Why I’m heading to the “Happiest Place on Earth”

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Remember when you were growing up and you dreamed of being a Disney princess…or villain? Hey, I’m not judging. Well my dream sort of came true. Okay, so maybe I’m not the next Ariel or even Princess Leia, but I will be spending five months working in the same environment as them.

On September 16, I found out that I had been accepted into the Disney College Program, and I will be leaving on January 10 for sunny Florida.

The minute I read my acceptance email I had a million thoughts running through my head about whether or not this was going to go as smooth as I hoped. All I could manage to think was that I was going to tell the world (the internet) and then find out that my GPA was too low, or Mercyhurst wouldn’t let me leave (My GPA is fine and Mercyhurst isn’t holding me hostage).

The process consisted of applying, answering an extensive questionnaire, and a phone interview. Sounds easy, right?  Maybe, but still quite anxiety-producing.  Thankfully, I was prepared – I even wore my Minnie Mouse ears during the phone interview because I was somehow convinced it would give me a peppier edge while I was talking. It totally did.

The Disney College Program is a semester-long paid internship with Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida or Disneyland in Anaheim, California. I’ll be leaving January 10th and returning home May 18th.

Students have an opportunity to work at just about any job there is at the Disney Parks. We live in housing that is provided for us by the Disney College Program and each week a portion of our pay is deducted to go towards our housing. Typically residents live with two to seven other people. The bus system is complementary for us to take to and from work each day, even though some students prefer a car.

I've been ready for this experience for quite some time.
I’ve been ready for this experience for quite some time.

The Disney College Program offers a variety of classes to take, but being that Mercyhurst does not accept the credits I realized I wouldn’t be taking any of their classes. My time at Disney was looking more like a semester off than an educational internship.  However, my dad told me that all it takes was faith and trust (he left out the pixie dust though).  And sure enough, every cloud has a silver lining.  I decided that instead of taking classes through Disney, I would take online classes through Mercyhurst in order to keep up with my credits.

On the initial application they ask you to specify which jobs you have an interest in. I marked down food and beverage, ride attendant, character attendant, retail and the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. From my inference I believe they choose where to place you based on previous experience. From my background in the food service industry, that’s probably why they gave me a job in food and beverages.

I have no idea what park I’m going to be working in or in what building I’ll be at. All I know is that I get to miss an Erie winter and soak up the Florida sunshine. I’m going to work my butt off, but Mary Poppins says “in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You fine the fun and –SNAP- the job’s a game!”

Students who participate in the program receive special discounts and benefits. For example, I get discounted passes, discounted prices on hotels and discounts on all Walt Disney World merchandise along with special previews of upcoming attractions.

Lastly, I would encourage others to consider applying for this experience, or any other that seems off the beaten path.  There may never be another opportunity like this again and it  can open so many doors for you.  For more information, visit the website at http://cp.disneycareers.com/en/default/

Plus, it’s a super cool resume booster. I’m sure I’ll be updating as much as I can and sending the fashion department tons of postcards. I’m going to miss everyone and I’m going to miss taking fashion classes, but I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.

Francesca Aloe, '18

I'm a Disney fanatic who happens to also watch baseball and soccer like it’s my job.  Oh, and I'm probably a Jedi.