Disney College Program: The First Week

Written by Kevin. Posted in Disney Parks, Features, Walt Disney World

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Published on September 16, 2012 at 12:40 am with 19 Comments

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

Chatham Pool

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

FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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.

About Kevin

Kevin is a member of Disney's College Program. In this series, he'll share his journey in wonderland with us.

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19 Comments

Comments for Disney College Program: The First Week are now closed.

  1. Thank you for doing this!
    It’s great to see your enjoying what your doing so far :)
    I have a question, as a British citizen I was wondering could I do the college program to WDW, if so would I be at magic kingdom or automatically put into Epcot :P

    • Phantomboy, you can do the CP if you’re British as long as you’re currently at university. It’s common to do a few months over the summer, and you can be placed anywhere in WDW, just like the American CPs.

      If you aren’t a student, then you are limited to the Cultural Representative programme (which I did) where due to visa rules you will be only working in the UK at Epcot, but you still live in the same housing complexes and have the same social life and perks that the CPs do.

      • Thank you very much brerjon :)
        Much appreciated

      • Thanks for the reply Brer Jon. Yep, you must be in a university and you will be placed anywhere here, not just EPCOT. You can even ask on your phone interview to not be put in a specific place.

  2. Hi, Kevin,
    I’ve enjoyed reading your articles for several years and really appreciate your sharing your adventures of your time in the Disney College Program with us. It was also a delightful surprise to discover that you’re a UA Alum! Go Cats!!

    • Just a heads up that the Kevin writing these articles is not me (Kevin Yee), in case that was a point of confusion :)

  3. Liked the great review and glad you are having fun. Remember don’t give away the whole show- lots of pictures backstage building pictures too.

    • Don’t worry. I’m not allowed to give up the whole show!

  4. Thanks so much for sharing! Are the 4 apartments just for CP castmembers? Also how many CP castmembers are participating at a time?

    Thanks!

    • Yes, just 4 apartments and there are, from what I’ve heard, around 8,000 cp’s in total on both coasts.

  5. can i apply if i go to a community college? i really wanna intern.

    • Yeah! I know plenty of people who have applied from community colleges.

  6. DabbyLand, yes you can apply just go to Disneycollegeprogram.com to get more info, or stop by your career center at your school if it has one.

    Keven and boy thing have changed since i did my college program back in 05, i remember the first week you had, was four days for me. I made some really great friends and enjoyed myself that i went back and did cp two more times.

  7. The CP was the best semester of my college career. I needed a break from engineering school, and an operations internship was exactly what I needed. I would highly recommend the CP to anyone that’s interested and/ or considered working in the theme park industry. There’s several different roles/ positions out there. I was very lucky to have worked in Fantasyland West Attractions. I was accepted into the “Operations” department but I could have worked at any park or at any parking lot. My position wasn’t revealed to me until I arrived at WDW. Originally I was disappointed not being able to work a roller coaster, still a “dream job”. But, I had a great time in Fantasland with incredible cast members to work with.

    I stayed in Chatham Square and it was a nice apartment. Until recently, the nicest apartment I’ve lived at. But, at a cost of about 30% of my pay. I shared a medium size room with a “complete stranger” from Virginia. Actually, I shared an apartment with 5 guys from five different states. But, I am very grateful in that I had five great roommates. Additionally, I met my first girlfriend, who was my neighbor across the hallway.

    My internship at Fantasyland in the Fall of ’04,but it seemed like yesterday. I still carry around WDW momentos in my wallet as a reminder of my time.

    My only realy regret is not taking any credit courses during my internship. There were a few Disney courses,one of which I took. But, I could have apply myself and took a community college/ online course. If I had taken American Literature this semester, if it would be a great relief in the semester I graduated.

    Blake
    Fall 2004 Fantasyland Operations

  8. Kevin, thanks for the article and the wonderful pictures. It definitely brought back memories of the first days of the program.

    Blake

  9. Hello everyone,

    I am a Southern Utah University student and interested in the Disney College Program for Spring or Fall 2013. I have many questions concerning housing, financial, and ADA compliency. I am in a wheelchair and a theater major. I have been to Orlando Florida on two vacations. I live with my mother who is retired and my personal care giver/ assistant. I also have a service dog. If I enter the College Program we would sell our house in Utah and everyone will move to Orlando. My questions are.

    1; Would my mother and service animal be allowed in the dorm living or would they need to find seperate housing?
    2; Financial, How does one pay for the dorm? Do they use their own income or is it payed for through the program? Pailgrants or Stafford loans?
    3. I would not need my service dog at work. Nor my mothers assistants during work hours. How many persons in wheelchairs are in the program?
    4. I know Disney is ADA compliant, is there special contacts or sperate programs I need to go threw?

  10. Great article..thanks for reporting!

  11. Kevin! You should post an update about a typical week in the Program, after things settle down. I had my phone interview last night, and would love to get a first hand account of something I might get into! :D

  12. Your DC journal is very interesting and enjoyable to read and I look forward to future entries that provide valuable insight to the amazing Disney legacy. From various other replies, there are ups and downs in this program. What I most admire is your positive spin on most “stories”, which at your age is remarkable and will serve you well all your life. It really is so important to stay on “the sunny side of the street”. I am an AP and visit the parks often and every so often I run into a “questionable” CM. For the most part, it is apparent that a CM is provided with a tremendous amount of training. Speaking for myself, next to Walt and Mickey, CM really do make a huge difference in the “Magic” Anxiously awaiting your next entry, Kevin.