What is the DCP, you may ask? It stands for the Disney College Program. The Disney College Program is a U.S. national internship program operated by The Walt Disney Company, located at the Walt Disney World Resort and the Disneyland Resort. The Disney College Program recruits students (18 years and older) and all majors for a semester-long paid internship program working at the Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort. When I heard about the DCP, I was a sophomore in high school, or maybe a junior; either way, that doesn’t matter. A friend of mine back from Best Buy had done the program before, and I kept my eyes peeled waiting for the day that I could sign up. August or September of 2014 I applied and then I received my acceptance letter in October 2014.
I was so excited, and I could not wait to move to Florida and start working for this wonderful company. People who had done it before talked about all the great experiences and interactions they had, and I could not wait to be a part of it. My program began on January 26th of this year and I could not wait. The first few days were pretty hectic. However, I did get to see the beach for the first time, I got my first set of ears, I saw Cinderella’s castle for the first time, and I was in Disney World for the FIRST TIME EVER! Those were some of the highlights. I started working in Discovery Island at Animal Kingdom selling merchandise. Merchandise wasn’t my first choice, but I have done it my entire life so I figured that it couldn’t be so bad. The first month I was there, though, was absolutely dreadful. I had nobody to talk to and I didn’t go out much at all. Finally, about late February, a group of CP’s came in and I found my Disney family. We did everything together and it was so nice to not only have friends, but have friends who were the people I worked with.
Anyway, more about my experiences there. I have been able to do some pretty cool things. My favorite thing I had done there, hands down, was getting to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter so many times. That place is absolutely magical. I have to admit that the first time I saw Hogwarts, I cried, and I do mean like legit tears. The whole experience of getting a wand and interacting with the place I had dreamed about my entire life was breath taking. I have probably been 10 times and it doesn’t lose its magical touch with each time I go. I think it actually gains some more magic, because every single time I went, I got to experience or see something different that I might have missed from the past times. If someone came up to me and asked me what I loved most about my program, I would answer with getting to live the life that I dreamt Harry Potter did in his world.
I did spend an awful lot of time in the Disney Parks though. I got to meet some of my favorite characters, such as the classics: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto. I have also met a wide array of others from the evil step mother and step sisters in Cinderella to Alice in Wonderland. I did not meet a ton of characters, but I met a good amount.
However, the best memories that I took away from this program are the ones I had with guests. I will tell you a bit about some of them:
1) I had an older gentleman read my nametag, and when he saw that it said Austin Peay State University on it, he started singing, “Last Train to Clarksville,” which absolutely made my day.
2) I had a whole family (mom, dad, both of their sets of parents) come up to me and introduced themselves as APSU alum!
3) I was in one of the rooms and I saw a little girl playing with the Anna ornament. She dropped it and then instantly ran to her mother and started crying saying that she was sooooo sorry and would pay for it. Her dad then said that she was sorry for it and he would give us the money for it. I told him to not worry about it and I could see the poor girl was in tears. I asked what her name was and he let me know. I then called her name and bent down so I was at her level. I asked her why she was crying and she let me know it was because she felt bad for breaking the ornament. I let her know that it was okay and that she didn’t have to cry. I continued to tell her about how I have dropped them before and how everybody has dropped something in their lifetime and it was nothing to cry about. I proceeded to tell her parents that I would be right back because I wanted to get her something. I grabbed a celebration button and on it I wrote, “I’m celebrating being….” I wrote her name on it and gave it to her. Her smile was so incredibly huge and her parents just kept thanking me once they saw what it was. I told her that she needed to wipe those tears away because she was in Disney World and there was no reason for her to cry. It was amazing to see what a simple button did and how much a family appreciated such a small thing.
4) One day at work, I learned how powerful music can be. While standing on the Tigger Porch, the place with all the instruments, a young woman came up to me and put her cochlear implant up to the drum so she could hear me play it. I then decided to pick up each instrument and show her how to play them and she raised them up and started to mimic my playing, but closer to her implant. The smile on her face was completely priceless. Days like those make me so happy that I was where I was. It also made me happy to see what the power of music can do. You never know whose day you may make by playing music.
5) I was ringing out a family and they had a little girl, maybe 7, with them and you could tell she was special needs. Every minute or so while I was ringing the family’s items up, she kept saying,”HI!” I kept on saying it back to her because every time she said it, she was so happy. I asked her if I could give her something and she replied with her normal hi. I grabbed a celebration button and did the same thing that I had done for that little girl who had broke the ornament by writing I am celebrating being(with her name) on it. The mom then asked me to come out from behind the counter and she gave me the biggest hug and said that would be her favorite moment from this whole trip because nobody else had taken that long of a time with her daughter and had done something like that for her. I kneeled down and proceeded to tell the little girl bye, with tears in my eyes, she just smiled and waved leaving me with a, “HI!”
All in all, my time working at Disney was magical. It was not the best at all times, but it was worth it. I may have not liked it, but I got to kind of figure out who I was. It was an opportunity that most do not get. I was one of the lucky few. For any of you that ever go, I hope you have a wild time, but careful, it’s a jungle out there.
“Most of my life I have done what I wanted to do. I have had fun on the job.” – Walt Disney