The Disney College Program allows college students (or recent college graduates) to spend a semester at the Walt Disney World Resort, living near the theme parks and resorts in company-sponsored housing, working at the resort, and taking classes or earning internship credit. The program is easily one of the most popular internships in the hospitality and tourism industry, and its popularity has only continued to grow over its 40 year history.
The program can be an extremely rewarding experience, offering the unique opportunity to “live, learn, and earn” at the Walt Disney World Resort. It does however come with a lot of hard work, and depending on your expectations, and your opinions on the current state of Walt Disney World and the Disney College Program’s reopening, it may not be for everyone. Here are some things we think you should consider if you are thinking of applying to the Disney College Program this year:
First things first, the Disney College Program is currently only available at the Walt Disney World Resort, for students attending a college or university in the United States. While it is possible this could change, as we are expecting an announcement from Disney on the next round of applications soon, Disney International Programs, the Disney Culinary Program, and the College Program at the Disneyland Resort have not yet started back up since they were paused at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Disney did mention in their initial announcement of the program’s return that those internships would be coming back at a later date, but this update is the last we’ve heard on the topic.
If you are interested in applying for the Disney College Program at Walt Disney World this year, the next thing we could consider is which role you would like to work. While we are hopeful that the next round of applications will include more roles than current College Program participants (CPs) were able to apply for, we do not expect every role previously offered to be available again at this time. For instance, past programs allows applicants to try for roles like Vacation Planner and Transportation (including monorail greeters) however these roles were not available in 2021 and they may not be available this year, too.
We would also consider the cost of participating in the Disney College Program, noting that last year’s programs and housing fee (which is required to accept the internship) was $415-435, and while this includes your first two weeks of rent, the cost of housing after this period (based on 2021 pricing) ran $175-235 depending on the number of roommates, bedrooms, and bathrooms in your apartment. CPs are guaranteed 30 hours/week of work and rent is automatically deducted from their paycheck, but you can do the math to see if the financial obligation of a Disney College Program makes sense for you at this time.
Lastly, we hate to mention this, but Guests at the Walt Disney World Resort have been particularly difficult since the parks have begun reopening. CPs typically get the “worst” hours often working late nights, and any role on the program will be very front line, and will involve interacting with Guests who may not be on their best behavior. We hate to discourage anyone from doing the program for this reason, but would phrase it this way– If you hated enforcing indoor masking at your job at home, you will likely hate it more at Walt Disney World.
On a positive note, the Disney College Program is an incredible opportunity that does wonders for ones’ resume. If you’ve ever dreamed of working at Walt Disney World but aren’t sure where to start, or you know the role in the company you’d like to end up in, you really should give the Disney College Program a try. Moreover, you only have a limited time to do the Disney College Program, where you must be in college or within a year of graduation, and the program has gotten very competitive, so if it’s a dream of yours we would still recommend applying this year. The entire Disney Programs setup was also revamped when the Disney College Program relaunched last year, and when the new Flamingo Crossings housing complex opened, and the enhancements to CP-exclusive events and offerings look like so much fun!
We are currently waiting on the details for the next round of applications in terms of what will change with roles offered and housing fees, and we will be back here on Disney Fanatic with an update as soon as we have one.