Working in Disney World: Behind the Magic

Disney Staff Training

Disney Staff Training

A job in Disney World would be, dare I say, magical; and indeed what more perfect place is there to begin a career the day after college graduation?

So went the inner thoughts of a once naive man, and all too many innocent victims of the Disney Corporation. Yes, I admit that my excitement was uncontainable when I was accepted into the Disney Internship Program. Their presentation was a high-energy multimedia production that made me feel like my life was about to begin at last. And so it began.

The Welcome Package
A few weeks before the program was to begin, I received a welcome package. Needless to say, there was a lot to sign, but you can’t join the program unless you do, so I did. More on that later.

Along with the paperwork, Disney had delivered a book. Far from a fairy tale, this book contained only sketchings and descriptions detailing how you were and were not allowed to look while working in Disney World. Men were not allowed piercings, visible tattoos, or unkempt facial hair; we could wear one ring on the left hand if we wanted. Women were given an “appropriate” range of hair length and amount of skin showing. The term “all-American” was thrown around quite a bit throughout the book. Although it struck me as a little unusual, I accepted that this was a conglomerate business that needed to present itself a certain way.

I arrived in Disney World to find that I was assigned to a pretty nice apartment complex. So then no big deal that it was owned and run by Disney and the bushes on property were reshaped to resemble Mickey Mouse ears. That would become the least of my concerns. I soon discovered the ramifications of one of the dotted lines I’d signed. Disney housing was expensive, and although living there was mandatory for those in the Internship Program, Disney did not pick up the tab. In fact, as an added convenience, they took rent right out of our paychecks.

The first item on the itinerary was to attend a welcome presentation on our first night. It began with some statistics. The presenter had every member of the audience stand, and then half of us sit back down. “The people still standing will most likely not complete the program,” she said. An interesting statistic to be sure, but it struck me as unusually daunting for a welcome speech. She then proceeded to throw out many examples of why these people will quit or be “terminated” (Disney tends to sugarcoat its terms, for example – dubbing its employees “cast members,” and working in a theme park “on-stage” – but does its best to make getting fired sound like the worst thing in the world, hence “termination”). There was once a cast member who showed up late for work after receiving a warning. Terminated. There was once a guy who gave his friend a free hot dog at his quick-service food stand. Terminated. There was once a girl who had to leave work early to pick up her parents at the airport. Terminated. I later learned that Disney can’t afford the staff that they hire, so they make sure there are enough rules in play to efficiently maintain the cast member population in case their 1/2 drop-off rate prediction doesn’t come to fruition.

Later that week, we were delivered a presentation from Vista bank – Orlando’s newly opened bank… wait for it… run by Disney – because apparently being endowed with the ability to take rent directly our of our paychecks didn’t give them enough control over our money – they wanted to have it all. Many signed up – the benefits were clear – it was convenient, and the only way to enroll in direct deposit, so as not to waste our precious time-off running to the bank. Ultimately though, it didn’t really matter, because our net balance after rent was so little that most, if not all of our money went right back into Disney’s parks and restaurants.

Quick anecdote – I once took a single day off to visit a friend, and my net paycheck for that 2-week pay period was $5. Needles to say, I ultimately left the Disney program with far less money (and pride) than when I’d arrived.

Did I say brainwashing? I meant training… I think. The training program was called, “Traditions,” and it lasted 3 days. We were shown videos, introduced to staff, and most importantly, taught how to point with 2 fingers (so as to not offend international visitors). Many of the videos were narrated by Walt Disney himself, which makes you wonder if their training has become a bit antiquated, or if they just unfroze his body and made him speak at gunpoint.

The key term we left chanting was “synergy.” Synergy is basically Disney’s way of rationalizing the things they make their daughter companies do for them, and the projects they rip off as their own. Synergy is Disney’s excuse for creating a theme park ride out of every successful movie (Star Wars, Toy Story), a movie out of every successful theme park ride (Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion), and forcing ABC and ESPN employees to wear Disney badges at all times. Once they felt we had all adequately subscribed to their religion, the new hires, now re-dubbed “cast members” were sent out into the parks to do their duty.

Park Rules
I worked the summer on location at Epcot’s outdoor theater in World Showcase. If the temperature wasn’t above 100, it was only because it was raining torrentially. Don’t worry though, we were allowed to drink while working in the park – but only as long as we chose one of two options. Zephyrhillis water and Powerade pay Disney a buttload of cash to guarantee that those are the only two beverages Disney cast members will drink while working. But at least we didn’t have to pay for these mandated beverages… wait, yes we did (side note – although Disney encouraged its employees to show off what they were currently drinking, putting it down somewhere would make it look like loose garbage, so in turn we were encouraged to open up the back panel of the nearest garbage can and store it in there).

Is the smell of those honey roasted nuts from the nearby cart making you hungry? Too bad. You can’t eat or spend money while working. If you need a fix that badly, you’re allowed to go backstage, change into street clothes, buy the nuts, scarf them down, and then change back. So much for your 15 minute break.

