Working at Walt Disney World was quite possibly the best experience I have ever had and will ever have. However, there are many misconceptions about working for them through the Disney College Program that need to be cleared up.
“I bet all you did was play in the parks.”
When you work under the Disney College Program, it is not all fun and games. My friends and family think I spend all day in the park. That is very incorrect. For my program specifically, I worked anywhere from 40 to 60-hour work weeks. I worked anywhere from double shifts, to 10 hour shifts. I would sometimes get up at 4:00 a.m. and not go to bed till 3:00 a.m. the next day because of working. I had very few days off to go to the park and have fun. I was constantly working, and if I was not working I was trying to catch up on sleep or eating.
“Disney could not fire you.”
Disney actually has very strict rules about calling out and not showing up for work. Disney has what they call a record. If you call out “sick” or “personal” more than two times in 30 days, you will get one write up, three write ups equal termination (the nicer way of saying you’re fired). Each time you called out, did not notify someone you were going to be late, or even five minutes late, you ended up getting a point. Three points equaled one write up. If you did not show up for your shift, that is a "no call no show" and a point is added to your record card. If you ended up calling out of a shift and then swiped your company card to get into the parks, your location will be notified and you will be terminated immediately. Your record stays with Walt Disney World Company even after you leave. If you’re wanting to have future employment with the company keep your record clean and your points low.
“You probably got really amazing discounts.”
In theory, yes, I did get some awesome deals but it was not to the extent of what everyone thinks it was. Only in certain areas for dining could I get a small 15 percent discount. I could get 20 percent off merchandise as a Disney College Programmer and during their holiday months I could get up to 35 percent. Depending on the time of the year, I could get better discounts on the resorts. If I was to book a resort and stay with my family I could get anywhere from 50-60 percent off. If the room was just for my friends I could use my 40 percent discount. I got about 10 percent off park tickets for my friends and family. I was given a couple free passes for friends and family to use up to six entrances per day. Now the real discount I got was being able to get into the parks for free whenever park hours were available. As a lifeguard after June 11, I was still able to get into the water park for free while others had to pay for them.
“Oh you got paid? I guess you made a lot of money then.”
Depends on what your definition of a lot of money is. For me, I saved some of my money up and spent the rest. I always loved to go to the different countries at Epcot and try the different places to eat. I also spent a lot of my money on merchandise. I would go to Cast Connections at least once a week and spend $100 there because the deals were absolutely amazing.”
“I heard there are lots of rules you have to follow appearance-wise. That’s probably false.”
Disney has very strict standards that their employees must follow to be able to work for them. Tattoos are not allowed to show. You need to wear long sleeve and long pants to cover them up or use the tattoo cover-up. When I was allowed to just wear my swimsuit during my rotation, I would put a Band-Aid over mine. You cannot have gauges. If you have something pierced other than your ears you need to take it out. You may only wear one set of earrings (one stud on each ear). If you painted your nails they had to be a color Disney has approved. Men cannot have a five o’clock shadow. There are very strict guidelines on beards for men. Women or men cannot have a funky hair color or cut. If roots are showing, you must dye your hair to match. If you are married or have a promise ring, you may inform your coordinator and they will allow you to wear one. However, all other jewelry on hands or feet is not acceptable. You are not supposed to even have a hair tie around your wrists.
Working for Walt Disney World was a lot of fun but they also taught me a lot about responsibility and how to treat guests and people in general. People think that working for them is all fun in games when actually, they are extremely strict. People need to know before applying that it is not easy and if they are not willing to follow rules they should not apply.