Disney College Program Anniversary

Remember when you got accepted into the Disney College Program? Remember when you were three months away from check in? Remember when you made it to the final month? Remember when it was only one week left? Remember when it … Continue reading

Dealing With Post Disney College Program Depression

Maybe it hits you when you start to pack up your side of your room and you find various mementos from memories you’ve made over the past four to six months; or maybe it hits you when you put on your costume for the last time and say goodbye to the fellow cast members you worked alongside who really became family. But really, it’ll hit you the hardest when you’ve said your final goodbyes to each park, you’ve watched your last Wishes, you’ve cried with your friends as you held hands leaving Magic Kingdom and you’re sitting in the car (or at the airport) leaving your Disney life behind.

It’s the sign you had a magical experience and that now, you have something to miss.

It’s Post Disney College Program Depression.

If you think it hurts like hell when you’re saying goodbye, it hurts 10x more when you’re actually gone and far away from the people who became the biggest parts of your life in such a short amount of time and the magical place that brought you all together.

You find yourself flipping through that DCP Facebook album you never quite finished because you got so caught up in having the time of your life. You click along and watch your journey unfold right before your eyes and you can’t believe that it wasn’t that long ago that those pictures were taken. It’s been a month, maybe two, but it feels like a lifetime has passed by.

Anything Disney related sets you off. If you go to see a Disney movie, the opening sequence with the castle makes you cry. If you listen to Pandora and a Disney song comes on, you’re a mess. If a Disney Parks commercial comes on the TV, you bury your head into a pillow because the sight of your happy place is far too much to bear. If someone asks you about your time at Disney, you give them a long spiel and in the middle of it start to get choked up thinking back on everything.

You constantly post throwback pictures from your program because you’re in denial that it’s over and you’re always checking the Disney Careers website because getting back to Disney would be (another) dream come true.

Moral of the story? PDCPD sucks.

Maybe it isn’t something that can be cured; how do you stop missing a portion of your life that changed you forever?

Maybe, instead, you learn to live with it. You accept that it happened, that it was wonderful, that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and that now…it’s over.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t try to lessen the pain, so here’s a few ways that you can help cure your PDCPD:

  • Talk to your CP friends. Yesterday I was thinking about everything and looking through pictures and suddenly I felt overcome with sadness…so much so that I started bawling. After texting my closest friends from my program about it, they both called me and even though hearing their voices hurt at first, I felt better after talking to them. Staying in touch with friends from your program is a wonderful way to keep the magic alive long after your program is over, especially because no one else in your life is going to understand what you’re going through except for them. Keep them close; lean on each other because they’re the best source of support.
  • Create a shadowbox or memory board. Having everything with sentimental value from your program in one place may actually make you feel better. Maybe you’ll cry putting it together, but once it’s done…I promise it’ll make you smile, seeing all of the memories and experiences you had in one special place. Pictures, movie stubs, fastpasses (if you were lucky enough to snag some paper ones), wristbands from HOB, four keys cards, your acceptance post card and, of course, your name tag are some things I would recommend gathering for your project.
  • Plan a trip. The best thing about doing a college program? Reuniting with your best friends in the most magical (or happiest) place on earth! (Or even visiting each other in your hometowns!)  If you have your heart set on meeting up with your friends again, put aside a little money from each paycheck and plan a trip with each other. Planning a vacation, even when it’s far away, will help to offset the sadness from your program being over because you’ll be too excited about reuniting with everyone and being at Disney again!
  • Look into future careers with TWDC. Just because your program is over, it doesn’t mean that your time with Disney is over forever. Completing a college program opens up a lot of future doors for you, especially if you go back to school and earn your degree. You can apply for professional internships, alumni programs, go part/full time right out of school or, if you’re feeling up to it, you can always apply to a program for the semester after you graduate. If you feel that Disney is where you’re meant to be then make it happen! The sky is the limit.

The first few months after your program ends are the hardest. You watch new CPs begin their journey and you wish more than anything that you could rewind and start yours over. But you know what? I think a silly, willy, nilly old bear said it best:

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” – A. A. Milne (Winnie The Pooh)

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When you think about it, we are incredibly fortunate to have had the experience we had. Thousands of students apply every semester and we were among the chosen few (thousand) to participate. Some of us even got to extend our programs and continue making magic for longer than we expected.

