24. mai 2013
Yesterday I was extremely happy, and kinda still am.
I recieved my passport with my visa in it, and I completed my packing…. So, Im basically ready to leave today. Wish I could, but still got 21 days left before I start my American adventure.
First Im going to the state Minnesota and visit Minneapolis and Spring Grove, which was the first Norwegian settlement in Minnesota. Really looking forward to seeing how they preserve the heritage.
6. mai 2013
Today its 25 years since Guests could first experience the Norway pavilion at Epcot.
The 6th of May was the soft opening of the pavilion, with only the stores and restaurant Akershus (some days) open.
The 3th of June was the official opening day and the pavilion was opened by then Crown Prince (now King) Harald.
The 5th of July completes the opening of the pavilion as Maelstrom opened this day.
31. desember 2012
So last week I booked my flight tickets for my year in Disney World!
So Im going to depart from Stavanger (my city) to Keflavik (Iceland) and then to Minneapolis with Icelandair on the 14th of June. Then going to stay in Minneapolis until the 17th and arrive Orlando the day before my program starts.
165 days left!
Keep the magic alive, happy new year!
30. oktober 2012
So I woke up this morning and checked my email, 15 minutes earlier I had received an email which said:
On behalf of Walt Disney World, we are happy to let you know that you have successfully passed your interview for the Walt Disney World International Cultural Representative Program!
Walt Disney World has a departure date for you on June 18, 2013 for a Food & Beverage position for 12 months.
28. oktober 2012
So last friday (19th) I was on a new interview when Disney and International Services visited my University, which they have a cooperation with. I got to meet Shandon Benton again (area manager for Norway F&B), Jill Jacobsen (WDW Recruiting), Nicole (Cast Deployment) and someone from International Services. I previously met them the evening before when my school (Norwegian Hotel Management School) was celebrating their 100-years anniversary. I had an interview with Shandon on why I wanted to go back, and ofcourse told everything about how much I missed Disney and working in the US, that I feel I could just jump right back and I now know a lot of what I should focus on. I put up F&B and Attraction on my “wish list”. I have been a little in doubt if I wanted to do another program, since Ive started a bachelor degree. But after some talks with school and meetings I sorted out that I can still do my education while in Disney, I just need to go to Miami to the Sea Mans Church and take the exam there, I think that would be an all right solution.
So now Im waiting till I receive an answer if I get accepted onto another program. I hate waitings, and if it was up to me I would just leave asap. So we should be getting an answer within the 5th of November, when I will be in Orlando on holidays.
About my vacation: Im going to USA from the 1th-17th of November.
First visiting Orlando from the 1th to the 10th, then Alaska from the 10th to the 17th.
5. april 2012
I just needed to update this since a lot of you have been following the development in the case to get the Norway pavilion back on track. I recently received this message from Tone Nymoen, a dedicated person working in AmCham that has led the fight to get Norwegian government into the project. As of now, it seems really dark;
“After working with Disney for two year on trying to refurbish the Norwegian pavilion I am now sorry to say that we have given up.
Disney is not willing to spend any more time on this and I feel the window of opportunity is closing fast. I honestly think I have lifted every stone and explored every opportunity in this matter, but unfortunately have not been able to make any progress.
Nærings – og Handelsdepartementet wanted direct contact with Disney, but after a few phone calls these negotiations broke down. NHD wanted Disney to use the Innovation Norway film, but since that is already publicly available online Disney wouldn’t do it. This issue has been raised in Stortinget three times, lastly in the budget negotiations in December, but they have not been able to agree on using 5 million NOK on this. These 5 million was suppose to be the basis of the total amount of 20 million NOK, where the rest was suppose to come from Norwegian businesses. I had several interested candidates…
The whole thing has been very frustrating and time-consuming, and I really don’t like giving up, but it has become such a “prestige issue” that I am unable to get anywhere.
Disney will most likely, at some point, do something at the pavilion themselves, but Norway will not be able to partake in the decisions about what this should be.”
Im really sad, and I unfortunately realize that our government don’t really care about the pavilion.
We need to throw out these socialists of ours… My party (Liberals) and the other right political parties are for giving money to the pavilion.
Ill update if there should come some new information in this case.
Have a magical day!
26. desember 2011
“You don’t want to let go on right here and now!”
Its nearly been a month since I came home from my year in USA and Disney, and it still hurts so bad.
Its been an amazing experience and I can honestly say its been the best year of my life! Never have I had so much freedom, never have I met so many amazing people from all over the world and made so much good friends and had so much to do in my spare-time.
When I arrived USA the 4th of December 2010, I didn’t really think I would experience as much as I did. I came to the country all by myself, I left all my friends, my job, my family and thought that this was probably going to be hard and not too easy. But hey, I was wrong. Living by myself have been great, and meeting different cultures have really given me a good understanding. I don’t make friends that easily sometimes, but I must say that I met a lot of people through this year that I consider good friends of mine and I really miss them all!
