of May! So when I finally did get my mitts on that letter I'm sure the office breathed a sigh of relief that I wouldn't be back for a while! All I know that all the hounding paid off and I was the proud owner of one visa :)

So here's to the start of that journey once again! So if you have any queries about the Disney pack, visa or general experience let me know,  I will do my best to answer any q's you may have :D

Hakunna Matata :D

Monday, 2 January 2012

2012 and 160 days to go and counting...

Happy New Year everyone! Welcome to 2012, apparently the end of the world. It is also the year of ICP round 2! It is really exciting to be heading back this summer!

As for preparations for the summer I have purchased some new flip flops, which are great as I had to leave my last pair in the states as 1. they wouldn't fit in my suitcase and 2. they were ruined by all the rain. Other than this no further progress has been made with the whole thing. I am still awaiting the go-ahead to sort out my flights and insurance but hopefully now January is here we can get onto that one :D I have however been considering my travel plans for when the program ends. My friend from uni is staying out in the US until about the 14th of September I think and so I suggested that maybe we could travel to NYC together. I have to go! I can't go twice and not go it's criminal! So hopefully when I get back to the uni life we can start sorting things out and maybe making plans for an exciting beginning to September :D

On facebook there have also been discussions and plans made for a hoody for us and hopefully we can sort that out soon too, maybe even before Disney packs arrive in Feb! It is also a time for accumulating lots of new friends on there too and getting to know the Disney people who are here in the UK and dreaming of their summer working for the Mouse also! It's a great way to get super excited over the experience :)

In another trip down memory lane today, I was sifting through all my paper work and stuff, such as Disney pins and tell-a-casts to sort them out and tidy up (it is a new year and everything) and I got a little sentimental once again! Just thinking of all the little pieces of extra info you get to learn by being a cast member! I am a bit of a Disney geek it has to be said and this makes me really interested :) In relation to this I also got the Disney Parks Monopoly whilst I was on the ICP this summer and have spent the evening with family playing this awesome version of the game :) all the places are attractions/shows at the Disney parks world-wide and it is just a great way to reminisce whilst still having an awesome, if competitive, time!

The fab 5 is also in the planning stages for a reunion some time this month! This is so exciting! I will get to see some of the most amazing people I met on the ICP in next to no time! I'm unsure really what the plan is yet but we have been aiming to meet up for a while but this time it seems really real and hopefully all our plans will just fall into place and give us such a great reunion :D

Anyways, that's all for now :) TTFN