We worked hard, we played hard, we loved hard, we cried hard, we failed hard and we succeeded hard. We found ourselves, we grew up, we made mistakes, we followed our hearts and our dreams and we never once looked back because we were living.

And that, my friends, is how I want you to continue to be. Be fearless. Be adventurous. Maybe you’ll never be the exact same person you were those few months but it doesn’t mean you can’t continue to grow and be the best that you can be. And, lastly, be proud of yourself, because you were responsible for making magic every single day and you did a damn good job.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” -Dr. Seuss

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#ThingsYouEncounterAsAMerchandiseCM

One of the most rewarding roles you could ever have at Disney, aside from being a performer, is being a merchandise cast member. The reason? You get to interact with guests on a daily basis and help them find that one souvenir that will remind them of their magical trip to Disney for years to come. I mean I don’t know about you guys, but I think that’s pretty special.

That being said…being a merchandise cast member is…quite the experience. I would say that aside from main entrance operations, guest relations, FSFB and concierge, we interact with more guests (for longer periods of time) than most other cast members…and at the World of Disney (where I did my college program) I know that’s definitely true. And when you’re interacting with hundreds -no- thousands of guests on a daily basis…you’re bound to have a few (several) “interesting” interactions…which, of course, make for great stories later.

And so, with the help of my merchandise cast family, we present to you: #ThingsYouEncounterAsAMerchandiseCM

*The limit on the amount of “interesting” questions you will be asked/things you will be told does not exist*

1) *Guest looks you up and down* “Do you work here?” -Mmm…this one is our FAVORITE. We suppose that you could be unsure if we work there, even while we’re in full costume, we have an arm full of merchandise and look like chickens with their heads cut off.

2) “Where’s the Harry Potter merchandise?” “Where are the yellow minions like this? (As they hold up Mike Wazowski)” “Where is your Shrek merchandise?” “Do you sell Spongebob stuff here?” “Do you sell Dr. Seuss merchandise here?” – We are going to settle this once and for all:

DISNEY. DOES. NOT. SELL. MERCHANDISE. FOUND. AT. UNIVERSAL. ESPECIALLY. NOT. HARRY. POTTER.

The ONLY similar merchandise we sell is Avengers merchandise, and I’m pretty sure even that is different. And Mike Wazowski is NOT a minion. *Drops mic and walks away.*

3) “Where are the attractions at Downtown Disney?” “Where are the fireworks at Downtown Disney?” – SHOP. DINE. PLAY. That is literally the slogan for Downtown Disney. We have no fireworks and no attractions, but we do have DisneyQuest (but not for long *cue sadness*), a load of restaurants/shops and an extensive amount of alcohol (for those of you 21 and over). Enjoy 🙂

4) “Do you have any backyardigans merchandise?” “No, I don’t think so.” ‘It’s a Nick Kids TV show.” “Ma’am, this is a Disney store.” “Yeah…?” “So we sell Disney merchandise, not Nickelodeon.” – *face palm* Moving on…

5) “Where is the Disney section?” – Well let’s see...the entire store…

6) “Do you have a clearance section?” – Ha. Haha. Hahaha. HAHAHAHA. Oh…no, sorry.

7) “How much is this?” – This question is only okay if there is no price on the tag or it’s one of those items that has a color that represents a certain price. But if you literally walk up to me with the tag out and in your hand with you pointing right at the price…*face palm*

8) *Points at costume* “Where can I buy that?” – First of all, N-O-W-H-E-R-E. Second of all, why do you want it…? This is the least flattering thing any of us has ever had to wear. I guess we make it look good though, guys. So good job everyone!

9) “Excuse me, do you sell the soundtrack to the store?” -Yeah…that would be a no, ghost rider. But if you want a soundtrack that’s actually GOOD, we do have the Wishes soundtrack. (Also, side note, can we put FOF on a CD so I can buy it and play it over and over again, please?!)

