Five not-so-popular tips for the Disney College Program

I completed my Disney College Program in 2017 where I worked as a custodial Cast Member at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.  I always get a lot of questions about my experience on the program and love to give advice that you don’t typically see online.

Keep reading to see five tips that many people don’t talk about that I would give to ANYONE who gets accepted to the DCP!

  1. Pack WAY less than you think – I stuffed my car with so much stuff that I never even unpacked it all from my trunk during my program.  If you’re living in program housing, you will not have much space to utilize so don’t over do it.  Also keep in mind that you will be wearing a costume for 5-6 days per week so you do not need a ton of outfits.  You will want lounge wear for before/after work and maybe a couple of “going out” outfits, but let’s be honest, you will go to the parks and you will see ALL the cute Disney merch and you will have a discount.  YOU WILL BUY CLOTHES!  So pack as little as you can and thank me later.  Check out my more detailed packing list here!
  2. Make a bucket list and make a plan to complete things each week – I made a bucket list before my program began which was a fun way to get excited about the program and I highly recommend it.  I did make time to experience a lot during my program, but there were so many opportunities that popped up and I said “I’ll do that later, I’m here for 7 months”.  Well…let me tell you, most of those things I said I would do later, I never did.  Once you get in the routine of working 40+ hours per week you are exhausted and believe it or not, you will not have the desire to go out and do things…DO IT ANYWAYS – this is usually a once in a lifetime opportunity.  You can sleep when you’re dead! 🙂
  3. Don’t waste your precious money on groceries – this one probably sounds strange, but let me tell you a story to illustrate my point. While living in CP housing your paychecks will not be that big.  Each Thursday (payday) I would get paid and go to the grocery store.  I’d buy healthy things for breakfast, things to pack in my lunch bag, and things to make for dinner on my days off.  It was REALLY hard to leave the grocery store without spending at least $80-$100.  I know that doesn’t sound that unreasonable for food…but then…Thursday night I would stop at McDonalds, Friday night my roomies would want to go out to dinner, Saturday we would order pizza, Sunday I’d eat dinner at work, Monday I’d have my leftover restaurant food, Tuesday I’d eat at the Parks, etc.  Basically, all of my planned meals would go out the window and I was wasting SO much food.  Not to mention it was almost like I was paying double for meals because all of my groceries were going to waste.  It ended up being cheaper for me to eat out and skip stocking up on groceries.  Is this healthy?  Probably not, but you will be working so hard you will not be in the mood to cook and if you’re in a role that walks a lot like I was, you will burn off everything you eat. Trust me, I love to cook, and I rarely did it (and I still lost 25 pounds from all of the walking).  If anything, I suggest stocking your freezer with some cheap, quick meals in case you are home.  Just remember 95% of the time, you won’t be home!
  4. Pick your roomies in advance and keep the peace – I was blessed to have INCREDIBLE roommates for the DCP.  But I credit this to the fact that we chose each other ahead of time.  Can you go random and have your roomies be cool?  Yes.  Does that happen often and is it worth the risk? NO!  Find the DCP Facebook group for your arrival date and look for people that are similar to you.  Be honest…if you are not a clean freak, don’t plan to live with one.  If you don’t drink alcohol, don’t room with people who do.  If someone just seems “off” to you, don’t room with them.  Remember, if your “home” life is toxic, it will make your DCP miserable…so try to find people that you will get along with!  I got lucky and some of my DCP roomies are now my very close friends. 
  5. Don’t forget to think about the future – There is nothing wrong with doing the DCP just for fun because that is exactly why I did it. What I will say, is that when I finished my program, I had no intentions of going back to work for Disney.  Luckily I completed my program satisfactorily and did not have any reprimands when I left.  Later, when I applied again to work for Disney, I was an attractive candidate.  Maybe you know right now you want to work for Disney long term or maybe you just want to experience the program for fun, but my best advice is to give it your all and don’t burn bridges.  I sometimes called out sick when I wasn’t, but I never allowed myself to get a reprimand.  I followed the rules (mostly) and I did a good job in my role.  I had good relationships with all of my coworkers and I stuck out the program and finished it.   Had I not done any of those things, I probably would have never been hired back.  This is basically a nice way of me telling you don’t screw it up! You never know where this opportunity could take you, but if you blow it, you don’t get another shot. 

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