Disney College Program Attractions Role Interview with Rich McIntyre Jr., Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ’11

by Brittany DiCologero and Rich McIntyre Jr.

This Disney College Program role interview features Rich McIntyre Jr., who worked in attractions at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad during the Fall 2011 program. During his program, Richwas a student at the University of Connecticut where he majored in psychology. Currently, he is a student at Drexel University where he is finishing an MS in Library and Information Systems.

Q: What made you want to do the Disney College Program?
A: I was on vacation with my family and met a CP working in merchandise who went to my University. After talking, she gave me the contact information for a staff member at UConn who facilitated internships for students. I have vacationed at WDW annually with my family for over a decade and thought it would be fun to work for the Mouse.

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With guests on vacation from Michigan, left to right; Lizzy, Josh, Danielle, Eric, Rich. Image: Rich McIntyre Jr. 

Q: What was your role and location? Was it your first choice? If not, what was?
A: I worked as an Attractions Cast Member at Big Thunder Mountain in the Magic Kingdom. Attractions was my third role choice; I had hoped for Character Attendant and Merchandise because I was concerned that the attractions role would be too complicated for me to learn. When I was offered the role of Attractions Cast Member, Big Thunder Mountain was also my third choice; I had hoped to work at Pirates of the Caribbean or Splash Mountain. Despite getting my third choice two times, I was not disappointed. My time in Attractions at Thunder was better than I could have imagined.

Q: What was your training like?
A: My training included learning different “scenes” in the attraction, general operation of the ride, and most importantly, safety procedures. I spent time shadowing different positions at the Attraction—like Dispatch, Tower, and Greeter. I also had to take detailed notes on attraction terminology and had an exam to take before being allowed to operate the attraction without being supervised. My trainer was a part-time employee so I trained over 3-4 weeks and spent time parking strollers at Country Bear Jamboree and covering the now obsolete Fastpass Ticket machines at Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain where I have fond and distinct memories.

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Greeter at Big Thunder Mountain checking FastPass tickets. Image: Rich McIntyre Jr.

Q: What did you like most about your role?
A: I was fortunate because I like Thunder Mountain myself so working at an attraction I enjoy was fun. I loved watching people having fun, especially people with special needs or people on Make a Wish trips. I liked being able to let people ride multiple times in a row and going on a “ride-through” with Guests while I was in costume. I liked working with a large team of diverse Cast Members and working with them to ensure a safe and fun Guest flow.

Q: What did you like least?
A: Attractions can be physically (and mentally) strenuous. It took a couple weeks for my body to adapt to standing and moving around all day, especially in a warm and humid climate. I disliked when I had to tell Guests the attraction was down—for maintenance or because it broke down— because of how disappointed some people could get. I also did not like feeling the pressure to get as many people through the attraction queue as quickly as possible but my team of Cast Members made it more fun than stressful.

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Checking out the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with a coworker, Lizzy. Image: Rich McIntyre Jr.

Q: Would you recommend this role to a friend?
A: Absolutely. Especially for people who are anxious or think there is too much skill and responsibility. I learned a lot about myself by being outside of my comfort zone with this role. You will be challenged by and learn from people with different languages, communication styles, cultures and abilities; the experience is well worth the challenge. The large, cohesive team of coworkers afforded me an opportunity to become very close with people who I consider my best friends and who I still talk to, over five years later. The DCP is an experience not like many internships.

Q: What advice would you have for new CPs in this role?
A: Give yourself time to adjust to a new environment and be open to learning from those around you. I never worked with a large, diverse group before the DCP. The first few weeks were rocky in terms becoming comfortable with my surroundings and new responsibilities but it gets better. Embrace advocating for yourself, speaking up, and communicating with leaders and coworkers. As an introvert, this experience pushed me well outside of my comfort zone. I grew from the experience, professionally and personally and have great memories from the time I spent at Thunder Mountain.

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At CP graduation with friends from work; Mickey, Shannon, Kelli, Rich, Minnie. Image: Rich McIntyre Jr. 

Q: What have you been up to since your program ended?
A: When my program ended, I started working in a medical library. After starting graduate school in 2014, I spent nearly two years working at a local Apple Store as well as the library. I left the Store in July 2016 to work full-time at the same medical library where I was working as a student assistant. My hope is to become a health sciences librarian who will work to improve information discovery and will implement contemporary services and technology to enhance customer experience and usability.

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