Living Where You Vacation

I learned in 2007 that living in a city where you would normally vacation is not all it’s cracked up to be. I was lucky enough to have worked for Walt Disney World. A girl had left her contract, which opened a spot for me to fill the remainder of it. I was thrilled to be heading south to the ‘happiest place on earth!’

It was exciting at first. You get there, it’s warm, you’re in a group of people who have just started their magical journey too. It was a new adventure with new friends from all over the globe.

For the majority of us newbies, we were Cultural Representatives and due to work at our countries at Epcot. There were different job categories you could apply for; Merchandise, Food/Beverage, Attraction Host/Hostess, etc.

I remember rating each category based on the area you wanted to work. I didn’t choose Attraction Hostess, but that’s where I ended up. It was fine because I’m not an introvert and I love talking to people. Fear of public speaking is not a attribute I have. Lucky me.

Don’t get me wrong, my first day on the job I was nervous as all hell. But it got easier spiel after spiel after spiel. We were given scripts to entertain the masses. And by masses, on an average day there was 40 people in the theatre. Canada’s attraction is a 360 degree film starring Martin Short. If any of you have seen it, it’s a nice little film. We tried to make them laugh. Tried to make the Canadians feel special, pointing them out or making them sing ‘Oh Canada.’ It was always a breath of fresh air when you met someone from your own country. I even met a family from the small town I resided in at the time. They knew my family and blah blah. It was like getting a hug from home.

As the days went by, the job got mundane. The atmosphere not so magical. The management was impersonal. There were so  many of them for the World Showcase that you never got to know them. Hell, I only knew the name of one of them. Our living conditions were not good. They have apartment complexes for their staff. Most of the out of country cast members lived in their own compound. I had roommates from France, Japan, and Norway. It’s a neat situation to live in. However the apartments were not well kept. I ended up terminating my contract due to illness because of black mould in the apartment. As did my roommate when I first moved into the apartment.

If you can get past the living conditions, then your time there isn’t all that bad. Despite the long days and the times where we were short staffed, I made some great friends from all over the world. Together we made our time in Epcot and Walt Disney World the best we could. I’d say I was lucky to have met the people I worked with during my contract. It was a great group to have representing Canada.

Would I recommend people to work there? I’m on the fence about that answer. On one hand, I’d say no. Unless you love to party and piss your money away on alcohol, it’s not a smart move to make. I had to pay rent at these apartments. And when you’re making next to nothing already, having them take rent from your pay cheques doesn’t help whatsoever. If you just want to fuck off for a year with no responsibilities back home, then hey, by all means sign yourself up!

On the other hand, I’d say yes, if you get a chance to work there, do it! I’ve had nothing but opportunity after opportunity come up because of having Walt Disney World on my resume. When I moved to Vancouver and applying for work, I was hired on the spot for two jobs only 3 days after arriving in the city. All because of Disney. It was a conversation starter for sure. But more than that, Walt Disney World is the best at hospitality. No one can beat it. The things I learned from being there have stayed with me into other jobs. I may have a degree in Archaeology, but hospitality seems to be my niche. The two jobs I landed in Vancouver….working for the Vancouver Canucks and at the Holiday Inn. Another job that came later down the road, was working for Jet Set Sports during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

So I’d say having worked at Disney may have had its downsides, but the years that followed it have proven it to be worth my while. I can’t say the same for everyone who works at Disney. Maybe I got lucky. Or maybe I worked my ass off to get these jobs. But what I like to tell people who say to me, ‘oh my god, you’re so lucky to have done that,’ is

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”

I think Seneca said that, but in any case, it’s true. I didn’t just happen upon these jobs. I had a plan that started with the bucket list I made. I put into action the things I needed to do to get the job. I was prepared long before I got the ‘ok’ to head south.

Life presents us with opportunities all the time. We just have to be prepared enough to meet them head on and grab them. Don’t let the fear and skepticism take hold. If you’ve worked for it, lady luck just might be on your side 🙂

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Canada Pavillion at Epcot. My home away from home. 
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