5 Things I Learned in the Disney College Program – Featured Blogger

Welcome to my newest monthly feature, everyone! Guest posts! On great topics! 

And I’m proud to introduce my little sister Erin as my first guest poster. Take it away, Erin!

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It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since I decided to apply for the Disney College Program. During my four years at Indiana University I constantly noticed, and took home, flyers about DCP information sessions, but I never made the time to go. Then last January, as graduation was quickly approaching, I started applying for jobs. Discouraged by this tiring process, I finally picked up a flyer and did some research.

I flew through each stage of the interview process, and after two weeks, I received an email telling me I had been accepted. Having no other current prospects, I decided, why not.

So after eight months of working as a Merchandise Hostess at the Happiest Place on Earth, what have I learned? Actually, a whole heck of a lot, but here are the five most important things I learned on my Disney College Program.

1. Disney “Look”- There’s more than meets the eye

Sporting the "Disney Look" at work!
Sporting the “Disney Look” at work!

As much of a bummer as it was to get rid of my nose piercing after four and half years, I was willing to do it, at least temporarily, for the opportunity to work for Disney. Disney Look requires cast members to dress appropriately, have natural looking hair color and cuts, and to leave those extra piercings and tattoos at home, or where the guests can’t see them. As strict, and somewhat boring, as this may seem, this stream lining of their cast members allows guests to pick a cast member out of a crowd, often even when you are not in costume. Also, I find that when I take time to look my best, I feel my best; so having a work force that puts appearance at the forefront may be another reason Disney costumer service is so world-renowned.

2. Roommates- The Luck of the Draw

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Erin and all of her roomies!

There are three options for finding roommates for Disney Housing: Room with people you already know, use chat rooms/Facebook to find people to room with, or let Disney randomly select your roommates. I personally saw, heard, and/or experienced some of the pros and cons of each method. When you room with someone you know, sometimes there can be jealously when one roommate makes new friends, and it’s much easier to disappoint each other because you already know their regular behavior. Using chat rooms/Facebook to find roommates is great, except that once the hype and excitement wear off, sometimes you find that having the same favorite Disney Princess doesn’t mean you live well together. Then there is the random draw, which was my method of choice. The important thing here is to accept that you can live well together with or without being best friends. There are great roommates, and there are the crazies. Be honest about your pet peeves, communicate, and don’t lie and/or throw other roommates under the bus for no reason. Know that you probably won’t have similar schedules, so find ways to embrace both your roommate family, and your location family. Do unto others, as you would like done unto you. In a nutshell: Be cool, Soda Pop.

3. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”-Being a part of Making the Magic

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As a kid, one of my favorite movies was the Wizard of Oz, and so I thought my internship with Disney would be similar to the moment Dorothy finds out the Wizard of Oz isn’t who he claims to be. However, instead of losing that magical feeling, I now see ten times the magic I did before I worked for Disney. Working for a company that is known for its amazing customer service, while being paid minimum wage, is no picnic. At the end of the stressful day, I knew that my internship would eventually be over, but many cast members work these stressful jobs full time, and often have for decades. To me, that’s magical. Working for Disney requires you to become very selfless, which is a trait that is lacking in most American interactions. Every day, every interaction, is an opportunity to make someone’s day. We try to make every guest’s vacation unique, memorable, and of course, Magical. Be prepared to come home and notice the distinct difference in the service you get from every other business.

4. Disney Snapping/Termination- Taking the opportunity seriously

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“Disney Snapping” is a term used to describe a cast member that buckles under the pressure of working for Disney. Often times these instances can be extreme and memorable, though mostly not in a good way. They also almost always lead to termination. Getting “termed” when you work for Disney is way more life changing than getting fired from a regular job, because it won’t just affect your job prospects for the theme parks, but also any other business under the Disney Umbrella: ABC, ESPN, Pixar, Hulu, just to name a few. So, take this opportunity seriously. Try yoga or Tai Chi, or find someone you can vent to in stressful situations, because once you Disney Snap, there is really no going back.

5. “This here’s the wildest ride in the wilderness!”

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If you are a Disneyphile, like me, you will recognize this quote from one of my favorite rides, Thunder Mountain. When describing the Disney College Program, I find it to be quite apropos. There are ups and downs, just like during any other internship, but the lessons you learn, and the people you meet, cannot be matched. I never thought I would have so many friends from countries all across the world, including Australia, New Zealand, France, Britain, and Ireland, just to name a few. I even met some amazingly awesome people just a state or two over, and whom I hope to stalk when I get homesick and/or want to binge watch Disney movies/documentaries. I learned so much about business, leadership, customer service, and also a lot about myself.

So, like Winnie the Pooh said, “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

I will forever remember and cherish the memories and friends I made during my Disney College Program, and I would recommend it to anyone. Just remember you’re never too old, and to hold on to the feeling you get every time you see Cinderella’s Castle. Instead of saying goodbye, I’ll just say, “See ya real soon!”

Erin has a Bachelor’s degree in Arts Administration and has just returned home after her 8 month internship with the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the younger sister of Kait, Zombies 4 Breakfast creator and blogger. 

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