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Disney College Program students tell their ‘Disney’ story

by Tharin White

Earlier this week, all of the Disney College Program (CP) students at Walt Disney World were told their program was ending early because of the park’s temporary closure. Although they expected to be working for Disney another couple of months at least, they now had days to pack up and head home. The theme parks were closing.

Tharin White at Space Mountain
I was a CP for all of 2017 at Magic Kingdom’s Space Mountain.

CPs make up thousands of the cast members you see daily in the parks. They do everything from park entry greeter, to ride operator, merchandise, food and beverage, custodial and so much more.

Participants of the Disney College Program in Florida primarily live in Disney-made housing locations and take Disney buses to their jobs at Walt Disney World. Every minute of the program is dedicated to living and making the Disney magic guests experience every day.

Many of my friends were affected by this sudden closure of the Walt Disney World Resort. The news was devastating to many CPs as well as full- and part-time cast members. The biggest of those affected are the CPs who quite literally called this place home for the past weeks and months. With the closure of the parks and resorts, and with the safety of all the CPs in mind, Disney ended the program early.

Even though we understand the reasoning behind the end of the program, it’s still heart-breaking to see so many of these hard-working college students be thrown a curveball. This article seeks to highlight many of the students in this incredibly diverse program.

I asked a Facebook page full of 2020 College Participants to answer five questions:
• What was your role (job within the company)?
• When was your program supposed to end?
• What’s your favorite Disney memory (as a guest or cast member) during your time here?
• Where are you from?
• Will you come back once this is all done?

The responses have floored me, with over 330 replies and counting.

Below is an assortment of many of the responses we received. The names are in alphabetical order by first name, since of course Disney is a first name basis company. But I am starting with seven CPs I personally worked with during my time at the company, who had their program ended.


Robin Perry
• Character Attendant – Disney’s Hollywood Studios
• Program end date: May 28th
• Originally from: Festus, MO
• Coming back: Yes, if possible

One of my absolute favorite moments was when we had a family come to meet Darth Vader with their visually impaired daughter and two other kids. Vader took his time to lead the girl up to the screen. He allowed her to feel his chest plate and Lightsaber, which normally is a huge no-no! We let this family have their time with what is usually a very intimidating character.

This was the next step towards a big dream of mine, and I’m not giving up yet. It took me three tries to get accepted. Once I did, my move in date was two days after I graduated college so I had a 16 hour road trip ripping up my life and moving somewhere else to do who knew what. Now I’ve met some of my best friends, and it’s really hard to have to say goodbye.


Amanda Benoit
Merchandise – World of Disney, Disney Springs
• Program end date: July
• Originally from: Thibodaux, LA
• Coming back: Yes

Pin trading is my favorite memory; talking to guests about their vacations, and helping them find that perfect souvenir was my favorite part of any day!

I plan on staying here in Florida for the time being with hopes of getting back with the company soon!


John Ordoyne
Park Greeter – Magic Kingdom
• Program end date: July 30
• Originally from: Thibodaux, LA
• Coming back: Yes

My favorite memory is giving a little princess on her first visit to the Magic Kingdom a sticker sash and her hugging me and crying cause she was so happy!

The main reason I love this company so much is because my whole life I loved entertaining people and making them happy. All I love to do is make people happy so that’s my core belief about this company.


Connor Webber
Character Performer – numerous locations
• Program end date: July 31
• Originally from: North Carolina
• Coming back: Yes

As cheesey as it sounds, my favorite memory of my time working with the company was my last shift. I have never been in a workplace where the morale of every single cast member was so high. Everyone knew we were all in this together and it showed.

Given the opportunity I would 100% come back to work for this company. It was always a dream of mine to work for this company in some capacity at some point in my life and though this was not ideal, I am grateful nonetheless.


