ANAHEIM, Calif. -
Disneyland hopes giving class credits to college students will make them the happiest interns on earth.
In the 1960s and '70s, Disneyland didn't advertise summer jobs because applications flooded in from teens and college students.
Today, low unemployment rates have forced the self-proclaimed "Happiest Place on Earth" to borrow from white-collar employers by offering class credit to college students for the first time in the park's history.
Seasonal employment has become more important to students as competition for post-college jobs has grown more intense, said Jamie O'Boyle, a theme park scholar at the Center for Cultural Studies and Analysis in Philadelphia.
"In the 1960s, the idea was to get your high school or college kid a job to give them some responsibility and keep them off the street," O'Boyle said. "Disney is basically saying they can offer a good reference at another company or a chance to work your way up the ladder there."
Disney needs to fill about 4,000 jobs for its busy summer season. The addition of California Adventure, three hotels and Downtown Disney bring the park's total employment to about 20,000 people.