Thursday, September 13, 2007

musings on safari

Someone asked me (via Facebook. If you're under 25, you should get an account if you don't have one) the following question today:
PS- have you ever had the uncontrollable urge to just
kidnap your bus full of tourists and drive like a
maniac through the safari and then off the property?
i bet you will now. ;)

So I've answered in a roundabout way and reposted parts of it here. Portions are left out, just because I could get terminated if the rest wound up in a public forum. Enjoy!
Let me tell you a little about Safaris.

We drive about 2.2 miles around the reserve EVERY 20 MINUTES, and must immediately redouble our enthusiasm to pick up another bus of hot, sweaty, tired and sometimes cranky tourists who may or may not speak English. There are things you develop to keep from losing your mind out there, as we will sometimes go 3 hours (upwards of 7 rounds!) without a break. Most of that involves screwing around with the guests or out other Cast Members at the docks, but occasionally your mind wanders. I've planned my dinners in my head while driving (and spieling, and watching for animals in front of my truck, and continually looking in my rearview for humans standing up [remember, all of this at the same time]); I've known myself to say a silent prayer for patience; in between rounds, I'll just use my mic as a soundstage, belting out classic songs before picking up new guests. Stand By Me, Hakuna Matata, Lean On Me; whatever...I'll sing it.

Try as we might to avoid it, we will sometimes screw up animal facts (did you know: the warthog uses its razor-sharp tusks to dig into the rock of the earth, and the elephants like to use them as scratching posts?)

One particular day, at the end of many many rounds, when a woman STOOD UP TO GET A PICTURE OF CROCODILES, I practically shouted her down by saying "Ma'am they will straight up eat you; they use their jaws to crush the bones of their prey with more than 2,000 pounds of force!" I had to turn my mic off and laugh into my sleeve after that one...because honestly, who says 'straight up eat you!"?

Many of my animal facts are also worded in such a way that they become word jokes, understandable basically only to me and someone else on my truck paying very close attention. "Of course, they'll eat about 100 lbs of grass and leaves every night...they are hungry, hungry hippos." That's not engineered for a laugh; it's just for me.

When Kilimanjaro Safaris first opened, the drivers were mostly people from Kenya & South Africa that were legit safari drivers who didn't understand the whole "stay on the ride path" mantra, and there are still remnants of their presence in carved up earth where they would just drive off to get a better look at an animal.

As far as driving my guests off property, I'd love to just dump some of them off right with our rhinos, and see how they fare, but mostly you're just glad to get a new bunch after 20 minutes. It's also true that our trucks have governors in them, so they don't get much past 10 mph (and that's a GOOD truck). Occasionally I'll rock it around the poacher scene and try and get some folks wet from the geysers that shoot up along the side, but that only goes so far before you run the risk of literally tipping the truck.
Kilimanjaro Sararis rules, and I wouldn't trade the position for anything else at Disney right now. It just happens that madness starts to creep in after 6 hours on a truck. The next time you hop on a safari truck, have a little patience for the driver that may have been there since the opening of the day.

Until next time, I remain your friend,
~Bobby Perrotti

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Time Magazine gets it wrong

From "The Waiting Game," Time Magazine's last page in the September 10th issue.
"At amusement parks, too, you can now buy your way out of line. This summer I helplessly watched kids use a $52 Gold Flash Pass to jump the lines at Six Flags New England, and similar systems are in use in most major American theme parks, from Universal Orlando to Wald Disney world, where the haves get to watch the have-mores breeze past on their way to their seats, as if Space Mountain were Spago."

Even TIME MAGAZINE has the idea of Fastpass wrong, and I took the liberty of sending them this email:
In your September 10th article titled "The Waiting Game," you incorrectly likened the premium services at Six Flags and Universal Studios with Disney's Fastpass system. Unlike those services, which require an additional fee, the Disney Fastpass is available to every guest, with their regular admission to the park. We are continually explaining this to guests, who incorrectly believe just what you suggested. With proper planning and Fastpass management (what we Cast Members call it), no guest would have to wait more than ten minutes for an attraction.

~Bobby Perrotti
Safari Driver, Disney's Animal Kingdom

Seriously, TIME, get your act together and visit a Disney park.

Now Taking Requests!

