Inside the Disney College Program (Cast Member Interview)

For nearly 40 years, the Disney College Program has been providing valuable experience to young adults inside one of the largest and most recognizable companies in the entire world.

When the program first started, it was exclusive to Magic Kingdom. Now, DCP interns can be found in all four Florida theme parks, Disneyland, and all of the Disney resort hotels in a variety of roles from attraction attendant to recreational director!

I interviewed a DCP participant and got the inside info that you need to know before applying or encouraging someone else to. I’m keeping the interviewee’s name confidential.

Let’s take a look!

How did you learn about the Disney College Program?

I had a friend from college who knew I liked Disney a lot. She mentioned applying for the Disney College Program and said that I should apply too, so that’s what I did!

What was it like applying?

The application was really quick and easy. There’s a simple application to apply on their website, then you receive a web based interview. If you do well on that, you get a phone interview and that’s the most nerve wracking part, but it turned out to be very relaxed. Then you wait!

What was the start-up process like (move in, orientation, training, etc.)?

It was kind of hectic, and it can be different every time. I checked in at a Disney housing complex and moved my stuff in with the help of my sister. Then I went to Casting to take ID photos. They gave some of us lightsabers! Then there’s a housing meeting a day or two later, and Traditions a little bit after that. Training for custodial took about a week. I was introduced to Magic Kingdom and shown around my area and how to do everything according to Disney standards.

What are your accommodations like?

CPs (what we call College Program Cast Members) don’t get travel funds or anything like that, but at housing we have access to pools, basketball courts, volleyball courts, a bus system, computers and printing, housing events, board games, movies, books, etc. There are also disability accommodations for housing if you ask.

What is your current role?

I am custodial at Magic Kingdom!

Disney College Program participants can serve in a variety of roles!
Disney College Program participants can serve in a variety of roles!

What does a typical day look like?

In custodial, it’s mostly just pulling trash and cleaning restrooms and outdoor dining areas, but the most important thing is talking to guests! I regularly give directions to attractions and restrooms and just talk to them about anything, really!

What has surprised you about being in the College Program?

I didn’t think I would make such amazing friends, but the program is about to end and most of my friends are leaving. It makes me real sad because I don’t know when or if I’ll see them again!

Have you had any special experiences with guests or work colleagues?

One time, while bussing some tables, I saw a little Snow White sitting at a table with her mom. I walked over and said, “Wow! I wasn’t expecting to meet royalty today! May I have your autograph, Snow White?” She was a little nervous but obliged. I let her sign my autograph book and waved goodbye. I continued to bus tables for a while, and then the same mom came up to me with Snow White in her stroller and she said, “She wanted to wave goodbye to you!” That melted my heart and really makes all the hard work worth it.

Has your view of Disney changed as a result of your experience?

Somewhat. I really do love all the magic and excitement, but I feel somewhat disappointed in the way employees are treated. CPs are cheap labor; we don’t get paid very much and there are lots of strict rules. Sometimes we feel disposable especially since Florida is an at will employment state, so we could be fired at any time for any reason. Disney doesn’t fire anyone for no reason, but it does feel kind of scary that they CAN do that. There was a raise in wages, but CPs aren’t included in that raise. This seems unfair because we often struggle to make rent at Disney Housing, which is pretty expensive for the quality of living we get in return for the price. Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney and I love working here, but I think some things could and should be improved on the end of the magic makers. We’re the ones who make all of our guests’ dreams come true, so shouldn’t we receive proper wages to reflect that? Like I said, I still love this place, and I definitely plan to work with the company in the future; I just hope we get better treatment in the future.

Disney College Program:  Been in it, or know someone who has?