I flew to my first DCP last spring, and it's looking like I'll be flying again this year. Last year, I did a lot of research, and figured a lot of things out. I learned more about the best way to do that while I worked at Disney, and since then I've moved across the country by plane twice, learning from my mistakes each time. I have a few tips with you to help you plan to fly to Disney for this magical experience!
Tip 1: Research the best times to book and fly
I highly encourage you to do some research on your own, Google and Pinterest have helped me a lot in searching for useful information about this. There are thousands of travel blogs that want to help you book the cheapest flight! If you're not going to do any of your own research, here are the two points I've found in my research: 1. Book your flight on a Tuesday 6-8 weeks before your flight, this is when they're at their cheapest. 2. Compare different times of day and days of week (if you can). Flights late at night, early in the morning, and in the middle of the week are usually the cheapest, Saturday flights are also cheaper than Friday, Sunday, or Monday flights.
A year ago, I had declined my first Disney College Program. It was a long and hard decision to get there, but I'm thankful for the journey, and I'm thankful for the decision I ended up making. A lot of people ask me why I declined the program, so I wanted to share the full story with you, including my magical moment at the end.
I was accepted for my first Disney College Program the first week of October 2015, only a week after my phone interview. I found out while waiting for the bus home from Target, and called my sister right away! I quickly found the Facebook groups and started a countdown poster.
I want to start by saying, there are Zootopia spoilers in this post! If you've not seen it yet, go watch it now instead! (What are you doing with your life? It's been in Netflix for almost two months already!) Now that business is taken care of, I LOVE Zootopia! (I'm actually watching it right now, as I write this.) It came out during my first Disney College Program, Spring 2016. Everywhere I went, I heard Try Everything, saw previews, and heard all the hype about the characters in the parks. So, of course, the movie reminds me of my CP. I didn't get to see the movie until it was released on Netflix this fall, when I realized it was a perfect description of my life as a Disney College Program participant.
Thinking about my second Disney College Program, Park Greeter, which is a sub-part of attractions (you'll be accepted as attractions and placed as a park greeter once you arrive and check in). Here's what Kelsey has to say about her experience as park greeter!
When did you do your program?
What was your home location?
Did you work any other locations?
How would you explain your role?
Park greeters are stationed at the entrance of each park, guarding the touch points that the guests use to enter the park. Our job was to "be the gate" and only let in guests who had valid ticket admission. It was also our responsibility to verify resort reservations for entrance into extra magic hours, and to make sure that guests didn't leave the park with alcohol or our rented strollers/ecv's. When I was there, our roles also included doing "finales" at the end of the night, in which we would clear the park at the end of the night, but I've heard that park greeters at DHS no longer have that responsibility.
One of the perks of the Spring DCP is that you have Christmas right before your program. One of the hard things about that is that you end up with more stuff to try to pack. The idea of gifting experiences rather than material things is not new, but in this post, I'm going to share some ideas that are CP specific.
While CPs get into Disney parks for free, Orlando has many more theme parks to offer, and many College Programmers like to visit them on their days off. Most of these parks offer annual passes for fairly affordable prices (compare to Disney). The most popular ones are Universal Orlando and SeaWorld.
I recommend gift cards to Disney, Walmart, and Publix. If you don't like giving gift cards, like my family, there are ways to make it more personal. If you've been to central Florida, give a gift card to your favorite local restaurant, store, etc. Or, you could include a little note to ensure the recipient of your gift card is used for fun, write things like "buy something to decorate your apartment" or "use this gift card to enjoy a character breakfast" or something else like that. Another great idea is to get a $30 Disney gift card and a note saying it should be used on The Kitchen Sink Sundae at Beaches and Cream (this is something many CPs want to do).
The key to a good housing experience has very little to do with which apartment you get, and almost completely to do with your roommates. Even the best roommates can have issues, but the best way to avoid that is clear communication and boundaries. The best way to do that is to start your semester with a roommate meeting. The first week, before Traditions, is a great time to do that, you'll have plenty of free time to do that! This post will walk you through a roommate meeting plan that is sure to start you off on the right foot with your roommates!
Start your roommate meeting on the right foot, by loving one another with roommate gifts! Plan ahead of time, to do roommate gifts, so you can make or buy them ahead of time (have a plan of what to do if you have extra roommates too). Need some ideas?
Last week, we looked at what it looks like to be a quick service food and beverage cast member, today we're looking at merchandise. While not one of the "high need roles" listed on the application, they are a high volume role, which means that many CPs are cast in this role. Robert, Breanna, and Jared have helped me provide more info about this role, all three were friends of mine at Disney World in spring 2016.
"As a merchandise host I had a variety of tasks that ranged from operating the registers, stocking the merchandise around the store, and greeting guests that come into the store and assisting them with their shopping experience. In merchandise you have a unique opportunity to interact with guests not just behind the counter but also throughout the store, which is something Disney calls "Merchantaining" (merchant + entertaining). Often you will be rotated around to different positions within the same shift, including moving from one store in your zone to another. Depending on where you are located, other responsibilities may involve food handling and/or PhotoPass assistance." (Robert)
"Run the cash register, restock the floor, greet guests entering the resort, sort merchandise, occasionally participate in dance parties" (Breanna)
" I worked at Hollywood Studios at various merchandise shops. You could see me playing with BB8 from star wars which was called merchantainment, you could also see me ringing register." (Jared)
Quick Service Food and Beverage is probably the most common role among College Program participants. The application lists custodial, housekeeping, lifeguards, and quick service as high need roles. Out of these, Disney in general hires more quick service hosts than the other roles, so they hire the most CPs in this position. That's a huge perk for this job as well, you'll likely be working with other CPs and it makes it a lot easier to pick up, trade, and give away shifts. As a Quick Service host you could be placed in Outdoor Vending (food carts and stands), a Quick Service Restaurant (QSR), or in a resort food court; however you can pick up shifts in any of them even if that's not the place you usually work. Four alumni have partnered with me to be able to provide you more info on the role.
Who They Are:
Lyndsie: ODV, Epcot World Showcase, Spring Advantage 2015
Kaitlin: QSR, Pinocchio Village Haus, Spring 2015
Sami: QSR, Sunset Ranch Market, Spring 2016
Taylor: Resorts, Saratoga Springs, Spring 2015
"Every day that I worked I was either on the register, filling orders by filling drinks, making ice cream, croissant doughnuts, hot dogs, or chicken nuggets & fries, or I was cooking. At the end of the day we had to clean everything as well." (ODV, Lyndsie)
"I was trained in seven different quick service locations in Hollywood Studios, serving anything from barbecue to pizza to ice cream. It was split up into two different locations on my schedule, Sunset Market and Sunset Boulevard - if you were scheduled for Market, you'd go back and forth between two locations (or just stay at one location), and if you were scheduled for Boulevard, there were five quick service locations I could have been at, though it wasn't likely I'd be at all five throughout a shift, more like one to three a day. Though some quick service locations only allow you at the front or the back, I did everything from cooking hamburgers in the oven to being at the register to bussing tables to doing the drink orders to giving out the trays of food to guests." (QSR, Sami)