Is there something that YOU would like to see written about on here? Let me know by leaving a comment in the field below, or simply sending me an email. Talk to you soon!
~Bobby Perrotti

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

My Visit Home!

Hey there, guys and girls!
I've been admonished by some lately for not writing more often on this blog. While I refuse to apologize for spending more time watching fireworks and less time writing about them, I resolve to try and ignore you less through the fall. I spent four years learning how to write, Michael – these entries don't just get printed out from my brain like a weekly report and uploaded to the internet as a PDF. As proof of this, I submit the last three sentences.

That said, hello again! I'm writing this from the exit row of Southwest Airlines flight 3010, Philadelphia to Orlando. My first weekend home since May 18th was a whirlwind of activity, and without sounding like a bulleted list, I'll do my best to talk about as much as possible!

The importance comforts of home cannot be minimized, and it was wonderful to get back to 19 Woodside Lane again. True to form, my father has been taking great care of the lawn in my absence, and soft green grass awaited my bare feet. Florida grass, you may know, is "grass" in the same way food emerging from Dominos is "pizza." The colors are approximately right, and something about one reminds you of the other, but a northerner is aware that a fresh pie from Joe's is real pizza and grass that grows north of the Mason-Dixon Line is the good stuff that we love to walk on. For this past weekend, I was in a place with soft grass, hills in the landscape, and air that didn't try to drown me in humidity. There were also jug-handle left-turns, real pizza shops, and two-way parking lots, and full-service gas stations. I defy anyone that says New Jersey has no character to spend 3 months in Orlando, Florida.

Obviously it was wonderful to see my family. My mother, sister, and niece picked me up from the airport and we drove home, only stopping briefly at TCNJ to pick up Mom's parking pass and for me to see some friends in the Student Center. Seeing them was great, but we had limited time, and I resolve to spend a night there on my next weekend home. Mark your calendars, TCNJ: consider the weekend of September 28th Bobtoberfest. Coming home though, I was treated to an amazing dinner with my immediate family, my one in-law, and my two nieces. Great company all around, and we even got to play a game of Balderdash (our favorite).

Saturday, of course, was my first official excuse for coming home this weekend (of which there were three). I went to a wedding! My awesome friend Lara, whom you may remember as the excellent hostess that opened up her home to me in May on my way down to Orlando, made an honest man out of her already awesome (now husband) Brad. The ceremony itself was short and beautiful, and afterwards, we all changed clothes for what one guest called "Act II."

We Perrotti kids have a big family and many friends that are like family, and I've been to lots of weddings over the past several years. I can honestly say, however, that never in my life have I been to a reception as enjoyable as Brad & Lara's. I asked Lara last week about dress code, and she said simply, "be comfortable. if you feel like dressing up for the ceremony, change afterwards." Some people have a much more formal outlook on these things, but their entire philosophy was that it was a celebration of their lives, which revolve around positive relationships, beauty, and love. Why get all stuffy with suits, ties, and dresses, and heels? Not to say that the bride and groom were not dressed to the nines themselves: no no, Lara's dress was beautiful! She doesn't stand on ceremony most of the time though, and promptly found a soccer ball to kick around, in her dress, after eating. Catered by Ed D'Aprille, whom my family recommended and Lara's family cannot speak highly enough of, the wedding's spread was delicious (and, like the rest of the affair, unceremonious. A sign upon the pavilion's outer edge read, "Please sit anywhere and enjoy the food!" I'll take any bets on whether you'll ever see that at a wedding again – except perhaps mine).

You've been reading for about 10 minutes now. Would you like to go get a drink of water? Go for it. I promise I'll be here when you get back.

After the wedding, I headed home to greet my cousins and aunt that had made the trip out to NJ for my third excuse for flying home (I'll get to that after my second, momentarily). A big group of us went out that night to celebrate my aunt's birthday, and Andrew, my sister, and I enjoyed some time in New Brunswick before I headed home that evening. Sunday was a big day, and I had to get some rest for it!

