In this series, Pixie Dust: How to Capture the Magic, blogger Elysabethe Thatcher tells of her journey through the Disney College Program, and how she manages to “keep her pixie dust” in the real world, since she has graduated from the program.
Hello there! Last time I talked about my dream of working at The Happiest Place on Earth. Today, I will be sharing about the application process, preparing for the big move to sunny Florida, and the unofficial list of packing “do’s” and “dont’s” and “doesn’t matters”.
The first step in applying was to complete the online application and a personality quiz. (You can access this at disneycareers.com.) There I was asked basic job application questions such as “Why would you be a good fit for Disney?” I then got to select roles based on what I wanted the most and the least. Keep in mind that just because you choose a role, i.e. Character Performer, as your number one role it does not automatically mean you will be selected for that job. I actually rode the bus every morning with a girl who, to me, looked and acted exactly like one of the princesses; however, she was a parking attendant.
Because I majored in Communication Arts with a concentration in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Photography, my number one choice was a Photopass Photographer. If you think you won’t fit in because your major right now is General Studies, no worries; they will find a place for you. Disney bases the “roles” or jobs you get on personality, goals, and studies.
I waited for what seemed like the longest weeks of my life to get an email back. And then, it happened. I got an email that I was moving on to the second round, which was a phone interview. I recommend researching questions online. There are a lot of great YouTube videos that list all of the questions that were asked. I practiced answering questions from two of my sisters who were Disney College Program Alumni. While the questions are different for each interview, some of the questions you can expect to get are “Why do you want to work for Disney?”, “How would the Disney College Program (DCP) connect with future career goals?”, and “How would your prior work experience aid your work at Disney?”
One bit of advice my sister gave me was to not mention we lived on a farm. She assumed this is how they chose her work location at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. She knew my dream was to be a part of the park that was “where you leave today, and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy”, the park that was full of happily ever afters, pixie dust, and magic, of course – the Magic Kingdom Park. I dreamed of working on Main Street, U.S.A where I would get to hear the “clang, clang, clang, of the trolley”, smell the freshly popped popcorn, and see Tinkerbell fly over the castle. However, just like the princessy parking attendant, you might not get the park you necessarily think you are perfect for, but that’s okay. The DCP is all about trying new things and spreading magic to others. Every morning I saw that parking attendant. She looked absolutely beautiful in her bright yellow striped uniform, high ballerina bun, and sparkly earrings. I could tell that wasn’t the job her heart had wished for, but she seemed to have made the best of it.
In my case, I ended up having to say, “Have a Wild Day” and being tortured for 4-8 hours a day by the scent of delicious barbecue being pumped into the streets. Not exactly the glamorous Main Street U.S.A I had envisioned for myself. Can you take a guess as to where I was placed?
The day of the phone interview arrived. They asked me a list of questions, and then the last question that I had been ready for…“How do you like animals?”. “Oh, I love animals!” I said trying to sound positive and Disney-ish. “But I’m allergic.” I said, which is actually very accurate. However, I am not allergic to animals such as hippos, elephants, and Pooh Bears, which are the type of animals that Disney’s Animal Kingdom is home to.
After a couple of weeks of more waiting and checking my inbox about every hour, I finally got my acceptance email. I could barely believe my eyes. I was hired as a Photopass Photographer! My arrival date was to be January 13, 2013. My dream was coming true!
The next couple of weeks that followed were filled with preparation for moving, working with my university to get classes squared away, and researching all that I could about what the next couple of months would hold.
Some tips for a pre-DCPer…
- Talk with your university: Before going to Florida I recommend having a chat with your advisor about transferring credits. I immediately got on a waiting list to take two classes from Disney, something I highly recommend. The classes fill up quickly, so don’t wait. In total, I took nine credits during my semester away. With summer classes I didn’t fall behind, which is a worry I know keeps many students from applying.
- Research: Although you may think you know everything and anything about the Wonderful World of Disney I recommend reading blogs (oh hey, look at you, all prepared, reading my blog. Way to go!), watching YouTube vlogs about DCP life, or talking in person with someone who has done the DCP. My university actually matched me up with a DCP alum, and we got a chance to talk before I left.
- Pack: This seems obvious, but something not so obvious is that Disney is sort of strict on what you can and cannot have in Disney housing. Hint: If you’re planning to bring your light saber, keep reading!
- Government issued Photo I.D.
- Bedding, toiletries, and personal items.
- Professional clothing (tip to girls: have a good pair of dressy flats. They will come in handy, but I will explain why in a later post.)
- Warm clothing (It can and will get chilly in Florida, no matter how much you don’t want to believe it. You will thank me later.)
- Decorations (This was something my roommates and I had a lot of fun doing.)
- Cleaning supplies such as: mop, broom, dust pan, duster etc. You can buy this down there; however, it is mistaken among many that Disney housing has maids like the hotels. They do not. They do, however, have cleaning inspections.
- Medical/Rental insurance.
- Money: It could take up to 20 days until you get your first paycheck.
- Pets (sad I know, but Pluto will cheer you up when you miss your puppy at home, I promise.)
- Bikes: They don’t have any place to park them, but if you are an avid biker, you can ride them backstage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
- Weapons (yes, this includes lightsabers; don’t ask me why.)
- Drugs (obviously)
- Mini fridges
Packing “it doesn’t really matters”:
- Car: While you can have one on housing property, they do provide buses everywhere. I did take my car, but regretted it when I got into an accident with a crazy Orlando driver. I actually know a few people who got into wrecks while there.
- Kitchen supplies: Disney housing supplies pots, pans, dishes, etc., but I chose to bring my own special things to make it feel a little more homey.
- Shower curtain, rug, throw pillows, etc.: Keep in mind that you share a bedroom with someone. I brought a rug; she brought a shower curtain. It worked.
So, this is where my magical journey began. I can’t wait to catch up with you next time to continue discussing my adventure and how I manage to hold on to the magic now that I am living back home.
(Image is a screen shot of the DCP e-mail belonging to the author.)
Elysabethe is a 23-year old Disney addict and Disney College Program Alum. Her first visit to the parks was when she was just three months old, and her most recent visit was on her honeymoon last June. When she is not in the parks she can usually be found carrying her resort mug full of Diet Coke and singing to Disney music on her drive to work, trying to bring some of the “magic” back home.