Disney College Program Tips: 25 Things I Wish I Would Have Known

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Yes, My Disney College Tips Could Help You

Yes! You found my Disney College Program tips. Getting to work at the Disney Resort is a once in a lifetime opportunity. If you have the chance to apply, go and even be part of the Walt Disney World programs, I’d tell you to try it. Yet, before you do, there are some things you should know. This article is all about the things I wish I would have known. It would have made me less nervous and I could have been more prepared and most importantly, I would have spent more time in the park playing (and a little less time picking up overtime.)

Disney College Program Tips

In the past few decades, Disney College Program applications have been handled differently. Today we are still dealing with the aftermath of the virus and the DCP is still somewhat unknown as the world gets back to normal. That being said, it’s moving forward and the chance to work with the public at Disney World or Disneyland is still a G-R-E-A-T opportunity.

Students can participate in the Disney College Program (DCP) by living and working at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida or Disneyland Resort in California. With the program, students can earn college credit while gaining on-the-job experience to enhance their resumes after graduation, as well as take classes directly at Disney. 

The program isn’t without competition, you will have plenty of students wanting to be part of this program, just like you! Frankly, DCP applying isn’t as easy as it once was. You should keep these tips in mind if you are a college student thinking about applying to Disney’s college program.

25 Things I wish I Would Have Known: Disney College Program Tips

1. Join the DCP groups

Getting involved in the online Disney College Program community is a great place to start if you’re thinking about applying! If you join Facebook groups, Instagram communities, and other groups, you can get in touch with alumni and get some perspective on the program and the application process from people who have been there. Although these communities can be a great source of information, don’t forget Disney’s official resources. My Disney College Program tips (and tips from others) should only supplement what Disney asks for.

2. Verify You Meet the Program Requirements

My bestie was so excited about the idea of being part of DCP. I think she was ready to bust as she was a big Disney fan. However, she was immediately rejected simply because they don’t meet the Disney college program requirements. Sadly, she isn’t the only student who didn’t make it because of  application requirements OR didn’t answer the questions reasonably. Remember, Disney is looking for certain people who are willing to do as required and there are rules to follow.

3. You Will Need to Agree to Work Outside

One question on the application you need to realize is very important, all about the weather.  There is one question that many students think they have a choice (and it’s sort of a trick actually) which you need to be aware of. Now we are paraphrasing, but the question that causes people to be turned down is: “Are you willing to work indoors and outdoors in varying weather conditions?” Needs to be answered YES. Why? About 80 percent of positions held by DCP will be outside in some way. 

4. Take DOWN ANYTHING that’s Questionable on Social

Before you fill out the application, start with your social. Take down anything that’s questionable that could risk you losing this opportunity: Drinking, too tight clothing, sign language that’s inappropriate, crime or stupid pranks and any swearing posts. Don’t think for a minute that Disney isn’t going to look at you online. In fact, they have a whole cyber team that tracks their employees online, so it’s obvious they will check your social before you get a position. Turning your accounts private might be a temporary solution, but all you need is one person to retweet, share or comment and it could be found on other timelines so it’s not worth the risk.

5. Don’t Rush Filling Out the Application

One sad thing about my internship is that my best friend applied, but didn’t make the cut. I found out later she was rejected because she didn’t slow down and read the application. She didn’t answer one of the yes/no questions as she should have. It was a bummer (she got in for the next openings) but that was an easy mistake to avoid. Take time to read, reflect and answer every question without rushing. You get one chance and an error means you wait to be eligible until the next season.

6. The Web Based Interview Process

If you were looking for any trick questions, don’t worry, this part of the process is all about consistent answers you’ve already given. The questions are typically multiple choice, and with that in mind much of the interview repeats the same questions yet they are asked in different ways. Disney is testing you to see if you are being consistent and honest about your answers. The best way to get through this process is to be focused on answers that are truthful and read every statement carefully before you choose an answer.

