What it’s REALLY like working for Disney – How the Disney College Program was for me
Oh hello beauts! So working in Disney over summer was eventful, to say the least! Along with meeting some of the best people in my life, riding some insane rides, (Hagrid’s in Universal is the best ride in the world!) and generally having a blast, there were a lot of things that really just weren’t so Disney, as you might imagine. I thought I’d spread a bit of Disney reality today, because although you really can have an epic time on this program, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows – quite the opposite in Florida’s summers haha! You can have a read all about what the Disney College Programs (DCP and CEP) are elsewhere on my blog, just click the Disney tab and there will be lots to read up on if it’s something you’re interested in! There’s also a whole load of positivity to spread on the subject so do read my Disney posts for the other side if you haven’t yet!
To start, the summer weather is ridiculous in Disney! I’ve never in my life experienced such tropical storms – me and my friend were caught in the middle of a storm on the way to work one day, and the lightning struck so close that everything lit up, and you could feel the rumble through the ground, up your whole body – my throat genuinely was vibrating! The storms are no joke, and although Disney take precautions to look after staff in this weather at work, you have to get to work on time to avoid getting in trouble essentially. This paired with storms that start in a matter of seconds in Florida can seriously suck, and also be really scary!
The Disney housing is not ideal, to say the absolute minimum humanly possible. There are four different housing options within Disney, and whilst you can list where you’d like to stay out of all the complexes when applying to live there, there is no guarantee on where you’ll be places. We were lumbered with our last choice. (Vista Way if you’re curious.) This is the oldest complex of the four, and by far the most dated. The buildings are just quite shabby to be honest – they used to have pin boards in all the flats but they had to get rid of them because of constant bug infestations.. Aside from the dreary looking exterior, they were not even cleaned before we moved in – there were pubes and mould all over the bathroom and shared areas, and were just generally quite grimey.
To go with this, we also lived with an abundance of cockroaches – no matter who we told within the complex staff, nothing really go fixed and lots more appeared over our time there. Cockroaches obviously just exist in hotter climates, but there was a real problem in our flat that we basically had to live with. I’d never even seen a cockroach before, so to jump into living with a family of them was an experience. To cope with it we ended up naming them (hello Colin, Callum and Cathy, to name a few!) We also had an ant infestation upon moving in which was all over my friends bed furniture, so there’s that!
Along with this, there’s never really any privacy in Disney. When you’re on one of these programs you have no option but to live in their housing, which makes sense – it’s just how the system works and I’m okay with that! With that being said, sharing a room, all the rules and regulations can leave you wanting some alone time. And I’m saying this as a person who was really lucky with my room mate – she was an absolute angel, so I can’t imagine what it would have been like for people who didn’t really get on with their room mates!
Theme park prices are ridiculously expensive. I get the exchange rate (UK to US) is really not a pal at the moment, but Disney’s prices have notoriously risen year upon year. As staff, you get free entry to parks and some discounts, but even with this you’ll find yourself easily paying five dollars for a bottle of water sometimes; which might I add has salt often added an ingredient to dehydrate you faster and make you buy more. Weird! You can get free ice water around the parks though so there are some tips to combat this!
After working in one of the happiest places on earth (it honestly can be, I have PLENTY of happy posts on Disney work!) I can safely say some people just suck. I appreciate people spend a lot of money to visit Disney and take years planning in some cases. But as a cast member you’d be surprised by how many people directly take their bad day out on you! You definitely need thick skin to do this job!
Some of the Florida wildlife is so beautiful – although it can be unnerving seeing “beware alligator” signs everywhere! But the bugs will eat you alive! No matter how much I sprayed insect repellent and tried to prevent it, I would be covered in about 50 bites at a time. (Anyone that was there will know this is the genuine truth!) Some of my bites would get infected, grow huge, purple and veiny, and sometimes pop. (I’m sorry for how vile and graphic that is haha! But living with it for months was intense!)
Cast members are replaceable. Lots of people want to do this job and you are disposable. Two people I know – including one of my very best friends there – got fired for silly little things. It makes you think there’s a quota where they just need a certain staff turnover, and it’s so sad that some of the most positive and friendly staff were let go. I never personally felt like my job was on the line, but knowing it had happened to other people was sad.
Soo I think I’ll leave this here for now! Throughout all of this though, I do think the whole experience was worth it for the good times, (I might not have felt it through my whole experience, but in hindsight haha!) Hopefully this round-up has given you some insight into the reality of the program, if anyone is considering it these are definitely points to think about; or at least prepare for! But I can safely say I wouldn’t change it at all.