Alex Montour
Character Performer – Disney’s Hollywood Studios
• Program end date: July 30
• Originally from: Salt Lake City, UT
• Coming back: Yes

My favorite memory as a Cast Member was when I got to see Chewbacca with two wonderful ladies. They began crying as soon as they hugged him. Chewie asked why they were crying and they said “we love you so much and mean the world to us.” They showed Chewie a picture of their dog which they named after him and said he had died two weeks prior. I couldn’t help but cry because I know what Chewie means to me. Growing up he was was always the best friend I wish I had and now I am able to see him be not only mine, but everyone’s best friend. He can hug and make you feel like you are never alone.

Getting to be a CP was amazing because everything fell in place so perfectly. I have rekindled my love for Disney. I started working for the Disney store in my home town and thought that was a great start. I then started learning about the Disney College Program through work and close friends. I decided I would apply. After getting accepted I auditioned to be in entertainment and things fell so perfectly into place for me to come down. I sold my car and flew down. I fell so deeply in love with my job and knew that this had to be my career and planned to stay and apply for full time. Then the parks closed. However I haven’t lost hope. I am staying and I have high hopes for the future!


Brigitte Pace
Costuming – Star Wars: Launch Bay, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Jedi Training
• Program end date: May 28
• Originally from: Rockford, IL
• Coming back: Yes

Even though I had a mainly backstage role, my favorite part was watching guests interact with characters in Galaxy’s Edge. Seeing the joy characters brought to guests and overhearing stories of what they experienced is something I’ll cherish forever and never forget. This was my second program and I moved to Florida for good. My plan was to stay after my CP ended and transfer to part- or full-time. Of course, now I hope to come back in anyway I can. I’m going to try my hardest to. No part of me was ready to say goodbye to everyone so I hope to can come back and we can pick up right where we left off.


Danielle Schlinz
Character Attendant – Star Wars: Launch Bay, Disney’s Hollywood Studios
• Program end date: May 28
• Originally from: Grand Haven, MI
• Coming back: Yes, if possible

My favorite memory was the day I was told I was getting trained at Star Wars: Launch Bay.

I started my first college program in 2018 and worked at Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom. I worked there until August when I had to end my program early and go home. When I graduated from college in 2019, I thought that was the perfect opportunity to come back. I applied again and wanted to be a character attendant. I was accepted and started as a character attendant, where shortly after, learned I was going to Launch Bay. I started working with Darth Vader and Chewbacca a lot rather than the other characters in the parks and I knew that it was the place I was supposed to be. I fell in love with all the characters and performers that I was working with. I only ever wanted to work in Launch Bay and I didn’t want to go anywhere else. When we were told we would no longer be working with Disney, it broke my heart and I realized I had made a whole new family with those performers. I am very hopeful we will all be able to come back and work for the company once everything blows over.


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Abbi Hill
Transportation – Monorails
• Program end date: July 23
• Originally from: Sandy, UT
• Coming back: Yes

My favorite memory during the program is impossible to pinpoint. It’s a combination of the 2 a.m. Waffle House visits with my monorail family, or the random last minute firework viewings with my roommates and lifetime best friends.

This was my second college program and after my first, I didn’t think I would be back, but my heart never left this place, so I decided to come for a second program. The process of applying and accepting this program was exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time, but also one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. See ya real soon Disney


Alisha Duncan
Merchandise – Main Street East, Magic Kingdom
• Program end date: May 14
• Originally from: Pittsburgh, PA
• Coming back: No

My favorite Disney memory was waiting for our stocker to bring a cookie jar up from our stockroom for a guest one day. We started talking about her visit and story and soon found we both had a love for theatre and stage management. We talked about some our favorite projects we have worked on. She changed topics when it came time to pay and let me know that someone had spilled water in her purse at a restaurant at lunch and it was still wet, so the bills she was handing me were damp. I walked her into the next store and had her pick out a new bag to use for the rest of her trip. Once she found one she loved, we rushed onto Main Street just as the first firework was launched for Happily Ever After. We stood there and watched while we were both in tears. It was a joy to connect with something that she loved and have to the magic to turn her day around completely.


Amanda Schmidt
Fairy Godmother in Training – Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Disney Springs
• Program end date: July 30
• Originally from: Long Island, NY
• Coming back: Yes, if possible

If the opportunity to come back presents it self I would come back in a heart beat, working for this company has shown me what joy is.


