The Autumn Story

Have you ever met someone so wonderful you constantly search for their qualities in every person you meet? Or maybe you think to yourself, “If every person was like _______, I would never feel angry.”

Autumn Welt is the definition of that type of person. Today also happens to be her 30th birthday.

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After we both decided to chop off our hair!

I met Autumn in 2012, my first year working at Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando, FL at Universal Studios. I was beyond nervous to start working there- I had really no idea what to expect. But to my surprise I ended up in this amazing cast in a house called, “House of Horrors”. I played the Bride of Frankenstein, and Autumn was one of Dracula’s brides.

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This is Autumn as Dracula’s bride!

We were 2 out of 3 girls in the house, in a cast of almost 20.

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Cast A for House of Horrors

Once HHN finished up at Universal, Autumn ended up joining me at the Gaylord Palms and became part of the Dreamworks team- so I got to continue working with her! It was amazing how many shifts we got to have together.

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My favorite part about working together is that we usually had the same ideas in mind for our breaks: it was spent either taking 20 minute naps between sets, catching up, or watching movies on our laptop/kindle.

She even came with me when I got my first (and only) tattoo- she held my hand the entire time. Not to mention that earlier that day she also helped me make a video for a college application. She literally spent an entire day helping me!

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Getting my infamous Harry Potter tattoo as Autumn holds my hand!

We also realized that we had to work on Thanksgiving that year- which actually wasn’t so bad. But we decided to go out to dinner after and try to make the most out of not being able to be with family. Instead, we got to be with each other and it was comforting to know that.

The reason I love Autumn so much is that she is the kind of person who really cares, and you always know her true feelings- you don’t ever feel as though she’s putting on a face for you. She’s got the biggest heart, and she’s so passionate.

2012 ended up being pretty rough at the end. Autumn was the only person I trusted to go to about what I was going through, and she was there for every moment of it. She always knew exactly what to say. I remember one day we sat on my bed and watched The Holiday and day dreamed about the future where we both get to find love and happiness. It was a strange night because I remember feeling so sad as it ended but also so hopeful that we were going to accomplish our goal of finding what makes us happy, whether it be love or self-discovery (or both).

I’m extremely lucky to have someone like Autumn as a friend.

She’s currently sailing the seas, working on a cruise ship! Which is also a little of a bummer because it makes it much harder for me to see her when I visit Orlando next week. However, I’m so happy for her and everything she has accomplished.

Happy 30th birthday to the best lady I know. Thank you for being such a wonderful friend.

Speaker for Winter JAM

This week I was honored to be asked to attend the McGraw Hill Winter JAM as a speaker to talk about my experience using their products. I’m a Student Ambassador for the company, which mostly means that you’ll find me presenting to classrooms each semester on how to access their assignments and book digitally.

When I was first asked, I was told I’d be speaking at a meeting- I assumed it was going to be relatively small. Turns out it was a meeting for over 650 people!

I was put up in the JW Marriott in Phoenix, which was just gorgeous. The first night I went out to the pool, lazy river, and hottub- and not one other person was there due to the rain! It was amazing how relaxing it was.

I presented early Tuesday morning- I was actually the last speaker of the morning to close out the session before lunch had started. I introduced  myself, and talked about my very non-traditional route that I’ve taken in order to earn my degree. Next, I spoke about the impact that Connect had on me when it came to learning versus a “normal” textbook, and then closed out my speech with a thank you to everyone attending.

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My parents say I look like the next President

As I stepped off staged, I received a standing ovation- this was a huge surprise! As I headed to lunch I was stopped by numerous people who were telling me how well I did and some who just wanted to know more about myself. I got lots of questions about my plans after graduation, and if I needed a place to go once I was done.

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A photo Jennifer took of me

Overall it was a very wonderful experience to be a part of. It was great seeing the other side of the company and learning more about what to expect for 2016. I’m just glad I didn’t trip on the way up to the stage!

