Have a magical day!
1 Day to Go!
Tomorrow begins the adventure! Six months of counting down, countless hours of re-evaluating my life and watching Disney vlogs, all boil down to tomorrow. The true test of my blogging and vlogging abilities will be tested over the next 12 months.
So as I'm not sure when exactly I'll be next checking-in with you, thank you to you for reading my blog thus far! This blog has kept me somewhat sane through the wait and know I will of course do my best to keep it alive for those of you interested in following my adventure.
I haven't been this excited in a long time and I'm utterly thrilled that I'm able to get this amazing opportunity again. My one wish over the next year is to not take any moment for granted. I know all to well that the year will ultimately come to an end. So, to future Adam if you're reading... Live every moment to the fullest and bring back some killer merch!
Just 19 hours now until I take off! Both of my suitcases are overweight so I'm ready to pay a little extra when checking-in but other than that I'm pretty happy that I'm all set to go!
Have a magical day!
1 Day to Go!
So this is happening. In just three days I get to move back home to the house of mouse and I'm utterly buzzing!
Last night was very exciting as I received my final email from Disney in preparation for my arrival on the program. The email contained my arrival itinerary and confirmed the housing complex I'll be living in! Not the apartment type however... that's a surprise for check-in I guess.
I'm going to be living in CHATHAM SQUARE! Whilst Patterson Court and The Commons were my first choices, I am pleased to be in Chatham. My one true wish was to be near Publix and in one of those three complexes. I would have been very disappointed to have been placed in Vista Way which was what I was fearing in the lead-up to getting my confirmation. Whilst it may be very different these days, my opinion on Vista is based on what I experienced on my last program and is all I'm going off. I know many people that love living there so don't take my word for it.
It's also comforting that I have a couple of people I know living in Chatham too! From what I can tell, everyone on the program is pretty evenly dispersed amongst the complexes. Doing some digging into the types of apartments and if my memory serves me correctly; there tends to be more apartments built for larger groups of people (e.g. 3 bedroom 6 people or 4 bedroom 8 people). My bet is that I'm going to end up in a 3 bedroom 6 person apartment. I'm perfectly fine with this as I enjoyed it last time and had no problems living with 5 other people in Patterson.
If I could have my ultimate wish? I'd love a one bedroom two person apartment. It's not that I hate people but rather that with a two person apartment, there's more opportunity to make the apartment your home. The more people you're sharing with, the more effort everyone has to make to ensure everyone feels at home. I don't want to necessarily buy loads of homely touches if it's not going to fit other people's tastes/preferences. We shall see what happens on check-in day!
Have a magical day!
3 Days to Go!
LESS THAN A WEEK! Sweet baby Jesus... just six days stand between me and the gorgeous Florida sun!
Today is Sunday and on Friday I had my last day at work. I'm really going to miss working there. Everyone gelled really well, we had many-a-laugh and the job itself was enjoyable! It's up there as one of my favourite jobs and I sure hope I get to work with them again in the future. They were kind enough to MAKE me an engraved wooden card and include some dollars for my Disney adventure. Friday night we all went for dinner at Pizza Express (ooh la la) and then for drinks at a pub in town. The evening hung in the balance of becoming a night out on the town but I think we all realised how old we are and were all home by midnight. If the folks from work are reading, thank you for an amazing time and all the best for the next year without me. I sure hope you find someone to make terrible puns at every opportunity.
Over the next week I have a Cinderella Castle Lego set to finish, friends to say goodbye to, a website to update, a video or two to film and just the finishing touches to my packing. I'm actually pretty calm considering how soon it is until I'm back in the place I consider home.
I'm pleased to say that I have kicked my Disney vlog addiction (mostly due the fact I've ran out of new ones to watch) and have instead focussed my attention on planning some ideas for my YouTube channels over the next year. My current plan is to keep my main channel for daily vlogs and videos of my experiences and keep my Adam Does Disney channel for more informative videos about the CRP. So if you're not already subscribed to both channels, be sure that you are to keep up with all my happenings.
Yesterday I spent the day reworking my main channel's branding. I'm super excited to launch the new look with my first vlog in Florida! It's very 50s and nothing like I've done before so I really hope those of you watching like it. Speaking of my main channel, I used to do this thing where I invited people watching my videos to be at the start of them! I'm thinking of bringing it back, so if you'd like to appear at the start of one my main channel videos, film yourself or you and friends saying 'hello you lovely lot.' Be sure to film it landscape and think about audio and lighting when doing so. Once you've filmed your clip, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, if the file's too big, use http://wetransfer.com.
