Hiatus…Sorry About That!

Hey readers! Sorry about that ridiculously long hiatus I accidentally went on! I received a full time employment position and needed to learn how to balance that out with everything else in my life including a side part time job teaching dance! But fear not friends, I am still here and I intend to continue blogging! If you have been following my twitter or instagram, you can see that I have been plenty active in the Disney Parks community! I will be giving the world a blog dedicated purely to my Disney adventures shortly! Thanks for hanging in there if you did and if you didn’t I totally understand! I shall be posting a book review of a book I read ages ago later tonite, so stay tuned and keep Sifting Through Shelves!

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Dapper Day Fall 2014 Walt Disney World

On September 27, 2014 I attended one of my favorite events that takes place at the SONY DSCWalt Disney World Resort over the calendar year, Dapper Day. This year, as last year, it took place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and most of the events happened in the afternoon. It was literally one of the best days I have ever had in that park, and I love that park a lot.

I started off with a few pictures on the main street leading up to the Sorcerer’s hat where I was confused for a citizen of Hollywood Character performer, which basically made my whole day and some photos with the Dapper Day photographer who I bumped into pretty much right away. Then I had lunch with two amazing friends at the Fifties Primetime Cafe, which was the perfect setting for more photos and the food was incredible. I had the pot roast with a chocolate milkshake. Our waitress was our “babysitter” and the family next to use was amazing and shared their dessert credits with us so I had a Coke float as well. It was so good and the interaction with the cast members there was so much SONY DSCfun. After lunch we made our way over to Star Tours where I got to be the Rebel Spy, for the first time ever!! Second Magical Moment of the day! Then we headed to Sunset Blvd to take some pictures with the Dapper backgrounds there and we had some amazing Photopass cast members and we met up with the Dapper Avenger Squad (who looked literally so amazing!)

Then we headed off to the Magic of Disney Animation to meet Minnie Mouse and take some more photos. We did what we do best and made friends with the girl in line behind us and she’s in our photos 🙂 Then we went to the Disneybound Meet up at 3 in front of the Great Movie Ride for a HUGE group photo. This is always a fun meet up because there are so many people who share similar interests, love of Disney, old Hollywood and vintage fashion. I always meet amazing people and get great pictures at this one.

Dapper Day Collage Photopass 1The next meet up was the Dapper Day meet up at the Studio Backlot Tour for one last ride on its last day of operation, again amazing photos. I love that ride and wish that it wasn’t closing but it was nice to ride it for the last time with lots of other people who loved it too and loved the backstage aspect of Hollywood. What was truly special was that the automated narrator actually wasn’t working in the beginning so the cast member stepped up and spoke the spiel from memory for the people on the tour. Once the voice over kicked back in it was back to normal. For those who don’t know, the Studio Backlot Tour used to always have a live cast member tour guide so to have one for half of my last tour on the ride was quite special, it was half of the old attraction and half a ride as it was with the automated narrator. IMG_5123

The biggest meet up of the day was the Dapper Day Meet up at the Great Movie Ride. Everyone who wants to gets in line together to ride the Great Movie Ride together to really get the Old Hollywood mood. I was lucky enough to be asked to ride in the car that the Dapper Day folks would be photographing, which was awesome to share with my friend Carolyn. As always, lovely conversation with the people in line behind us, who were also cast members (a lot of the people at Dapper Day are). Again…lots of photos.

Dapper Day Photopass Collage 2My last meet up of the day was with Magical Ribbons, a really talented bow maker that I met on Tumblr and have met in the parks a few times! She’s one of the sweetest people ever and it’s always nice to see her! We sat around a table and chatted for a bit and saw the Frozen Fireworks. After that I headed home after a VERY successful Dapper Day! I had a truly amazing time and took well over 500 pictures. If I saw any of you that day, feel free to comment and share your pictures!

Maintaining A Positive Attitude While Abroad

SONY DSC I know a lot of others like myself who have participated in an internship or study abroad program. My program was one that a lot of people have participated in, the Disney College Program; my program was in Florida but there is also one in California. I had the amazing opportunity to begin working with Disney at my local Disney Store before moving to the most magical place on earth. I participated in the Disney College Program and the Disney Professional Internship Program. This meant a year away from my home in Pennsylvania. I’m still in Florida now, happy as a clam so I figured I would share with the world how I maintain my positive attitude so far from home.

For one thing, I do maintain contact with my family and friends regularly. Technology has made it much easier to study or work abroad these days. With Facebook, Twitter, FaceTime, email, texting etc, I can contact family whenever they are available at the same time as I am, breaks from work, days off, etc. I also keep everyone in the loop through postings lots of pictures on social media and occasionally sending cards home. Sometimes it feels good just to put something in the mail. I also visit when I can and they visit me when possible! (How could they not?! I live in Disney World?!)