Furthermore, while on our feet for 8 hours a day in the heat, slouching or leaning were grounds for termination. Arms were to be at one’s side or behind the back at all times. One cast member at my post was caught with his hands in his pockets. Terminated.

When it rained, although it was nice to have an opportunity to cool off, we couldn’t use umbrellas near the theater or it would block the audience. Instead we were issued see-through panchos so as to keep our uniforms (“costumes”) dry, but still allow the guests to enjoy what they look like.

It was time for my friends and family to come for a visit and reap the benefits of knowing someone who worked in their favorite vacation spot. Well once again I’d neglected a key section of fine print on my contract. Guests were not allowed to stay with employees, nor even be within 5 feet of the apartment complex at night. Disney was however happy to extend a minimal discount to family members who agreed to check-in to a Disney hotel – how convenient for everyone.

This discovery came toward the end of my trip and I was fed up. My girlfriend had come down to visit, expecting to stay with me for a week, only to find out she’d have to check into a hotel. That wasn’t a legitimate financial option for either of us, so we snuck her in. Little did we know, Disney security checks your work schedule and regularly enters your apartment while you’re out in search of drugs, alcohol, and of course, evidence of overnight guests. I was later informed that Disney’s rationale for this is that any foul play in one of their apartment complexes will wind up on the news, and they don’t want that.

In short, security arrived one morning with a video camera (to document the event) and asked why I had girl’s clothes in the apartment and who was in the shower. I claimed that my roommate was in the shower (again, I was not aware that security already knew he was at work), so they waited for him to get out. The jig was up, so when she emerged from the bathroom, security informed her that if she ever set foot in a Disney apartment complex again, she would be arrested. I guess if you’re a Disney-employed security guard, you’ll take whatever power you can get.

Leaving Disney
I was deposed for my misdeeds but informed that I would not be terminated at this time – just issued a warning. I un-politely declined and decided it was time to terminate myself. Upon doing so, the last bit of fine print was revealed to me – by leaving my program early, I would not be allowed to work for Disney or any of its affiliate companies (ABC, ESPN, Touchstone, etc.) for 6 months. That was fine with me.

So you may be asking yourself how Disney gets away with all this – paying employees less than minimum wage, telling them what to drink and when to eat, and firing them at the drop of a hat. First of all, they call the program an “internship” so they don’t have to pay minimum wage. Most interns don’t get paid, so we should all be so lucky, considering all the experience – they’ll teach you how to clean, sweat, and cry for free! Unfortunately, the hard truth of it is that Disney put Orlando on the map, and Florida is not about to bite the hand that feeds it. Disney World at this point is more like a small country than a series of theme parks, and who wants to go to war with them?

Still not convinced? All I can say is that if you’ve read this article and you’ve decided to give it some serious thought before committing to Disney, then I’ve done my part. You should know ahead of time that you’re saying goodbye to your friends and family because they can’t visit you for long, you WILL lose money during your stay, and you’ll most likely be working in extreme environments where your every move is monitored – and all this is despite the flashy presentation from Disney when they visit your school. I have spoken with people who enjoyed the program (instead of spending a semester abroad, they were happy to party down in Disney World), so it just may indeed be for you; but be forewarned that aside from putting Disney on your resume, this is not a career move – it’s cheap park labor for Disney. And please have someone give you a cold hard slap in the face before you pen your name to Disney’s contract – just in case.

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200 comments to Working in Disney World: Behind the Magic

  • Binnsy

    My daughter has just “self terminated” as she has experienced some of these issues. Working until 3am , and when she asked for her two days off together so she can catch up with her sleep, had her shifts changed until 5am. Her room mates ( 4 to a room) had differing shifts so sleep during the day was impossible. Told off for untangling necklaces after being asked to tidy them in the warehouse area. There are other examples too, and faceless disney supervisors have no thought for unhappy colleagues. The 50% leavers struck a note and being treated as a number not a human being really concerns me.
    If given a choice, choose another internship!

  • Glenn

    I have to quit writting things with my cell phone, or get WAY more diligent proofreading. Please accept my apologies.

    Interesting to see the “pot” incident. Back visiting with my family from up north in the 80s, my brother and I (HS aged though) delighted in getting stoned before going to the park. (It greatly intensified the experience, trust me. I laughed so hard on Space Mountain, I drooled in his hair!) It was practically an American adolescent “right of passage” back then. Almost as much as visiting WDW prior to elementary school graduation.

    I think my town was going to pass a law designating not taking your children to WDW prior to age 12 as “child abuse”, but they dropped it. LOL. Disney probably planted an agent on the town council. :)

  • Glenn

    I can’t believe nobodyasked how long the program is and what things are like after. “Forever”, for my living quarters to be searched without my permission, and some of the other rules wouldn’t work. Are those girl blow-up dolls with realistic orifices allowed? In your apt. I mean, not in the park. LOL

    How long is “too long” is very subjective, but life as a long term cast member would be interesting to know. I don’t think military basic training (How about the Seals “hell week?” LOL). But it’s designed to suck. To see who can take it before it might be life and death. Disney sounds like they are screening out period shh can fake being acceptable employees to Disney, long term. Doing everyone a favor. How long is the training and then what? That’s the magic question.