I still can't believe how quickly the time has gone! Waiting for my first program was like pulling teeth. Though mind you, It took me 13 months from application to arriving on my program first time round. As a returner, I expressed my interest in September, knew that I was going back by November and will be there next week! Just 6 months (ish) in comparison. Oh how I would've loved a 6 month turn around in 2013.
My tips for the waiting period include:
Most of the anxiety I had a week ago has since dissipated thanks to some chats when my bestie Pat, who only recently completed her second program. It was nice to hear from someone who's been in my position what lies ahead, what my difficulties may be and what my favourite parts will be. I'm ready for my departure now and I can't wait to get into training, meet my new colleagues and spend time with old friends.
Have a magical day!
6 Days to Go!
This week has been pretty exciting! My last blog post where-by I shared 20 GIFs that I felt accurately represented what's it like on a Disney program received over 50,000 views! There was a lot of nervous giggling at my website analytics this week. So if you were one of those lovely people who checked it out, thank you very much for doing so!
In other notable news, I booked my medical insurance this week! I'd put it off for long enough and decided that I might as well get it over and done with. Now I was pretty lazy and just booked with STA Travel (the same provider I went with last time) instead of doing what I recommend other CRPs do which is to shop around; but in all honesty, I had very little spare time this week and wanted it booked and done. I've booked the middle-ground 'premier' package on the basis that it covered what I needed it too, it wasn't the cheapest and it wasn't the most expensive. All-in-all it set me back £298 for a four month coverage and whilst I know I could have found it cheaper, I just didn't have the time and energy to muster.
I had Friday off this week to say goodbye to my friend Laura at lunch and one of my dearest friends' Gary at dinner. Laura and I went to Wahaca (my fave) for some of the delicious Mexican tapas and a good old natter about life, the universe and everything before I met Gary in the Westfield mall. After a bit of shopping around, we decided to go see the Lego Batman movie as both of us enjoyed The Lego Movie. What a mistake that was! It's right up there with the worst movies I've ever seen including My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, The Green Lantern, Sunshine and Gone With The Wind (controversial I know but don't get me started). We both found the humour so dry that it was like eating ten rich-tea biscuits without a drink, subsequently we were both bored by the half way point.
It's less than two weeks now until I board my flight and I'm comforted in the fact that I've checked off the majority of my to-do list. In the lead-up to my departure I've planned to go to the dentist to make sure everything's a.ok! Dental bills can be hella expensive in the U.S. so it'd be good to get any necessary cleaning/work done before I go. My biggest concern right now is my wisdom teeth as they're slowly coming in. Fingers crossed I won't need them out any time soon *touch wood*. I've also booked to get my hair cut about a week before I go to avoid the 'freshly cut' look in my housing and cast ID photos.
Apart from a hand luggage packing video and a possible medical insurance video (I'm not sure how informative that'll be based on my experience) I'm all set to go! In the meantime, I'd like to invite you (yes you) to be a guest writer or contributor! I'm looking to involve you as much as I can, so if you'd like to write a blog post, submit a topic of conversation or ask me a question I can answer in a blog post, click here to fill out the contributor application form.
Have a magical day!
13 Days to Go!
The other day Disney sent me a link to complete my on-boarding paperwork. I first got super excited as I thought this was my time to make housing preferences! Turns out I was getting a little ahead of myself and it was an abundance of forms and policies I needed to review and sign.
On my first program, I distinctly remember a time within the first couple of days where-by I had to go to the Vista Way housing complex and go through a ‘walk-through attraction’ style paperwork session. We had to present one form to one desk, then get that signed at the next desk, read another document, take that to the next desk, sign it there, initial it here etc. It now seems as though a lot of that process has moved online to the onboarding system. I basically had to electronically sign about ten forms and review all the guidelines and policies that come with working for Disney.
This is my third time starting a contract with the company, so I could probably recite most of the information contained in the policies and as such I didn’t spend as long as a brand-new starter may spend reviewing all the information. I’d say that you’d need a good couple of hours to go through every form and policy (if not longer) in detail. A lot of the conditions they talk about come across as intimidating, including every possible reason I may get terminated (fired) but it’s all corporate stuff and in reality is less scary than it really is in practice. In any case, I’d much rather do all the policy reviewing and form signing from the comfort of my bedroom over the previous method.
Work has been pretty slow and as such I’ve been more and more distracted with thoughts of Florida. I’m working in a digital marketing role at an online retailer at the moment. Since wrapping up the Valentine’s Day campaign there’s not a lot to do until the Mother’s Day product range is finalised and I can crack on with that. So there's a bit of thumb twiddling and the constant thought of 'DISNEY, DISNEY, DISNEY!'
