My Disney Internship – The short version

I was a seventeen-year-old fresh out of her first year of university (yes, I spent the whole first year of my course being legally a child, but that’s a whole other story). I hadn’t done too well, and I was not sure if it was all for me. Work was letting me down too, and as I approached being entitled to an adult wage my hours were dwindling and I had barely enough money to upkeep my few expenses. In the middle of the year I had been job hunting and came across the add for the Disney International Program on the classifieds site Seek. At the time I wasn’t old enough and didn’t have enough university credits behind me to apply but that summer, looking to run away from a life I wasn’t sure about, I applied. It was a pipe dream, but what was the harm? If I didn’t get in I hadn’t lost anything, if I did I was in for an adventure!

The Disney College Program (for Americans) or the International program (for the rest of us) is an internship that allows tertiary students to work and study at Walt Disney World in Florida. You don’t have to study, and I didn’t as none of the classes would have received credit at my university, but either way the experience is amazing. Positions range from “being friends” with Disney Princesses and “fur characters” like Mickey Mouse and Pluto, to flipping burgers in quick service restaurants. It’s not all glamourous but working for a Fortune 500 company gave me so many opportunities when I got back home that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

My job was somewhere in the middle of the glamour spectrum. I worked at one of the premium hotels in a restaurant, The Whispering Canyon Café. I wasn’t a traditional character, yet I still performed. I was dressed in cute mint western garb and got to give attitude to the guests, it was so much fun. As a hostess I didn’t have to deal with food that much, just the reservation computer. I explained the gag of our restaurant and asked guests if they wanted to partake in the fun or just observe. I got to perform through my jokes and attitude, and even danced around the restaurant with kids on wooden horses. I also acted as a Disney World encyclopedia for the guests, answering their park questions which I had expert knowledge due to being allowed free access to them nearly every day of the year.

When I wasn’t working or at the parks, I was living in one of the four program apartment complexes with 5 other young women, it was crazy! I met friends from all around the world who I went to events and parties with, swam in our pool, went to our gym and basically lived the American college life we all see in movies and fantasize about.

I could have stayed for a year, but I missed my boyfriend back home and had my trip end after a sweet 6 months during the best season of the year. I realise that sounds a bit pathetic…but 4 years later I know I made the right decision to invest in that relationship 😉I arrived in Florida at the beginning of their school year, so the parks were relatively quiet when I got to explore them for the first time. Then the weather cooled down and it was time for Halloween, Christmas and New Year which were so magical.

Of course, it wasn’t all pixie dust and fireworks and I have a few regrets about the experience. But overall, I’m so glad I had the opportunity to experience the program and it made a huge difference in my life. I plan to write more on the subject, so let me know if you have any questions about running away to Disney World! With a little faith, trust…and pixie dust, you can wish upon a star and make your dreams come true too!

Xx Elise


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