Another question I get quite a bit is "How did you get that job?". Like every other job out there, I applied. Actually, I was lucky enough to be selected to the Walt Disney World College Program, a pseudo-internship. I say pseudo because nothing about my program helped me towards my college degree. The WDWCP is intended for any college student to be able to take off a semester, or more if you extend your program, to go down to Orlando and work for Disney in one of thousands of different roles. The goal is for you to get your foot in the door, then go home and graduate, and then return to Disney with your degree and a giant leap ahead of outside applicants. The application and interview parts of my program were simple. I had to drive to a larger school in Valdosta, Georgia because my school in Albany wasn't on the list of recruiting schools. I met with a Disney Recruiter and simply had a conversation. They asked me what jobs I'd like to do, and more importantly what jobs I wouldn't do. While not everyone wants to be a custodian or sell Mickey Bars in the 100 degree Florida heat, Disney does try to cast you in a role you'd actually want to do. Of course, this doesn't mean you'll get your #1 pick either. Mine was Jungle Cruise Skipper, followed by Haunted Mansion Butler and Tower of Terror Bellhop. I didn't get either of these.
After about 6 weeks I got a letter of acceptance. My mother had it framed. The letter simply told me I was in Attractions. That's it. That's all you get. Your department. You have no idea what park, what ride/attraction, or if you'll be selling popcorn, ice cream, or if you're lucky, beer! I called and accepted my role, and started with the legal paperwork. Things like school verification, school credit (if gaining any), immunizations, and housing. That's another crap shoot. You don't know who you'll be living with until you literally meet them in your Disney provided townhouse. Now, 12 years ago there were ways to arrange and stack the deck to get your friends in your place. For me I was lucky that my friend Kenny was in line with me and we asked, and were granted to be roommates. Disney deducts your rent and utilities from your paycheck for you, so you don't have any bills outside of personal ones to deal with, and you don't have to worry about getting evicted for not paying rent.
Finally, after months of waiting, my arrival day came. I arrived at Vista Way, or as it's called in the program, Vista Lay, more on that in future parts, and checked in. It is here that you finally find out your job. I was assigned to Epcot Fastpass Attractions. Yes, Attractions. Plural. My job was to hop from ride to ride that had Fastpass capabilities and handle guest flow. I was also that Fastpass Nazi who told you you can't use your 7pm Test Track fastpass at 1pm. After check in I got my housing assignment. A 4 bedroom, 8 man townhouse. Yes you share a bedroom with two twin beds. It's not the grandest living, but much better than dorms. Think dorm room, but it's really a house with a living room, kitchen, private bathrooms, and all the amenities of off-campus living. I met all of my roommates, some of whom I'm still very close to, and got settled in. I also met the girls upstairs. 8 guys downstairs, 8 girls upstairs. Pretty nice huh? Now on your first day you go through Orientation. Essentially it's a 3 hour class on how to not get fired or kicked out of the program. You're under 21, you get a wellness apartment, which means you can't drink. AT ALL! First violation and you have 24 hours to move out and you're also fired. Things like that. You also get your checking account if you want. Disney has their own Cast Member Credit Union which is pretty awesome! After orientation we did what any fresh faced CM would do on their first day, we used our free park admission!!
I think this is a good spot to end Part 1. Tune in for Part 2 coming soon!! Cheers and Ears!!