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The WDW Disney College Program


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^ Just out of curiosity, what's your major/minor? I'm pretty sure my school won't give credit other than internship hours but it would be nice!

 

I'm majoring in Business Administration and minoring in Lodging Management. I also can get credit hours for completing an internship, and then one or two of the Collegiate Courses that they offer can transfer to my university. (I think it was personal marketing and human resource management)

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I keep reading that the program has a lot of networking and professional opportunities, but I haven't really seen many examples. So does anyone here have any experiences?

 

It really does have a ton of networking/professional opportunities. Just having Disney on your résumé is a huge bonus. I would say that having Disney on my résumé was a huge reason why I either got two of my jobs. One was the Manger of Operations for a Waterpark, and the other was as a Human Resources Manager. Out of all the things on my résumé, they both only talked about Disney. You do learn a lot about working in the corporate world, the good and the bad, and the classes you take are great leadership courses that some corporations spend a ton of money to take. There are quite a few CP's that end up staying on with disney, and some even get management/professional jobs.

 

As for networking, there is a ton of that as well. I still keep in touch with a bunch of my co-workers and roommates. Each one of those contacts are great resources that can help me find a job all over the US, or recommend companies to do business with. It ended up being more usefull for me than the degree I got. Of course it all depends on you. Some people end of hating it and have a bad attitude. It becomes just a job to them, they finish their time, and that's it. But if you go in with the mindset that you are there for the networking and professional opportunities, then you can benefit a lot.

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So... I'll be doing the college program in the fall. Hooray!

 

My interview process was sort of weird, my interviewer called me late and I didn't get a very long interview because he was short on time. The only really open ended question he asked me was "tell me about your job". Well, those of you who know me may know that I manage three pools for a living and also work at several recreation centers throughout the City of Gainesville's Parks and Recreation Department. So I guess it makes sense that they cast me in a Recreation role. I've read through a lot of info on the program on various forums and it seems like most people get put in attractions, quick service food, merchandise, or custodial... so I was sort of surprised (in a good way!) that I'll be working at a resort instead of a park. I think getting experience at a resort will also be awesome since I will hopefully be moving on after undergrad to get my masters degree in hospitality management.

 

Anyways... it wasn't really what I was expecting because I've never really heard much about my role in the CP, but I LOVE my job here in Gainesville and if I can go to Disney and continue to work in the same area then I am THRILLED.

 

Plus... I know this makes me abnormal, but I love working outside in Florida. I look forward to summer every year because I get to run my aquatic facilities, I hate the off season when I'm stuck inside all the time.

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I did the College program in Fall of 08 at Expedition Everest and had a blast. Loved my experience loved working in the parks on the attraction and the overall Disney Experience. But be warned, obey their rules at the housing complexes, no exceptions, or you will get burned. The housing situation was the only thing about the program I really didn't enjoy. I understand why the rules are the way they are and that but I really felt like I was being treated like a child instead of an adult at times. If I could do the entire program over again I would rent an apartment on my own and just work the role and not deal with their housing. For example one night 5 of us went out had some drinks,all over 21, and had a sober driver drive us home around 1:30. The sober driver lived in a different complex (Chatham) then the 4 of us (Patterson). The security wouldn't let the sober driver from Chatham drive in and park my car at Patterson because it was after hours. One of my roommates was terminated for having a friend of his drive his car home after dropping him off at the airport because eh allowed someone different to drive his car in the copmlex. At our apartment we failed an "inspection" for having an unorganized fridge and cluttered desktops. I was terminated from the program after I left, after my final day of work was over and I had turned in my key and ID and was already out of town because of a scratch on a wall in the apartment. They could have called and said hey you need to repair this (in my opinion it was such a minimal damage that it wasn't an issue), or called and said if you don't pay for the damage your status will be terminated, but instead they just went ahead and terminated my status and never bothered to call and let me know. We had an 2 roommates move out mid program to other complexes and had 2 rooms with 1 person in each room. With about 2 weeks left on the program a piece of paper showed up on our door saying that the two people in rooms alone needed to consolidate into 1 by noon the next day so that a new CP could have a the empty room to himself, and that if the NEW CP didn't like the cleanliness of the apartment or felt unwelcome then the 4 of us currently living there would be relocated and our apartment would be filled with new incoming CP's. The logic of that made no sense to me. There were plenty of other occurrences by the people at housing that defied logic to me but Ive already said enough.

