Do you fit under one of the following categories:
-Burning out with schoolwork
-Looking to build your resume
-Wanting to get away for a bit
-Needing a life-changing experience
-Looking to secure a job for the future
Then you need look no further than this link right here. But before you click it and get distracted away from the blog, I’d like to tell you just why I am directing you to this link.
I completed the Disney College Program for their fall 2009 program, and the decision for me to go wasn’t an easy one.
I know what you’re thinking… “leave school for a whole semester?… but, I won’t graduate on time!” WRONG. I’m graduating in four years, and that’s with two minors to go with it! I took online classes while I was down there: 12 hours, which still qualified me for full-time student status. I didn’t lose my health insurance, either. Score. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it wasn’t tough to commit to the online classes, it definitely was – but if you have enough money to buy a calendar at Walmart, you should be just fine.
I know what some of you might be thinking… “but, my boyfriend/girlfriend goes here… it’d be too hard to do long distance.” (SEMI)-WRONG. I was with my (now ex-) boyfriend Brandon when I went off to Orlando for five months. Did it get tough? Yeah. Did we fight a lot? Sometimes. Did he visit? Once… he had “other” things to spend his money on… Did we break up? Not while I was there… two months after I got back, yeah, but it had nothing to do with Disney… so I digress. If you’re with a decent guy or girl, you guys will get through it. Skype/FaceTime exist now, technology will help you guys to see each other. If you budget your money correctly, you could take a couple days off to fly home, he/she could come visit you, etc. etc. etc… please don’t let that factor make your decision to stay at school. It’s ONE semester!
I know what you’re thinking… “I’m going to room with complete strangers? I’m not going to know ANYONE there!” Don’t worry; I went to do the program only really knowing one girl that I was really good friends with at the time, and we ended up not being able to live together…we hung out probably four times out of five months. I went down there and made an amazing group of friends instead, and I hung out with them everyday; I actually ended up getting to do the same parades as them, which brought us all even closer. Anyway — scared about unknown roommates? Well, we live in the days of Facebook and internet-stalking, which really works out to your advantage. You can find people in discussion groups on Facebook and get to know some of them, and discuss living with each other. I found a great group of six people, and we actually ended up getting split up into two different places- but I still remain great friends to this day with one of the girls put in the other apartment.
And finally, I know what you’re thinking… “that’s way too far away from home.” Trust me, I know – I’m from the Pittsburgh area, and it only takes me an hour to get home from school, which means I could pretty much go home any weekend I wanted to or have my mom come baby me if I was sick. I was FINE in Disney; you live in Disney Housing which are really nice apartments equipped with air conditioning, internet, pots/pans/plates/etc. already in your apartment, furniture, semi-private bathrooms… all you really have to do is bring yourself, your clothes, sheets etc., and you’re good to go. There’s a Walmart closeby, as well as a million fast food and sit-down restaurants to satisfy your cravings. There are a ton of outlet malls in Florida, too… and many places within thirty minutes from your apartment… but remember that budgeting up there I was talking about?! Don’t go crazy with spending your money at the outlet malls!
Now for the “categories” I mentioned:
If you’re burnt out with schoolwork: I recommend that you do the program, and that you don’t take online classes like I did. If you don’t like schoolwork right now, you’re going to hate it even more online. I’d say to take the semester off, and maybe make it up in a summer or something if you still want to graduate on time. Or, overload on credits like I do… 18 or more credits a semester ::faint::
Looking to build your resume: Seriously, anytime I ever tell anyone that I worked for Disney, they ask SO many questions — this experience is going to be such a positive thing for you, that you’ll have so many good things to talk about. When you walk into an interview and you have Disney on your resume, employers love to ask you about what you got out of such a huge company, and why you decided to do the program.
Wanting to get away for a bit: Um… where is a better place to do this than Disney World? ::crickets:: That’s what I thought. I mean, where is a better place to do this than FLORIDA in general?! I had the time of my life in Disney, whether I was working or not. I loved my job, I loved (most of) the people, and a beach isn’t too far a drive away. With your swipe-in card for work, you can get into all four parks for free, and make ALL your friends at home really jealous. They might even want to come visit you… but use your main gate passes wisely! (We will talk about that later!) Also, if you have drama going on at home, Disney World is the absolute best place to get away.
