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Behind the Magic: My Disney College Program Experience

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPR chapter.

Note: This article is based on my personal experience in merchandise. Individuals with different roles may disagree with the opinions expressed below.

In the illustrious realm of Disney magic, where dreams come to life and enchantment fills the air, a unique opportunity awaited me – the Disney College Program. The peculiar thought of spreading the magic alongside Mickey Mouse had never crossed my mind before. Coming to terms with what my destiny had in store for me came down to luck and it arrived in the most spontaneous way.

The third year of my college life revolved around acquiring experience which motivated my internship research. Months passed by and nothing in particular captivated my eye. As Spring semester was coming to an end a new inquiry arised, What the heck am I going to do this summer? An unexpected opportunity arrived at my table: applications for the Disney College Program, summer term. Emphasis on the summer term since the majority of the programs last over five months, meaning that, due to my academic responsibilities, I wouldn’t be able to participate. It was just meant to be. Join me as I rewind remarkable moments that made my summer internship a magical experience.

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Living on Disney property

If being a cast member doesn’t blow your mind, living at Disney undoubtedly will. That’s right! Participants of the DCP have the option of residing at Disney’s former housing called Flamingo Crossings Village. This vibrant community of unique collegiates from all over the world provides the opportunity to engage in fun activities performed in the village including pool parties, community events, learning sessions, among many more! 

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Belonging to this community definitely enhanced my internship and personal experience. For the most part, I was able to have a roommate for the first time. She taught me how to use the bus system. Dominating the transportation routes and schedules opened a new world of freedom as I was able to visit different Disney properties such as Disney Springs, Resorts, parks, and hundreds of other locations. 

Working with Captain Jack Sparrow

The immersive experience of becoming a pirate stays in your heart. During my DCP, I got assigned a merchandise role at the Pirates of the Caribbean store in the Magic Kingdom. You can only guess how exciting it was! From sword fighting with guests to interacting with Jack Sparrow, my shifts were filled with enjoyable moments and friendly guests.     

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Hold your boats! My DCP was more than just swinging swords. I had the privilege of wearing a blue tail and becoming a Na’avi to serve guests at Pandora’s Windtraders store in Animal Kingdom. Let’s say that kids loved my pet banshees

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Time to get more realistic and fly to our next stop: Morocco! That’s right, I had the pleasure to work with Moroccan people at Epcot’s showcase and got to appreciate the culture at a closer level. The small shop had less traffic than my usual Pirates home which lended me time to bond with my fellow cast members and take a detailed look at the showcase’s architectural beauty. 

Flying from park to park enhanced my capacity for adapting since every location operates differently when it comes to the theme and products displayed. Simultaneously, having the ability to exchange shifts refreshes the mind and makes you actually treasure your main location. Certainly, I wouldn’t change my pirate friends nor trade the opportunity to witness the fireworks every night. Go Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland!

The pros and cons

A pertinent fact that students should consider before applying to the DCP are the expenses. Not only because Disney property has high rates, but because the amount of money you generate may deceive your income calculations. In my case, I made a minimum of $200 and a maximum of $380 weekly which was way out of my predicted amount. Besides getting mostly 30 hours weekly, there’s also an acceptance fee. 

Saving before compromising your financial expectations is fundamental if you actually wish to have a blast as a cast member. But wait, don’t be so pessimistic! The program has infinite fulfilling aspects that make up for your economic loss. Free park tickets, for instance. On your off days, you’re allowed to visit the park of your choice, cost-free. Similarly, cast members have numerous discounts at Disney property and affiliates which make the money dilemma more bearable. 

Ignoring the financial aspects, the program is a wonderful opportunity to cultivate new friendships and expand your social circle. I made friends from all over the globe; Turkey, France, Chile, Peru, Mexico, you name it! The networking and professional opportunities offered in the program are unique and diverse. For instance, there are horticulture, culinary, and leadership internships among many many more. Most importantly, your involvement in the DCP opens new doors to remain in the company. The benefits of the program are invaluable and foster exponential growth in multiple areas that go beyond profitable instances.

As my Disney College Program journey came to an end, I bid farewell to my newfound friends and embraced the wonderful memories. My third year of college culminated wonderfully with me gaining exceptional work experience and developing worthy connections. There were evident sacrifices and tough moments the same way joy and fulfillment manifested themselves. With the nostalgic echo of the Happily Ever After fireworks, I close this magical chapter of my life. 

Thank you, Adventureland. 

Kiara Roman is a writer and Social Media Co-Director of the Her Campus at UPR chapter. Through her articles she discusses a diverse spectrum of topics ranging from research analysis on animal abuse to listicles about cozy room decor. Her writing inclinations vary according to her momentary interests, which makes her one of the most diverse writers in the chapter. She has been part of several organizations including Pulso Estudiantil, Puntos de Fuga and Awkwardly Vain magazine. Her academic aspirations diverge as she studies Human Resources Management and Interdisciplinary Studies while engaging in multidisciplinary extracurriculars. Internship-focused experiences are at the top of her resume alongside communitary participation in her institution, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. A kaleidoscope of interests drive her curiosity into exploring new hobbies in art, literature, gastronomy, and sciences. Her free time is filled by imagined universes or video game-raging. Explore her next hyperfixation in her upcoming articles.