7. Your Phone Interview is VERY important

Ok, the phone interview is probably the last interview before the decision to have you work in the program. Let me tell you that it’s important you are focused to make logical statements and capture this opportunity. A few things I’ve learned: the length of the phone call is not important. Nor is the idea that you love Disney as a consumer. You should have notes on what your roles would be ideal AND you should be ready to discuss how you would handle hypothetical situations with guests. I was asked questions on engagement with people previously, how I’d handle a large crowd and if I smile. Make sure you have at least one question to ask as well. Thi allows the recruiter to know you have done your homework and are sincerely interested.

8. Be Honest at ALL Times

Disney recruiters have interviewed thousands of students and they know what they are looking for in a candidate. Obviously, you want to be that person hired. Which is why you need to be honest at all times. This brings me to an acquaintance I know who almost got a chance to work at WDW but blew it by stretching the truth. She insisted she was very social and engagement was easy. So when they asked questions on handling situations with guests, she told them she’d tell the guests to ask someone else if she didn’t know (you are supposed to be willing to go find the answer – which is a real customer service thing.) Anyway, the recruiter realized she wasn’t as social as needed for the part after hearing her answer and she didn’t  get hired.

Related Posts: 7 Best Tips for Applying to Disney College Program

9. Bring an Extra Pair of Shoes

As mentioned above, you will be working outside. If it’s Florida where the rain slams the earth, you will need it. If it’s California, the pavement gets very hot with the strong sunlight. So another pair of shoes to pack is important for a comfortable work load. You will be on your feet all the time (there are few if any sit down jobs) so be ready to stand a lot with your comfy shoes.

10. Expect to Answer a Number of Repetitive Guests Questions

Do you know where the bathroom is? I’d be asked that question 50 times a shift, in several languages. I wish I would have known this was part of the job instead of getting uptight about the same questions. I came to realize (and you should too) that it’s OK to answer the same way again and again. Just as long as it’s done with a smile.

11. If You Don’t Know Ask – Like now with my Disney College Program Tips

Don’t be foolish and make big mistakes that could screw up your experience. It’s safe to ask. It’s not safe to assume. If you decide to make a situation worse or not follow rules by not knowing what the rules are, expect to be sent home. Like your home, not the dorms. The rule of thumb is to ask if you are unclear about any situation. Never think you can do as please and apologize later.

12. YOLO is No Joke at Disney

For the record, YOLO is no joke at Disney. Take time to enjoy this experience. Learn from what is shared with you and capture the moment like no other. From understanding the business side of the theme park, to recognizing how merchandising works from learning how to prepare foods to the art of excellent customer service, you will be exposed to many, many things. Make sure you soak it all up. 

13. Disney Look is Daily Routine

Make sure you have the Disney look upon arrival to your DCP dorm or home. Many students seem to think they can adjust when they get there. Which sounds great, but causes friction with employees and is sort of disrespectful. We all know there is a Disney look and waiting until the last minute makes you stand out (in the wrong sort of way).

14. Don’t Make Your Roommate Situation Dramatic

If you find a roommate before you arrive for your job, great. If you don’t that’s fine too. I’ve seen people click with roommates on Facebook groups and then I’ve seen others that were awful. Remember, if you have mutual respect and are willing to work things out, life will be fine. Plus, you could be working so much that you rarely see your roommate as the job does come first.

15. Follow the Rules: Cameras are Everywhere

They say there are cameras everywhere in Disney. As part of the Disney College program, you will witness it firsthand. And don’t be surprised if someone from your group mentions how you don’t wave, smile or do other activities that are not within the Disney code. They will be checking on you and making sure you are working appropriately.

16. Smile. Wave. Say Hello

Are you ready to be really, really friendly? Disney makes sure you will be a guest’s best friend. It’s expected to smile, wave and say hello. If you’re a friendly person, you might even have trouble with this. Being “on” for a full shift waving, smiling and saying hello to strangers is taxing. Yet, it’s part of the job and if you don’t do it, you don’t get the job.

17. Your Schedule Will Vary

The schedule of a candidate in the Disney College Program will vary. One week I was working 25 hours and the next 50 hours. It depends on where you are going to work and what the time of year is. Be prepared for what might be long hours and take advantage of down time when you have it!

