Editor’s Note: Chandler is writing a series on the process of applying to, interviewing for, and participating in the Disney College Program. For her earlier posts, please check: Why Does One Apply? , The Application Process, and What to Pack?
by Chandler Witzigreuter
I finally got everything packed up and loaded into my car, and I was off to Walt Disney World!! My dad, my sister, both of my grandpas, and my uncle drove me down to help me get all settled in. After driving 22 hours, through 4 sates, and having one of our cars break down, we finally made it to Florida! We checked into the BoardWalk Resort and spent the night!
The night I arrived in Florida, I had dinner with my roommates! I highly suggest meeting and talking to your roommates (if you know who they are) before you check-in; it allows you to get past the awkward stages! After I met my roommates, I felt really good about who I would be spending the next six months with! We all decided when we were going to meet at Vista Way for check-in, because even though the DCP website says check-in is from 9 a.m. to noon; you need to get there sooner.
The next day was very exciting, because Check-In day was finally upon us!! My roommates and I met outside of Vista Way around 7:15 and 7:30 in the morning (yes, very early but we were done with check-in by 9 a.m.). Prepare yourselves now, it will be a long day, no matter what!! Check-in started at 8 a.m. and you make your way to the back of Vista, and you start your process! The first thing you do is get a sticker with your name on it that looks like a Cast Member name tag, then you have to verify your e-mail address and phone number. It’s super easy!! Then you walk under the pavilion and you wait in line until tables clear up so you can fill out some simple forms, and you get your Program Guide that has information that you need for reference. Once you’re done with that, you turn in your forms and go into the room so you can get your apartment!!! While in line, it’s nice to talk to your roommates and other people just to get to know them! You never know, you might meet someone from your school, state, or city! And it also makes time go a lot faster!
When it’s your turn to get your apartment, it’s very exciting! One of your roommates, if you have them, will go up and see the options that are available. And just for fair warning, be open to compromising. They can’t promise that they will have the size of rooms in the complex that you want. My roommates and I wanted a 2-bedroom apartment in either Chatham Place or Patterson Court, but unfortunately there were no more 2-bedrooms in any of the complexes. We had the option between 1-bedrooms in Chatham or a 3-bedroom in Vista; we chose Vista Way, and I am actually happy about it. We did get two more roommates, which was weird because we wouldn’t know them, but the rent for the 3-bedroom in Vista is way cheaper than a 1-bedroom in Chatham or Patterson. Just be open to what can happen, we didn’t expect to have two other roommates or be living in Vista, but everything works out.
After you get your apartment and keys, you get your property ID picture taken, and no matter how hard you try to look cute, the picture always looks gross. Then after you get your ID, you can register your car so you can park in the complex, and then you go and talk to a Cast Member to see when you go over to Casting. My roommates and I got done around 9 or 9:30 a.m., and we were scheduled to go over to Casting at 10:30 a.m., so over an hour of wait time. We decided to go see our apartment and claim bedrooms. We soon discovered that our building is directly across from the bus stop (SCORE!!), and really close to both pools, and the classrooms! So far, so good! We claimed bedrooms, and one of our other roommates arrived. When the time came, we left for the bus to go over to Casting.
Casting is probably one of the coolest buildings I have ever seen!! First off, the door knob looks like the one in “Alice in Wonderland,” and then you walk into this huge atrium or foyer (what ever you want to call it) and there are huge pillars/columns with golden statues of Disney characters!! Needless to say, I was in awe. While you are oo-ing and ahh-ing, there are Cast Members who will come by and tell you where you will be working, and when you have Traditions. Every single person in my apartment got Magic Kingdom, and two of of are working in the same store!! I was placed on Main Street, U.S.A. West at the Emporium. We were all very excited to receive good news! When we were standing in line, we started talking to a girl about where we were working, and describing the parks to her since she had never been to Disney World before! We instantly clicked, and were having fun in line. Once you are out of the line, you go to “stations” where you do different things like talk about classes you are taking, your Onboarding paperwork, whether you want direct deposit or the payroll card, being fingerprinted for the government, etcetera. You finally end up in a room talking to Cast Members about your training schedule, and what bus to take to work, and so on. At the very end, you get a picture taken by a Photopass Photographer, and then you are done!
After Casting, you have some time before you have to go to the Welcome Meeting over at The Commons, the apartment complex for International students. The Cast Members know that it isn’t the most fun thing on earth to have to do, but they do try to make it fun. They have music and lights going and they have short skits that they put on for you. They also ask you questions so that you have a chance of winning small prizes. Overall, it is pretty fun, and it gives you a chance to see the people who live outside of your complex! After the meeting is over, you have the night to do whatever you want. Day 2 is the same way–it’s so you can get the lay of the land and meet people.
Day 3 is probably the best day of your first week. Day 3 is when you usually have Traditions! Traditions is the class held at Disney University that is required for you to take. That class is when you officially become a Cast Member! You get your Company ID, so you can get into the parks for free, and then your name tag!! The instructors I had were so much fun, and you could tell that they loved their jobs, and most of all they love Disney! We covered all of the basics and watched a few video clips, and even had some surprises! During Traditions, my instructors asked us questions, and if we answered the question we got a “Disney Critter.” They also gave us the chance to talk and to get to know the other people sitting at your table. I loved going to Traditions, and I had a lot of fun!
Unless you are scheduled to start training right away, you have the rest of the week to relax, and go into the parks for FREE!!! And that is exactly what my roommates and I did! We even invited our friend who we met at Casting to go with us, and it was even more fun because she had never been to the parks before. We went to Magic Kingdom for like four nights in a row, and went on Splash multiple times and took multiple pictures! And the great thing about doing the program for months, is that you don’t have to worry about getting everything in everyday!
Towards the end of the week, everyone started to have training! I unfortunately was the last of my friends to start training. My first day of training, I went to Magic Kingdom Costuming to get my costume to work in at the Emporium, and then my trainer showed me how to get to Main Street from backstage. She also showed us where different things were in the store and where stocking supplies are. Then she introduced us to one of our Leaders, and she was super nice (but I honestly don’t think that there is a mean manager, leader, or coordinator). After a few hours, you get to leave and go back home, and I think after training all of my roommates and I went into the parks… AGAIN! You usually have 3 or 4 days of training then you are set free to be on your own at your location. When it became my turn to be on my own I was a little scared, but luckily all of the trainers and other Cast Members are super nice and are always willing to help!
As you can tell, your first week or so is super packed full of fun and work! But as soon as you step foot into your apartment, you know that you are supposed to be here. I am so happy that I was given this opportunity, and I am trying my best to not take it for granted, but sometimes it’s hard to do that. I am already 3 weeks in and I already don’t want it to end!
Have a Magical Day,
Chandler Witzigreuter is a 19 year old from Fort Wayne, IN, who has been obsessed with all things Disney ever since she was very young. She is now participating in the Disney College Program Spring Advantage Session, which started started earlier this month. You can follow her journeys through the Disney College Program here, or on my Tumblr: chandlerswdwcpadventures.tumblr.comr