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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
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
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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.
One of the most rewarding roles you could ever have at Disney, aside from being a performer, is being a merchandise cast member. The reason? You get to interact with guests on a daily basis and help them find that one souvenir that will remind them of their magical trip to Disney for years to come. I mean I don’t know about you guys, but I think that’s pretty special.
That being said…being a merchandise cast member is…quite the experience. I would say that aside from main entrance operations, guest relations, FSFB and concierge, we interact with more guests (for longer periods of time) than most other cast members…and at the World of Disney (where I did my college program) I know that’s definitely true. And when you’re interacting with hundreds -no- thousands of guests on a daily basis…you’re bound to have a few (several) “interesting” interactions…which, of course, make for great stories later.
And so, with the help of my merchandise cast family, we present to you: #ThingsYouEncounterAsAMerchandiseCM
*The limit on the amount of “interesting” questions you will be asked/things you will be told does not exist*
1) *Guest looks you up and down* “Do you work here?” -Mmm…this one is our FAVORITE. We suppose that you could be unsure if we work there, even while we’re in full costume, we have an arm full of merchandise and look like chickens with their heads cut off.
2) “Where’s the Harry Potter merchandise?” “Where are the yellow minions like this? (As they hold up Mike Wazowski)” “Where is your Shrek merchandise?” “Do you sell Spongebob stuff here?” “Do you sell Dr. Seuss merchandise here?” – We are going to settle this once and for all:
DISNEY. DOES. NOT. SELL. MERCHANDISE. FOUND. AT. UNIVERSAL. ESPECIALLY. NOT. HARRY. POTTER.
The ONLY similar merchandise we sell is Avengers merchandise, and I’m pretty sure even that is different. And Mike Wazowski is NOT a minion. *Drops mic and walks away.*
3) “Where are the attractions at Downtown Disney?” “Where are the fireworks at Downtown Disney?” – SHOP. DINE. PLAY. That is literally the slogan for Downtown Disney. We have no fireworks and no attractions, but we do have DisneyQuest (but not for long *cue sadness*), a load of restaurants/shops and an extensive amount of alcohol (for those of you 21 and over). Enjoy 🙂
4) “Do you have any backyardigans merchandise?” “No, I don’t think so.” ‘It’s a Nick Kids TV show.” “Ma’am, this is a Disney store.” “Yeah…?” “So we sell Disney merchandise, not Nickelodeon.” – *face palm* Moving on…
5) “Where is the Disney section?” – Well let’s see...the entire store…
6) “Do you have a clearance section?” – Ha. Haha. Hahaha. HAHAHAHA. Oh…no, sorry.
7) “How much is this?” – This question is only okay if there is no price on the tag or it’s one of those items that has a color that represents a certain price. But if you literally walk up to me with the tag out and in your hand with you pointing right at the price…*face palm*
8) *Points at costume* “Where can I buy that?” – First of all, N-O-W-H-E-R-E. Second of all, why do you want it…? This is the least flattering thing any of us has ever had to wear. I guess we make it look good though, guys. So good job everyone!
9) “Excuse me, do you sell the soundtrack to the store?” -Yeah…that would be a no, ghost rider. But if you want a soundtrack that’s actually GOOD, we do have the Wishes soundtrack. (Also, side note, can we put FOF on a CD so I can buy it and play it over and over again, please?!)
10) “Do you sell the Fastpass Bands here?” – No, we do not sell MAGIC Bands here. (Oh, yeah, pro tip: World of Disney does not sell Magic Bands…don’t ask me why, because I don’t know)
11) “Can we purchase park tickets here?” – I know we’re the largest Disney store, I get it. But…can you purchase tickets in any OTHER merchandise location on property? No…so, sadly, you can’t do that here, either.
12) “Aren’t you supposed to have everything? You’re the biggest store.” – We get this A LOT. Trust me, I’m just as mad as you are that there is no Big Hero 6 merchandise and that the only princess merchandise is pretty much for little girls. But no, we don’t have everything. And it isn’t our fault as cast members that we don’t have everything, so please don’t get mad at us 🙂
13) “So I saw this shirt at Epcot…” – I’m going to stop you right there. We do not sell park specific merchandise. Anything that says Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom or EPCOT on it you will NOT find anywhere except that specific park. So if you see it in the park, just get it. Don’t ‘wait until you go to Downtown Disney’ because you’ll be really disappointed.
