So You Want to Work for the Mouse?

This week, I was asked by a Dibber, if Emily would mind giving some advice to their daughter, as she was hoping to apply for the Cultural Representative Programme, as Emily has. Of course, she was happy to help, as it wasn’t long ago that she was doing the same, asking those who had been down that road for similar tips, hoping to get an advantage in what is a very competitive process.

I’m not sure what Emily advised, but my biggest learning from going through the process with her, is that the thing you need most of is patience, and lots of it. This is not something with a quick turnaround. I sort of understand why, as they literally have to travel and scour the globe to find suitable folks for each pavilion, do endless admin and allocate those they want to a suitable role.

Having said all of that, it takes too long, and I’m sure many of the 45 people who attended that face to face interview with Emily in London last March have since had to drop out, move on and give up. Yes, it has been six months since Emily attended her final face to face interview, and there haven’t been very many days in that time when we haven’t thought or talked about it. When things drag on like that, you start to wonder if it will ever happen.

Sometimes though, good things come to those who wait.

Disney email

We have a Cast Member in the family!

Yes, Emily’s date has come through, and she if off to work in the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida on the 7th of April 2015. We are delighted, proud, relieved, and of course dreading her leaving us for a year too. Knowing every detail of the arduous application and interview process inside out, I am so proud of Emily for getting through and being offered the job.

She has wanted this for many, many years, but deep down I think we all thought that the fact that she isn’t naturally one of life’s extroverts might stop her realising her dream. Seeing how she carried herself and how driven she was during the process, her success is all the sweeter. We have now already started the many and varied admin tasks required, with much form filling, plans to make, flights to find and excitement to enjoy. There’s a Visa to get too, which will mean another trip to London no doubt and room mates to find. This process is not one for the fickle and fainthearted. It requires dedication, patience, tenacity and as a certain Michael Bolton once said the ability to Go The Distance!

As you probably know it doesn’t take much for me burst with pride at anything Emily or Rebecca do. The fact that I produced them is and always will be the proudest achievement of my life, but when they do stuff like this, it is on a whole new level. I can’t over egg the effort and the journey outside of Emily’s comfort zone this has required.

Of course, we may, yes, may have to plan a trip to visit her during her year too. I’m sure there are some Cast Member discounts we can look into!

She will be working in the UK pavilion, in quick service food and beverage, which translates to the fish and chip place we assume, although it does say she will be asked to undertake a wide variety of roles. This doesn’t seem real to me yet, so who knows how Emily is dealing with all of this. I’m sure she’ll be blogging again very soon, now she has this news. There wasn’t a great deal of point in her blogging regularly about waiting for her date. We were all pensive enough without her having to write about it.

For any of you that are connected with Emily on Twitter and Facebook, can I ask that if you contact her, you do so discretely, via DM or Messenger. She has people from her current job on both, and of course, she’d rather they did not know about this just yet. Your discretion is appreciated!

So she has 190 days at home with us before her adventure begins and of course we need to make the most of those. She’s probably started packing, and who can blame her!

Till the next time…..

Posting about Posting.

Each week, when I come to fill this blank page with words, I genuinely have little or no idea how I’m going to do so. I know, you can’t tell!!

Over the years, I have become able to predict the popularity of a post before I hit the publish button and unleash it upon you. When I waffle on about writing a book, those posts are as popular as Rolf Harris at this year’s Children In Need, and when I post saying that we’ve booked another holiday the stats they boom, and servers overheat with the increased demand. That’s no surprise at all, as the majority of folks reading this “know me” from a WDW perspective, and it is in no way a moan. The fact that anyone reads this rubbish baffles me, so if a few less click on it one week then who am I to have a problem with it?

This post won’t be either of those by the way. I am technically writing another book, but haven’t been near it for weeks, and it is stuck at 15,000 words. Work has been very busy, as has life in general, and I need to find the time, discipline and mojo to get it back into my daily routine. By the way, if you’d like to know what I’m like at writing books, you could always download my last one.

Book Cover

Buy 400,000 copies please.

Holiday wise, we have nothing to report. The yearning is strong and is pretty much killing us, but we can do nothing until Emily’s plans are firmed up, and Disney are taking their bleeding time in coming up with dates for the majority of the group currently sat on wait list. We are in limbo, and it is immensely frustrating. Of course, should they call tomorrow and ask her to be on a plane PDQ, we then only have the problem of finding a way to fund any future trip. It is a problem we have somehow managed to overcome many times before, so fingers crossed.

