Sunday, January 12, 2014

Holiday Season!

‘Tis the season to be jolly!

Matt was told he was naughty this year.

Yes, the holidays are upon us!   And coming and going they are doing just that! It’s quite difficult to say “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” when it’s 75 degrees out and sunny. What?? Some of you reading this may be jealous or wishing you had that weather—but not me! Christmas needs to be cold so you can snuggle up to blankies and hot cocoa.


Birthday was so fun in Disney! I rode Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear with the lights on as the start of my birthday and went to the Halloween party that night. Super cool to be in the park on your birthday and to wear the birthday button!

My roommate, Paige, treated me with my favorite Mickey rice krispie treats. Work treated me with my other favorite white chocolate macadamia nut cookies as well as a card and streamers. And my parents sent me fun stuff as well as Arielle, my best friend from back home. Ashley, my old roommate, was here and decorated my entire room and was absolutely adorable and still have the streamers up to this day. And my favorite present might have been this video.......

Halloween  was a rock-in. Quite strange here that the holidays are celebrated basically an entire month early for cast to get their discount. Let’s just say.. I have been entirely screwed up. Celebrating Halloween in September, going to a Halloween party before my birthday (Sept 18), weather in the 80’s, and decorations all over the place doesn’t quite give you a clear mindset with all the confusion. On top of that, Disney skips right over Thanksgiving. No decorations. Nothing besides specialized food options across property. Not sure why this is—maybe because it’s an American holiday? Thanksgiving is overlooked? Who knows. But it goes Halloween till Nov 2nd, then Nov 3rd is Christmas. Talk about messing your mind up!! But did go to more Christmas parties. Went to 2 and glad I did! Here are my favorites:


Thanksgiving was AWESOME! We had a “Friendsgiving” with 7 of us all chowing down on good food and good company. We even had an actual turkey that we didn’t burn! Surprise, surprise. We then played a few games and just had a great night. This Thanksgiving, however, was a bit different than most. I met 2 people from France in July and have been in touch here and there with them. They contacted me and asked me what I was doing for Thanksgiving and I told them they were welcome to join us. I didn’t realize until after picking them up that they have never celebrated Thanksgiving before! Of course they wouldn’t have, it is an American holiday. They asked us what our traditions were and what we do. I basically said we eat (Isn’t that what the holidays are for anyways??). They asked us if we could go around saying what we were thankful for. They both said they were very thankful that they were able to celebrate their very first American holiday with us and for us to show them what our culture was like. Jokingly, they said it was the best American holiday they’ve ever had (since it was their first one). How adorable. I was tickled pink and speechless. Where else are you ever going to have an experience like that?? Experiences like those make me never want to leave here.

Busch Gardens: Oh my goodness is this place fantastic! I hadn’t been before so wasn’t exactly sure what to expect except just a ton of crazy roller coasters that I kept hearing from other people. My friend and I made a little vacay out of it in Tampa, since it was an hour away and enjoyed going to Busch Gardens for 2 days since they had a deal for buying 1 park ticket gets you in the park twice in one week. We went to Splitsville, an amazinggg bowling alley and restaurant (which there’s one in Downtown Disney), and wanted to compare it between ours and the one in Tampa. Our was obviously better, but it was because the demand was so much greater.

I can’t even begin to explain how thrilling the rides are there! So many of them took my breath away. To me, Busch Gardens felt like a combination between a zoo, Animal Kingdom, and Cedar Point. Pretty rockin’ ! Here are 2 videos I took of my 2 favorite rides there---- craaaaaazy.

Oh, and this for kicks & giggles. I will forever cherish this video.

Christmas: Christmas was so lovely! It was definitely odd not being with my family for the first time. However, I thought it was just so precious that I was able to spend it with my childhood best friend who moved down here and her family! We ate yummy food and then played euchre for hours! How fun! (Much different than my family who collapses on the couches after having intense food coma). Then after I stopped at my neighbors who I spent Thanksgiving with and we played cards and games. As perfect as a Christmas I could get without my family there!

Next blog is going to be about job updates... I'm in a transition period now so we will see what happens next!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Backstage shenanigans !

MAN O MAN. Haven’t written in forever. Who knew this was going to happen? We all did, lez be honest. Of course since I sit at a computer at work half the day you’d think that I’d be ramping these out like none other…there’s just SO much that happens and goes on I don’t even know what to write but I was able to finally combine these 2 things together.

