Whether it’s your first Disney College Program or your fourth, there’s one day that likely stands above the rest in terms of excitement and anticipation: your arrival day! Getting the keys to your apartment, meeting your new roommates, and finding out your work location are all huge milestones that many anticipate for months.
Just as Walt wanted to continually experiment and improve every facet of his business, we’re constantly looking for ways to make your first day with us memorable and exciting! When I first arrived on my Disney College Program back in January of 2009, I was so nervous and excited about what I was about to experience. I had found a roommate I wanted to live with ahead of time, but didn’t have a way of formally linking up with him in the system to ensure we got an apartment together. Instead, we stood in line together at Vista Way to make sure we told the person assigning apartments our roommate preferences (as well as where we wanted to live). Back in 2009, there wasn’t even apartment pre-registration – everything was taken care of when you arrived! Since we didn’t know where we would be living yet, that meant every single person checking in that day was meeting at the Vista Way Pavilion for one big administrative party!
After taking care of our apartment assignments and getting our ID photos taken, we then did some important onboarding paperwork and completed our background checks (things that are now done at Casting). Once we wrapped up with our paperwork and background checks, we were free to go to our apartments and start moving in and meeting our friends for the rest of the day.
For you seasoned pros that might be reading this, you may be wondering why I didn’t mention getting my work location and meeting with training. All of that juicy info came on Day 2 of check-in!
Yes, it’s true – we had to wait until our second day of check-in before we found out where we’d be working (I KNOW…)! The struggle was real. Believe me, it’s all I could think about that first night in my new apartment. I remember seeing a sticker next to my name when I got my apartment on Day 1 that indicated I was working at Magic Kingdom Park. The sticker was partially covered, so all I could see was the park name and “T_______.” My mind was racing the entire first day. “What areas in Magic Kingdom start with a ‘T’?” I asked myself. “Maybe I read it wrong. Maybe I’m not even at Magic Kingdom!” The only “T” my racing mind could come up with was “Toontown” (for Mickey’s Toontown Fair) and I was getting a little worried. I didn’t know if I was going to like Toontown, and I knew I didn’t like the costume. It wasn’t until Day 2 of check-in that I was reminded by a trainer that Tomorrowland existed. I was elated! As a roller coaster fanatic, I was hoping that I’d get the chance to work at Space Mountain.
I wouldn’t know my specific attraction for a few more days, though. I first had to attend our company-orientation, Traditions. Following Traditions, I’d need to attend my Magic Kingdom property orientation and my Tomorrowland orientation before I’d find out exactly which attraction I’d get to work. By this point, I was no longer stressed. I had a blast in all of my orientation classes and was learning so much about a company I loved. Finally, at the end of my Tomorrowland orientation, we were called up, group by group (based on attraction) to meet our specific trainers. I waited with as many fingers and toes crossed as I possibly could until I heard my name. I was working Space Mountain!
If you were anywhere within a 12-mile radius of the Magic Kingdom Park on that day, you may have heard angels singing, horns blasting, and bells ringing (and it wasn’t a parade!) My wish had been granted, and so started my career with The Walt Disney Company.
I’ve held many roles since my time in Tomorrowland, but none of been far from my home with the College Program team. I’ve been fortunate to see (or even lead) some of the process changes and improvements that we’ve implemented to make your time here on the College Program a positive one! Our team doesn’t look back – always forward! As you can tell from my story, the process I went through for check-in was longer than what you experience today. It wasn’t bad, just different!
We’re always looking for new ways to surprise and delight our participants, even as business needs and processes shift. I can’t wait to see where the next 8 years take us! I look forward to meeting you during your check-in!