Ameliah Knopp
Custodial – Future World, Epcot
• Program end date: July 23
• Originally from: Lynchburg, VA
• Coming back: Yes

I had not been to Disney since I was 4 years old, so I was able to experience everything for essentially the first time and it was everything I could’ve asked for and more. There have been amazing times and terrible times, but I am so thankful for the two months I was able to experience my program. Custodial is my dream role and EPCOT is my home.


Annelisse Garcia
Merchandise – Main Street East, Magic Kingdom
• Program end date: July
• Originally from: Puerto Rico
• Coming back: Yes

I do love all my memories in my program, but I have to say that the best one was my last day. All the cast members working did everything they could for make us have a good last time. And for me, that was amazing of them. I’m going to do everything I can to come back because this is what I love and where I want to keep calling home! See ya’ real soon!


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Carissa Ferguson
Lifeguard – Port Orleans Riverside Resort
• Program end date: May 28
• Originally from: Cincinnati, OH
• Coming back: Yes, after college

My favorite memory was during Hurricane Dorian and I was a part of Hurricane Ride Out crew at Port Orleans. One of our rotations was to interact with guests with Childrens Activities and I was able to color with a few of the younger guests. Jadha was a little girl who was on holiday with her family and was ranting about how her shirt colored outside the lines (she was doing the same thing). Anywho, before she left (and coloring several characters), she gave me her first one which was Duchesses from Aristocats. I kept the drawing through my shift and brought it home a few months later to make sure I don’t lose it. It made me decide to come back for the company right there and then as a career, regardless of my degree.


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Dani Tamas
Park Greeter – Epcot
• Program end date: July 30
• Originally from: Corpus Christi, TX
• Coming back: Yes

My favorite memory is asking little princes & princess for their autographs in a book I kept in my pouch.


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Emilee Athanasia
Character Performer – numerous locations
• Program end date: August 6
• Originally from: Bloomfield, NJ
• Coming back: Yes

Favorite disney memory was when my best friend Pooh took a Make-A-Wish family into a maze in the UK pavilion and got to spread magic! It was truly an unforgettable moment. I’ll never forget that. It was the most beautiful memory ever.

This program has really opened up my heart even more than I already have! The memories, the friendships, the guests and more I will never forget and will truly miss. I have such a strong attachment for Disney, and the Disney College Program has truly been a blessing and has truly been my happily ever after. I will be back, after all, home is where the heart is, and Disney is my heart!


Emily Cole
Character Attendant – Magic Kingdom
• Program end date: May 28
• Originally from: Simsbury, CT
• Coming back: Yes

My favorite memory is spending New Year’s Eve in Pixie Hollow with Tinker Bell. Though time doesn’t move on Neverland, at midnight on the mainland a bunch of attendants, Photopass photographers, and performers found a spot on a hill backstage and watched the midnight fireworks, counting in 2020 together. Even though we didn’t know what this year would entail, it was a magical moment that was once in a lifetime.


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Fabian Soto
Parking – Epcot
• Program end date: July 30
• Originally from: Hollywood, FL
• Coming back: Yes

I loved where I worked. They made it feel like a home away from home. The hardest part of leaving is knowing I would be leaving my cast members behind. I tried my hardest to be the best worker I could be for Epcot Parking and I’m honored to say I worked for them. My last day there, you felt the sadness over the whole parking lot. It was like a monkey on someone’s back. I felt respected and loved by all of my cast members.

I applied four to five times and this is the first time I’ve ever been accepted. I wanted this program like I wanted to breathe. When I got accepted, it felt like the world was coming together and my life started to make sense. This hurt me to my core, but I will come back. I loved all the magic moments I had. The stickers I have out, the smiles I produced, the love I have to every cast member. This program meant the world to me and I truly will miss it. From my roommates to my co workers … Everything was perfect.