One of the most important things while being far away from home and family for the first time is keeping things in perspective and while I will openly admit that sometimes I’ve failed at this. However, keeping the future in proportion, and realizing that your family has your back will definitely keep the anxiety of future plans to come in check. I always try to remember that I am living in the Most Magical Place on Earth and that always lifts my mood whenever I am freaking out about jobs, money, or the future. Not every day will be perfect, but as a whole, being abroad anywhere is an incredible experience. I don’t know anyone who has every regretted it!

One of the things I can consistently add to and look back on if I’m feeling blue is my Magical Moments Journal. It’s like my own version of Ellie’s Adventure Book. I keep little scrapbook-able momentos in the back half of the pages and write down magical moments next to the date in the front half. I spend a lot of time in the wonderful parks and hotels of the resort and I want to remember as much as I can, whether that be through notes or pictures. Whenever I’m having a down day, these notes remind me of what an amazing time I’m having and what a wonderful place I get to work in and the difference I make in the vacations of families and the difference the people of WDW make in my life!

Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 2.25.52 PMThis leads me to my next little trick. Gratitude, sometimes (ok, a lot of the time) when I am visiting the parks, whether on a planned whole day there with friends or on my own after work, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity I have been presented with. I get to visit this amazing place whenever I want and be surrounded by the culture of something I have been in love with for a very long time. I love Disney, unapologetically so. Being around the parks all the time and in one of the hubs of Disney culture, and being surrounded by other people who love Disney as much as I do has presented a unique opportunity to research and talk with people who are as passionate as I am. Since I am also a writer on top of everything else, I read a lot of books to supplement my knowledge so that I can eventually share it with others.

I also stick to my roots. I love dance, history and theatre and cosmetics so I have also picked up part time jobs at a local dance studio and at a new Lush Cosmetics store. I also volunteer at the local history museum giving tours. I then have a chance to explore the city of Orlando, and do research at the museum’s research center and the library next door. Sure, I have a really full plate, but it’s good that I keep myself busy so that I can keep that homesickness at bay and enjoy myself to the fullest.

If I ever find myself freaking out and just feeling really down for some reason and I have the financial means to do so, I treat myself. Whether it’s to a new pin or a side of Mickey Waffles at a resort. I know what I can do to pick myself up. Visiting a park or watching a Disney movie are other ways to raise my mood. Sipping a coffee while strolling down Main Street USA or riding the train around the Magic Kingdom while eating popcorn or visiting my favorite character at Animal Kingdom before watching Festival of the Lion King. One show that NEVER fails to cheer me up is Fantasmic. If I’m feeling blue, I hop on the Tower of Terror or Toy Story Midway Mania, grab some mac and cheese from my favorite quick service stand and head to Fantasmic. It’s a quick evening that I can do after work and it’s my ultimate pick me up. Sometimes I need something that’s not Disney, and that’s totally ok. I grab a John Green book, watch some reruns on Netflix with a Lush Bath Bomb or read some Harry Potter with a cup of tea. Whatever I need that day. Knowing how to cheer yourself up when you are feeling down is a great way to maintain your happiness while abroad.

The last thing that always makes each day lovely is living in the moment. I don’t mean forgetting about the future or abandoning responsibilities, I just mean taking each moment of each day as its own. Living in the future tends to lead to stress and living in the past leads to regret. Living in the here and now, as a professor of mine once put it, allows me to make each moment count and enjoying each day to its fullest. #YOLO as people sometimes put it, but in a sensible way. Not going out of control, just allowing time to enjoy myself, not everyone gets to live in a kingdom with a castle and everyday access to their favorite place on earth!

It’s a Small World

 

Sun collage It's a small world

I will always defend the truth in this song. It was written by the Sherman brothers for the 1964 World’s Fair and it rings with truth now as it did then. The world is, if it could be, smaller now than it was then. Social media has made connection with everyone who uses it instantaneous. The distance between myself and friends in the UK is nothing with Twitter, Instagram and Skype. The oceans only divide us physically and everyone sees the same sun, moon and stars, but what makes people amazing is how we can all see the same thing so differently. This point is made fabulously in the It’s a Small World attraction by showing a different representation of the sun in every area of the world that your boat goes through. With every day the world gets smaller. It was massive when we had to travel it on foot, it was huge when we had to travel it by train, carriage, car and boat. Now that there are planes and the internet, we can get anywhere we want in as little as the time it takes to Skype a friend, turn on a Youtube video, log in to Twitter or Facebook or the length of a plane ride. I could hop on a plane now and be in Japan by tomorrow if I wanted to. This used to be impossible less than a century ago. Think about that for a second. The world is a paradox, it’s so big that some of us only hope we get to see a fraction of it, yet it’s so small in that we can travel it in an instant from the comfort of our own homes. As the Sherman brothers said, this song is a prayer for peace. It’s a small world, and it gets smaller every day, coexistence and peace and harmony are crucial and yet still seem to evade us. I can only hope that eventually, the prayer for peace is answered with harmony between the people of this very small and ever shrinking world.