Warm Wishes,

Andrea

“I’m only friends with guys.” – The Value of Female Friendship

Raise your hand if you have heard this phrase before!raise_your_hand

And chances are, as a woman, you have probably heard this from another woman. Which at the time you may say to them, “Yeah, it is just so much easier!” However later the thought will come across your mind of,

Does she not want to be friends with me then?

10491117_849983075052568_9055937730992034841_nToday I want to discuss the value of friendship. More specifically, the value of another female companion to take over the world with.

Yes, friendship with men is great. Friendship with any person is great. But lately there has been a trend of hating on your fellow women companions. Yes, companions- not your competitor.

After moving away from Orlando in August of 2014, it was just a few months later that I started feeling lonely despite being surrounded by my boyfriend’s presence. I realized just how bad I missed the ladies in my life. I also realized how much I really valued their friendship, and I began to feel sad and guilty for not putting more of my heart and soul into the friendship with these amazing girls.578428_10151202486866031_616335997_n (2)

Making new friends and looking back on old ones, I started seeing how cruel we can be to the friends in our life. We tend to think of other woman as competition instead of allies.

Woman are great and can be such a valuable asset in your life. You can complain to your boyfriend or male friends about your period, but no one else but a woman will be able to understand a cramp so painful that you end up curled up in a ball in the middle of a grocery store aisle, or that weird position you lay in on the floor just to be comfortable during that time of the month. 259159_10150277925551031_2261002_o

I once talked to a woman and as we were getting to know each other, she says to me,

“I hate girls. I can only be friends with men.” 

So that friendship lasted about two weeks.

It’s so curious that we are constantly putting down other woman, but especially that we are putting down our own friends. We make fun of what our friends wear, how their makeup looks, the job they have in order to make ourselves feel better and more confident about the choices we ourselves have made. How weird is that?

I went to visit Orlando in March of this year, and spent essentially most of my time with my old girlfriends from there. One of them even took off work to make sure we’d get to hang out. And it was one of the best weekends I’ve had in awhile- and one of the most eye opening. They were all so encouraging and inspiring to be around. I felt like I could be me without any judgment.

That’s when I realized how bad it could be having people around who are constantly putting me and others down for no other reason but their own self-assurance. I’ve had friends make fun of me for wearing makeup, not wearing makeup, being too casual or not formal enough- c’mon, have you ever heard, “Why do you look so nice?” Excuse me?! Why not?! I’ve even had friends comment on my weight randomly (“Why are you drinking/eating that?”).

11187176_690038467785796_6961956397375231524_oInstead we could be celebrating each other! Just because your friend shows up to hang out looking good is no reason to put her down. Tell her how hot she looks and enjoy your day! Flaunt the confidence of your friendship all over the world and take no shit. If your friend is on a diet, ask her how you can help, or be there during her cheat day to tell her it’s okay to eat the entire tub of ice cream if she wants to.

Your good lady friends are essential. Be one of those friends who inspires others to love and support each other the way you should! And when people are asshats to you- just ignore it. You are meant for a 775219_10151414621436031_890320238_obeautiful friendship that doesn’t involve pulling each other down. Lift each other up instead and have the kind of relationship that inspires others to do the same.

So231110_10150250140986031_3337478_n I challenge you to do something different. Be there for your friends. Don’t hate on someone because they are the same gender as you. Love them for who they are, and look forward to those nights on the couch with them drinking wine and watching The Holiday.

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No, I will not get you into Disney.

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“So, you work at Disney, right?”

Dun dun DUN! The dreaded question most cast members receive at least once in their time with the mouse. The first time it happens, you’re wondering to yourself, “Why is this person messaging me when we haven’t talked in 6 years?” Then it happens. They beat around the bush about you working at Disney until finally they get up the nerve to ask how you can hook them up.

Or, you get the opposite. Here’s an example of someone asking me that I… 1. Had only talked to once in my life and 2. This is the second sentence they ever said to me about a month after meeting them:

Her: “Can you get me and my boyfriend in for free to Disneyland?”