Not being able to kick my thoughts off of Disney, I’ve recently been reading a lot of CRP blogs. The good thing about these is that there’s an abundance of them out there, more so than vlogs that are few and far between! Most of them are a bit 'meh' if I’m honest but the ones that are good are REALLY good! I love reading about what other cultural representatives love and hate about their programs and I’ve learnt some neat tips and tricks buried in these blogs. Sometimes they’re simple things like restaurants that really aren’t worth the time, right through to things that could improve my program ten fold! Dan@Disney spoke about how he got the Tables In Wonderland card whilst on his program and whilst I had considered this, the benefits and savings that he experienced have convinced me to get one once I arrive!
For those not in the know, a Tables In Wonderland card is an annual membership card that allows guests (DVC Members, Annual Pass Holders and Florida Residents) to get 20% off most Walt Disney World restaurants. Whilst this is the same percentage as the cast member discount, Tables In Wonderland includes a discount on alcohol (which the cast member discount does not), there are fewer block out dates and more restaurants that are available!
If you’re not a big foodie, I can see why the $150.00(ish) cost is a bit off-putting, especially when you consider the cast member discount is a free perk. I would say that if you’re not planning on visiting Disney restaurants often or if you’re under 21, then it’s really not for you. If you’ve seen my vlogs, you’ll know that I’m a big Disney dining fan and I’ll certainly be spending many-a-meal in Disney and making the cost worthwhile in no time! #MagicalStarCocktails
The other day I popped to Tesco and spent about £100 on random bits and bobs I want to take with me to Florida... Gonna be honest, most of it is Cadbury's chocolate! Now that I'm hoarding what is enough confectionary to start my own Cadbury World, I've already started packing in an effort to organise the things I'll be taking. Luckily for me, just across the hall is the spare room which I have now dubbed 'The Packing Cave' and is where two cases are currently holding about eight pairs of shoes and the whole of Tesco's chocolate isle.
There's a number of things I'm making sure I get before I go. A big one for me is my hair product (vanity much?), I use it everyday and it took me 22 years to find one I actually like and has yet to be discontinued! Trying to find the right type of hair product was a nightmare last time, so I've bought about ten pots that should hopefully last the year. Some of you that may have not travelled to America before may be questioning the chocolate... If you've been, you'll know exactly why I am taking chocolate. In short, American chocolate is the worst! You know Monica's face in Friends when she tries 'Mocolate?' Yeah... That's all American chocolate (with the exception of Ghirardelli's). Other essentials include spray deodorant (hard to find and not great when you do find it), Vaseline (chapstick is no way as good), crackers (for snobby cheese and biscuit nights) and PG Tips tea bags (because I'm stereotypically British and cannot go without a good cuppa). The days are ticking by nicely right now and I'm enjoying the excitement factor!
Have a magical day!
37 Days to Go!
I booked my stay through the Walt Disney Travel Company and this is actually my first time booking a stay through them. Most times I've visited the resort, I've been a cast member. When you're a cast member you book over the phone or through 'the Hub' online to save yourself some pennies directly with Walt Disney World resort.
My experience with The Walt Disney Travel Company hasn't been too bad, but two things have wound me up; The first was that I would need to pay a £50.00 charge to change any names on the reservation. This has been free whenever I've booked directly with the Walt Disney World resort. The second being that the booking reference with TWDTC is different to the Walt Disney World resort. This is a royal pain when you call Walt Disney World to try to add a request or make a change to your reservation as you have to then get transferred to TWDTC. In my experience the TWDTC cast members aren't as savvy as those at the Walt Disney World resort call centre (but that's just my experience). I may have just got a mixed bag but a number of times I've had to explain to the cast member that what I'm asking is perfectly possible as I've done it a thousand times over (e.g. requesting a room that's close to a certain area of the resort).
My pack includes a handy guide of the Walt Disney World resort, a pocket sized map of Walt Disney World and some adorable luggage tags! I actually miss the days of receiving your booking confirmations in paper form rather than via email so it's nice to receive something like this through the post shortly before your vacation's about to begin.
There's a lot going on the U.S. that's unsettled me but I'm doing my best to focus on the positives in the short-term. I'm continuing to watch other peoples' WDW vlogs in an effort to remind myself of everything I'm so excited about getting to experience for a whole year.