As far as the college program in general you work a lot of hours for very little pay but do have a lot of fun. The networking aspect of the program and professional relevance is dependent upon your field of study. I majored in mechanical engineering and did the engineering professional development course while there. As a graduate looking for a job Disney on my resume did absolutely nothing, most companies I applied to from an engineering aspect could care less about my experience operating a roller coaster. However I had several friends who got jobs after their program simply because they had Disney on their resume so it really depends on your field.

So just be warned anyone interested in the college program, obey their rules or they will terminate you without question, and know what your getting into. I loved my role at the park, loved spending my days off playing on property, loved my roommates and fellow cast members, but quite honestly despised the housing situation. Other than that it was great, I watched Illuminations 4 times a week, and rode everest 3 times a day, so what else could you want!

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^ Just out of curiosity, what's your major/minor? I'm pretty sure my school won't give credit other than internship hours but it would be nice!

 

I'm majoring in Business Administration and minoring in Lodging Management. I also can get credit hours for completing an internship, and then one or two of the Collegiate Courses that they offer can transfer to my university. (I think it was personal marketing and human resource management)

I'm close to a Business major so there's a chance I could get credit. Unlikely though especially if I do DL since I don't remember seeing any major-specific classes like the ones you mentioned on their site, only the Marketing You and Corporate Analysis ones.

 

Was anyone here debating between DL and WDW or did you all want to go to WDW from the beginning? I'm trying to decide between them and it's hard to find people who have done DL's (or even considered it) to compare.

 

Everyone's responses are really helpful so thank you!

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I feel like I was told that you literally have to be available whenever and always for work, which I think rules out the possibility of taking a class of two at UCF. I mean, you do take Disney classes (Disney U is what its called maybe?) that teach you the ways of Walt, but I don't see me getting any course credit from this experience.

 

My plan is to take a class of two online, just so I can squeeze this into my schedule.

 

Yes, it would be impossible to take a class in-seat at a local college, because you really do have to have complete open availability. Having said that, I am currently taking two online classes while here on my program (Expedition Everest) and I am so far handling my workload okay. Even with my 57 hour work weeks (overtime, baby)! This is my second program (I worked Splash Mountain in 2007), and I didn't take any classes back then (online, Disney, nor other), so I had a LOT more time to go to the parks and relax. I kind of miss that, but then again, I don't like being almost 24 and still in school, so I gotta make some sacrifices for my degree somehow. Anyway, I have nothing but fantastic things to say about the program. And yes, I know some people have issues with housing, but honestly, if you just suck it up for a few months and play by the rules, you'll be fine.

 

I keep reading that the program has a lot of networking and professional opportunities, but I haven't really seen many examples. So does anyone here have any experiences?

 

I did almost no networking my first program, but I was completely different person back then (I was ever the wilting flower), so I basically just tried to do my job and not get anyone angry at me. Plus, I wasn't too fond of some of my managers there (Splash Mountain was much more fun to operate, but Everest management is so much better, so it all evens out in my book), so I didn't really ever go to them too often anyway. It's a totally different story now. I love 90% of my managers and I have so much more confidence in myself (most of which, I think, stems from being toughened up from working at Disney before), so networking is definitely something I'm trying to do this time around. So far, I've been invited to audition for the Disney Cast Member orchestra coming up in May, which I'm very excited about. And when it comes time to extend my program, I'd like to request a location change, and many of my current managers are from the areas I am interested in (not that Everest isn't great - I LOVE my job, I just have a few dream attractions I'd like to work). I am also interested in either a Professional Internship with the company or possibly going over to Guest Relations so that I can eventually work as a VIP tour guide, so I'm always trying to be a role model CM so that my managers will be willing to put in a good word for me wherever I wish to go. My homeroom manager was actually a WDW Ambassador a few years back, he's an EXCELLENT reference to have. Also, one of the girls I work with wants nothing more than to work for the holiday decoration department, and one of our managers is working on getting her an interview. So yes, if Disney is a company in which you'd like to move up, definitely talk to as many people as you can. Introduce yourself to everyone with a name tag, that's my strategy.

