The Disney College Program: The Good, The Bad, & The Magical

As you enter onto the Disney College Program website, provided by Disney Careers, there is one word that just about jumps off the computer screen at you. Life-changing. This is one word that someone applying for the Disney College Program should not take lightly, because the experience you are about to embark on is nothing short of the word.

Sure, you can learn all about the Disney College Program online. You learn that it is a program for student’s enrolled in collegiate courses. You learn that it is based in either Walt Disney World in Florida, or Disneyland in California. You learn all about the roles you could be placed in, including merchandise, attractions, food and beverage, hospitality, custodial, and so on. You learn that the program is 5-7 months long. You learn all about the basics of the program, which is all true and great. However, there are a few things these online websites do not warn you about.

They do not warn you that the week long wait between your check-in date and Traditions class will be the longest week of your life, and probably the only week of your entire program that you will not enter any park. Seriously, such a tease being IN Disney, but you are unable to go to Magic Kingdom. UGH.

They do not warn you that Tradition’s will give you all the feels, and make you cry like a baby, along with a classroom of fellow CP’s that you have never met. It’s such a magical initiation to the company, not to mention that you get to enter Magic Kingdom for the first time as a Cast Member. Walking through the Utilidors and having Peter Pan and Wendy walk right past you before you walk upstairs directly onto Main Street U.S.A. makes you feel a certain kind of way. My Tradition’s class showed the official theatrical trailer for “Beauty and The Beast,” so it’s safe to say I was an emotional mess. Tradition’s is everything you could ever imagine, and so much more. It’s the first time you will feel the magic that is Walt Disney World. You will be overwhelmed knowing you are working for Walt Disney, a man with a dream.

They do not warn you that seeing your name and hometown, or college, on an official Walt Disney World name tag will fulfill a dream you never knew you had.

They do not warn you that the very first weekend of your program, after you attend Tradition’s and before your training starts, will have so many magical firsts that you will look back on during the duration of your entire program. Your first time watching Wishes, your first time watching Festival of Fantasy, your first time meeting Mickey, your first Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar… these are feelings that you will never forget.

They do not warn you that Wishes is filled with magic, and you will get chills every time you hear Jiminy Cricket’s voice.

They do not warn you that you will never get sick of going to the parks, ever. There’s just something special about walking into each park, and having an entire park at your leisure whenever you please. You can never ride Space Mountain too many times, trust me.

They do not warn you that you will never become bored, simply because there is always something to do. I spent five months in Disney and there are still things I have not done. Between the four parks, two waterparks, and over twenty five various resorts, there is always something to see and do, so do not spend time sitting home in your apartment.

They do not warn you that you will have memorized almost every single Disney show, including Wishes, Celebrate The Magic, Dream Along with Mickey, and Festival of Fantasy. You will be burning all of these songs onto CD’s, and playing them in your car before you know it.

They also do not warn you that you will have memorized almost every Disney ride as well, including The Tower of Terror, The Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain, Enchanted Tales with Belle (well, that may just be me.)

They do not warn you that your entire camera roll on your phone will be filled with the same pictures, yet different at the same time. I mean, you can never have too many pictures of Cinderella’s Castle.

They do not warn you that you will forever be a Cast Member, both on and off the clock. You will be biting your tongue walking around the park when you see guests wearing birthday or anniversary buttons. It will take everything in you not to call the little girl in front of you in line at Princess Fairytale Hall “princess.” Also, you will give off this cast member persona that every other cast member can sense, and sometimes even guests. They will somehow know you are a cast member, and ask you questions all of the time.

They do not warn you that eventually you will find going to parks alone both thrilling and invigorating, instead of scary and lonely. Being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want, for however long you want is a great experience. For me, that meant going to Magic Kingdom and sitting in Belle’s village, staring at Gaston, and booking one single Fastpass for Enchanted Tales with Belle. Sad, but true.

They do not warn you that you will develop personal friendships with your favorite Disney characters, and before you know it, they will begin to recognize you. Also, because you spend all of your free time meeting them, just like they were a magical old friend.

They do not warn you that CP basically means closing person. I would say about 90% of the college program participants work closing shifts, which could mean getting out at 4:00 in the morning every single morning (God Bless you, Emporium and Extra Magic Hours.) When it’s midnight and you just worked over an eight hour shift and you are just so tired you have become delirious… those are the moments you will remember, and the memories you will make bonding with your work ‘Ohana.

