My Disney Journey

This blog was a journey of my application to Walt Disney World's Cultural Representative Program, from sorting out my CV through all the interviews to a year of having a mouse for a boss! Now, watch as I try to get back to my second home.

No ADO for Vikki :( May 7, 2011

Today, I swapped from an AM shift to a PM shift. Only after doing the swap did I realise that I shouldn’t have done so… a bunch of friends of mine from around Orlando were spending the day going around Epcot, and I originally planned to join them after I finished work. As it turned out, I couldn’t do this.

So, my day started off with a lift into Epcot so that I could maingate Nick and Alaina. I got them in, then ran off to the Rose & Crown to ask about an ADO (which the AM manager couldn’t give me – it was up to the PM manager) and to drop my costume into my locker. So, then it was time to meet up with everyone again, which didn’t take very long at all. (Oh, how I love mobile phones!)

So, first stop of the day: Mexico! We had a browse round the stalls while we waited for more of our large group to find us. Eventually, we had everyone we were expecting, some people got a round of tequilas from the Tequila Bar, and we started walking round the world.

There was a quick stop for some people to grab a drink in Canada, and I ran ahead to check in and grab the pager for our table in the Rose & Crown. We had thirteen of us, and got in pretty much dead on our reservation time. Arran was serving us, and I must say that he did a wonderful job of looking after me and my crazy friends. I had a lot of funny looks from the other servers, and questions later about how I knew these people! Either way, lunch was very yummy.

By the time we finished, the PM manager was in, so I asked again about an ADO, so that I could carry on with my friends, but apparently some other people had already called in, and so I had no hope. I worked my PM in the same section that I’d just had lunch in! Section 505! It didn’t go too badly.

And now I’m home, tired, and ready to sleep. I’ve got a full mid shift to work tomorrow.

Vikki
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Prom! May 6, 2011

I had a day off today, which was lovely. I almost feel like I haven’t stopped since before I started training. Terri got an ADO (Authorised/Additional Day Off) from work because there were too many servers, and it wasn’t predicted to be too busy. So, she came home just as I was working out what to do with my day. We decided to head to TGIs for lunch, with Emily, as she had also gotten an ADO with Terri. After lunch, we came home again and Anna came round. We hung for a bit before heading to Downtown Disney and to the Cinema. Once there, we decided to see Prom, which was a good giggle! There’s so many films coming out soon that we all want to see, so I predict more cinema trips in the future!

After seeing Prom we came out of the cinema, browsed round Downtown Disney for a bit, including popping into the Lego store (as I always do when I’m in DTD!) Then it was time for home, and now it’s time for bed!

Vikki
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Happy Birthday Mum! May 5, 2011

So, after Chillers last night, I felt that a bit of a late snooze was necessary. Chillers was amazing fun, although the taxi ride home was a bit crazy. One taxi took a load of people home, and then we waited for a second taxi – which apparently broke down on the way to us! (Or so Kel told us). It took rather longer than we’d have liked to have gotten home, but we did get back eventually, which is the main thing.

So, this morning, I got up and skyped my mum before work – it is her birthday today after all! Happy Birthday mum! Then, before work, Terri and I popped to the outlets to grab some food.

Work was good. I spent a PM shift in section 511. It’s a nice little three table section that seems to flow really nicely. The start of the shift was really slow though, I even had a table leave because they really wanted the lunch menu, not the dinner menu! Otherwise, though, my dinner went well. I even had a 4 top table order 6 appetisers and 6 desserts, along with each of their entrees! All of my tables were just really nice people! And that always helps make a good shift.

As for now, I’m still sleepy after last night, so bed time!

Vikki
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7 months isn’t too long is it? May 4, 2011

So I slept in today. And then, when I got up, I popped up to Riyad’s so he could cut my hair. I’ve not had it cut since I had my face-to-face interview, and it’s really gotten far too long, and the ends are all horrid. Now, however, the horrid ends are gone, it’s been cut slightly shorter than I’d like, but it’ll grow to a decent length again, so all is good! Then I came home, skyped mum for a bit then went to Epcot for work. I grabbed some lunch at the french pattisserie, then went back to the Rose and Crown for work.