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I did the College program in Fall of 08 at Expedition Everest and had a blast. Loved my experience loved working in the parks on the attraction and the overall Disney Experience. But be warned, obey their rules at the housing complexes, no exceptions, or you will get burned. The housing situation was the only thing about the program I really didn't enjoy. I understand why the rules are the way they are and that but I really felt like I was being treated like a child instead of an adult at times. If I could do the entire program over again I would rent an apartment on my own and just work the role and not deal with their housing. For example one night 5 of us went out had some drinks,all over 21, and had a sober driver drive us home around 1:30. The sober driver lived in a different complex (Chatham) then the 4 of us (Patterson). The security wouldn't let the sober driver from Chatham drive in and park my car at Patterson because it was after hours. One of my roommates was terminated for having a friend of his drive his car home after dropping him off at the airport because eh allowed someone different to drive his car in the copmlex. At our apartment we failed an "inspection" for having an unorganized fridge and cluttered desktops. I was terminated from the program after I left, after my final day of work was over and I had turned in my key and ID and was already out of town because of a scratch on a wall in the apartment. They could have called and said hey you need to repair this (in my opinion it was such a minimal damage that it wasn't an issue), or called and said if you don't pay for the damage your status will be terminated, but instead they just went ahead and terminated my status and never bothered to call and let me know. We had an 2 roommates move out mid program to other complexes and had 2 rooms with 1 person in each room. With about 2 weeks left on the program a piece of paper showed up on our door saying that the two people in rooms alone needed to consolidate into 1 by noon the next day so that a new CP could have a the empty room to himself, and that if the NEW CP didn't like the cleanliness of the apartment or felt unwelcome then the 4 of us currently living there would be relocated and our apartment would be filled with new incoming CP's. The logic of that made no sense to me. There were plenty of other occurrences by the people at housing that defied logic to me but Ive already said enough.

As far as the college program in general you work a lot of hours for very little pay but do have a lot of fun. The networking aspect of the program and professional relevance is dependent upon your field of study. I majored in mechanical engineering and did the engineering professional development course while there. As a graduate looking for a job Disney on my resume did absolutely nothing, most companies I applied to from an engineering aspect could care less about my experience operating a roller coaster. However I had several friends who got jobs after their program simply because they had Disney on their resume so it really depends on your field.

So just be warned anyone interested in the college program, obey their rules or they will terminate you without question, and know what your getting into. I loved my role at the park, loved spending my days off playing on property, loved my roommates and fellow cast members, but quite honestly despised the housing situation. Other than that it was great, I watched Illuminations 4 times a week, and rode everest 3 times a day, so what else could you want!

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After dreaming about doing it for years, I did the College Program this past fall. I worked at Camp Park at Nickelodeon ( ) at the Mall Of America for 4 years, so i figured that Disney would be everything I loved about working there except bigger and better. I ended up being put at a LAME attraction, The Wildlife Express at Animal Kingdom. There were only a handful of CP's there, and the many of the CM's were quite um.... odd... I HATED my role, the housing situation left a bad taste in my mouth every time I went through the security checkpoint, and I wasn't making ANY MONEY. I was getting bare bones hours and being at Animal Kingdom, at a minor attraction, extra shifts were non-existent.

 

These factors, along with some personal influences from back home, led to me decision to withdraw from the program after two months. I was not a part of any sort of co-op with my school, so not only was I essentially losing money being there doing a job I strongly disliked, I was on my own time and delaying my education. It was simply not worth it for me.

 

While some people THRIVE in this program, I wanted to share my experience to any perspective participants on here to make sure you really think about it. To make this work you have to be willing to put yourself through some real crappy conditions all for those special mouse ears at the end. If you can justify it, that is great, but I simply couldn't.

