Arriving here at Orlando, Florida, I must say was one of the most terrifying things I have ever done in my life. Being away from home for the first time, with no friends or family to aid me in this foreign land. The reality of this, had not sunken in the past few months that I had spent preparing. Instead the reality of this trip was clouded by the overall excitement of working for Disney. I can still hear my event manager at my previous position saying, “Guys, if you get a chance to work for Disney, TAKE IT! They are an amazing company.” I knew she was right, because although I had never experienced Disney’s hospitality for myself, I had heard of it. Guest visiting Disney and not just having a fun family vacation, but creating life long memories. It was the thought of being able to provide this service that pushed me to applying for the program.
Then, here I was finally in Orlando, Florida eager to begin changing lives, one family at a time. But I found in my first few days that the only family I wanted be around was my own. I would see my room mates with their parents bonding through Disney, and at night leaving me alone in our apartment to spend time with them. It was this experience that forced me to branch out and think, why else do I want to work for Disney? I thought about my career goals as a possible manager or event planner one day. How am I going to get there?
It was this thought that made me realize, what Disney truly is. They have passion for the experiences they are giving their guest, but they can not be this with just passion alone. They had to have talent, standards, strength, in all a strong structure to build on. This is why I am here, to build on the foundation that my passion and learning at city tech has given me. As said in my Traditions class, “Your journey begins here,” It’s not going to be easy, but success isn’t the easiest road. For with rocks (obstacles), comes strength and then appreciation. I think of this journey as I hear from my cast members at Saratoga “welcome Home!”
A room of wonder, a cozy bed covered with cloud like linens, the air light and welcoming. All is reflected through perfect lighting and for those who walk in here, a journey is beginning. All troubles are left at the door, and nothing but relaxation lies ahead, welcome home. This is what a guest expects when saying at a hotel. The moment they arrive, they come in with a list in their minds of expectations. Expectations of what the room will look like, smell like and feel like. Yet, although Disney is full of magic, creating these rooms is not done by the swish of a wand, or by wishing upon a star. But by a very determined team of house keepers, or “mouse keepers” here at Disney resorts.
Coming into to this department I knew I had many challenges ahead, everyone has told me housekeeping is a hard job. Yet even with this knowledge, I didn’t anticipate exactly how much goes into a room. Cleaning places I would have never even thought of cleaning. I found myself taking one hour on a bathroom alone. Cleaning vanities, toilets, mirrors, tubs, and mopping floors. It’s a lot of information to remember. Yet with the stress of all of it, I have begun to find something to look forward to, as I rush to finish each room. At the end of each checkout cleaning, I turn around create a mickey mouse face out of towels, then walk to the door with one last glance and imagine the guest who will arrive and think, “we have arrived.”
I’ll keep this thought in mind, till next week, Mickey’s Mouse Keeper, Jen
March 3, 2014 Learning from a wise leader.
Another week has come and gone, here at the wonderful world of Disney. With the constant change in cold to hot weather I have found myself feeling a little under the weather. To the point where I had to make some chicken soup, and sleep in. The difficulty of the week was combined with not only the Disney bug, but with classes preparing for midterms and projects.
One such project, the leader interview was such a pleasant experience that I feel, it was life changing. I had the pleasure of interviewing one of my leaders, Tammy. I began by asking her, her style of leading and her background with Disney. I learned she is a 12 year veteran of the Disney Company. Working five years as a housekeeper and seven as a housekeeping manager. I thought this interesting as many of the leaders in housekeeping came from front desk, as agents. They come into the department train a few days in each role and then lead.
However Tammy has experienced housekeeping for herself, I believe this gives her an advantage when it comes to relating to her housekeepers. As she said in her interview, ”When thinking back on who I was then and now, I tell my staff who ask me for help moving up in their careers to remember, where you came from, and who you are. I remember everything I have learned and use it to strive and be my best.”
Tammy’s idea of leadership is to help her housekeepers to be their best. She believes they have the knowledge to clean rooms, well. However she also believes she brings something to the table with her experience and techniques. She’s there to fill in any gaps they have. In conclusion, I would have to thank Tammy for sharing her knowledge to me, in this interview I have learned that leading a staff of employees can be a difficult task, especially if you have employees from different backgrounds. But it’s about expecting differences and learning from each other that creates a great team. That’s what the each department at Disney is a team, each has a leader that is willing to share their knowledge, and skills to make all employees overall better. Being a leader is not easy, just like many things in life you’ll have obstacles; you just have to keep on going.
March 25,2014 Tale as old as time
This week I must say was definitely one of my favorite weeks here as my fiancé was able to come and visit me. Having not seen or spoken to him for nearly 52 days, due to his occupation as a mate for a cruise ship company, reuniting was differently my favorite part of my week. It was an interesting week for me because I was able to experience what it’s like to be a Disney guest for the first time.
Arriving for my reservation at the Disney’s all-star resort was a pleasant experience, immediately I was greeted by a woman who was more than happy to answer any questions I had. At front desk, the agent smiled and gave us perfect eye contact as she pulled up our information and checked us into our room. She went on to giving us a map of the resort and made sure we knew where our room was before she smiled and said, “Have a magical day.”
When I arrived in my room I found myself doing exactly as my manager said I would, checking the room over like I would in Saratoga, and comparing and contrasting the differences. I was surprised at the differences, from the texture in the towels to the soaps and shampoo provided in the bathroom, everything was dissimilar. I also noticed that despite my inspections I had gained something else, empathy. In the past I never thought twice about the house keeper coming in the room, I’d clean my mess and leave completely forgetting about the room. This time I wanted to leave a tip, I wanted to assist the housekeeper. I thought of the other rooms she would have to clean that day and the time crunch she would be on. By the end of my stay I found myself striping the bed and emptying the trash bin.
