The Commons Experience

Living in this place called the Commons has allowed me to see many things that are not ordinary in the outside world. Anyone who has lived here can attest that we live in what is commonly referred to as “the bubble.” A place where walking past a group of French Castmembers dressed up as Alice in Wonderland characters on a Friday night is ordinary. Or where the chants of the international drinking teams can be heard throughout the property on a Monday night. Where else does security threaten your very existence in this country, and can decide your fate with the seizure of a plastic ID card. This place is special. It’s an experience very few little people will ever know or understand. Aside from each job we perform here at Disney, the living experience is THE experience. Neighbours are from all over the world and there is always something, whatever that may be, to do. Whether its drinking and watching Are You Afraid of the Dark on Youtube, or drinking down at the pool until security kicks you out. Or drinking around the world, or drinking at the pub around the corner. Now that I mention it, drinking is one of the most popular activities here. Now in the real world, drinking is usually only acceptable on weekends and events involving food. Here, it’s commonplace to get wasted on a Tuesday with your best  friends, simply because you can’t find anything else to do. Of course it’s done responsibly, and no one is driving. There are plenty of other things to do here other than drinking, but I’d say it’s the most common. I mean, most of us look at this as a 1 year vacation when we occasionally have to go to work. Therefore vacation= drinking. As the months pass and my time to depart seems to creep up each day like a mosquito that I can’t swat away, I will cherish the fact that I have had 2 opportunities to live in this out of the ordinary, sheltered from the real world environment. It’s not wonder that once you meet another person who has worked on the Cultural Rep. program, you have an instant bond and understand so much more about that person in an instant. That, my friends, is pure magic. Long live the Commons!

Haunted Mansion Backstage Tour

The past few months I have been lazy, hence the lack of updates. I’m going to post more stuff soon, but I wanted to write a post about my backstage tour at the Haunted Mansion while it’s still fresh in my mind. Yesterday I finally got to go on the Behind The Scenes Tour of the Haunted Mansion. After attempting to get on this for 2 years now, I was sucessful in my final attempt. I hauled my butt out of bed at 6am to meet inf ront of the ride for 7am. If you’ve never been in the Magic Kingdom all alone, its the most unreal experience ever. It’s the busiest theme park in the world, with over 17 million guest per year, and your standing in the middle of Fantasyland and Liberty Square all alone. Except for the occasional maintenance worker and truck. The tour started promptly at 7am, with all 20 of us excited to see all the secrets inside. We had two guides, one was a woman named Ginger who was quite the personality and according to her name tag she was from Los Angeles. The other woman I can’t remember her name, but she was a great guide as well. We started in the main load and worked our way walking through the ride and checking out some really cool things. One thing I had no idea about was the fact that there are hidden Jack Skellingtons in the ride. Reason being is that WDW was supposed to get the Haunted Mansion Holiday, like at Disneyland, but they decided after a survey that there are too many international guests to close the ride down for an extended period each year for the changeover, so it was nixed. What the Imagineers did as an homage to this was hide 6 Jack Skellingtons within the ride itself, all which can be seen when riding but only if you know where to look and can snap a picture quick enough. The two main ones are a book on the floor with Jack on the cover, and a book on the table with The Nightmare Before Christmas title. Both are in the library scene right beside the so called “donald” chair. The rest are hidden in the attic scene, one is a Sally plush figure under one of the tables, there is another Jack Skellington book on the left hand side of the second husband, and finally a Jack plush and snowglobe on the right side just as your leaving the attic. The tour shared many tidbits about the ride and was one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever done. W got to walk down the endless hallway and see all the details that no one ever sees, but are there just in case. I think the coolest fact I learned was about the Madam Leota floating crystal ball. Apparently since they changed this effect out, Disney has the proprietary technology rights to the projection effect on her face. And according to our tour guides, there is a $500,000 bounty on her head. Literally. So people try to steal her out of the ride. Since Disney is super smart, they installed a security system like no other. If someone tries to jump out in this scene, there are mats in the floor that stop the ride and alert the castmembers as to where the person jumped out. The coolest part is the crystal ball immediatly is pulled to the top of the ceiling by a wire, thus protecting it from thieves. They do have a backup which we were shown, but I’m not at liberty to share where it’s located. The last part of the tour was through the ballroom scene. The most famous and cool part of the ride. We actually had to walk past the moving animatronics, the dancers and all the ghosts, to get into the other side of the ballroom. We got to walk around the empty ballroom, as the animatronics are on one side of the glass, and using the Peppers Ghost effect they seem to appear on the other side. Lastly, they took us into the stretching room and had us listen in silence to all the effects that most people overlook, such as the gargoyls telling you to get out if you stay in the room too long. They finally had us lie on the floor looking up as the room reset itself, meaning we saw it come down at us! Overall, this was probably one of my favourite experiences this year!

