Friday, August 22, 2014

Off To Neverland!: Starting the Disney College Program

After driving for hours STRAIGHT ON TIL MORNING, I finally reached the SECOND STAR TO THE RIGHT - DISNEY WORLD (my own version of Neverland). The first few days of the Disney College Program were about to begin.

Before my arrival to the program, I received a designated check-in time (8am-9am). Some people must check-in late in the afternoon. It is important to go during designated check-in times and remember the documents Disney asks of you because that is the PIXIE DUST that will get you to NEVERLAND. I brought a passport with me but Disney also accepts a driver's license/social security card or birth certificate in combination. Check-in is at the Vista Way apartment complex. Once there, CPs wait in line to receive information regarding the rest of your first week. While in line, I received a program guide book. One of the first things CPs do at check-in is learn their GENERAL location. I was told I will be working in the Backlands of Disney's Hollywood Studios! After CPs get their location, they take a picture and receive their housing ID. CPs will wait in a few other lines regarding housing location (I got placed in Commons), direct deposit paperwork, etc. In order to do direct deposit, CPs need all their bank information and a blank check. CPs also receive their schedule for the next few days of the week. Someone will review the schedule and explain everything to the CPs. Everyone's schedule is different. I arrived on Monday August 11th and my schedule was as follows:

Casting: Monday, Aug 11th at 10:00am
Alcohol and Drug Test: Tuesday, Aug 12th 1:45pm (Mandatory for attractions and transportation roles)
Housing Meeting: Tuesday Aug 12th 11:00am
Traditions: Thursday, Aug 14th, 2:30pm

I was one of the lucky people that had casting the day of check-in. A bus takes you from Vista to the Casting building. The cast member on our bus did some Disney Trivia while on our way to the building. She gave out some pins as prizes for getting correct answers! The casting building is pretty exciting to be in. The door knobs are the same as the door knob from Alice in Wonderland and there are golden statues of Disney characters in the entry way! In casting, CPs get finger printed and show their government issued IDs. More paperwork is done in a separate room where CPs find out when their specific role and location orientation is. Some might receive their work schedule and specific work location. I found out my first full week's schedule then and there because my training started before my orientation. I found out that I would be working at One Man's Dream (The exhibit about Walt Disney) and The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow (a walk through special effects show). I was EXTREMELY excited about One Man's Dream! CPs who didn't find out their location at casting, later found out their location at their park-specific orientation. At Magic Kingdom, the orientation is called "Once Upon a Time Starts Now" and at Hollywood Studios it was called "On With the Show." After casting is over, CPs take a bus back to Vista.

Housing Meeting
The housing meeting is similar to any housing meeting you would attend at any college. Safety is discussed, future housing events, and internship opportunities. Fortunately, there are no ice breakers at the housing meeting!  The presenters were very animated and they did a good job with a presentation that otherwise would have been very dry, so I really appreciated their enthusiasm! 

One of the most exciting things about the first week of being a CP is Traditions! Traditions is a half day training/welcome session at Disney University where you must dress business casual. The hallways at Disney University are plastered with dedication pictures to Disney animators. It was so historically overwhelming! The room we were in even had a mural themed around "YOU CAN FLY" with all characters that have flown in Disney movies! At Traditions, CPs learn about the four keys of Disney. These are Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency. We got our cast member IDs and learned what sets Disney apart from other companies and the way Disney immerses you in an experience. Some Disney trivia was involved as well and prizes were given out for that! We even received a special gift for being accepted into the program, but I won't say what it is because I don't want to ruin the surprise for anyone! The presenters were fantastic and taught us about magical moments we can create for guests to make them feel like they've NEVER GROWN UP!

At the end of the class, they take you on a behind the scenes tour of Magic Kingdom. Our tour was actually cancelled due to inclement weather (which I was very happy about because I did NOT want to see the nitty-gritty behind the most fantasy-filled place in the world  - Fate decided the magic itself was real enough for me). We came back to the classroom and were told it was time to get our name tags! And who should deliver our name tags but the one and only MICKEY MOUSE. Receiving an official Disney name tag was a HUGE honor for me and the process made me feel like my journey as an official Disney cast member was all started by a mouse, and of course, FAITH, TRUST, AND A LITTLE BIT OF PIXIE DUST!

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