Disney Series, featuring Chelsea O.

The premise of the series: For every installment, I will interview a fellow Disney fanatic (like myself). I've composed a list of questions that cover a lot of bases when it comes to Disney World, planning your vacation, making the most of it, etc. I hope this will be a great tool for some people out there to learn more about the World, plan their vacation, or will just be fun to read for others!

For this installment, I interviewed Chelsea O. I know Chelsea from my Baylor days, and we connected immediately over many things, one of them being our love of Disney! Chelsea is one my friends that had the opportunity to work at Disney! She is so much fun and I know you'll enjoy reading her answers!

How long have you been going to Disney World?
I think I was about 6 the first time I went.

How long did you work at Disney, and how often to you go to Disney World?
I started on the college program from Jan-May of 2005, then worked for the summer May-Aug 2006, then have been back since June 2007--as a cast member I probably visit the parks about once or twice every 2 months (mostly when visitors come or for a special event going on).

What is your favorite ride? Why?
I have always loved the Tower of Terror because of the thrill and great effects, but now I think Toy Story Midway Mania is--such great theming and details, wonderful use of technology, fun for everyone.

As someone who has been to the World many times, what tips do you have to make park experience easier?
Definitely to use the fastpass, if you're staying in the Disney resorts to use the Extra Magic Hours--maybe start your day a little later but stay later at night, add the Dining Plan to your package.

What is your favorite time of year to be at DW?
Christmas for sure!

Are there any websites, etc. that people should utilize in planning?
I definitely recommend planning but I'm not sure which websites--disneyworld.com--I'm sure there are fan sites that are great too.

The great debate: staying on Disney property or off?
I say on property--you have the Magical Express complimentary shuttle to and from the airport, free transportation to the parks, Extra Magic Hours, option to add the Dining Plan, and great service.

What is your favorite place to stay?
I love the Animal Kingdom Lodge--that's the first place I worked so it feels like home--I love the cozy feeling, the animals, the theming, and my favorite restaurant, Boma, is there.

Do you use a "touring plan" in the parks or do you just go with the flow and wing it?
I normally just wing it, but if it's your first time it would probably be good to have some kind of plan but still be flexible.

Your tips for clothing and gear to wear in the parks:
Comfort over fashion for sure! comfortable shoes--tennis shoes or boat shoes, prepare for heat and rain.

Name your favorite restaurants in:
Magic Kingdom: Liberty Tree Tavern--Thanksgiving food!!!
Disney Hollywood Studios: Sci Fi Dine In--my family's favorite, fun place
Epcot: Chefs de France is great--but I've always wanted to try Le Cellier
Animal Kingdom: I haven't eaten at any of the restaurants but I've heard Tusker House is really good

Do you have any tips for stretching your dollar on meals?
Use the dining plan if you can afford that--you'll save a lot in the long run; my family normally packs food to bring in. We'll bring sandwiches and add lettuce and tomatoes and condiments from one of the quick service restaurants, and high energy snacks throughout the day like fruit, granola bars, pretzels...we might splurge on a turkey leg or roasted nuts!

How many days do you recommend staying for a good Disney vacation?
If you've been before and don't have to get everything in, a shorter vacation is fine, but I hate for families to run run run for 4 days and by day 3 they're so exhausted and can't enjoy the trip--so I think 5-7 days would be great

Your best tips for going to Disney with kids:
make the trip long enough to not push it too hard, they're usually satisfied with the little things--like the swimming pool, but a wonderful treat girls will love is the bibbidi bobbidi boutique to make your girls into princesses! I think it's a must! the dining plan can still be great but if kids are big eaters what's included on their plan may not be enough food--they can't eat off the adult menu

Your best tips for going to Disney without kids:
definitely do the dining plan and enjoy the nice restaurants, maybe see Cirque du Soleil, you will probably be more effective later in the day because there will be less kids then

Character meals/breakfasts: worth it?
I think they are worth it! So fun, lots of good food, and guaranteed time with the characters--I love them!

Fly or drive (if both were an option)?
If you have plenty of travel time then driving would be nice to have the flexibility of getting around while on property--Disney transportation is free but it's certainly not seamless and can take up a lot of time

Do you use or have you used the Disney Dining Plan? Your thoughts?
I haven't used it, but I think it's wonderful and a great value

Do you try to split time between time in the parks and time at the hotel/swimming pool/Downtown Disney?
I would recommend this--especially with kids

Tips or favorites in Downtown Disney:
EARL OF SANDWICH!!!! I love that place--one of my favorite restaurants on property, I also love the Christmas Store, and a great cheap souvenir is a Candy apple or pretzel rods or marshmallow stick, etc at Goofy's Candy Company

Best place to see/meet characters?
character meals, other than that it's probably about equal

Best age to take a child for the first time (in your opinion, if applicable)?

For those of you who have worked at Disney, what was it like? Did it "spoil" the magic for you or not? Are there any insider tips?
you definitely get a different perspective...but it's fun to be the one making the magic, but you do get a little jaded, unfortunately...especially as a manager most of what I hear are the complaints and everything that's going wrong :(

Do you think souvenirs are a waste of money?
some of them probably are...a lot of things look really cute while you're here but realistically won't be useful at home--maybe just limit what you purchase, set a limit before you get here

Do you use the Photopass service, do you solely take your own pictures, or both?
I take my own--photopass cast members will take them for you with your camera

Any tips for money-saving in general?
bring your own food and snacks, drink water, don't go crazy on souvenirs, stay in value resorts

Do you use the Fastpass system? How do you best utilize it?
definitely! get a fastpass for one of the most popular attractions first thing, ride rides with shorter lines until your time comes, get another fastpass, etc--also if everyone in your party is old enough I recommend using the single rider lines

Is there a ride that should be especially avoided with children, people with motion sickness, etc.?
Mission Space is pretty intense, but the less intense option on the ride is great

Is there are ride that's overrated (in your opinion)?
Of course I think they're all great! :)

Do you own Mouse Ears?

One of your favorite memories from Disney World:
I think one of the best times was when a bunch of my best friends from college came to visit--we had the best time just being silly, having fun, and enjoying the magic!

What is your favorite Disney movie?
Mary Poppins

Anything else that you have to say about the Happiest Place on Earth:
See all the shows! They're wonderful and a great break from the heat--my favorite thing in all of Disney is Festival of the Lion King! I also love HSM3 pep rally and American Idol Experience. And as soon as you can, DO A DISNEY CRUISE!! They are absolutely wonderful--one of the best times of my life! If you are visiting during a Special Event, go to it! Mickey's Not so Scary and Very Merry Christmas parties are so fun and worth the price. The best time to visit is when school is in session--I think the few weeks between Thanksgiving and when school is out for Christmas is the best time--and be sure to see the Candlelight Christmas Processional at Epcot.

Thank you, Chelsea, for contributing to my Disney Series! May all your dreams come true :o)

Coming next: Starting to plan your trip and figuring out where to stay!

1 comment:

Lil' Woman said...

I was on the College Program from May '05 to Jan '06 :)