I went on 2 backstage tours so far since I’ve been down here so I thought I’d share what I learned – of course I was the geek who brought my little notepad out and started writing fun facts down…

So we got to have VIP seating to Indiana Jones as well as go backstage to learn their tricks of the trade. From what I heard, we gave them one of our old ellipticals so they repaid us back by giving us a backstage tour. Weird, but we’ll take it! So I thought the most interesting part is that the actors in Indiana Jones are actually actors! In real life! (Or does everyone else already know this..?..) The director that brought us around told us that starts actually get cast for movies and are real stunt devils like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc. He said this is their steady job and then they are all constantly applying for new jobs or movies and then when they get casted they’ll go off and do that and then come back to Indiana Jones when they’re done. They rotate throughout the days so some are doing 2-3 shows a day for a few days and then will have off since it’s a lot of work and stress on the body per show.

Another interesting fact is that one time the big boulder got rolled out from the track in front and onto stage but the crew was able to stop it before it hit the audience or hurt anyone. Yikers! And speaking of which, ironically, my roommate just found this HILARIOUS YouTube video of Indiana Jones. Please, please watch it. And WHY did I not see this before the Halloween parties?!?!

Lastly, the very first stunt Indiana Jones does when he steps over the certain patch of black-ness he triggers himself. As he is approaching the spike, he steps over a patch, which then triggers the spike to come up. Simultaneously, when the spikes come up, the sound crew will trigger the noise as well. (Of course accidents happen- but no worries, of course they’re made out of rubber!)

We also got to go back and touch the planes and feel the propellers and such. It was pretty cool to see behind the scenes! Not as much different though since the whole show you kind of see backstage when they are switching the scenes behind you. We did see them put the first scene back together which was cool since you saw the pieces and how they fit together. Definitely wouldn’t have expected where they fit since you can hardly tell!

Secondly, I also got to go on a backstage tour of Epcot’s Spaceship Earth. This one was way more intriguing to me because obviously who goes on an all dark ride with the lights on and gets an explanation of it?! (Actually… I did get to try magic band testing out for the photo pass so I got to ride Buzz Lightyear and Space Mountain with the lights on on my that was SAWEEET. I went to try to do it for Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n Roll but space was out! GAH ..Mad about that still because out of all places, that’d be the place to do it).

So fun facts about the ride and the Epcot ball: There are 11,324 triangles that make it up (kewl, right?). And only 2 technicians are able to clean the ball! Crazy, right? Apparently they go through regular maintenance and it’s too dangerous to have people up on top of the ball anymore (Mickey used to magically appear in pictures there), but you have to have very specific qualifications for it and literally only 2 technicians do. Also, the marks on the ball are indeed lightning strikes! Apparently the ball has been hit multiple times by lightning and even the cast member giving us the tour mentioned that he had seen it taken place before. Wowza.

The face recognition that they use to take your picture while on the ride is the same as what the government uses!! (Meaning it should be crystal clear…right…??..).

More interesting facts he talked about throughout the ride such as:

-        The painter (don’t know who it was supposed to be) that is lying down on the bed painting a portrait on the ceiling was painting with his right hand and they found out later he was actually left handed. He also wouldn’t be lying down because that would be too long of a time to be lying down for, so they skewed that scene up.

And do these faces look familiar ??? They should—they’re the father and daughter from Carosuel of Progress !!!! They do tend to reuse faces throughout the different rides in the parks. I believe another example of my last tour last year they mentioned that the last guy on the totem pole in the Jungle Cruise is also the groundskeeper and dog from the Haunted Mansion! Neat-O gang.

Another scene showed the dimensions of the characters and actually how tall they were to scale! (Tour guide was approximately my height—5’7”).

And last tid-bit I wrote down about the ride was that behind this scene there is a “porch” that goes out to be able to see the “moon” and the “stars”. And apparently astronomers are very precise on how the sky looks and what exact shapes they should be in. An astronomer during the beginning of creating it was very particular in noticing that the moon wasn’t shaped exactly how it should be so that they had to take more paint to re-make it to his liking.

And ever wonder what is in front of you when you are traveling at the very top of the “earth” ?? A bunch of crap! It's really that. Boxes and such.. kind of sad!

In the meantime, I'm waiting to hear back from some jobs so I can possibly stay here longer than January. So we will see what's in store!!

And yes... it's still beach weather here .. ;)

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Picture time!

Here's my costume that I wear to work:
(Sadly these are all selfies because I've been trying to do this blog post for awhile and my roommates are never home to take a picture of me!)

(Should be tucked in)

And here are my Zumba pictures:

My cute little class!

Talk about the BEST costume ever, right?? It's even Under Armour, which I was pleasantly surprised in. Super comfy. Hanging around in sweats all day? Sure, why not?