Today I've been watching Krispy Smore's vlogs and they sure know how to get me excited about returning! The great thing about their trips is they tend to stay off property and visit Universal as much as they visit Disney. As much as I love Walt Disney World, there's a lot of space reserved for my love of Universal and some of the amazing restaurants outside of the Walt Disney World resort.
I've managed to save enough money to consider buying the premium Universal Annual Pass when I arrive. On my first program I actually considered paying the extra money for said premium pass but I didn't really have the money back then and I had no idea how often I'd be able to visit. Turns out I managed to visit a lot on my last program and this time I'm sure will be no different!
I spoke previously on how I love going to Universal on my own for a day of 'me time.' The great thing about the premium pass is that it includes complimentary express pass access after 4.00pm, early entry to the Wizarding World, discounts on merchandise/food, a free ticket to Horror Nights (and discounts on additional nights) and free Valet Parking! With everything considered in how I used my annual pass last time, these perks far outweigh the initial extra hundred or so dollars. I'm even thinking of getting a car (if I can afford it) further into my program... That free valet parking might become something special! I'm only thinking about the above right now as I'm a little impulsive when it comes to purchases. I'm going to think about this calmly and maturely with a costing spreadsheet. *buys premium annual pass 10 minutes later* (JK! ...Or am I JK?)
I make no secret of my love for American food. It may not be healthy but who cares when it tastes sooooooooo goooooood! Mozzarella sticks are my life and I don't care who knows it! I'm already thinking about what I'm going to eat during my first few days in Disney (ya know, to satisfy the cravings I've been having for the past 9 months)! Some items include the Katsu Curry from the Katsura Grill in the Japan Pavillion, Dole Whip, the mozzarella sticks at AMC theatres (obvi) and basically everything in Earl of Sandwich!
Jeez, I'm actually salivating (horrible word) at the very thought of the food. For that very reason I'm going to get back to my vlog watching. Ta ta for now!
Have a magical day!
40 Days to Go!
We are T-minus 50 days people until I officially start my program. Currently, I'm in a constant state of having butterflies, I cannot stop watching Florida vacation vlogs and I'm already thinking about my housing choices!
My list of things to do once I arrive is growing rapidly and I'm pretty sure that I'm going to visit a Disney park on my first day in Florida. I don't think I'll cope staying in a Disney resort and not visiting a Disney park on my first morning. I'm thinking Magic Kingdom or Epcot and most likely just for the morning before having a nice chill afternoon prior to checking in to housing. I have the left-over ticket from my time at the London HQ so why not use it!
As far as housing thoughts go, I'm not really all that fussy. Ideally I would like to avoid Vista Way. I really like having a modern and clean look in my home, something Vista Way most definitely doesn't have since it's over 30 years old! The Commons, Patterson Court and Chatham Square are all viable options right now and I don't like to think I'm too fussy. Whether I'm in a one bedroom apartment or three is really no bother, I'd just like a room without bunkbeds in it. It's less about the third person and possibly hearing a bunkbed squeaking all throughout the night! I'm a pretty light sleeper and wouldn't enjoy my roommate clambering up to his bed after getting in from work at 2am.
Apart from those preferences I'm not all that fussed in where I live. Those three complexes are all pretty similar and offer equal walking distance to Publix (supermarket) and such. I know that this time for sure, I want to save more money by packing lunches and cooking at home more often, which means many more trips to Publix. Being in a complex that offers just a short walk to a well stocked supermarket is definitely a must.
I'm also overly excited about going back to Universal Studios! One of my favourite day-off hobbies on my first program, was to pop to the outlets, grab a pepperoni folded pizza thing (my American Italian food names escape me) take the i-Ride trolley to Universal (I think it's only like 25 cents) and spend a day casually roaming Universal by myself and hitting my favourite rides.
There's something liberating about going to a theme park on your own. It took me a couple of months on my first program to even consider doing it and the first time I did was in Magic Kingdom. After that first experience where-by I had my all time favourite day in Disney, I soon began to take to the parks on my own whenever I could. There's something special when you don't have to ask for another person's opinion before you choose a ride to go on, or where to eat, the best place for the parade or what to do next. There's also an extra layer of magic that comes with being in a park by yourself...
On your own, cast members and other guests take the time to talk to you, get to know you and even be-friend you. I once got chatting to family in Animal Kingdom waiting in line for Expedition Everest and the next day I was serving them in the Rose & Crown purely by chance! One of the more surreal experiences of my life I can assure you. You also notice things more. By not having another person to focus on or chat to, you end up noticing those details most people miss, those short-cuts no one knows about and let's not forget about the joys of the single rider line!