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Gabrielle Lovisa
Food & Beverage – Columbia Harbour House, Magic Kingdom
• Program end date: May 14
• Originally from: South Bend, IN
• Coming back: Yes, if possible

As for my favorite memory, it would probably have to be seeing “Happily Ever After” for the first time ever. Getting to watch it side by side with my new friends and seeing my love for Disney come to life in such a way was truly one of the most magical moments of my life.


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Hanna McGhee
Food & Beverage – Main Street Bakery, Magic Kingdom
• Program end date: July 30
• Originally from: Washington State
• Coming back: Yes, if possible

My favorite memories are Chewbacca wiping my tears away and cupping my face on my last day in the parks before having to go home. As well as helping a little girl in line who was really scared to ride Splash Mountain and they waited for me after to tell me she loved the ride.


Hannah Miller
Park Greeter – Epcot
• Program end date: June 11
• Originally from: Australia
• Coming back: Yes

After a major injury in 2017 I was unable to apply for the program at all and it took me well over two years to be physically fit enough to even consider the program (I have broken bones in both of my feet). I was meant to finish on June 11, but was 100% considering extending. My favourite memory honestly, has been spending time with all these amazing, wonderful people and having a good laugh backstage with the gang. I’ve learnt so much from being here and will do whatever it takes to get back.


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Jasmine Brownell
Food & Beverage – D-Luxe Burger, Disney Springs
• Program end date: July 23
• Originally from: Hamden, CT
• Coming back: Yes, if possible

I think my favorite memory of Disney would be my first time walking down Main Street after arriving for my program. I had an immense sense of pride and accomplishment that day.

Before starting this program I was at home at my university wondering where I would go next. I had never thought about the College Program and one day I thought to myself “hey why not?”. I never dreamed I would get in, but the day I got my offer was one of the greatest days of my life. I arrived January 27th and finally felt at home! Going home now breaks my heart since I have grown to know some amazing people that I now proudly call my family.


Joseph Reyes
Custodial – World Showcase, Epcot
• Program end date: July 31
• Originally from: Puerto Rico
• Coming back: Yes

My favorite memory was yesterday, when a little kid told me “Thanks for making magic in the parks, and cleaning all the trash”. He was so sweet, so I made magic for him and I got some ice cream for him and his parents. I hope this situation gets better, because I want to come back and stay here forever!


Julia Thompson
Food & Beverage – Backlot Express, Disney’s Hollywood Studios
• Program end date: July 23
• Originally from: Hamden, CT
• Coming back: Yes, if possible

My favorite Disney memory honestly happened today, on my very last day in the parks as a CP. It just felt like every cast member I encountered today really cared about us, and took the time to show it. Even though it’s a scary time, I feel better knowing the Disney family of cast members is so supportive! It gives me faith.

It was my dream for a decade to do the college program, and I got here on my second try. Now I know I want to come back and everyone will be waiting with open arms.


Jya Holloway
Attractions – Theater East District, Disney’s Hollywood Studios
• Program end date: Aug. 6
• Originally from: China
• Coming back: Yes

I have many favorite memories from my times at Disney as a cast member and a guest. It took me three tries to get into this program, and while this was my second program here, it was already more magical than the first. My happiest memory was also a little sad but it would have to be this Sunday, the last day of my program. So many beautiful moment were created mostly while I was in tears. I cried in front of two proud dads that were signing their kids up for Jedi Training and they both hugged me and said “highs and lows are a part of life but we always get through them”. I cried again as entertainment cast members for the stage held my hand and never once broke character and comforted me. I watched my roommate do her last boat ride as a Jungle Cruise Skipper and cry, thanking the guests for the amazing experience and opportunity and they cried with us. I felt loved and appreciated today.


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Kadena Henderson
Character Performer – numerous locations
• Program end date: July
• Originally from: Phoenix, AZ
• Coming back: Yes

My favorite memory of my program so far was when Chip got to meet a family and he was their baby’s very first character meet and greet ever – it was so cute and sweet.

I am devastated to have to leave early, but know that Disney is truly my home. I hope to return as soon as WDW opens its doors back to us, and will be back making magic sooner than anyone knows!


