Danielle - From The Grand Californian To The Wilds Of The Jungle
by, 03-06-2012 at 04:47 AM
Hello, and welcome to this week's 'From The Mouth Of The Mouse!' Each week, we spotlight a different Cast Member story to give you more insight into some of your favorite attractions, resorts, and movies from all over the Walt Disney Company.
This week, we talk to Danielle, who was kind enough to share her stories of working at the Grand Californian Hotel And Spa, along with taming the wilds of the Jungle Cruise. Danielle also runs Tales of a Disneyland Cast Member, where she shares some of her fantastic stories about working for Disney. I definitely urge you to check it out after reading the interview to read some more of her adventures at the Grand Californian! As a side note, all photos in this week's column are courtesty of Danielle!
Also, in last week's interview with Brett, we had some technical difficulties for folks trying to comment on the column to enter. They're all fixed now, and we're re-running the contest again this week. Be sure to read the end of THIS column to find out how to enter to win a copy of the brand new App for the iPhone called "Spy Queue: Disneyland" which Disney fans will definitely find interesting!
And now, here's Danielle!
JEFF: Why did you want to work at Disney to begin with?
DANIELLE: Well, Disney and I have a long history. In fact, some of my earliest memories are of Walt Disney World and watching The Lion King. As I grew up, I really began to love the product, and mostly Walt. Walt inspired me because he followed his dreams, even when all the odds were against him. He dedicated his life to bringing joy to others. I find that fascinating. As a teenager, I knew in the back of mind that working for Disney would probably be the best thing in the world.
But, that idea solidified when I visited Walt Disney World in a wheelchair (due to an ACL replacement). I was horribly embarrassed when boarding Spaceship Earth, because I slowed the ride down and I knew how annoying that can be at times to other guests. As I hobbled across the loading area, I felt people staring. But the Cast Member assisting me looked at me and said, “Princess, You dance beautifully.” He continued to dance with me to the ride vehicle. That’s when it hit me… How wonderful would it be to turn negative situations into positive ones and leave a lasting memory with people? So I was drawn to the idea of making people’s dream a reality and really providing the best service I know how. That is why I wanted to work at Disney and why I am still with them.
JEFF: Were you assigned where you work or were you able to pick it?JEFF: You work at the Grand Californian now? What are your responsibilities there?
DANIELLE: Yes. I actually applied to be at the Disney Help Desk, but the recruiter told me that I would fit much better at the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa.
DANIELLE: I have the unique privilege of working at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. This flagship hotel was, without a doubt, the finest experience I have ever encountered. This hotel caters to Disney executives, celebrities, families, and avid Disney fans. So, I encountered many types of people. Some of my responsibilities were not only to check-in rooms, but also to provide Disneyland information. However, most of the time I spent assisting guests with any travel needs and fixing negative experiences.
JEFF: Do you face any specific challenges while working there?
DANIELLE: The front desk is full of daily challenges. Things like the rooms not being ready or the rooms were not what Guests expected. Most of the time, I am able to find a solution. The hardest thing is when a guest had experienced something negative within one of the parks. They assume just because we are under the name Disney, that I personally can have that person fired or “fix” the situation. So, making those situations positive was pretty hard. Mostly because those people have lost precious vacation time.
JEFF: I was reading your site, and you talked about how you went from the Front Desk to the Jungle Cruise. I’d love for you to share that with our readers!JEFF: You also work as a Lobby Ambassador at the Grand Californian. Can you tell me a little about that?
DANIELLE: Well that is a special story. When I first hired in, I really wanted to work the Jungle Cruise, but they didn’t have an opening. But during the Grand Christmas party at work one day, my manager approached me and asked what I wanted for Christmas. I told her all the normal stuff but then she said, “But what do you really want?” I really didn’t catch her drift, until she said “Dream big Danielle, what have you always wanted to do…” Then I told her it was my lifelong dream to be a Jungle Cruise Skipper. I remember she smiled so big while saying, “Now, that’s a good wish”, and then she walked away.
A few weeks went by, and around New Years Eve, I got called into the manager’s office. They all had serious faces and I got nervous. You know, I was racking my brain and trying to figure out what I did. As I sat in the giant leather chair, they shut the door- which felt like the seal of death! My manger handed me an envelope, which had a little lump in it. I was confused, but opened it. Out fell a ticket and a bullet. I quickly read and it was a roundtrip ticket to Adventureland! I could barely contain my excitement when she said, “Merry Christmas Danielle! You are going to the Jungle. But there is a reason it’s roundtrip- you have to come back to us!” I was beyond thrilled… I felt like I was in a dream! As I got up to leave I asked, “But…what is the bullet for?” Without missing a beat, my manger said, “That’s for the hippos...they are dangerous when they blow bubbles and wiggle their ears!” So off to the Jungle I went. I waved goodbye to people at the front desk and embarked on a journey to the 8th wonder of the world….It really was the best gift I have ever received!
