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Once Upon a Time in Disney World: A Dive into the Disney College Program

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Watching the fireworks erupt in the sky after walking around Magic Kingdom and waving at princesses all day is a moment you wish could last forever. The Disney College Program is an opportunity for college and recent graduates to live at Disney World for an entire semester avoiding post-vacation depression. The Disney College program allows students to have the entirety of Disney property in their backyard without paying an arm and a leg.

WHAT IS THE DISNEY COLLEGE PROGRAM?

The Disney College Program is a semester-long internship where students become cast members across Disney property. Becoming a cast member gives participants a glimpse behind the scenes and gives them the chance to network with leadership at the company. If you are a student at Grand Canyon University, you can even receive academic credit for participating in the program. Be sure to contact your student services counselor for more information on internship credit. Participants can be placed at resorts, water parks, Disney Springs, and any of the four parks. Post-shutdown, the role selection process has changed from being related to your resume and major to completely random based solely on business needs.

LIVING AT FLAMINGO CROSSINGS VILLAGE

Most participants opt to live in program housing. Each week rent is taken out of their paychecks to account for housing. The amount of rent correlates to the style of housing such as a four-bedroom four-bathroom, four-bedroom two-bathroom, and two-bedroom two-bathroom. Participants can provide a preference for the type of housing, but nothing is guaranteed. The housing complex, Flamingo Crossings Village, hosts weekly events such as movie nights, character meet and greets, and welcome events. Participants may opt for transportation during the housing selection process. Transportation is provided to all four parks, ESPN, satellite parking, and select resorts.

INTERNSHIP AND CAREER OPPORTUNITIES

Throughout the program internship, opportunity applications are sent out to all participants. One of the most popular internship programs is called the Disney Hospitality Leadership Program. This program allows entry-level cast members to get their toes in the water for a leadership role at Disney World to learn how to manage a specific department and learn the secrets behind the whole operation. Disney recruiters host informational sessions about the program that is only offered to current Disney College Program cast members.

In addition to learning about professional internships, recruiters offer participants professional development sessions to connect with Disney professionals and Imagineers. For example, they offered an event planning session where event planners across Disney spoke on a panel to answer participants’ questions. The panelist provided their insight about creating and organizing events across Disney property such as Disney fairytale weddings, business buyouts, and planning the fiftieth anniversary. They also provide exclusive backstage guided tours. Specifically, they offer a behind-the-scenes tour of Africa, Dinoland U.S.A., and Pandora in the Animal Kingdom theme park. Tour guides provide fun facts and insights about the story behind the land and Imagineer secrets.

MAKE YOUR DREAM A REALITY

Working and living at Disney World is an experience of a lifetime. I will always remember my time working the Halloween and Christmas parties, working on the fiftieth anniversary, and spending every free moment at the theme parks with the lifelong friends that I made along the way. If you are even thinking about doing the program, go for it. Applications are currently open online at the Disney Careers website. Be sure to follow the program on Instagram as well @officialdisneyprograms. If you are curious and thinking about the program, Walt Disney said, “when you are curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.”

Lauren is a Professional Writing student and Head Editor of the Her Campus chapter at Grand Canyon University. Growing up with a vivid imagination, she always knew she was destined to be a writer. Through writing, she hopes to write for theme parks or fashion magazines. Lauren spends her free time exploring new cities, discovering new gluten-free restaurants, and watching the latest Netflix original TV series.
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