Strap in kids, it's going to be a wild ride.

10 stages of the Disney College Program

Hi friends!

So if you have been living under a rock for the past year, haven't crept on any of my social media accounts or just been completely out of the loop all together... this past year I had the opportunity to do the Disney College Program in Florida for six months! To say the experience was an emotional roller coaster was an understatement.

I wrote a post a few months back on my letter to the college program sharing some of my experiences I had as a cast member and how thankful I am for the opportunity to help spread some magic in Florida. For today's post, I wanted to spill a little insight into the stages of the Disney College Program. As magical as it may appear on the 'gram it may not be the full story.

SO... let's jump right in!

From the moment you receive your acceptance email to moving into your new home in Florida, it seems like Walt Disney himself personally picked you to help create magic alongside the infamous Mickey Mouse. You go through your first few weeks all hyped up on Mickey Bars and pixie dust as you learn more about the company and the process of becoming an official Walt Disney World Cast Member.  You start to talk to anyone and everyone in the program and start to build your circle of new Disney loving friends. Could it get any better than this??

2. "Everything hurts but I'm still on the Disney high" stage
Once you settle into your home park/location after training the long hours start to hit you. Your feet and face will start to hurt from standing and smiling for 8+ hours, but it's ok because YOU'RE LIVING IN DISNEY WORLD. Instead of resting your feet on your days off you end up walking twice as much around the parks and tackling your Disney Bucket list. I mean, you are only here for a few months, you have to take advantage of every moment right? Who needs sleep when you're running on pixie dust??

3. Uhm, should I self-term?
Even though you're making magic in the most magical place on Earth, homesickness is inevitable. You start to question your decision about doing the program and even contemplate self-terming. I mean, it's hard to scroll through Instagram and feeling some type of FOMO when all of your friends are back at home hitting up your usual weekend spot while you're scheduling closing for the 5th night in a row. BUT, you do have to keep reminding yourself that you're living a once in a lifetime experience and soak up everything while you can. The bars will still be there when you get home!

4.  The Breakdown
Somewhere along the way, the sleep-deprived nights, long shifts, crazy gues inquires, and still not knowing what the heck you're doing will all start to get to you and you'll have your first breakdown. (Or two and end up crying on stage, it's fine. No judgment, it happens.) You just have to brush it off, take a deep breath and get back up.

I'm not going to sugar coat it, working at Disney is HARD. It drains you physically and mentally and can be a lot thrown at you at once. It's ok to cry. It's ok to take a step back and vent to your roommates. Take a break from the parks during your off day, explore outside of the Disney bubble for a day, it'll do some good to recharge yourself.

5. Finding your Ohana
Ok, so you decided to not self-term and have been inited with an onstage breakdown (or two) you finally made it to the fun part! The pals you've been spending the last few months living / working with will start being your family. You become inseparable with your roommates and getting to work with your fellow CP family instantly means it's going to be a great shift.

6. The "I've been here for 3 months and still don't know what I'm doing" stage
LOL let's face it, even in my last week at my location I still felt like I had no idea what I'm doing. I guess you'll never fully know what you are doing because things are constantly changing with the company/each location that you just have to roll with the punches... or find your favorite cast member and you guys can try to navigate and struggle together.

7. "Wow, $18 is so cheap for breakfast"
It's no surprise that Disney is a budget-friendly place, and after living in the Disney bubble for a few months you may start to get immune to the wallet-breaking prices. After paying high dollar for Character breakfasts (even with your cast member discount....),  a normal breakfast under $20 seems like a steal.

It's the final weeks of your program and it all starts to sink in that it's coming to an end. You start trying to frantically finish your bucket list, do all of your "for the last time" snaps, and planning out your last few days in the kingdom... and of course, procrastinating on packing up your room. I mean, if you don't pack you aren't really leaving, right?

9. The tearful "See Ya Real Soon"s
Quite possibly the worst day ever. (Dramatic, maybe. Truthful? Partially.) One by one you start saying "See ya real soon" to your favorite coordinators and leaders, parks, fellow cast members and friends that have become family during the past few months. You will most likely head to the Magic Kingdom and bawl your eyes out watching Happily Ever After for the last time and feel like they will have to drag you out of the park to make you leave this magical place. It may be one of the hardest goodbyes you have to make, but at least you know it was well worth the program because all good things are the hardest to let go.

10. Post DCP depression
IT'S REAL Y'ALL. This may be harder than leaving the program. Once you get home and start to settle back into the "real world" you'll quickly realize that things just aren't as exciting and magical as they were in Disney. You'll find yourself knocking on doors before you push on them, pointing with two fingers and the occasional "Hi princess!" will slip out every now and then. You start to look back at old photos of your program and contemplate going back for round two to relive the magic all over again.

WHEW. That was a roller coaster. But in all reality guys, the Disney College Program was definitely one of the best experiences I've had to date. Yes, during the program you will work long hours (it is a job after all!), but all the memories, experiences and people you meet along the way make it soooo worth it! If you are able to, I highly at least recommend applying for the program! If you have any questions on it at let me know down below and I'd love to help!

I hope you all enjoyed the post and if I missed any "stages" of the program let me know down below! As always, thank you for reading!


1 comment:

  1. Hello! I worked in merch during my DCP and you can pretty much expect it to be how traditional retail operates during the holiday season. You do get to interact with a lot of guests and you are on your feet talking for most of the day so if you enjoy interacting with guests I say it's worth it! If you're more introvert / don't like a lot of guest interaction then merch may not be the best fit for you.

    Hope this helps!