14) “So I saw this item at the Disney Store…” “Do you take Disney Store coupons?” “Are you doing the same sale as the Disney Store is doing online?” – Having to explain this one is a bit of a nightmare 🙂 World of Disney is not a Disney Store. Though both stores operate under The Walt Disney Company, the Disney Store is completely separate, while the World of Disney sells merchandise specific to the overall resort. So no, we do not have that awesome princess dress you saw online…but we do have a ton of others!
15) *Asks guests if they have discount* “No, not unless you wanna give me one! Haha!” -This actually isn’t that funny and makes me feel uncomfortable when a guest continues to ask about my discount 🙂 The boss wouldn’t like that!
16) “Oh, there’s no price tag? Must be free!” – *Awkwardly laughs while trying to escape to find price tag to ring merchandise to finish transaction with guest because no it isn’t free*
17) “We’re going to the real Disney tomorrow!” -EL OH EL. Yes, because Downtown Disney is the fake Disney and the only real part of Disney is Cinderella Castle. Yes, of course. How could I forget?
18) “Where are your sum sums?” -Well…we don’t sell sum sums here….or TSUM TSUMs either…(See? World of Disney does not actually have everything. Isn’t that really depressing? Once Upon A Toy does, though. But not all of them, sadly 😦 Try the Disney Store!) This one is almost excusable because the ‘t’ is silent, but still…it’s funny to hear it pronounced as sum sum.
19) “Why don’t you sell *insert character/movie title* merchandise?” – Well, ma’am/sir, I really don’t know. I am not in charge of what merchandise we sell, because if I were, there would be a lot more Hercules merchandise because WHY WE NO SELL HERCULES MERCHANDISE, DISNEY?!
20) *Guest starts twisting arm to use Magic Band, it turns blue* *Guest tries swiping credit card* “Uhm, why isn’t this working?” -Well, probably because I have yet to scan all of your merchandise. Just a thought, though. I could be totally wrong.
HOWEVER, despite all of the *interesting* interactions we have on a daily basis, we also get to have chats with little princesses/fairies/princes/pirates, we get to meet people from our hometown/college and strike up conversations, we get to make magical moments and become the highlight of someone’s vacation and we get to make long lasting friends (because you will literally be with your coworkers ALL, THE, TIME).
Just be prepared to disappoint a lot of people because we don’t sell Universal merchandise 😉
And don’t forget your Disney Point!
If you look up the ‘Disney College Program,’ you’ll get the basic run down. It’s a paid internship at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. or the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA. for 5-7 months, depending on when your program starts/ends. You can be cast in one of several roles including merchandise, custodial, food and beverage, attractions, boutique host/hostess and entertainment. You can even take classes for college credit and attend seminars to improve your networking skills or to learn more about Disney history.
But the websites, pamphlets, newsletters, various blog sites and information sessions don’t even begin to scratch the surface of what the Disney College Program truly is.
They don’t tell you that the first week is just as emotional as your last week.
They don’t tell you that going to Casting makes you feel like every dream you’ve ever had is finally coming true.
They don’t tell you that waiting for your Cast Member ID is torture. (I wanna be where the people are…and all of the people are at Disney and I can’t get in yet.)
They don’t tell you that Traditions will fill your heart with so much love for The Walt Disney Company.
They don’t tell you that the first time you walk into Magic Kingdom as a Cast Member you will feel like you’re finally home.
They don’t tell you that life is the bubbles those first few days when it’s nothing but going to the parks and waiting for training to start.
They don’t tell you that you will most likely come home from your first day of training crying to your roommates because it’s all so overwhelming and new and confusing.
They don’t tell you that the first few weeks of work are the hardest.
They don’t tell you that it gets easier.
They don’t tell you that being a CP means, essentialy, being a ‘closing person’ for 98% of your program, except for those really rare occasions where you get an opening shift and get out of work when there’s still sunlight. (Cherish those moments)
They don’t tell you that those nights where you work until 1am are the nights where you bond with your fellow cast members the most, especially other college program participants.
They don’t tell you that this is where you’ll make friends for life.
They don’t tell you that closing shifts almost always end with a trip to Steak ‘N’ Shake, IHop, Denny’s, McDonald’s or Taco Bell with your coworkers.
They don’t tell you that Trails End is literally the best place to get breakfast on property because 1) ALL YOU CAN EAT and 2) $13. (Those CM perks though)
They don’t tell you that time goes by a lot faster than you think, and suddenly you wake up and you only have a few weeks left to do everything you didn’t do the previous 4 months.
They don’t tell you that exploring the parks on your days off is awesome…but that you should venture out of Disney sometimes, too. (Beaches are only an hour/two hours away, and it’s nice to visit other theme parks even if you’re the biggest Disney fan out there–Universal and Busch Gardens are pretty fun.)
