Disneyland College Program: The What, Why, and How
Updated: Jun 24, 2019
Okay, so I've been getting A LOT of questions from friends, family, and really random people about the Disney College Program (DCP). With this post I will explain what the program entails, why I chose to participate, and the process I went through to do so.
Here's Disney's description they provide on the website:
As a part of the Disney College Program, participants have the incredible opportunity to advance their strengths and interests, meet guests and cast members from around the country and take part in educational opportunities students can't get anywhere else. This truly unique program allows participants to network with leaders, take part in personal and career development classes, and build transferable skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, guest service and effective communication.
When applying you have to be a enrolled in a college (or six months after graduation). Disney offers classes during the program (required for those participating in the Disneyland program) that your school can give you college credit for.
You can apply for either the program in Florida at Walt Disney World, or in California at Disneyland. I applied to both, and was glad to have been accepted into the Disneyland program, which naturally, is much smaller. There are two session's each year, Spring and Fall. When doing Disneyland the program lasts for about eight months, mine going from January to August. With Walt Disney World, people can participate in a program that lasts for about five months, or the Advantage program that is eight months.
The program is treated like an internship and is required for some of the professional internships within specific divisions of the company. While the Disney College Program is a non-technical skill internship, it produces the type of skills required in the workplace.
I'll be staying in apartment complexes provided by Disney with only other DCP participants. The apartments are fully furnished and equipped. Participants get paid and are assigned roles within the parks and the resort hotels, just like any other employee. A few of the roles include: Attractions, Merchandise, Quick Service Food & Beverage, PhotoPass Photographer, etc. We get unlimited free access to the parks while there as well as discounts on local restaurants and merchandise within the park. There is also a store for cast members (Disney employees) only that offers merchandise at a huge discount. There are also opportunities to participate in VoluntEARS, where you can do volunteer work with Disney.
Basically, you get to live in housing provided by Disney, get paid to work there, take classes, have unlimited access to Disneyland, and it's considered an internship. AWESOME right?
I applied on a whim one cozy evening in October.
I wanted to do the program eventually, but I didn't think I was going to get in at all this round, I just thought I'd apply every time I could. I was immediately emailed a web interview, and shortly after asked to schedule a phone interview. I was so shocked by how quickly the process went — especially because I had applied just a few weeks before the deadline.
I had another opportunity for me that summer, and so it wasn't a big deal if I didn't get in this round. I think that definitely helped me not stress out and be really confident and relaxed for my phone interview, which went really well. I hadn't even told my parents I'd applied because I was so sure I wouldn't get in. The program is VERY competitive, and I didn't want them telling everyone and getting hopes up. When I got a phone call to tell me I was accepted I was, once again, so shocked. My parents were even more so. Once I was accepted, however, I realized that there couldn't have been a better time for me to do this. I didn't really have any great jobs lined up for the school year. I had some interviews for Taco Time, Ross, Old Navy, etc. But nothing special to stand out on my resume. I wanted to get internships soon, serious ones, but I didn't really have anything to help my resume shine. I hadn't declared my major yet either, which I would have done in the next two quarters.
After the program, I can apply for serious internships and have a unique experience to share. I will return to school at Western and continue earning my degree. I may be set back a few quarters, and not complete my degree in the standard four years, but barely anyone gets it done in that time anyways. I'll have a better chance of getting a job as someone who participated in DCP and took 5 years to graduate over someone who didn't do anything like this and graduated in the expected 4 years.
There has not been one person in all of the online blogs, articles, and FB groups who wouldn't do it again in a heartbeat. This will change my life. This is a goal I had set and I went after it and now it's happening.
The application process is entirely online. The first stage is a simple form where you enter your basic information and job experience. Based on that alone they'll email you if they want you to move on to the next round, the Web Based Interview. Getting this email for the next step can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few months! I received the email within 15 minutes. The Web Based Interview is a series of multiple choices questions referring to work scenarios and personality. They ask a few questions multiple times too, reworded a bit differently. It's pretty basic. After this is completed you wait to see if they want to conduct a phone interview, which they'll email you to schedule. This email, again, could take moments to months, and most of the time people don't get it at all.
I received an email for a phone interview almost immediately afterwards. I scheduled the interview for a few days later and then did internet research and prepared for it. The phone interview was really easy! They ask you about your job experience and a few scenario-based questions, and about the roles you would want to work in. The interviewers are really really nice and make the interview super easy. Mine only lasted about 15-20 minutes.
After the interview comes the final waiting game. This part can also take days to months. If accepted, you generally will receive an acceptance email or it will show you are accepted at the Disney Careers dashboard. I, however, had to schedule another call. They emailed me again telling me they had an application update that they wanted to discuss with me. This was because I was accepted under a General Role for the Disneyland program, and they wanted to call and tell me about what that means. It basically means that I was accepted, they just haven't chosen a role for me yet. I verbally accepted anyways over the phone, even though my role would be a mystery for awhile. A few weeks later I got an email confirming my role as Quick Service Food and Beverage! You then will receive an email with several steps to confirm your acceptance, including accepting the offer, paying fees and scheduling an arrival and departure date. About 5% of applicants actually get accepted into the program so it is very competitive, and I feel very lucky to have been chosen.
Let me know if you have any other questions and I'll be happy to clarify! Good luck, and follow your dreams kids.