  • fart

    I think disney should be shut down

  • linda

    Disney is a horrible corporation. You should never work for people like disney. Disney has been spying on me for the last year so.i know secrets that could get me killed by disney. Disney kills people daily because they know things that shouldn’t be known. Email me for info admin.

  • Aloha

    I think it’s important for you to understand this is an entry level position with a company that has a huge number of employees. In the world of hospitality for young often first time career hunting college students– it’s a wake up call. This program is no doubt meant to weed out the weak. Low level position have high turn over rates for a reason. The nature of a large company like Diseny has changed over the years, with standardizing rules, and HIGH park costs– not to mention one of the highest paid CEOs in the business world. It’s a taugh company to work for there’s a lower interested on employee rather than a customers valued business. It’s true working low on the totum poll for any major league corporation is HARD as hell!! Guess what though it doesn’t get easier when you go up in chain. I am a veteran, Purple Heart rescipet, and I’ve been around the block with big time Industries. I am well aware of the long hours, low pay, with medical problems, and thank God I don’t have to do that anymore. Just remember if the experience doesn’t kill you it means your getting stronger from it. Lastly, about Disney there’s a reason a man who worked for the company hung himself with a note saying, “I don’t want to work for the Mouse anymore.” Just saying haha

  • Kandice

    Instead of complaining, maybe you should have spent a little more time researching and preparing for your JOB at Disney. The problem with people today is they expect autonomy in every aspect of their life. You can’t work for a huge corporation and expect no rules. You also can’t expect them to make exceptions for you (and your girlfriend) when you choose to break those rules. Advice to those who read this article: Yes, read all the fine print but don’t let one opinion sour you on the College Program or other Disney opportunities.

  • Richard

    I thought I would love Dinsey but I was there for my kids and wife. I heard some of the characters talking about living on the streets and they were people that worked at Disney. I was really surprise about that. I was scare to go to our room at The all stars because I heard they had bed bugs. While you are standing in line for a hot dog you hear a lot about Disney.I heard that Disney workers don’t last that long there that you are just a number that why they have a big turn over. If Walt was alive this would not be going on it is to bad. Some of the people working in the bathroom were not Disney employees they were with a different company and if that company would say jump you would jump just a number what is going on with what is suppose to be the happiest place.

  • Joseph

    Disneys point system is structured to where you have to play by there rules. 3 call outs sick or personal is a repremand 4 repremands you get terminated. Dosnt sound to bad but if your really sick which happens to some with medical issues.
    The manegers in some jobs really push there employee’s to there breaking point weather its asking for extra details or constantly harassing employees.
    I cant say this is in all departments because some people seem to really enjoy there jobs. Just my take as i worked for disney world for two years

  • Pinchas Ziess

    I’m doing a research paper on corporate culture and one of the companies i’m looking into is Disney. I was hoping someone could refer me to some other web pages about Disney.Thanks.

  • Sprite

    This artical does not surprise me. I have heard from other sources this and much worse.
    As for the internship itself, it was designed to bring in cheap help to the new theme park when it was just opening and because it was considered a “course” Disney got more perks.
    There is an article about the building of the Magic Kingdom and the Internship is mentioned in vivid detail. It was actually intended to bring in cheap help to run the parks. This is a quote from the article. To keep the masses of young cast members under control, Disney had made up masses of rules and regs. This also came from that article.
    If you find the article, you will find it very interesting reading, espescially the Internship. For those nay sayers that want to say I am diss’in Disney, none of this is my words or opinion, it all came from the article.
    I am sure some would fit into the hard rules and regs and work hard and enjoy the trip. But I also read where one cast member might have had pot and the security found it and they terminated ALL cast members in that apartment. Yup, another article says so.
    So the internship probably should be taken more lightly, like a grain of salt when you read about it. Find that article and you will find some interesting reading.

  • Jen

    I applied for the college program two years ago as a “non-traditional” student. If you did any research at all before going for the program, not being able to have guests in the apartments and the “Disney Look” wouldn’t have surprised you. Disney doesn’t hide any of this information, it’s out there on their website and on websites like this too. Sounds like you wanted to go down, have a good time, get paid and then leave. You blew a great opportunity – welcome to the real world.