And here's some pictures of my gym, Lifeline Fitness, that I work at. I almost always want to pick up the phone saying "Fitness and Wellness Center, this is Erica" since I was a receptionist at the center at Grand Valley but I've caught myself each time (so far!). Also, making sure I don't say "Lifetime fitness" is pretty tricky, too! The place is pretty small, but doable! 

The "office"
View from the back
Typical machines

There's also an aerobic room where I teach Zumba here:

And to end with a joke from Ellen DeGeneres ... 
Why is Peter Pan always flying? .....

He Neverlands. (giggle)

Friday, August 9, 2013

There's really no reason to ever shower...

because you seriously just sweat so much. Being in the comfort of my own cockroach-filled apartment is the only time I do not sweat. Wake up, get in car: sweat. Walk into work: sweat. Workout: sweat. Get home from work: sweat. Go to the parks: sweat, sweat, sweat. And repeat.

I saw another girl use this image on her blog. I'd steal it, but then I'd feel guilty about it.

So the past 2 weeks have been quite interesting as I was without a phone for quite some time. I had no phone throughout the entire time. I expained it before as my phone being dehydrated and so thirsty from the heat that it belly-flopped into my roommate's "soda". Thankfully, it has gotten much, much better. So if you're reading this, and I don't have your number yet, please text me! :)

Not too much has changed- It storms every single day but I LOVE it! It is so refreshing (of course unless you get stuck in it!) I try to go to the parks (Universal included) every few days and once on the weekend but when we are there we still spend at least a good 5 hours+ there! I love all technology (probably a bit too much!) and I got a fitness tracker called a FitBit. It basically tracks how many calories you burn in a day, steps taken, stairs climbed, sleep, etc.! I love it! I used to have the BodyBugg like on The Biggest Loser, but then you had to pay monthly to be able to see your results and that is not worth it. So when I came across this and that it's free after you buy it, I instantly wanted one! (Of course I had to get my favorite color, too!)

Anyways, with that being said, I see how much we walk in the parks and it's a good 3-5 miles each time! Think how big those parks are! I forget so often that instead of just going to the parks to have fun, you are secretly exercising as well! Sure, it's not vigorous, but you know I'd be sitting at home plopped up on that couch if I wasn't at a park! So I find that very intriguing. If anyone has any questions about the FitBit, feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at I feel like I should almost pay to be an advertiser of theirs!

I definitely take pictures every time I go to the park. Even if it's one picture, I will make sure I take one. I've been keeping track of how many rides I've gone on and how many times to the parks themselves so at the end I can see for fun what my totals are! I started it last year but then slacked. I am taking WAY too many pictures. It seems almost 50 pictures each time I'm at a park since there's always something new I haven't seen or characters who are cute. I'm glad since I can filter through them all later, but I'm pretty sure my scrapbook won't be done for another 10 years.

And some more fun facts- a guy posted this on one of our Facebook groups of the numbers that were accepted for the program I did last year and got accepted into this year as well.. Talk about mind-blown!!

So sorry I have been awful at posting. I originally wanted to have a weekly posting, but seeing how hectic things are, I'm just trying to as often as time allows! Hope everyone is enjoying the updates so far! I only have about 192, 293, 298 pictures so far aka 13 years of scrapbooking.....  :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Rain.. rain.. go away ..

Never really thought I'd say that since I love the rain so much.. but seriously.

It's like I've put my bathing suit on 3 times in the past few weeks ready to lay by the pool and every single time I'm just about to go it pourrrrrs. I'm currently in my swimsuit right now and refuse to take it off because I'm still mad. I feel like I should be Mary Poppins and carry around an umbrella everywhere I go.

I just started teaching Zumba a few weeks ago and is going lovely! I was only used to teaching once a week back at Grand Valley but here I am teaching 3-4 days a week, either 30 or 45 minute classes. I was a little bit nervous about it just because I wasn't sure what they expected. It seemed like I have been thrown into all spectrums. GVSU liked the fun new stuff, my internship at East Hills Athletic Club in Grand Rapids was very intense and wanted the best of the best, and here they just basically want to follow along. It's nice to take the stress out of it and have a relaxing class!

What made me already start to enjoy this class is how much the members enjoy it already. The gym is super small, so the class averages around 4 or 5 people. I took one Hip Hop class they had the first week I was here and one of the instructors continued to say, "Smile!" over and over again. When I taught my first class I would naturally look up and see every single person in the class grinning from ear to ear. That just makes class about 192x better. Seeing them smile makes me smile. A smile is contagious! I will definitely say that the most interesting part was teaching the 6:30am class.. that was definitely a first! Or maybe it was more interseting that my second song to my warm-up is "Don't Wake me Up" by Chris Brown and I chuckle to myself every time.

