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!