Disney College Program Survivor

Note: this is my most popular post from my previous blog about my time as a Walt Disney College Program participant. Enjoy! I entitled it...

Note: this is my most popular post from my previous blog about my time as a Walt Disney College Program participant. Enjoy!

I entitled it survivor, because I know a few people who couldn't survive, and it makes me proud that I did. Wow. What a crazy, wonderful, rollercoaster the College Program (CP) was. I have been back at home in Utah for a month now, and I finally feel like I can shed more light on my adventures in the magical land of Orlando, Florida working at the Happiest Place on Earth.


June 2012 rolled around.. I had very mixed feelings about going. I wanted to be on my own, yet I was scared for how big of a change it would be. I also really enjoyed the people I worked with and the friends I had, and I knew I most likely wouldn't be friends with those people once I got home after 7 months.

Sunday, June 10th, was one of the hardest days of my life--it was also the most life-changing. I started out by going to breakfast at I-hop with my family. I just remember feeling really numb all day. I didn't cry when my best friend, Michelle, came to say goodbye to me, but we were going through a bit of a rough patch. It then came time for me to take my puppy to a friend's parents house, and I lost it completely. My puppy, Lexi, is my best friend. I love her with all my heart. I couldn't stand the fact that she would think that I had abandoned her at a strangers house. I went to a family party, and didn't cry then either. Then it came time to take my uniform in to KFC. KFC isn't that glamourous of a job, but it was my second family. I lost it again. I had to say goodbye to my best friend, Sav, and it was really hard. She gave me a hug, calmed me down. Then, I was saying goodbye to my siblings at home after. My parents took me to the airport. Now it gets really crazy...

Once at the airport, I went through security. Forgot about the fact that I couldn't have liquids in my carry-on, and I had to send some of my perfume's home with my parents. The airport security also took my laptop out of my bag (as I had never traveled with it before) and I forgot it at baggage claim. Imagine how my heart stopped once I realized. I ran back down the stairs and thankfully it was safe and sound. I almost missed boarding my 8 pm flight (don't worry, I made it). On the flight to Phoenix, a young mom and her screaming baby were next to me. I didn't mind, because it was fun to try to entertain the baby, but once I got off to switch planes to Orlando, my head was pounding. I made it to my next flight to Orlando.

Because I had a red-eye flight, my flight got in Orlando around 5 a.m. I was then picked up by Mears Shuttle and dropped off at Vista Way Apartments. By this point, I'm almost ready to just turn around and go home. But the hope of being a character performer was helping me, so I went through check-in. It's a blur. During that blur, I know I waited in lots of lines and got my apartment #5201 in Chatham Square. Off to casting. Here, I was handed a sheet of paper that said Pizzafari-QSR. There must be some mistake, right? Wrong. After much debating and arguing, no avail. 3 hours later, I am one of the last to make it to Chatham Manor. I wanted to go home. I almost did go home that very day. But I didn't.

I was in a four bedroom apartment with 7 other girls. Some of these girls became my best friends. My roommate was Cecilia. I knew I'd love her as soon as I'd met her. She brought a whole bin full of books, loved Harry Potter, and we're soul-sisters. My other housemates were Madison, Shanelle, Melanie, Liane, Torie, and Stevani. We had many adventures together.

Training at work was really hard, just because it wasn't routine yet and it was very different. Things were going okay though. I had a friend that came from Utah with me, and she ended up going home in July. I almost went with her. I then told myself to give it another month, then see where I stood. After that, I didn't want to go home. In August I was chosen to perform in the Candlelight Processional. Rehearsals and shows took up my time after that.

The Candlelight Processional is amazing. A celebrity narrator tells the story of Christ, and we would sing. There was a full orchestra, guest choirs, Voices of Liberty (absolutely gorgeous!!), and the Cast Choir (me!). It was life-changing. I honestly probably would have come home if I hadn't had that to look forward to. It also made me realize that I would love to be a celebrity narrator one day. I also love singing a lot more than I thought I did. (Yes, Jodi Benson is in this picture! So am I!)


Working for Disney is very different from any other job you will have. Their main concern, besides safety (Safe-D begins with me!), is the guests. The guests need to have 100% Disney magic. I agree, but I was really disappointed in not seeing much cast member magic backstage. Once I looked though, I could see some pixie dust here and there.

Being a Cast Member has it's perks most definitely. You get into the parks for free, you get discounts, you get to perform in the Candlelight Processional if you get chosen, you get to go to the filming of the Christmas Day Parade...


..you get exclusive sneak peeks, you get to do backstage tours...


...and you get the chance to tell people that Mickey Mouse is your boss. Who wouldn't want Mickey as your boss?! Just look at him!


I got the opportunity to attend the DWCF breakfast. Wow. Can I just say wow? Disney does so much for the world. Disney owns the world. It was amazing to go to this exclusive, invite-only breakfast, and learn about what the DWCF is doing for the world. DWCF stands for Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, by the way. And of course, Mickey himself was there! He's adorable.


2012 was an exciting time for Disney. They bought Lucas-films, as well as had the grand opening of the largest expansion in Disney history. And guess who got to go to two sneak peeks? That's right, this girl! First, I got sent by my managers to preview Be Our Guest restaurant in the New Fantasyland...for free. It was delicious and utterly beautiful.


This gorgeous girl, Savannah, and I got to go try the yummy food!


The ceiling. Just like out of Beauty and the Beast. They did a phenomenal job with this restaurant. I also got to preview the New Fantastyland. It was beautiful! Belle's village is so quaint and Prince Eric's castle is so majestic.


I am a College Program Survivor. Being a CP is hard. You are underpaid, over worked, and on your own. But if you have a good attitude about it and find your own magic, it will be life-changing. I have met some of my best and dearest friends because I decided to stick it out, as well as because of where I worked. Not everything went according to what I thought my plan was, but it worked out even better. I have memories and friends that will last a lifetime. I miss talking and going places with Cecilia. I miss lying in Madison's bed and talking or vise versa. I miss laughing with Liane and will always remember Christmas pranking. I will forever be jealous of Shanelle's amazing model-ness. I miss walking backstage Animal Kingdom with Savannah and Dhrusha and Becky. My life is forever changed; I am forever changed by this experience.

Sometimes you have got to make your own magic.

xx

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10 comments

  1. Wow! i had no idea that Disney had a college. Congratulations on graduating!

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  2. Congrats for surviving! It must be nice to work at Disneyland!

    besos,
    M
    The Flower Duet

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  3. oh i love Disney

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  4. Congrats on your graduation!! I love Disney so much!! Xoxo

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  5. Amazing post!

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