Que Sera Sera

We had an island-wide meeting this afternoon, and the news has broken at the Orlando Sentinel — as of September 27, 2008, all of the nightclubs on Pleasure Island will be closing.

This means that my job ends in three months.

On the pro list, it’s nice to have three months to find another job. There are plenty of opportunities here at WDW, and they’ve told us all that the company will work as hard as they can to get us into new Equity roles. On the flip side, it sucks that these entertainment venues with 19+ years of history will be closed down for good.

I’m still kind of numb. I’m glad I got to do my dream job, short-form improv for a living wage, for at least a little while. And hope is high that I’ll get another great show here at Disney. But I (and my coworkers) are all a bit crushed right now.

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Today is our last Sunday off together! Next week I start my new schedule, which will be Tuesdays and Wednesdays off. Such is the luck of the draw when you’re low man on the totem pole.

Since this will be our last full day off together for a couple of months (I think Scott re-draws for days off in April) we’re hitting the parks for a day of fun. At the very least we’ll be going to Disney’s Hollywood Studios (future home of the new American Idol attraction!) and the Magic Kingdom.

In other news, the bad press that Bright House cable has been getting because it’s shutting us CableCARD users off from several HD channels is piling up. They’ve agreed to let us use an HD DVR for free until the USB dongle that’s in development is released. Maybe they think we’ll leave TiVo for their DVR, but there’s not much chance of that happening — their DVR already crashed once yesterday, and it has a fairly ugly interface. And the remote is effing huge.

Whoa!

Yesterday, I was presented with the “Quarterly Spotlight” award for Downtown Disney. The award is “in recognition of outstanding job performance, service, quality and dedication to the philosophy and tradtion of Walt Disney World Resort.”

This means that more than one person in my area (managers, other cast members) nominated me for this thing. Pretty darned cool! Scott won the quarterly award for his area a couple of quarters ago (I think he got 2Q 2007; mine is 4Q 2007), so now I guess we’ll have to be double-dorks and frame the certificates.

Oh, and it came with the gift of 30 “Disney dollars”. Hee!

O Frabjous Day!

Today has, so far, been a day full of win. First off, we went out to Access Control and I traded in my white generic Disney ID for a full-color beauty with my picture on it. I’m now totally and utterly official!

Since we were out that way, we decided to celebrate my 90-day mark at the Magic Kingdom. So we cruised over thataway (getting a very up-close parking spot in the process) and headed in. We rode Splash Mountain, we rode Big Thunder Mountain, we had some Disney-grade lunch. Then it was over to Tomorrowland for a couple of rides on the PeopleMover and once through Buzz Lightyear.

We got FastPasses for Space Mountain, and headed in at what turned out to be the perfect time. We got in our car, started out from the load platform, got partway up the lift hill, and then the ride broke down. We ended up sitting on the lift hill for 15 minutes or so (where it was air conditioned, and the seats were comfy) — we could see up ahead that the work lights were all on inside the ride. Apparently something was dropped from a car and set off a sensor. Eventually, they started the lift hill back up, and we got to ride Space Mountain with all the lights on. It was SO awesome.

We got off the ride and as an apology, they gave us FastPasses to re-ride. But they aren’t just Space Mountain FastPasses — they’re valid for a FastPass admission to ANY ride in the Magic Kingdom, they don’t expire until July, and we each got two. Since a second ride in the dark wouldn’t be anywhere near as awesome as the fully-lit ride, we’re going to hold onto them for a future visit. Maybe next Friday, Scott’s birthday — I’m just now eligible for my first paid personal holiday (I’ll get three total this year, but no paid vacation until 2008) so I’m taking his birthday off.

Soon I’m off to work, where hopefully my day continues to be golden.

A Whole Lot of Stuffs

Yesterday had its ups and downs.

On the up side, the other newbie (David) and I joined the Actors’ Equity union. Our Equity rep insisted on taking us out to dinner, since she was having us come to work early to do all the paperwork, so we got to go to the Portobello Yacht Club and eat thirty-dollar meals. I had a grilled red snapper with roasted potatoes and fried baby artichokes. Delicious! So now I’m a card-carrying professional unionized actor.

On the down side, we found out that our stage manager, a really awesome guy named Bill, is being moved over to the luau show at the Polynesian resort … and his last day is today. Apparently his 4 years at our venue is a LOT for Disney — they like to move managers around. So we’ll be covered by the Adventurers Club manager for a while, until they pick a replacement. The old luau manager is going over to Finding Nemo: The Musical, which is also where one of our actors is for the next couple of weeks, training as a replacement Marlin. We’ve joked that the Nemo show eats up everyone in Entertainment, and I guess it’s actually true. Heck, Nemo is having auditions again in mid-May; perhaps I should prepare a comedic song with Dory in mind. Hmm.