They don’t tell you that Wishes will always give you chills.
They don’t tell you that going to House of Blues is a must, at least once. (Except now you must be 21+ to get in; sorry young padawans)
They don’t tell you that work will be difficult some days but that your friends at work will always make it better.
They don’t tell you that you’ll develop a crush or two, and sometimes it’ll work out and sometimes it won’t.
They don’t tell you that your friends, though, will become the backbone of your program. You will literally spend night and day with them, whether they’re your roommates or coworkers.
They don’t tell you that everyone you work with becomes your second family, and that, if you’re lucky, they’ll always be there for you.
They don’t tell you that you will want every piece of Disney merchandise ever created, ears and light sabers included.
They don’t tell you that Transtar is a NIGHTMARE. (If you have a car, you are blessed. If you have friends with cars, you are blessed. If you don’t have either…make some friends really fast or may the odds be ever in your favor.)
They don’t tell you that meeting your favorite characters over and over again will never get old.
They don’t tell you that being The Rebel Spy is life changing.
They don’t tell you that going to the parks alone can be really nice sometimes. Therapeutic, even.
They don’t tell you that the parks are really amazing photography subjects and that taking a picture of the same thing is worth doing because no two pictures ever look the same. (And that’s why I have a million pictures of Cinderella Castle, various firework shows, Festival of Fantasy, Spaceship Earth, and the Hollywood Tower Hotel.)
They don’t tell you that getting pixie dust is always the answer to any problem. (But be warned; you will be permanently pixie dusted for life. That glitter is hard to get out.)
They don’t tell you that playing in the parks when it’s raining is actually the best because as long as you have a poncho, you’re golden. (Besides, we all know it rains for like, .5 seconds when it rains in Florida, anyway.)
They don’t tell you that a mental breakdown is possible and highly likely, because the stress can get to you. But that’s okay; it happens to the best of us.
They don’t tell you that you get homesick even though you’re having the time of your life.
They don’t tell you that you’ll make some mistakes, but it’s part of growing up.
They don’t tell you that the program will make you a better person.
They don’t tell you that closing a park is the best thing ever (because who doesn’t want pictures on an empty main street?)
They don’t tell you that you’ll memorize the words/lyrics to things like Festival of Fantasy, Celebrate the Magic, Wishes, Tower of Terror and The Haunted Mansion…or maybe that’s just me?
They don’t tell you that you’ll meet people from all over the country and world and catch the travel bug. (Because making friends from all over means not having to pay for a hotel when you travel, which is perfect.)
They don’t tell you that even though you’re the one who is supposed to be making magic, the guests will surprise you some days by making magic for you, whether it be getting a hug from a little princess or getting told that you made a whole family’s vacation by being so engaging and kind to them.
They don’t tell you that graduating from the program is bittersweet.
They don’t tell you that the last week is the hardest and that there is no way to prepare for it.
They don’t tell you that the last few shifts you work with everyone will be emotional.
They don’t tell you that you’ll cry pretty much every day that week. And yes, even when you think you’ve cried all the tears you can cry, you cry some more.
They don’t tell you that the last night of work is filled with hugs, plenty of pictures and promising to keep in touch. (And seriously, keep in touch. You’ll regret it if you don’t.)
They don’t tell you that the last time you visit each park will be hard because you can’t imagine a life where getting up in the morning and deciding to go ride Tower of Terror before work is not a thing.
They don’t tell you to take an obnoxious amount of pictures. Yes, it’s wonderful to live in the moment, but it’s also wonderful to have something to look at once your program ends to remember the amazing time you had.
They don’t tell you that the last time you go to Magic Kingdom with everyone will be the worst night you’ve ever spent in Magic Kingdom.
They don’t tell you that you’ll hold onto your friends for dear life as Celebrate the Magic starts.
They don’t tell you that trying to sing along to Wishes and bawl your eyes out at the same time will result in the saddest, but sweetest, eruption of giggles ever.
They don’t tell you that throwing your graduation ears into the air and trying to get a picture of it is actually kinda extremely difficult but also makes for some of the funniest fail pictures ever.
They don’t tell you that the moment you say goodbye, you’re already wishing you could hit the rewind button and start all over again.
And, lastly, they don’t tell you that this is a once in a lifetime experience, and that no matter what happens, it’s one of the best journeys you will ever go on. So cherish every moment, live in the present, be prepared to lose sleep, go on adventures, step out of your comfort zone, make connections and dare to dream ❤