Wondering what the Disney College Program is all about? Ever see a Disney cast member with a college or university listed on their nametags but you’re not sure why? Check out these frequently asked questions about the Disney College Program, and learn some tips for applying and enjoying your time in Florida or California:
Q: What is the Disney College Program?
A: The Disney College Program is a paid internship experience at the Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort that combines three primary elements—living, learning, and earning. Participants live in company-sponsored housing, work in front-line roles around Disney property, and have the opportunity to pursue educational seminars, collegiate courses, networking events, workshops, and more. The program may be done during a semester in college, or following graduation. Participants may apply during their freshman year, but they may not spend their first semester of college on the program.
Q: Do CPs (College Program interns) receive credit for the program?
A: Whether or not CPs receive college credit for the Disney College Program depends on their individual schools. Some schools offer a full semester’s worth of classes simply for participating in the program, while others offer credit for one course assuming some amount of extra work is done, and others do not give credit at all. Discuss the program with an academic advisor or career services before committing to the program, and remember that if you cannot receive credit or take a semester off for the program, you can always participate the semester after graduation.
Q: How does the Disney College Program affect financial aid, student loans, and/or enrollment statuses?
A: The program’s impact on financial aid, loans, and college enrollment again depends on each individual college and situation. Some students may be able to take a semester off and continue with their regular financial aid plans, while others may lose scholarships if the program does not count for credit. Loans vary based on the type of loan, timeline in the payment process, and the loan provider, and enrollment status can vary based on how each college works with the program. Contact your loan provider or academic advisors at your college for information on how the program can affect these areas.
Q: Do you need to take classes during the program?
A: Classes are not a requirement for the Disney College Program, unless otherwise noted by your individual college while receiving credit for the program. Seminar style classes do not include homework and are only a couple of weeks long and may be taken just for experience or based on interest, while collegiate classes are offered for those who are looking for more regular coursework and to receive credit. Exam proctoring and distance learning opportunities may also be available.
Q: Do you need to live in company sponsored housing?
A: No, living in company sponsored housing is not a requirement. CPs may opt to find their own housing, which may or may not be less expensive (depending on a number of factors like roommates, location, amenities, transportation costs, etc…) though many CPs choose to live in program housing as it can be easier than securing a short term lease on their own, and transportation to and from work is included in the rent. Additionally, housing events take place for CPs, and many participants worry that by living off site they may miss out on some of the experience. Not sure which apartment complexes to consider? Check out this post by program alumni who share what they liked and disliked about their apartments.
Q: How many hours do CPs work?
A: CPs work a minimum of 30 hours a week, but during peak seasons with overtime may work upwards of 60 hours. Due to the nature of working in a resort that is open nearly 24/7 every day of the year, CPs must have full availability during their programs (with the occasional exception that classes will take place either on days off or hours before or after work). It is difficult to predict exactly what your hours can be like because they really vary by role, location, and time of year, but a minimum of 30 hours per week should be expected.
Q: What is the application process like?
A: CPs fill out a basic application on the Disney Careers website. If they are selected to move on with the process, they will be asked to complete a web-based interview that is essentially a series of (timed) questions about their personalities and work habits. Applicants who pass the web-based interview will be asked to move on to schedule a phone interview, which will either lead to an acceptance or a “No Longer in Consideration” message. Not all applicants are asked to move on with the process upon submitting the application, and there is no definitive way to know whether or not one will be selected to move on.
Q: Are applicants randomly selected to move on to the web-based interview?
A: No, Disney College Program recruiters have repeatedly stated on the official Disney Internships and Programs Blog that invitations to move on to the web-based interview are not given out randomly. Each individual application determines whether or not you will be selected to move on, and Disney has never officially released information as to what pushes an application through to the web-based interview and what does not. If you are interested in applying for the program, fill out the application to the best of your ability and try not to compare your progress with the progress of others—everyone has a different experience while applying, and many applicants never share their experiences online. Comparing your application to others may only end up causing you unnecessary stress.
Q: What does “Under Review” mean?
A: This just means that your application is still being reviewed. Some applicants move to the “Under Review” category immediately after submitting an application and they can stay there for weeks, while others move right through the process. You can get “stuck” in “Under Review” at any point in the application process, and while it is frustrating to not have the answer you’re looking for it’s important to not give up. Unless you receive a “No Longer in Consideration” notification, you’re still in the running!
Q: How much does the program cost?
A: There are a series of fees that must be paid while accepting an offer to complete the program that range from about $350 for the Walt Disney World program and $900 for the Disneyland program. These fees cover the cost of housing events and rent payments for the first couple of weeks of the program.
Q: How much does rent cost and how do you pay rent?
A: Rent is paid weekly and costs anywhere from about $100 to $200 per person depending on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, apartment complex, and number of roommates. Rent is deducted automatically from each paycheck, except for the first two weeks or so when rent is covered by the program fees.
Q: Can time-off requests be accommodated?
A: CPs may put in requests for time off from work, however requests are not guaranteed to be approved, and they depend on the availability of other cast members and business needs during the selected days. CPs may swap shifts to change their days off if they only need to switch one or two days in a week.
Q: When living in program housing, where does the included transportation go?
A: Housing includes bus service to every CP work location, including the theme parks, resorts, waterparks, and Disney Springs, as well as Publix, the Post Office, Wal-Mart, and the Florida Mall. Bus schedules vary, and CPs may view a printed schedule or download a real-time mobile app, however it is suggested that they leave for work early to ensure that they arrive on time given that the buses can fall behind schedule and they make multiple stops.
Q: I have questions that were not addressed here—where can I find more information?
A: For more information about the Disney College Program, visit the official Disney College Program website or the official Disney Internships and Programs Blog. Personal blogs, vlogs, and Facebook groups may be helpful for seeking insight from other current and former CPs, but remember that these are not official sources of information and should be taken with a grain of salt. Always look for sources that are direct from Disney for the most up-to-date information about the Disney College Program. Of course, most of our writers are CP alumni, so if you have questions about our experiences with the program you are welcome to leave a comment here or reach out to us on Facebook!