As promised, here is the latest and last part of my Adulthood Series–and I have a feeling it’s the one the majority of you have been waiting for the most.
Ever since I was in high school, I wanted to do the Disney College Program. Everything about it called to me–you work for Disney, get into the parks for free, and make lifelong friends and connections. So as soon as I had a college semester under my belt, I subscribed to DCP emails to get updates on applications deadlines.
But, life happens. I was a double major and a triple minor. I was a college athlete. I had two jobs. Taking a semester off to
vacation work in Disney (without any chance of getting college credit) was out of the question. Needless to say, I was sad as I entered my senior year–working for Disney would remain just a dream.
And then I read the fine print.
“MOM! I can do the Disney College Program the year AFTER I graduate!! Applications are open!! I don’t have a job!! I’m applying!!!”
“That’s cool, Alessa.”
Fast forward two months and I call my parents again nearly in tears after getting an acceptance email–I was going to live in Disney for 5 months.
A little background is needed here. When I had my interview and applied for the program, I put my preference for a position known as a “hopper.” As described on the website, and the application, and everywhere else you look for info on the DCP, a hopper is cross-trained in any combination of multiple areas (attractions, custodial, F&B, etc). and essentially “hops” around. Obviously this appealed to me–I could potentially learn a little about a number of things. So when my acceptance email arrived saying I had been chosen to be a hopper, I was overjoyed.
I arrived in Orlando bright-eyed and eager to start my job and meet my roommates. I knew immediately that I would get along with my roommates. They were all sweet, caring, and fun to be around. And they all loved Disney just as much as I did! I found out what positions they had-F&B at Hollywood Studios, Character Attendant at EPCOT, Merchandising at Magic Kingdom, and Attractions at Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom–and grew even more excited to find out what my first placement would be. One downside to accepting your program as a hopper is that you don’t know exactly what role you will have first until you arrive for orientation.
So I rushed to the orientation room to get my packet of info and opened it up:
My heart sank. I entered my apartment to my roommates excitedly unpacking and eager to find out my placement. “Parking,” I said, really trying to sound positive.
“Ohhhhhh. That’s…interesting,” was the general response. “I didn’t even know that was an option.”
Yeah, me either, I thought.
Since I signed on as a hopper, I held on to the hope that this was just a temporary position and decided to embrace the experience even though I was going to be spending (what I thought was going to be) a month working in a parking lot.
So I went through training, earned my ears, got my costume, and discovered rather quickly that my hours and time in parking lot were going to be long and unending. Most of my shifts started around 4 or 5 in the evening and lasted until 2 or 3 in the morning (except the occasional 5 am clock-out time–Yay for Christmas!). This meant that my dreams of spending all of my free time in the parks remained just that–dreams. I was too exhausted to wake up early to go in the morning and too afraid I would wear myself by going in the afternoon before work.
As October and November rolled around I realized that changing positions was probably not going to happen–the Magic Kingdom Parking Lot was going to be my Disney home. I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say it turned out to be the best job ever–it wasn’t.
But I’m also not going to lie to myself and say I didn’t have fun sometimes.
I was still able to get to the parks on my days off and still managed to make memories with my roommates, and new BF (yes, I met my boyfriend in Disney World, be jealous) by the pool and in the parks when I could. I went to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, got to ride Star Wars with only three people on my ship, saw Fantasmic as many times as I wanted, rode Tower of Terror too many times to count, kicked butt in Toy Story Midway Mania, and got really cheap souvenirs. My friends and family got into the parks for free, I became an expert pin trader, and I sang Disney songs a cappella with a group of friends while waiting in line for Space Mountain. I rode all the kiddie rides I had never done before, enjoyed the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival (probably a little too much), rode Soarin’ as often as I could, and watched the Wishes firework show every single night.
My job wasn’t the best, but I finished my shifts most nights knowing that I was one of the last people to see Magic Kingdom at night. I got to drive a long, snake-like tram and make corny jokes to guests over a microphone and force them to laugh. I had amazing managers, coordinators and co-workers. The CP’s I worked with in Parking were amazing, funny, outstandingly optimistic people and I know I wouldn’t have made it through my program if my co-workers weren’t such cool people.
So was my time working for Mickey Mouse everything I dreamed of? Not exactly.
But I did leave the Happiest Place on Earth with some pretty awesome souvenirs:
25 New pins for my collection
20 Lifelong friends
4 New Mickey ears
1 Amazing, kind, loving, Disney Prince of my own
And countless, unforgettable, magical memories with Disney lovers just like me.
Thanks for reading!