Just 6 weeks are left of my Fall 2015 Disney College Program! 6 WEEKS! If you don’t know, I started my Disney College Program at the Disneyland® Resort back in June and since then every moment has felt like a blur of excitement. I wanted to use my blog as a diary to document every single detail of my Program, but that ended up not happening because I slacked off in the writing department.
So, where I last left off Disneyland’s actual 60th Anniversary happened and I had been working for a few weeks at the Disney Desk. A ginormous amount of things have happened between then and now, so I will be sharing all of the awesome events that the Disney College Program team held for its Participants along with a few events that the Disney Desk department held for its Cast Members as well! I will try my very best to separate these events chronologically!
Our department was holding a Summer Incentive to reach a particular goal in sales and the grand prize was a dinner at the Big Thunder Ranch BBQ for the entire Disney Desk team. Unfortunately, we didn’t reach our incentive goal, but I actually won an awesome little prize package during Week 2 because I sold the most CityPasses that week! The prize package included a 60th Diamond Celebration journal, pen, hot/cold tumbler, and a cute golden Mickey Mouse pin that was hand-delivered to me while I was at work!
Halloween time at the Disneyland® Resort was just around the corner, so Disney College Program participants were invited to ride Space Mountain after Disneyland closed to Guests. We got to ride Space Mountain twice: once with the Ghost Galaxy show effects on and once without the show effects so all of the lights were turned on! Space Mountain definitely does not feel like a fast attraction once the lights are turned on and it can feel a bit claustrophobic because the track is crammed in such a tiny space. Nonetheless, both ride-throughs were an awesome experience!
The next day was a College Program scavenger hunt in Disneyland. Our team was made up of four Disney Desk gals: Sara, Sydney, Shayna, and myself. Now, when you think of September, you may think of gorgeous shades of red, orange, and yellow along with a crisp cool breeze. September in Southern California was feeling very much like summer, so it was a hot day! This made the scavenger hunt kind of a pain because our group of four was running around in a crazy, crowded Disneyland while trying to finish as many clues as we could. The grand prize was a VIP experience, but our team didn’t win in the end. The scavenger hunt was still fun though because the questions were so obscure and it was great practice because our department was holding its own scavenger hunt in October.
One of the awesome experiences the Disney College Program had set up during October was a tour of The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, CA. This is the headquarters of The Walt Disney Company and it’s also where some of ABC’s TV shows like Blackish and The Muppets are currently filmed, along with the production of some Walt Disney films like Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass. The Walt Disney Studios was built in 1940 thanks to the profits from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and it was built mainly around the animators of The Walt Disney Company and the animation process in general. For instance, there are underground tunnels that connect the ink-and-paint buildings together in order to protect animated projects from being exposed to the harsh, outdoor environment.
During our tour, we got to hold and take a picture with an actual Academy Award for the 1956 documentary Men of the Arctic that was kept in the Walt Disney Archives! We even got to see the handprints of Disney Legends like Sir Elton John and Julie Andrews. Apparently, the tour group before us saw CEO of The Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger, out of the blue, but our tour group got to see Laurence Fishburne and a couple other cast members of the show Blackish walk right by us!
Fast forward a couple of weeks and the Disney Desk team held its own scavenger hunt. This time the scavenger hunt happened at night, and you would think Southern California’s weather would start cooling down, but it ended up being a hot and strangely humid night. Regardless, this scavenger hunt was definitely more fun compared to the College Program’s scavenger hunt. Maybe it was because we were prepared a bit more this time around, or maybe it was because we were more competitive. Don’t get me wrong, we were still stressing out while trying to finish everything, but it was definitely more exciting to run around Disneyland at night. We were also encouraged to dress up, so our same team of four dressed up as tourists and our team was called The Fanny Packers. Sadly, our team didn’t end up winning, but I like to think that we won best team costume.
The next College Program event was a backstage tour of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ attraction at Disney’s California Adventure. Just like Space Mountain, we rode the Tower of Terror™ with the show effects on and then without the show effects, which meant that we were in complete darkness. During the second ride-through, which was in the dark, our bellhop came over the PA system and said something was wrong with the attraction and that we would be evacuated. Turns out, he was pranking us, but it completely freaked out everyone! The Tower of Terror™ is definitely scarier without the show effects on, and you can tell probably distinguish the ride-through with the show effects on and the one without the show effects in the photos shown above.
After the ride-through, we were taken up a few floors to see how the different show effects on the ride come to life. I won’t say how these effects are exactly set up, but you’d be surprised that they’re low-tech tricks to the eye!
Fun fact: There are actual props in the waiting rooms that were used in the Twilight Zone TV series. I have only seen a couple Twilight Zone episodes, so I was not familiar with the props that were mentioned, but it was still awesome to know that their home is on the attraction now!