The second day of our stay, we hit the parks to begin our Disney filled vacation beginning with Animal kingdom. I noticed as I spoke to each cast member how they put Disney’s techniques to work in their field, from a cast member using the Disney “point” when giving me directions to the nearest fast pass kiosk, to the bellhop at Tower of terror showing good show and character when he asked us on the line “How many checking in?” Instead of the usual “how many in your party?”
But the overall best part of my week came when we dined at the “Be our guest” restaurant, themed around my favorite Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast. Finding a reservation for the restaurant took more work than I imagined, for a month I called every day and checked the app to no avail. Each time the reservation agent saying “It’s one of our most popular restaurants, but once you’re in, you’re in.” As luck would have it 4 days before my fiancé’s arrival, I got my wish. From the moment I walked into the restaurant, I realized the true level of Disney, making dreams come true. Cream colored pillars held up cherub babies whose smiles brightened the entire ball room with the promise that anything can happen here. Snow fell from the window, illuminating a French town thousands of miles away, and yet for that moment I was there. In France, dining in the Master’s castle as he awaited my presence for a picture by his royal throne.
Overall an experience I would never forget now as my return to work approaches, I feel ready to face my rooms and create amazing experiences.
It’s been a difficult week here at Disney, with the spring break and Easter time arriving, Disney is trying it’s best to prepare for the large amount of guest who will be visiting the parks during this time. To best accommodate the guest increase, CP’s have been given two weeks off of classes to work.
The recent increase in occupancy has made it very difficult to find time to do anything, challenging my time management skills to the fullest. Work has become even busier leaving me exhausted after each and every shift. With my managers increasing the number of rooms I am receiving. Sometimes there’s just not enough hours to finish in time. Especially if I’ve been given all checkouts, and not one room leaves until 11am. Suddenly I find myself with 6 hours of work and 4 hours to complete it.
Yet I do see so much improvement in my work, my co- workers and I have been taking our position seriously researching towel animal folds, something we weren’t taught here at Saratoga despite that we were encouraged to do so. Teaming up together we have learned to create a frog, dog, elephant, swans, hearts and a swirly mickey and Minnie mouse. Meanwhile our manager knows only how to make a swan.
I’ve been very amazed at the bond I’ve created with my fellow CPs, we work together to clean our rooms making sure that we each make that 4:42 bus every single day. When one housekeeper finishes, she sends a text into our instant chat asking if anyone needs help and one of the others answers with the room and building numbers. I believe that it is this team effort that has banded us even closer.
Recently a few of the students from the Hospitality department have been writing me, asking questions about the program and the housekeeping department. This has brought me so much joy, I love telling my experiences and giving advice to each student as they embark on their journey. It’s been a challenging program with lots of ups and downs, who knows what lies ahead.
May 2,2014 Leaving the farmhouse and going to Paris
This week was an interesting one here In Orlando Florida. On Tuesday, I had the unique opportunity of being deployed to work at another resort. Saratoga Springs had been assigned extra housekeepers for the guest who were being walked over from Disney’s All Star Resorts. However these guests were not scheduled to arrive until Thursday. Due to the extra staff and my level of seniority I was not assigned a board (list of assigned rooms) and would either have an approved day off or the option of being deployed to work at another resort.At around 8:30 my manager walked into our meeting room, Tangled Foot, and told me that two of my fellow CPs and I would be deployed to Disney’s Contemporary Resort and that a driver would arrive soon to pick us up and escort us to the property.
I felt excitement running through me, a new resort, a new experience. A chance to see how other Disney Resorts get things done. Around nine o’ clock our driver arrived in a black SUV to take us to the Contemporary, a trip he called leaving the farm house and going to Paris. We arrived at the Contemporary excited yet a little nervous. I believe our Manager Rick saw this as he smiled at us and searched for work for us. My fellow CP Katherine and I were assigned one board together and escorted by a runner to the floor we would be working. It was here that we discovered something that Saratoga Springs does not have, Metros.
At Saratoga Springs each housekeeper is assigned a $20 OfficeMax caddy that stores all of our chemicals. A basket is left at every room door with all the supplies each particular room will need. However this was not the case at the Contemporary, here metros are used. Metros being a large motorized cart able to fit all towels, cups, coffees, soaps, and sheets. The funny thing, our cart only went one way. As we tried to learn to master this new interesting piece of equipment, our leader Rick jokily cautioned, “Try not to crash the metro into the wall we have a lot of bad drivers.” It was not as easy as it seemed. Sixteen rooms to clean and time was flying by, Katherine and I definitely felt the pressure. Yet were determined to create beautiful rooms in a timely fashion. We wanted to prove that we were ready for “Paris,” that even though we came from the “farmhouse” we had that level of prestige and excellence that the Contemporary called upon. We worked tirelessly listening to Disney songs to motivate us in our rooms. Tucking hospitality corners in as we sang along to the ballets of “let it go,” and “I’ll make a man out of you.” The clock struck three, and we had just finished, together we walked out the door and reentered. In our minds we were guests, reacting to the room for the first time. We were not disappointed. Each bed not a wrinkle in sight, in the bathroom delicately placed soaps cradled upon perfectly folded towels. This was Disney standards; we had created magic for the next guests who would enter. It was then that we noticed the most perfect accessory to our work, shining in the background out on the balcony, there it was. As if to award us for our hard work, Cinderella’s castle. The end to a perfect day.
May 14, 2014 Final Entry, You call a vacation, I call it home.