  • Anonwdwlover

    What a silly article-written to slam Disney for his own willful negligence and rule breaking. First, I work for a large hospital system. We certainly have rules regarding dress, jewelry, hair, tattoos, you name it. Also, those on the front lines of providing patient care are held more strictly to the rules of time and attendance, attitude, etc–because Customer Service is the priority!! People are fired! Yes! Also, paychecks are paid by direct deposit and there is a credit union affiliated with the company. Pretty Standard stuff! This guy admits he did not read the info given, he didn’t even check the rules before the girlfriend arrived! He has slammed the measly (40%?) discount on wdw hotels. So she stays for a week, clearly breaking rules. He lies to Security when busted. Then, they say they won’t terminate him and he decides to quit anyway??!! So, he says one guy is fired for hands in pockets, but he lies and cheats the system for a week, gets caught, is NOT fired, and he Still slams the company? He’s an idiot who has a lot to learn!!

  • Jason

    I think this article does point out some interesting facts but the whole tone of it was negative. The part about the welcome speech saying that this many people would not make it to the end was true that they do that but I went through it twice I never worried about it because I was there to work for Disney. Disney has there rules in place for a reason and if you want to work for them you have to be willing to follow their rules even if you don’t like them. I did exactly that and I loved my job and ended up with a quarterly servicEAR award that is giving once per quarter and that generally is not given to CP’s(College Program)

  • Room1226

    I just can’t see how delivering an excellent customer experience be so bad. Turn the situation around and you wouldn’t expect anything less (makes me wonder if your initial interest in becoming a cast member is because you had a wonderful guest experience). If you continue to work in this field, I hope you glance back and appreciate the training.

  • Liz

    Well as a customer of both DL & WDW, I have always admired the cast members for their poise, smiles, bearing the heat in DL, ( I can’t give my FL opinion because I myself REFUSE to go in summer) screaming children etc. I’ve always had the impression they loved their job and tbh sounds like most of them do. Also you can just TELL! Bottom line, it’s a job and a huge company. But looking at it from this side, because I’ve never worked for them, a happy cast member can make your day, can bring tears to a mothers eyes when a cast member does something special for her Make a Wish child, or just smiling!!. Cast members are such a intricate part of the whole Disney experience. But if I saw one eating on the job, actually I’ve never seen one even drink!. Or even chewing gum, it would be odd. :/ But as a cast member it’s like “being on stage”.! An actor can’t slouch or take a drink while performing! So it’s not that Disney is a bad employer, they just have high standards. And us customers couldn’t be more grateful and happier.

  • jim

    What a tool. “I can’t grow my hair long, I cant sneak a girl into my dorm, I have to work hard most of the time.” Grow up pal. That’s most careers out there. Guess what, we all don’t get a trophy for participation either. I worked at Disney world for a year – just out of college but not CP. The professional lessions that I took from that experien e are worth a mint of gold and shape my career to this day (nearly 15 years later). I guess you should have taken a few more noted during Traditions.

  • Jen Howard

    What on Earth makes you think you’re unbiased??

  • Mandy

    Glad to read all of the comments. My brother is 27…still in college and has no idea what he wants to do…So, he figured he’d give this a try. He leaves the end of January. We are regular “Disney Vacationers” so needless to say, I’m SUPER excited he’s going so that we get a discount. I’ve been praying this will be a good experience for him. I do know that they have told him his pay and his rent WILL be deducted from his account every month so that part is true. I’m a little worried about all the negative comments I’ve seen. I’m sure the work hours can be terrible! I’m just hoping he at least can get some good work experience and meet some new friends out of it!!

  • Bob

    This guy needs to join the military. I worked for Disney in security for two years and as long as you knew and observed their rules, you were okay. Disney has so many young people working for them and a lot of them think it’s no big deal to be a few minutes late or to break a rule that seems rediculous to them. If Disney di not run a tight ship it would not be the Magical place for visitors that it is. There are a lot of other statements that this guy has wrong. Disney is a great place to work if you obey their rules.

  • Marianne

    The point of any internship is to gain life and work experiences, make connections and learn what you do and don’t want to pursue career wise in your future. No, the Disney College Program does not pay well but the knowledge and insight you gain is tremendous. If you are thinking about enrolling, I highly recommend it!! Of course, like anything in life, it is what you make of it. I attended the College Program in 2008 and was hired in the same position full-time immediately following my internship (at Disney’s WDW Polynesian Resort). I also pursued being a Disney trainer, which I loved!! I lived in Vista Way and it stunk not having visitors over late or overnight, but again, that is not the point of the College Program. Yes I also snuck friends from out of town in and yes I made stupid college mistakes while I was there but I had a blast and worked my tail off. I also made amazing friends from all over the world!

    In the CP we all had the opportunity to sit down one on one with leaders from across the parks, restaurants, and resorts. After this luncheon, I took the initiative to contact some of these leaders for a more personal interview to learn more about Disney’s operations. The Disney Institute gives you the tools and opportunities you need to advance your career inside the WDW Company or outside in the corporate world. *Remember, the Walt Disney World Co. is not just theme parks in Orlando or California…it is also Radio Disney, TV, Movies, Retail, the Institute (college and corporate training), Travel Agents, Full-Service Resorts, and so much more!