Kaitlin Carbocci
Front Desk Concierge – Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
• Program end date: July 30
• Originally from: Florida
• Coming back: Yes

I did a DCP in 2019. I worked attractions at Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom. I unfortunately had to cut that program short due to needing surgery. This program, this year, was supposed to be my happily ever after with the company. I am not giving up though! I’m in college with a hospitality major. All of the memories I have made and friends I have made are important to me, so it’s very hard to pick one. I will absolutely come back when all of this is done because Disney is where I would like to be for as long as I can! I loved making magic! Thank you to everyone who I have met and the fun we had, even if it was for two months. I made lifelong best friends in two months. Good luck everyone and stay safe!


Karysta Madera
Food & Beverage – Pinochio’s Village House, Magic Kingdom
• Program end date: May 28
• Originally from: Jonesboro, AR
• Coming back: Yes, if possible

My favorite memory was today when my coworker and I approached these two fellow CP’s who were enjoying a meal, and said, “I just wanted to give you guys a little something because I know how hard everything is right now. From one CP to another, I am so sorry and I wish you the best.” We sobbed and hugged so tight before parting ways. I would love to come back, I love the PVH family and would give up so much for just one more closing shift with my friends.


Katelyn Nussbaum
Food & Beverage – Docking Bay 7 and Cargo, Disney’s Hollywood Studios
• Program end date: July 30
• Originally from: Savannah, GA
• Coming back: Yes, if possible

My favorite memory from my program was any “crackhead” hours my roommates and I had. And my last night being spent in Batuu.

I’ve been working on this for 10 years, ever since my first year of seventh grade. For it to end so suddenly, so short into my program, devastated me. I will attempt to do another program or a professional internship in the future, but the cards right now are not in my favor and I don’t wanna go through the stress and headache of uprooting my life again to go back for such a short amount of time.


Kayla Hallowell
Custodial – Disney’s Hollywood Studios
• Program end date: May 14
• Originally from: Indiana
• Coming back: No, unless for statused position

I have a few really good memories I will forever hold onto. One I will never forget was the last day of work. Hollywood Studios was doing the kiss goodbye. I was standing in the corner of Hollywood and Sunset. I was waving bye, while holding my tears back and trying to keep myself together. I saw a family of four waving back. The dad and daughter walked past me and the mom was with her son after. I saw the son first and he asked his mom “why are they doing this?” I looked at her and she was in tears, unable to give her son an answer. It was at that moment I knew how much Disney really meant to the guests. How much of an impact us cast members made. I am glad to be able to have been apart of the team to work the last day of Hollywood before closure. I am proud to be a cast member that made a few guests days. I’m not usually an emotional person, but leaving Disney has been hard. 


Kayla Tacey
Merchandise – Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
• Program end date: Aug. 6
• Originally from: Hawaii
• Coming back: Yes, if possible

My favorite Disney Memory as a cast member is talking to all of the guests who continue to come back, so that I am able to get to know them better and create a bond throughout their stay at the resort. As a guest, my favorite memory is going out with new friends, new roommates, other coworkers to the parks or different resorts to see the many things Disney has to offer. As someone who lives far from a Disney Park, I took many opportunities to explore the parks and get on the rides I love with the people I love. This job has made me feel better than I have in recent times, and my love for this job shows through the tears I cry as I get ready to fly back home. I just want to thank Disney and all the cast members who made this possible for me.


Kaylee Rogers
Food & Beverage – All Star Music Resort
• Program end date: May 28
• Originally from: Kentucky
• Coming back: Yes

My favorite Disney memory as a cast member was definitely meeting the best people I’ve ever met. My coworkers have now become my family and I truly had the best program because of them.

I will definitely be returning, and hopefully sooner than later. This program is not an easy one by any means, but it was honestly the best thing to ever happen to me. The things I have learned, the people I have met, and the guests I have gotten to create magic for have all made this the best two months of my life. This program isn’t easy, but it is worth it. DCP 20 forever.