 

To me, the program seems almost like slave labor. You are Disney's indentured servant trying to eat off the Rat's table scraps. Finally, the housing situation is ABSOLUTELY LUDACRIS. They collect nearly $2000 a month in rent from a 3 bedroom apartment in Patterson Court.... Simply ridiculous!

 

The College Program made me realize that Disney is an AWESOME place to visit, but not a good fit for me to work. It did make me gain IMMENSE respect for those people that are able to tolerate the pay, conditions, and management; and still put on that smiling face and make the magic happen. Disney should be ETERNALLY grateful to these people, because I don't think any other company could coax the caliber of work some of the CM's exhibit from it's workers at minimum wage.

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This is my second program (I worked Splash Mountain in 2007)

 

Spring? Fall? I worked in the same area that fall! And nothing wrong with being older and still in school... I'm in the same boat.

 

I am also interested in either a Professional Internship...

 

Shoot me a message... I have some experience there.

 

The college program is great. Sure there are some drawbacks (crazy hours, housing rules, low pay, etc) but it is worth it. Disney operates like nothing else and is something great to learn. And like others have touched on it really is what you make of it. I busted my butt during mine and it certainly paid off as I have worked my way up. Networking is key... there may be like 60,000+ cast members in Florida but seriously everyone knows everyone. Again it all comes down to the effort you want to put in... there are networking events at the housing complexes or at the parks quite a lot. Talk to your managers and fine one you can connect with and set up networking with their bosses and such. Some people complain to me they didn't get a professional internship and I am surprised because they didn't even tell me they applied for it.

 

Just remember it is Disney it is different. I hear and worked with people all the time that have "years of experience" working and XYZ park and they get there and are shocked about working. Disney is different. Disney has different standards (not saying one is better than the other, Disney is just different).

 

As for UCF... like others have said it is hard to take classes outside of Disney because of the open-scheduling thing but it is possible. If you work at one of the parks (Magic Kingdom and Epcot mainly) you will almost always close which means going into work after 12pm so you might be able to sneak a class in during the morning. It would also help if you started working a month or two before classes (like started in May/June, and classes start in August) that way you can feel out the situation and perhaps talk to your leaders. But it is possible just requires some flexibility.

 

A shameless plug for anyone in Orlando on the college program or thinking about UCF. They have a great organization called the Future Theme Park Leaders Association. It is made up of a group of students who want to well be managers in the industry. It has a great mix of people who are managers to people who arn't. If are interested in that and are just down on the college program send me a message and I can give you some info and you can swing by a meeting to check it out. The alumni of the organization are all over the world including a few in senior level management jobs (and they arn't even 25!).

 

Again if anyone has any more detailed questions about the program or UCF just shoot me a message I don't want to get too in-depth here due to my job.

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^FTPLA is pretty cool, I've done a couple of scavenger hunts with them over the past year. One of them was quite epic, all four Disney parks in one afternoon. Hopefully I can get back into it when I'm doing the CP in the fall. I'm probably going to do my Masters degree at Rosen so it was an interesting group to hang out with.

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  • 3 months later...

I don't mean to bump this after so long, but I've been reading this throughout the day today. I've loved the advice given so far, so thank you to everyone!

 

I'm an upcoming high school senior and I wanted to know when it would be best for me to participate in the program? I don't plan on doing it until the summer between my junior and senior year, but those plans can easily change...

 

Also, can you be a character while being in the CP? I would love to be Belle, and the current plan is to go back for a few years after college and do something like this, but if I have the option to while in college, that'd be wonderful; though I'm not jaded that it's an auditioned role and it probably won't happen.

 

Are you required to take classes? If so, what kinds of classes are offered?

 

Finally, are there any specific majors that can help you get a full-time job at Disney? Or are there options for careers in education at WDW? I've wanted to be an elementary school teacher since I was little, but Disney seems so compelling right now I'd love to work there, and possibly incorporate both..

 

Like I said, I've been wanting to be a part of this for a long time, and the positive reviews on the site are making me antsy to go! I'd love to go every summer during college, and I'm so happy to hear that it's possible to participate more than once! Thanks so much!

