Hey, everyone, glad to be back, and boy do I have some stories. First of all I just wanted to thank everyone who commented on my last article. I love hearing the feedback and am honored that so many of you actually cared about what I had to say. Anyway, today’s article is about the first week of the program.
Now let me explain. When moving to the college program you have to choose an apartment complex. They have different tiers of pricing and style:
Vista Way is the least expensive of the dorms and it is the oldest. It’s known to be a party dorm where there is always some action. That might be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you enjoy. Keep in mind that the most terminations from the program do come from Vista Way. Here you’ll have an apartment with a roommate and four other suite mates.
Chatham Square is the second most expensive apartment complex. At Chatham you can choose to have an apartment with 3 other people or a smaller one bedroom/one roommate set up. Keep in mind, the less roomates the higher price. Chatham is a quieter dorm. It’s further away from the hustle and bustle of the 4 Freeway and usually has the least amount of crazy commotion.
The Commons is a dorm on par with Chatham in cost and style. The only real difference is that there are more international students at The Commons than there are at other apartment complexes.
Patterson Court is the next door neighbor to Chatham and is the most expensive. It is a little more exposed to the outside world considering it is right next to the crowded International Drive. Other than that it is probably the mellowest dorm for the program.
Day 1 – Registration
Now let’s get to the fun! The first day everyone is rounded up into a long line to register and get their schedule for the next few days. The Disney team starts registering at 9:00 AM. I got there at 8:30 and they were already letting people in. Some people that I met had been there since 6:45. No matter how you get in, you get your apartment key, your apartment ID card and you receive a schedule for when to go to the Disney Casting Office. One of the most important things that you receive is your guidebook. For the first week of your program it will be with you at all times.
Long lines everywhere at Walt Disney World
Hint: Talk to those around you while in line for the Registration and the Casting. You are going to be there for a while so it is a great way to make some friends on your first day.
Next you move into your apartment. Here is what my apartment at Chatham looks like:
The outside of the buildings at Chatham
Walking in from the front door
Turn Right into the bathroom towards the first bedroom
The first bedroom
Turn left from the bedroom to see the living room (the door in the back is the second bedroom). Both bedrooms have connected bathrooms and walk-in closets
From the living room to the Dining Room/Kitchen
And then the kitchen. The door to the right is the pantry and the door straight ahead… well we don’t know what’s behind there. They tell us it’s our heat and water, but I’m suspicious.
So, you dump your bags and meet your roommates. In my apartment I live with three others. Jason is my roommate and Austin and Nate live in the other bedroom. We all get along and find it easy to live with each other. I wish the same to all of you starting the program. Once all of this is done you can head over to the Vista Way apartment common room to be picked up by the Disney Casting Bus. When you walk into Disney Casting you know that you are about to receive a job like no other.
Golden statues adorn the circular dome where you wait to get your assignment. You take out your handy dandy guide book and a casting representative will give you a sticker that says what area you will be working in. This is a scary moment for most; I was very nervous when getting my assignment. I received Adventureland/Liberty Square. I knew I was already in attractions so I also knew that I would be randomly selected to work at Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, The Hall of Presidents or The Jungle Cruise. After you recieve your assignment it’s all paperwork from here. You are moved around the casting building, room to room, as you get different required classes and seminars for your specific role.
After all of this is done (it usually takes 2-3 hours) you can relax for the rest of the day.
Day 2 – Welcome Session
The next day we were set to go to a mandatory welcome session at The Commons.
More waiting outside The Commons Clubroom
And then they finally let us in
Yep, this definitely wasn’t what we expected. There were lights, fog machines, and music (all from Disney Mania soundtracks). When we walked in we knew that this was not an ordinary welcome session
After all of the hype and hoopla we got down to brass tacks. Safety in the dorms.
Above: Kevin Andews, a coordinator of safety at the College Program. Standing in the right corner are our hosts Byran and Norma
It was a lot of fun, with questions and prizes, and the hosts had some very funny banter. Even though it was about safety, Disney made the session fun. Get used to these because you will have many more safety meetings and briefings.
After this 2 hour meeting the day is yours!
Day 3 – The Welcome Party
The only event scheduled for your third day is the welcome party. It is another great opportunity to meet new friends and meet some characters. For example, Mary Poppins was doing a meet and greet at our party.
It was a lot of fun with a DJ, free stuff, contests and prizes.
But all of this led up to the big day.
Day 4 – Traditions
Traditions is the day that we are cordially welcomed into the Disney Family. The class is a formal affair where a button down shirt and dress pants are mandatory for guys and nice dresses for girls. We are all rounded up into the Disney University.
Lookin suave for Traditions
Waiting yet again in the Disney University Lobby
Right before entering the meeting we are given our blue cards. They are our identification and our key to all parks and discounts on the Disney properties.
Cool murals all along the walls of the classroom.
Our class was headed by our hosts Art and Chris. And even though Chris attended Arizona State University he was still pretty cool.
Then it was time for a walk through the Magic Kingdom before the park opened. We got our first look at the Utilidor. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures but it’s kinda what you would expect. It’s basically a huge set of tunnels that cast members walk through to get to their locations and some even take golf carts. And if you happen to be walking under the castle, don’t be too surprised if you bump into Cinderella while she is looking for her mouse friends.
We emerged from the Utilidor on to Main Street USA
While walking up Main Street some cast members on the horse drawn cart recognized that we were newbies. They were very excited to welcome us to the Disney family.
My roommate Austin. We were both very excited to be in the Magic Kingdom.
One of our hosts, Chris, exemplifying qualities of a good Cast Member
When we returned there was a competition to see who could come up with the most Disney characters in one minute. Needless to say our team won with 42 names.
I I know I spelled Mufasa wrong, but see if you know all of the characters as well.
We had a special guest. Mickey Mouse presented our new nametags.
The box of all of our nametags
After we received our nametags we were off to celebrate. Now if you’ll excuse me I made a promise to reunite with a favorite ride of mine. I’ll see ya Day 6
Day 6 – Once Upon a Time
Yes, I know I skipped day 5, but nothing is scheduled that day so CPs can rest. On Day 6 we split off into our respective theme parks and departments. I wasn’t really able to take to many pictures this day due to confidentiality, so I’ll just explain the best I can.
First we walked around the Magic Kingdom with our groups and learned about the areas, why they are made the way they are and how cast members can use these places to their advantage. We also did a few rides such as the Haunted Mansion and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.
Hint- Any time that you are in a class or a group of people like this or Traditions, meet the people around you, get numbers. I have made friends from all of the events and classes I have participated in. The more friends you have the better because it is near impossible to find days off that match among a small group of friends once you start working.
After our fun adventures through the park we were split up into smaller groups of based on our work locations. This is when we found out where we would be working for the rest of our time here. My role is…. drum roll please….. Pirates of the Caribbean.
I was the only member of my group that was to be working in Adventureland so I had my trainer all to myself. Even crazier, he was training three others to train for Adventureland/Liberty Square attractions (AD/LIB as we call it). Throughout the day we joked that my trainers were my entourage. We headed over to wardrobe, a huge warehouse next to the Magic Kingdom cast parking lot that contains all of the costumes for all roles in the Magic Kingdom. I was informed that it was national banana split day, so my trainers and I had some ice cream before saying our farewells.
My Trainers: From left to right, Doug, Kate, Joseph, and Alex
Well since there was no day 7 that was my first week of the Disney College Program. Thanks for reading everyone. And it looks like I am working most of the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties so if anyone is in the Kingdom come over to Pirates to say hello.