At the close of my own Disney College Program over two years ago, I cried my last night in Magic Kingdom watching "Wishes," and I cried saying goodbye to my roommates. When accepting my offer months before, I didn't realize that leaving the DCP would be such an emotional ride!
In hindsight, I see that there were many things I didn't expect to experience during and after my DCP. So I'm writing this for anyone wanting to know what nobody tells you about the Disney College Program:
It is not all sprinkled in pixie dust.
Yes, the colorfully designed advertisements for this program make everything look whimsical and magical, but the one very important thing they forget to mention is that this program is REAL LIFE. It is a real job, and not only that, but most roles on the DCP are hard work.
Yes, you may be able to give your two cents about which days you'd like off, but this will most likely not be given as Disney is a HUGE company. So really, you don't get to pick your work schedule. Most work times are very strange, random hours. Sometimes late days, sometimes early days. Be prepared for your sleep schedule to be wack. There is no just skipping work because you don't feel like going, like we sometimes do with college classes.
There will be times when you're crying instead of laughing, because the work you have to do isn't the pixie-dusted picture that that brochures showed you beforehand. There will probably be moments that you will want to quit. Don't. This is all a part of the experience.
Go back to school and finish your degree, even though you want to stay.
For up to eight months, maybe even a year, it's okay to live in a fantasy world of cast discounts and free park entry. But also included in that dream world is the reality of working awful hours for $9.50. If you drop out of school to continue doing that, when it's three years down the road and you're still working those awful hours and making that same $9.50, you're really going to be kicking yourself.
Disney is not going anywhere. It will still be around when you graduate college. So, go back to school and finish your degree, so you can make more than $9.50.
you'll want to tell everyone about your program afterwards, but when they ask, you won't really talk about it.
I've realized no matter how much I try to explain the program to people, no one will understand unless they actually experienced it. I would love to tell you all the reasons it was amazing and share with you the completely magical encounters with guests and funny roommate stories, but it's all just too hard to understand unless you were there. For fear of looking like a crazy person, explaining the small detailed stories, I'll probably just tell you the big, obvious stuff.
Like one of my favorite days I became fast, close friends with a Spanish-speaking family from El Salvador. They made a point to come back to where I was simply because I spoke Spanish and greeted them when entering the park. This helped them feel comfortable in an overwhelming place. Most wouldn't understand why that's such a cool experience... so instead, I'll probably just tell you that I worked with Mickey Mouse everyday (which was also magical... just a typical thing to talk about).
You will make amazing friends, and you will miss them.
Typical that I would say this? Yes. But so true.
When you accept your offer to the Disney College Program, you sign a contract, but nowhere on that contract does it say your heart may ache from missing all of the wonderful people and friends you've made. It's such a unique experience that nothing can prepare you for those awesome relationships.
I had NO IDEA that I would make such close friends during my program. I mean look, we made a blog. My DCP roommates are my forever sisters. Is that enough pixie dust for you?
you'll get weirdly jealous When you see others frolicking around Disney Parks the way you used to.
Not even kidding it almost feels like they're hanging out with your ex-boyfriend or something. I don't need to explain this one any further.
"Disney Depression" is a thing.
Some people say to not let yourself even go there. But I say, give your heart and mind the time they need to deal with the change. Sounds so ridiculous, but depression post-program is a very real thing. You'll probably listen to fireworks soundtracks on YouTube, watch ride videos, look through the photos you took, etc. to just relive it only a little bit.
When you are ready, get a routine going and jump right back into life. It's going to suck, but trust me, you'll thank me later.
If this didn't scare you away from the emotional, but incredible journey that is the DCP, you can apply for the Disney College Program or other Disney careers, here.