10) “Do you sell the Fastpass Bands here?” – No, we do not sell MAGIC Bands here. (Oh, yeah, pro tip: World of Disney does not sell Magic Bands…don’t ask me why, because I don’t know)

11) “Can we purchase park tickets here?” – I know we’re the largest Disney store, I get it. But…can you purchase tickets in any OTHER merchandise location on property? No…so, sadly, you can’t do that here, either.

12) “Aren’t you supposed to have everything? You’re the biggest store.” – We get this A LOT. Trust me, I’m just as mad as you are that there is no Big Hero 6 merchandise and that the only princess merchandise is pretty much for little girls. But no, we don’t have everything. And it isn’t our fault as cast members that we don’t have everything, so please don’t get mad at us 🙂

13) “So I saw this shirt at Epcot…” – I’m going to stop you right there. We do not sell park specific merchandise. Anything that says Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom or EPCOT on it you will NOT find anywhere except that specific park. So if you see it in the park, just get it. Don’t ‘wait until you go to Downtown Disney’ because you’ll be really disappointed.

14) “So I saw this item at the Disney Store…” “Do you take Disney Store coupons?” “Are you doing the same sale as the Disney Store is doing online?” – Having to explain this one is a bit of a nightmare 🙂 World of Disney is not a Disney Store. Though both stores operate under The Walt Disney Company, the Disney Store is completely separate, while the World of Disney sells merchandise specific to the overall resort. So no, we do not have that awesome princess dress you saw online…but we do have a ton of others!

15) *Asks guests if they have discount* “No, not unless you wanna give me one! Haha!” -This actually isn’t that funny and makes me feel uncomfortable when a guest continues to ask about my discount 🙂 The boss wouldn’t like that!

16) “Oh, there’s no price tag? Must be free!” – *Awkwardly laughs while trying to escape to find price tag to ring merchandise to finish transaction with guest because no it isn’t free*

17) “We’re going to the real Disney tomorrow!” -EL OH EL. Yes, because Downtown Disney is the fake Disney and the only real part of Disney is Cinderella Castle. Yes, of course. How could I forget?

18) “Where are your sum sums?” -Well…we don’t sell sum sums here….or TSUM TSUMs either…(See? World of Disney does not actually have everything. Isn’t that really depressing? Once Upon A Toy does, though. But not all of them, sadly 😦 Try the Disney Store!) This one is almost excusable because the ‘t’ is silent, but still…it’s funny to hear it pronounced as sum sum.

19) “Why don’t you sell *insert character/movie title* merchandise?” – Well, ma’am/sir, I really don’t know. I am not in charge of what merchandise we sell, because if I were, there would be a lot more Hercules merchandise because WHY WE NO SELL HERCULES MERCHANDISE, DISNEY?!

20) *Guest starts twisting arm to use Magic Band, it turns blue* *Guest tries swiping credit card* “Uhm, why isn’t this working?” -Well, probably because I have yet to scan all of your merchandise. Just a thought, though. I could be totally wrong.

HOWEVER, despite all of the *interesting* interactions we have on a daily basis, we also get to have chats with little princesses/fairies/princes/pirates, we get to meet people from our hometown/college and strike up conversations, we get to make magical moments and become the highlight of someone’s vacation and we get to make long lasting friends (because you will literally be with your coworkers ALL, THE, TIME).

Just be prepared to disappoint a lot of people because we don’t sell Universal merchandise 😉

And don’t forget your Disney Point!

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What They Don’t Tell You About The Disney College Program

You can read every description of the Disney College Program, but there are some things you won’t know until you experience it for yourself. Continue reading

You’re Gonna See It’s Our Destiny

Today would have marked one month until the end of my college program here at Disney.

Instead, today marks one month until a majority of my best friends leave and embark on new journeys, and I am beyond upset about it.

I was always told that the best years of my life would be spent during the four years of my college career, but my college career has been filled with tons of turbulence and detours. It’s hard to have the best years of your life when you move away from all of your friends and have to start over in a new school…twice.

I’ve always tried to make the best of it, but at some point I decided that the best years of my life would be after college.

That is, until I started the Disney College Program.