It's the days when I get to experience the theme parks by myself that I'm possibly most looking forward to. It's not very often that you get to be completely selfish for a whole day! Such a simple thing to be excited about but having that unlimited spontaneity in Disney or Universal is real magic. One of my favourite choices was when I left friends at Magic Kingdom (mainly because they were getting on my last nerve, I mean who doesn't like the Peoplemover?!) and I chose to just ride the resort monorail loop. I must have gone round at least twice and in the middle of the biggest, most terrifying storm I had ever been in but it was everything!
Very few days stand between my pretty vanilla life at home and my spontaneous adventures in Florida. For now I'll just dream of getting Chicken Pot Pie in liberty square, completing several loops of the Peoplemover and having a little nap on Spaceship Earth. It's the dreaming of being there that makes the being there even better.
Have a magical day!
50 Days to Go!
Tuesday was the day that I told the world that I'm going back to Walt Disney World and I was so taken back by the sheer number of wonderful people offering their kind words of support and congratulations! Not to mention over 2,000 people clicked on to Adam Does Disney within the space of three hours to find out my news and have a look around the site. So first and foremost, thank you to everyone who made me feel super warm and fuzzy inside on Tuesday, it's very much appreciated!
Thursday was an exciting day as I received my passport back from the embassy with my lovely visa now printed inside! Surprising that it only took three days to come back.
It's only this week become very real that I'm going. At the time when it was my little secret, there was an element of 'I'm not really going to Florida... right?' Well that's all gone now! As such, I'm starting to get into actual planning mode now. Sure I've done some bits and bobs but it's about this time I should really be ensuring I have enough savings before I go (unlikely) and that I think about what I'd like to do on my program (more likely). Thinking about some pledges for my second program, I've flicked through pictures from my first program to highlight the things I'd love to do again & would like to do differently.
Cast members are able to take advantage of some pretty sweet discounts when it comes to resorts. Especially when attendance is low and Disney are looking to fill the hotel rooms. I had times when I stayed at deluxe resorts at an amazing 60% off! My favourite resort by far is Animal kingdom Lodge with Grand Floridian in the chase. I know for sure that I'm pledging to stay at both of these at least twice on my program.
Considering that my friend Gary and I got 800(ish) photos over the course of two weeks just from the PhotoPass photographers, by that standard I would've ended up with 20,000+ photos! So whilst I don't want to live my program through a phone or camera, I certainly want to remember more with the help of pictures.
Similar to that of staycations, cast members get insane discounts on these normally once in a lifetime vacations. I can't remember the exact figure, but I know it was incredibly good value. Whilst I'm not planning on doing two, I'd like the option to do so if I have the money. Ideally I'd like to go on one before Christmas to leave the option open for the last few months of my program to take a trip elsewhere or go back on a Disney cruise (te he).
Universal offer an annual pass holder ticket to Horror Nights that let's you visit multiple times during the Halloween season. As such, I pledge to use and abuse my HHN pass. I'm apparently super masculine when it comes to the horror mazes as well... I was always more than happy to lead the group and whenever someone jumped out at me I'd say something sassy like 'honey I've got a cream that will clear those bags right up.' Oh 2013 me...
I recently joined D23's membership which gives me access to exclusive tours and events over the next year. Tours of the Walt Disney Company studios is one of such events and I'm going to do my best to get over and experience this in-person.
Those are all of my pledges for now! I'm currently working on a bucket list page for the 'My Program' section of Adam Does Disney that will also give you a look at some of the resorts, restaurants, orlando experiences and Disney related experiences I'd like to tick off.
Have a magical day!
58 Days to Go!
If you're a little confused by what on earth is going on as my story is a pretty tricky one to keep up with, head on over to The Story So Far for a quick catch-up on what on earth is going on. If this is also the first post you're seeing from this blog, feel free to scroll down and fill your boots in the blogging I've been doing since November 2016!
After much speculation from many people asking me, I am indeed taking part in the Cultural Representative Program for a second time. It's been in the works for some time now but I've avoided making it common knowledge outside of my personal circle for two reasons:
All-in-all I'm incredibly excited about going back. It was only three months after I left my first program that I knew I'd love to go back and now I'm in a position where I actually can!
So please do catch-up with my chatter in the blog and look out for more updates coming to Adam Does Disney as I prepare for my program.
Have a magical day!
