Good News

I wrote this about a week before I left Disney, but I wasn’t ready to share it. I’ve been in Charlotte for one week now, and I am so thankful for that.



I write today with unexpected yet wonderful news: I’m moving away from Orlando! I say “away from Orlando” because it’s a little unclear as to where I’ll be moving.

These are the things that I know:

– My last day of work with The Walt Disney Company will be August 31.
– I am actively pursuing engineering jobs in the Greenville SC area.

You may absolutely NOT tell me to reconsider this decision, it’s already been made. That’s all I’m going to say on that matter.

I came to Florida for a reason, and I’m leaving for a reason. I’m thoroughly enjoying building my life and finding what makes me happy, and I don’t regret anything for one second. This experience has been life changing, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m so thankful to be finished with long distance relationships! Austin and I will never spend a significant amount of time apart again. EVER. It’s done. This was the deciding factor which caused me to end my program early. We have been dating for 21 months, 16 of which have been medium to long distance. NO MORE. I want to take a moment to say that Austin did not once ask me to leave my program. Even when I officially decided to put in my two weeks notice, he asked if I wanted to look for other jobs in Orlando and continue working toward Imagineering. This was my decision. If Austin were not in my life, I would finish my program and then move back to the Carolinas, but I can’t see the point in extending our time apart.

I can’t wait to get back into Mechanical Engineering! I’ve had a couple of phone interviews with companies in the upstate, and I’m so ready to get started in the industry. I’ve learned a bunch of new skills while working in Watercraft, and I look forward to finding application for them in my usual workplace.

I am also super excited about the personal discoveries that I made while on College Program. First and foremost, my dreams have changed. I don’t long for Imagineering, and I don’t care to live in Orlando. I find myself wishing quite frequently that I were home – in South Carolina. That is where I need to be, and I’m grateful that I have the ability to return without major consequence. I’ve learned a lot about myself in Orlando, just as I did when I lived here two summers ago. Orlando is truly the city beautiful, and it has been such a wonderful pallet cleanser for me. My head is clear and I know what I need.

There are a lot of reasons to leave the College Program. For those of you who are participating or plan to participate in DCP, I encourage you to do so. My reasons for leaving are strictly personal. I had a marvelous experience with the program. I loved work and classes, I made friends, and I enjoyed exploring my options with the company.

So many of you will have questions about my plans for the future. Please don’t ask me any of them. I’m still working it out, and your questions will add unnecessary stress and tension to my life. I’ll provide you with a rough outline here:

I’m looking for jobs in Greenville, and there’s a possibility I’ll have an offer soon. In the meantime, I’m taking what will fit in my car to Charlotte on Sunday September 1 to be with Austin. He and I will return to Orlando briefly to get my furniture on September 14th/15th. We will move the furniture into a storage unit in Greenville so that I can get out of my lease in Orlando. Yes, it’s complicated. The details aren’t important to you, what you need to know is that (hopefully) we’ll be in Greenville soon!

I am so excited to spend the rest of my life with Austin. I’m excited to start that life in Charlotte for the time being, and I’m excited to find our way to Greenville together. I’m excited to see where my career takes me, and I’m excited to get started on that path. I’m excited to move. I’m excited to get a fresh start. Please help me be excited that I have your support.

As for Disney, don’t worry. Many of you know where my heart lies and will find this news hard to believe. Austin and I will make regular visits to Orlando at least once per year. I won’t forget my home, but I’m happy that I have grown to appreciate other things. I was raised in those parks and that will never change. Don’t worry about me ending my time as a guest and a fan – that’s not going to happen.

So…. anybody hiring in Greenville? 😉

Thanks Watercraft!

