So, today marks my 2 year anniversary of the start of my Disney College Program. Two years ago today, at 4 AM, I was sitting outside of Vista Way with five girls I had never met until that moment, waiting to find out where I would be living, where I would be working, and who the heck these girls were.
It was a tough program, one with long hours and homesick-ness. But at the same time, it was one of the most eye-opening experiences I’ve ever had.
So, on the anniversary of my DCP, here’s my top 10 list of reasons to do the program:
TOP 10 REASONS TO DO THE DISNEY COLLEGE PROGRAM
10. Going to the parks for FREE.
Yup, that’s right. I’m not sure there’s any other way to get into Disney World that often, for that little. And on top of getting into the parks for free, there’s also discounts on merchandise, food, photos, and even resort stays. AND, to top it off, there’s cast member only perks – exclusive pins, cast member only shops and stores, and holiday packages each December. By the way, that free park entrance is to ANY Disney theme park.
9. Meeting your roommates and living on your own.
For most CP’s, it’s our first time to ever live on our own. It’s our first time to get groceries by ourselves, it’s our first time to rely solely on our own cooking (which may have been more of a negative aspect than a positive one), it’s our first time to make grown up decisions without any other grown ups. While being at Disney is amazing, being able to start learning responsibility in your own apartment is one skill that I’m very thankful to have learned early.
8. The costumes!
When do you get a chance to say that you get to wear a bonnet to work every day? How often do you see someone in bright green pants with dinosaur paw prints on them? The costumes, no matter how ugly or uncomfortable, are definitely a part of the College Program experience. Sometimes you have to have that villain in a movie that you just love to hate, and the Disney costumes are the villain in the movie. You love to hate what you wear to work, and you thank your lucky stars that you’re not that person with that costume.
7. The managers and coordinators.
I’ve never, ever, ever met someone working for Disney that has hated or disliked their manager. While I can’t speak for everyone, I know that Disney only hires the best (because obviously that’s why you’re there, DUH) and that means only the best managers and coordinators work at Disney! My PhotoPass coordinators and managers were encouraging, helpful, and yes, magical. They helped me learn professionalism and they encouraged me to want and expect more of myself. And even if your managers weren’t your favorite, your coworkers and fellow CPs were. There’s something about working for the Mouse that brings people together.
6. Love for Walt and Mickey.
Nowhere in the world have I seen a company that loves it’s mascot and founder as much as Disney. I cry at even the sight of Walt. He’s the reason for so much magic in the world and his mouse Mickey is adorable and wonderful. Everyone refers to Mickey as the Boss and everyone looks to Walt as a source of inspiration. I will bet you $5 you won’t find that anywhere else!
5. The Two Fingered Point.
And while I’m at it, the Disney Scoop and the Disney Look. All three have taught us the true measure of professionalism. We know how to act, how to dress, how to point, and how to properly pick up trash without hurting ourselves. We are pretty much magicians. And we will keep that two fingered point the rest of our lives.
4. Vista Way **is that a way**
To say you lived in or visited Vista Way is one thing, but to say you SURVIVED it? Well that’s entirely different. And even if you didn’t live in the notorious VW, you knew the stories. Vista Way is just one of those things you really have to see in person. At least to just say you were there. But even if you didn’t live in Vista, the other apartments were pretty great too and you were in sunny Florida, so it’s a win win. Also, here’s a great song for you to check out.
3. Staying in ‘character’ – or as you know it – Disney Show.
You know as well as I know that Goofy has a bunch of friends. If you’re on the Tower of Terror, you know that you’re in a haunted hotel. And you definitely know that if you can travel from one area of the park to another one, so can Mickey. It drives us nuts when someone asks you “So is he hot in that costume?” or if they ask, “Sooo, is that tree real?” The answers are simple: A) there is no costume, so no. And B) Of course it is, it’s right in front of you silly.
2. Make-A-Wish Families, or really guests in general.
While there will be days where you hate working and guests that just drive you nuts, those magical moments where you change someone’s day – or even life – those are the reasons you moved to Orlando. Making someone’s vacation by wishing them a happy birthday or getting them a new Mickey bar because they dropped it, or taking that awesome Magic Shot – THOSE are the reasons you’re here. The memories you take from the program will be the memories you gave to those guests.
1. The growth from your first day to your last day.
There’s no way to explain how you’ll change when the program is over. You’ll be a different person entirely. One with more confidence, one with more professionalism, one with more charisma, one with more people skills. You’ll be someone stronger and smarter, happier too. Disney will change you in so many ways. The program is so much more than just working at a theme park – it’s about growing as a person and an individual. And I can guarantee you, for the rest of your life, you’ll be talking to everyone you meet about how amazing and life-changing your program was.
So, if you’re thinking about applying – GO FOR IT. And if you’ve done the program already, don’t forget all the good times.
Like Walt said, “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”