They do not warn you that sometimes when you are busy creating magical memories for guests, the guests are actually creating magical memories for you. It’s those times when you spend over twenty minutes talking to guests about everything and anything, and sharing those personal vacation memories that will stick with you long after your shift. When a little kid comes up to you, and makes their very first pin trade with you, something magical happens, and not just for the guest.

They do not warn you that you will know the in’s and out’s of every park within the first month, and you will find the hidden gems. For example, I bet you did not know that there is NOTHING better than a little Hall of President’s in Liberty Square on a hot, August day.

They do not warn you that you will become so attached to your work location, no matter what shift is thrown your way (I’m looking at you, Heart of House.) You will feel such a connection to the location that you truly will feel like it is your home, after all, you will be spending most of your time there. No matter what that location may be, a resort like myself, a park, or Disney Springs, you will learn the entire history and backstory of your location that you will want to share with everyone you talk too.

They do not warn you that almost every penny you make from the mouse, will go straight back to the mouse. Unfortunately, Disney has this down to a science. It’s just way too hard to resist a holiday merchandise discount of 40% on EVERYTHING (that includes the nice stuff too, like Dooney and Bourke and Pandora!) Also, look at how many amazing restaurants and buffets Disney has to offer. It’s a permanent vacation.

They do not warn you that before you know it, everything you own will become Disney. This is most likely something you will not notice until you come home. My room currently looks like a Disney gift shop. Did I really need three pairs of ears? Curse you 40% discount.

They do not warn you that your roommates will truly become your family. You will go through so much with them, including holidays and those dreaded inspections. Even though you all may be on opposite work schedules with different days off, your roommates become the one’s who are always there for the late night chats (and cuddles) while drinking wine and eating whatever is in the fridge at the time.

They do not warn you that time will fly by faster than you ever thought was possible. They say time flies when you are having fun, but I swear the days turned into minutes. Before you know it, you will have just weeks left of your program, and you begin to panic thinking of a life without Magic Kingdom.

They do not warn you that your last shift at work will go by much faster than any other shift you will have ever worked, not to mention filled with emotions. You will start thinking about your last everything, and become extremely emotional. You will even get upset taking off your horrid costume for the last time (shocker, I know.)

They do not warn you that when Walt Disney starts talking during the castle projection show in Magic Kingdom, Celebrate The Magic, you will shed a tear every single time.

They do not warn you that your last night at Magic Kingdom will guaranteed be the worst night you will ever have at Magic Kingdom. It’s amazing how much you can cry at what is supposed to be the happiest place. You will feel as if your heart was ripped out right in the middle of Main Street U.S.A., and left there as you walk away from Cinderella’s Castle one last time.

They do not warn you that leaving this program will be worse than any heartbreak you will have ever felt, because for the last five months, you were living in a fantasy. Saying goodbye to your work ‘Ohana, roommates, work location, favorite park, favorite attraction, favorite firework show… will all cause a pit to form in your stomach.

They do not warn you that once you return home and reality kicks in, the program will feel like a dream. The best dream you could have ever imagined.

The Disney College Program delivers it all, the good, the bad, and the magical. This program, without a doubt, gives you a life-changing experience that you will never forget. Which in all fairness, the website DOES warn you about… I just did not realize how life-changing it would be. Magic truly exists at Walt Disney World, and I am so glad that this program brought as much magic into my heart as it did.


If you want to see more of my magical life-changing adventures (and pictures,) follow my Instagram account, @danielleogo! 🙂 Or, my YouTube channel!






20 thoughts on “The Disney College Program: The Good, The Bad, & The Magical

  1. Natalie Davis says:

    Aww, Danielle, I am so glad you had a wonderful time working at Walt Disney World! This seems so amazing, and magical, and I am glad you got to experience this! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Desire and Inspire for Life says:

    I loved it! I had a whole lot of fun in my program!.. and I miss it so much! I miss being in the parks, and going to “play”. Now I’m back in school, wanting to wear my ears, but it’s not socially acceptable here. I think I’ll just show them off in my apartment. Lovely post, and everything is so true!

    Liked by 1 person

    • danielleogo says:

      Thank you so much, I am so glad you loved the post! I can for sure relate to you with the whole wearing your ears thing. I have them on display in my room, and it doesn’t feel right now wearing them! Thank you! I am glad you understand where I am coming from! 🙂


  3. Lori says:

    Wow…What a beautiful blog you wrote! Sounds amazing. We have been to Disney several times with David and Taylor and it is the best place on earth. I’m always so emotional when we are there. Glad to hear you had the time of your life!


