So I read this post back before I started my CP, and I came across it again yesterday. It’s probably one of the most accurate posts about the Disney College Program that I’ve ever read. Now that I’ve been here for just over two months, I feel that I’ve experienced enough of the program to make my own post inspired by Tumblr user DisneyLens’. But first, an observation.
I’ve been getting a lot of “how can you be unhappy, you work for Disney” comments and messages when I post any kind of discontent. And I understand that for someone who hasn’t done this before, it may be hard to understand what exactly CPs and CMs go through. Yes, I work for Disney. But Disney is not some magical bubble shielding me from the real world. In fact, it’s more of a real world than anything I’ve ever experienced. Reality reaches through the magic at every turn. So, just a reminder, cast members are people, too. We have feelings and struggles, too. Keep that in mind on your next Disney vacation. Especially if you’re going to lash out at a cast member because the women’s restroom is on the other end of the lobby from where you’re standing. (I have complete control over how the building was built, of course. -_-)
So, okay. Here’s what the Disney College Program has been, for me, over the past two months.
The Disney College Program is an experience unlike any other. It’s the opportunity to work for a company that creates magic and happiness for people of any age, race, gender, nationality, and background. It’s being a part of something so much bigger than yourself. It’s learning about a company that has been a part of your life since childhood. It’s driving under the Welcome to Walt Disney World sign every single day and still smiling at it.
It’s walking into the Magic Kingdom during Traditions, seeing the castle, and discovering that, yes, this opportunity is real. It’s finding out that, even though your work location isn’t your dream role, it may soon become just that. It’s falling in love with your work location. It’s learning more responsibilities than you ever believed you could memorize (and still carrying around your mini training manual just in case). It’s laughing at the bruises you get from the arms of seats as you clean the row above you. It’s ridiculous costumes that may have been trendy in the 90s but are in desparate need of updating. It’s doing your very best to do your job well.
The Disney College Program is fun. It’s getting Dole Whip with your roommates and friends at 10 PM when it’s 60 degrees outside and you’re already shivering. It’s going to the Magic Kingdom at midnight after a long shift, even though the park closes at 1. It’s four parks, one day, to celebrate your birthday. It’s meeting characters and feeling that joy that you felt as a child. It’s taking selfies EVERYWHERE, including on rides. It’s dance parties in the mezzanine and in the curtains. It’s dance parties in the box office. It’s dance parties in the car, in the parks, on the PeopleMover. It’s being the last guests on Pirates of the Caribbean in the month of March. It’s late night movies and early morning parks trips. It’s Space Mountain photo poses. It’s inside jokes (meanwhile, in Italy…). It’s meeting fellow CMs and guests from all over the world, and adopting some of their slang.
The Disney College Program is work. Hard work. It’s physically and emotionally demanding. It’s long hours and late nights. It’s working and going to class for 12 days in a row without a break. It’s the best guests and worsts guests you will ever meet. It’s learning to be respectful even in the toughest situations. It’s calling in your manager for backup. It’s going to work even though you feel like you got hit by a truck. It’s trying to snag a quick nap in the break room. It’s making sure your tattoos stay covered. It’s pushing through the pain and keeping a smile on your face. It’s answering “What is DisneyQuest” about a hundred times per shift. It’s stepping over guests to ask guests to stop recording. It’s language barriers and frustrating moments. It’s having to call an alpha unit for a guest. It’s scary moments that set your heart racing. It’s fear of failure. It’s frantically cleaning your apartment the day before inspections start, and praying that you’ll pass. It’s homesickness and missing your family.
The Disney College Program is still the best decision I’ve ever made. I love my jobs — both of them — despite rough starts and hard days. I love the friends I’ve made. Even when I’m sitting here writing this, sniffling and achy from a cold, dreading my box office shift today (solely because I’m sick), I am loving every moment of this program and wouldn’t change it for the world.