I heard about the DCP in high school from a teacher. While they advertise their program a lot on other campuses, CU is not one of them. However, I was reminded about it upon seeing a flyer in the hallway one day and applied not really thinking that I would do it. The application process includes (or at least when I did it, this might not still be current) the initial application, an online personality test, and a phone interview. I passed the first two and did a ton of research for the phone interview (which I can send you) and was surprised it was only 12 minutes long.
After about five days of waiting I received the email: I was in! I got a true sense of how much I wanted to do it while waiting to hear whether or not I’d made it and decided to actually go for it. My advisor was not very supportive but I decided to do it anyway and I am so happy I did.
Over the next few months I joined the FB group for incoming interns like me and met my roommates after all of us filled out surveys and had a lot in common. I recommend doing this; it eliminates a lot of stress. Fast forward to January, when I moved to Florida, and all of us met in person and clicked right away. We got in line for a room super early to ensure that our location was perfect – we picked Chatham Square which is newer and supposedly not as noisy of an area. Our apartment was old but surprisingly nice, and water and electricity were included in the bill that was automatically deducted from my paycheck that I received every two weeks. You have to pay per load for laundry. There was a pool nearby in the area that’s gated off and exclusive for cast members living in the area, it wasn’t too far of a walk from the bus stop, and Chatham is close to an area just for cast members that is basically a park in which you can rent a paddleboat, play volleyball, etc. for free with your ID [I think it’s called Mickey’s Retreat]. Housing is also cool because they have free events for cast members [there were a few parties thrown in Chatham with free food, a DJ, and characters along with events such as “Grocery Bingo” wherein I won a HUGE bag of food and supplies like laundry detergent, garbage bags, etc”] and you have inspections that make sure you’re keeping your apartment in good shape but if you pass, you get a HUGE box of chocolate [it’s called getting the “White Glove” award].
But anyway, enough about housing. NOW TO MY ACTUAL JOB! There are different “roles” AKA job titles you can get when you apply. You find out which one you got right away in your acceptance email but not where you are working. I knew I had “attractions” – working on the rides- from my email, and found out when I got there that I would be working in Magic Kingdom in Adventureland! YAY! This area is divided into four parts: 1. Haunted Mansion 2. Pirates of the Caribbean 3. Jungle Cruise and 4. ATT. I was so pumped because I had a 3/4 chance of getting something awesome [options 1,2, or 3 above]. I couldn’t wait to be a part of one of the main rides that people came from all over the world to experience! When you check in there is a really touching workshop/ welcome event and a tour of Magic Kingdom and the entire time I was anxious to find out where I’d be stationed. I found out I got ATT and I was crushed. No Jungle Cruise for me.
ATT stands for Aladdin, Tiki Room, and Treehouse [Swiss Family Robinson]. I was dreading working these rides but long story short my opinion did a 180 and I GOT SO LUCKY. I thought I would hate it but I got to be outside, wear a costume that was super comfortable, and work right alongside the guests with amazing coworkers. There was a rotation of different jobs that I had to do [run the rides, greet people, etc] and often I would get told to go blow bubbles and play with little children in princess costumes. It was the best. ALL I did was smile at work all day because I loved it so much. Sure, it rains sometimes and listening to the Enchanted Tiki Room song can get to you in ways that you never wanted to know about, and there were days I was tired and got yelled at by guests. But I am so happy with where I got placed and since it was such a small section, I really got to know everyone including the managers and higher-ups on a more personal level.
