During my 2nd year of college, I was starting to get bored. I enjoyed going to school and learning, but I needed a change. I didn’t know exactly what to do but I knew I had to do something different. During the month of October 2003, I started to see flyers posted on campus saying that the Walt Disney Company would be coming soon looking for interns. I’m not sure why, but that peaked my interest. About two weeks later a couple of my friends and I attended the WDW (Walt DisneyWorld) presentation.
The presentation was very good. I figured what the hell; I might as well apply for this internship and see what happens. A week later I had my interview. The interview went well. I was told that I would hear something by the middle of November. After the interview, I told my friends that I knew I had the job and that I likely would leave school to take advantage of this opportunity.
I received a package from WDW a week before Thanksgiving. It was a letter and a packet congratulating me for being chosen as an intern for the Spring 2004 program. I was happy and ready for this experience. The only thing was that I couldn’t get credit for the internship with my school. That didn’t deter me, though. I was ready for a changeI arrived in Orlando, Florida on January 14th, 2004. At the time, Disney had three apartment complexes for housing. They were Vista Way Apts, Chatham Square, and The Commons. I was assigned to live at Vista Way Apts in a three bedroom apt. It wasn’t too bad. It was just like living in a college dorm again.
The first couple days were orientation. They gave us a tour of the Magic Kingdom. We also found out where we would be working and exactly what you would be doing. My job was called Merchantainment. I worked in the camera shop in Exposition Hall which is located on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. I also worked in the strollers shop as well. The job was pretty easy. I worked the cash register, stocked items and talked to customers most of the time. I eventually started working in the delivery services department. My job there was to pick up packages in the different areas of the park and bring them to the front entrance so customers wouldn’t have to carry them.
Disney provided transportation for the interns if they didn’t have a car. The buses took us to work, to the store and a few more random places. They had a pretty good schedule from what I can remember.
The WDW college program was a paid internship, but you could hardly tell. We were paid $6.25 per hour. We also had rent taken out of paycheck WEEKLY. I didn’t really have a chance to save much money at all.
In my opinion, we had great benefits working at Disney World. The interns had the chance to go to the four main parks ( Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios) for free whenever we wanted. We received discounts from a lot of local businesses in the area. We also had free admission to the clubs at Pleasure Island on Thursday which was college night and on Mondays. (Sadly Pleasure Island doesn’t exist anymore. They shut down all the clubs in 2008.)
My program was originally supposed to finish up in May. I enjoyed living and working in Florida so much that I extended my period for two additional months. It was a life changing experience. I had a chance to work with people from all over the world. Not only did students come from all fifty states to participate in the program, but they came from other countries to intern at Disney World as well.
Below are my personal pros and cons of working of my Walt Disney World Internship.
I enjoyed the opportunity to live and work in Florida. Orlando is a beautiful diverse city.
I had the chance to meet and befriend people I usually wouldn’t talk to at the time. I still talk to a lot of my fellow interns 9 years later.
The company. After working there, I have a soft spot for Disney.
It gave you a glimpse of the real world. It’s not always easy but with discipline and hard work you can make things happen.
The benefits. As a 20-year-old I couldn’t get enough of going to Pleasure Island every Thursday lol.
The pay was too low. I guess I can be happy we got paid at all.
Roommate problems. I didn’t have any major problems with my roommates but I have heard horror stories from other interns.
I don’t think Disney should have charged us weekly for rent.
If I had the chance to go back in time, I would do the WDW program again. Those were seven of the best months in my life. Have you participated in the college program? If so, how was your experience?