Working for the Mouse
Disney's beloved College Program Internship employs thousands of students annually and works on a rotational basis by college semesters. The selection process for the "DCP", as used by Cast Member Jargon, is very selective and thorough. I was fortunate enough to be selected twice for the program during my college career, and am excited to share my story with you now!
I applied for the DCP during my Junior year at Bowling Green State University. At the time I was majoring in Early Music Education and wasn't sure where my career would lead me. One of my sorority sisters (AXO) had completed the program and was a Campus Representative- we caught up at a Job Fair, and I honestly had NO idea that this opportunity existed! I was so thrilled; I had dreamed of working at Walt Disney World since I was four, my first Disney Vacation, and couldn't believe it was an actual experience I could have - and earn college credit while doing it! I immediately... and I mean IMMEDIATELY went back to my apartment and filled out the online application. Within minutes I received the second application, which was a series of multiple choice customer service/ what would you do type of deal. Once I completed this, I received an email to set up my phone interview! I couldn't believe how quick that was! At this point I had told literally NOONE that I had even heard about the program, let alone applying and seriously considering taking a semester away from school to go live in Florida.
My phone interview was great! Many questions about what you would do in a particular situation to keep the magic and ensure a good guest experience, what types of roles you would be interested in, what you would not want to do, etc. I was so nervous and excited, but was so ready for this dream to come true. While waiting to hear back- it was like over a month of waiting- I met my best friend, MK (yes her initials) who also was waiting to hear back for the DCP. We both were accepted, received our Purple Post Card (pictured above via 2011 webcam realness), and started planning our magical semester at Disney!
Checking in at Disney College Program housing was a PROCESS! We arrived at the crack of dawn... okay earlier... to be able to get the apartment complex we preferred. We loaded up onto busses and headed to the casting building where we would learn our location; we already knew our role from the acceptance email - my first program I worked in Attractions and my second in Entertainment. We spent time filing out the usual paperwork, I-9 documents, finger prints, and getting our photo as well as the coveted Blue ID granting access to the parks.
Disney's training for all employees begins with a class called Traditions. This class teaches the history of the Walt Disney Company, from Walt's life and career timelines to Disney Parks and Resorts as it is current. The class fills you with stories of inspiration and fills your heart with even more passion for the brand than you thought possible. The Disney way is seriously unlike anything else you will experience.
Once you've gone through your Traditions course, you take a backstage tour of the Magic Kingdom; you get to learn as you walk about the forced perspective of Main Street, the pumped in scents that evoke feeling, and the ambient music that truly encompasses each land. The behind the scenes information you've always dreamed of is finally revealed and the "first level" of the Magic Kingdom is something you would not imagine as a guest - *Pro Tip: Book a Keys to the Kingdom Tour to see it all*
Following your completion of Traditions you train in your park and location of work. My first program in Attractions I was trained at the Rockin' Roller Coaster and my second as a Character Attendant in the Magic Kingdom (trained in all 4 parks to be able to locate anywhere as needed). Training included opening, closing, and all critical positions. You truly are a front line Cast Member as a CP (college program participant). In addition to training at the Rockin' Roller Coaster, I was trained in Parade Audience Control (PAC) for the Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun parade...RIP... and for the night show at Hollywood Studios - Fantasmic! During my time as a Character Attendant I mainly worked in the Magic Kingdom with Princess Fairytale Hall, Alice & White Rabbit, and Aladdin & Jasmine, but I also spent time with the Captain Jack Pirate Tutorial and occasionally with Tigger and Pooh at their Thoughtful Spot- this experience was like no other.
I truly couldn't have asked for any better of programs to participate in than the Disney College Program. The teams I worked with became my family while I was there, the guest service training I received was second to none, and my passion for creating magic for others was lit like a fire that cannot be extinguished. I truly did love it. While I did not continue to work for the Mouse past my CP, I have to say it is one of the experiences that has made me who I am today- personally and professionally. Having worked in all of the parks in one way or another, I can really say there is magic everywhere, there is something for everyone.
Have you completed the Disney College Program or know someone who has? Do you know someone who would be interested? Let me know in the comments or share this story and I'd love to help anyone make that decision or just talk about their experience!