“It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears

It’s a world of hopes and a world of fears.

There’s so much that we share

That it’s time we’re aware

It’s a small world after all

It’s a small world after all (3x)

It’s a small, small world

There is just one moon and one golden sun

And a smile means friendship to everyone

Though the mountains are wide

And the oceans divide

It’s a small world after all…”

Keep sifting through shelves, it’s one of the best ways to explore the small world, after all.

 

Ellie Project: An Explaination

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 11.12.51 AMHi fellow lovers of all things Disney, travel and adventure! I am starting something called the Ellie Project. For those of you familiar with the film Up from Disney and Pixar, Ellie is the wife of Carl, the “grumpy old man” from the movie. Unfortunately she passes away before she gets to realize her dream of traveling the world and going to the tropical heaven of Paradise Falls. I, like Ellie, have a real passion for travel and adventure and like Ellie, I’m on a super tight budget. For now, while finances are still tight, I will be taking little adventures around the Orlando area, but eventually I want to move on to bigger and better adventures! I will be keeping the photos on a Digital Adventure Book (Ellie had a book called My Adventure Book) and I will post little stories and blog posts about my adventures in the Orlando area. I will also be vlogging about them and posting the videos on my Youtube channel (there is a link to subscribe here).

A lot of things have inspired me to start going on little adventures and trying to travel more. Some are related to Disney and some aren’t. Some are phrases like “Put on your Sunday clothes, there’s lots of world out there” which is from a song called Put on Your Sunday Clothes and featured in Wall-e. I also love the movie Brave, so the line “I will rise, I will fly, chase the wind and touch the sky” is really resonant for this! Another one is “There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day” and the whole song from the Carousel of Progress. It reminds me how much Walt loved progress but at the same time had a lot of respect for the past. I have every intention of going to lots of historical towns, since I majored in history and history is my passion. I am also constantly inspired by Walt’s love for travel and learning about the past and dreaming about the future. He was always inspired by travel and sought to bring that inspiration into his films and his parks, I really would love to see the places he saw. I also really want to just walk in his footsteps a bit, go to Marceline and Chicago and Disneyland (as much as I love Disney, I have only been to one Disney park and that’s WDW). I want to see the world that lies outside of the USA and even the small piece of the world that lies within the US borders. I have traveled abroad before and loved every minute of it and would give anything to travel abroad again. I am also IMG_4374constantly inspired by the places portrayed in the Disney parks and films. They always take their viewers on journeys to places far away and possibly nonexistent, except in our imaginations, but those imaginary places were inspired by real places. I want to explore the Scotland of Brave, the Paris of Hunchback of Notre Dame and Ratatouille, and the New Orleans of Princess and the Frog.

My last source of inspiration is a professor I had in college. He was the head of my theatre department. His name was Mark Hallen and unfortunately he recently passed away. He taught me a lot of the amazing lessons I learned in my 4 years in college. He was always allowing our imaginations to take us wherever we wanted them to in the Actors Lab class and he encouraged safe but boundless creativity. He always said “off we go” before we embarked on a fantastic theatrical adventure. He allowed characters and casts to travel to the deep South for a production of Twelfth Night and to New England for Our Town as well as the Middle East and the US for a production of My Soldiers. He spent a lot of time traveling abroad and every class with Mark was an adventure and a treasure. He encouraged adventure and play in a way unlike anyone I have ever encountered before. I think he and Walt Disney would have actually gotten along quite well (or they would have butt heads and hated each other haha). Ironically enough, Mark really loved the movie Wall-e and we talked about Disney quite a lot, even if it was just him making light of how much I love it. I spent a lot of time with Mark and it was clear from the time we spent together that his travels and his respect for both the past and the “here and now” made him the person that all of his students knew and loved. He is probably one of my biggest inspirations in life. He is the reason I respect stories and art and theatre the way that I do and constantly am finding new ways to make and create outside of and within the realm of theatre.

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 11.14.16 AMA lot of my trips and adventures will hopefully lead to so incredibly photography and amazing stories. I intend to also use them as research trips for several writing endeavors that I have begun. Well, that’s a pretty decent summary of what I am calling the Ellie Project, inspired by so many different things and people. If you would like to keep up with the Ellie Project, I will be hashtaging it #EllieProject #OffWeGo on Twitter, so follow me there and on Instagram for more informal shots. I will also post a lot about it on here and on my Tumblr (but less so there except for photos). It may take a bit of reworking to get the blog formatted to accommodate the page but stick with me. If you would like to donate to make the adventures a bit more exciting or far away, feel free to click the donate button on my home page, however due to my work schedule, it may be a bit before I can get enough time off to go anywhere too far away, hence the exploration of the amazing places in my own back yard, including the touristy and not so touristy places around Orlando, FL. Adventure is out there, I’m off to find it and I would love you to join me, Off we go and keep sifting through shelves.