So today was my first solo shift as a server. Generally, your first solo shift must be a 3-table section. I was in 401, which is a 3-table section, except when it’s made to pick-up table 504. So I told Holly that I can’t pick up, due to it being my first shift. Of course, she ignored me, and I suddenly found myself with a fourth table, without any warning. I would’ve been fine with it, had I had warning, but Holly just turned round and went “you do know 504 is yours, right?”, and I don’t even know how long they’d been sat there. So I had a bit of a go at her! She didn’t think it was an official thing that servers are meant to have 3-table sections on their first shift, until Yelitza, the manager, also had a go at her! I hadn’t said anything to Yelitza, so that was a shock to me. Either way, one of my tables got picked up by another server, I was back down to three tables, and everything went really well!

And now I’m getting ready for Chillers, so I must dash!

Vikki
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Second time lucky. May 3, 2011

Today was Test Day number two. I got to work nice and early, helped set up the restaurant, then was told to wait in the office before starting in my section, 311. Phil and I waited in the office for Jack to give us a bit of a pep talk before our tests. We had to spiel to him, and he gave us a run down of what he was expecting from Test tables. Basically, they look for minimum skill with maximum knowledge for the perfect server. Skill comes with practice, but without knowledge, we (as servers) can’t help our guests with any food or drink decisions!

Then it was time for Phil and I to head downstairs and serve some tables. I had a couple of really nice, lovely tables. I didn’t feel like I was rushed off my feet, everything just seemed to flow. My test table sat down, I had Jack and Kim on my table, and everything just seemed to go quite well. There was a general running joke that they’d gotten married yesterday! And then Kim wanted to ask about kosher, and said she had a Jewish boyfriend (even though she was on “honeymoon” with Jack!). It all got a little bit silly, but in a good way! One of my other tables twigged that I was being assessed as well, and even wished me good luck as they left.

So, once all my tables, and my test table, had left, it was feedback time. I’d done well, my knowledge was all there (which is a biggie for Jack), I still need to improve my efficiency, and one of my bus times went over. However, that was because I was talking to them, so they took responsibility for that! All in all, I did well, and I passed!!! πŸ˜€ Phil had passed too, so everything was all awesome.

I got a taxi home from work, with a load of other AM servers. We went off to McDonalds (people were hungry) so Phil and I had celebratory burgers! πŸ˜€ Since then, I’ve pretty much just been relaxing at home, skyping friends, and just enjoying the fact that I no longer have the stress of server training. πŸ˜€

 

Spring Formal! May 2, 2011

Today was my last training day as a server. Regardless of the outcome tomorrow, I won’t have another training shift as a server. I’ll either pass, and all will be fine, or I’ll fail and I’ll have to go back to podium. I only had an AM shift today, but it was the best training shift I’ve had so far.

Terri, of all people, was training me, and we were in Love. Love is a nice section to work, it just flows well. Terri was amazing. She made sure I was busy, she pushed me, she was constantly asking me what’s next? I think she’s even just about sorted out my issue with re-fills (I hate them, and never notice when I need to do them) If I serve like I did today in my test tomorrow, then I’ll be fine!

After work, there was a spring formal tonight. Much like the winter formal, we all dressed up looking lovely, and went to Coronado Springs for a good time, free food, and music to dance to! The UK went en masse, and even those that joined later on (due to finishing work a little later) found us. Terri and I also met up with Teddy again, and he was looking rather a lot smarter than usual! (Not saying he usually looks scruffy, but everyone really dresses up for the formals!)

The whole evening was a lot of fun, and afterwards Terri headed off to Lasses. I came home, and tomorrow I’ll be working an AM shift, opening the restaurant, ready to take my second (and last) service test. Wish me luck!!!

