Working in Disney – What is the DCP?
Hello beauts! As I was working on my Disney series here on the blog I realised I hadn’t actually fully described the program I was on. Alas, here we are with a full round up of the Disney College Program – AKA the DCP. International employees are actually a part of the CEP – the “cultural exchange program,” but other than visas and working abroad regulations it’s basically the same thing. In a nutshell, the cultural exchange program allows you to work in Disneyworld Florida over a summer – you get around two months working, and then your visa type also allows you to travel around America for a month afterwards. (So of course I did this! I stayed in Florida to enjoy the parks work-free for just over a week, and then headed to Las Vegas, LA, and Boston.)
From Disney’s perspective and something to focus on if you go for this program in interviews, is culture. The point of this program is to share culture, with guests, other staff members and the wider community. This can literally be anything from talking about home, trying different foods, and just experiencing new things with each other – it’s not stringent and to be honest with you would be entirely “blaggable” even if you didn’t do a huge amount of cultural things. To follow the visa requirements, you have to submit a cultural activity you’ve done every month. It’s really simple and can literally be “I went to target for the first time this month, American supermarkets are a lot bigger than ours.” Or “I cooked a Chinese meal with my Chinese friends.” So nothing major to worry about but something to remember. You just submit this online and they explain everything through to you on arrival. It’s a really simple part of the program and allows you to travel under the specific visa type needed for this working summer.
Aside from this, you work in the Disneyworld parks, the resorts, or Disney Springs. The CEP program lets you go for most of the park roles you can think of – at an entry level position. You could be a costume character, work on attractions, food and beverage, lifeguarding, merchandise, and custodial. There are a few roles you can’t do on your short time there, one of which being a face character – which is simply a character that interacts with you through voice and words, like a princess, as that takes more training than it’s worth for your short time there. On the year we went, you also couldn’t be a character attendant – the people who stand with the characters and attend to guests, the characters needs and basically have a whale of a time. Previous years have been able to apply for this on the CEP though so it just depends. If you’re interested in a more thorough run through of all the roles have a search through my other Disney posts as I’ll be sharing posts all about this.
In most roles you’ll work very testing hours! Cultural exchange employees are paid a little less than the part and full time employees at Disney, and so they’re often given the longer shifts and later shifts. Luckily Disney has a system where you can trade shifts away and swap shifts, so after being scheduled 12 hour shifts 6 days a week for a while, I finally worked out how to get more time off – and therefore get to enjoy the parks more. When my family visited for two weeks I managed to work only about 6 days so that was amazing! It works well as some people like to work as much as possible to get save up, whereas other people on the program saved up a decent amount before coming on the trip to work less and go out more – whatever suits you.
All the job roles can be seriously trying, that’s for sure. Disney is intense and some families and guests spend years saving to be there, so you’ll find a lot of tension and probably be moaned at a fair amount! You’ll also have some of the best experiences ever, just prepare for some intensity! Keep an eye out for my guest stories posts to hear some of the madness that went on!
Let’s talk about the housing you’ll stay at when working for Disney. All CEP staff have to be housed within Disney complexes – there are four for you to choose from (you’re not guaranteed your choices though – we got our last choice!) This is currently changing and they’re making a new complex which could replace some of the others, but for now, there are the four. Living at Disney means you have to share a room – and some even have bunkbeds and three to a room which is super snug and usually will mean you’re not gunna get the best nights sleep over the summer. This fact alone honestly put me off going to Disney haha! I just love my own space and although I don’t need luxury, having just a little clan space I can call my own is so important to me. In hindsight though it would be such a silly reason not to go and have the most random summer of your life, you won’t even spend a huge amount of time in the complex and it would be sad to change around plans for this! Luckily me and my flat mates didn’t get bunkbed rooms, but we did have the oldest, most run-down complex – that had a major cockroach problem, ant infestation and mould. That’s a story for another day hahahaa! (It is called Vista Way if you want to avoid it – you should!) The other complexes are much nicer, newer and cleaner, they’re a little more expensive to live in but worth it.
You can choose to share with specific people prior to getting on the program, so me and a few girls who met at the interview stages chose each other. It worked out really well – they were all lovely and we had a serious bleach session of the whole flat when we first moved in haha! A few people I know left it to chance, and some ended up quite unhappy with their situations – it’s obviously variable but something to note, I think if you’ve met some lovely people in the lead up to moving there, be safe and go with the goodens! All the complexes have different amenities – including pools, libraries and resource centres. You’re allowed to go and use the facilities at any site too which is good. You also get free buses around all the complexes, to shops nearby, to and from work and to the parks as a guest. They’re easy to navigate but as they loop their circuits it can take an hour to get to work depending on where you’re placed!
Living in the complexes also means you’ll meet some beautiful, amazing people. I grew so close to people from all around the world and it was definitely one of the most enriching experiences for that reason alone. You really do get to hear and experience so many different cultures. One night me and some international friends were sat by a lake in our complex (fairly tipsy I must add,) all singing our national anthems. We also went and watched the sun rise at cocoa beach and told a bunch of ghost stories, got chased by a load of crabs, and saw a dolphin and a maintee which was a real highlight! The people make up so many of the memories and it’s so lovely to look back on. How lovely is that sunrise of cocoa beach below?!
Working in Disney means you get in to all the parks for freeee, and you get some pretty epic discounts! This really is the magical, main benefit – you’re not going to be earning enough to save money over the summer, you’ll work long hours and sometimes it will feel like it’s too much. All my friends there also had some testing times – working till 3AM, 12 hour shifts, sometimes rude interactions, living with the cockroach family!! But I feel like this benefit definitely has to be enough for you, to decide to go for the Disney program and push through it all. In hindsight for all of us, it actually really was enough and we just want to go back! Being able to spend so much times in the parks means you really get to know them, all the special hidden secrets and all the different attractions. You can get 40% or so off different Disney restaurants, and 20% (I think, it feels so long ago now!) off of merchandise. You can also get some great discounts off the shops nearby like the malls and retail outlets as a cast member. We just ended up asking in every shop if they offered a Disney discount, and were shocked by how many places did! My only disappointment here is that I didn’t buy more merchandise for me; I bought so many presents but I wish I went even more crazy and treated myself more!
The cultural exchange program is only available to university students in between years, or the summer after graduating. If you want to work there and are not a student, as a UK worker you can also work in America for a year program. This program meas you’ll be working in Epcot in the UK pavillion – so either in food and beverage in the pub there, or in merchandise in one of the stores there. It’s called the cultural representative program and in this position you are representing the UK – although I think it seems a little sad you don’t get the option to work on attractions and different roles, you still get all the benefits of meeting the loveliest people and enjoying the parks. Plus, it would be so cool to spend a whole year in America, getting to take little breaks to other cities and seeing the Disney parks decorated for all the different seasons and festivals.
If you’re interested in applying to work at Disney have a Google of “Yummy Jobs”, they have lots of other American placements available and are the first interview stage of Disney. I’ll have a post explaining the application process up in more detail, but essentially there are three stages to applying – an online form with lots of questions (you also upload your CV and cover letter,) and a group interview in Essex with yummy jobs. After this stage they process their top 500 applicants or so and pass you on to have interviews in the Disney headquarters in London – where the final selection process is made and you find out the verdict a couple of months later.
As I’ve said a lot of times on my blog now – there were SO MANY ups and downs, but overall I’m really thrilled with the experiences I’ve got out of the summer and I’m excited to be sharing hem all with you guys!