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Disney College Program: What They Don’t Tell You

Disney College Program.

What comes to your mind?

Is it Cinderella’s castle, Mickey Mouse and dole whip? Is it the smell of popcorn walking down Main Street, U.S.A.? What about Disney-themed parties, princesses, rides, singing and dancing (a lot of it)?

For me, it’s a five-year-old dressed as Princess Jasmine waving an Ariel bubble wand, blowing soapy water in the smiling faces of her parents. It’s late-night trips to Waffle House. It’s spending every single day off at the Disney parks and spending all the money you just earned the week before. Because you got in for free to the park, so, why not?

cinderella glass slipper
Disney / Giphy

I attended the Disney College Program’s spring session from January to March of 2020 (a.k.a. The year that went down as one of the worst years in history.).

Maybe you know someone who’s done a program, or you’ve thought about doing one. Whether you know a lot about the DCP or have never heard of it until now, there are things they don’t tell you. Not even to CP’s.

They didn’t tell me I would be kicked out of my 1987 Vista Way apartment with a 48-hour warning.

They didn’t tell me my recently extended seven-month program would be cut early.

Disney didn’t tell me any of this because they couldn’t foresee a Global pandemic forcing tens of thousands of cast members (including College Programmers and International Programmers) to leave.

But they also didn’t tell me I would meet and live with some of the best people and go on to make post-DCP roommate trips a year later.

They didn’t tell me I would have the funniest co-workers, a difficult but exciting location and an overwhelming sense of belonging.

They didn’t tell me I would work long-late-night shifts until 2 a.m. to come home in a crowded Transdev bus that habitually broke down.

They didn’t tell me the magic that would never get old working that late-night shift and watching the fireworks show “Happily Ever After” every night.

disney castle
Amy Humphries from Unsplash

They didn’t tell me that “Post-Disney College Program Depression” was actually a real thing and not just a made-up joke.

They didn’t tell me how much I would miss when my program got cut early and how many more adventures I would never get to have by staying longer, but 2020 had other plans. My royal carriage-like experience working for the mouse swiftly turned back to a pumpkin when I had to return all of my costumes and hand in the keys to my apartment abruptly.

March was the apocalypse. Within the course of one weekend, the entire trajectory of my year had been rocked and ultimately fell apart. Within just the two short months, I got to be a cast member at Walt Disney World and I lived some of the best and most exciting memories of my entire college experience.

If you ever get the chance, do it. Take a risk as I did on the Disney College Program. I would take a hundred nights of Transdev buses breaking down if it meant going back to my program and finishing it out like I originally wanted.

2020 might have left a sour taste in most of our mouths, but the short time I was at the DCP would make me do it all over again in a heartbeat.

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Elena is a junior at Florida State University pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Media Production and a minor in Film Studies. She spends her free time "studying" movies and television and laughing at Tik Tok's at 3 AM. Currently, Elena hopes to do another Disney College Program after graduating and aspires to become a screenwriter and eventual producer.
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