Vikki
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The world keeps spinning May 1, 2011

So today was my mid. Becky was training me in Dart Room, and she pretty much left me to it. I got cut to an am while she stayed on as a mid though, I could tell she was bored and just wanted to make some money. Terri was off today, so once both Anna and I were home from our respective training AM shifts, Anna came round to hang out. We watched Wild Child, ate lots of ice cream, generally had fun, and now it’s time for bed.

Another opening AM tomorrow!

Vikki
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Now for the hard part… April 30, 2011

This post will go through the service training week. They say it’s a series of the three different types of shifts you could work – an AM, a Mid and a PM. However, due to classroom sessions around your AM and PM, it feels like you work three Mids in a row. And it’s hard work.


Sunday 24th – AM Shift

So today was a very very early start to a busy, tiring week. I was on my way to work at around 7:30am, to have a class before we actually started on the floor serving. It’s really quite strange to be at work before even the managers are! Anyway, Kim was our trainer for the class, and she gave us lots of information about how the week would go, service standards, allergies and all sorts. Chef Tony even came out to talk to us, and both Phil and I had to spiel the menu to him. They went pretty well, but my spiels still need a bit of work.

Once I actually got on the floor, things went well there too. It was quiet (I know, having assigned, what the restaurant looks like when it’s quiet) and I was in Dart room being trained by Kim (Phil had Ray), so it was a nice easy way to get me going. There’s stuff that I still need to work on, but I can be overly critical of myself at times, and it was all stuff that will improve with time.

I finished work at around 4:30, and came home and did a load of washing, then Terri and I decided to re-arrange our room. The rest of the evening was spent with Anna, Jane and Shirley coming over for chinese, films and much girly chatter! πŸ˜€ It was exactly what I needed to take my mind off the stress of training.

Monday 25th – Mid Shift

We didn’t have a class, as such, today. We just started off our day tasting all the wines, trying to learn all the flavours of them. And then we started on the floor. I was trained by Becky today, doing the am in section 307, and the pm in Love. During our break we tasted and spieled all the appetisers. I had to deal with an 11 and an 8 top in the pm. I still haven’t had a table with an allergy, or been double sat… I don’t feel like I’ve been pushed as far as I could be. I did get a shoutout table, but didn’t actually manage to give them a shoutout, as their desserts went out during the fireworks. All in all, another good day, but I still feel like I could be pushed further.

Tuesday 26th – PM Shift

So, much as I was working a PM Shift on the floor today, I was still at work at about the same time as the AMs. This was for another classroom session with Kim, over in the training trailer. We basically went through bar stuff and generally made sure everything was going well and addressing any concerns Phil and I had. Then we headed back to the Rose & Crown to taste and spiel the desserts and practice opening bottles of wine. Then onto the floor!

I spent my shift in section 508 with Lady Sarah. Everyone says 508 is a nasty section, but I was doing alright for the most part. I got double sat, which was fine, and one of them was an allergy (finally!). Everything was going really well until the assigner (who was also in training) accidentally sat me again, making it a triple seat! (I didn’t have drinks out on either of the first two tables yet, although I had taken the drinks orders). This threw me totally off and it took me a while to get back on track, Lady Sarah even had to step in. I eventually did get back on top, and everything went perfectly!

It was also extra magic hours tonight, so I got sat one more table after fireworks (being KD – Kitchen Duty, meant that Phil and I had to stay on). This table decided that they were happy and wanted to spend quite some time over dinner. So they were the very last table to leave the restaurant, at 11:20pm. We’d already had the kitchen checked by management and were all ready to go home apart from bussing and sweeping that last table! So, after banking out, I finally left at 11:40pm. Yuk.

Wednesday 27th

Today was a lovely day off work. I slept in, which I really really needed. Terri and I went to Panera bread for some brunch, and then I met up with Teddy to go out to some random shops he knew of. He wanted to buy some new shorts, and I just fancied getting out and about. I did end up buying some shampoo though! Then we came home, Teddy went off to meet some other friends, and I came home so I could look at my wine and scotch flavours. Terri was a pm, so she didn’t get home until quite late.