And finally, on the personal side, I have to crack down and lose some of this relocation weight. I packed on quite a few pounds during the whole moving process. When I did the big weight loss, I made it down to 127 before settling in around 130, which had me wearing a size 8. I’ve crept back up to a size 12, and clocked in this morning at 154 pounds. For my height, 145 is the borderline between “normal” and “overweight”, but I’d like to get back below that to the 130s at least. So today starts a strict regimen of eating a healthy diet (which for me is low-carb) and getting more exercise.

8 weeks down

And so ends week 8 of performing here at WDW. My probation period is now over!

One of the other actors, who’s just above me in the senority hierarchy, used to have my days off (Monday and Tuesday) — he took different days when they re-bid, but he now wants his old days back. He offered to switch with me, and I totally accepted. So now I’m off on Saturday and Sunday. Barely here two months, and already I get weekend days off! Of course, that means my two nights off every week will be the busiest nights to do anything out of the house, but that’s all right.

Our cable internet was cutting out sporadically, which seemed to be a problem caused by using a splitter. So now we’re running some cable into the bedroom outlet to get a more robust signal straight from the wall. Seems to be working better.

A lot more places will be completely closed for easter down here than I’m used to. Grocery stores closed all day? Unheard of! Crazy south.

Update from the Field

It’s Sunday, which is my personal Friday. Woo! Lots of good shows this week, and I’m getting more comfortable every day.

I had my 30-day check-in earlier this week. It was a combination of brief evaluation (my manager said I’m “doing great”) and Q&A (“is the job what you thought it would be?” etc), and it went very well. I’ll also have a 60-day and 90-day visit. I’m halfway through my 8-week probationary period, which is cool — by my birthday, I’ll be permanently into my contract.

I was encouraged during that check-in to, when I feel ready, feel free to audition for other shows. There are a ton of performance options out here, and the more things you know how to do, the better your chance to grab overtime. Apparently Finding Nemo: The Musical eats up and spits out performers (it’s an 18-person show, and the puppetry leads to quite a few injuries), and my manager actually said that he thinks I’d be a great sassy maid over at the Adventurers Club. So we’ll see when I feel comfortable enough here to look into branching out.
They just broke ground on the Orlando area IKEA. I believe they’re still shooting for an October opening. You have no idea how glad this makes me. Now if only Trader Joe’s would move into the area, I’d be happy like a piggy in slop.

I have to get to work on our taxes — my last W-2 just arrived last week, after I called to get a replacement copy from the Silver Dollar Casino. I never actually quit there; somehow my name fell off the on-call sheet, so I hadn’t been working there for a couple of months anyway. I think I have everything else I need; I just have to dig the receipts out of one of the still-unpacked boxes. I look forward to the 2007 taxes — they should be a lot easier, what with much less self-employment income and expenses.

More About Work, Blah Blah Blah

And with a heaving sigh of relief, the fortnight of reherasals is over.

Both of us newbies did three shows on Thursday and a full four shows last night. They all went pretty well, and I’m starting to get over the irrational fear that I’m sucking like mad and they’ll fire me immediately. My biggest point of anxiety is something that can’t really be rehearsed — it’s opening the show and/or introducing scenes, because I’m just not really used to talking directly to audience members. I’m told that I hide the anxiety completely, but our stage manager observed that I’m probably overcompensating for the nerves, because I’m coming across a little TOO conversational and easygoing. So, something to work on.

Scott is away this morning for his first day at Disney-MGM Studios; it’s a half-day of park-specific and job-specific orientation before he starts training next week. He’ll get to learn the inner workings of a certain Terror-filled Tower. Which is awesome!

Weary!

Two more days of this crazy rehearsal schedule, then I can finally get some rest. The last two nights we newbies have done two shows each. Tonight we do three, then Friday we’re up to our maximum of four. But when combined with the daytime rehearsal, it means we’ve been putting in 11 or 12 hour workdays this week. It’s great for overtime pay, but not great for feeling fresh and well-rested. I get Saturday off, then I start my regular schedule on Sunday (which means I then get Monday and Tuesday off as my “weekend”).

The shows I’ve been doing are going well; I’m still nervous about some of the differences in the games, and I’m just not used to introducing scenes or getting suggestions. At JCI, we had an MC who dealt with all of that; here, everyone rotates through introducing things. I did my first top-of-show introduction yesterday, and I’m told I appeared calm and friendly (which means I did a great acting job, I guess). It’s something I’ll have to get used to, but it’s an aspect of improvising I’ve never enjoyed.

Scott left in the 7am hour to head out to Disney University to attend the “Traditions” orientation — he already texted me with a picture of his new name tag. He was being considered for a job at Epcot, but they were dragging their feet, so instead he’s been hired over at Disney/MGM Studios. The best part is what ride he’ll be working at: the Tower of Terror! When we’d discuss our age-40 plan of moving down to Disneyland, the ToT was the ride we both talked about working. So cool! I’m not sure what his schedule will be, so hopefully we can get both of our days off to mesh somewhat.