The next event I attended was the Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings Walkthrough. This had to be, by far, my least favorite event to date because a big crowd of us stood in direct sun (it was 93°F that day) for 45 minutes, when we could have easily been moved to the shade. It was kind of cool to know what is and isn’t included in a Disney Fairy Tale Wedding (the price tag is a hefty six figures if you want an all-out wedding), but personally I thought the event was not organized as a whole. I can’t really speak more about the event because the heat, unfortunately, irked me.
The last event I went to in October was a complimentary night at Knott’s Scary Farm. I hadn’t been to Knott’s Scary Farm in about 4 years, so I was stoked that we were given the chance to go for free! My friend, Shayna and I got there right as it began at 7:00 pm and it was great! We ended up getting super spooked throughout the night and we even met up with a few more College Program friends. However, as the night continued the scare tactics started getting old, and we were getting tired, so we decided to call it an early night around 10:00 pm. Another factor in our decision to leave was the difference between how Disneyland operates and how Knott’s operates. This difference definitely made us critical of Knott’s and we were feeling pretty ‘meh’ about our experience. But hey, at least we got free admission!
November 3rd marked the halfway point for the College Program, so the Disney College Program team set up a Pumpkin King Carnival in Disneyland after the park closed. Basically, it was a costume party held in New Orleans Square. The event was fun, but kind of weird at the same time. In a way, it felt like prom because people were keeping to themselves and not dancing at first. Then when the time came around to start the Best Costume contest, it quickly turned into a popularity contest of sorts. I didn’t really mind though, and I just did my own thing. So, I ended up going as a crazy cat lady while my friends when as princesses. Overall, I had a blast! I mean, not everyone can say that they had a party in Disneyland after the park closed!
The next event I did was a tour of the Haunted Mansion attraction. Now, this night was a rough one. Loved the tour, but the events leading up to it almost made me late! In short, I was working that evening and our system decided to not work while I was trying to leave early. I was literally packed up, ready to go, and all I had to do was input the sales I made and print out some receipts. The system to input our sales did not want to load, but thankfully my supervisor was there with me and she showed me how to manually fill out a few forms so that I could leave quickly. The location I was working at was about a 15 minute walk away from Disneyland, so I power-walked my way over, weaved through a wall of Guests trying to walk around while the Paint the Night parade was happening, and I fortunately made it in the nick of time!
Okay now that I explained my dramatic journey, onto the tour itself! Our tour guide explained the origins of the Haunted Mansion and how it was initially designed as a walk-through attraction. We were able to walk alongside the attraction’s track where our tour guide showed us how the show effects are made possible. Like The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror, a lot of the show effects are low-tech, but seriously effective tricks! Some fun facts: about the attraction:
- Madame Leota’s face is played by Leota Toombs during the non-holiday season at Disneyland and her daughter Kim Irvine plays Madame Leota during the holiday season
- The organ in the Grand Hall scene is from the movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
- The two main designers of the attraction, Marc Davis and Claude Coats, could not agree on whether the ride should be funny or scary, so it’s actually a combination of both!
The last College Program event I attended this month was a tour of Walt Disney’s apartment, which is located right above the Main Street Fire House on Main Street, USA. Not very many Cast Members have been given the chance to tour Walt’s apartment, so this tour meant a great deal in particular. I initially missed my original tour time, but I waited around 4 hours just so that I could join the next tour group. Now we were not allowed to take pictures inside of Walt’s apartment, but I can tell you it is quite a small space. Walt Disney, his wife Lillian, and their daughters, Diane and Sharon, would stay in the apartment whenever they visited Disneyland. The apartment is decorated in a turn-of-the-20th-century style with rose motifs everywhere. And I mean everywhere! There were rose prints in the carpet, on the furniture and pillows, on the walls, and on the fine china. There were also photos of Walt and his family in the parks and lounging in the apartment. It was such a quaint space and while the tour only lasted about 15 minutes, these 15 minutes felt incredibly special!
Finally, the very last event I actually worked for was a media event on November 13th, which kicked off the holiday season at the Disneyland® Resort. The media event also served as a preview for the Season of the Force, which is where Tomorrowland got a dash of Star Wars magic. I ended up helping another Cast Member who was escorting a blogger and her best friend who also happened to be a blogger. It was a tiring and hectic two days of the media event, but it was so worth it! I was able to view the holiday lighting ceremony at it’s a Small World, I sampled the new menu at the now Galactic Grill (formerly called the Tomorrowland Terrace), I rode Hyper Space Mountain and Star Tours: The Adventure Continues, I viewed the Path of the Jedi mini-film in the Tomorrowland Theater, and I met Chewbacca in the Star Wars Launch Bay! And on top of that I was being paid!
And that pretty much wraps up the events I was able to experience since the last time I blogged about the Disney College Program! Now that the program is coming to an end, there are only a few more events left and I’m pretty bummed about it. I’ll definitely blog one last time about my program after it ends. But for now, thank you for reading! I know there was a ton of events and moments I mentioned since the last time I blogged and I apologize for the incredibly long post! Let me know if you have any questions about the Disney College Program or if you currently participating in it whether you’re in California or Florida! I would love to hear from you! Until next time!