    After my time at Disney in Orlando, every company and organization I’ve worked for has LOVED my passion for Disney and the experiences I’ve gained there. I’m assuming that if you have not had positive responses from having Disney on your resume, you have not positively portrayed your experience to your advantage OR the company you are interviewing with does not go by Disney standards. IF that is the case, you DON’T want to work for them! Yes, thousands of people have attended the program but it is how you apply your experience to each job that makes you stand out.

    All in all, if you want to go far in your career and don’t mind working hard to get there, the Disney College Program is the way to go! …The reason why I left Disney was not because I didn’t want to work there. I hated living in Orlando outside of Vista Way. The traffic and culture was no longer what I wanted, although I am originally from south Florida. I moved to NC and looked all over for Disney opportunities but the closest was Hilton Head in SC :(

    Do not wait to reach for and obtain your dreams!

    “The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.” -Walt Disney

  • Glenn

    First of all, I am a proud Floridian and absolutely nothing in this world ticks me off more than some dumba$$ from up north who can’t even spell the word geography let alone know it’s definition; and who comes here to a subtropical environment and thinks that it isn’t supposed to be hot and humid in summer or that EVERTHING is better up North where everybody shows up on time and does their job like no other can, and claim that your farts don’t stink. Yada, yada, yada, I’ve heard it all, ( Ad nauseum; I might ad.)
    Secondly, I have a baccalaureate degree in business and am founder and CEO of my own company. I submit to you that rules implemented by any employer are there for very specific reasons, most of which you are obviously very incapable of comprehending.
    You, my child, have revealed to the entire world that you are nothing more than a spoiled dipstick. You wouldn’t have lasted one summer with me in Florida; replete with rain, sweat, physical labor, and oh yeah, lots and lots of calluses, mosquitoes and $hitloads of bitchy a$$ New Yorkers.
    And if you think I’m feeding you BS, and this is my favorite part: if for one single minute you do not believe that life in general is not tough everywhere, then try this you woose… Join the Military, any branch, go for it! You pick one, oh, and girl scouts aren’t one of the branches.
    Furthermore, I would venture a WAG that no one ever held a weapon to your head and forced you against your will into a PC “Mickey” incarceration. Admit it jack a$$, you are a whimp and you thought it was going to be an easy ride in paradise. Now you are disappointed. Grow a pair, hell, better yet, just grow up!

  • Kashi

    Bringing outsiders into Vista Way is a bad idea, you’re there to meet new people. I got the most beautiful Norweigen girlfriend because the local nuckleheads weren’t around to ruin my rap. Maybe you feel a 6 figure salary, dressing like a slob, bringing strange women to the dorms, acting uncivilized, being rude is your birthright. Grow up! Go Disney!

  • Steph

    Ok, I am a cast member now. I’m not a cp and I imagine the experience is different if you are. But half of the material in this article is bull crap. Standing out in the heat is a give in with ANY Job in the state of Florida. And of course we have to look a certain way. Disney is number one location in the world for vacationing. The guests have incredibly high expectations, including the way we look and stand. And the reason you can get in trouble, not fired, for putting your hands in your pocket or slouching is because you don’t look approachable to the guests. We have to look pleasant and like we want to e there. And there is no brainwashing of any kind. We have a magic that we need to preserve. Disney has rules like any other company. Ours are a bit strict considering it’s one of the biggest companies in the world. And tbh, I don’t even feel like I’m working when I’m there because they literally pay me to talk about pixie dust ad blow bubbles all day long. If you can’t get down with any of that, then you don’t need to be working for Disney.

  • MW

    For those of you claiming the writer didn’t get “in” or got “rejected”, get real. If you have a PULSE, you’re accepted. Overall, the DCP is great for people who don’t know what they want to do and have family help financially, because there is no chance you are going to make any money there; especially those “amazing” discounts. And the education is top-tier? Please tell me you’re joking. It’s customer service 101: customer is always right. Look happy always. Training over. Don’t even get me started with the CP classes… If you’re family is loaded and you don’t know what you want to do in your career yet, this can be a really great, valuable experience. Otherwise, it can be a real time-waster if you’re skills are specific to something and you have a career hope outside of entry-level laborer.

  • Guest

    By the way, I snuck my girlfriend in too for like 5 days. Fortunately didn’t have the issues you had with that, though it was mighty ridiculous. I would’ve gladly quit if I was stood-up like that.

    And yes, Disney on the resume is pointless, really. It is cheap labor. I honestly find more respect for people that work at Hardees as a janitor than an incompetent manager at Disney.

  • Magnus

    I am in full agreement with this. My net pay for groceries, food, gas, entertainment was $2/hour and I was apparently making the bigger bucks of the internship program. Thankfully, I survived, made some good friends and am now working in the medical profession. I can take away how I don’t want my practice to run (aka Disney-style).

