Working at the Happiest Place on Earth: Disney World

Disney World has everything you could ever possibly think of: magic, happiness, joy, excitement and bliss. Working there was a dream come true. I love everything about Disney, the rides, food, atmosphere, cast members and overall feelings of happiness. When I was younger my parents would always encourage me to apply for a job once I reached working age. We would take countless trips to Disney when I was growing up so of course I fell in love with it at a young age. I always imagined myself working at the Canada Pavilion in Epcot to represent my country, but I knew any job at Disney would be amazing.

The Interview

I applied online Fall 2013 and luckily landed an interview a few months later. They only had two interview locations in all of Canada to choose from: Toronto or Montreal. Thank gosh, I lived close to one of them. I was so nervous when the interview date arrived. The other interviewees and I had to first be there for 8 am for a Welcome Introduction meeting to set info straight. I had an interview slot time later that day so I had to wait a couple of hours along with at least 50 other applicants. I met some nice people who a few months later met up with. It really put me in the Disney spirit which is something I was hoping for during the interview. When 5 pm that day came oh boy was I scared but so excited at the same time.

During my interview things didn’t go exactly the way I planned as I had a mile heart attack. I had thought I could live off residence (not on Disney property) since I already had a family house in Kissimmee but unfortunately, that option was only for domestic employees. The whole confusion kinda set me off for the rest of the interview but I still managed to smile and keep my head up. The situation was quickly resolved and I had an enjoyable time speaking about myself and answering questions during the interview. I even suggested that I would love to work anywhere at Animal Kingdom, and later it turned out she made that wish come true.

The Acceptance 

Months later I received my congratulatory email inviting me to work at Disney. Was I ever thrilled!! One part of the application process that sucks is that you don’t find out where you will be working until you arrive. I knew my position would be something in Quick Service Food and Beverage but until orientation day I had to wait and dream. There was a lot of paperwork to do before arriving in the U.S., including Visas, forms and other documents. It took weeks to complete but once it was done I didn’t need to stress about it again. Every few weeks Disney would send out reminder and countdown emails to aware applicants of important information such as locations and dates. 

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A Dream Come True

I was to begin my Disney program May 18, the second of two available starting dates. I arrived two days earlier to get settled in and to get a feel for the place I’d be living for almost three months. I soon found out my location, work schedule, training dates and much more. I met with my international roommates and quickly started to make life long friends. The following days consisted of Disney University where we were taught the basic in and outs of the Disney code but also important information related to our specific positions. 

We had the chance as a large group to go on a field trip and explore Magic Kingdom from top to bottom. Literally. The park grounds but also the secret cast member tunnels. The supervisors really make you feel like you’re one of the team. “School” here lasted a few days then we were off to orientation and training shifts. 

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The Real Stuff

Working at Disney isn’t the easiest thing. There are MANY rules to follow so if you aren’t the type of employee who goes by the book them this isn’t for you. Simple. I’ve seen many people get terminated for lack of conduct, it happens. But again that’s just Disney.

This company is well-known for its customer service making it one of the best companies in the world. That being said there are dress codes, work management, guest interaction and employee standard rules. For example, you had to have a clean/ironed costume for every new shift. If the manager catches you with a wrinkled shift you would be sent to costuming to get a new one making you extra late for the shift you are unavailable to clock in for yet. If you happen to be one minute to one hour late you get docked a point.

The point system is one of the most important things to look out for. If you rack up enough points you are out. The managers will also analyze your work performance over your program and will give you honest feedback regarding your habits. So they keep track of how you’re doing with your co-workers, guests and corporate heads.

My position was in QSFB and it was tough work. To be honest, at first, I didn’t even like my position and I tried to get out of it. That didn’t work so I knew it was going to have to make the most out of it. I started to meet new people (co- workers), interact with the guests and enjoy my duties. There was lots of physical labour involved, something which I wasn’t entirely used to. But I got through it and asked for help when it was hard. By the end I was tired but I also didn’t want to leave just yet. I had grown to love the place and the traditions my workplace had. 

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The Extras

The Disney College Program really makes you feel like a valued employee. For your time and effort, Disney rewards you with unlimited park access to any of the four Disney World Parks. You also earn a guest card for family, friends or anyone you want to bring in. This has a limit on it but it can be used for multiple days.

The water parks are open to employees at the beginning of summer but are blocked out the following months because of heavy attendance records. So not do you get awesome park perks but occasionally the College Program will hold events such as Campus Bingo, Swim + BBQ, Meet n Greet with Characters and many more fun events. Usually, there is free food and goodies involved! The College program is designed to feel like a real college community. Once you’re finished or close to finishing your program, there is a large Graduation party held in your honour where you receive College graduation caps, gifts and you guessed it more free food. It’s an exciting day as you wish farewell to all of your friends and colleagues.

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Residency

There are four Disney residences within twenty minutes of the parks and resorts that most college students live in. International cast members must live in the complexes where domestic students may choose to live off campus. I personally lived at Vista Way and I loved it. I asked for this residence first because of its geographic location. It was the closest to Disney, restaurants and stores. Vista Way is one of the oldest apartment complexes but that didn’t bother me much because of all the amenities it came with. It comes with a library, computer room, gym, pool and 24-hour security. Seriously, it was a great place to stay.

The other residences were newer but just as nice. Most of the events for the College Program happened at Chatham Square because of the large open atmosphere. Cast members are provided with free bus access to and from work, but also, at your convince to any Disney property and even the local Walmart and post office. The bus system was easy to figure out it just takes a little practice. 

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So that was my Disney College Program! It was never ending fun and I am so glad I did it. I met incredible people, did amazing things and saw fantastic sights. I definitely recommend this program because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. 

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