Some of my favorite memories include:
- Countless families asking if they could take a picture with me
- Trading pins with guests
- Seeing marriage proposals right in front of me and being the first to greet them with a “Congrats” button complements of the Mouse
- Handing a boy a voucher for a new ice cream for himself and his family when he dropped his on the ground
- Spotting a random “princess” in a dress AKA little girl in costume and running up to her with an autograph book in my hands, getting on my knees in front of her, and exclaiming, “I KNEW IT WAS YOU! Wow, a REAL princess! I thought you might be here today and I’m SO EXCITED to see you! Will you please, please, PLEASE sign my autograph book?!” and watching her get so excited and her parents almost in tears [you can do this with basically any kid dressed in a costume]
- Talking like a pirate to little pirates
- Literally watching “Wishes”, the firework show, WHILE I worked
- My fellow castmembers and managers, all around
- Being the last/ first one to be in the park
- Spieling. If a ride was down or there was a lull in the queue, you can tell stories to the guests and in general just get them pumped up to be there. I had a captive audience for all of my puns and they LOVED THEM which made me happy too. One time The Tiki Room was down and my coworkers and I told a grand story in which all the birds flew away and we had to get them back, etc. Working some Disney Magic.
- Sometimes I was told to make a “Magic Moment” for a guest where I’d pick a random family and pull them to the front of the line. Feel-good moments for all of us.
Okay, so work in general was awesome. Don’t go into it thinking it will be perfect; a lot of people hate their roles at the beginning, just like I did. It is actually a lot of hard work. But the special moments, like the ones above, make it more than worth it. This holds true for any role you get. I have friends that were photographers, merchandise, lifeguards, BBB, custodial, etc. so if you have any questions about a specific role you have your eye on please let me know. I would recommend trying to work in a role that allows you to be in an actual park, as this is where the guests are and where I feel the “magic” is strongest. If you work in a park, you get really cool perks too: through my job I got a private walking tour of the Haunted Mansion with the lights on.
What about outside of work?! THIS IS THE BEST PART. You get into every park FO FREE [sans water parks] so that’s what my friends and I would do just about every day. I know each park like the back of my hand. You get to know the timing of everything so you can ride your favorite rides a million times in a row with no line if you go there at the right hour. You get to wander around and memorize all of the sights and smells, and meet characters that people fly thousands of miles to see. You get to experience all of the wonderful shows you never had time to watch before [like Lion King and Beauty and the Beast]. You get to visit your friends while they’re on the job. You get to get family members/friends in for free for a little while. You get to go shopping with a discount. You can go to many of the restaurants in the area. You can go swimming in your apartment complex pool. If you tire of Disney, you’re just a few hours from Universal Studios, many beaches, a place to swim with dolphins, and the nightlife of Orlando. I even went skydiving with my friends while there. It’s a wonderful location for active people, and more often than not, the weather is wonderful.
If you’re thinking of taking classes, I know people that took them for credit online from their university in their free time. I opted not to do this but I did take classes at Disney University on my “weekends” (usually Tuesday and Wednesday because Sat and Sun are obviously really busy times for the park and manpower is needed). I took courses on Marketing and Guest Service and graduated with two “Mouster’s Degrees”. If you take the more extensive courses with homework, you get a “Ducktorate”. LOL.
Some people hated their experience and left early. Others were “termed” [fired] and had to leave. Provided you follow the rules and work hard, this might be the best experience you have in your life. As with everything, you get out what you put in. I made friends there that I still talk to every day. I’ve never connected to people as much as I did when I lived in Florida. I feel like I grew up while I was there; it was my first time ever really living on my own so far away from any family or familiarity. I found myself. I had fun every day, from playing in the parks to having movie nights in with my roomies playing board games and cooking cookies. Ironically enough, I didn’t go into the program a huge Disney fan - I just wanted to see how it was run as a business. Now I’m totally converted and I think about it all the time. It sounds way corny, but it changed the way I carry myself. After I went, three more people I know have gone from CU as well and absolutely loved it. It’s literally magical!
Hope this answered any questions you might have had. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with! In case you can’t tell, I love talking about my time there.
PS there is no summer program. There is regular, and extended/”Advantage”. I had to take a semester off. I just did the DCP, however, and there are things called PI’s (Professional Internships) that you can research more if you’d like because they might have summer options available but I’m not sure. Generally, these are more competitive and apply more to your major. I might be applying for one soon myself, we’ll see!