It's so incredibly crazy that I actually enjoy my 5:30am shift...or shall I rephrase "enjoy" to prefer. I have worked the afternoon-ish shifts which is from 11:30-8pm and MUCH rather take the 5:30-2pm shift. I'm very surprised I'm even saying that, however, you can easily see there is so much more to do in the day when you end at 2pm compared to 8pm. The hardest part isn't so much waking up, but it's going to bed around 9/10pm...especially when I'm so used to going to bed around 2/3am! Quite a difference, there. It's also nice because the other intern wants the afternoon shift because he grew up here so he doesn't really care about the parks- whereas I'm able to go every day if I want!

I've already done so much here, and I've just been here a month. But boy, does time fly! I have a whole "to-do" list from when I left here last time and I'm pretty sure I've only done about 3 things off of it out of about 20.. eeeek lots more to come!

I heard there's been lots of rain in Michigan lately. Stay covered!

Friday, June 28, 2013


Well I meant to do updates along the way as I was packing and such, but long story short.. I was home for a week, went to Colorado/Utah for the first time (WHICH WAS GORGEOUS!), then home for a week, then left... so basically I was running around and stressed frantically trying to cross things off my "to-do" list (which I still didn't finish everything!).

So here I am! :) I smiled when I walked in on the first day and saw this:  
I am nestled safely into the 4th apartment of my life. I'm living with my previous roommate, Ashley from MI, and a new girl, Paige we met from Minnesota that lives 5 minutes from the Wisconsin border. Ashley will be a seasonal employee and will only be here until the end of August since she unfortunately has to go back to school ;( She is continuing to work at Downtown Disney at Art of Disney, Memories, and the Christmas store. She can also pick up shifts wherever she wants that involve merchandise so she is really looking forward to shifts at the Tower of Terror gift shop and others around the parks! Paige will be a management intern at the Contemporary Resort at Chef Mickey's and will be here until January like me working crazy hours! Look how pretty the clubhouse looks ;)

And I'd just like to point out that we live off of this street: 
I've been to all 4 parks so far and actually just bought an annual pass to Universal Studios because if you only go 2 days it's worth it! They have a summer concert series with Kip Moore, Adam Lambert, and some other people! We just missed Ne-yo. Ha. But we did just see Gavin DeGraw! Very fun, especially since I hadn't been there before! So the first full 3-4 days we had pretty much full 12-hour days in the parks in the hot sun!

Moving on, I saw that my schedule practically every day for the next 3 weeks is going to be 5:30am-2pm. Anyone that knows me knows that this is a problem! So here's a recap of my first week:

Monday: SCAVENGER HUNT! SO so fun! It was with my other fellow intern, Carlos and then another intern from cast activities, Jarret. Our scavenger hunt consisted of going to all 4 parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports, a healthy living center, and a merchandise location. We also met our 2 bosses in Italy and had lunch! Surprisingly though, the food wasn't as good as I had imagined ;/ We all shared pizza and pasta, but the pizza was so thin and greasy I could have used it to grease a baking pan.
Then I was SUPER excited we were going to all 4 parks because on my bucket list was going to all 4 parks in one day and I was going to do it on my first day of work! perfect! Then, of course, right after we get off the Hollywood Studios tram I forgot my ID in the car! I didn't want the guys to wait for me to go all the way back to get it if we just needed a quick picture of Mickey's hat, so unfortunately I can't technically say I did all 4 parks, hence it's still on the bucket list! Also, the other intern, Jarret, did 2 college programs before (as I had done last year) and that was his first time at Hollywood Studios!!! (previously named MGM) I couldn't believe it since he had free admission for a year practically, but he lived far away. excuses.
Tuesday: Nothing too crazy. I was shown around some more in the fitness center and got some more things set-up like my new Disney e-mail !! - how presh. And shown how to fold towels, clean, etc. etc. But then they have a walking league in the early afternoon that I'm going to be able to help lead. We go to a recreation center just for cast members down the street where I used to live and individuals set up teams based on where they work. We set up signs that marks a half mile and the walkers have 1 hour to walk as many laps as they can. As they come by us, we punch a hole in their card and that goes toward their team points. The team with the most points at the end of 10 weeks wins prizes! So that was fun to see, especially riding in the golf cart to set up the signs :)

Wednesday-Friday: Not as exciting stuff. Met my other boss since she was on vacation in Shanghai and brought in little Monster's Inc. cookies since Monster's University came out Friday. Friday I went to a place called "World of beer" where they mix beer drafts from all over the world into one beer! The raspberry beer was delicious! The weekend was relaxing and finally got everything else done that needed to be done. We had a lot of problems earlier this week trying to deal with our landlord, the energy, and internet bill but it is finally all situated! Relaxation is beautiful.

