8 Reasons You Should Do the Disney College Program

Are you bored of the same routine every week? Go to class, study, sleep and repeat. Do you feel lost about what to do after you graduate? Are you simply looking for some experience to put on your resume?

From January to May of 2018, I was living in Orlando, Florida and working in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. This is a paid internship that includes housing, decent pay, an entry-level position, and the experience of a lifetime. I encourage every college student to apply to this program for several reasons. The basic requirements are to have completed at least one semester by the time the program begins and be over 18 years old. There are unlimited reasons you should do the program, but I’m going to list the 8 main reasons that make this internship so magical.

1. A whole new world

Let’s face it. Murray, KY is not the most exciting place to live. Bowling and watching movies every weekend can get old, quickly. During the program, cast members can go to every theme park and water park for free! That’s right, you can visit Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Blizzard Beach, and Typhoon Lagoon whenever you want for no cost. That’s only including the Disney Parks.  Universal Studios, several beach towns, Downtown Orlando, Disney Springs, and Busch Gardens are all nearby. There is so much to explore in the area.

     2. Try EVERYTHING

As a cast member, you will receive exclusive discounts, backstage tours, and amazing events. Other than the parks, there are many other ways to experience Disney that not everybody knows about. For example, there is horseback riding, interesting tours, surfing lessons, a backstage experience of Kilimanjaro Safari, and so much more. You’ll want to experience everything Disney has to offer – from cruises, resort stays, and special events. I recommend using your cast member discount and take advantage of these offers while you’re there. Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone.

        3. Your future is just around the riverbend

After college is the scary real world. In the Disney College Program, you will gain real (Disney) world experience. There are several distinct roles within the company that you can apply for. A few examples are lifeguard, character performer, vacation planner, merchandise, and food and beverage roles. Within these roles, you will be trained on how to interact with guests in a specific, Disney-approved way. Some days will be difficult and some will be so rewarding. Through each experience, you will be able to take away some sort of lesson, no matter what your major or future career will be.

       4. You’ll want to whistle while you work

An important realization before doing the program is that you will be working A LOT. There will be long hours of constantly giving 100% during holidays, early mornings, late nights, and days you just want to stay in bed and get some practical sleep. The roles can be very grueling, and it can be hard to stay focused on your main job-creating smiles. I worked in quick-service food and beverage in Magic Kingdom. This was an extremely fast-paced and stressful role, yet, it was so rewarding. Keeping a positive attitude during a shift can make all the difference. The feeling of “making magic” for a guest is indescribable. It really feels great to have a guest tell you that you “made my day,” or “this trip has been so great.” When your role seems frustrating, it can be good to think about it from the guests' point of view. It really makes you realize that you can make a dramatic difference in their special vacation, even if it doesn’t feel like your job is that important.

     5. You’ve got a friend in me, your roommates, and your coworkers

The Disney cast member community is like a huge family. I guarantee you will make friends during the program. Whether it be a coworker, a roommate, a local you meet at Publix, or another cast member, the people you meet will make your experience that much better. My five roommates and I became inseparable within the first day of living together. You will make so many memories with the people you meet because of all the amazing opportunities and experiences in Orlando. During a difficult shift at work, your coworkers can make anything bearable. Also, cast members come to work at Disney from all over the world. The people you meet will expose you to new cultures, languages, and ideas. You can stay connected with these people through alumni groups, social media, and even visits after the program.

    6. You’ll be independent for the first time in forever

In some ways, you are independent at college. You most likely live in a dorm, have a meal plan, and can spend your free time doing whatever you want. During the program, you will have total independence, and probably the first experience of reality. There is housing available for the cast members in the program, but you'll be paying rent. You get paid a decent amount, but of course, taxes and rent come out of your paycheck. There aren’t any meal plans, so you will have to go grocery shopping and cook your own meals. You will have free time in a new and exciting city, so you can drive, Uber, or take the bus to awesome places. The program will teach you how to budget, gain confidence in yourself, and increase time management skills.

    7. Hakuna Matata

Whether you’ve been to Disney World 100 times or if you’ve never even seen a Disney movie, I encourage you to apply. There are so many rides, characters, and breathtaking shows in the parks. I recommend letting go of any stress and worry while in the parks and embracing the “little kid” that lives inside all of us. Being at Disney really does make you feel like anything is possible, and it is a wonderful way to build positivity and find yourself. It’s like a 5-month long vacation! However, you should be prepared for the possibility of not wanting to go back to college after the program.

    8. Your resume will let you go the distance

The Walt Disney Company is such a well-known and respected corporation. No matter what role you have during the program, you should be proud to have been accepted to be a part of the magic. Employers will notice the company’s name on your resume and your ability to gain an exclusive internship. With the experience you gain from the program, you’ll be more confident while entering the workforce after college.

If you’d like to know more or are ready to apply now, click here. If you have questions about the Disney College Program, feel free to email me––I'd be happy to talk with you! ([email protected])

Photos courtesy of Clare Froehlich and Lexi Gage