Another Old Post…the Brad Ridler Drunken Scale…

Once again….something from my last contract at Disney which I just dug up from the past. Enjoy!

While I was in Florida, since we drank so much, I decided to create a drunkeness scale to make it easy to tell your friends how drunk you are. Instead of the usual “I’m wasted, trashed, etc.” It is a simple number system of 1-10. The proper way to ask someone how drunk they are is to say “What level are you?” Here is the breakdown on the scale:

1- Not drunk


3-Let’s finish the bottle

4-Feel it a bit, but not having too much fun. YET!

5 or 6 – Slightly tipsy, a good place to be. Gimme some Jager

7 or 8- You make out with people and or dance as if no one is watching, generally bouncing and laughing. 

9- Your almost completly trashed and full on makeout and groping occurs in the middle of the dance floor at House of Blues

10- You are trashed out of your mind but won’t vomit but do end up sleeping with (insert name here) after getting out of the cab or off the F bus. But who takes the F bus really?

Bonus: 11-13 is when you have no idea what’s going on other than at some point you will vomit and be hungover the next day, and of course your working a MID

By no means are these binding, it’s up to each person to decide their level. The whole point of this is so that at one point in time if I ask you your level when we are drinking, you can give me the correct response and not look at me in total confusion.

And if you had to ask, yes this system is based on my own experiences

My summer at Cedar Point

After browsing around Cedar Point’s website today to see what’s new this season, it dawned upon me that almost 5 years ago I started my job there in Park Operations, and it was the first of many amazing experiences I would have up until this point of my life. Way back when I applied for Cedar Point, I had no idea what an impact it would have on my life, or really what I had signed up for. I simply applied for a work visa, got hired by them and at the end of May 2005, packed my car up and moved to Ohio. I’ll never forget moving into their version of housing: a scarcely furnished room with no heat or air conditioning. Simply another persons stuff I had yet to meet. Eventually I ended up meeting my new roommate, a few days before he got fired. I then lived with another guy who was missing a few marbles, until I moved into another guys place next door, now my best friend Nick. How my life changed in 3 months. It was my first experience living away from home. Having to buy food, do laundry and all those simple tasks that at the time seemed like a big deal. No one was there to wake me up or make excuses for me not going into work. I had so much fun that summer, a time when I had just finished my 2-year Advertising program and had not a care in the world. We saw lots of movies, went to the mall, had late night dinners at Steak-N-Shake, and simply made the best living at an amusement park. Midnight dance parties, employee ride nights, and of course the nightly laser show made the whole place a dream to live in. Although I made no money and lived in really crappy housing, it was the best summer of my life. If I had the chance to do it over, I would in a heartbeat. At the same time Cedar Point happened, I got hired for my first Disney Program. I knew that after working at Cedar Point, Disney could only be better. My Disney program from 2005-2006 was incredible, everything I expected and a million times better. But it was not Cedar Point. Disney was and is still amazing, tons to do, great weather and of course magic. But Cedar Point was a cultural experience, more rugged and old fashioned. They didn’t try to make magic,  that just wanted to have fun. I will always look back at the 3 months I had working in Sandusky, Ohio and remember the simple pleasures of laughing with friends, taking a load off at the Stockade break area, and driving off to random places just because we could.

