10 Ways the Disney College Program Surprised Me
Start writing a post
Community

10 Ways the Disney College Program Surprised Me

No one tells you about these things when you apply for the Disney College Program

103
10 Ways the Disney College Program Surprised Me
My Camera

Today marks an entire year since I had to leave the Most Magical Place on Earth, and I'm hopeless with nostalgia. If you haven't heard of it, there are a multitude of articles online that explain what exactly the Disney College Program is. In Fall 2018, I worked as a Custodial Guest Services cast member in Magic Kingdom (Ad-Lib represent!), and I extended my program into Spring 2019 to work as an EPCOT Park Greeter. While initially I believed the program would mainly consist of working in blistering heat and riding Space Mountain to my heart's content, I was surprised by how much else living in Disney World had to offer. These surprises have turned out to be my most cherished memories since my program ended.

I Participated in Amazing Park Events

Rick Springfield at the American Pavilion

My iPhone

The Disney parks host incredible events throughout the entire year, and as a Guest you can experience some pretty cool things. In the Fall, you can attend the Halloween and Christmas parties at Magic Kingdom, apply to be an audience member for televised Christmas celebrations, and watch EPCOT's annual Candlelight Processional, which is hosted by a celebrity every night. (I got to see Neil Patrick Harris!) In the Spring, EPCOT holds the Festival of the Arts and the Flower and Garden Festival. Stands throughout the park offer amazing food and merchandise, and there's a rocking concert series which offers amazing free performances every night. I got to see some of my favorite artists perform live, and yes -- Rick Springfield really did jump up on the bench in front of me!

I Made Some of My Favorite Holiday Memories

Goofing off at our Thanksgiving Party (Cat, Katlin, Jackie, Mandy, Me)

My iPhone

Being away from family during the holidays can be really tough, but I was so blessed to become super close to all of my roommates. I never imagined living across the country from my best friends, but that's just one thing the DCP will do to you! It's not often that all of your roommates' schedules align because of the variation of roles that the company offers, but we were all lucky enough to have Thanksgiving off. We threw a huge Holiday Party, including silly party favors, a game of mini-golf at one of Disney's on-property courses, rides at Magic Kingdom, a potluck dinner, and cookie decorating. We topped it all off by watching the firework show on the Polynesian Resort beach while eating Dole Whips. I am definitely not going to forget that Thanksgiving anytime soon.

I Learned How to Work ... HARD

Holding My Graduation Ears in Front of Cinderella Castle

My iPhone

Nothing in the world could have prepared me for what was in store when I applied to the Disney College Program. The jobs you are placed in are demanding, exhausting, and -- at times -- frustrating. They are mostly all Guest-facing roles, so you deal with both happy and upset Guests all day long. When I was a Custodian, I was constantly performing physical tasks and getting messy. As a Park Greeter, I had to help fix issues with ticketing, which could really rile people up. While sometimes I was completely exhausted, I wouldn't have had it any other way. I think it's so important to work entry-level positions, because you gain an appreciation for how hard people work. I performed the least-desirable job at the busiest theme park in the world during the busiest time of the year; sometimes, whenever I feel discouraged, it helps to remember that anything is possible if you care enough. Those jobs have motivated me to appreciate the job position I have currently.

I Figured Out What I Wanted From My Career

The Happily Ever After Fireworks Show

My iPhone

Like I said before, working at Disney was so much fun, but it was a lot of work and could sometimes be discouraging. There are plenty of people who become full-time after their College Program, but I just wasn't interested in staying on in a similar role. However, my time in the program opened my eyes to opportunities with the company as a Professional Intern, and in other capacities. I realized how much I love entertainment, and would love to build a lifelong career out of it. I'm continuing to take college classes in Entertainment, and I owe my passion and the path I'm on now to my time with Disney. Who knows, I could make a return to the company in the future!

