What Is the Disney College Program?

The Disney College Program is competitive, demanding, and a dream come true. Learn what the program entails and how to get involved.
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Published on August 7, 2023
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  • The Disney College Program is a paid internship.
  • There are networking opportunities and educational sessions for career path development.
  • An internship can last one semester or even a full year.
  • Interns balance hard work with a behind-the-scenes look into how the magic is made.

The Disney College Program is a unique and competitive paid internship. It provides college students, regardless of major, the chance to work at Disney's parks and resorts while gaining valuable on-the-job experience. The program typically lasts 5-7 months and includes roles in entertainment, hospitality, retail, and more. Disney even offers its own on-campus housing and transportation services for students.

In addition to housing, there are many important factors students should consider before taking an internship — one being pay. The Disney College program stands out by offering a starting pay rate of $16 per hour, which is slightly more than the average college worker is used to.

What Is the Disney College Program Like?

The Disney College program allows students to gain a mix of classroom learning and working experience. An intern's day-to-day schedule and hours will vary depending on their role. The Disney College Program positions participants in one of its six earning categories, including:

  • Food and beverage
  • Lodging
  • Retail
  • Operations
  • Recreation
  • Entertainment

While there are a variety of roles available, you don't get to choose the role you'll work in.

Every Disney College Program intern must have full availability for work, including days, nights, weekends, and holidays. Participants can expect to work 30-50 hours a week. During peak season, Disney may expect their interns to work more than 50 hours a week. Peak seasons include the spring holiday season, summertime, and winter holidays.

When you aren't working, you can sign up for multi-week instructor-led classes and individual learning sessions covering everything from arts to business management.

All of a participant's hard work comes with some perks. Aside from being paid an above-average hourly rate, students also get exclusive behind-the-scenes looks into Disney operations. Interns can enjoy discounts throughout the Disney parks and resorts and complimentary park visits.

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How Does the Disney College Program Work?

The Disney College Program has both fall and spring sessions you can apply for on their website. While Disney doesn't advertise an application fee, you'll need to pay an enrollment fee if you get the job.

Disney College Program Application

It's important to think ahead when crafting your internship plans, as applications open much earlier than when the program takes place. If you hope to participate in Disney's fall semester, you must apply between January and March. Apply between August and October for the spring.

Disney College Program applicants are required to:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be enrolled in an accredited educational institution and have completed at least one full semester
  • Have unrestricted work authorization

Once you apply, you will be asked to do a web-based interview. If you pass, you'll have to then complete a phone interview. You might have to wait either a few weeks or even a few months to get results.

Disney College Program Acceptance Rate

Disney might be the place where dreams come true, but if you're hoping to participate in the Disney College Program, achieving that dream requires a commitment to academic excellence and extracurricular experience. With thousands of eager students applying to the program every year, the competition is fierce. The Disney College Program acceptance rate currently rests at about 20%.

The good news is that students who are rejected are always welcome to try again when the next round of applications opens up.

Relocating to Work at Disney

Disney College Program interns work on-site and must be able to make the commute. There is on-campus housing available for students who need to relocate to the area or simply want to enjoy living within their community of cast members.

Disney's student housing, known as Flamingo Crossings Village, costs between $191 to $246 per week, depending on the type of apartment you select. There are four participants per apartment. The housing fee includes:

  • Rent
  • Wi-Fi
  • Water
  • Waste disposal
  • Electricity

Length of the Disney College Program

The Disney College Program typically runs 5-7 months — but some students can extend their internship to a full 12 months!

Participants can choose their arrival date based on when they submit their application. Disney encourages students to take any trips, graduations, etc. into consideration before selecting a time.

The fall program's move-in dates are from early August to mid-September, and it runs until January. For the spring program, move-in is from mid-January to mid-February, and it lasts until either April or May. Both sessions offer an Advantage option for the summer months. Spring Advantage participants start with other spring students but stay until August. Inversely, Fall Advantage students can begin as early as May and continue until January.

Should You Apply for the Disney College Program?

The Disney College Program isn't for everyone. It requires effort and a commitment to company culture. Participants will have to balance play, education, and hard work.

Are You a Disney Fan?

Interns at the Disney College program get to pull back the curtain and see how the magic happens. Program participants get free admission to the parks. After working 150 hours, they earn One-Day Park Hopper tickets to share with friends and family.

Students will spend every working hour at Disney parks and resorts. Many of them will even live in Disney housing. This is an amazing opportunity for any fan to eat, sleep, and breathe Disney, all while earning money and gaining work experience. Best of all, you'll be surrounded by people who share the same love you have for the culture.

Is Working at Disney Your Dream?

There are entertainment roles available at the Disney College Program; however, they are limited. Interns are more likely to work at a merchandise store, food stall, or in custodial than they are to work as a character. Since students can't pick their own roles, they have to be open to anything. The Disney College Program might not be a good fit for you if you aren't eager to work there regardless of position.

If you hope to work professionally in other fields at Disney, the program is a great opportunity to get your foot in the door. If you demonstrate excellence and passion during the Disney College Program, then receiving a professional, full-time position afterward is a real possibility.

Are You Ready For the Work?

The Disney College Program is so much more than the iconic cast member uniforms and free days at the parks. The Disney College Program is demanding and can require 50 hours of labor a week.

Plus, participants work in the fast-paced and demanding environment of Disney's parks and resorts. Disney maintains high standards with regard to guest service, requiring their cast members to take care of large crowds while still creating a magical experience for everyone. Since the program offers invaluable on-the-job learning, participants must simultaneously juggle work, training sessions, and individual development opportunities.

Disney College Program Application Tips

Disney advises applicants to pay extra attention to their resumes, ensuring they are grammatically correct and specifically tailored to the Disney College Program. By laying out how their experiences, skills, and achievements align with the roles Disney offers, applicants can increase their odds of acceptance.

While cover letters may not be mandatory for every position, Disney highlights their importance in standing out with recruiters. A well-written cover letter allows applicants to support their resumes by sharing their passion for Disney and demonstrating a genuine connection to the company's values.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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