Thursday 28th – Test Day
So yet again I was working an AM shift, but had to be at work a lot earlier for classroom business. So off to the training hut with Becky, where she ran through a few last bits and pieces before Phil and I sat down for our written test. This was basically a test of our knowledge to make sure we were confident with everything before hitting the floor. Both of us passed, I even got 199/200! (Go me! Grrr at that one scotch flavour) Then it was time for our shift, including our practical tests.

My shift seemed to be going alright. Not too great, but not too bad either. Then my test table got sat… I started off alright, my greeting and my spiel were fine, and then I got told the chefs weren’t around (the test table always has an “allergy”) and my nerves just went to pot. Everything fell apart, and the rest of the shift just went horribly, really. Needless to say, I failed, as did Phil. However, we do both have a 2nd chance (but no more than that).

I pretty much fell apart, and Terri had to come upstairs to find me and calm me down. Eventually, I was feeling a little more normal, and Terri took me home to change and get some dinner. We decided upon O’hanas, at the Polynesian, invited a few people along, and went there with Shirley. O’hanas was very very yummy, and I had a really good night, which was exactly the detox I needed after the mental blow of the morning.

Terri and I each had a cocktail with a glow-cube in, which was awesome. But what was even more awesome was the magic we made for a small child! This little boy came over to our table, leading Grandma by the hand. He came up and pointed at our drinks saying “Blue! Blue!”. She apologised to us, saying that he just wanted to show her the glowing drinks. We thought this was so cute, that we asked our waiter if we could buy a glow-cube for the small boy (we saw which table they went back to). The whole family came over to us afterwards and thanked us on three separate occasions! It was truly magical.

After eating, the three of us went down to the beach, having bought another round of very yummy drinks, to watch wishes. Wishes was amazing, as usual, and I made the obvious wish… that I would pass my service test. Once wishes was over, we were just hanging out on the beach, and Shirley decided to make a sand angel! It was so funny! This then prompted various things being written and drawn in the sand including “I <3 Jon" (with a heart, not those symbols), Our names, and then I wrote "I will pass". Motivation is the key after all! We eventually ran out of steam (and were taking up a lot of space with our writing), so decided it was about time we headed home. Especially as we were planning on getting up uber early to watch the royal wedding on tv!

Friday 29th – Wedding Day

I was actually off today, but still ended up going into work. So Terri and I set our alarms early so that we could wake up and watch Kate and William get married on tv. We’d moved our tv into the bedroom so that we didn’t really have to move. Once the ceremony was over, we were out the door and on our way to epcot (at 7:30am) for a big UK photo in commemoration of the wedding. This was fine for some people, who were working AM shifts (like Terri), but thankfully I wasn’t the only crazy person who’d come into work stupidly early on my day off.

We did have some time to kill between taking the photo and the AMs starting work, so a massive group of us (about 21 people) went off to future world to go on Soarin and Test Track! Then it was all back to the UK pavilion for a back stage street party with free shepherds pie and slices of cake. By then, our group had shrunk a little bit, but there were still a few of us, people who were off or had PM shifts later on, so we carried on round world showcase.

We went into France, had a browse, and went and saw their little show, “Illuminations of France”. Then we carried on round, some people stopped off for photos with characters, until we eventually got to Italy, where we decided lunch was in order. Managed to get a walk-in table for 9 people at Via Napoli, which was good fun, and also good luck. Lunch was very yummy, and afterwards we kept on round to Mexico. We had a couple of people with us who’d never been inside Mexico before!

After Mexico, the people with PM shifts went off to work, a couple of people went home, and some others off to Mission Space. None of these options really inspired me, so I went off on my own for a bit. I had a lovely chat with the lady selling Hawaiian Lei Flowers for Flower and Garden, then walked up to Mousegear and the Innoventions areas. I was basically just killing time until I thought Terri would be done from her PM shift so we could go home together. So I walked back to the UK to see if she had. Turned out she hadn’t, so I watched Riyad do some of a Tea-Tour (very funny – he skips!), and also watched British Invasion while I was waiting. She eventually got out, so we came home, spent some time relaxing and hanging out, then she went out. I had a bath, updated my blog with my food running week stuff, and then got an early night after my uber early morning.