  • Guest

    I agree with many of the complaints. I wish people who have never worked for Disney World would not comment saying that this is fake and it must be great to work for Disney. I came down super excited to get here and have it be a horrible job. I’ve had other jobs in the past, but none were nearly as bad as this. Yet, I moved to Florida to be treated terribly.
    Seriously, readers, take this article into consideration. Some things are overstated, but a lot of this is true. Disney is, sadly, a terrible place to work. At least for college kids.

  • jessica

    The bank is Partners Credit Union not Vista, also while I am not a Disney employee nor have I participated in the DCP programme, I know plenty of people who have done both DCP and are or have been a full-time cast member as I live in Florida. I have heard nothing but wonderful stories from these people, one who in particular lived in Vista Way and dedicated a whole leg tattoo to Disney and her expierence in the DCP programme after she graduated. I also know a costumed character who says she gets treated very well even after being in a stitch suit in the hot Florida sun. Maybe you just sucked as a CP.

  • Jade

    After reading this article, all I can say or think is WOW. Thank you for posting about this, as I have been heavily considering working for them for quite a bit. Not as an intern, so I’m not sure how that changes things, but after hearing this it would make me hesitant to apply for anything at all.

    My mother has been running an at home daycare since I was 5, and after being her assistant for a while, I became a nanny, which she had been before I started going to school, so you could say I live to make kids happy and safe. It’s really what all of my jobs have revolved around since I started working, and Disney seemed like such a wonderful place, I LOVE going there with my family. Now I don’t know how I’ll be able to get this story out of my head if I ever go there with my boyfriend and his daughter on vacation.

    Again, thank you for the warning, and I’m terribly sorry for your ordeal.

  • Jane

    Thank you for sharing your true experience. I’ve Googled the topic of what it’s like to work there, but it seems like it’s mostly fairy tale stories about how great and wonderful it is. I mean, come on– even the best companies to work for will have naysayers, and I wouldn’t think less of it. I am more leery of a company that has only positive reviews because it makes me wonder if they pay people to write those reviews, in addition to hiring the services of or any other damage control company. I’ve always wanted to know more about the darker, less advertised side of Disney. I believe you because I’ve had enough corporate jobs after college to know that this type of fascism and micromanagement is a general theme in the workplace today.

  • Megan

    Frankly, by the looks of the comments, the time this was posted and you did it, and the fact I’ve seen many people who’ve adored and would laugh at this post, deeming it as a troll, I would say you either love it, or hate it :P You haven’t scared me, because I’m glad not to have to worry about rent (Especially since I’m forgetful, and it covers EVERYTHING) I understand the reasons behind no guests, no visiting other complexes after 1 am (Seriously? You should be in bed, If you’re working, you have to wake up in the morning.) You get family in for free, great discounts on resorts, and you get to make little kids happy.
    Granted I’m trying for a character actor position, but either way, I have no problems with rules. Rules are in place for a reason. I’m more nervous about a roommate (Only child makes you a bit of a hermit, but I’ll get over it.) I’m still going to try because I’m going into animation for school, and I’m entering the summer program (Cultural exchange) Which sounds fun. Frankly you can tell me I’m dumb or whatever a million times, not going to change my mind.

  • Marissa

    Dear Cat,
    If you think the above post is “whiny” you clearly haven’t worked for Disney. Working at Disneyland ruined my life and destroyed and strained what little relationships I had left with my family and friends. I completely relate to the original post and have heard different horror stories with working for Disney. These stories differ from person to person, but everyone concludes that slaving under the Mouse is not worth the “magic” they promised you in the beginning. And they wonder why large amounts of people quit every week? Maybe if you put those people into the shoes of the people who work at the park they wouldn’t be questioning “why” all the time and would strive on making it a tolerable working environment for the employees.

  • Person

    So I’m thinking about working there when I get out of high school but I’m confused do they treat their employees nicely do you get paid a good amount I would automatically think that because its disney but I don’t know for sure and everyone’s saying something different but it does seem that everyone who worked there and commented said it was a great job and has great pay and I totally believe them

  • JC

    The company precieves itself to be a happy and such progressive work place, I’m an active cast member and to be honest, POOR WORKING CONDITIONS EXIST.
    Management at my workplace is dreadful, old workers with high seniority who dosnt care for its cast members. Who are nonchalant to even associate with its cast members, who only come around to terminate and watch you while you working during random times. So be in check! Follow the Disney look and be happy cause getting terminated is EASY within the company.

    Work conditions I’ve experienced we’re beyond imaginable. Working 14 hour shifts repetitively and 80% of the times without a break, forced to follow Disney look guidelines and a happy attitude. As a part time employee I get up to 59 scheduled hours during peak times, it’s rediculous.

    So the poor working conditions are real, and there’s more to my experience but as an active employee I’d stay shut.

