*This is a continuation of the “Memoirs of a Former Disney Castmember series. To start from part 1, click here!
After I received word from Disney recruiters that I had been selected to participate in the Disney College Program in Florida I had the enormous task of getting situated for my departure.
I had only visited Walt Disney World Resort once in May of the prior year before embarking on my College Program Internship. Nevertheless, I felt I had a plethora of knowledge on the resort from my endless days and nights of pouring over travel guides, researching hotels and resorts, surfing disneyworld.disney.go.com, and listening to podcasts like InsidetheMagic.net. I knew the history of the themeparks, the reign of mogul Michael Eisner in the 1980s-2000’s, and the vastness of Walt Disney World Resort in comparison to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. Nothing I read, listened, or saw could fully describe what it would be like to work and play in the Most Magical Place on Earth.
Before I left I asked a friend how I should prepare for the weather. Part of my internship would be in the winter and I wanted to know if I should bring a heavy coat. My friend, who had visited Walt Disney World several times, smiled and said, “winters are warm in Florida; you’ll be wearing shorts and a t-shirt in January”. I thanked her for the advice, before I found out she was only partly correct.
Coming from Southern California where the Mediterranean weather reaches an equilibrium at 71 degrees, I pictured Florida as an East Coast version of our stable paradise. In Memoirs of a Former Disney Castmember Pt 2 I wrote about my shock in waking at 5:30am to a humid Orlando summer. Later I discovered Orlando’s winters could range from comfortable 70 degrees in the daytime to a freezing 30 degrees at night! In fact, the coldest I have ever been in my life was one winter morning at work. On this particular day I wore my Kilimanjaro safari pants, long socks, my hiking boots, my winter jacket, gloves, and a beanie yet the cold still reached my bones! I remember one guest, shivering and wearing winter gear – mostly likely purchased at her hotel’s gift shop – approached me at the entrance to the attraction demanding, “why is it so cold? I thought this was Florida!”.
Apart from the wintery coldness, Florida’s summer storms also took some getting used to. In California there are only three seasons: Summertime, Dry Season (aka Fall), and Almost Summertime Again. California is not known for hurricanes, tropical storms, nor rain. Florida is known for all three!
My usual summer days while interning at Walt Disney World went like this:
Wake up (7:00am-ish) to catch the CP housing bus for Animal Kingdom Park – 70 degrees
Arrive at the attraction inside my safari truck ( 8:30am-ish) with air conditioner blowing – 78 degrees
Do my “rounds” (i.e. take guests on 2 week safaris from 9:00am to noon) – 88 degrees
Afternoon showers (2:00pm) – 85 degrees
Leave shift, head home to hang out with buddies (5:30 pm) – 78 degrees
Arrive at Downtown Disney (8:00pm) to thunderstorms with lightning – 75 degrees
While it was a pleasant change from the predictability of California, central Florida’s weather was a lot to get used to!
“I wanna go!”