Lindsay waits patiently for the orientation to begin. She has been waiting for this moment for several weeks, and today was the day. The room is pretty bland, which surprised her because this is a company with so much color. The walls are pale, and there isn’t any sign of Mickey or his friends anywhere. She sits at the table with other students her age who are all excited to begin this new chapter in their lives. To escape the surge of electrifying anxiety, Lindsay relives the surreal moment when she got an acceptance email from the Disney College Program. The feelings of adventure and elation flood her mind all over again. She was sad to leave her family and friends behind in Bronx, New York. She had spent her whole life there, from elementary school all the way up to getting her Education degree at Fordham University. Like Lindsay, a vast majority of students are from other states, with only a few native Floridians sprinkled in. These college students have trekked as far south as they could to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity of participating in an internship at the Happiest Place on Earth.
According to Disney’s website, in order to apply for this program, candidates must be currently enrolled and taking classes at an accredited program or institution and have completed at least one semester or have graduated within the past six months, must meet their school’s requirements for participation (G.P.A., grade level, credit hours earned, etc.), have unrestricted work authorization in the United States, and must be at least 18 years old by the time the program begins. After investigating videos about tips on what to expect from the College Program by former participants, I found a video that went into detail about the background information about the program. BrittanyNacoleDCP’s video on YouTube explained how there are four programs available for application, Spring (January-May), Spring Advantage (January-August), Fall (August-January), and Fall Advantage (May-January). There are a few interviews conducted before application, including a web based interview and a phone interview. Once you are accepted, there is a $300 fee due within 10 days of acceptance. Apparently there is a cost for opportunities. Not only do participants have to dish out a fee to participate, but they also need to be financially ready to move from which ever state they are currently from. Lindsay came from a pretty wealthy family, so when her family found out she had received this magical opportunity, they were more than happy to help her. Unfortunately, many students have to tap into their student loans to take advantage of this internship.
The orientation she is attending is called Traditions, and it pretty much covers, just as the name suggests, the traditions of the company. A couple of seasoned Disney cast member stands at the front of the room, over enthusiastically talking about the history of the company and the impact it has made around the world. The woman’s attire made up for the lack of color on the walls and décor, and the man casually sported a bow tie, making his quirky personality evident the moment he stepped foot in the room.
“Every one of us has magic to share!” exclaimed Meredith, the brightly dressed woman.
“That’s why we are all here today- to have the opportunity to create a magical experience for our guests!” chimed in Robert, her comedic partner.
Lindsay didn’t mind the two presenters’ excessive energy because it was contagious and added to her overwhelming excitement of beginning this chapter in her life so far from her home. Their eternal smile grew even bigger (although she thought it wasn’t possible) when it was time to tour the Magic Kingdom, the main hub for the entire resort. Lindsay couldn’t believe her ears when some of the students confessed to never have stepped foot in the parks before. As a diehard Disney fan, she was concerned that these Disney virgins are not able to understand the truly magical opportunity that they had landed.
“Being a part of the Disney community is a very valuable opportunity in life.”
Disney is highly respected worldwide for the past 90 years for upholding an incredible standard and being selected to contribute to this reputation reflects your quality of work ethic. Applications to work at a Disney location are only considered if the applicant lives within 50 miles. However, The Disney College Program allows college students, like Lindsay, to partake in a paid internship with the prestigious company. In an article from the Community College Journal, Shook explains that “… students can take advantage of a wealth of opportunities, and students often say that similar to college life, the more involved they become, the better and more valuable their experience is”. Lindsay is hoping that this will help her gain experience with children, as she wants to be an elementary school teacher, so the more she is involved, the greater her experience will be.
The tour group made their way over from Disney University where Traditions is held to its neighbor, The Magic Kingdom. The group of college students in business attire pack into a tram in 90 degree sunshine just as the guests do after arriving and parking their car in the lot, except the guests are dressed much more comfortably than a pencil skirt and 3 inch heels. Once the tram arrived to the gates of the park, the presenters-now-tour-guides led the group through the main entrance and straight to Main Street U.S.A.. The smell of buttered popcorn upon arrival made her mouth water and pushed nostalgia into overdrive. As much as the sensation of walking down Main Street was familiar to her, the element of her walking through as an employee and not a guest made her feel 10 feet taller. She had now become a part of something that had such an influence on her in her life.
The Disney College Program gives participants the opportunity to explore different roles within the company and also helps coach the students in the field that they desire. In an article from Machine Design, the author explains how a sophomore attending the University at Buffalo was accepted for an internship to the Disney College program in Orlando, and she will be working on the attractions, networking with Disney staff, and taking classes about aspects of engineering in the park taught by Disney Imagineers. This is what Lindsay was most excited about. She wants all the help that she can obtain from the company to help her become prepared for the teaching career that she wishes to pursue.
The group of CP’s (the endearing term used by the entire cast to describe the interns) continued on their way through the lands of the Magic Kingdom, stopping at the locations where the CP’s will be spending the next few months. The first stop was Casey’s Hot Dogs, an energetic restaurant specializing in, you guessed it, hot dogs and food you would find at a baseball game. The costumes the cast wore looked as if they had just walked off the field. As fun as it seemed to be part of the team, Lindsay had heard that this location was especially grueling because the hours were insane and the leaders were close to ruthless. The next stop was in the famous Magic Kingdom castle, the place Lindsay would call home for the next few months. He location was the Bipitty Bopitty Boutique, where all the little princesses would come to be transformed by the Fairy Godmothers In Training, AKA FGIT’s (Pronounced Figgits). Lindsay analyzed the lace trimmed lavender and cream costumes and pictured herself in the costume. She gets to visit costuming on Friday to pick up her own. All of the FGIT’s seemed so graceful amidst such a chaotic area. There were half dressed little girls running around with frustrated moms chasing behind them. Lindsay felt a connection to the location instantly and she was ready to participate in the madness. She didn’t want to leave yet, even though she knew that she was already scheduled 42 hours the following week. Time was not an issue so long as she spent it at The Happiest Place on Earth.
Fast forward to 2 months later, Lindsay is arriving to the Boutique with a fresh purple dress that she picked up from costuming that morning. Although she was tired and overworked, she was still happy about her position as a FGIT. She clocked in 5 minutes before her shift so she could take a moment before the craziness that awaits her. She sat on the ledge of the wall that splits backstage and on stage. She always thought it was interesting how they used show terms, because Walt Disney wanted the parks to be a show that transported guests to a new world. As she pushed the cast only door that lead her on stage, the twinkly music and reckless laughter flooded her ears. She walked over to the Boutique host to ask how many reservations they had for the day. Jan dropped her chin and just looked over at her.
“Ouch… that many?” Lindsay sighed.
“and we have 2 call outs…” Jan said as she tapped away on the computer looking for cancellations.
“Let the chaos begin!” Lindsay said optimistically.
It was times like these that she felt she learned, above all, work ethic and the strength to continue her job even if it was bound to be horribly stressful. Although she loved her time at Disney world, she was ready to tell everyone about her insane adventures.
Shook, S. (2006). COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS truly live the magic. Community College Journal, 76(3), 32-35. Retrieved from ProQuest.
“Workshop supports women who want to become engineers.” Machine Design, 4 Mar. 2010, p. 22+. Academic OneFile, Accessed 1 Nov. 2016.
“Disney College Program Phone Interview Tips :)” YouTube, BrittanyNacoleDCP, 24 Aug. 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnny8jkfgrw.
Careers. Disney College Program. Disney. 2016. cp.disneycareers.com/en/program-components/earning/role-descriptions/
Ghost, Kat. Personal interview. 12 Oct. 2016.