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What Is It Like to Work at Disney World? 

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Tampa chapter.

My Disney College Program Experience


Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work at Walt Disney World? Do you spend hours watching Disney vlogs, daydreaming of a life where you get to LIVE there? I did, too, so I applied to the Disney College Program. After years of watching people live out my dream, I anxiously waited for the day applications opened for the Fall 2023 semester. I filled my application out on the first day and, after receiving a web-based interview a few hours later, heard nothing back for what felt like years… IT FINALLY HAPPENED! I got accepted a month later and immediately started planning what my DCP apartment would look like. My program ran from January 9th, 2023 – June 15th, 2023. Those six months were full of my happiest AND loneliest moments. I had countless magical moments paired with crazy guest stories. Here is an honest deep dive into my DCP experience. 

Disney World Autoplaza Cast Member
Original photo by Laney McMillin

Autoplaza : For When You Don’t Get the Dream Job

To be honest with you, I cried as soon as I opened the email that assigned me this role. I spent 10 years dreaming of the program and never pictured myself in a bright yellow and orange costume. When I dreamt about the program, I saw myself working in Children’s Activities or in Attractions…not selling parking in a teeny-tiny booth. I felt like my program was doomed before it even started. Oh, was I wrong! Autoplaza + parking turned out to be the biggest blessing in disguise. At Autoplaza, I got to be the first face people saw as they started their day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It was more than just scanning a magic band or writing preferred parking tags; it was sharing recommendations and listening as guests gushed with excitement to you. It was building their excitement and being the first cast member to welcome them to DAK. The job itself was simple: check an annual pass or run their credit card, but it left so much room to connect with guests! Not to mention, the hours were the best you could get as a CP. My shifts typically start around 6:45 or 8:00 am and end by 6:30. These hours are extremely unusual for a CP, as most participants work night shifts ending around 1:00 am. I lucked out FOR SURE, considering I like to be in bed at 10:00 pm. It would be wrong for me to talk about Autoplaza without mentioning my AP family. Sharing those tiny booths with other cast members means you get to know each other super well, super quick. There was a lot of downtime with this role, and I was lucky enough to share the booths with the funniest and most diverse group of people ever! From deep conversations about lives to tears streaming down our faces from laughing so hard, we talked about everything under the sun. I learned so much from each cast member at AP, and I will cherish those moments forever.

The Parking Lot:Embracing Change

Getting cross-trained in DAK Parking Operations was another thing I was dreading. I got the news towards the end of February, just as I was gaining my footing at Autoplaza. Early March rolled around, and I was shipped out to the parking lot. Within my first hour in the lot, I was pushed behind the wheel of the 171-foot parking tram, navigating the famous U-turn at 5 miles per hour. -terrified, yet extremely excited to take on that challenge. Sure enough, my parking lot shifts became something I looked forward to. The different types of positions and a welcoming crew of parking CPs made my shifts fly by. My favorite position was Spieler or the person who stands at the back of the tram and recites the safety spiel. I always crossed my fingers that I would pull a tram position so I could spend the next two hours cracking jokes over the speaker and guiding guests through the “wildest ride in the parking lot”. Before my program, I HATED public speaking, and the simple task of reciting a rehearsed spiel would have sent me into a spiral. But embracing the change brought a newfound self-confidence, something I’ve carried with me even after my program ended. I wasn’t worried about what people were thinking of me, but instead, I took the reins and was really only concerned about making people laugh. Being cross-trained introduced me to a whole new group of people. Somewhere between rows Peacock 109 and Dinosaur 213, I bonded with some pretty amazing people over how silly (yet stylish) we looked in our yellow, knee-length skorts and our bright orange rain jackets. I often think about everything I would have missed out on if I hadn’t said yes to this change, and I count myself lucky to have been a part of the parking lot team.

My Advice

If there is one thing I learned from the Disney College Program, it’s to go into new experiences with an open mind. If I had given up on the DCP before it started just because I didn’t get my dream role, I would’ve missed out on so much. I learned that sometimes what we want isn’t always what we need. Embracing change and diving in with a positive mindset can result in something beautiful: new friendships, career advancement, self-discovery, and the list goes on and on! I will forever be grateful for all the people I met and the opportunities I’ve had through the Disney College Program. Sure, every day wasn’t a  “magical day,” but a good part of it actually was.

Laney McMillin is new addition to the HerCampus Tampa Chapter. She is excited to write articles about entertainment and lifestyle topics, focusing on movies, pop culture, and the latest trends. Laney helps create and manage content across HerCampus Tampa's social media platforms. Laney is a junior at University of Tampa pursing a B.A. in Communication, Media & Culture Studies with a minor in Film and Digital Media. She recently completed the Disney College Program where she spent time learning from Walt Disney World leaders. When she's not writing articles, Laney can be found binge-watching a season of Teen Wolf, exploring a Walt Disney World theme park, or editing videos for her Youtube channel.