These types of posts which meander aimlessly through a week’s events, or are general updates on our lives do OK by the way. Each post may not be spectacular, but I am persistent if nothing else. I see lots of folks starting blogs (Emily being one of them), and they write a few posts in the first flush of enthusiasm. The trick to building any sort of audience, I think, is consistency. I write “something” every week at pretty much the same time, and over time the audience has grown now, to one I could never have imagined. Thanks by the way.

So if anyone asks me for advice on writing a blog, all I tell them is, make sure you write it, regularly. That of course is easier said than done. Life is busy, without, at times, being very interesting, so finding something to share regularly can be a challenge. You’ll know that of course as you are reading this! I am driven by completing things, so this isn’t too tricky for me. Don’t get me wrong, some times I struggle to force one out, but the doctor says that’s an age thing, but until the blog is up I feel restless and as if things are incomplete, which isn’t a feeling I enjoy.

Life update wise, Rebecca is back in college, and loving it generally. She’s good at what she is doing, and enjoys learning about it, which is a good mix. Naturally she chose the most expensive course on the list. Media make up and hair requires a kit of equipment and make up that costs a similar amount to a small car, and then, she is on the only course at the college that requires a defined uniform.

Louise has started applying for nursing jobs! Apparently now is the time to do so, despite not finishing her course until next March. She submitted her first one last week, and she has got an interview. That’s a good start!! She is currently compiling her CV and portfolio for the process of finding employment over the next few months. It has been a long old road, and I think we’re both grateful to be counting down the last few hurdles now.

Emily is still working at a local restaurant, getting the experience that will hopefully help her as and when she works in and around the Rose and Crown. She’s earning decent money too, but not of course through tips. With two daughters working in the restaurant biz, I have to say we are truly awful at tipping decent service. They have both been left some truly embarrassing amounts of money masquerading as a tip. If you are eating out soon, think on!!

So having written today’s post about writing posts, I shall tick the imaginary box of completion on this task and go back to my Sunday.

Till the next time…..

Damned if Disney Do, Damned if Disney Don’t.

One of the side effects of people being passionate about a subject is that it tends to drive some heart-felt opinions. This is very true for the ever passionate and dedicated Disney community too.

I would guess that this set of fans has one of the largest blogging communities on the interwebs, along with endless podcasts, forums and multitudes of other social media style get togethers. Hats off to Disney for delivering a product and experience that engenders such dedication, interest, and at times venomous hatred.

It may be a little extreme to call it hatred, but they only have to change something at one of the Disney parks, or indeed not change something, and the internet catches fire with vitriolic bombardments, stating each side of the argument as if folk’s lives depended on it. This week, the announcement to fuel this fire of fury was the one about the Norway pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase, replacing the Maelstrom ride. I’m going to assume that if you are reading this you know what that is, and if you don’t then a short spell on google will tell you all you need to know. To summarise, they plan to replace a ride called Maelstrom that has been around for years with a new attraction themed around the incredibly popular Frozen movie.

Bye!

Replacing anything that has been in place for years at a Disney park is fraught with danger. The Disney company make a big deal about memories, and when you’ve got decades of them concerning a ride or attraction, when someone comes along and removes it, emotions can run high. I have similar anger issues over the fact that Stitch’s Great Escape still hasn’t been replaced by something that doesn’t suck.

So these Imagineers have a difficult balance to maintain, as well as the best job in the world. Firstly they have to do things which will keep the company profitable or else they won’t be around too long. They have to keep things fresh, without changing too much and they have to make sure they keep up with the Jones’ down the road at Universal.

Look at that queue!!

I can see both sides of the argument in this case. Sure, Frozen isn’t set in Norway, although there are obvious inspirations there. So it may seem that this new Frozen attraction is being shoe horned into Norway a little, but there is the alternative view that just next door to Norway, the Mexico ride has removed the more traditional view of Mexico in favour of the Donald Duck Three Cabaleros thing. I miss the kitsch nature of the old film, but I can see why they did it too.

Frozen is so huge now that I can see there was an urgent need to get something more than a queue to meet face characters in place. My main concern regarding the introduction of this into Norway is size. The crowds and demand for this will be enormous, and I just wonder where the queue might end up snaking too. They may be lining up past Spaceship Earth and out into the car park. I know that the pavilions around the showcase are much bigger than the facades may have you believe, but I just hope that they can build an attraction with the capacity to cope with the demand. As long as they keep those young Norwegian blondes who constantly undress me with their eyes whilst I queue, how bad can it be? The women cast members do it too.

There have been similar uproars and approval for the proposed Avatarland at Animal Kingdom. I have to say, I’m not doing cartwheels down the street over this one, but, I’m sure that when delivered it will be another high class, well executed set of attractions that we’ll thoroughly enjoy doing again and again.