This has been, by far, one of the best years of my life. The friends I have made here are the friends I will have for life–I am SURE of it. I will be flying to Illinois, South Dakota, Michigan and Texas in the coming years, and I will be driving down to Coral Springs, Fla. and driving up to Bradenton, Fla. to visit six of the most amazing ladies I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

My program would not be what it is without them. Through all of the tears, the breakdowns, the upsets, the laughter, the goofiness, the sheer happiness…they have been there. They’ve listened to my ridiculous rants, laughed at all of my attempted jokes, held me when words could not be found, and given me a reason to be excited to go to work every single day.

My heart is literally breaking as I write this, because I know that time is running out. I know that one month from today, four of them will leave, and I will be devastated. I know that I will hold onto them for dear life before letting them go and having to continue my program without them. But I also know this:

If nothing else, doing this internship was the best decision I ever made because I met them. The perks are great, the pay is alright, the connections are awesome, and the work location isn’t SO terrible. But the six girls that have become my family…they top the list of why this program was the best thing to ever happen to me.

So, with this last month upon us, I’m excited to make every moment count. I’m prepared to lose sleep. I’m prepared to be on the go A LOT. I’m prepared for long drives. I’m prepared for so many pictures. I’m prepared for laughs, smiles, and tears. I’m prepared to make memories that will last a lifetime with the girls who have stolen my heart.

If you need a reason to apply to the DCP, this is it…right here. Apply because the friendships you make here are long lasting; they are bonds that cannot be broken.

Katie, Abby, Denning, Erin, Katherine and Mary…this one’s for you. Now let’s have some magical moments and make these last 30 days count ❤ #WODSquad

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Having Adventures in the Great Wide, Somewhere…

Two posts in two days?! I am spoiling you guys 😉

But I did promise to share some of my fun adventures that I’ve had so far on my program, and I always keep my promises.

So, without further ado, it’s time for DCP Adventures with The Theme Park Princess ❤

1) My coworkers are some of the most amazing women I have ever met, and I LOVE spending time with them. About a month ago, six of us (plus a few other people) went to breakfast at Trails End, located at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Lodge and Campground. Trails End is a country themed restaurant that offers an all you can eat breakfast buffet (so delicious and SO worth it!). This breakfast was the first time we all really got to know each other, and we bonded over good food, funny stories and our ever present awkwardness. To say we’ve been inseparable ever since would be an understatement; not only do I see them all the time at work, but we also have a ton of ‘WOD Squad’ dates and sleepovers. I can’t get enough of these girls! That was the day I realized I had made friends for life, and I will be so sad to see the majority of them leave in May 😦

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2) You would think that because I am beyond obsessed with Disney, an annual pass holder AND a cast member that I would have gone to every Disney park in Orlando. Oddly enough…you would be wrong! Up until a few weeks ago, I had NEVER been to a Disney water park! Luckily, my roommate and I changed that and we went to Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon! I’ve only ever been to one other water park, and it’s a very small one right by my house in Naples, Fla., so it really doesn’t compare. But I loved every minute of being at Typhoon! I loved the wave pool (even though I got knocked down every time), I loved all of the water coasters and the lazy river was SO relaxing! The great thing about the water park is that you can get a lot done in a short amount of time and still have the rest of the day to do other things, like visit Downtown Disney 😉 If you’ve never visited a Disney water park, I highly suggest making that part of your next trip! Now I just have to conquer Summit Plummet at Disney’s Blizzard Beach!

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3) Aside from my obvious love for theme parks, I also love baseball! I grew up going to Yankees games and when I moved down here to Florida, I obviously stopped going as frequently. Last week, I went to my first baseball game in about two years, and seeing my team play in the most magical place on earth was a wonderful experience! The next day I went to yet another baseball game, this time it was the Braves against the Marlins, and while I’m not a fan of either team, I just love watching the sport and being with my friends. We also went to Hollywood Studios that night (after a much needed nap), and I got to experience my friend riding all the major attractions for the first time. I love watching someone’s face the first time you drop on Tower of Terror, or when you get launched on Rockin’ Roller Coaster. Baseball and Disney are two of my favorite things, so the fact that I got to combine both over the course of two days was truly magical. (Plus, I got to see my roommate hard at work since she works at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex!)