I Got Seriously in Shape

Posing in Front of Cinderella Castle on My Last Week of Work

My iPhone

Let's just say that before I started my program, the gym wasn't regularly in my routine. By the end, however, I had done so much walking as a Guest visiting the parks and as a Custodian that I started to get into shape without noticing (sometimes, I'd walk around 15 miles in a single 6-hour shift!) One of my favorite things to do, also, was to walk around Disney Springs. There were always new things added to the shops, or yummy food items to check out. The Disney College Program definitely keeps you active and engaged, and I hadn't expected that it would positively impact my health and well-being.

I Had Opportunities to Network

My Beloved Nametag

My iPhone

The DCP offers incredible seminars and courses that you can take for credit, or even for fun! I had to apply to the seminar I took, which was called "Entertainment Show Production." Every week for about a month, we got to hear from notable guest speakers in the industry, such as the lead Show Director and the Show Writer for the Orlando parks. During one class, one of the original animators from films such as Pocahontas and Beauty and the Beast drew Mickey right in front of our eyes. We also got to take an in-depth, behind-the-scenes tour of the Fantasmic! show in Hollywood Studios. I'll never forget the experiences; they were an invaluable opportunity to learn from leaders in the industry, and I'll always be grateful.

I Learned How to Live on My Own

The Notorious Vista Way

My iPhone

It can be really scary to move to a different state on your own, especially when the farthest you've lived from home is a dorm one hour away. However, the Disney College Program provided an eye-opening chance for me to practice living alone before I left college. It helped that Disney provided apartment complexes and bus transportation for participants. I gained a sense of independence that continues to impact my life in a positive way, and I feel much more confident in professional situations. It really helped me to learn how to navigate an enormous company on my own, in a new city, living with new people. It teaches you how to adapt to situations, and that can be valuable in any life situation (*cough cough* Coronavirus).

I Saw What Makes the Disney Company Tick

My First Day As a Cast Member!

My iPhone

While training one day, a Cast Member said something that stood out to me: "The real 'magic' at Disney is emotional connection." This philosophy is clear throughout the company, no matter what role you find yourself in. Every Cast Member strives to do their job to the fullest, and it shows when the Guests notice and appreciate it. I've learned a lot through the business practices and philosophies that the company holds dear, and I bring them with me to the other jobs I work. Disney truly is a one-of-a-kind operation.

I Got Used to Staying Up Very, Very Late

Posing in an Empty Magic Kingdom ... at 1:47 a.m.

My iPhone

There is a common joke among Disney College Program participants that CP doesn't stand for "college program," but instead it means "closing person." While this isn't always the case, it definitely was for me. I would always work the night shifts as a custodian, and I'm talking LATE. My average shift would end at around 12:45 a.m. if I was lucky, and because I took the housing-provided bus home I would walk in the door between 3-4 a.m. every single night. This schedule had its perks, however; it became almost a nightly tradition for a while to stop by a fast food restaurant with friends for a late-night hangout. I also got to see the park completely empty, which never ceased to feel surreal. All in all, it was more fun than it sounds!

I Explored Orlando

It's hard to imagine growing tired of Disney World, but I'll be honest -- it happened a lot. When you start to commit every park, ride, show, character spot, and even restroom to memory, sometimes you need a break. Luckily, Orlando was full of fun things to do outside of the Disney Parks. I spent time at the mall with my friends, went on a day trip to SeaWorld, and even visited a local Cat Cafe (I particularly enjoyed that day!) Disney also has spectacular water parks, which I relished as a way to relax after a stressful work week. The Universal parks and City Walk are nearby as well, which are always worth visiting. If you were willing to travel further, other CP's I knew took day trips to the nearest beaches. You will never run out of fun options living in a tourism-heavy city like Orlando.

If you think you might be interested in the Disney College Program, I highly recommend that you check it out! It changed my life for the better, and I owe a lot to those experiences.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers

109330

Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

129335
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series

381211
Netflix

Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

239219
Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

125862
Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?

310341

Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.

191063

Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

129384
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments