Shannon interviews Brooke, a veteran with the Disney College Program. She shares her experience with her three sessions as a cast member through this program.
Brooke also provides helpful tips on how to apply, when to be accepted, and different housing options.
Brooke Rogers has done three Disney College Program seasons since 2018, including one that just ended. Brooke actually has done what is called the Disney Cultural Exchange Program because she is from Canada, but it is the same as the DCP.
In 2018 Brooke was assigned to merchandise for her program. In 2019 she was a character attendant. Her most recent program she worked in Hollywood Studios working as an attractions cast member for Smuggler’s Run.
Prior to applying to the Disney College Program, Brooke thought she was going to go into animation. She wanted to be an animator for Disney.
That didn’t work out but she still wanted to work for Disney, so she applied for the program in 2018. She grew up visiting Disney World yearly with her family.
After she finished her first program, she changed gears and began a degree program in hospitality. Her Disney College Program really influenced her career goals.
There are different ways to apply depending on if you are applying domestically or internationally. Prior to applying, you want to be sure you have customer service experience or some kind of work experience.
When the applications come out, you will create a cover letter and fill out an application with work history. After this, you may be selected for a Web-based Interview.
You will receive your results after that noting whether you have failed or will continue in the process. If you are a good candidate, you will begin the waiting process for the next step.
International students have a similar application process but you will also need to include your resume. International students have an in-person interview. Brooke interviewed in the Disney office in Toronto with a recruiter in person.
It is important to apply with a professional voice as this is a professional job.
After a few weeks, you will find out if you have been accepted. The timing for when to apply, when to be accepted, and when you will report to Orlando can vary greately. You might have a month after being accepted and you might have to wait several months.
You need to be enrolled at an accredited college or university in order to apply. You can also apply immediately after you graduate. You do not need to be in a full degree program, just enrolled. This especially applies for international students due to the visa process.
Where will you be placed?
When Brooke initially applied, she was able to give her preferences for roles and those were taken into consideration when she was placed. That is no longer the case.
You are now placed where there is need and participants do not have much of a say in where they will be placed. Experience and preference don’t seem to be considered.
Once you are placed in a role, you are locked in unless you have a medical need.
Tips for applying
- Present yourself professionally.
- Have some work experience, especially in customer service and working with others.
- Safety, Courtesy, Show, Efficiency, and Inclusion – include important words in your application.
This is completely sporadic. The process can be very unpredictable. Acceptances and declines are sent in waves. Letters will be sent out in groups of 5-200 at various times.
DCP candidates stay in touch via Facebook groups and Discord chats.
Once you have been accepted, you have 5 days to reply. If you choose to attend, you need to accept and be prepared to pay the fees.
If you choose to stay in on campus housing, the fees are $425 to get into the program. This covers, transportation and lodging for the first part of the program.
Housing and Arrival
When you are scheduled to begin, Brooke likes to arrive the night before and stay on site. Her check in at housing is typically early in the morning.
Check in is at Flamingo and you get your paperwork and can go to your room!
You can make roommate preferences and room style preferences. You can link with one other person to be your roommate. Brooke doesn’t know of a situation where those preferences aren’t honored.
International students must live in Disney housing. Domestic students can choose to live in Disney housing or offsite.
Brooke lived in Vista Way during her first DCP experience. The apartment wasn’t bad and she really liked it. She had some bumpy roommate situation, but it was okay. She lived with 5 other girls in a three bedroom two bathroom suite.
Her second experience she lived in a similar suite with 5 other girls, but this time she roomed with friends. Her third year she had a 4 bedroom apartment with 3 other girls. This time she was in a new apartment with her own room, which was great.
Transportation to the parks is provided. It is not the best but it is available for those without cars. The buses will take you to any of the parks, but you cannot use them to leave Disney property.
A DCP participant typically works at least 32 hours per week. Some cast members work up to 60 hours a week. Brooke says that 40 hours a week is standard during normal seasons for the parks.
Some students do take a college class online while they are doing the DCP. They can take a couple of credits during the program. Disney will allow you to schedule a class or two a week.
Brooke ended up doing one more semester of college in order to take a semester at Disney. She did use the DCP as an internship credit, however.
The experience at Flamingo really helps DCP participants have an educational experience. They have networking opportunities and social elements too.
DCP participants do not get the same perks as cast members. They are paid less and do not have the same benefits. However, they are allowed into the parks based on the reservation system.
Generally DCP cast members have more availability than cast members. They also have some perks within the work experience as well. There are leaders that will help connect DCP participants with others in their field.
When the DCP ends
Brooke wants to go to Disney full time but cannot due to the visa situation, so she just continues doing the DCP in order to work at Disney. Once she graduates she hopes to be able to find something more permanent.
Domestic students can extend their DCP experience and can switch into a different role. Depending on need, you can be accepted or declined. They can also go full time or part time.
Brooke’s favorite experience was in attractions. The experience was incredible and the community that was built within attractions was wonderful.
Brooke is on the wait list to go back to Disney and is hoping to be in attractions again. Participation in the DCP did change her perception of the parks. She lost some of the magic when she was a character handler seeing some of the behind the scenes experiences.
She has also seen character interaction, which really enhances the magic. You can also explore things more as you are interested, which is great.
Brooke has an annual pass and still gets down there as much as possible. She does have the goal to work full time at Disney, potentially in their corporate offices. She’d love to use her degrees in marketing or in project management.
Baby wearing in the parks can be incredibly helpful and make traveling with little ones easier. You can baby wear on rides but not all of them. If there is no height requirement and no lap bar, you can baby wear. If there is no height requirement but there is a lap bar, a cast member may ask you to turn your baby around. If the ride does have a height requirement, babies are not permitted.
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