Saturday 30th – Back to Training

So, to continue my service training, the managers had decided that I would basically stay on the schedule that Scheduling had given me, and I’d just be paired up with a Trainer on each day. So I got in this morning, as a 10:45 AM (instead of an 11:30 one), to find out that I wouldn’t have a trainer until 11:30. So I just helped out with setting up the restaurant, along with all the other 10:45 AM servers. Then we had pre-meal at 11:30, I found out that Becky would be training me, and I would be in 303 section. Personally, I don’t feel like today helped me in any way, I didn’t improve at all, and I was just going through the motions really. I guess my head just wasn’t in it though, which it hopefully will be tomorrow.

After work, I came home and Terri and I went out to the Outlet Mall for some dinner. Then we had a wander round some of the shops. Terri found a lovely top, then she bought my birthday present (also a lovely top) as she won’t actually be here when it’s my birthday. And then I found myself a cute new skirt, so I’m pretty happy with tonights findings. We also picked up some accessories for the Spring Formal on Monday night, and a jewelery holder for our bedroom. All in all, a good haul.

And now, for bed. I’m a Mid tomorrow. No idea who’ll be training me, but at least I don’t have to open the restaurant again.

And that’s basically my service week. It went down the drain a bit at the end, but I have another chance, and I have more training over the next few days. My re-test is on Tuesday, as is Phil’s (he failed too), so fingers crossed for then. For now though, Good Night.

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Congratulations! April 29, 2011

To the future King William, and Princess Catherine… the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge! Because you got married today!!! πŸ˜€ And I woke up at 5:30am to watch it.

And now I must apologise to all of my readers. These last couple of weeks have been rather crazy. They’ve been hard work, very tiring, and when I have had time off I’ve just wanted to shut my brain off and chill out. As such, I’ve not had much of a chance to really update my blog so much. What I can do, however, is give a run down of everything that I’ve been up to in one giant blog post. You see, these last two weeks have been my training for becoming a server… a week of food running and other stuff, and a week of service training, with a test on Thursday (which was actually yesterday). So, for all the future UK Food and Beverage CRPs… this blog post will prove very very useful for you, so you can get an idea of Service training (assuming it doesn’t change before you get here that is!!!)

So… lets go all the way to when I last posted. That was last Monday, when I had my food running training.


Tuesday 19th
Today was my culinary day. On your culinary day you basically become a chef. This day is very very useful for finding out how our dishes are prepared, cooked and finished, so that you can give much more accurate infomation to your guests.

I started off working in pantry, doing salads, corned beef sandwiches, desserts. Stuff that doesn’t really need cooking. Then they moved me over to the fish station. This is both the easiest and busiest station… All you do is fry the fish and chips (plus a couple of other things when needed, like the scotch eggs), and plate them up. However, we sell so much Fish and Chips that it’s quite hard to keep track of how many you need. I wasn’t on fish for very long before I helped out on ovens and grills a bit. Then I went up to the Culinary pre-meal before dinner service. After that I spent a little bit of time in Chippy with Dexter, James and Michael, where I got to drop the fish in the batter. And then I went on break.

During your break on Culinary day, they make you up a large platter of most of the entrΓ©es. Obviously, the most expensive things aren’t on there (the steak or the salmon) but it’s a really good way to try all the meals and form your own opinions on most of our stuff.

When I came back from my break, the kitchen was pretty busy, and I spent the remainder of my shift helping Jason on Ovens. He actually made me dig in quite a lot and help make a lot of stuff. Mostly seasonal vegetables (my god, we go through a lot!), but I did make an entire Salmon dish! The only thing Jason did was take it out of the oven for me. πŸ˜€ I think the Salmon will be very easy to spiel from now on! Hehe.

And then I came home. And Fell asleep pretty quickly. One last note… spending time on ovens is hot. VERY hot. You are stood very close to some very very hot ovens, a very very hot grill, and a 4 top gas cooker, which at dinner has pretty much all 4 rings lit. It was fun though, and I think I learnt a lot from this day!


