What is it like to be a Disney Cast Member who moves from Disneyland Paris to Walt Disney World?
After the Mouse member Kay Mitchell has submitted this, our first true contribution to the site. Like Myself Kay had worked in the early days of EuroDisney but Kay then went on to work at Walt Disney World. This is her account of here experiences in Florida.
Once again I found myself sitting in a fancy London hotel..now coming form Scunthorpe this could only mean one thing, yes I was at another Disney Interview!
A year had passed since my two contracts in Disneyland Paris and the Disney bug still hadn't left my system, so this time I had decided to conquer America. My memory is a little hazy of how the whole interview process for EPCOT worked, I bizarrely remember nothing of this day itself in London however my very first Disney Interview held in the Grosvenor House In London is still etched in my memory to this day, I do not know whether it was because of meeting a very young and enthusiastic train Driver called Tim who regaled us all with tales of parties and craziness or the fact that you always remember your "first time!".
Anyhow a few months later and much saving hard on my parents side of things, I was on a plane bound for Florida! At the airport I met up with a couple more cast members who were also en route that day.
That was the first time I guess the differences between the two Disney contracts were evident. Disney Orlando had furnished all new cast members with lists of names and phone numbers of new cast members starting at the same time, this list was given to us a few weeks before start date so we all had chance to have a natter on the phone before going over! Very different to arriving at La Boiserie in Paris and being delivered into an apartment full of strangers and in my case being delivered to an apartment containing my room mates boyfriend and giant pet python, but that's a whole other story!
By the time we reached Orlando via Atlanta I was missing all my luggage - not a great start but we were taken via Mini Bus to the staff quarters called Vista Way. Vista way was not dissimilar in appearance to La Boiserie however it was much larger and more tropical looking and we were thrilled to see a swimming pool and central lounging area!
Security at Vista Way was tight compared to La Boiserie, Resort I.D was checked by uniformed guards on entering the complex and visitors had to be gone by a certain time. The Security was always present and we would see much more of them in the coming year as they "raided" many a wild party!
At the time I was in La Boiserie no security was present at all and looking back there did always seem to be some dodgy guys from seedier Paris suburbs lurking around.
Disney orientation lasted a week here in Orlando and in that time we were told absolutely everything there is to know about Disney and had guided tours around the whole resort including all the hotels, I remember thinking that life was great as I sat looking down Main Street, we were so lucky, my God we were in America, it felt so different to being in Europe. It felt like living in a movie. AMERICA!
Trying to savour every moment of these early days filled with such promise and excitement for the coming year, I cast my mind back to the first few days in Disneyland Paris, I had been hired to work in the Newport Health Club and pool but found myself chopping fruit in Billy Bobs on a bar training course, no one seemed to know what was going on the first week in DLP and I had to fight hard to get the job I had originally discussed at the interview. Things felt better here in America, so organised and smooth!
The first few weeks in America went quickly, after a week I had finally stopped feeling land sick after my first long flight and had settled in to work at the U.K. Pavilion in EPCOT, I was in the Food and Beverage side working to begin with on the potato cart, selling hot spuds and fish and chips, all new cast members started here then progressed next to the tea cart selling trifles and tea then finally on to the jackpot, working inside the Rose and Crown pub as a waiter earning great tips!
Home life back in Vista Way was great, the apartment was shared by 5 other room mates, picked by Disney from different countries than your own. As we all worked in the World Show case at EPCOT, the whole living experience itself was multi cultural too. I shared with girls from countries including France, Norway, Canada and Mexico. All the girls were very friendly but to be honest I spent most of the time with the other cast members from the U.K. pavilion, as we worked together we had much more in common and more to talk about.
Vista way itself was surrounded by shopping outlets, shops, bars, hotels and restaurants, we quickly found ourselves knowing where the Cast Members hung out and could get the best deals. Funny though you were still classed as being on Disney Property in these places it was almost like Big Brother watched you wherever you went. Disney pretty much owned the whole of Orlando or so it seemed. You definitely had to watch your back, I think any wrong doing even in a club nearby would have ended in TERMINATION!! Totally opposite in comparison to DLP where Paris and its environs offered acres of Disney Free playground, even the little bars and villages close by the Boiserie were Cast Member dens of iniquity!
Reading back it sounds like Disneyland Orlando sounds like some kind of peaceful law abiding utopia, however nothing could be further from the truth.
I could happily say hand on heart that I never saw a drug stronger then some weed in DLP, that may have been the nice company I kept or the era that we were or just my innocence - but in Orlando the drug scene seemed much closer to home.
Its sad to remember that here we all were in the most magical place on Earth, having great fun, meeting new friends, visiting places on days off that most people can only dream of such as Miami, Everglades and the Caribbean, having free passes to the Best theme Park in the world and basically living a life of fun that drugs were ever on the menu at all.
Life out here in Orlando was very different to Paris, I struggle to think whether it was because I was older in Orlando but it definitely wasn't better. Work itself in Orlando felt more like Disney was supposed to, this resort really captured the Disney quality like Paris never could with its Gallic shrug and Gitanes and Gauloises cigarettes but something was missing here for me, something magical which I only ever felt in Disneyland Paris- Orlando was seedy and had a plastic feel to it whereas DLP had a soul beyond the gates of the Magic Kingdom.
So for all the seedy Parisians hanging around La Boiserie, apartments full of snakes, and the driving cold Marne La Vallee wind compared to the fabulous weather in Orlando, nowhere in my mind could ever match the positive experiences I had in DLRP.
I just wonder however if I had gone to Orlando first?