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An Open Letter to All Incoming Disney College Program Participants

An Open Letter to All Incoming Disney College Program Participants

The Disney college program is great place for people to get eduacted on all things Disney. Here is my open letter to all incoming students to the program!

Dear incoming Disney college program participants,

Disney World is a magical place where dreams come true. This is not an understatement. Disney goes above and beyond for their guests no matter the situation. Working for a company like Disney will take perseverance and self-motivation. The Disney college program allows currently enrolled or graduated college students to work at the Walt Disney theme parks in California or Florida and learn what it takes to work for a major corporation. If you want to have a positive experience with your program, here’s some advice from an alumna.

1. Be Prepared For Long Hours and Crappy Pay

Anyone who has every participated in the program will be honest about the number of hours you work and how you’re paid for it. There were some weeks where I worked over 40 hours and received a paycheck for part-time pay. The reason for this is because rent is deducted from your paycheck. If you participate in the California Disney college program, then rent is deducted from your bank account. It’s a gut-wrenching feeling when you see how much you earned on your pay-stub before rent is subtracted.


2. Saving Money Will Be Impossible

Disney college program participants make $10 an hour. At first, this seems like a major step-up from all those other retail jobs you worked before, but you’ll need more to actually survive in Orlando, FL. You can try to save money by cutting out unnecessary expenses such as eating out and buying Disney merchandise. But, when you work for Disney and have an employee discount plus free park admission, it’s nearly impossible to restrain yourself from buying Mickey ears or Grapefruit beer from Germany at Epcot.

3. You Will Work Rain or Shine

The Walt Disney World is a 24-7, 365 days a year theme park that’s also located in central Florida. Some days the weather will be gorgeous to spend the day at the parks while others will be heavy rain storms and non-stop lightning. The weather in central Florida is unpredictable, but Walt Disney World only closes for extreme cases such as hurricanes, fires, and tornados. If you’re headed to work and see any thick gray clouds, bring your rain gear and an extra pair of socks. You never know when you’ll get caught in a rainstorm and completely soaked inside and out.

4. Save Your Call Outs for Emergencies

As a Disney college program participant, you are allowed three call outs (whether personal or sick) per 30 days, six call outs per three months, and nine call outs per six months. These call outs are totaled into one point per call out. Once you reach three points within 30 days, you’re given a reprimand. If you collect 3 reprimands, you will be terminated from the program. However, if you have the flu and call out more than three days within a week, get a doctor’s note a.s.a.p. By having a doctor’s note, all those days you called out while sick will be bundled into one point. You can get half a point by being late to work or late to clocking out. Manage your time and call outs carefully. Once they are made, they are a part of your permanent record.



When working at Disney, you will eventually figure out that vending machine food cannot satisfy your hunger. Each theme park has a cafeteria for cast members, but breaks are limited to either 15 or 30 minutes, so if your location is not close to the cafeteria, you won’t have enough time to get there, eat, and head back. Invest into a lunch box immediately. It will be used for every shift you work. You don’t even need to be a chef at home. Just pack frozen dinners, power bars, and iced coffee, and your lunchbox will be ready to go. You’ll thank yourself tremendously on your future breaks.

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6. Go Out With Roommates, Friends, and Coworkers Any Chance You Get

If you’re a shy person who’s not very good at socializing, don’t worry, everyone starts that way when working at Walt Disney World. There will be less than a handful of people who won’t be so open to being friends with you. But, you can make friends with people you least expected. If you’re ever working a closing shift and your coworkers mention going out to eat afterwards, go out with them and meet new people. Disney is all about teamwork and communication. By getting to know the people you work with, it will help you in the long run.


7. Don’t Be Afraid to Reach Out to Leaders

During your Disney college program, you will be introduced to all the leaders of your location. They rotate every day on which attraction they are running. For example, if a leader works on sunset boulevard in Hollywood Studios, they rotate between Tower off Terror, Rockin’ Roller Coaster, Fantasmic, and Theater of the Stars every day. Sometimes I’ve managed to get the same leader for two days in a row. Every leader is different, but don’t be afraid to reach out to them if you have a concern. Leaders are there to help answer any question you have or help you trade a shift when you need to.

8. You Will Have Two Types of Guest Situations: Great and horrendous

I can only hope that you will have many great guest situations. There will be some unpleasant situations where you won’t know what to do, but that’s where having reliable coworkers comes in handy. Cast members stick up for each other through thick and thin. But, when you have those great guest situations, guests will tweet a cast compliment about their experience with you, and how you made magic on their vacation. Let those positive moments be the reason you get up and go to work at Disney every day.

Are you a Disney college program participant? Share your story in the comments!

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