When I tell people that I worked at Disney they usually either think I’m crazy or ask how they can do it too. Unsurprisingly, it’s really competitive and the criteria to apply are quite strict. So I’m going to go through the types of programmes you can complete and the requirements for each, and then share some of my application tips. You never know – this could be your first step towards living and working in Orlando!
Disney’s Cultural Exchange Program
Work in nearly any job in any part of Disney for around 10 weeks of summer.
This is the program I completed last year so I’ve got first-hand experience with applying. I worked in Quick Service Food & Beverage in a large restaurant in Animal Kingdom, but my flatmates were doing everything as varied as selling merchandise, operating attractions, and even performing.
To apply, you have to be a student currently studying at University and have UK residency. However, a lot of countries around the world also send students over, so try to find the recruiters in your country. Applications usually open in August to work in Disney the following summer, so it’s almost a year from first applying to flying out.
Disney’s Cultural Representative Program
Work in your representative country in Epcot for 12 whole months of Disney magic.
So, if you’re from the UK, you’ll work at the UK pavillion at World Showcase in Epcot. As the name suggests, you represent your country by sharing your culture with people visiting Disney while working in one of the themed shops or restaurants.
Though I haven’t done the program myself, I know people that are doing the program or are in the process of applying for it. It sounds really tough to get onto, but I’ve heard reliable rumours that you stand a much better chance of being selected if you’re working either in a restaurant or a shop when you apply. Applications open twice per year, and it’s also likely to be 12 months from when you first send off your application to when you board a plane.
Tips for applying:
- Emphasise how you will benefit and enjoy the cultural aspect of the program. After all, the main point is to learn about different people from around the world and share your heritage with other people.
- Never mention the perks! Even though unlimited entry to the parks is the best perk ever, don’t mention it in your application because recruiters will think that you see the program as a holiday, when in fact it can be more difficult than working in the UK.
- Think about why you want to work for the Walt Disney Company in particular. There are so many things that set this company apart from others, so mention a few that mean a lot to you.
- Show that you’re prepared to work hard – and that you understand the job won’t be a walk in the park. It will be stressful, hectic, and physically demanding.
- Prior experience is incredibly useful, but it’s on a par with your personality, so make sure you demonstrate both sides of yourself.
While some of these tips are a bit doom and gloom, the program is not. Yes, it’s hard work, the hours can be long and often your role can be repetitive or undemanding mentally, but it is still one of the best things I’ve done in my life. Nothing, to me, will ever compare with being able to get changed and go into Animal Kingdom after work to catch the last showing of the Lion King, ride Expedition Everest a few times and grab some food at the Yak & Yeti quick service restaurant. You’ll make fast friends with people with similar interests and life outlook to yourself. And, most importantly, you become a part of the magic making machine that is Walt Disney World.
If you live in the UK, check out Yummy Jobs‘s website, as they’re the recruiters in this country. They hold pre-selection events, and then official Disney recruiters usually come in for the final interviews.
Good luck if you decide to apply! Leave a comment if you have any questions and let me know how you get on. I’m going to do more posts about my experience of the program itself, as well as interview tips, so keep checking back.