And lastly, a fun fact is that Paige told us that the average server at Chef Mickey's makes around $600/night in tips!! The lowest seniority there is 9 years and goes up to 40+ years. That's 6 figures by just being a server!! Wowza! Makes sense though that the dining plan is expensive and paid for ahead of time so tips are the only money you're actually paying at that time. Plus, the Contemporary is the most expensive resort and convention center, right behind the Grand Floridian, but I'm sure any servers here do pretty well. Crazy!

More fun updates will be coming soon! I already have about 19 things I can continue blogging about.. eek!

Saturday, May 11, 2013


We hear it all the time! Network, network, network. Networking gets you the job. It's not what you know, but who you know. On and on. Every time I heard this I fully agreed, but somewhat rolled my eyes at the same time because I had always networked. Thinking back, I think I received every job I've had up to this point because I knew someone or talked to the manager beforehand.
This was no different with this highly competitive Disney internship either. Basically, when I was down there the last time I somehow found this gym through our casting website. Of course I was intrigued, so I stopped by one day. Unfortunately it was near the end of my program so I didn't have as much time to indulge in it as I would've liked, but I got a good feel of what it looked like. And SMALL is the best word to describe it! Crazy because it's Disney and everything is humungo. (Is that even a word?? It should be.) But this is for just cast members and the majority of the cast members either live 45 mins. away or are in the college program like I was-- who had their own gym at their apartment.

I remember calling Kory, one of the two managers, in the very beginning to just tell him I was interested in what they did, see if he could give me a tour, etc. As mentioned before, seeing that it was the last week, I was super busy doing last-minute things and after we phone-tagged a bunch, I just frankly gave up because it was too hard to get into contact in such short notice. I somewhat regretted that later (but obviously not now!!)

So then, it was October and they had another presentation for the Disney College Program that I went to for fun (Although it was my 3rd one) because I had questions, etc. and they said that the fitness intern would be posted around February. I called the gym in FL, Lifeline Fitness, and there was a girl by the name of Andrea on the phone. Long story short, she recognized my Michigan area code and turns out she not only was from Michigan, but she just graduated from Grand Valley with her degree in Exercise Science (mine) and with the exact same emphasis as me!! Seriously, what are the chances of that. Out of anyone in the entire country.. and we are from the state.. let alone same school.. AND same major!? CraZaZaaY.

So Andrea was a HUGE help! She gave me her e-mail and told me what to expect, shared a LOT about their facility, and how they operate. I believe we talked for a good 2 hours on the phone which was so nice of her! She mentioned that they are really interested in certifications like Zumba and Yoga because they don't hire outside contractors and no one on their staff is certified. Light bulb!
For a few years now I've had the thought of being a Zumba instructor in the back of my head. I went up and down with my thoughts. For example, when I went to a really advanced instructor I thought "Oh man I am not up to par! No way!" On the contrary, when I went to a less likeable or less motivating instructor I would think I could do a 2384x better job than them. Disney was the final push for me to finally go out and do it. I finally realized that all instructors are different and I can make it what I want to be.

So what's what I did! I looked up certifications and thankfully my work location helps out with the cost if they can. I was currently mentoring for a "Butts & Guts" class and told my graduate assistant, Lee I was interested in Zumba and there was a certification 2 weeks away. My work has ALWAYS been good to me and even though I mentored for a Butts & Guts class, she asked me which I preferred. I said it was a toss-up, but said probably Zumba. And with her bright insight is how I got my "Zumba + Abs" class that I loved!

Andrea also gave me Kory and the other manager, Laura's e-mail. In a summary, I pretty much bugged the heck out of them via e-mail and on top of that.. I don't think I ever got one response back! Andrea consistently responded to me and said that they were in a busy time of year but are normally good with e-mails. Still never got one. I e-mailed them asking what I could do to further be a better candidate for the fitness internship. I told them I was going to be getting my Zumba certification, as I heard that they were interested in that. I also mentioned that Andrea, their current intern, went through the exact same classwork as I did (which normally is always a positive thing to mention you have been in contact with a previous worker--showing that you're persistent!).

So as you can see, networking does do a lot ! When I got the job he mentioned that he liked that I had been in contact with them, taught classes, already had lots of experience, and had done the program before. He even mentioned he remembered me trying to get in contact with him last year as well.

I'm thankful for these opportunities I was able to have in order to be lined up for this internship...and more importantly- my future career!