The living experience:
When we first came, I was the only one in my arrival group that day that was placed at Patterson Court apartment 2307, the newest complex, but not so many international people. That was pretty bad I thought. But it turned out to be pretty all right! Nice apartments and no big problems… I had the best of roommates, Toby and Joey from Germany, so my living experience was awesome the first months. Then in May I moved to 7101 with another Norwegian in a one bedroom apartment because I didn’t get too much along with the person I lived in my bedroom with. It was nice to live in an apartment with only one more person. In the summer this person left over to Commons, as another Norwegian made Price Management change their policy and let people move from Patterson to Commons (this wasn’t possible until a Norwegian took the fight and won). I then got another friend of mine to move in with me… He left in September. And I lived alone for over a month, before I figured that I wanted to spend the last of my program on Commons with all the others too. So I moved to 531 in Commons until my program ended. The apartments in Commons are not so nice as the ones in Patterson, but I borrowed a carpet cleaner and cleaned the whole apartment, then it became nice again. Which is better? Hmm… I must say Commons, here you have the washer and dryer inside the apartment, not in a washing room. And the parties are much better at Commons. Patterson is nice if you like it quiet and very friendly. I met a lot American friends in Patterson. I did not like all the rules that you have to follow, some of them are pretty absurd if you ask me… You’re not allowed to have any windows open at all, ever. So no fresh air for you. Nothing posted on walls besides on a very small chalkboard that you have in your room. Think that they should have some nails that you can use if you want to etc… Everyone says Security is really bad and evil towards the Cast Members, but my experience have often been positive. They’re not that bad, you need to have rules when you house many thousands of youths…
Work experience: Disney is not like any Norwegian company, and its been interesting to see how things are different from home. Disney is a very big employer, and have over 60.000 Cast Members in Florida. Most Norwegian people will find American work conditions bad, its paid around 1/3 of what we make every hour. Long days, few rights. Many people who work in Disney are afraid that they might get fired without reason, since they have a fire at will policy and don’t need to give any reason for termination. There was a lot of rumors about all the things you needed to be careful about doing if you wanted to keep your job in the beginning when I came and I heard a lot of stories about people getting fired for the smallest things. Yet I never experienced a case of unfair termination, there was always a reason for it. And I did a lot of weird things and took own initiative and did good things to promote Norway and share our culture to Guests, and I survived the whole year. I got in a little trouble for being out of position once and they found me talking to some Guests that was going to Norway soon and telling them all about where to go, but just got told to let them know where I was at and what I was doing, then it was fine. I only called in two days through the entire year…
I believe that the Norwegian pavilion should focus more on culture-sharing than they do today. Norway does not have anything to do with the pavilion anymore, which I believe is sad. Earlier we had a own tourist information stand (where the fast pass is now) and guided tours in the pavilion. Now there is no culture-sharing position 100%, we are just suppose to share culture through normal work, though some tasks are to talk to Guests about Norway.
Disney gives you good benefits when you work for the company. You have free admission to all the theme parks! VERY good healthcare! Free complimentary tickets for amusement parks! Lots of discounts!
I do though believe that Disney have lost some focus and track. I believe that Epcot is not what it was suppose to be, its getting a little out-dated and no longer “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow”. Epcot now have a lot of Disney characters around, and I do believe that this does not belong in Epcot, Epcot should focus on technology, culture, humanity, green world etc.
Disney has also become a company that focuses too much about the money-making. When they publicly say that the goal of the company is: “To create the highest value for are share-holders”, some is already lost… The goal should be something like: “To create the happiest place on earth for all out Guests and Cast Members!”
Disney cuts back on all spendings, and increases their prices drastically. Of the 33% Disney went over with this last year, 24% came from cut-backs, which means less quality and less magic. This is a horrible and sad development. A lot of the products are way over-priced and it really concerns me, the entry prices are already high, the park should have normal pricing for their products, a bottled coke costs 2.75… :S There is also a lot of maintenance that should be done a lot of places, including the Norwegian attraction Maelstrom, but never happens… They also pay the biggest bosses in Disney tens of millions of dollars, while the salary for the people who really creates the magic gets stuck near the minimum-wage. Disney clearly have issues…
But, where there are villains and darkness, there is always heroes and light!
I met so many good Disney-people through my program, that made me believe there is a hope for a better future for the company and magic-making. When I was down, these people have guided me and inspired me to keep going and continue what I was doing, though it didn’t feel like it was appreciated, I learnt that it truly was…
“You are having an impact by being yourself and making a difference. Do not get discouraged and feel otherwise if change does not come as fast as you desire. Stay true to your beliefs and you will be successful.”
- This is some of the comments I got from a person I truly believe is a good Disney-person and that helped and inspired me loads of times… Its been helpful to have some encouraging words to look back to when things look bad.
I believe that the Disney magic still lives in Walt´s spirit, because the Cast Members that really do an effort keeps it alive. That there is some problems in Disney, is just a motivation to keep fighting for the good.
I don’t know how to sum it up perfectly.
But I have decided that I want to go back, in 2013, when the Norway pavilion is 25 years old, if Im allowed after publishing this little critical review of how I experience Disney. Just an honest opinion… Until 2013 I will work hard to make the government care about the pavilion again.
