Two years ago I began my journey to Disney from the PNW (Washington) to the South-Eastern corner in Florida; specifically, Orlando, Florida. That is when my 4 month journey in the Disney College Program (DCP) began.
It is crazy to ruminate that two years have already passed, and reflection about my experience there inspired a post (because, why not).
How it happened:
The DCP was quite an adventure, and I thought it would be fun to share what I learned (and what I didn’t).
To start off, here is a little back story…
I applied to the DCP in September of 2014 because a good friend of mine had recently been accepted. Honestly, it started as kind of joke; like, I’ll just apply for the laugh of it. However, I had just began my Junior year at Eastern Washington University, and had intentions of becoming an event planner. As such, I needed an internship for my degree, and figured I could give working for Disney a shot (even though I thought there was no chance of getting accepted).
Low and behold, by the end of October I had received my acceptance letter, and my program would be starting in January of 2015.
Should I go?:
My emotions were pretty mixed, up until my departure. I was very exhilarated and could not fathom that, I, had actually been accepted. At the same time I was anxious and scared; I knew that I would be going to Florida (approximately 2786 miles away, in case you were curious).
I would be leaving my boyfriend (now fiancé), our cats, our apartment, and my car, behind in Spokane. I also received a bit (read, a lot) of negative reactions about this. My parents were a little iffy about it (how would this be beneficial to you? Above all else, why? ) and various others whom were informed of this opportunity couldn’t come to grips with the idea.
Thankfully, there were also plenty of people who provided a mass deal of encouragement. Caleb, for one, was my biggest supporter from the get go. He was one of the only people I even told about the program, and me applying, before being admitted.
For me, I figured I was (still am, I guess) young and I had never been to a Disney theme park (please don’t mock me, my parents obviously didn’t love me enough), and I thought, “if I don’t do this program now, I won’t ever”. This seemed scarier than accepting, truthfully.
Welcome to Florida!
So on January 23rd, 2015 I arrived (barely, might I add; I literally almost missed my flight out of Spokane) in humid Orlando, Florida with one suitcase and duffel bag stuffed with all my belongings for the next 4 months.
My program didn’t officially begin until the 26th, so I spent the first couple days with a family friend who was kind enough to show me around and take me to the Disney experience of my life. After my first visit, I could truly see the magic of the place I would soon be working at. Unfortunately, all the pixie dust in the world wouldn’t fill the void that was left in my heart without Caleb being there.
When my program began I found out where I would be living (because that’s important, you know): a two bedroom apartment with 4 other girls (Patterson Court, whoop whoop!) and my work location: Epcot (Sunshine Seasons, anyone?). Who knew that my roommates (Amanda and Carmen, specifically) and the people I met working at this little quick service location would become so special to me.
There were so many great memories forged in those short months: my best friend Madison was able to visit for her first Florida experience; then Caleb and some of his family made the trip; and of course, my family were able to come (they were all first timers as well, and needed a family trip). Oh, and Caleb was able to come a second time (on a whim, mostly because we missed each other; you know, love and all), to help bring me back to Washington.
Once there, for the most part, I had the most mouse-tacular experience. Sometimes I had a hard time seeing through things and staying positive, but overall I have no regrets.
Nope, none. Not even working in the 95 degree heat with 98% humidity.
It was all splendid.
I must say though, there wasn’t a lot of content about the program online (or that anyone was willing to share) beforehand, which probably contributed to some of my emotions regarding leaving. Hopefully then, sharing a few of my thoughts will be helpful to someone getting ready for their program, or debating about applying in the first place.
Alas, here are a few important things I learned/found necessary:
Timing is everything. My experience was, well different than most. Almost everyone I met was living their dream doing this program. As in, they had dreamt of this since there first trip to Disneyworld. Whereas I had found out about the DCP a couple days before I applied. I’m truly convinced that doing this at a time where you don’t have so much to leave behind (or as little as possible, really) would make your time with this kind of program unequivocally awesome. (Perhaps your Freshman year of college, or on your downtime before college). Which leads me to…
Plan ahead. One of my other pitfalls was that Caleb and I had an apartment in Spokane we literally had just signed a new lease on. We were left paying for this, and my Florida apartment, which left little money to spend in Florida (read, no fun time in Miami for me) or Spokane. Luckily…
The people you meet are truly going to be a big part of your experience (the best part, in my opinion). Hopefully you are a people person. If not, hopefully you’re open to new people. I made life long friends in just a few months spent with them. I also met people from all around the world that I plan (will) to visit in the near future. Even though we were all working different style of jobs, we concluded, above all else, that…
Working for a mouse is very inspiring. ‘Nuff said. However, to make the most of it, you should consider…
Taking a car. It was a constant (seriously can’t stress this enough) struggle without a car, especially since I had had access to one that past 5 years of my life. Also, you can go see, like, Florida and stuff. Not just be grounded in Orlando. All the time. Of course…
The program is what you make of it. Pure and simple as that.
In the end, I discovered a great deal about, not just working for a mouse, but about myself. I came back home, again with no idea of what I wanted to do career wise. Oh well. I also realized that I was even more in love with Caleb than previously thought.
What an adventure!
I strongly advocate this program to everyone, or anyone really, interested. I think it is a flitterific opportunity, and has so many things to offer within (the least of which is free entry into the parks).
Hopefully this is helpful to anyone considering the DCP.
Oh, and if you’ve never been to a Disney park, you should probably go and see the magic for yourself. Seriously.
Just don’t go during a peak time or something stupid like that. Unless you like being ran over by strollers, we’d advise against it.
Find out more at http://cp.disneycareers.com/en/default/.