Me: “Sorry, I’d have to be there and I’m in Nevada for school right now.”

… and no response.

Constantly people are asking me for advice, discounts, free entry- and usually I’m very nice about it and try to help in other ways- and yet I never receive a response back because it’s not a, “Hey you! I’d love to get you in for free even though I barely know more than your name!”

So, this is an open letter to everyone who knows someone – who knows someone – that works at Disney to explain why we do not spread our free entry to all the citizens in the land. And why, when you ask us for help with planning, please remember to say “thank you”.


Dear Acquaintance,

Let me start off by saying that we really do understand how expensive it is to go to Disney. Although us cast members get to enjoy the parks for free, we deal with guests every day that remind us how hard they worked to get there, along with how much they spent. When the prices go up, so does our anxiety: because we know exactly how stressful it’s going to be on the people that come through our gate, and it’s our job to make sure they get every single penny worth of their trip. If we fail as cast members, their trip is also a failure. We want everyone to have a magical experience because it also makes our day, too.

Cast members work their butt off when they are in the park, sometimes up to four hours without a break, in the humidity, with no shade, and sweating in places that sweat should not be found. They are to look alive while on stage at all times, to make as much magic as possible while sweating through their costumes pretending it is not as hot out as it actually is.

As cast members, we do receive some wonderful perks from working at the park, and I’m going to take a moment to explain those:

  • We receive discounts on merchandise for ourselves only.
  • For the work that we do, we also receive 4 complimentary tickets a year (2 if you are seasonal). Four. FOUR. Yes, four a year. What makes these tickets so wonderful is that they have no block out dates, so they can used on any day as long as the parks aren’t at capacity. We can give these tickets to anyone, but with the recent rise in block out dates, these tickets are coveted because it is the only way we can get our family into places like The Magic Kingdom during their visit.
  • CMs also have this beautiful card called a maingate. This card lets the CM get in 3 people per day, up to 16 times per year (6 if you are seasonal). But I’d like to tell you exactly why this does not benefit you…

There have been some years I only used my maingate maybe once or twice. Other years where I used up every single pass. Part of the rules when using the maingate is that as a cast member, if I let you in with it, I have to stay with you during your entire park visit (unless you’re family). And if I don’t know you, or if you are trying to come in with your boyfriend for a romantic day at the parks, it is sure going to get weird having me around. On top of that, I just spent the last 12 days working 8-12 hour shifts at the park you are visiting, and the only place I want to be is curled up with Netflix, avoiding the sun like the plague.

Now your next argument is, “But how will they know you aren’t with us?”

And that is a very valid question. Because Disney might not follow us around all day to make sure we split up. The keyword there is might. When you get into the park, you are holding onto my sacred guest pass that I have to have returned to me, and if I don’t know you very well you might:

  1. Never return the pass to me and
  2. Make me lose my job by doing something dumb

If you are someone I don’t know very well, it is not worth it for me to risk my source of income because you don’t want to spend any of yours.

On top of that, as I said earlier, I might just want to stay home and relax instead of making the trek to the park for someone I’m not very close to.

However, if you are a good friend, or family (objective, of course), it is a no brainer that I am letting you in. We are going to go to the parks together and I am going to show you the best way to get around the park and we are going to have an absolute blast.

But if I don’t know you- do not ask me for tickets. Before you do, think to yourself, “Would I hang out with this person if they didn’t work at Disney? Have I talked to them in the last year? Do they know who I am?

Because if you do ask, and we know you’re just trying to use us, then we will screenshot whatever you send us and use it for story time backstage at work the next day.

And if you ask, and the CM says they can’t because they have plans with their family for their passes or they are working those days, thank them anyway!  Do not be angry. Take that opportunity to ask them for any advice about the parks and listen to it. They know what they’re talking about. 🙂

Sincerely,

An ex-cast member who will not ask her Disney friends to hook you up on your trip

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P.S. I realize seasonal doesn’t get these perks any longer – this was written quite some time ago! Even more reason why seasonal would be safeguarding them now 😉