So you are thinking about participating in the Disney College Program, but you can’t make up your mind if this is the right step for you. I know how you feel – I hesitated once myself. I was a Cast Member with the college program in 2002, and it was an experience I will never forget. Here is some information that I hope can help those college students out there that are trying to decide if the Disney College Program is right for them, or right for you!
1. How do you go about applying?
The college I attended at the time had an interview day. We went in, filled out the application, and chose the top three positions that we would like to work in. This was followed by an interview with a Disney Cast Member. It was only a couple of weeks later that I learned I had been offered the position at Disney’s Blizzard Beach as a Cast Member. At some schools, they also have auditions for characters and dancers. One great thing is that a lot of schools actually offer you college credit for participating.
Need more information? Here’s the Mouze Kateerz review. The Disney College Program: An Application and Benefits Overview
2. What do you do once you are accepted?
After I accepted the offer from Disney, I was provided both a website with information, as well as being sent a large packet that included a ton of additional information. It included my contract; most of the time you are committing to 6 months. The package also contained information on what day I needed to arrive, where to check in, what to bring, and a questionnaire regarding what size room I wanted to have. I had to provide basic information about myself to match me with potential roommates. I also had to pay $300 at that time for a program and housing fee.
3. How much do the rooms cost and where do you live?
The room rates vary depending on how many roommates you choose to have. I lived in an apartment with 3 other girls. I paid approximately $90 per week for my housing. Depending on the number of roommates you have, your cost will be anywhere from approximately $80-105 per week. The cost of housing is automatically deducted from your paycheck. If you are under the age of 21, you are automatically put in what they call a “wellness apartment.” A wellness apartment simply means that it is dry and no alcohol is allowed. Also, all apartments and courtyard areas are non-smoking. When I was in the program, there were 3 housing complexes. I lived in Vistaway, which is the oldest of the complexes. You could tell it had been there awhile, but everything worked and they did their best to maintain everything. Chatham Square was the second. It was newer and a little further away from the main entrance than Vista. It is a very nice complex with more new amenites. Lastly there was the Commons; this complex was reserved mainly for the international Cast Members. They have recently added a fourth complex, Patterson Court, which is the most expensive.
Need more housing information with photos? Here’s the Mouze Kateerz review. The Disney College Program: All You Need to Know About Dorms, Roommates, and Housing Costs.
The one downside to the living experience is you don’t get to choose your roommates. I actually ended up moving from my first apartment after a month. I had roommates that ate all my food and enjoyed drinking in a wellness apartment. Luckily, my second set of roommates was so much better!
4. How do you get around?
You have a few options on how to get around the area while you are down there. First you can bring your own car. I did this and was so happy to have my own transportation! I was able to drive to work, leave from there and do grocery shopping or visit the beach. Disney does however offer transportation not only to the parks, but also to some grocery stores in the area. They will take you to Wal-Mart, Super Target and several others at set times each week. The transportation makes it easy to go where you need to, but trying to get groceries on the bus can be problematic. You can make friends with someone who has a car and get them to take you to different places. There is one downside in that you cannot bring a bicycle down there. That’s too bad since there are many places you could ride without having to drive or take a bus.
5. What can you expect during your experience?
First and foremost, you will work long hours for not a lot of pay. Right now they are paying $7.70/hr for college program students. After rent and taxes are taken out, it doesn’t leave a whole lot left for going out or extras. Also, as college program employees you may work upwards of 60+ hours a week, and expect late nights! Since I worked at a water park, we got out earlier, but that was also a downside in that we didn’t make as much money. Luckily Disney has a call in number that you can phone to see if there are holes open in other areas that you can pick up. I was able to work at some of the quick service restaurants, was an usher for multiple Fantasmic shows, and did other odds and ends throughout the various parks.
A great thing that Disney has is the extra options for education. You can take classes in many areas such as customer service, human resources, hospitality and many others. The classes do not cost anything themselves, however you will need to pay for textbooks and any material fees. The classes that I took while there have been put to a lot of use over the years, and what I learned helped me in my future jobs. Several employers even pointed out that I worked at Disney, and one asked me to help set up a customer service class based on what I learned there.
One thing Disney is big on is the “Disney look.” They provide uniforms, and with the exception of lifeguards, you leave your uniform there each night and get a new one every day. You will receive guidelines on what jewelry you can wear, as well as any guidelines related to grooming such as beards and extreme hair color.
Not sure what job to apply for? Here’s another former Cast Member’s recommendation. What’s the Best Job in the Disney College Program? Our Answer May Surprise You!
6. What are some of the best perks?
First off, you get to go to Disney for free on any day you have off. What more could you ask for?! You get to go to some after hours events that are available to cast members only (Riding Space Mountain with the lights on is quite an experience!) We had a summer picnic while I was there that was a lot of fun as well. Another great part is that they have an outlet store for cast members behind the Magic Kingdom; I was able to pick up some great gifts for Christmas before I left. They also offer some great discounts and free tickets for family. You get a limited number, but it still makes it nice when people come to visit. My family came down often, and each time my parents came down we stayed at a different resort for a great price! We also decided to buy into DVC due to the discount they offered. We had been looking at it for years, but this made the decision a much easier one. The perks make up for what you lose out on in pay.
7. Is it worth going?
I can honestly say that there were days that I wanted to just pack up and leave. The jobs there can be stressful, but even with that said, I would not give up the experience that I had. I made some friends that I am still in contact with to this day. Once girl I met there even stayed with us for almost 2 years after we came home, while she went to school in the city we lived in. You will learn so much there, and of course, getting to go to Disney for free on your days off was wonderful!
Overall the Disney college Program is a great learning experience that you will never forget. If you are looking for a fun experience and the opportunity to work at the most magical place on earth, then it is definitely worth checking out. Just be warned – you will still be doing the “Disney Point” with 2 fingers 10 years later!
She has been to Disney over 70 times and worked at Blizzard Beach as part of the Disney College Program. She is now working on finding a way to move to FL, so she can be closer to her favorite place on Earth!
Thanks for stopping by for a photographical Disney ride.