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Disney, Tutorial, USA

International College Program Series: Interviews

I’m going to cover some tips for your interview if you’re applying for the Disney International Program, or College Program. My experience was with a personal interview for the program.

As I understand it, for the domestic College Program you sign up online and then there’s a phone interview afterwards. For the most part, with the international program, the recruiters travel to a city, do a presentation and then interview the applicants after. My interview was in Dunedin, New Zealand.

For that year, because of the Christchurch earthquake, there was no presentation at Canterbury Uni, so everyone from Christchurch traveled to Dunedin for their interview, making it more packed than usual.

Jeni Masden is the recruiter for Australia/New Zealand. She started by presenting about the program and talking about what you do, what your pay rate is and the types of roles you may get.

She does emphasise that this is not a job you save in. I cannot stress that enough. I will get paid around USD$6,000 this year, which is technically below the poverty line. However, your housing has fairly decent rent, and if you use the CP busses, your transport to work, Walmart and the Mall is free.

So keep that in mind and don’t be like many people who spend a whole lot of money sorting visas and everything to get here and then leave, disgusted with the “pittance” we’re paid. The most expensive two-week holiday ever.

My interview was the next day at 10.00am at Otago University. Because I went to a tourism college, we all wore our uniform suits to the presentation (we all looked like either flight attendants or travel agents) and then again to the interview the next day. I’m not sure if they normally do the interviews the same day or not, so it’s probably best you dress up for both just in case.

For the interview I wore a flower in my hair. Nothing over the top, but noticeable. I wanted my interviewer to be able to look at my resume after I left and remember something about me, because they had a lot of people to see.

It’s handy if you have an “about me” spiel ready to go. I have one for every job interview I go to, because the first question nine times out of ten is “so, [INSERT NAME HERE], tell me about yourself.” They’re not actually interested. They just want to see how you’ll respond “off the cuff”. So have a practiced speech around 20 seconds about you. It can be where you grew up, what you studied and what your hobbies are, which gives them your personal and educational or professional background and then a little insight as to who you are. For example, mine is something like…

I was born in Sydney, Australia and my family moved to Queenstown, New Zealand when I was sixteen. I studied Japanese at Otago University and Tourism at Sir George Seymour College. I enjoy travel, writing and art and discovering new things.

So have a practice at home. Get friends to ask you at random times “tell me about yourself” until you can remember a few points without it sounding like a recording. For the application form, I ticked every box available for jobs. I really didn’t care what role I did for a year; I just wanted to go.

If you’re enthusiastic about one role in particular, tell them! My recruiter seemed keen on me doing lifeguarding. Which, let me tell you, you do not want your child’s life in my hands. Ever. But I told him that it would be a new challenge for me and I loved challenges. As it turns out, I got Merch and Vacation Planning, which was great.

Just be yourself at the interview. This is probably one of the only interviews where you can’t be too bubbly, so if that’s you, don’t tone it down! Disney is all about the pixie dust and magic for everyone, so the more pixie dust you throw around, the more fun you’ll have!

Take a copy of your CV. They probably already have one that you gave them yesterday, but it’s always good to have a backup.

After the interview, you’ll have to wait a while to get a reply. I remember mine being at least a month before I heard anything. I’m not sure if they contact you to say you didn’t get in or not, but pretty much everyone gets their emails at the same time.

Once you get that acceptance email, start your paperwork! And remember to reply to their email accepting their offer! Your journey has started!

Disney, USA

Neverland Housing Event

This was probably the housing event that I did the least amount at. We just met two of the characters, then ate pizza. but the awesome conversations on the itchy grass plus watching awesome hallmark Christmas movies afterwards means the day was wrapped up well!

We arrived right when it started, and the character line was a little long. Peter and Wendy were meeting, but I wanted to meet Hook and Smee (rumored to be the characters replacing Peter and Wendy when they flew off) so we hoped we’d timed it well enough. Turns out we did, because we made it just in time.

As we exited, the line to meet Peter and Wendy (as Hook and Smee were leaving soon) was enormous, so we flagged meeting them (Peter still meets outside his ride in Magic Kingdom, but Wendy doesn’t meet with him anymore) and went for pizza instead.

On the way, we decided to take a photo with the mermaid setting that was put up.


Because someone in our group lives at Chatham and also happens to have Netflix attached to their TV (whaaaaaat, I freakin’ love this country) we watched lame/awesome ABC Family Christmas movies for a few hours. Best night in, imho.