61 Days to Go!
I recently spent my New Year break in Scotland with my bestie Pat/Heather. I had a great time eating these things called Empire Biscuits which is two pieces of shortbread glued together with jam and then topped with icing and a jelly gem. My Florida diet quickly went out the window once these came into my life. Luckily for my diet, they don't make them in England. :(
We spent New Years Eve in Edinburgh watching the Fireworks from the street party that even put Wishes to shame. Afterwards we went to a club called Lola Lo's which was very similar to a Polynesian Village/Trader Sams theme. After a very bad gin hangover on New Years Day, I've vowed to never drink again!
Tonight Carrie, Pete, my other bestie Gary and I have filled up on McDonalds and played Nightmare Before Christmas Monopoly (I won *smug grin*). Tomorrow I'm seeing one of my old colleagues from my time and the Disney HQ and then I'm checking into a rather swanky hotel in preparation for my embassy interview at 8:30AM on Monday morning.
Fun story about the hotel... I don't live all that far from London at just over an hour by train and I have plenty of friends that I could stay with. The original plan was to stay with Carrie and Pete another night but earlier this week I was worrying about not having a hotel.
I tend to worry a lot when it comes to possibly not being on time, especially when you consider that it costs $190 (£155) every time you attend an embassy appointment (I'd have to re-book if I missed it). After over a year of living in London, I know all to well how unreliable the Underground is for getting you anywhere on time. So to settle my nerves after a night of worrying, I went onto HotelsCombined.co.uk to have a quick look and whilst nothing was 'cheap,' I thought that if there was a convenient hotel for less than the price of missing my appointment and having to pay another £155 to re-book, it wasn't all that bad. Lo behold, a four star hotel that's normally £450 a night and located in the same square as the embassy was just £136 for the night! I know that's pretty expensive for one night... but stay with me, the cost is even more justified...
So whilst I wasn't all that keen about shelling out that much for a hotel, for me to be across from the embassy in a pretty swanky hotel and alleviate any stress and possibility of me missing my appointment, it was worth it. To make the cost even more justified though, just a couple of hours after I booked the hotel, a tube strike was announced that starts from tomorrow evening at 6pm and lasts all of Monday! So not only have hotel prices gone through the roof in response to the demand, but had I not booked a hotel, I would have really struggled to make my appointment from staying at any of my friends' houses. It's almost as if the universe was telling me that night 'Adam book a hotel now!' So tomorrow night I'll be enjoying the comfort of the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair for an absolute steel!
I'm sorting out my visa pretty early actually. Disney said I should receive my paperwork approximately 6-8 weeks before the start of my program. I received it on New Years Day a whole 10 weeks ahead of my start date! The paperwork is just one document known as the I-797 which is the petition from Disney on my behalf for the Q-1 cultural exchange visa.
The document was sent over via Disney's 'Doc' system that allows me to download and print it at my leisure. However it does expire after 14 days. Luckily I'm super organised and was more than happy to get the visa stuff done and dusted ASAP! The night I got back from Scotland, I settled down to fill in the DS-160. This is the application form for the visa which I had to complete before I could schedule my embassy appointment.
My biggest problem was with the photo you can submit online. The quality of my front facing iPhone camera was apparently to poor and the back camera was apparently too good! Luckily I have Photoshop so I was able to re-size the image to meet the requirements but then there seemed to be a technical problem that meant every time I uploaded the photo it would drop out. After about 45 minutes, I admitted defeat, purposely uploaded a photo that was too poor and took advantage of the 'bring a photo to the embassy' option. You have to bring a 5cm x 5cm photo to the embassy in case any way, so I knew it wouldn't be a huge inconvenience.
The form itself is pretty simple, it just requires a lot of information on-hand. Everything from my parents' dates of birth, passport issuance location, dates of my last five visits to the U.S. etc. It took me about an hour and a half this time due to the photo problems. Yummy Jobs do provide a guide however I didn't use it as the link was broken when I came to fill the DS-160 in. As I've done it before, I just went for it and I'm pretty sure I filled it out correctly. Time will tell if I actually did.
I met up with one of my former Disney HQ managers for lunch today, we went to Wahaca and it was EVERYTHING! I particularly love the chorizo black bean with tortilla chips starter #Yum. After that I met Gary in central for a Starbucks. Before heading over to Carrie and Pete's we went to Snappy Snaps near Leicester Square to get my 5cm x 5cm photos ready for my Embassy appointment on Monday. However, I didn't expect to pay £14.99!!! FOR TWO BLOODY PHOTOS! I believe I turned to Gary and said 'I've just been robbed.'
There's a pharmacy just around the corner from the embassy called Gould Pharmacy that allows you to store bags and get appropriate photos. This is where I got my photo in 2013 and it cost me £7.50 for one (which I thought was pricey). It was because of this I thought it better to try somewhere else. Considering I got two from Snappy Snaps, it was exactly the same price #Fail.