Working in Watercraft is awesome. Sometimes I forget that when I’m hot and my feet hurt and I’m wondering why I haven’t gone on break yet after riding to Fort Wilderness and back 5 times. But here are the facts: I work for 6 hours at a time, and at least 45 minutes (more like an hour) of that is spent on break. (I get two 15 minute breaks, but that time starts when I enter the break room and ends when I leave, so there’s additional time for walking. They also let us off before our end times to make sure we’ll clock out on time.) I’m only outside in the heat for 2 hours at a time, and more often less than that. When I am outside, I’m mostly in the shade on a moving boat. The only actual work I do involves docking, and on the cruisers that only happens once every 15 minutes or so. I have a water bottle and I’m allowed to go in the pilot house on the cruiser for air conditioning if I need it. Deckhanding is a really nice job.

What really amazes me though is how great Watercraft is compared to some of the other roles in College Program. A lot of people are standing still in the sun for 3 hours at a time. And the worst part of those jobs is that those are the people that have to take rage from guests. Guests on watercraft are generally quiet and happy. They’re either just starting their day, excited to see Magic Kingdom, or they’re exhausted and glad to be heading back to the hotel or the car. We don’t get too much grief from guests. On the other hand, CPs in attractions or food service get angry guests who are tired of waiting in line or hungry. I meet CPs from all different jobs in my classes, and it makes me so grateful for my role.

For that reason, if you are considering applying for the College Program (which you should), I highly recommend considering Transportation. I can’t praise Monorails or Buses in the same way that I can Watercraft, but I’m sure they’re less stressful than working in a park.

Here are some of my boats:

The Mermaid

The Mermaid is a motor cruiser, shown here docking at MK after coming from the Wilderness Lodge.

The Fowler

The Fowler is a ferry boat shown en route to the TTC from MK.

I love my job. I am so proud to work here. But I’m also grateful that this is temporary, and I’m so excited for the future.

Watercraft Training – Deckhand

I'm no longer earning my ears!

I’m no longer earning my ears!

This week I’ve been going through my deckhand training. I started the day after orientation (Sunday) and finished yesterday (Wednesday). That’s four days of training. It went by faster than I could have ever expected. I can’t believe I’m about to be on my own. That is so unreal. But I digress.

Training was hard. The first two days I had to be at the TTC by 5:45 am, and the third day I worked an evening shift until 10:30 pm. It was a little crazy, hot, labor intensive, and exhausting. I would come home, pass out, wake up, and do it all over again. There’s a LOT of information and not much time to learn it. I am so thankful that I’m a seasoned veteran of Disney. I’ve spent years in MK. I know those lakes, those hotels, and those docks. I’ve eaten at all of the resorts on the lakes – The Wilderness Lodge, Fort Wilderness, The Contemporary, The Polynesian, and The Grand Floridian. Having the background knowledge that I do made this training much easier than it would have been otherwise.

Here are my duties as a deckhand:

– Deckhand the ferryboats
– Deckhand the motor cruisers
– Drive the van
– Drive the pontoon boat
– Run the dockbox
– Whatever else they need (queue stuff, greet guests, talk on the radio, etc)

I had FOUR DAYS. I was loaded down with new information. I learned so much and had a great time doing so! Did you know there are five islands on the lakes? I know what all of them are called now. I know the names of all of the boats, where all the life rings are, and how to tie up a boat at a dock. It’s pretty cool learning new stuff. But it’s also really hard when there’s so much information in so little time. Because today….. was check out.

I shouldn’t have been as nervous as I was about check out. I should have maintained my cool even when things went wrong. I got upset more than once, but was able to hold my composure most of the day. It was a very stressful day. I was tested on my knowledge of where everything is, my ability to perform deckhand tasks, and my driving of both the float bot (pontoon) and the van. And to top it all off, we’re in the midst of a tropical storm here in Orlando.

So picture this: I’m on my second day of driving a boat IN MY LIFE, and I’m dealing with a tropical storm. And getting graded on my ability to dock the boat. Are you still wondering why I got upset? My best advice is to stay calm no matter what.