Disney, International College Program Info

College Program: Making (and saving) Money

  1. Open a bank account!
    If you don’t have one in the US already, open a bank account as soon as possible. The easiest one will probably with Partners Federal Credit Union. There’s a branch at Disney University and a smaller one at Epcot Cast Services. This means you have the ability to store your money securely (I found the default Citibank card very unsafe and annoying; they were hit with card fraud a number of times and they were incredibly hard to contact — I never spoke to a real person when dealing with them) and also tuck your savings away in a savings account. Read through the terms and conditions of signing up, and you’ll need to put in about $30 to get you started.
  2. Buy at Property Control!
    Across the parking lot from West Clock is Disney Property Control. This is where old and damaged products go to die. There’s one side for stock that they want to get rid of, undamaged at a significant discount. Then the other side is for damaged or unsellable items. And trust me, at Disney, some things you wouldn’t find a problem are unsellable. You can also buy basics like fruit, milk, giant loaves of bread… you name it!
  3. Have a talent.
    Ok this one is rough if you don’t have one that’s marketable. I’m one of those people. How many times have I wished during this year I had practiced drawing more so that I could take commissions?! But yeah, if you’re able, open up commissions on Deviantart or something and that might get you a Christmas Party ticket or something…
  4. Don’t drive everywhere.
    I guarantee you, about a month into your program, you will become disillusioned with the bus service. I heard people complaining about it when I first got here and swore I wouldn’t be that person. But I am. Because it sucks sometimes. They’re late, they leave early, they pass your stop, they pull away as you bang on the door, they break down, they’re slow, you name it. But they’re free. I work at Epcot, which is the quickest bus route. It goes straight from Vista to Epcot cast services and then back to Chatham and the Commons before Vista again. The trip from Vista to Epcot takes about 20 mins, 15 is your bus driver is enthusiastic. But I know so many people who drive to work every day. The worst part of the day is if you live at Vista and have to wait about 40 mins to get home. Which is nothing compared to commutes I’ve made in the past! So save the gas for a trip to the Keys.
  5. Picnic at the parks
    Disney food is ridiculously expensive. When you go to an actual normal restaurant after dining at Disney, everything seems so cheap. So instead of getting a quick service meal every time you go to the parks, eat before you go and pack snacks or a lunch to have with you. You’re allowed to take food and drinks in, no problem!
  6. Sign up for extra hours/extend
    On the hub, you can sign up for extra hours by going to the labor service centre under the work tab. If you don’t have much to do that week, sign up and see how many hours you can get. Another option is to extend your shifts. This is hard to do if you work a lot of closing shifts (and CP does stand for Close Parks as everyone knows…) but whenever you can, do it. While we may not get the 6th day premium, if you work more than 8 hours in the day or 40 hours in the week, every hour is overtime, depending on your location.

More coming soon…

Disney, International College Program Info, USA

(International) College Program Series: Vista Way!


Vista Way is the oldest housing complex. This does mean that the apartments are a little more… run down, but how your apartment is to live in is based entirely off you and your room-mates’ level of cleanliness.

It’s one of the larger complexes as well, plus it has Clubroom 13501 (a lounge with TV and free wifi), the Disney Learning Centre (a library of books and movies with computer access), the Disney College Program Housing offices (most other complexes will have these too, but this is the main one) and there’s also some of the classrooms for classes, two pools, tennis court, basketball court, volleyball… court? and the Transtar busses that take you to and from work originate from here.

I don’t know of any one bedroom apartments at Vista. Most are two or three bedroom, and there may be four bedroom ones. At the moment, it is the only complex without bunk beds in its rooms, which also means it went from the cheapest to possibly the most expensive complex to live in, depending on your living arrangement.

Because I live at Vista, this complex has a lot of good memories for me. It has a certain reputation, and even people who have not done a college program who work at Disney have a knowing look in their eye when you mention you live at Vista. It’s not that bad, but since it won the number two place for a college coed to get laid (2nd to Cancun) as voted by Playboy Magazine, the rep has stuck. I think it gives it a certain rebellious charm without actually being that rebellious. It’s a very safe place, with 24hr security, like all housing complexes, and the housing office is open 7 days a week to help with any issues you might have.

Don’t let all those over-saturated photos on tumblr fool you — the place looks old and run down. But it’s a nice place to live.

featured image courtesy of Matt Worthington

Disney, USA

United Kingdom Spring Diversity Event

Part of the College Program experience is the welcome events. These are themed events where there’s free food (a siren call for CP’s), character meet-and-greets and dancing.

Apparently they also have “diversity” events; these aren’t in the timeframe of an intake (as welcome events normally happen after a large intake of CPs) and have a theme related to a country represented in the College, International and Cultural Representative Programs.

Yesterdays theme was the United Kingdom, as can be found in the World Showcase at Epcot. Aside form real mashed potato (which I really miss!), the characters doing the meet and greets were Merida and Queen Elinor!

As far as I know, Elinor has come out for two events; her daughter’s coronation and Scotland’s first day at Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival (2013). So meeting her wasn’t just rare, it was unheard of.

They met together for a little while, then Merida left, leaving Elinor to greet her guests. We joined that line again after meeting Elinor to make sure we met Merida as well, as my friend Chelsea hadn’t met her yet.

The food was very nostalgic, as much British food is traditional in Australia and New Zealand as well, such as the aforementioned mashed potatoes. The dancing is usually the same at most CP events; the wobble is in there at least once. But it really was the characters this time that made this event so good.