  • Cassidy

    I haven’t done the college program yet (wanna wait til my daughter is at least 1 year), but I can tell you that whether its a fantastic experience or a horrible one, anyone who looks at your resume & sees Disney on it is going to be intrigued. I don’t care if they make me work outside 12 hours a day under the FL summer sun or pouring rain; ill be working with a smile on my face just because its Dismey. My check could be $0-$1million, I will still be kisson asses with a smile on my face. Its Disney….the networking opportunities are incredible, the education is incredible, & the experience is like none other. You can tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about cause I haven participated yet, but I’m 110% sure once I’ve finished ill be saying the same things. I’ve read the college programs website inside & out and I assure you some of the things you stated were untrue. Also, nothing is perfect (not even the most magical place on earth) but anyone who feels the need to disgrace the name of the company is ungrateful and doesn’t deserve to work there anyways….now have a magical day :))

  • Anonymous

    Lol. This article is ridiculous. First off, you participated in the college program..not an internship. Having come from the college program myself and then proceeded to complete a professional internship with the company I can confidently say that everything written here is beyond exaggerated. The training here is unlike any other I’ve ever seen… My pay is way above minimum wage, and that “small discount” for family at Disney hotels is 50% off. (Just a few examples of the extent of inaccuracy in this article.) everything the company does from withdrawing rent from your paycheck to not allowing visitors to stay over is for the convenience and safety of its cast members. Sounds like a bitter rant from a terminated employee if you ask me, especially since sneaking guests overnight on company sponsored housing is an offense leading to termination…not a warning.

  • Sal

    I was excited to find this article because I feel the same way about the program. Yes, things said in the article are exaggerated, but it captures the “real” essence. I was in the College Program recently and it was definitely not what I expected. I was filled with magic and positivity, but lost that after one month of being there. Just like the article says “it’s not a career move.” I think the program is great for college students with little to no real experience and have no clue what they want to do, but if you are more advanced, then this program is not for you. I have done SEVERAL interns with other agencies that appreciate my work history and education AND are paid. I didn’t go to school for 6 years to cook french fries and burgers. I have never seen an intern that’s not paid, so I don’t know where you all are working. Yes, the program isn’t for everyone and some people who don’t like it are spoiled brats, but there are some people who dislike and leave the program because they don’t want to be a number and they want to be appreciated. Everyone’s experience will be different. Some people can work at Disney and maintain the magic, but the rest of us will leave it as just a vacation spot.

  • A part timer who dropped full time for a reason

    Although a lot of ppl are saying what he wrote is not true… there’s some truth in the writing. I started there full time with the same excitement and well… Disney killed it. I am now part time with only full day availability and as grateful as I am about having some sort of income, this company leaves A LOT to be desired of. The pay is minimal when taken in consideration the amount of dedication they require… and demand from you. And they put band aids on this issue by distracting the cast members with shiny things like cast member appreciation days (give away of ice creams and uncrustables) a few days a year. Whether or not this guy worked for disney and may or may not be bitter about it, I’ve always thought Disney treats their cp like crap. Even worse than the regular employees. and that says a lot cuz the regular employees are ridiculously under paid. For such a “magical wonderful” company… Disney is slacking and needs to keep up with the image they proclaim, and treat their employees better. IMHO.

  • Karlee

    Really though, did this person even do the the program? I’ve never even heard of Vista Bank in Orlando. I know that there is Partners Bank, which I’m assuming is affiliated with Disney. But c’mon, all CP’s know that there aren’t any Mickey shaped bushes at the apartments. And I don’t remember them ever discussing “Synergy” at Traditions. And that $5 dollar paycheck thing cannot be true. I worked for 3 days one week and still had a $60 paycheck after rent (granted I didn’t have enough to pay rent, so they took out some and left me with enough. I was never charged for the rent I couldn’t pay that week). I’m not sure what program you did, but it wasn’t the DCP. You’re a really good troll.

  • JuanCarlos Padilla

    you are so full of crap, the person who wrote this most likely didn’t even do a program (funny how he didn’t give his name). you are a liar and should delete this! grow the F up you little kid.Can you even read? for real, you are a complete jackass. I have done a program and you are talking out you butt dude.

  • Epcot CM

    I’m sorry but you sound ridiculous! You have so many things wrong in your article you sound like someone who was not accepted into the program and is now trying to bad mouth it. I loved doing the CP and btw—I had my own housing and Disney took no money out of my check.

  • suck it up

    You sound like a very bitter person who is going to have a hard time in the real world. There is a reason why disney is a top ranking company and it’s because they hold their cast members to a higher standard. The problem with the CP’s isn’t that Disney is too strict, it’s that spoiled, entitled college students like yourself think that this is a time to go and party. This is a job. This isn’t a time for you to have your girlfriend there for a week, to party, to have a social life as number 1. If you want that then go back to college. Grow up.