Some may already know that my time at Disney is drawing to a close, and while there are those on this program won't be going home (in favor of beginning, in earnest, a career with the Mouse), I'm moving on to other exciting things in January when I return. My awesome church, Liquid, offered me a job several weeks ago, and I've enthusiastically accepted it! Effective January 5th, I'll be the Director of Liquid Kids, heading up development and execution of dynamic youth programming for the kids in my church family. I'm super excited and in the coming weeks I'll probably be talking more about this, but the important thing for you to know now is that my second reason to come home was to spend the day with Liquid. I arrived nice and early to help with setup and to be there while Meg, the Interim Director, ran a scaled-down week with the kids. It was Labor day, after all, so the volunteer teams were reduced to allow them to spend time with family and friends. It was still exciting, however, to play with the kids and observe as Meg led them in worship. Fun stuff, to be sure, and I'm looking forward to continuing that amazing program, as well as developing new and relevant ways to share Jesus with our littlest ones. Seeing the leadership team after several months of emails, phone calls, and letters was awesome, too, and I can't wait to get back again for our team road-trip at the end of this month!

The day wound down with me attending the evening service with my great friend Dan and his awesome girlfriend Maggie. They've been Liquid regulars (as often as possible, attending school in Poughkeepsie until recently) for a couple years and are looking forward to getting more involved this fall. We went to dinner afterward and had a great time catching up and sharing our plans for the future. So after a day in Morristown that was as fun as it was long, I drove home, to arrive at my room just in time for a call from my TCNJ pals, who were indignant that I would not, in fact, be showing up for the party that night. Sorry, guys, I had my graduation party to rest up for the next day!

As far as parties go, The College Graduation Party is trumped in significance only by The Wedding, and as I haven't got one of those coming up any time soon, we really went all-out on this one. Cousin Andrew is done with college as well, and so shared in the honors with me. Our co-branded party was attended by somewhere around 80 family members and friends that we love like family. Seeing so many (of YOU!) was wonderful after 3 months of seeing nothing but strangers every day, and I had an amazing time catching up with everyone. Perrottis, Donatellis, Sianos, Leahys, Silvestris, Bradleys, Fusellas, and a dozen other clans spent the afternoon by the pool, under a sky that you couldn't ask for a better one of. I'm incredibly blessed to call such splendid company my family, and I wish everyone an environment as supportive and encouraging as I've found in you all. The food was great, the beer was cold, and the friends were fun. Big thanks go out to Mom and Dad for putting together such an amazing celebration for Andrew and me. I'll make you proud.

Now my plane is descending to Orlando, where I'll resume providing amazing African Safaris wednesday. It's been fun, Flemington, but it's time to go make some magic!

Until next time, I remain your friend,
~Bobby Perrotti

Bobby Perrotti
(908) 797 6133
AOL IM: onlyinbars
8136 Chatham Manor Boulevard
Apt. 24202
Orlando, FL 32821

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Outflow Orlando: Day Two!

Today's trip around with the Trasaks proved one thing to me, and that is this fact:

Most people experience Disney incorrectly.

I see so many hundreds of guests wandering aimlessly around the parks here that don't know what they're doing, don't understand the Fastpass system, and don't plan their days accordingly, that when I'm in charge and bringing folks around, things appear to go so smoothly that I wonder how anyone could complain. Anyway, that's a post for another week.

I'll recap today briefly, because tomorrow comes soon and I'm actually guiding TWO groups of people around on Thursday. Our morning journey to Animal Kingdom began with It's Tough To Be a Bug, then we rocked out to the tune of Kilimanjaro Safaris (my stomping ground). After that, I had arranged VIP seating for The Festival of the Lion King, which was a big hit with the little princess in our group, Angela (plus, it always makes ME yeah. Good show). The boys and I hit up DINOSAUR after Lion King, and after lunch at the Flame Tree Barbecue, the family headed back to their resort for swimming and a much deserved nap.

The night's entertainment was over at Magic Kingdom, where we had just enough time to catch a Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor performance before Wishes! the fireworks spectacular that lights up the sky with over a thousand rockets each night. That brought our day to a close today, but I got loads of video and some awesome pictures.

Though we had a blast all day, I think we all were most excited when Angela (4 1/2 years old and every bit as cute as she should be at that age) finally got to meet Tigger after Wishes. He was palling around the Crystal Palace buffet and without reservations, we normally wouldn't be able to get in to eat there – let alone after the park had 'closed' for the night. A Cast Member in training (Jenna from Metropolitan Community College, if you're a CP) pulled just the right strings and made some magic happen and we got in for Angela to meet Tigger. She was SO excited and gave him some of the biggest hugs I've ever seen. Pictures to follow later this week, I hope!