In a conversation with Emily earlier, we gave the UK pavilion a make over too. I suggested that a new dark ride be built based on Robin Hood. We also then decided to put a traditional tea shop in place too, where we could charge silly amounts of money for a pot of tea, some crustless sandwiches and a Fat Rascal. We’d make it a Princess Tea Party, with Maid Marion, Wendy, Alice, The Mad Hatter and Pooh and friends in attendance.

Now, if someone can plant that as a rumour on some Disney forum we’ll have folks fighting in the streets before dawn. To the barricades!!

Till the next time…..

The Parent Crap

For those of you that have internet known me for a while, you will have no doubt been a part of the journey of my little family. Since I started over sharing trip reports back in 2003 and then subsequently via social media, you will have seen many of the milestones we’ve been through, the different phases of parenthood, and the stresses, worries, troubles and joy they have brought.

I’m now an old man (well, I feel like one) and the girls are women in their own right. Emily is 19, and Rebecca 17 so as far as it matters both are adults, starting to find their own ways in the world. This new phase in our family, as all the previous ones have, brings its own challenges, positives and upsides. They both now have boyfriends, have left school and are starting to carve out what will be their own lives in years to come.

In this blog I have previously documented their first boyfriends, endless gigs, and various occasions when they demonstrated that they were growing up before my eyes. Much of the “fun” in this current phase of parenting revolves around their relationships, and all the ups and downs that come with it. You won’t need me to tell you that no boy on earth will ever be good enough for either of them. They are the two best things I have ever done, and so pretending that some hairy arsed youngster is worthy of their company is not a leap I can easily make. Letting their partners into our family unit is tricky. We’ve been four for a long time, and as (hopefully) welcoming as we are with the boyfriends, it’s a learning curve for us too in how to manage the expanding family dynamic.

Don’t get me wrong. Their respective partners are great. Rebecca has been with Tom for two years now, and he’s a lovely lad. Polite, well mannered, hard working and depressingly muscular, Rebecca could do a lot worse. Emily’s boyfriend is a much newer acquisition, so we don’t know him that well yet, but again, he seems to be a lovely lad. In the hormone fueled world of these young couples of course, there are ups and downs. They fall out, break up, get back together and have text warfare, and that can be a cycle that happens several times before lunch on some days. That’s life of course. Even those couples that have been together forever fall out. It is usually over different things to these youngsters of course. Louise often hates me for being so adorable all the time. I understand that it can be tiresome.

When these downs happen, sitting and watching your daughter be upset is not an easy thing to do. We know of course that there are always two sides to every story, so we try not to take sides too readily, but all the time reminding anyone who will listen that if any of these boys even think about hurting one of them I’ll be turning them inside out and setting them on fire.

The aforementioned social media makes these relationships even more complicated. A misguided like or friend request can cause Apocalyptic consequences. As bystanders we do what we can, support them, wipe the tears away and give what advice we can. We try to see their “disasters” as that, and not as the minor blips we recognise them as with our considerable life experience (compared to them). It is largely ignored of course, but every now and again a few words of advice stick, and hopefully they help.

The folks I connect with on social media have children of all ages, and when I see their photos, I think back to my two at that age, what we were going through, and how we sometimes thought we were the first to ever do it, and we had it the worst of anyone, ever. The current stage is always the hardest/worst and they naturally only improve with hindsight, as the brain tends to lose the truly bad bits, and allows you the pleasure of remembering the good bits. I’m sure the same will happen to these times too when the girls go on to do whatever they do with whoever they want to do it with, we’ll no doubt look back and smile wryly at these nights stained with tears and excessive eye makeup (and that’s just me), and our fight to resist the urge to knock their heads together, or at times remove the heads of their partners.

Not actually either of my daughters!

As boundaries are tested and naturally expand we find ourselves confronted by new and challenging dilemmas. Do we let them do this? Is it appropriate at their age to do that or go there? Are we being too restrictive, or much too liberal? Who knows. I certainly don’t so we go with our gut feel and cross our fingers we don’t get things too wrong.

There are certainly areas of parenting that get easier as the children get older. No nappies or fighting to get them dressed of a morning is great and those fall outs about the sharing of toys gradually give way to cat fights over liking the same boy, the other one getting preferential treatment and at all times the other one being your favourite. However, whilst they may be less physical work, the actual parenting bit changes little. Look at last week. My Dad is in his seventies, and just because he’s my parent he was obliged to spend a week on my roof working hard when he could have been golfing instead. Similarly, last night I was up until after 1am as I had to pick Rebecca up from a babysitting job. At my age, a bedtime after the witching hour can set me back for months, but you do it, without question whether it be that late night pick up, or the week’s hard labour.