  • Anonymous

    You worked 6 days and got a $5 pay check? Yea OK.Sorry but this sounds like exaggerated BS. My program was probably the best time of my life and I have made many friends during that would tell you the same. I got paid minimum and still had plenty of money regardless of days off. I was given a water bottle to clip on to my pants. The strict housing rules are not hidden and I was well aware of them by the end of my first week. Also, I’m pretty sure the Disney discount for hotels is pretty huge, and there are other hotels not Disney affiliated. The block out dates are right on your main gate pass as well if I’m not mistaken.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve done 3 college programs and I am now full time. I don’t know when you did your program but if it was anytime between 2002-2012 this is mostly a lie. Disney does not just terminate you for putting your hands in your pockets once. You may get a warning and if you continue to do it then yes you may get termed. As for security knowing your schedule… thats bull crap. There are over 3,000 CPs and 4 housing complexes they don’t keep track of everyones schedule. The only time they enter your apartment is if there are complaints. You can have visitors over but they must be gone by 1am. If you would have read the fine print or paid attention at the housing meeting the first day you would have known this. Disney allows you as a cast member to get a certain number of people in for FREE through out your program.

    Again I don’t know when you did your program but I know for a fact during my programs none of this was true. Maybe its a good thing you no longer work for this company. I enjoy working for WDW and had the time of my life on my college programs.

  • Moorea

    I was a CP and continued to work for them for 2 years, and this just sounds like (sorry for being harsh) one big “everyone feel sorry for me” article. Sure, working for disney is minimum wage pay, and long hours, but it also teaches you the value of a dollar, and how hard some do have to work for one, which is most cases CP’s don’t have it as rough as they believe. It also teaches you to manage your money. Most often these CP’ers are fresh into college students, and they have most of the time, probably have not held a job where they have to work over 8 hours. Im sorry, get over it! Lets face it, most places you will work in your life time after this internship requires you to be on your feet for at least 8 hours. I use to work 12-14 hours a day, and weird strange hours, and I wouldn’t have traded the experience. Our job is to make the guests’ experience magical, they aren’t suppose to make your job magical. However, I found more often than not, my day was made magical by making a guest happy (some people only get to come to Disney once, and this was their lifetime wish!), or just the everyday amazing things that happen at Walt Disney World. I also had plenty of friends, and family, and time to visit with them. And this brainwashing, and no leaning, and keeping up with the appearance is all a part of the role, ok you don’t agree? Self terminate (which I guess is what he did). This is what creates the experience for the guest, and it makes a difference, and it IS what sets Disney a part from other places like *cough* Universal. I was more than happy to keep up with what I needed to in order to keep this image up. These are the types of bitter and fun sucking people who are starting to ruin the magic for those around them. I am sorry, but clearly this person just doesn’t understand life, and the great experience that they were given.

  • Vinnie

    Working for the “Mouse” was my dream job since I was a kid. I’m a chef by trade and my thought was what better place to do what I love then at WDW right? WRONG!!!! Biggest F*&CKING mistake of my life. A) The recruiters at Casting are about as trust worthy as a snake oil salesmen. B) Benifits…what Benifits? 401k for full time NOT insurance right from the start…after 6 months, paid time off to visit family back home?…after a year. Getting your family in the parks for free you say….when and if you can since Disney has the rights to “blockout” dates so castmembers can’t get their own familys in for free. IMO I should have read between the lines, opened my eyes, and listening to what everyone has said in my life, If it sounds too good to be true you should pass!!!!

  • Anonymous

    I worked at a theme park (not Disney) for a few summers. We worked long shifts in hot humid weather, also we weren’t allowed to lean or sit, have visable tattoos, peircings besides the ears, unnatural hair color and we could only drink water in front of the guests. We’d get written up for leaning and 3 times you were gone. But it’s called work for a reason. And the harder you work the more you get out of the job. Stop complaining. Every job has its drawbacks and sometimes after a 12 hour hot stormy shift (which we also weren’t allowed umbrellas- we had ugly yellow rain coats) I’d be exhausted but I loved my job. Maybe if you stopped focusing so much on why you hated your job and realize you are creating amazing memories for the guests you might have enjoyed it a bit more. Plus, people come from all over the world to enjoy Disney world and spend their hard earned money for a fun, easy, magical trip. And Disney has created that magical atmosphere by keeping their standards high. So kuddos to Disney for weeding out the ones who won’t put in the effort to meet their standards. From all my visits to the parks and seeing their cheerful employees – I’d say disney knows what they are doing.

  • Savannah

    Are you even kidding me? Read your contract before you sign it, and follow the rules. Lol. The fact that you got paid at all for an internship is rare. I’m glad you quit, because you obviously didn’t have what it takes (patience, understanding, and a constantly positive attitude) to be able to hang with Disney. There’s a reason the company is successful, and it’s not because of cast members like you.

  • Cat

    This was interesting to read, albeit whiny. Disney just sounds like any other place that prides itself on customer excellent customer service. I worked as a flight attendant and they were strict. No sitting on the job, no eating in public view, no smoking in uniform, yadda yadda yadda. They are paying you to WORK. I know it sucks to put up with rules but I have yet to find a job or civilization that doesn’t require them.

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