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These are just a few of my favorite adventures so far, so I promise to have another post in the near future! But none of these amazing experiences would’ve been possible without the wonderful group of people featured in this post, so a huge thank you to Katherine, Katie, Erin, Denning, Abby, Deanna, Tyler, Ryan and Jake for making my program as fun as it has been. You guys are the best.

Here’s to many more memories to be made at the most magical place on earth! ❤

Adventure Is Out There

I’d like to start by apologizing for being so MIA since I moved to Orlando to participate in the Disney College Program, but I am about to make up for it right now!

I did begin my program on the 19th of January, and it has been a challenging, but highly rewarding, experience thus far. I am living in Chatham Square with four lovely roommates and I am working merchandise at the World of Disney at Downtown Disney, which is the largest Disney store in the world.

*pauses for dramatic effect*

My work location has been the most challenging part so far, mainly because the store is composed of 11 rooms. This means that I have had A LOT to learn, and you only get about a week of training (or, really, four-five days). I will be the first to admit that I had a hard time the weeks following my first initial week (where you go through Casting, Traditions, and get a feel for everything before you start on the job training) trying to find my place and I wondered if I had made the right decision in coming here. I felt overwhelmed from all of the training plus trying to keep up with my classes, and I felt excluded because my hours at work differed from all of my roommate’s hours, so I barely saw them.

But then something happened:

I remembered I am at Walt Disney World completing an internship that thousands of college students around the world would give up anything to do.

I started to find the positives at work, whether it be interacting with more guests or reaching out to and getting to know more coworkers. In fact, some of the best times I’ve had here so far have been with my coworkers.  Even on days when it’s not that great, I know that there are four magnificent parks waiting for me on the days that I’m off, and that alone makes the experience worth it.

This adventure I am on is one I was meant to take, and I am sure of that. The lessons that I am learning and the experiences I am having are going to shape who I am and help me become the best version of myself.

Is it scary? Absolutely.

Is it tiring? Of course.

Can it be frustrating at times? Yes.

But the friendships I am making, the magical moments I am having and am able to create…they make it all worth it. I mean, where else in the world can I go casually visit Magic Kingdom before work or have breakfast with the Fab Five?

Adventure is out there, you just have to go for it and don’t look back ❤

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*I will do a post about some of the fun things I’ve done since I’ve gotten here soon, and if anyone has any questions about the DCP I can do a question/answer post too, just let me know!*

Trust The Magic of Beginnings

“And with every passing hour, I’m so glad I left my tower!”

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Okay, so maybe I’m not leaving a tower, per say, but I AM embarking on a new journey in just 10 days!

Next Sunday, I drive up to Orlando with my mom, sister and two best friends. And next Monday…I CHECK IN FOR MY DISNEY COLLEGE PROGRAM!

Even though I’m super nervous to start my journey in the DCP, I am also SUPER excited!

I have spent so many years holding myself back and not going after things I wanted because I was scared to fail. I can’t tell you how many things I let pass me by because I couldn’t let myself take a risk. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that living in fear is no way to live your life.

Working for Disney is something I am passionate about, and up until I decided to apply for the DCP, it felt like an unattainable goal. I thought, “There is NO way I could ever work for Disney.” But, the moment I was accepted into the program…a whole new world of opportunities (see what I did there?) opened itself up to me, and now…I am unstoppable.

I am excited to work and live at Disney, but I am even more excited to find out if this is truly where I’m meant to be. This new adventure will teach me about myself and help me figure out the steps I need to take in order to make my dreams a reality.

I plan on working hard, playing hard and networking hard. This is more than just an internship at Disney for me–this is the beginning of a lifelong journey, and I plan to make it worth my while.

One of my favorite quotes is: You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

Another quote that works perfectly here is: Don’t let the fear of striking out hold you back.

I am finally, after so many years, going after something I really want…and I am so proud of myself. I refuse to let fear hold me back anymore.

I hope that if you choose to follow my journey, I can inspire you to go after YOUR dreams, because you’ll never know what’s possible if you don’t try.

Beginnings are just so magical and full of promise, aren’t they? ❤

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