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Tarleton student talks about time at Disney College Program

Kasey Burgan, Guest Writer

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Anyone who knows me, knows just how much I love Disney. I love everything about Disney, from the theme parks to the animated films and their live-action remakes. If you had told my high school-self, however, that I would some day work as a Cast Member at Walt Disney World, I likely would’ve laughed in your face.

I first heard about the Disney College Program during my freshman year of high school. I knew immediately that I would have to do it while I was in college. The Disney College Program is a very selective internship that gives college students around the world an opportunity to work at either Disneyland in Anaheim, California or Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Applicants undergo a very rigorous interview process that includes a phone interview, a stage in the process that not everyone gets to. I applied three different times before I was officially accepted for the spring 2017 program at Walt Disney World on September 29, 2016. I couldn’t wait to get started on this journey of a lifetime!

My specific role was as a Merchandise Cast Member; luckily, this was my number one job choice! I later learned that I would be working in a little store called Goofy’s Candy Co. in Disney Springs, which is Walt Disney World’s outdoor shopping mall. This store had all types of candies and sweet treats for guests to purchase (I won’t lie, I bought quite a bit of candy while working there!). I had three types of shifts during my time at Goofy’s Candy Co. First, I could work in what we called “shop,” where I would work the register, greet guests and offer samples. Second, I would stock the store and scan in deliveries, which required getting up to work extremely early. My favorite  task, however, was working in the kitchen!

I would make all kinds of treats, including caramel apples, cotton candy, Mickey and Minnie cake pops and so many more. Kitchen shifts also gave me a lot of time to talk to my co-workers and get to know them. I absolutely loved my work location, and I wouldn’t have traded it for the world!

As a Cast Member, I received all kinds of cool privileges and benefits. These ranged from discounts on merchandise and at dining locations to free admission into all four parks, plus the two waterparks. When I wasn’t working, you could find me at the parks drinking a slushy through a Mickey straw and watching parades and firework shows. I did everything you could possibly imagine when I visited the parks. I met characters, rode rides, ate lots of food (Disney food is THE BEST) and so much more! It was easily the best part about the entire program. I especially loved when my parents and brothers visited during Spring Break and when my grandparents visited at the end of April. I had the opportunity to take them around my “work place” and give them their very own tour!

There were a few things that happened on my program that I will never forget. First, I had the opportunity to tour one of my favorite rides, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. I got to the park very early in the morning before it opened and was taken on a tour explaining how the ride works and the history behind it. We even got to take pictures in the infamous lobby. I also got to ride it with the lights on right before the park opened for the day!

Another time, the new firework show was set to open that night. However, I had to work that day. I received my second break much earlier than I wanted to, so I was pretty upset. I went into the break room to grab my dinner and looked up just in time to see that the TV was about to broadcast the new show! A couple of my coworkers and I quickly figured out how to turn the sound on, and we sat in the back freaking out and nearly crying as we watched the new show. It was amazing, and I’ll never forget it!

Overall, this program absolutely changed my life. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done; I got very sick a couple of times, I was always exhausted and I got pretty homesick near the end of my program.

However, participating in this program was an experience I’ll never forget. I fell head over heels in love with the Walt Disney Company. Now, I have goals of participating in another Disney College Program, applying for Disney Professional Internships and eventually making Disney a career. I can’t wait to go back!

Here’s my advice to anyone reading this: think about that crazy internship or job that you want so bad but don’t think you’ll ever get, and just apply. I took that leap, and it was the best, most rewarding opportunity I’ve ever experienced. You never know what may happen!

1 Comment

One Response to “Tarleton student talks about time at Disney College Program”

  1. Margaret Tomlinson on October 14th, 2017 1:30 AM

    That was an amazing article! I was too shy in college to ever consider something like you did, but I wish I had! I hope all your wishes come true!!

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