The Do’s And Don’ts Of The Disney College Program

There are a lot of things you won’t be told when you set out to do the Disney College Program. (In fact, I’ve written a post about it. Feel free to check it out here.)

In addition to the things you won’t be told to expect from your program, you may also not be told about the do’s and don’ts of your program. No, I’m not talking about the rules you have to follow in order to not get terminated or the forever long lecture you’ll get about the do’s and don’ts of lifting a box. (If you think I’m kidding, just ask any friend who has ever had to go through Welcome to Operations. They’ll tell you.)

I’m talking about the hidden do’s and don’ts, the ones I have come up with to ensure that you make the most out of your time while in the most magical (or happiest) place on earth.

And so, without further ado, here are the do’s and don’ts of the Disney College Program:

  1. DO be optimistic. It’s natural to feel nervous and even overwhelmed during the first few weeks of your program, but don’t let those feelings get the best of you or make you feel like the rest of your program is doomed to be a failure. YOU GOT THIS.

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 (Warning: You will tear up when you see the Casting building)

     2. DON’T get discouraged. Like I said, the first few weeks will be overwhelming, and you may mess up a few times as you’re starting to get the hang of things. Everyone makes mistakes and I promise it will get easier.

     3. DO go to the parks as soon as you gain access. My roommates and I went to Epcot the first night we all had off together after getting our blue ID’s and we were SO excited. We only spent a few hours there, but we got to watch Illuminations and we even stopped at Beaches and Cream and took on the Kitchen Sink Challenge! (HIGHLY recommend.)

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(Side note: We didn’t finish all of it.

Kitchen Sink: 1   Us: 0)

4. DON’T just go to Disney parks. I love Disney as much as the next person, probably even more, but some of my favorite memories were made elsewhere in Orlando! My friends and I took beach trips and went to Universal plenty of times. Especially if you’re from out of state, take advantage of the opportunity you’ve been given and go explore!

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(Clearwater Beach is gorgeous. It’s too bad it rained during our trip, though.)

5. DO take advantage of discounts. You get discounts on merchandise, resorts, dining and other Disney experiences. You also get discounts throughout Orlando at various stores, restaurants and other things. Use these discounts to help make your time even more memorable. Try out a new restaurant; buy a piece of merchandise to commemorate your program; go on a special behind the scenes tour.

(Sci Fi in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is amazing, and who wouldn’t want to have a breakfast prepared by the boss himself at Chef Mickey’s?)

      6. DON’T close yourself off. You will meet and become friends with some of the best people ever…but only if you open yourself up. I was extremely shy before my program started, but I was friendly and outgoing at work, and in general, and I made new best friends that hold such a special and dear place in my heart. (But they also break it on a daily basis because the majority of them are scattered across the country and I miss them dearly.)

(These ladies made my program 100x better than it would’ve been without them.)

7. DO take a lot of pictures. Trust me, you’re going to want to torture yourself by looking at photos from your program. It’ll crush your soul, but it’ll also make you feel a little closer to home.

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(#WODSQUAD)

8. DON’T be afraid to do something new. If you want to pick up a shift in Magic Kingdom, do it. If you want to try a restaurant with cuisine you’ve never had, do it. The sky is the limit and you should aim to do something new as many times as possible on your program.

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(I ate at Restaurant Marrakesh in the Moroccan Pavilion at Epcot (which I never would have done before) and it was DELICIOUS.)

9. DO explore the resorts. The parks are wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but the Walt Disney World Resort has a lot to offer. I personally love to resort hop; the resorts are beautiful and offer their own set of activities that come packed with a ton of Disney magic. The easiest resort hopping route is to take the monorail around the Magic Kingdom resorts- The Contemporary Resort, The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

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(The Grand Floridian is S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G)

10. DON’T call out frequently. Not only does it reflect poorly on you if you are constantly calling out of your shifts, but your paychecks will be smaller and you will struggle to pay for rent.

11. DO take time for yourself. Your schedule can be brutal and you may find yourself burnt out. Remember that you can always give shifts away or ask for an ADO (authorized day off). You won’t be getting the most out of your program if you’re too worn out to enjoy it.

12. DON’T spend all of your money. It is entirely too easy to go broke on your program. If you learn how to save early on and don’t spend too much on things you really don’t need, you’ll find yourself walking away with some extra cash. It’s okay to splurge every so often, but just make sure you’re not spending every penny you have.

13. DO go to housing events. You may find yourself unlucky like me and unable to attend many events because of a conflicting work schedule. However, try to make it to at least a few because they really are super fun. Try to make it to Starlight Splash if you’re on the spring program or to the formal if you’re on the fall program. Oh, and definitely go to your service celebration toward the end of your program!

(Starlit Splash is the BEST and nothing beats celebrating your program with a few of your closest friends!)

14. DON’T let peer pressure get the best of you. You have to remember that you are still a college student among other college students, even if you aren’t on a traditional campus. If you don’t want to do something, just say no. Don’t be afraid to remove yourself from any situation that you feel uncomfortable in. Also, don’t feel like you need to do something or act a certain way to impress people; your real friends will love and accept you for who are, I promise.

15. DO call your family/stay in touch with friends back home. If your friends and family can’t visit you, be sure to keep in contact with them. They miss you just as much as you miss them, if not more. Call them up and let them know you’re doing okay- it makes a big difference. 10931382_10152747218403443_7202579232411939663_n.jpg

(My family lives close enough that they were able to come visit me on my program and my sister really missed me.)

16. DON’T take this experience for granted.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” ~ Ferris Bueller 

You are one of the lucky few (thousand) that get to embark on this journey and you should enjoy every single minute of it. Your program will move incredibly fast and before you know it, you’re packing up your things and getting your last schedule for work ever. Don’t let your program pass you by. Do as much as you can in the small amount of time you have with the people who mean the most to you. Stay up late, wake up early, plan trips, be spontaneous, do something you’ve never done, do an old favorite a million times, make memories and never look back.

Don’t be afraid; do be curious. After all, “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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Where Are They Now CP Edition: Anthony Aldridge

This week begins a new series on the blog- Where Are They Now: CP Edition. Each part of the series will highlight one former CP, celebrating their successes since completing the program and reminiscing on their time working for the mouse. If you would like to participate, please email me at monetmsena@gmail.com.

Anthony.pngThis is Anthony Aldridge. He is a Spring 2014 alum and spent his program as a Deep Water Lifeguard at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts!

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Anthony decided to apply to the program because he grew up absolutely loving theme parks. Before he began his program, he was working at Six Flags St. Louis and really enjoyed it.

Anthony had never been to Disney, though he spent a lot of time researching it, so this program gave him the opportunity to experience the magic not only as a cast member, but as a first time guest as well!

His favorite experience was getting to watch Wishes from Main Street, USA. “Best show on Earth in my opinion,” he said. “It always had a way of making me emotional to know I was a part of that magic.” I think we can all relate to that feeling!

Anthony also talked about his favorite experience while on the job:

“Being a lifeguard is one of the most rewarding roles you can have at Disney, the best experience I ever had while working at Stormalong Bay was when I went in and rescued a young guest in distress. Upon removing the guest from the water she told me she wanted to grow up and become a lifeguard so she can save people too. If that doesn’t make your heart melt I don’t know what will!” I know my heart is melting!

Upon leaving the program, Anthony moved back home and became an assistant aquatics manager at his local park. He also worked part time at a small amusement park in Springfield, Illinois, because his love of theme parks never wavered. Currently, Anthony is pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in recreation with a minor in public relations at Eastern Illinois University while working for the university’s marketing department.

However, there isn’t a day that goes by that he doesn’t miss being a cast member, which to him means this-

“Being a cast member means “Dream Maker.” We are the ones that make everything happen. It’s a family and a legacy that only certain people are able to do. We should all feel honored to have been chosen to carry on Walt’s traditions.” I couldn’t agree more!

And, finally, Anthony leaves future CPs with this bit of advice:

“Be open with yourself and be ready to experience life from a completely different perspective. The DCP changed my life forever and it will always have a place in my heart.”

Thank you for being a part of the magic, Anthony. And from your entire Disney Ohana, good luck on all of your future endeavors!

To My DCP Ohana

To my Disney College Program Family,

We have all gone our separate ways. We have gone back to school; we have extended our programs; we have gone part time at Disney; we have traveled the world and we have found new jobs. Our paths have taken us in directions we didn’t know were possible until they were happening, but something just doesn’t feel right.

And that’s because we aren’t together.

I walk around campus and I feel lonely. I know people, I have friends, I go out…but it just doesn’t feel the same anymore. I look around at all of these groups of friends and I’m jealous.

I’m jealous because my close group of friends is scattered all around the country and I don’t know when I’ll see them again.

Something magical happens when you do a Disney College Program. You step out of your comfort zone because somehow…you already feel comfortable. You find yourself wanting to meet new people and make new friends because you want more people to share your love of Disney with. You click with so many people in such a short amount of time and you become inseparable.

In my almost five years of college, I have never experienced anything like this. Nothing I have ever been a part of really felt like…a family. And I need to thank each and every one of you for making my home away from home so incredibly special.

I miss that moment we met for the first time.

I miss seeing your faces at work.

I miss driving to work and having dance parties in the car or taking Transtar to work and being scared the whole ride something was going to happen.

I miss bonding in the break room.

I miss taking pictures in our god awful costumes.

I miss group chats.

I miss sleepovers.

I miss inside jokes.

I miss days off spent exploring the parks together.

I miss cheating on Disney and heading to Universal.

I miss lying by the pool and having deep talks about life.

I miss parties and HOB nights.

I miss waiting in 30 minute long lines for Taco Bell after work.

I miss making stupid faces for ride photos.

I miss impromptu photo shoots.

I miss riding Tower of Terror a million times in a row.

I miss having meals together.

I miss graduation day.

I miss being able to text you that I needed you and you showing up at my door five minutes later.

I miss everything.

I miss everything every, single, day.

It doesn’t get easier; when you spend every day with someone for six months of your life, not having them around is hard. It’s painful. But I am thankful that we had six months of experiences together. I am thankful for late nights at iHop, Sunday and Wednesday nights at HOB, mornings spent at Trails End, and countless days spent getting to know and love each other while playing in our magical backyard.

You won’t understand this feeling until you go through it yourself. It can’t be explained, it can’t be faked and it can’t be taken for granted.

I miss and love you all. Thank you for making my program what it was. You have set the bar extremely high for my future friends–let’s pray they like Disney as much we do.

If you’re currently going through your program, cherish these moments you are sharing with your best friends. And if you are long gone from your program, go text your best friends and thank them for being part of your journey, whether it’s been six months or six years.IMG_3313

#HHN25

I am not a fan of horror. I hate it. In fact, I can’t even watch scary movies because I get way too freaked out.

Yet, I have attended Universal Studios® Halloween Horror Nights® for the past four years in a row.

Why do I enjoy torturing myself?

It’s simple. I like spending time with my family and deep, deep down…being scared is thrilling. But I’ll never admit that when tears are streaming down my face as I’m getting the life scared out of me.

This year marked the 25th anniversary of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida and the #HHN25 team brought their A game.

With nine haunted houses, five scare zones and two shows, this year’s event had something that appealed to everyone and has already proven to be a success.

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Here is my ranking of the houses by scare factor:

  1. 25 Years of Monsters and Mayhem (Anniversary House)
  2. Insidious
  3. The Purge
  4. Freddy Vs. Jason
  5. The Walking Dead
  6. Body Collectors
  7. Asylum in Wonderland
  8. An American Werewolf in London
  9. RUN: Blood, Sweat and Fears

This list is solely based on scare factor according to me and my party of five other people. Everyone is scared by different things, so definitely walk through each house yourself and come up with your own rankings.

This is my reasoning behind my rankings:

  1. Anniversary House- I came out of this house shaking and in tears. Maybe it’s because it was the first house of the night we did and we walked right in so I had no time to prepare. Maybe it was because it had a lot of unfamiliar characters that I wasn’t expecting. Or maybe it was because this house was so well done that I was screaming, really screaming, at every twist and turn. Universal hit the nail on the head with this anniversary house. Kudos.
  2. Insidious- A lot of people have said that this is one of the scariest houses HHN has ever done. While I don’t 100% agree, I don’t 100% disagree, either. For me, never having seen Insidous, it was scary because I didn’t know what I was walking into. The scenes drew me in and made me forget to check for scare actors, which I always do, so I got a lot of unexpected scares. But I think this house was more based on a creepiness factor than a scare factor. A+ on the outside of the house, though. (Although, I liked it better as the Halloween house last year.)
  3. The Purge- This whole concept scares the living day lights out of me because THIS. COULD. HAPPEN. Well, maybe not, but it’s more realistic than some of the other concepts, which adds to its scare factor. The outside set up was well done (that yellow bus has been used for everything) and I was honestly scared from start to finish. Also, any house that uses strobe lights will get me shaking and running for the exit, which is exactly what happened.
  4. Freddy vs Jason- While I went in knowing the back story of both horror icons, I have never seen either movie. As someone who had no frame of reference, I believe the house was extremely well done. Houses like these where the same character (or two) pop up multiple times are tough because you have to make sure each actor looks EXACTLY the same. Whoever worked on this house did an AMAZING job of this. Every Freddy and every Jason looked the same to me, and terrified me each time. This house also had the exciting factor of there being a battle, which took away some of my fear, thankfully.
  5. The Walking Dead- This house was not super boring or super scary to me, sadly. It was kind of in the middle. Last year’s Walking Dead house was the best that they’ve done since partnering with AMC, so it doesn’t surprise me that they didn’t top it. Zombies are pretty cool to me and since I’m such a huge fan of the show I enjoyed the house regardless, but it might be time to find a new idea to work with. Or maybe not, since Season 6 has been A-M-A-Z-I-N-G so far.
  6. Body Collectors- This house was decent, but the issue I had with it, like The Walking Dead, is that people killing people and insane asylums have been done before…a lot. I know this was a take on two concepts Universal did in the past, so people who are familiar with it will enjoy it. I was scared, but not as scared as I thought I was going to be.
  7. Asylum in Wonderland- This wasn’t too terrible. The 3D effect was interesting, but really…how scared am I supposed to be of Alice in Wonderland? It was trippy, which made it appear scarier, but it wasn’t super scary to me.
  8. An American Werewolf in London- This house was done two years ago, and while it was revamped a bit for this year…I didn’t like it then and I don’t like it now. Of course I jumped and got scared because everything scares me, but I hope they put this house to rest for good.
  9. RUN: Blood, Sweat and Fears- This. House. Was. Awful. This is the only one that I was confused throughout the entire thing. I left thinking, “what did I just walk through?” I found myself not scared as I walked through because I was just trying to figure out the point of this house. I honestly couldn’t tell you one thing I remember because it was that forgettable. If you have to skip one house, let it be this one.

You still have a few chances to experience #HHN25 for yourself, and Jack and his maniacs are waiting.

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MNSSHP vs. MVMCP

The holidays at Walt Disney World® are my absolute favorite.

We may not get fall or winter here in Florida, but Disney lets us pretend that we do.

Every September through November, Disney hosts ‘Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and every November through December they host ‘Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.’ Both are separate ticketed events that go from 7PM-12AM on select nights at the Magic Kingdom.

Since these events require a separate ticket, sometimes it’s hard to find the time (and money) to do both. That leaves us with one question: if you must choose one, which party do you attend?

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My personal choice is MNSSHP, even though the holiday season, particularly Christmas, is my favorite. Here’s why:

  1. Everything you see at MVMCP, you can see when the parties are officially over. Yes, you head right. ALL. OF. IT. The parade (Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade) replaces Festival of Fantasy until the beginning of January and the castle lighting show is performed every night along with Holiday Wishes. The only things you really miss out on are the complimentary hot cocoa and cookies they give out during the party. So if you plan to be in Disney anywhere from December 19 to January 1-2, you don’t need to attend MVMCP unless you really want the free treats. 10609464_10152573424103443_1942372641236890082_n
  2. You can dress up AND trick-or-treat during MNSSHP! That’s right: kids AND adults can dress up as their favorite Disney characters (or anything, of course) and get as much candy as they want throughout the night. Nothing beats free candy. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. 10620512_10152370588388443_8788840194749923718_n
  3. Mickey and the gang are dressed in the CUTEST Halloween costumes, as well as some other characters that you can meet throughout the night. It’s pretty much the best thing ever and you NEED to see it in person.995642_1487484921502179_8024286134343283800_n
  4. HalloWishes. The SOUNDTRACK for this fireworks display, more specifically, is probably my favorite soundtrack aside from Festival of Fantasy. It’s creepy. It’s suspenseful. It goes perfectly with the fireworks. Everything about it has me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. (But don’t get me wrong, Holiday Wishes is a sight to see, too.)               10411251_10152370594388443_373046456239834431_n
  5. The decorations. Oh, the decorations. Christmas is my favorite holiday but the way the Magic Kingdom looks during the fall months is simply breathtaking. I think what makes it especially nice is that the Magic Kingdom is the only park decorated during this time.

10351011_10153155773903443_3355229087472799382_nUltimately, the choice is yours. However, in my opinion, you get more bang for your buck with MNSSHP. But if you can manage to do both this year, you’re the real MVP.

Tickets are still available for MNSSHP through November 1, with Halloween already sold out. And tickets are available for MVMCP which starts November 8. You can find more information here.

Will you be attending one of the parties this year? Which holiday is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!

So You Want To Do The Disney College Program, Well…

…whoop dee doo.
I have been around the block before with block heads just like you.

If you don’t know where that lyric is from, I’m going to kindly ask that you brush up on your Disney movie knowledge (and oh, fun fact, we barely sell ANY merchandise from this particular movie and it makes me sad because it’s such a classic and one of my favorites).

But back to the main event. SO YOU WANT TO DO THE DISNEY COLLEGE PROGRAM?! YAAAAAAAAAAAS.
No, seriously, that is AWESOME. Four for you, Glen Coco!
Deciding to apply to the Disney College Program is a big step in and of itself, and I’m sure you have a lot of questions.
Luckily, for you, I happen to have a lot of answers 😉
Now, of course, if a question/answer isn’t here, please feel free to comment with other questions and I will add them to this list for future CP applicants 🙂

Now, let’s get started!

Q: What exactly is the Disney College Program?

A: The Disney College Program is a paid internship at either the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida or at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. You can express interest for both locations when filling out your application.

Q: What do you do on this internship?

A: You can express interest in a number of roles ranging from entertainment (which requires an audition), merchandise, custodial, quick and full service food and beverage, attractions, etc. *Note: Any role you have will be directly in the parks (including Downtown Disney and water parks). If you want something that is more ‘business-y,’ you may want to consider applying for a professional internship!*

Q: How long is the program?

A: There are three different time frames for which you can express interest. The first one is the Spring Program which normally goes from January to May. It does vary, though, and your start date could be February with an end date in June. The second one is the Spring Advantage Program, and these typically start in January or February and end in August. The third one, which to my understanding isn’t always offered, is the Spring Quarter Program. This one starts in April and ends in August.

Q: What are the requirements for applying?

A: You must be at least 18 years old, currently be taking classes at an accredited university/college AND have completed at least one semester. In other words, if you are currently a college freshman, you can apply right now for the Spring program! Also, if you have graduated within the last six months you are also eligible to apply.

Q: Is it better to do it during college or after you graduate?

I just completed the program and I am still in college, but I do have a lot of friends who waited to apply until after they graduated as a way to make the transition from college to ‘real world.’ My advice? Do what works best for YOU. If it doesn’t fit into your schedule, don’t ruin your future by trying to do this program. Disney will always be there; your education should be your main priority. But, if you want to do this program as a way to get your foot in the door with the company, I would recommend applying while you’re still in school because it gives you more chances to get accepted than if you wait until you graduate and you only have one chance to get in.

Q: Do you have to take classes?

A: Disney does offer classes that you can take for college credit–if your school will accept them. If your college does not accept the courses for credit, there are free seminars/courses you can take instead to build professional skills and learn about the history of The Walt Disney Company. However, it is NOT required that you take classes during your program.

Q: Does it cost anything?

Upon accepting your invitation to complete the DCP, you will have to pay a fee which covers your rent for the first few weeks (more on this in the next question) and other things. For the Disney World program, it’s about $350. For the Disneyland program, it’s about $850.

Q: Are you provided with housing?

You are eligible to request Disney Program Housing during your college program and link up with roommates. You will be paying rent on a weekly basis and it will be taken directly out of your paycheck each week, so you don’t need to worry about it. (The first few weeks you won’t be working enough to cover rent, and that’s why you pay that money in advance so you don’t have to worry about it.)

Q: Is there transporation?

There is, at least for the Disney World program. (I’m a little fuzzy on the Disneyland Program details since I didn’t do it!) HOWEVER, if you have a car, I HIGHLY suggest bringing it because the transportation we are provided can be very…unpredictable and unreliable at times.

Q: Do I have to have a certain major to apply?

No! All majors are welcome to apply.

Q: What is the application process like?

You will first fill out an initial application. This is where you will express interest in either one or both locations (Orlando and Anaheim), express interest in the various roles you can be cast in, and provide the standard background information. Next, if your application is strong, you will be invited to complete a web based interview. Based on that, you will either no longer be in consideration for the program or you will be invited to schedule a phone interview. Once you have completed the phone interview, the waiting game begins.

Q: How long does it take to hear back after a phone interview?

A: Honestly, you could hear back immediately or you could be waiting a while. (I waited a month until I found out I was accepted) Also, you may be pended throughout the process. DO NOT FREAK OUT! Being pended is always better than no longer being in consideration, so if you see pending on your dashboard, stay calm. A lot of people who were pended, including myself, were accepted.

Q: Is it easy to get accepted?

A: Honestly…no, it isn’t. I know a lot of people who applied several times before getting accepted, but on the flip side I know a lot of people who applied many times and got accepted every time they applied. If you have a strong application, a winning personality and your passion and love for the company is evident, your chances are a lot higher. But tens of thousands of students apply for this program, and only a few thousand get accepted for Disney World and even less than that get accepted for Disneyland. So do not put all of your eggs in one basket when applying for this program–you are not guaranteed to get accepted.

Q: What do I get out of it?

A: This program is what you make it. You will either get A LOT out of it and have a wonderful experience or get NOTHING out of it and be miserable. In addition to perks like discounts and free park access, you get life long friends (if you make the effort to get to know people), you get connections (if you learn how to network), and you get valuable skills that will help you be successful even after your program ends. Plus, you get to put that you worked for a Fortune 500 company on your resume. That’s pretty awesome if you ask me.

Q: Would you recommend it?

A: Absolutely. If you decide to apply and get accepted, your program will have its ups and downs. However, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I think it’s worth everything that you go through. You just have to be open minded, positive and willing to put in the work. ‘Work Hard, Play Hard’ is like the unofficial motto of the DCP, and it’s a motto to live by.

These are some general questions that I have been asked/questions I had myself when I was applying, so I hope that this is helpful to you if you’re considering applying or know someone who is! If you have any other questions, like I stated earlier, please don’t hesitate to comment and ask!

Applications are now OPEN for the Spring CP season, so click here to begin your application to work at the most magical or happiest place on earth!

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Dealing With Post Disney College Program Depression

Maybe it hits you when you start to pack up your side of your room and you find various mementos from memories you’ve made over the past four to six months; or maybe it hits you when you put on your costume for the last time and say goodbye to the fellow cast members you worked alongside who really became family. But really, it’ll hit you the hardest when you’ve said your final goodbyes to each park, you’ve watched your last Wishes, you’ve cried with your friends as you held hands leaving Magic Kingdom and you’re sitting in the car (or at the airport) leaving your Disney life behind.

It’s the sign you had a magical experience and that now, you have something to miss.

It’s Post Disney College Program Depression.

If you think it hurts like hell when you’re saying goodbye, it hurts 10x more when you’re actually gone and far away from the people who became the biggest parts of your life in such a short amount of time and the magical place that brought you all together.

You find yourself flipping through that DCP Facebook album you never quite finished because you got so caught up in having the time of your life. You click along and watch your journey unfold right before your eyes and you can’t believe that it wasn’t that long ago that those pictures were taken. It’s been a month, maybe two, but it feels like a lifetime has passed by.

Anything Disney related sets you off. If you go to see a Disney movie, the opening sequence with the castle makes you cry. If you listen to Pandora and a Disney song comes on, you’re a mess. If a Disney Parks commercial comes on the TV, you bury your head into a pillow because the sight of your happy place is far too much to bear. If someone asks you about your time at Disney, you give them a long spiel and in the middle of it start to get choked up thinking back on everything.

You constantly post throwback pictures from your program because you’re in denial that it’s over and you’re always checking the Disney Careers website because getting back to Disney would be (another) dream come true.

Moral of the story? PDCPD sucks.

Maybe it isn’t something that can be cured; how do you stop missing a portion of your life that changed you forever?

Maybe, instead, you learn to live with it. You accept that it happened, that it was wonderful, that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and that now…it’s over.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t try to lessen the pain, so here’s a few ways that you can help cure your PDCPD:

  • Talk to your CP friends. Yesterday I was thinking about everything and looking through pictures and suddenly I felt overcome with sadness…so much so that I started bawling. After texting my closest friends from my program about it, they both called me and even though hearing their voices hurt at first, I felt better after talking to them. Staying in touch with friends from your program is a wonderful way to keep the magic alive long after your program is over, especially because no one else in your life is going to understand what you’re going through except for them. Keep them close; lean on each other because they’re the best source of support.
  • Create a shadowbox or memory board. Having everything with sentimental value from your program in one place may actually make you feel better. Maybe you’ll cry putting it together, but once it’s done…I promise it’ll make you smile, seeing all of the memories and experiences you had in one special place. Pictures, movie stubs, fastpasses (if you were lucky enough to snag some paper ones), wristbands from HOB, four keys cards, your acceptance post card and, of course, your name tag are some things I would recommend gathering for your project.
  • Plan a trip. The best thing about doing a college program? Reuniting with your best friends in the most magical (or happiest) place on earth! (Or even visiting each other in your hometowns!)  If you have your heart set on meeting up with your friends again, put aside a little money from each paycheck and plan a trip with each other. Planning a vacation, even when it’s far away, will help to offset the sadness from your program being over because you’ll be too excited about reuniting with everyone and being at Disney again!
  • Look into future careers with TWDC. Just because your program is over, it doesn’t mean that your time with Disney is over forever. Completing a college program opens up a lot of future doors for you, especially if you go back to school and earn your degree. You can apply for professional internships, alumni programs, go part/full time right out of school or, if you’re feeling up to it, you can always apply to a program for the semester after you graduate. If you feel that Disney is where you’re meant to be then make it happen! The sky is the limit.

The first few months after your program ends are the hardest. You watch new CPs begin their journey and you wish more than anything that you could rewind and start yours over. But you know what? I think a silly, willy, nilly old bear said it best:

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” – A. A. Milne (Winnie The Pooh)

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When you think about it, we are incredibly fortunate to have had the experience we had. Thousands of students apply every semester and we were among the chosen few (thousand) to participate. Some of us even got to extend our programs and continue making magic for longer than we expected.

We worked hard, we played hard, we loved hard, we cried hard, we failed hard and we succeeded hard. We found ourselves, we grew up, we made mistakes, we followed our hearts and our dreams and we never once looked back because we were living.

And that, my friends, is how I want you to continue to be. Be fearless. Be adventurous. Maybe you’ll never be the exact same person you were those few months but it doesn’t mean you can’t continue to grow and be the best that you can be. And, lastly, be proud of yourself, because you were responsible for making magic every single day and you did a damn good job.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” -Dr. Seuss

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Why Jurassic World & Inside Out Are Testaments To The Success Of The Rival Theme Parks

I have this habit of not seeing the newest movie the weekend it comes out. The whole ‘adulting’ thing gets in the way–working, running errands…that sort of thing.

But if I REALLY want to see a movie I will see it, and I REALLY wanted to see Jurassic World and Inside Out.

Thankfully, my first weekend back home from the Disney College Program (so many mixed emotions, reminds self to write about that later) I was able to see both movies. *insert praying hands emoji here because #blessed*

After watching both films, it dawned on me how incredibly different they were…and how that spoke volumes about how different the theme parks/companies are.

MIND. BLOWN.

Without letting any spoilers slip, I will explain why I came to that conclusion.

On one side, we have Jurassic World. It’s prehistoric meets futuristic. It’s thrilling. It makes your heart pound. It makes your heart stop. It makes you sit on the edge of your seat.

When I want thrills, I go to Universal. Let’s face it: the roller coasters they have beat Disney’s any day. Don’t get me wrong, though–I love Space Mountain and Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, but they don’t really compete in the same thrill category as The Incredible Hulk, Rip Ride Rockit and even The Mummy (which is one of my all time favorite rides).

Universal is also more of a ‘big kids’ theme park. The rides are a bit more intense and they follow a good storyline when based off a movie/franchise. It’s geared toward a more mature audience, in my opinion, and Jurassic World was geared toward that same audience.

On the other side, we have Inside Out. It tackles a complex idea–what are those voices inside your head and how do they affect how you feel/act/react? It’s emotional. It’s family friendly. It’s relatable. It brings back memories.

Disney is complex, first and foremost. Not to say that Universal isn’t…but I think Disney wins in this battle. Magic Kingdom alone is a well thought out, well themed park with several lands that all come together in the middle. Islands of Adventure also has lands but…I just don’t think they do it as well as Disney does.

Disney is more of a family resort. It’s designed to evoke emotion and immerse you in a world of fantasy from the moment you walk into the park until the moment you leave. It’s for the young and the young at heart, and Inside Out was truly a film for all ages.

Universal does thrills/intensity better. Disney does immersion/emotion better. They both accomplish the same things in their respective parks, but there’s something about each of them that makes them stand out, and that’s why both films stood out as well.

(But, if I’m being totally honest, Inside Out won my heart, probably because Disney/Pixar can do no wrong.)

Did you see both films? Did you have a favorite? Did you see elements from both parks present in the films?

Comment below and let’s start a conversation!

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