  4. Andrea says:

    It’s now been 15 years since my first college program and 8 years since my last. This article hit every emotion spot on. Fifteen years and 5 college programs later I now have friends all over the world from each and every program. Every time I hear wishes it takes me back to those long summer nights after a hard days work at Typhoon Lagoon serving up what seemed like a half of a million garbage pails at Happy Landings. It brought me happiness, heartbreak, life long friendships and what ultimately changed my life for the better. Before the cp I tried to be invisible. I was the fat grl that didn’t want to be seen, didn’t want to be made fun of, didn’t know how to make friends. That all changed the moment typhoon Lagoon became my home for 7 long momths. LIFE CHANGER IS DEFINITELY WHAT THIS PROGRAM IS.


    Liked by 1 person

    • danielleogo says:

      Hey Andrea, thank you so much for sharing that with me. I am so happy that the Disney College Program changed your life, similar to how it changed mine. You will be able to keep those memories with you forever. Thank you for taking the time to read my post, I am glad it gave you a reminder of good memories. 🙂


    • danielleogo says:

      Thank you so much! 🙂 I have a bunch of posts about the Disney College Program you can search for in my search bar. It’s an awesome experience. The main thing the DCP looks for is a dedicated person that will easily fit into the Disney life. That means being enthusiastic, and someone who wants to make magic. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jason B (@spikedudej) says:

    Hi Danielle! Thanks so much for writing this! I’ve read a handful of similar post-DCP journals, but this one was different. This one hit me with all the feels with most of your talking points. I never comment on them, but I’ll make an exception today.

    My name is Jason and I did the Fall Advantage CP in 2013 and returned home to Jersey in 2014 so I could finish my last year of school. I know some people who get down to Disney and they catch the Disney bug and decide to never go home or finish school, which is what I promised myself I would absolutely never do. I spent most of 2014 secretly living a pretty depressing life, especially those first 3 months back. I closed my eyes all I saw was Disney, my roommates, my friends. But when I opened my eyes, I was miles away from it all. I went back to my old job (forgot most of my coworkers names), went back to school, and tried to rediscover my old life again. It wasn’t easy. Whenever I had a story to tell someone, it ALWAYS started with, “When I was in Disney…..”. And after the 1000th time of starting a story this way, I started to think what was wrong with me. Surely every good thing about my life wasn’t in Disney. I didn’t leave my WHOLE heart there. I’m here in 2016 to tell you that a happy life is achievable after leaving the DCP. Whenever my sisters or friends invited somewhere, I went. The idea was to create a bunch of new memories. Luckily, my close friends were still there for me and we made new memories together. I graduated in 2015 and got a new job and now I have even more happy memories to think about and to share with people. Don’t get me wrong, I still think about Disney every day, and that’s okay. But it’s no longer the thing I see when I close my eyes.

    So the best advice I can give someone who is fresh out of the DCP is to make new memories, and that’s why I commented. If at any time you feel like you need to talk to someone who understands you and the things you are going through, send me a message (I just followed you on basically everything). Because everyone deserves to be happy even after the happiest moment of your life. You’ll get through it just fine! (I promise)

    Liked by 1 person

    • danielleogo says:

      Hey Jason! Wow, thank you so much for that, and I am so happy that my post hit home for you. That is awesome you enjoyed your program, and trust me, I know adjusting to life without Disney is hard. I want to go back down permanently once it’s a smart decision, so I have that to look forward to. I am glad you adjusted well, and found ways to make new memories. One does not need Disney to be happy. It’s just hard living a fantasy life for so long, and going back into reality. Thank you so much for your insight, it’s truly appreciated. 🙂 We will keep in contact, thank you!


  6. Mic Mic says:

    I’m just crying cause my college program just ended and all of this is true. I made a lot of international friends and I just really had so much fun. I loved Heart of House actually and it’s where I really found my family I would say. I’m so grateful to have been at the Disney college program. My work location was Hollywood Hills in Hollywood Studios and it’s true like I loved that location!

    Liked by 1 person

    • danielleogo says:

      That is awesome that you had a great time! I miss the college program every single day. That seems like a great work location, I loved Hollywood Studios! I worked at Disney’s Polynesian Resort and I absolutely loved it! 🙂 Thank you for your feedback.


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