This August, I applied and have been accepted into the Disney College Program for Spring 2017. This was my first time ever applying! I am beyond excited to begin this new and magical journey!
What is the Disney College Program?
The Disney College Program (DCP) is a selective 4 to 7 month paid internship at either Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida or Disneyland in Anaheim, California. As a program participant, you will have the unique opportunity to work within a Disney park or resort, “network with leaders, take part in personal and career development classes, and build transferable skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, guest service and effective communication” (Overview). Living, learning, and earning are the three major components the DCP focuses on.
- Living – By participating through the program, Disney provides on-site housing for its Cast Members (CMs) in four different housing complexes close to the parks and resorts.
- Learning – Although not mandatory in Orlando, Disney does provide academic courses for college credit in areas like human resources, communication, and organizational leadership with the Disney point-of-view in mind. If you are not interested in registering for an academic course offering, there are a variety of seminars, alumni series, and other networking opportunities for Cast Members to learn more about the Walt Disney Company and develop professional skills.
- Earning – Working full-time in the parks and resorts and providing magic to guests worldwide is what I am most looking forward to! DCP pays at an hourly rate. There are multiple roles to choose from, which I will get to momentarily.
There are a number of requirements you must qualify for before applying to the DCP. Some are listed below. A more comprehensive list can be found here.
- Students must be enrolled and taking college classes OR have just completed their degree within 6 months prior to applying. You don’t have to be a full-time student. Even if you are taking a single college class, you are good to go. Even though the DCP is geared towards undergraduate students, graduate students and those in adult programs are eligible to apply as well. If you are finishing your LAST SEMESTER before graduation, you are still eligible to apply because you are currently enrolled in your final semester. You just have to be enrolled and taking a college class.
- Some schools have GPA requirements for participating in the program. Check with your school.
- Be at least 18 years old when the program begins.
- Unrestricted work authorization
This is the list of possible roles that a DCP participant may be employed as a Cast Member. Click on each role for a comprehensive job overview as provided through the Disney College Program site.
Walt Disney World
- Bus Greeter
- Convention Guide
- PhotoPass Photographer
- Character Attendant
- Character Performer (Audition Required)
- Costuming Operations
- Bell Services Dispatch/Greeter
- Quick-Service Food & Beverage
- Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique/Pirate League
- Vacation Planner
- Children’s Activities
- Recreation Attractions
- Resort Transportation & Parking
- PhotoPass Photographer
- Park Greeter
- Cast Costuming
- Entertainment Costuming
- Disney Desk
- Front Desk
- Guest Services
- Custodial Busser
- Food Cart Cashier
- Food Prep
- Quick-Service Food & Beverage Cashier
- Food & Beverage Quick-Service Restaurants
- Retail Sales Clerk
- Vacation Planner
Important Things to Consider
Ask yourself and any specific people the following questions before you decide to apply.
- Will I lose any college scholarships by taking off a semester at my institution to do the DCP? Ask financial aid.
- Will I still be able to graduate on time? Talk with your advisor.
- Do I want to receive academic credit? How much will my school offer? Talk with your advisor and check with the Provost Office.
- How will participating in the DCP help me professionally? For me personally, I am a business administration major and want to learn how to provide exceptional service through one of the most respected company brands in the world.
If you are satisfied with the answers from the questions above and meet the application requirements, then you are all set for completing an application! Hooray!
When are applications available?
Applications for Spring (January – May) and Spring Advantage (January – August) programs are released late August – early September and due in October.
Applications for Fall and Fall Advantage programs are released late January – early February.
The Application Process
The Disney College Program is competitive to get into. Thousands of students fill out applications and, unfortunately, not everyone is accepted into the final stage. There are three steps one must take to potentially get accepted into the DCP: Application, Web-Based Interview, and Phone Interview. In this article, we will be focusing on the application process and how to do well on it!
What is the Application like?
It’s fairly straightforward! You fill out your personal information like many other job applications. From what I remember It asks you for basic information (full name, age, college attending, grade level, graduation year, home address, etc.) and you rank the order of Cast Member roles that you’d like to have. You’ll also have the opportunity to list and detail up to 5 job-related experiences that you have completed previously, which is like your online resume.
With all of that being said . . .
Here are my TIPS to PASSING the application process!
- Research all the roles ahead of time.
- Pick the top 3-5 roles you honestly believe you would love to do and have experience in. You don’t want to be sad and stressed in a role you dislike–even for Disney!
- Identify KEY WORDS used in the different role descriptions and implement them into your FIVE job-related experiences that you’ll include in your application. RESEARCH THE ROLE DESCRIPTIONS!
- Provide FIVE job-related experiences that enhance your skills related to particular Cast Member roles you really want. If you haven’t had five paid jobs in the past, don’t worry. Include volunteer experiences, too. For instance, I knew that I wanted to work merchandise, so I included my experience as a pantry assistant for a local food bank where I stocked shelves with food and maintained a clean pantry. FILL OUT ALL FIVE SPACES WITH RELEVANT WORK/VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCES!!! One particular experience could be the determining factor between you and another equally qualified applicant. Don’t leave anything vacant!
- During the ranking portion of the application, don’t select “high interest” for all the roles if you sincerely do NOT picture yourself working that role. Yes, the idea of working at Walt Disney World really can sugarcoat jobs you never would’ve considered otherwise. But, this is a FULL TIME JOB. You want to enjoy yourself and what you’re doing since you’ll be working long and hard hours. Plus, there will always be roles in “high demand” such as custodian, quick-service food and beverage (QSFB), lifeguard, and housekeeping. If you select even “moderate interest” for any of these four choices, you are more likely to be chosen in one of those roles since these roles need to be filled consistently. Rank wisely.
- Attractions and Merchandise are in my opinion “SAFE” options to choose. Theme parks have multiple rides that need to be run and merchandise that needs to be sold. Thus, a constant supply of Cast Members will always be needed from these roles. If you choose either or both of these roles in your top 3-5 picks, you’re in a safer position than an applicant who only picks roles in low demand! With that being said, there are many roles in “low demand” since there are fewer positions available overall. Some of these roles include Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (BBB)/Pirate League (PL), children’s activities, recreational activities, character performer (requires audition), convention guide, and floral. This doesn’t mean they are not impossible to be employed as but are definitely harder! By all means, if you have the experience and know-how to stand out among other applicants vying for the same high-interest positions, go for it!!! 🙂
For those who are interested, I only marked “moderate” to “high interest” for 6 ROLES of the possible 22 roles!! I didn’t even rank the other 16 roles because they weren’t options I wanted to work in. The top roles I picked were BBB, merchandise, attractions, children’s activities, vacation planner, and convention guide! Yes, I took a little bit of a risk by not ranking more roles. The good thing is that when I received my acceptance letter, I knew that I would be accepted for one of the select roles I ranked as “high interest”. 🙂
Remember to do your research; tailor your job-related experiences using key words from the job descriptions; and be selective about which roles you see yourself as a future Cast Member.
I hope this blog has been insightful! If you have any more questions about anything regarding the Disney College Program, definitely write in the comments below!
Much love and Disney magic,