A year and a half ago I packed my bags and drove the stretch to Orlando to officially begin my term in the Disney College Program. Since then I have experienced the behind the scenes side of Disney World, and I have learned what I would consider to be the pros and cons of becoming a Disney cast member. While I would love to believe that life as a Disney employee is nothing but a dream, spending a semester there has opened my eyes to both the magical benefits and also the hard work that it takes to live there.
Today I’m going tell you more of what life at Disney consists of and what you can expect in the Disney College Program. Imagine this: You wake up early in your Orlando hotel room; you’re too excited and nervous to eat because today your program starts. You make your way over to Vista Way Apartments to get a good spot in line, anxious because you’re only hours away from meeting your future roommates and receiving the one thing that has been eating you alive for months – your job assignment! Your semester has barely started, and it’s already nerve-wracking.
A term in Disney of course will hold some high expectations. According to the official Disney College program website, As a Disney College Program participant, you’ll become part of the magic that is known worldwide. You’ll get valuable, on-the-job experience in the parks and resorts, and expand your knowledge in a classroom with international students. Discover new worlds and create long-lasting memories. All of these statements have truth to them, but what you may not know is that the slightest tweak of your expectations can make or break your time there.
By the end of the first day, I had 5 new roommates, and I was a new merchandise cast member at one of Disney’s Resorts. The time I spent from August to December in Orlando was full to the brim with great and incredible memories. These times were the pros of the experience. When you first arrive, Disney requires each of their cast members to go through an orientation class called ‘traditions’ where you learn about the exceptional value Disney places on their famous customer service. Even though it was orientation, I have to admit it was pretty exciting. They really know how to get you pumped about being part of creating that Disney magic.
Having the opportunity to assist in making those moments that last a lifetime for other families is absolutely amazing. The friends that you will make there will also last a lifetime. I made friends from all over the world while I was there. That’s something that I wouldn’t trade for anything. And what’s better than spending time with those friends in the Disney parks… for free! This must be the ultimate perk, but there are countless others. To top of all of that, working for Disney is an excellent addition to your resume. Unfortunately, along with the pros come the cons.
The number one complaint that I have heard would be the problems you will encounter with roommates. If you opt to stay on Disney property, which has many benefits, you will be required to share a bedroom with one other person and most likely your apartment with several others. While I lived in an apartment of six including myself, you could end up with a total of eight. With that many people under one roof, it would be a miracle if everyone got along. On top of the stress of your living space, you are required to wear your goofy looking uniform to a job that you played no part in the selection of.
Being a college program cast member, you are automatically considered temporary or expendable, and because of that you automatically take lowest priority. You will work hard hours, and out of the multiple managers in your area, you will most likely not enjoy all of them to say the least. Working for a company with such demanding guests will take a toll on you. Despite the lower points that you will come across while you are there, the Disney College program is an excellent overall experience. You will learn much more than you could possibly expect.
You can even take courses that can apply for college credit if you choose. Your patience and tolerance will increase significantly, trust me. The months you spend there will stay with you forever. In conclusion, I hope that I have been able to give you more insight on the program. There are some very heavy pros and cons in this program, but whether or not the good outweighs the bad is left up to you. If you are considering taking this journey yourself, I would recommend that you take the leap. You’ll most likely have bad days, but you will treasure the memories and friends you make there forever.