Congratulations to those of you who have been accepted for the Spring or Spring Advantage Disney College Program! It has become increasingly competitive to gain acceptance into the program, so you are to be commended!
We’re sure you have a lot of energy and excitement about your upcoming arrival in Orlando or Anaheim – which is fantastic! We hope you will use your enthusiasm to prepare for your arrival. Here is some information that will help you prepare for your magical transformation into a Disney cast member.
When you arrive in Orlando or Anaheim, your first step is to ”check in” with us and receive your housing apartment unit assignment. That way you’ll have a place to store your belongings. And if you have a car, you’ll need to get a parking permit.
Even if you are not going to live in Disney Housing (e.g., the “off site” option for Disneyland), you still need to “check-in” with us to complete paperwork and prepare for your first day as a cast member.
You may have selected some of your roommates ahead of time. And some – or all – of your roommates may be “randomly selected.” Either way, you’ll be fine because you’ll soon learn that Disney College Program participants tend to be outgoing and eager to make new friends. They typically are open-minded. And they’re passionate about the Disney brand! However, they may also be a bit nervous about moving away to start a new journey. So just relax, take a deep breath and enjoy all the Disney College Program has to offer!
You’ll also have a few “housekeeping” items to take care of when you check in with us. In Florida, you’ll give permission for Disney to deduct your housing costs from your weekly paychecks. (When do we get paid? Across all departments within Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, every paycheck comes on Thursday – and yes, the acronym to remember that is “EPCOT.”)
In Anaheim, you’ll be paying your rent each month (by check), and you will already have prepaid for the first month (as well as another month later in the program). So you’re set!
All College Program participants living in Disney Housing will need to have a photo taken for your Housing ID. You’ll need to show this badge to access the apartment complexes. And in Orlando, this ID will be used as your Disney bus pass. In Anaheim, you can sign up for Disneyland Resort’s Commuter Assistance Program. Even if you are not living in Disney Housing in Anaheim, all Disneyland cast members are eligible to participate in the program, which includes a free public bus pass and compensation of $1 per day for taking public transportation.
When your photo is taken for your Housing ID, you’ll need to conform to the Disney Look from the shoulders up. This includes covering your shoulders, concealing any tattoos and removing jewelry from any piercings (although women are permitted to wear one small pair of earrings in the lower lobe). Men are permitted to have facial hair, but it must be one-quarter of an inch in length and well groomed. The Disney Look must be followed when you are in your costume at work or in a Disney classroom, but it is not enforced during your free time.
You’ll also need to follow these guidelines a few days later when you have your photo taken for your cast member ID. And don’t forget to smile! (Actually, we suspect that you’ll be having such a great time that your face will automatically light up!)
Anyone living in Disney Housing will be scheduled to attend a “Welcome Session” which will include an overview as well as a discussion of rules and expectations. This mandatory meeting will take place shortly after your arrival.
Some “down time”
Typically on your second day, you’ll have a bit of “down time.” This will allow you to settle into your apartment and get to know your roommates. You also can explore your neighborhood and buy groceries or items you need for your apartment. In some cases, there may be a welcome event planned where you can mix and mingle with other College Program participants.
Background check and drug testing
For the safety and security of our guests and cast members, all College Program participants undergo a criminal background check. You authorized this background check when you completed your College Program application; further, the company could conduct a background check at any time during your employment. The background check in Florida will include fingerprinting.
Some roles may require you to take a drug test. And note that the company can select cast members for drug and alcohol tests on a random basis or under other circumstances while you are working for us.
Where will I work?
One of the highlights of the arrivals process is that you will meet someone you’ll be working with who can tell you more about your role such as your specific work location, your costume options and your training schedule. In many cases, you will rotate between positions at work. For example, if you work in merchandise, you might sometimes be working on the point-of-sale system while at other times you are stocking or greeting. Also, it is possible that you will rotate between locations while on the program. If you work in attractions, you may be asked to learn a spiel. Some training may take place in a classroom setting, while other training takes place on-the-job.
If you accepted the role of lifeguard, you’ll need to pass a swim test in Orlando or Anaheim. The test often is conducted on the same day you arrive and includes swimming 200-yards, treading water without using your hands for two minutes, and retrieving a 10-lb. brick from deep water from a “feet first” dive. You’ll also need to pass a vision test. If you do not pass these tests, alternative roles will be explored at that time.
Note that even if you have prior experience as a lifeguard and/or lifeguard certification, you will still need to pass our lifeguard swim test and go through our training program.
Identification and work authorization
In order to begin working for The Walt Disney Company, you will need to 1) show identification and 2) demonstrate that you have the right to work in the U.S.
To accomplish these two important goals, you’ll need to show us original, unexpired documents as required by Form I-9 in compliance with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. You’ll complete this form and show your ID in Orlando or Anaheim typically within 24 hours of arriving. You cannot begin working until these documents are presented.
If you are a U.S. citizen, a U.S. passport (or U.S. passport card) could prove your identity and your ability to work in the U.S. Alternatively, a driver’s license from any state (or from a U.S. territory such as Puerto Rico) in combination with a U.S. Social Security card will suffice.
If you are a permanent resident of the U.S., your “green card” can demonstrate your identify and your right to work in the U.S.
If you are an international student studying in the U.S. on an F1 or J1 visa, you’ll need to obtain work authorization prior to arriving in Orlando or Anaheim. You also will need to prove your identification – perhaps by showing your passport or student ID card.
Your first day as a cast member
Once you have made it through all of these steps – including completing Form I-9 — you’ll be ready to attend Disney Traditions, an orientation to working at Disney. You’ll learn more about our company culture, heritage and expectations. (If you have worked for Disney in the last year, you are not required to take this course.) You’ll need to wear business casual professional attire and conform to the Disney Look during your paid session. When your complete the course, you’ll be ready to move on to train in your role!
You are encouraged to share your experiences on social media! Don’t forget to use #DisneyPrograms or #DisneyCP with any social shares!
We’re just as excited as you are about your upcoming arrival! So pack your documents, your comfortable work shoes and your smartphone, and we’ll see you real soon!