Tomorrow we're going to do Magic Kingdom properly – a full day, complete with full optimization of Fastpasses and planning around parades, meals, and naps. Good times!

God loves you, and so do I.
I remain yours,
~Bobby P.

Bobby Perrotti
(908) 797 6133
8136 Chatham Manor Boulevard
Apt. 24202
Orlando, FL 32821

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Liquid's Outflow Comes to Orlando!

Hey there, friend!

Today, I'm super excited to tell you about a project that I've been working on for about two months now.  Only a couple of folks know about it already, and that's because I didn't want to say anything in case something derailed our ideas.  

You may or may not know about the church I attend back home in New Jersey.  Liquid has been around since 2001, and just recently completed the several-year-transition from a ministry operating inside a Baptist church in Basking Ridge to a full-fledged church that sets up each week in the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt Morristown.  They kicked off a summer of service with a series of messages, outreaches, and random acts of grace entitled Outflow.  These projects, which ranged from the remodeling of a single mom's kitchen to giving away hundreds of pizzas to partygoers on the nighttime streets of Morristown's bustling club scene, were done to demonstrate God's overflowing love to the least and the lost.  For more information on Liquid's Outflow, check out their website or the itunes podcast.  

It broke my heart that I couldn't be there this summer, helping plan and execute these projects that I'm sure had an amazing impact on the community of people in and around Morristown.  Needless to say, I listened to the podcasts weekly.  One week, Tim mentioned a family that was nominated by a Liquid attender and suggested that they could use a break.  "Maybe we could send them to Sesame Place for a day, or down the shore for a weekend," I believe was the quote.  

Cue Tinker Bell!

I was on the phone in an instant, contacting my friend Mikey at Liquid.  The pieces were falling together in my brain faster than I could keep up, and I wanted to get them laid out on the table as soon as possible.  After sharing my pie-in-the-sky idea of sending this family to Disney World, I offered to run some numbers up and figure out just how much it would cost.

A couple weeks and lots of magic later, it was confirmed that Liquid would be sending Eleanor Trasak and her three kids on an all-expense-paid trip to Disney World, and that I would be their exclusive tour guide, providing all the insider perks that a Cast Member is able.  With my discount on the hotel room and main-gate park passes that I am provided with during my time as a Cast Member, plus the flights that were donated by Liquid members with extra frequent flyer mileage, their trip became a reality and it began TODAY!

I met up with the Trasaks at the Pop Century Resort, at which point we were immediately off to the Disney-MGM Studios (soon to be re-branded The Disney Hollywood Studios, by the way).  I knew they were tired from traveling all day, so we kept things light, with just a few attractions for the afternoon.  Our first stop was the Lights, Motors, Action stunt show, which wows everyone in the audience with breathtaking car & motorcycle stunts.  From there, we split up and I took the boys to Aerosmith's Rock N' Roller Coaster, while Eleanor walked around a bit with her daughter.  Finally, we met up together for Star Tours (a personal favorite) and afterwards – while I was still raring to go and suggesting that we head over to the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, they were ready for some R&R by the pool back at the hotel.  They're in charge, so off we went, back to the Pop Century!  We're done for the day now, but tomorrow begins bright and early at Disney's Animal Kingdom for some Safari action, VIP seating at the Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo: The Musical, and Kali River Rapids!  

I'm looking forward to sharing photos and video of this adventure soon, and I'll keep you posted throughout the week.  It looks like I'm going to have to continually remind myself that I'm with a family of four including three young kids, and not college program kids with boundless energy.  

I was able to secure this week off for this excursion, and I've called it "Disney magic," but really the magic here comes from God, who is making this trip possible from the efforts of all involved.  Remember, kids, all you have is God's: He's just letting you borrow it because He wants you to use it for His glory.  

Outflow: It's Not About You.

Remaining yours, I am still...
~Bobby Perrotti

Bobby Perrotti
(908) 797 6133
8136 Chatham Manor Boulevard 
Apt. 24202
Orlando, FL 32821

Monday, August 6, 2007

Swiss Family Bloginson!

Yes. A bad pun, but please enjoy this video that I shot on my digital camera on Sunday!