Disney U by Doug Lipp Book Review

Have you ever wIMG_4351ondered how Disney does it? What they could possibly say to their cast members to make them so kind, and guest-experience centered? Well, if you would like to know, you may want to crack the binding of Disney U: How Disney University Develops the World’s Most Engaged, Loyal, and Customer-Centric Employees. The title tells it all, the book is a business guide to those in charge of training employees. It unlocks the secrets to what makes Disney cast members tick, what they are taught in training. No, it’s not brainwashing or abuse of pixie dust. Disney has a tendency to attract a certain type of people to work for them; from the very beginning, it started with Walt, of course. He employed a certain type of people to work at his theme parks and for his company and those people created amazing memories for children of all ages in the theme parks and in turn those people want to create those type of memories for children of the next generation and so on, as a domino effect. Of course, the love of Disney movies and park memories created by other cast members cannot possibly be the only thing that makes the cast members of the Disney Company tick, and as Disney U points out, it’s not. It explains the core of training that the cast members go through at an actual location called Disney University from the Traditions Class to the rest of their training as they are “Earning Their Ears” and not only what makes them great in the beginning but what keeps them motivated and what keeps them with the company for years to come. 

The author, Doug Lipp was one of the people who was integral in creating the first international version of Disney University and its training core. This program was developed for the Tokyo Disneyland park. He then became the head of Disney University training at the Walt Disney Studios. He serves as a consultant to many large companies, all of whom want their employees to be as motivated and loyal as Disney’s. 

The book is formatted in “Lessons”, short breakdowns of what it takes to make people work hard and stay working hard. These lessons are not specific to Disney, they are meant to be shared with many other companies and to be appropriately applied to their training curriculum. No one trains employees the way Disney does, every CEO and head of training wants to crack the code and learn the secret. With his book, Lipp proves that it’s no secret, it’s balance, and easy to remember key principles. The training has to be up to date and the employees need to be kept up to date on the latest training. Lipp does an amazing job of making sure that the book does not read like a boring training manual. It flows and reviews as the reader flips through the pages. It appeals to those who have a strong business background and serves as an amazing tool to those who eventually want to be Disney cast members and what it takes to be part of such a high profile team of people. It’s an incredible read for people who are interested in the behind the scenes of the park and for those who want to know what makes the cast members so magical!

Dream it Do it by Marty Sklar Book Review

I have read quite a few Disney books in my day, being a lover of all things Disney, history and any combination of the two. One of the greatest stories I have ever had the privilege of reading has been Dream It, Do It by Marty Sklar, a long time Disney Imagineer, head of Imagineering and friend to Walt Disney himself. IMG_2280

His book is less of a straight biography and more of a collection of stories that he has compiled together from his half a century working for Walt Disney and his company. He started off as a writer for the paper that was published and sold on Main Street USA in Disneyland and ended his career as the head of Imagineering for the Walt Disney Company. He is the only man to be involved in the development and opening of every single park in the Disney Parks owned by the Walt Disney Company. He has a window on Main Street USA in Disneyland, the Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland. The pages of Dream It Do It cover a fifty year career with Disney and the opening of Disneyland, all four parks of Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris (originally founded as EuroDisney), Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea and Hong Kong Disneyland. 

The book reads far less like a diary and much more like a fireside chat, a cup of coffee with a friend. Every story is totally honest sounding and does not hide the stress of being on the opening team of so many projects. He had the job of keeping Walt’s legacy alive after both Walt and Roy had passed away. He covers the raw emotions that swept through the company at the time of Walt’s passing. What happened when the man with the ideas so crazy they just might work was no longer there to support those ideas. 

I had the extremely wonderful opportunity to meet Marty and to have him sign my copy of his book.IMG_4350 He was an absolute joy to speak to and a stunning example of the sort of passion for Walt’s legacy that every cast member ought to embody. He was incredibly kind and had nothing but encouraging words for my passion for Walt and Disney history. He hopes that his book will be well loved and I told him that from what I had read so far, there was no way for it not to be. The book is incredible, at times raw and fantastically honest but none the less magical. It takes a special kind of person to be able to put so much magic into words but Marty Sklar certainly has. The book is a must read for Disney fans and those passionate about the heritage of the Disney Company. It contains beautiful stories and stunning photographs to accompany them. The words of a man who truly embodies Disney heritage and what it is to be a Cast Member for the most magical company on earth are truly words to be cherished, read, and reread. I hope that everyone who reads them enjoys them as much as I did.