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by: Undercover DivaHow many time have you visited one of the world-famous Disney Resort Parks and said to yourself “Man! I wish I could just spend all my time here!”? Well I know how you can work for Disney, live in their housing and get a college education. Sound too good to be true? Well it’s not! Let me introduce you to the Disney College Program.

If you are anything like me, you love the parks, but unless you go to school in California or Florida it is pretty hard to regularly make the trip. But this program gives you the chance to experience everything you love about Disney and get college credit. Many college students plan on applying for internships while in college as a way to better themselves and get experience within their field of work. But not many people think of Disney when they think of an internship. They think “Disney can’t possibly have an internship in my area” but in fact they do. I’m not promising they have a role for every career path, but you would be surprised at what they do have. They have internships in everything from photography, to culinary arts, and life-guarding to performance art and everything in between.
The idea is simple, live in Disney housing while you work at what you love and get free access to the parks on your days off. But it’s a little harder than that, each over 30,000 students apply for the program and only about 5 to 8 thousand get in, it kind of depends on what positions they need filled and who is right for the company that year. But don’t let this discourage you! Just know what when you are applying to let your personality and love for Disney shine! Plus, if you do get in, think of how great that will feel!
So what is the program all about?
The basic idea of when the programs are

There are two different programs, one at Walt Disney World and one at Disneyland Resort. There are 4 different time periods when you can apply for Walt Disney World, Spring and Spring Advantage, and Fall and Fall Advantage. Students will apply for Spring and Spring Advantage during September and November but the Spring program last from early/mid January to early/mid May and Spring Advantage last from early/mid January to early/mid August. The fall semester is similar. Applications open for both from February to March but Fall last from early/mid August to early January and Fall Advantage last from late May/early June to early January. Disneyland does not have the Spring or Fall Advantage programs. If you are thinking about applying, make sure you check with your college about their regulations for internships. I know that I would not have been able to apply my last semester because I would have to be back for graduation in early May and I might have missed that.

Like I mentioned before, there are over 30 different tips of internships offered through this program. Those offered a job will work full time and, depending on the season, maybe more. Especially during the peak of summer and during the holidays, students have been known to work 50 hours a week, but that is not always the case. Participants will be told how much they will get paid per hour in their acceptance letter and it can range from role to role. In the acceptance letter participants will be told what role they have been accepted for, but they do not find out their exact placement until check in day.
Vista Way, one of the 4 housing complexes

Each week the cost of housing is taken out of your paycheck. This will range depending on which park you are doing your program at and where you stay. At Walt Disney World it can range from $86 to $105 and there are 4 different apartment complexes you can chose from. The price you pay depends on which complex you chose and how many room mates you have. At the Disneyland Resort there is much less housing and it is about $140 a week. These are studio style apartments and can range from one to two bedrooms with up to three participants in each bedroom. California participants are able to find their own housing and do not have to live in the Disney housing.

So, enough of the boring stuff, what about all the fun stuff? Students can participate in internships almost anywhere in the world, so what makes the Disney College Program so special? Well, just like a full Cast Member, participants get benefits at the parks like discounts, free entry for themselves, limited free entry for friends and family as well as a multitude of other benefits such as Disney Cruise Line discounts. Cast Members also get sneak previews of new attractions and rides. But the fun doesn’t stop there! Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World have exciting housing events for participants to attend like games nights, talent shows, dances, and movie nights and a bunch more!
Didn’t I say something about college credit? Many schools offer internship credit to students who take time from school to participate. But the Disney College Program offers a large variety of classes for students to take that pertain to just about anything. In the Disneyland Resort program students must take at least one class but at the Walt Disney World program they are not required. These classes are over a variety of topics such as leadership, resource management, corporate analysis, engineering, show production or even just Disney heritage. Look on like HERE for complete course listings. Now some schools will give you credit for these classes and others may not, that is up to you to talk with you individual school and find out how it works for you.
So basically, you get to live in Disney housing, work at a Disney Park and get great discounts on Disney goodies, all while gaining real world experience. That sounds pretty fantastic to me! And keep this in mind, Disney is a world renown company and is pretty prestigious. Even if you aren’t someone who wants to work for Disney your whole life, having that name on your resume will open many doors for you later on down the line. Employers know that Disney is pretty strict and picky when it comes to picking Cast Members and if you can last any length of time under their management then you must be a pretty great person. If you do want to work for Disney, what a great foot in the door! I spoke to someone once who started out in the Disney College Program selling Mickey shaped ice cream treats. He then went on to work as a performer for them and eventually became one of their top casting directors. You never know where an internship with them may lead, so why not give it a chance?

For more information you can check out the Disney College Program website and youtube page