Now that I’m done complaining, here’s the good part. These are the highlights from my training. I had an excellent trainer who wanted to make sure I was prepared, but also tried to make the experience fun for me. He did a wonderful job balancing my training experience.

– We went backstage at Jungle Cruise and saw their dry dock. There were boats, an elephant, and a hippo!
– We went on board the Grand One when we saw it at dry dock. If you don’t know, that’s the yacht that people can rent hourly from the Grand Floridian. It costs $550/hr to take out on the lake.
– We watched the end of Wishes (fireworks) from the pilot house on a ferryboat.
– We went down the water pageant channel and saw a high school band practicing for their parade around MK.
– Today I got to briefly drive a motor cruiser, which most deckhand trainees don’t ever do.
– I drove a boat in a tropical storm.

Those things aren’t part of the training curriculum, and if you ever end up deckhanding, your experience will be completely different from mine. Hopefully your trainer will throw in some cool stuff for you too, because it really helped me keep my spirits up. Don’t get overwhelmed. They know it’s a lot to learn very quickly.

One more thing about check out – I was wrong a lot. I said “I don’t know” a lot. I messed up several times. But I always listened when he corrected me and tried to soak it all in. I was able to perform my duties well, and I had retained most of the information which I was told. Therefore, I passed. At times was afraid I wouldn’t, but he assured me that I did very well.

Tomorrow I’m taking an online boat safety class, and then I’m part of the fleet!

Traditions and Welcome to Transportation!

Yes, I’ve started on the job training. But I’m not ready to talk about it yet (except maybe briefly). This is about what to expect for the rest of orientation after check-in.


Traditions is your first real assimilation into Disney culture. There are some fun surprises throughout the day, and there’s honestly nothing to be afraid of. I’m (mostly) an introvert, so I was nervous about participation. But the atmosphere is not intimidating, and no one forces you to do or say anything. I was able to participate at my level without feeling completely overwhelmed. That being said, here’s what you can expect: it takes about 4.5 hours, and there will be about 25-40 people in your class. You learn about Disney heritage a little bit, about the four keys, and some general castmember information. You get your ID card and nametag! Awesome! And some other fun stuff happens along the way. 😉 That’s all you’ll get out of me! Oh, one more thing. They’re serious when they say to wear comfortable walking shoes. They’re not super strict about the dress code, just make sure you look put together and professional. And wear comfy shoes!

Welcome to Transportation! Orientation

Ok, here’s where we get into the individual roles. I had my orientation two days after Traditions, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes they’re the next day or a few days later… it just depends. On the Transportation orientation, it is critical that you wear comfy shoes and light clothing – you’ll be walking a lot. We toured the buses, boats, and monorails, just to see what is available to guests, and we also walked through the Magic Kingdom a little bit.

I was surprised by the diverse roles within Transportation! If you’re on Transportation and from College Program, you’re (probably) going to be doing one of four things:

Watercraft (me!): I’m a deckhand for Magic Kingdom boats. I’m sure I’ll explain more later.
Friendship boats: I think you actually get to drive these as a CP, but I could be wrong.
Bus greeter: You stand at a bus stop and talk to guests… help them get to where they need to be and stuff.
Monorails: You start out on the platform, but they might let you drive eventually… I’m not sure.

So out of our little orientation group of 8 people, 3 of us are in watercraft. There were only 3 CPs there, which surprised me. Two of the CPs are watercraft, and the third is a bus greeter.

After our tour, we went back to Disney University and did some safety training and online learning activities. It wasn’t terribly exciting, but it is important and it’s something you’d have to go through at just about any job. The whole orientation took about 8.5 hours, but we got a decent lunch break and some short breaks throughout the day. Overall it was fun and interesting, and I loved meeting that group of people… it’s kind of like we had been narrowed down from all freshmen to freshmen in a certain college. (The College of Transportation?) Hopefully I’ll write soon about my specific training, but I have to get up at 4:30 for work, so it’s bedtime now.

This is my life now…