Wednesday 20th
This was my bar day. I was quite looking forward to my bar day, as I used to love working on the service bar back at Zizzi. I had Gavin training me, which I think might be the main reason I didn’t enjoy this day as much as I’d hoped. His style of training just doesn’t gel with my style of learning, but he wasn’t to know this. Ah well. I did eventually get into the swing of things, and by the end of the night, I was enjoying it. Of course, by then everything had quietened down and I was just required to help clean everything. *sigh* Still, I learnt that I needed to learn my pub blends, so that’s something at least.


Thursday 21st
Today was my first tipped day!!! πŸ˜€ I was food running with Stuart, and I think the day went pretty well. We made some rather good tips, but it was hard work. I’ll never know how some people become permanent food runner, I know I could never do it.


Friday 22nd
Today was my second, and last (during training) day of food running. It was me and Anna for today (the other trainee for this week), and I think we made quite a good team.

I did have a slight annoyance at one point. I came back from my break to find we were on the verge of running out of condiments (not Anna’s fault, it’d just been busy). I said to Anna would she be ok running if I just got on with condiments and got us back up to a decent level. She said sure! I wasn’t to know that we were so low that it would take me 1.5hours to get us up to a decent level again!!! One of the servers (not going to name any names) decided to help running food, and then had a go at me because I was still doing condiments and they had to run! Well, I never asked you to run, and these condiments needed doing! Pah, some people, eh?! Heh, everything is fine between us now, of course. πŸ˜€


Saturday 23rd
Today was a day off. A very much needed one at that. I slept in, then headed off to Epcot with the intent of spieling to a manager in time for Terri to finish her shift so that we could come home together. I got in earlier than intended, so I had a browse round for a bit. Unfortunately, Terri got cut early from work as she wasn’t feeling well, so as I was heading to the UK pavilion to see a manager, I saw her coming the other way, looking like she was about to collapse! Me being the good friend that I am, forgot the idea of spieling and decided to make sure Terri got home ok.

So, back to the bus stop, where we decided that getting some food in her would help a lot, so we hopped in a taxi to sweet tomatoes. This place is very very yummy, btw… healthy too! Which makes a change for the US πŸ˜›

We had a relaxing night though, came home and watched You Got Mail. Barring the fact that the DVD player decided to die half way through, so we went out to Publix and Walgreens, both for groceries and for a new DVD player so we could finish the film! Which we did, and it was very good. πŸ˜€


And thus concludes my week of food running… I think I’ll start a new post for my week of service training, and I think I’ll write it tomorrow. There’s a fair bit involved, and I am rather tired from waking up at 5:30 this morning to watch the wedding. So I bid you good night, and This week’s blog will come tomorrow!

Vikki
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Run, run, run… April 18, 2011

… just as fast as you can…

… or you’ll burn your hands on hot hot plates!!!

Yup, today I started food running. The idea behind food running is really very simple. You run food to tables. Mainly entrΓ©es. But if you have the time to help out with appetizers and desserts, then that’s all good too. As a food runner, you also have to keep the condiments (ketchup and tartar) topped up, and make sure there’s enough bread been baked, and butter in dishes to go with the bread.

There’s a whole load of stuff about learning seat numbers, and being able to take food to the right guest without “cattle calling”, but guests have a habit of moving, and some servers don’t use seat numbers properly. And then there’s things about which way round certain dishes have to be placed, but all in all it’s quite simple.

However, simple does not mean easy. Mentally, it’s easy. Physically… not so much. I’m used to carrying plates back home, and moving around in a fast paced environment. Unfortunately, I haven’t done that for 6 months now… I’ve lost the knack! Podium pace of life is so much slower, and even when it’s fast (in chippy, for eg), you don’t have to run around or carry heavy plates. But I’m sure it’ll all come back to me… in the mean time, I’m rather tired.

So, sleep is needed for little me. Tomorrow I will become chef Vikki, and don my chef’s whites, and spend a day in the kitchen! Fun times! πŸ˜€

Night
Vikki
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