Halfway Point: The Disney College Program

Hi, my name is Carly, and I have a small obsession with Disney.

(Hi Carly).

Of course, this obsession isn’t exactly cured by the fact that I willingly set myself back a semester in college in order to spend four months at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida to work at the Magic Kingdom with something called the Disney College Program (phew, that was a long sentence!)

The DCP is a program where college-aged students go to either Disney World or Disneyland for a semester to work, take classes, and feed their Disney obsessions in the happiest places on Earth.

I applied to the program on a whim, during a particularly potent bout of procrastination when I should have been studying for midterms Spring semester of my Freshman year. I had heard about the DCP on a family vacation in 2013, and I pretty much had a “what the hell?” moment and applied.

The application process is pretty intensive, and it includes a cover letter and resume, letters of recommendation, two tests, and a phone interview. After about a month had passed since I had done my phone interview, I had just about given up any hope that I had been chosen. Needless to say, I was pretty shocked when I got the email saying that I had been accepted to the program.

When I decided to accept my position, I was feeling nervous. Nervous is actually a HUGE understatement, as every single pore in my body was filled with maximum levels of stress. Disney does not tell you what job you will be doing until you are literally in Florida. They also do not tell you who or how many roommates you will have. So basically the only thing I was sure of is that I would be working for Disney for four months at a restaurant.

I checked into the Program on August 31, 2015 in what was a whirlwind of lines, forms, photographs, and meeting people. It was on this day that I found out I would be working at Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn and Cafe at the Magic Kingdom (for those of you who are not as obsessed as I am, Magic Kingdom is the one with the castle and that closes ungodly late at night). It was also on this day that I met my four absolutely fantastic roommates who have had the patience to deal with me for the past two months. Seriously, these girls are saints.

hoop
My ever so fabulous roommates who are now stuck with me for life.

It kind of went downhill from here. I had assumed that I would be working out in what is called “front of house” at Pecos Bills, which is basically out with the guests. I found out a couple days after check in that I was actually assigned to work in the kitchen. This absolutely crushed me, because the thing I was most excited about was the guest interaction that I was going to get, and guest interaction is non existent in the kitchen. That, coupled with the fact that I hard core sucked at kitchen work those first few weeks, made me seriously consider going home to Ohio simply because I didn’t see the program as being worth it.

But I made myself go on. And I am so happy I did. Even in the kitchen, I met so many people that I feel extremely blessed to have gotten to know and am now able to call my friends. There are about twelve people who are in the DCP who work in the kitchen, and they have become a part of my family. The other full time workers, as well as the coordinators and leaders, have helped me so much and have starred in some truly fantastic memories that have made the program worth while.

pecos
We make rice and beans look good. #Pecosfam

I have since been trained to work Front of House, and I spend about half my time in the kitchen and half with the guests. It’s a good split and keeps things interesting, even though I much prefer working in the front with the guests.

I have gone to the parks a lot. Like A LOT a lot. As a Cast Member, I receive unlimited free entry into any of the four theme parks on property, discounts at some restaurants, and, as of October 18, forty percent off all merchandise. And since I am only doing this once, I need to do this the best I can. Sometimes I feel like I am annoying the people who follow me on social media from back home, because my Snapchat is almost 100% Cinderella’s Castle and other Disney landmarks.

The people I have met, however, have been the highlight of my experience. I have been blessed with possibly the best roommates in the DCP, and they take me as I am, weird hours and messy room and all. I have become extremely close with people from Miami, Florida; Savannah, Georgia; Hawaii, Colorado, and Texas.  I have even met people from my own home state that I never would have met if it weren’t for this program, and who I fully plan to bother nonstop once we are all home.

The DCP isn’t for everyone. The hours are bad, the pay is worse, and guests can be the horrible. I see my friends from home having fun and I want to be there. I FaceTime my family and see all of the milestones I am missing from my little brother’s Senior Year in High School.

However, I would not give up this experience for anything in the world. My roommates and I have made memories and helped each other figure out once and for all where we want to go with our lives. I getting better at my job and enjoy the people I work with. The DCP has made all of this possible.

cinderellas-castle

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths {Walt Disney}

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