by Brittany DiCologero and Zach S.
Zach, of Chicago Heights, IL, spent his spring semester of 2014 working in Attractions in Epcot. While on the program, Zach was studying Spanish Education, though he has recently changed his major to Spanish Linguistics at Ball State University.
Q: What made you want to do the Disney College Program?
A: Most people want to do the college program to either help their resume or just because they are a huge Disney fan. My story is a little bit different. I applied on a whim my first time and I thought for sure I wouldn’t get in. In fact, I didn’t know a lot about the program until I decided to apply. During my research, I figured out why I wanted to do the program. I remembered going to Disney when I was younger and how all of the cast members went above and beyond to make magic for my family and I wanted to give back to them. Also, the DCP helped me to meet ICPs which allowed me to practice my Spanish (which was part of major). Disney also combined the Spanish side of my major with the education side by having me interact with families on a daily basis. Nowhere else can do that so elegantly in my opinion
Q: What was your role and location? Was it your first choice? If not, what was?
A: My role was attractions host in Future World West in Epcot. I worked on Journey into Imagination with Figment, Captain EO (now the Pixar film festival), and Character spot. This role and park were definitely both my top choices. I was so lucky to receive them.
Q: What was your training like?
A: Once again my training was a bit unique. Normally you have one or two different trainers and then a different person who gives you an assessment. On my first day I was introduced to my training partner, Marine, an ICP from France. Then we spent two days learning the different roles and positions at Figment and got an introduction to Character Spot. On the third day we had a third girl, Caity, join us because her trainer didn’t show. The next day both Caity and Marine had class so I trained by myself. I personally learned the most that day. The fifth day is usually an assessment both written (multiple choice questions) and practical. Don’t worry if you fail. They will tell you, come back in and we will practice the areas you were weak in (really it’s a second assessment day).
A typical day of training was learning how to properly open the ride, practicing some positions, and reading the operating guides. On the first day of training you have a “class”(part of your schedule) where you learn how to close Transport (the side console) because they are responsible for walking the track at the end of the night and you also learn how to evacuate the ride.
Q: What were your first impressions of your role and location? How did this change by the end of your program?
A: My first impressions were like great it’s a kids ride but I can deal because I might not be on the ride at all on a given day. What’s funny was when I was doing my interview I mentioned how a cast member at Figment wished me a happy birthday and asked if I had any cake.. and where did I end up? Figment. I knew I was probably going to end up there at the end of my interview. By the end of my program, I loved being at Figment because I “let my imagination run wild” with all of the magical moments I could make at work
Q: What were the best things about your role? The worst?
A: What I loved about my role was that you never knew where you were going on a given day or after a certain break. One day you can spend at all three attractions while another day you might be unlucky at get stuck at two different positions for eight hours. Another thing I loved about my role was something called “tasking” these assignments are given out when a break doesn’t need to be given out or rotation isn’t ready yet. Basically what you do is see if any of your fellow cast members need a quick bathroom break or a water bottle refill, when this is done you replace them at their position for about three to five minutes. This is the only “freedom” where you can wander your attractions and make magic for the guests. Finally, probably the best part of the role was being PAC (parade audience control) trained in Illuminations.
The worst part of this role was also not knowing where you were going to be sent. Some days you would try with all of your might to not pull that rotation because you do not want to go to unload. Another bad thing about Figment is that we have the longest time until another rotation is pulled. We are rotated every hour, instead of 45 minutes like most other attractions. Just imagine listening to One, Little Spark for an hour… then you get a break.. just to pull someones break. Another little known fact about Figment is that we have a machine that cleans ALL the 3D glasses on Disney property. This position is a hit or miss depending on who is with you.
Q: Can you tell me about a magical moment you helped create?
A: Two magical moments stick out in my mind the first one occurred at Figment during EMH (Extra Magic Hours) while I was at Dispatch (big control console).
We only had five trains running so we had a longer “gap” in between the two cars. We had a little girl who was dressed as Elsa who came up during the gap car. When she came up we said Elsa I think you let it go and froze our ride can you please use your powers and help us unfreeze it? She smiles and said okay, with that she waved her hand and the ride “magically” started (We pressed the buttons at the time she did it)
The other time I was at FP+ entry right before EMH started I had three re-admission tickets for Hollywood Studios “thrill collection” (so either Tower or Rock n’ Rollercoaster). I saved these because I knew I wouldn’t need them. So I had a group of teenagers go through my line and they were going to keep walking past me until I said, Are you guys still going to be here tomorrow? They said yes as they looked at me confused. I said you aren’t going to Studios by chance are you? They said we are not sure yet.. So I said you are now because you have FP+ for Tower or Rock n’, have a magical night. Then they laughed and were like thank you so much. They seemed to really appreciate it.
Q: What advice would you have for new CPs in this role?
A: My main piece of advice for CPs in this role is that while your first concern is safety and making sure the ride operates, there are positions where you can go up and actually interact with the guests. When you are in your greeter position don’t just go through the motions of saying hi… or welcome to the Imagination Institute in my case.. If you see a guest staring at a map they are probably lost.. go up to them and say what are you looking for. DO EVERYTHING WITH ENTHUSIASM.
Q: What have you been up to since your program ended?
A: I actually study abroad in Segovia, Spain to finish up my Spanish part of my degree and now I am taking classes so I can graduate in the summer with my bachelor’s.