My First Week in Orlando

Today marks the 9th day of my CEP, meaning that I’ve been here for over a week now. I still can’t quite believe that I’m actually here and that time is going so fast. The past week has felt incredibly busy as we’ve been launched straight into things here in Orlando. So here’s an overview of my first week at Disney!

Sunday saw me travelling alone internationally for the first time, as I flew to Orlando. I had pretty long day, waking up at 5am for a flight at 8.30 and arrived in Florida at about 5.30pm local time. I was strangely calm as I walked through Heathrow by myself after saying goodbye to my parents, but that’s not to say that my journey came without a few nerves here and there. I was quite anxious about catching my connecting flight from Toronto and going through US immigration, but things worked out just fine. As shown in Day 1 of my Photo A Day section, I wore my Disney hoodie to the airport and it’s magic actually worked! Whilst I was sat waiting in Toronto, I was approached by another CEP participant who recognised the logo on my jumper, and we were able to travel the rest of the way together. It made travelling a lot more bearable, as we discussed the program and worried together about navigating the airport and getting to the hotel. Turns out we had both booked to stay in the same one! Once arriving at the hotel and checking into my room, I went straight to bed as my tiredness caught up with me.

On Monday morning before check in, I met up with a few other girls and we went to breakfast at Trail’s End in Fort Wilderness. We bused from All Star Movies to Magic Kingdom, then caught the ferry across the Seven Seas Lagoon to get to Fort Wilderness. It was so frustrating being stood outside the main gates to MK (Magic Kingdom) and not being able to enter! The thought that I would be on the other side soon kept me going though.

Breakfast was delicious. There was so much variety and I had my first Mickey shaped pancakes. We all stuffed ourselves silly, which worked out in the long run! After getting back to the hotel, it was time for me to check out and meet another friend to get a taxi over to Patterson together. Our check in was at 12.45 and despite arriving five minutes late due to an error made by our taxi driver (he took us to the Pop Century Resort instead of Patterson Court after mishearing us), we were all checked in in no time at all. We had our housing ID photos taken, and were given welcome packs with our apartment keys in. I was told that two of my housemates had been living here for a while already, and that another two were due to arrive shortly after me.

I headed over to Patterson block 11, where I found my new apartment. I’m in house of 5, so I’m sharing a room with two other girls, both from the UK. I decided to wait until they arrived so that we could all go to Walmart together, so I had an explore around the apartment whilst I had it all to myself; our other flatmates were out as they were both at work. I didn’t have to wait long before Polly and Frances arrived. We all got to know each other whilst we unpacked and decided to set off to Walmart.

The bus over to the supermarket was pretty packed, as everyone arriving on Monday seemed to have the same idea. We went prepared with a list and shared a trolley (or two) between the three of us, deciding that we would share most of our food to save money. I’ll be honest, the shop was a bit stressful as the bedding aisle was packed full of CEPs trying to find a comforter, and none of us really knew what meals to make with the food available. In the end, we caught an Uber back instead of getting the bus. I don’t know how we would have managed on public transport with so many bags!

The following few days consisted of a variety of talks orientated around welcoming us to the program, our safety, and immigration. In between these meetings we were able to chill by the pool and start working on our tan, going to Disney Springs in the evening for dinner and an explore. On Wednesday we went to the cinema to see Finding Dory to celebrate finding out our work locations. I’ll be in Hollywood Studios!!

Thursday saw the start of our training as we had Traditions at Disney University. This is where Disney give you your name badge and blue card, which gives you access to the parks. It was an early start for us all as we caught the bus around 6am, and  we didn’t leave until around 2. Traditions was great, but tiring. We didn’t get many breaks, which meant that we were listening to speakers for quite some time. We listened to stories of ‘magical moments’ at the parks and watched videos about working for Disney, as well as talking about more formal things like safety and the Disney look. We also got to go through the utilidoors under Magic Kingdom, and see a bit behind the magic. It was amazing! I really enjoyed my time in Traditions, and Disney threw in a few surprises! I won’t say anymore as I don’t want to spoil it for future applicants.

As soon as Traditions was over, we got changed into something more appropriate and went straight to Magic Kingdom. We managed to get there just in time for the Festival of Fantasy Parade, so we secured a spot near Main Street and waited for the floats to arrive. This was our first proper time in the park, and a few tears were shed amongst the group as the reality that we were here finally sank in. We then had dinner at Pinocchios before hitting a few rides and watching Celebrate the Magic and Wishes. It was a really great day.

The following day saw us take on the four parks one day challenge for our friend Megan’s 21st birthday. I intend to do a post dedicated entirely to this as we managed to fit so much in, so stay tuned!

Saturday was a pretty chilled day as we recovered from the day before. After having a well deserved lie in, Polly and I went to Publix to stock up on things we had forgotten to get at Walmart and to explore the area a bit. It was a lot less stressful than Walmart, and a whole lot closer! In the evening, we went to see Fantasmic! and stayed to watch the new Star Wars firework show in Hollywood Studios. We then headed back as we had another early start for more training at Disney University.

The 5am start for training on Sunday was painful. And the training session that followed was probably just as bad. In our second trip to Disney University, we went over safety in an unprecedented amount of detail, and there was less excitement this time as we had already been given our name tags and ID. Disney did a great job of trying to make everything interesting, the effort was really there. But let’s face it, who can make correct lifting procedure seem fun? The most exciting part of the day was getting to go to Costuming and collect our shoes. It was amazing to see all the outfits for Magic Kingdom cast members categorised and hung up neatly in the same place. I can’t wait to get my hands on my own costume! Once we collected our shoes, we headed home to make dinner and have a girly night in. The sky had been grey all afternoon, so we weren’t surprised when it started thundering and raining. We all huddled up on the sofa back at our apartment to watch the Proposal, which just happened to be on TV.

I honestly can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. It feels like I’ve been here for much longer than a week already, and that I’ve known my new friends for much longer than nine days. I feel like I’ve been really lucky so far with my work location, my friendship group and my housemates. As well as sharing with Polly and Frances from the UK, my two other housemates are both from New Zealand, so we’re definitely doing some cultural exchange! Ani and Tayla are both lovely, and it’s great to be able to draw on their experience in the program. They both arrived 5 months ago, and have just extended their programs until January so know their way around Disney. Their advice and insight has already been of so much value! And to make things even easier on us Brits the apartment is fully furnished from their previous flatmates, so we already have a TV, water filter, toaster and internet router. It really feels like we’ve been spoiled!

So I would say week 1 has been a success. Bring on week 2!

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