When I first came to Disney, I was told that life would never be the same ever again… True.
Some final words
Thank you all for reading my blog through this amazing year!
I did not think that myblog would get that much attention, but apparently it have.
13.066unique ip-adresses/people have so far read my blog… The page will have its own domain at least until September 2012, and will be available as long as it can to help people learn more about the pavilion and the life as a Cultural Representative in the Norwegian pavilion. Feel free to contact me on Facebook, mail og phone ifthere is anything you want to know!
Until we meet again, remember that; When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true!
- Alexander Sjursæther (Sjursaether)
Previous Cast Member Norwegian Showcase and now Operations Manager, Kongeparken
5. desember 2011
366 days of magic is coming to an end!
Im now at LAX waiting for my flight home to Norway that will depart in 75 minutes…
Today is Walt Disney´s birthday! Even though Disney have been taken over by evil villains, there is luckily some people that carry on your legacy! As long as we all believe, Dreams Come True! Happy birthday Walt!
Ill be writing a post later on about my experience with Disney and what I believe about the company today later on.
2. desember 2011
Sorry about this being nearly a week late. Well, its over, Ive left Disneyworld! It all happened so fast… Now Im in Los Angeles on my final vacation, drove over from San Francisco yesterday (didn’t have internet in SF really) and tomorrow Im moving in to Grand Californian Resort for two last days in Disney before my adventure ends, and Ill return back to Norway.
So my last day at work was last wednesday, then 23th of November.
I started early that morning as seater, was also greeter and bakery was my last position.
It was very sad to leave and clock out for the last time, I sort of couldn’t leave the pavilion like around 2 hours after I was suppose to. I knew it would be my last time walking around there in the bunad talking to Guests about Norway etc. wow. Already? Hmm… 1 year.
17. november 2011
As mentioned earlier, I have made my party (Liberal Party of Norway) to ask the government what they want to do with the pavilion and if there is any progress with supporting the pavilion, so that it can restore its pride and become more focused on Norway today, not an exhibit from the 80´s thats falling apart… Unfortunately the answer from our government was really bad and didn’t give an answer…
Question from Borghild Tenden (V): Will the government make sure that the money support for the Norway pavilion in Walt Disney Worlds Epcot park is resumed so that the pavilion again can be an attractive and time right market arena for Norway?
Background: The Norway pavilion in Walt Disney Worlds Epcot park have been Norways only permanent exhibit through many years. The pavilion was opened in 1988 of current Crown Prince Harald, and was financed by the government and Norwegian businesses. The pavilion was sold to Disney in 1992, but the Norwegian government contributed with 200.000 dollar each year to the exhibit until 2002. Innovation Norway and the government meant that the pavilion didn’t give any tourism to Norway and therefore were not a area of focus. The consequences of this was that the tourist information was closed down, the Norwegian managers disappeared, the Norwegian chefs disappeared, the restaurant was transformed into a princess storybook dining and therefore less Norwegian. Very little in the pavilion is being upgraded or done something with. The movie about Norway as a tourist attraction is the same that was shown in 1988. The Norway pavilion is good promoting for Norway. There is 11 million visitors each year, and the pavilion runs well economically every year. It would be a good investment for Norway to make a new movie about Norway, produce relevant information material and have a general update of the pavilion. A annual money support of around 200.000 dollar will make Disney take the pavilion more seriously and make it more attractive for the visitors in the park.
Answer from Trond Giske (A): The Norway pavilion was sold to Disney in 1992, and until 2002 we supported the pavilion with 200.000 dollar yearly. After a pre-project in 2006, Innovation Norway and the Foreign Department etc decided to not move forward with a new movie project in 2007. In close cooperation with Norwegian tourism industry and a own marketing group for USA, Innovation Norway consideres the methods we can use to promoto Norway as a tourist destination in USA. In this group its a consensus that the funds is best used through developing net-based marketing in social medias and the web page Visitnorway, through TV and radio productions and other press related work in USA and Norway, and never the less goal oriented working with tour operators that sells trips from USA to Norway. We have to use our marketing funds where its most valuable for Norwegian travel industry and Norwegian industry in general. With Innovation Norway we have been in dialog with Disney on how to work together better. Innovation Norway have made a new Norway promoting film in digital HD-format. Earlier Disney have not accepter the offer from Innovation Norway to use this movie free of charge. Now Disney is currently reviewing this offer, if they get the movie material and can make their own movie for use in the pavilion. Innovation Norway has a running dialog with Disney. Disney is also interested in a broader cooperation with Norway in relevance to the Norway pavilion and they have proposed a pre-project where they want externe funds of 100.000-150.000 USA. The pre-project is about the development possibilities for the pavilion. Innovation Norway is currently looking for businesses with interests in USA that can be willing to support this pre-project. My view is that eventual support for the pavilion should be given with if it promotes Norwegian, export oriented industry in USA and that it contributes to raise the general knowledge about Norway in USA. This support should only be given with the documentation of financial interests from Norwegian, export oriented businesses.