I am slightly worried about a small 'hole' in my middle finger. If you have any cuts or blisters when you attend your interview, the embassy advise that you reschedule your appointment as they'll be unable to read your fingerprints. I managed to get a thorn stuck in my finger when my puppy Eddie lost his ball in a thorn bush (thanks buddy). I wasn't concerned initially as my original appointment was to be on January 23rd.
You're able to reschedule your appointment and maintain your embassy fee three days ahead of the interview. As I had to reschedule my appointment due to conflicts at work, I chose to bring the appointment forward to Monday rather than push it back. I didn't however think about the hole in my finger. As I had booked my hotel already (which is non-refundable) I'm going to have to risk it for a chocolate biscuit. It really is tiny so I hope they're referring to actual paper cuts and blisters rather than tiny dots. Monday will tell I suppose!
I'll be sure to put together another blog post and update the Visa advice page once I've completed my appointment. Providing all goes well *crosses fingers.*
Have a magical day!
65 Days to Go
It's Christmas next week and I'm very much looking forward to getting over the what I call 'holidays hump.' As soon as New Year is over, the next thing to look forward to is my flight to Orlando!
That being said, I'm still more excited about Disney than Christmas! Right now I'm working for a company that makes personalised gifts. Safe to say the past few weeks have been busy busy busy! One of my biggest tips for others waiting for their program to start is to get a job that keeps you busy and my job at the moment has certainly been doing so. So whilst I really haven't had a lot of time to think about Disney, I have definitely been spending any spare time watching travel vlogs and planning the things I'd like to do on my arrival.
As such, I have upgraded myself to Port Orleans - French Quarter! Having stayed at Port Orleans - Riverside a couple of times and having ranked it as one of my favourite resorts, I've never really given French Quarter enough thought to actually book a stay there. I walked through once but having not tried beignets which Princess Tiana swears by and not having experienced the entertainment, shopping and dining, I thought that this time it deserved my attention for at least a couple of nights.
I've been thinking about what I'm going to do on my first day or so in Disney. As I can't check-in until the Monday, I get some time to myself in Walt Disney World! One cool thing about working at Disney is that twice a year, the company gifts you with two complimentary tickets to the parks (they're basically gold dust)! I have a couple of tickets left over from my time at the head office in London but a big part of me is telling myself 'save them and just use your cast member ticket a week later.' I know I'd be more than happy hitting up Disney Springs for a day, going to see a movie, eating my bodyweight in Earl of Sandwich and looking around the resort. However, will I wake up and just be like 'I WANNA GO TO MAGIC KINGDOM?!' I guess I'll decide on the day.
I'm now also beginning to think about packing. Last time I only took one suitcase and if I'm perfectly honest, I didn't take a whole lot. I barely took any clothes in space of PG Tips, Cadbury's chocolate and my Tom Daley calendar. In fact, I'll link my packing video from my first program below.
God I look young. Anyway! I only took one suitcase on advice from a friend that handling two suitcases is an absolute nightmare. However, this time I'm just going to put up with two cases. The luxury of being able to take as much confectionary and clothes as I like is worth the possible nightmare. Plus she arrived in summer and said that the heat was a big part in that nightmare. March isn't too bad heat wise, so I'm sure I'll be fine (famous last words).
I'm debating renting a car for the first few days of my arrival. Someone on my first program did this and it seemed like a massive weight lifted when it came to doing the big Walmart and Publix shop! The only problem is that it costs the earth and the world! As I'm under 25, there's an underage surcharge which basically doubles the cost of renting a car. You end up paying double what it should be, equating to about £40-50 a day! A lot of money when you're thinking of renting a car for 10 days. I don't know... I'll think about it some more. I'm not sure if it's worth the money yet.
Have a magical day!
86 Days to Go!
Not much to report in the way of program updates... My friend Ellie Steadman found out this week that she's been offered a date! Good news is that it's only a month or two after I arrive so it'll be great to have familiar face on my program.
I've recently been enjoying plotting some fun for my program. So far I'm hoping to see Ariana Grande in April, go to VidCon in June (maybe) and attend the D23 convention in July (the one I really want to do). The D23 Convention is basically a Disney fan and business event held every two years in Anaheim, California. It's at this convention that Disney drop their plans for the next 5 or so years. All the movies that are coming soon, all the attractions they're planning and they sell some super awesome exclusive merchandise. To say it's a Disney fan's paradise is an understatement.