DANIELLE: Well, after my short time in the Jungle, I came back to the Grand Californian where I was promoted to a Lobby Ambassador. Lobby Ambassador became my favorite position and I really enjoyed it. As a Lobby Ambassador, it was my duty to greet every guest, control the check-in line, keep the lobby clean, and mostly make magic moments. I would wander the lobby looking for guests to engage in and assist.
JEFF: Any specific Magical Moments that you remember?Thank you, Danielle , for sharing with us! Again, be sure to check out her website, Tales of a Disneyland Cast Member, where Danielle shares some more tales of working as a Skipper and at the Grand Californian. Her stories of meeting John Lasseter and Richard Sherman are great!
DANIELLE: Well, there were many times I went out of my way to make a magical moment. Going out of your way was always expected from the Grand Californian management. So, I always saw it as doing my Disney duty. One that I really remember was a few years ago on Christmas Eve. I was doing the usual clean up and organizing of the lobby, when a young boy approached me and stated, “It’s Christmas and I am sad.” I remember putting my tray down and getting on his level. He continued to tell me about how there was no Christmas decorations in his room and Santa surely won’t be able to find him.
I talked to him for a little bit longer and found out his name is Tyler. After chatting with him, I talked with his parents and found out their plans for the day and asked if they would bring him back to the lobby around 3. In the meantime, I arranged for their room to be completely decorated and I even sent up a few Christmas cookies. Then came the tough part…tracking down Santa and talking to him. Let me tell you, he is a hard man to find, especially on Christmas Eve!
Nonetheless, I found him and informed him about Tyler. I also slipped him Tyler’s favorite character plush. It was small, but I hoped that this magical moment would work. The hours seemed to drag on slowly, but three o’clock finally rolled around and Tyler came bounding into the lobby. As I talked with Tyler, Santa came walking into the lobby with a little red bag. I remember watching his eyes widen and a huge grin appeared. He looked at me and said, “Santa found me!” Santa greeted him by name and took him upon his lap. They whispered about Christmas desires and laughed a lot. Tyler’s smile grew wider and wider.
Then Santa pulled out the little red bag with a small plush Mickey inside. I wish that moment would have been caught on film, because the delight on his face was sheer bliss. Then it hit me…this is Christmas. Christmas is about giving from the heart. Tyler hugged me and went on his way, while his parents thanked me profusely. I had made a child smile, which was the best gift I could ever receive. I came into work the next day to find a hand written note from Tyler that said “Thank you for the best Christmas ever. I love you.” That was the icing on the cake!
According to its iTunes description, SpyQueue is "...one part guide book and one part Disneyland-wide game of hide and seek! Tired of standing in line with nothing to do? Spy Queue gives you close up images of props and decor in the lines of the most popular attractions at Disneyland. While away the time looking for these hidden gems and when you find them, you'll be rewarded with a little known fact about the attraction or the surrounding land!
Last week we introduced you to SPYQUEUE and held a contest to give away copies of this neat Disneyland app. Unfortunately, MiceChat's blogs experienced a technical difficulty with prevented most folks from being able to leave comments in the blogs that day, so we've extended the contest through this week! Read on for your chance to win!
Great for kids who need something to do, but even more fun for grown-ups with an interest in the history of the happiest place on Earth and a sense of adventure!"
You can check it out in the iPhone app store by clicking right here!
I spent a lot of time this past weekend playing around with the app, and right off the bat, I can tell you that I love it. Much like most of you folks, I'm a tested and true Disney fan, and I've spent a lot of time at the Parks. Waiting in line can sure be a downer, but SpyQueue gives you a great way to pass the time while waiting for your favorite attraction. The app is broken up in each land, with attractions for each listed in them. Simply select the attraction you're standing in line for, and a bunch of photos hidden inside the queue pop up! Spend some time looking for them, and you'll be rewarded with some great little facts and tips. Granted, this app is for Disneyland, and my usual go-to Park is Walt Disney World. However, that didn't make the app any less enjoyable for me. I broke out my photos from my last Disneyland trip to see if I could spot any of the things hidden in the queue that the app listed. I had a blast doing that, so I can only imagine how much fun it would be actually standing in line!
Brett has graciously offered us a few promo codes to give away so some of you can experience SpyQueue for yourselves!
To win, follow these 3 simple steps:
1 - Leave a comment below with one of YOUR favorite hidden things in a Disneyland or Walt Disney World queue.
2 - Go over to Facebook and LIKE the From The Mouth Of The Mouse fan page.
3 - And finally, leave a comment on the Facebook page saying "Brett sent me!" along with your MiceChat user name.
I'll pick some winners in the next week or so, and contact you via Facebook! If you win, or purchase the app, please be sure to leave a rating on the iTunes page! Every little bit helps, so let people know what you think about it!
If you are, or know, a Cast Member who would like to share some of their stories and possibly be featured right here on MiceChat, please email me at [email protected]. I'd love to hear from you!
Jeff also writes a MiceChat column titled The 626. We invite you to check it out!
Jeff also co-hosts the VidCast Communicore Weekly on MiceTube.
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