Magic of the Movies

Today, despite the sunny weather, I decided to check out the new Nightmare on Elm Street remake at AMC Citywalk. Once I sat down, I expected others to join me. But only two other people were there, making it one of those magical afternoons where you have the whole theatre to yourself, you can sprawl out on the chairs and just pretend its your very own place. I for one used to go to the opening night of movies, dealing with the crowds and line ups. No longer, that ship has sailed. I would rather see a movie a week later on a Thursday afternoon and show up ten minutes before it starts to enjoy my empty, quiet theatre. Let’s do it again next week…

Ellen in Orlando

So sorry for the lack of updates. I’m lazy.
On Sunday I went with Jacky and Rheanne to see Ellen Degeneres tape her show at Universal Orlando. I heard she was coming here about a month and a bit ago and managed to get standby tickets. We got there super early (like 8:45 am) which is way to early to do anything in my books. There were already hundreds of people there. As we walked into Citywalk we got to see Rascal Flatts have their soundcheck! Amazing. We ended up waiting almost five hours in the standby line while waiting to see if we could get in. It passed pretty quickly though since we could see the stage and screens for the first show and watch Usher tape his pieces all from where we were sitting. We got Starbucks and Burger King and the time passed by. So around 1:30 they started letting people into the corral area for the show. As the line inched towards the guy hadning out the coveted “red tickets” we stopped. Seriously it took like and hour and a bit for them to let everyone in. We kept hearing people say they were almost out and blah blah blah. As we got the front, I showed my ID and the guy checked us off. He handed us the standby tickets, meaning we got into the actual show with seats! I was dying to go to the bathroom so I ran away to do my business. They then lead us from the Citywalk side to the waterfront stage side, after handing us Universal Ponchos and water. We sat and waited for a bit, until Tony and the other DJ started pumping the music and we all danced like fools. Finally it was time for the show. Ellen came out and everyone freaked out. They actually taped the show out of order, so Rascal Flatts was last and the intoduction and dancing at the beginning was in the middle. They had a game where people drop into water in the lagoon which Mario Lopez helped out with. The best part of the day, seriously, was when Ellen showed a video of her going with two boys into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to get a sneak preview. They didn’t show the new ride, but we got to see inside the line as well as some of the shops. They even got candy and butterbeer. The clip shows on Friday April 2 when the show actually airs. As the show was ending it started to rain and we rushed over to the Citywalk stage to watch Rascal Flatts play Life is a Highway and Unstoppable. Amazing performances. It literally downpoared the second they finished taping. We ran back into the parking a garage slightly soaked (thank you ponchos) and drove back home. I was exuasted but had a great time. I’ve wanted to see her show live before and am glad that the whole thing worked out. More exciting is Harry Potter in two months, as I hear the soft opening is near the end of May!

Pythons in Florida

Lately in the news down here in Florida have been stories about how Burmese Pythons are running rampant in the Everglades. It’s terrifying. I didn’t think much of it until I flipped on Animal Planet tonight and there is a whole show on invasive species in Florida. These things can get up to 23 feet and 200 pounds. They are a massive predator to everything, including humans. They talked of a person who got eaten by one. Even alligators that have been attacked and killed. Gators are being killed by giant snakes. Scary, scary stuff. It makes me never want to leave my apartment here. Or visit the Everglades. AHHH!!

Yellow Dog Cafe

Yesterday I met up with my friend Erin who is visiting from home and worked on my last contract, and Derek who works with me now, in Windermere for lunch. They took me to this cool little cafe in the middle of nowhere, just houses around and the place looks like it was built in an old house. Driving there was quite the trip, I must have passed at least 25 churches on the way there. It’s only about a 20 minute drive down from me, but felt like a different world. The trees had Spanish moss growing on them and there were no signs pronouncing “Cheap Disney Tickets!” As I was waiting for them to arrive, I noticed that all the cars had crosses hanging in the windows. Now I’m  not one to bash religion, I just found it very interesting that the precence of God was so prominent there. Ironically, the area we were in is called Gotha. Kinda strange, makes me think of Children of the Corn or something. Anyways, the place has great sandwiches, ribs and the like. I had a pulled pork sandwich with this great coleslaw, and tomato bisque. They also sold me on the pasta salad, which they topped with a balsamic glaze and was the best tasting pasta salad I have ever had. I will definitely be back very soon. Also, last night we went out to Cowboys and had a great time as usual. The best part is that Jose Cuervo was promoting their brand by giving out free shots and lanyards. They were throwing t-shirts in the crowd, which I snagged one, but seemed to lose it on the way home somehow. I’m off to work soon, but I’ve been thinking of going on  a trip to Key West soon. I’ve never really been to south Florida so this seems like an opportune time to do that along with Miami and Naples. I’m looking into costs now but I think April will work best.