A few other things on my program bucketlist this time round include the Wild Africa Trek in Animal Kingdom, dinner at Victoria & Alberts in the Grand Floridian, seeing the Blue Man Group at Universal, staying Club Level and going back to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
I'm doing my best to leave some of the planning for January/February as I'm busy enough at work in the lead up to Christmas to remain distracted and I know that come January, I'll have plenty of time to plan my program.
Have a magical day!
99 Days to Go!
In Disney related news, I have sent off my criminal background check form along with the photocopies of my documents to hopefully prove I'm not a crook.
The form is pretty easy to fill in but it's also very easy to get wrong. Whilst I didn't fill it in wrong, I almost did! If you ever do one, be sure to read through the handy instructions Yummy Jobs provide and the instructions on the front of the form. The last thing you want to do is have to re-send it after it's sent back with mistakes.
One thing I stupidly didn't do however, was send it via special or recorded delivery. As it contains important documents like copies of my passport and pretty much all of my sensitive information, I should have sent it via recorded but despite reading that I should have, I just picked up a first class stamp and shoved it in the post box. Only realising what I had done the second I let go of it into the the post box... Moron. Anyway! Hopefully it'll arrive safe and sound. If not, I guess someone's going to steel my identity, my YouTube channel and my Disney program #Winning.
In other news, I've been spending my weekends and evenings watching Walt Disney World vlogs (including my own) and filling in my program lists. Lists of which you can fill in yourself here *plug*.
Have a magical day!
106 Days to Go!
Criminal Background Check
The first thing I have to do is prove to Disney that I'm not a serial killer. If you've ever worked with children or a high profile company, you may have already completed a criminal background check known as a 'DBS Background Check' or formerly known as the 'CRB check.' I'll receive a form in the post and once filled in I send it back to Yummy Jobs with some photocopies of my Passport, Birth Certificate and Driving License. I also need to submit a payment of £80.00 online for Yummy Jobs to process this on my behalf. I should receive the results shortly before I depart.
I need medical insurance for the first 120 days (four months) of my program. This is a contractual obligation of my program and I must have it ahead of arriving in the US. I won't go into this too much yet as it's certainly worthy of an entire post and I'm in no mental place to be sorting this out right now.
Yummy Jobs have also provided some details of booking my flight. They do say that I should book a flexible ticket in case my visa gets delayed or they need to move my date... however, in my experience most airlines are happy to change your flight for a fee that is normally considerably less than booking a flexible ticket. For example, I had to change a flight with Virgin and they were charging about £340 on top of the flight price for a 'flexible ticket.' The fee to change my flight with a non-flexible ticket was just £49 (which they ended up waiving because I was chatting to the customer assistant for ages and she comped it).
Yummy Jobs also mention that I may need to arrive the day before my program. They never used to do this and it's great that they now do considering the stress I went through on the first day of my first CRP in 2013. They've also cleverly plugged their travel company 'Yummy Travel,' I booked with them in 2013 and they managed to get me a student cost which was great, but since I've found the beauty that is Norwegian airlines, I won't need that this year as the cost with Norwegian is still SO much cheaper than a student cost flight with Virgin or British Airways.
Visa Documentation and Application
Disney have since changed their process of mailing visa paperwork to participants and now send it via the on-boarding Doc system (the arrival paperwork website). Yummy Jobs have advised that I should receive further details from Disney approximately 4-8 weeks before my program start date. They've also mentioned the Embassy fee of $190.00 that needs to be paid when booking the embassy appointment and provided some handy instructions of completing the application. I'll of course touch on this more when I actually do the process myself.
That's it for now, I'm not in a rush to get anything else done in regards to that of Medical Insurance and such as I still have a few months to go and I have yet to be paid from my new job.
Have a magical day!
112 Days to Go!
Today isn't the best day. After staying up all night to hopefully see the first female president be elected, I actually ended up seeing Donald Trump get elected. To say he goes against most of my beliefs and hopes for the world is an understatement and a half.
I literally didn't sleep after that. I was up the whole night worrying about the country I'm planning on moving to and whether I actually want to anymore. I know Walt Disney World won't really change, but the harsh reality is that I'm not moving to Walt Disney World, I'm moving to Florida, a state that actually helped him become elected *eyeroll*.
However, after some serious thinking and talking to my family, I have decided that I should still plan to go. If for any reason the situation in America becomes to tense for comfort, I may genuinely consider not going but right now, how much would the president really effect my day-to-day program... not a lot. I have no reason to pull out of the amazing opportunity of moving to Walt Disney World. Not yet at least.
Have a somewhat magical day.
124 Days to go!