Need a life-changing experience: Well, in my opinion, I don’t think you’ll ever find a cooler job than working for Disney. You get to see the ins-and-outs of the parks and make magical moments for guests that are choosing to spend their vacation periods at a place where they can be happy and live out their childhoods all over again. Working for Disney really made me tap into who I am and what I want to do with my future; I don’t really know exactly why, but I came back a different (and better) person. It put my priorities in order, and it made me an even harder worker with more determination.
Looking to secure a job for the future: I know tons of people who stayed at Disney after their college programs: some of these people actually dropped out of school to stay there full-time, and others are attending UCF while being an employee. Now, I am NOT here to tell you that you should do the Disney College Program and drop out of school – by all means, NO. I think that everyone has a decision to make for themselves and that the people who did drop out of school to stay at Disney are really happy, but I think that education is extremely important. If you just end up falling in love with it as much as I did, you have a couple of options: 1) Stay seasonal with the company and go back to work/play on breaks [that’s what I’m doing!] 2) Stay at Disney and take online courses or enroll at a college like UCF 3) Extend your program one more semester, and return to school a semester later than you had originally intended. I know a lot of people that work as higher-ups in the company started out as CP students… so let that be your motivation! It sure is mine.
Now for the benefits…
As a college program member, you automatically get all kinds of discounts, just like the regular full-time employees. [As long as this hasn’t changed since I’ve been there] you get 6 main gate passes, which means you can get 3 people into the parks for 6 days! You have to watch block-out dates; for example, I wasn’t able to get my ex in on Thanksgiving Day, which is why he visited during the first half of break and left before Thanksgiving. But I was able to use these main gate passes to get him, my mom, sister, and my best friend Ryan into the parks, all on parts of holiday breaks. As long as you do your research and plan out days that work with the block-outs, you can get them in free AND get them a bomb discount on Disney hotels. Anytime somebody came to visit me, we stayed at the All-Star Resorts: they were really nice, and the cheapest you can find. They didn’t have internet… but with smartphones these days, who needs it?
For a limited time, I was able to get into the water parks [Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon] for free as well! The water parks are a lot of fun, though they weren’t something I would spend my money on going to as an employee even with our discount – so I really did like having the free option for that period of time. Also, during Christmastime, we got 50%-off discounts on merchandise all over the parks, which is how I got my Mickey Dooney and Burke little wallet thing.
What I didn’t mention here was my job description: I am a performer in the entertainment department, and I am “Pooh/Munk” height, which means I get to be best buddies with characters like Winnie the Pooh, Scrooge McDuck, Timon, Chip/Dale, Jessie the cowgirl, the 7 dwarves, Mike Wazowski, and many many many more. I had a blast making little kids (and parents) smile and making their character meet-and-greets/character dining experiences magical.
I am going in NINE DAYS and I am so excited to see what shifts are in store for me. I know that I’m gonna be best buddies with one of the Little Einsteins, Leo, on my first day there… but I’m still waiting on the rest of the week’s schedule. AND I get to see one of my best friends down there, Erin, doing her thing too and I haven’t seen her in so long!
Take it from me – you WILL be able to figure out a way to do the program with all of the factors above mentioned (distance, credits, etc.) I promise. I had to talk to a lot of people in order to figure out everything, and talking to someone with experience in advising a CP student will expedite the process. Also, talking to someone like me OR a campus rep at your school will definitely help with specific questions.
I’ve taken away so much with my experience: great friends, amazing memories, a whole box full of stuff to scrapbook [I’ll get around to it sometime!], an insane love for Disney, and I’m even going to be a bridesmaid in one of my Disney roommates’ weddings this June. 🙂
I’m out — and as always, Have a Magical Day!
I’ll leave you with these few videos to get you excited: