Today was an exciting day for two of Orlando’s major theme parks- SeaWorld and Universal, to be exact. SeaWorld hosted its Media Day for its newest coaster, Mako, which has been marketed as the fastest, longest and tallest roller coaster … Continue reading
After the excitement of getting accepted into the Disney College Program settles, you will start to get asked things like, “so why are you doing the program?” and “how is working at Disney going to help your future?” And maybe … Continue reading
It is no secret to anyone that knows me, or reads this blog, that I am in love with Disney. My time on the Disney College Program only made my love for Disney stronger and ever since I left, I’ve … Continue reading
When your time with Disney finally comes to an end, it’s heartbreaking. It feels like your program went by so fast. You went from counting down the months until you checked in to counting down the days until you have … Continue reading
Remember when you got accepted into the Disney College Program? Remember when you were three months away from check in? Remember when you made it to the final month? Remember when it was only one week left? Remember when it … Continue reading
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:
- 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.
(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.)
(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!
(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.
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.
(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.
(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.
(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
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights will have its final dance tonight at Disney’s Hollywood Studios before its lights go dark to conclude its 20th, and last, season.
A spectacle that has become a family tradition for many guests is going away as construction on Star Wars Land is expected to start some time this year in the very area where the lights have danced every holiday season for the past 20 years.
Even though I only had the pleasure of visiting the lights the past two years, I am still deeply saddened to see them go. They truly are a special sight and you can’t help but feel happiness as you stand in the middle of their twinkling beauty.
While Disney has said that this is the final year for the lights…there has also been some signs that they might not be gone forever!
First, Disney extended the date of the lights from the 3rd of January until tonight, the 6th.
Second, when asked on Twitter if this was, in fact, the final season, they replied that this season was currently planned to be the final season. And, as the crazy theme park fan and lover of Disney that I am, I certainly read that as there being a slight chance that they could, in fact, bring the spectacle back in the near future.
Whether they choose to bring the lights back or not, guests have been blessed with 20 years and I think we can all agree it’s been quite a run. But, even if they put some new holiday festivity in its place while construction is underway, it just won’t be the same.
Here are some pictures from my final trips (yes, I made two trips from Naples to see the lights because necessary) that I hope bring a smile to your face as we all say goodbye to the Osborne Lights.
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 email@example.com.
This 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!
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!
Theme Park Princess here! Are you a former Disney College Program participant who wants to share with your Disney Ohana what you’ve been up to since you finished your program? Well, I am happy to share that I will be … Continue reading
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.