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Also, can you be a character while being in the CP? I would love to be Belle, and the current plan is to go back for a few years after college and do something like this, but if I have the option to while in college, that'd be wonderful; though I'm not jaded that it's an auditioned role and it probably won't happen.

 

Are you required to take classes? If so, what kinds of classes are offered?

 

Finally, are there any specific majors that can help you get a full-time job at Disney? Or are there options for careers in education at WDW? I've wanted to be an elementary school teacher since I was little, but Disney seems so compelling right now I'd love to work there, and possibly incorporate both..

 

Like I said, I've been wanting to be a part of this for a long time, and the positive reviews on the site are making me antsy to go! I'd love to go every summer during college, and I'm so happy to hear that it's possible to participate more than once! Thanks so much!

 

You can absolutely be a character performer while on the CP, however there are very strict criteria relating to height and build. If you want to be a character look-alike then you have to look a LOT like the character. They will line you up with heaps of other people and choose the best one.

 

You are not required to take classes but you can if you want. Some of the classes I've heard of are 'personal branding' and hospitality related stuff. If you decide to take classes you will get 2 days off per week, and will be required to take a 4 hour class at Disney University on each of those days. There are exams, presentations, etc just like normal university.

 

As for Disney careers, there are some opportunities. If you have an engineering background and do lots of networking it's possible to get involved in Walt Disney Imagineering (degree required), however it's not easy to get your foot in the door. A lot of CPs end up moving down to Florida and working here full time because they like the lifestyle. Some end up as coordinators and managers, but unfortunately most just end up working as full time cast members.

 

To be honest I wouldn't give up your dream of being a teacher to work for Disney. Like I said, opportunities for progression do exist, but are very hard to come by. The college program is a lot of fun and you'll meet a lot of great people. But in the end the reality is that if you move down here with the hope of gaining a career you'll more than likely be disappointed.

 

Good luck!

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  • 1 month later...

Hey! I applied for the program too! I have my phone interview on Tuesday.

 

Since I'm a freshman, I have no experience with the program...but the juniors and seniors at Penn State that have done the program say that it's awesome experience!

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Congrats and good luck to those of you who applied or are applying.

 

I was in the program last year from feb 2nd 2009-Jan1st 2010. I spent all year there, and I actually just drove by Patterson today! It was definitely one of the best times of my life. First thing you should know is it is a job. There are long hours, and a lot of responsibility, so try and keep that in mind. Aside from that, the people you meet and the stories you'll get are pretty amazing. I really enjoyed my time there! The apartments are a little annoying if your not used to a roommate sharing your actual bedroom with you, but I was used to it.

 

Take advantage of all your perks...the discounts, the Maingates, pick up shifts/parade control. Meet as many people as you can, it's one of the best places/jobs to network in. Have fun, hopefully I'll see you around there!

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I'm deciding to bump this thread cause I just got accepted as a Attractions Cast Member for the spring season though the Disney College Program . Very excited to start working there! Any advice from any alumni of the program?

 

I completely agree with everything posted before! Also, follow the rules. Do not try to get around them or fight them. Many people are sent home every semester for breaking rules, even the simple ones.

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I'm deciding to bump this thread cause I just got accepted as a Attractions Cast Member for the spring season though the Disney College Program . Very excited to start working there! Any advice from any alumni of the program?

 

I completely agree with everything posted before! Also, follow the rules. Do not try to get around them or fight them. Many people are sent home every semester for breaking rules, even the simple ones.

 

There are 2 simple rules to stay employed:

 

1) Actually go to work...

 

2) Don't be an idiot in your apartment.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey guys, I've read every single post on the College Program up to this point. I thank each and every one of you for contributing.

 

I'm 25 and I want to take full advantage of this and do it for the experience. I have to wait until the 27th I guess. That's my next step.. I want to just fill out the application already lol

I guess Im just posting cause Im getting ready to apply and wanted to share as well. I'm looking over the roles now. I'm in Multimedia and I'm trying to think of something related, but PhotoPass sounds cool as heck. Anyone know anything about PhotoPass or Character Attendant?

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