So we’ll continue to wipe the tears away, offer the advice and pick up the pieces when required, and then moments later accept the fact that we’re then told to just leave them to it, once the upset is over. We shall have payback when we’re old(er) and infirm and they are changing our adult nappies and feeding us blended food.

Oh and Rebecca, if you are reading this, you ARE NOT having a sleeve tattoo, and that’s final!

Till the next time….

 

 

Big Bricks and Birthdays.

Ah holidays. Lounging around, with no work to worry about. Recharging the batteries, taking it easy, de-stressing. Yes, that would have been lovely. My week “off work” has been one of the hardest weeks I have known. I have spent it up and down a ladder, atop some scaffolding, dismantling this bloody chimney with my Dad.

I don’t think either of us appreciated how big a job this was going to be until we’d gone too far to go back. The chimney stack was inconveniently made from huge blocks of stone and not lovely light modern house bricks. Knocking it down, and then more crucially getting the buggers down to ground level and into a skip has broken my body in all sorts of ways.

We have endured wind, rain, sunshine, and a lack of a will to live when the job seemed never-ending. Luckily, I was the unskilled labourer to my Dad, who has spent most of his working life in he roofing business, from time served apprentice to Director, he’s done the lot. I have become an expert in passing him stuff, carrying things up and down ladders and humping huge chunks of stone into a skip. It took us pretty much all week, with an odd day off for my Dad to go golfing, and we finally finished on Saturday afternoon.

There used to be a huge chimney stack there!!

As hard as it has been, there is an undeniable sense of satisfaction and pride at having completed such a huge job successfully. Knowing that something I have been a small part of has improved our house is great. My back and muscles will currently disagree, but I’m sure that pain will fade by Christmas.

With that horror done, on Sunday, I celebrated my birthday. I haven’t done so in the UK since 2008, when we went to Florida in July for Emily’s birthday. Whilst nothing can top having a birthday in WDW, I had a lovely day.

I started it in bed with three beautiful women and an Old English Sheepdog. That sounds like a chapter from Oliver Reed’s autobiography, but it was just lovely to have the family gather on our bed for the giving of presents and cards and a few hugs. These days, the girls actually buy me presents which is a pleasant side effect of them growing up. However, their shopping skills still have some way to go as the stuff they had ordered hadn’t arrived in time. So I got sweets and stuff as a holding pattern until they do…

pressies

 

Then, I was treated to a breakfast of kings, courtesy of Louise.

brekkieIt was mighty fine. Then, I played my new Xbox game for a while until the footy came on, when I watched my team play superbly and win comfortably. The day was off to a good start.

After the footy, we had been invited to a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at my brother’s house. He and his wife, Paula, were hosting it to raise some funds for her chosen charity for her London to Paris bike ride next year. It didn’t matter. They said there would be cake and so we would be there.

cakesIt was mighty fine cakeage and I had a lot. After a few hours there I waddled home and collapsed in front of the telly. So the day didn’t involve a Kitchen Sink from Beaches and Cream, or a wander around World Showcase at Epcot, but it was a lovely one all the same. I didn’t even sulk about the lack of a Disney location.

I had the forethought to tag and extra day onto my holiday so I didn’t have work to dread on Monday either. What’s not to like?

I am not saying that I plan to repeat many more birthdays on UK soil, but as much as I like to moan and whinge, I cannot about yesterday.

Last week also saw a little bit of drama on Thursday. I was two and half hours into my hair cut (honest) when  my phone rang. Louise was on her way up to the restaurant where Emily works as she had “blacked out” at work. She had been taken to A&E in an ambulance and we of course speedily followed all full of panic and worry. As we arrived she was clearly OK, if not a little embarrassed at passing out. She had given her head a bit of a whack, so we are keeping a close eye on her, and she is going for some tests tomorrow at the GP’s, but the folks at hospital could find no underlying issues so a few blood tests should put out minds at rest.

Emily, being off work, is having a Disney day on the sofa today. She is having one of those “I’m really missing Disney days” and all I can hear from her phone are blasts of parade music, and just now, that 80’s sounding retro music that plays as you walk through the gates at Epcot. I sympathise!

Today I have had a lie in, bathed Oli, bought a new spot light for our security light outside, and now written this. So I now need to leave you. I have lots of sweets and stuff to eat, TV to watch and nothing to do lots of.

Till the next time…..