Wednesday, February 25, 2009

So what is the Disney College Program?

The Disney College Program has been going on for a surprisingly long time. I think it was around 1983, when Epcot opened. But in any case, the program is an opportunity for college students to live, learn, and earn with the Disney company as an intern by working as a cast member at either Disneyland in Anaheim, California, or Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Disney is a Fortune 500 company, and is consistently ranked as both the top place to start a career, and the most desired place to work. Besides, it’s Disney- the most magical place on earth!

As long as you’re enrolled in college when you apply for the program, you’re eligible, although there is also the CareerStart program for newly graduated high schoolers. A CP (as we call the participants on the Disney College Program) can work anywhere in the resorts, parks or Downtown Disney. And I do mean anywhere. Jobs are available in:-Attractions
-Quick service food and beverage
-Full service food and beverage
-Character performing
-Character attending (monitoring character-and-guest interactions)
-Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
-Front gate operations
-Bell services dispatch
-Vacation planner
-PhotoPass photographer
(there’s also some culinary-based jobs, but you have to enrolled in a culinary program to be eligible)

The pay rate starts at about $7.21 an hour, but it varies depending what kind of job you’re working. You can it in a direct deposit, or you can join the Vista bank available for cast members. CPs work a minimum of 30 hours a week. Most weeks you’ll work 40-50 hours, with one or two days off. If you’re working during peak times (spring break, summer, or Christmas) you’ll work even more. When I worked during spring break, I worked 67 hours in one week, and did seventeen shows in one day! Plus, since you’re at the bottom of the totem pole, you’ll be the first to get assigned weekends, holidays, and nights (the shifts the full-timers don’t want). But hey, you’ve got steady work. If you really don’t want to miss out on holidays, apply for a Spring or Spring Advantage program. The only holidays you’ll work are Easter and Valentine’s Day, as opposed to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.

There are five different types of programs you can participate in:
-Spring (January to May)
-Spring Advantage (January to August)
-Fall (August to December)
-Fall Advantage (May to December)
-Summer (May to August, but this program is only available to College Program alumni)

The timing is all dependant on when you apply. If you apply in the fall, you’ll go in the spring. Apply in the spring, you’ll go in the fall Pretty straightforward.

You can take classes taught by Disney professionals during the program. Some of the classes are specific to your major, but most of them are open to anyone. You can also opt to take online courses so you can keep up with your degree.

The Disney internship and the classes they offer are accepted at a lot of schools, but not all of them. Check with your school. Chances are, even if the program isn’t yet accepted for credit at your institution, they can work something out for you.

Disney also provides housing and transportation. There are four apartment complexes available to CPs that include post offices, pools, fitness centers, computer labs, and laundry. And yes, you are required to live in Disney housing (except for the summer alumni program, when you can make arrangements to live offsite). Rent ranges from $90-$150, and is deducted from your paycheck each week. You’ll share the apartment with one to seven people, and you’ll have a roommate.

As for transportation, you have the option of bringing your own car, but if you don’t want to, or just want to conserve your gas for driving places other than work, Disney provides buses. They run to every Disney location, plus the post office, the grocery store, and Wal-mart. They’re fairly reliable, and definitely more economical than bringing in a car.

Working for Disney has a lot of benefits beyond taking a semester off and making some money. You get all the cast member benefits: free entrance to the parks for yourself and limited entrance for friends and family, discounts on merchandise, discounts on resorts, limited discounts on food, and all kinds of things that are open only to cast members. You’re also getting a great boost to your resume. When you apply for jobs afterwards, you can guarantee that potential employers will want to know more about Disney. This is an experience you can’t get anywhere else.

So that’s the basic jist of the Disney College Program. There’s a lot more at, so check that or email me if you want to know more. And you can always read more stuff on my blog. That’s always good…more hits for me! :)
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