18. Resting Means No Park Play

If you’ve been working every day and think you can continue this schedule, think again. It’s extremely taxing to be involved with the public and even cast members find it grueling sometimes. Add the weather and obligations outside of work and you need a day off! So make sure your days off aren’t always to play at the parks. You need a break from Mickey (in a good way).

Disney College Program

19. Put the Cell Away (or Get Busted)

Cell phone usage is a big no-no on property. Perhaps it’s a bigger sin than being late (which is what I wish I would have known in the Disney College Program). It’s interesting that we don’t think people notice we are sneaking a peek. Well, they are and you will get busted. In addition to cameras, guests will tell other cast members and point you out. That’s right, guests don’t like CPs to use phones either. So keep it in your pocket, use on breaks or lock them in the lockers.

20. Be on Time Every Time

The tardiness of life is not tolerated at Disney. They have a warning system based on points and you don’t get to talk your way out of being late. In fact, you don’t get to talk at all. The time on the clocks are prompt and you should be too. You will get a warning and there are reasonable situations, but reality is you need to plan to be on time.

21. Home Life is Tough Sometimes

Life in the dorms is somewhat hard. I found it difficult to get a good night’s rest. Others found it tough to find a quiet space. It’s important to note that you will adjust to it. This might take a few weeks, but if you just work on it, you will find rest, relaxation and meet new people.

22. Expect to be VERY Busy

The Disney College Program isn’t just any opportunity. It’s not just a Disney job either. Which is why it’s important to mention you need to be prepared to be very busy. Whether you are on the floor or at the costume shop picking up your clothing, you will have a bunch of stuff to do and it’s going to be difficult to accomplish everything. Pace yourself!

23. Souvenirs + Discount = Broke

On the first day of my job, I promised that because I had to pay for room and essentials, I wouldn’t be buying souvenirs during my CP life. At the end of the program, I was penniless and sent home 5 boxes of souvenirs? What happened? Well, I realized with the discount and the moments captured during my time at Disney, I wanted to remember them. And it was a decision I will NEVER regret. You won’t have a lot of money, but you will have a moment in time that’s irreplaceable.

24. Return the Uniforms (or Pay for Them)

Make sure you keep track of the uniforms you use. Don’t swap with others and don’t be late in returning them. Many CPs fail to realize any uniforms not returned will be deducted from your checks. It’s not pretty to see a pair of pants or a skirt fee taken from a check.

25. Don’t Expect this Opportunity to Be Easy

There were many magical moments during my DCP opportunity. And a few I’d like to forget. It won’t always be easy. You’re expected to do a lot, be a cast member and part of the community while still showing guests how to have a great time. The idea is to balance your opportunity to make it the best. If you smile, those around you will smile too!

26. Not Everyone Will be a Princess

When considering your choices for the DCP, figure out where you might be best suited. Talk to your recruiter about your desired position and consider what is available. If they suggest you won’t be picked unless you work in attractions, but you want to work in merchandising, then consider what is more important: Working at Disney OR being in the area you choose. Unfortunately, not everyone will be a princess.

Tips if your Disney College Program Application is No Longer in Consideration 

You should not give up if you are NLIC’ed (no longer in consideration) in the first round, or if your application is stuck in “submission.” Alumni who applied a second, third, or fourth time were eventually accepted, and while unfortunate this is simply a reality when so many students are applying for the same position. Additionally, keep in mind that everyone’s application process is different, and only Disney knows the why and how of all this. It’s important not to compare your process to that of others who applied on the same day as you. Each person’s is different and only a small percentage of applicants share their details online, so you will not be able to determine what’s going on based on this information.

In Conclusion

If you are ready to apply for the Disney College Program, DO IT! The experience is worth the process. And yes, you might be frustrated by some of the rules, the process or even your roommate. What I’ve found is that this experience on your resume will bring opportunities way beyond the months working at the theme park. It’s opened doors I never dreamed would be open as businesses know you have to have people skills and good common sense to snag (and keep) a Disney College Program opportunity.

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