Kearsten Anderson
Lifeguard – Animal Kingdom Lodge
• Program end date: Aug. 6
• Originally from: Tumwater, WA
• Coming back: Yes

My favorite memory has to be one night my amazing roommates and I went to Magic Kingdom and we were taking all sorts of pictures. We were having so much fun, we started to offer pictures for other guests. We had all of our phones out with the flashlights on, giving these guests good lighting and I was on the ground getting the best angles and making sure everyone was looking and smiling. These guests were so thankful for the effort we put in for them to have an amazing picture, and we even got asked to take a selfie with a family so they could remember us for taking the pictures of them in the park. It was a magical night and we weren’t even on the clock.


Kelsey Thiel
Lifeguard
• Program end date: July 30
• Originally from: Fort Thomas, KY
• Coming back: Yes

My favorite memory was watching a wish kid learn how to swim for the first time in the Caribbean Beach Fuentes Del Morro Pool!

I first found out about the Disney College Program in February 2010 when I sang at Disney Springs with my choir. From that moment, I knew that this program was something I was going to do. I did my program in 2017 as an Attractions CP in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I worked there until April when my program ended early due to a misunderstanding. I worked for two and a half years trying to get back into the company. I was re-accepted to the program for Spring Advantage 2020. It was the most rewarding feeling knowing that all of my work had paid off. During this program everything seemed to fall into place so perfectly. I absolutely loved my role, my work family and my location. I am beyond grateful to have had this opportunity again and I hope to be back soon making magic!


Kenzie Lackey
Photopass – Disney’s Animal Kingdom
• Program end date: July
• Originally from: Baytown, TX
• Coming back: Yes

My favorite moment while on the program was getting to take pictures of a little girl with autism hugging a character for the first time in her life. It was beautiful and I still tear up thinking about it! I’m for sure coming back as I know for a fact my story is not complete here. This is just a chapter that’s coming to a close!

I graduated from Texas A&M University last May and spent the fall dealing with depression and anxiety over post-grad unemployment life. Getting an offer from Disney changed things. It gave me hope. Working for Disney brought so much joy into my life! I was excited to go into work everyday – even when I was tired, solely because I was passionate about the work I was doing! I was capturing the magic for people to remember for the rest of their lives! It’s something that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life!!


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Lauren Schotten
Merchandise – Tomorrowland, Magic Kingdom
• Program end date: May 14
• Originally from: Hubbard, OH
• Coming back: Yes, if possible

My favorite Disney memories happened in these last two days. I have never felt so much overwhelming love and support from people I’ve never met. All of the cast members were so ready to open their arms to me and make my last two nights as magical as they possibly could. Guests were giving me hugs and letters. And then I got to watch my final Happily Ever After with so many other mourning CPs. It was an experience I’ll never forget. It was absolutely beautiful. I don’t know if I’ll be able to come back once this is all done, but I will absolutely do another program in the future. Unfortunately, I don’t think the near future will be an option for me. I’m so grateful for every single person, cast member, and guest, who made this the best two months of my life. I will miss making magic and pointing people to bathrooms, Space Mountain, and Buzz. It’s not goodbye, it’s see ya real soon.


Lena Hodges
Costuming – Star Wars: Launch Bay, Disney’s Hollywood Studios
• Program end date: May 21
• Originally from: Brookhaven, MS
• Coming back: Yes, if possible

As a guest on my last day as a cast member, I shared a table with a family because all tables were full. They found out I was a CP and we had a great conversation about the program and my plans afterwards. Later that day, I saw them again and their 4-year-old daughter ran up and gave me a hug and said, “hey new friend”. I was then able to give them a FastPass to use wherever they wanted. It just made me happy to make a magic moment for them on my last day.


Liane Fahmie
Custodial – World Showcase, Epcot
• Program end date: July
• Originally from: California
• Coming back: Yes, if possible

I’m deaf, so I communicate in ASL and use a work phone to assist the signing impaired. One day, I was assisting a guest using my phone and a mom asked me if I was deaf. I said yes and she got really excited as she told me about her son who is deaf and autistic. He was nonverbal, but mom said he understood ASL, so I talked to him for a few minutes. I’ll never forget how his face lit up when I introduced myself to him.

Doing the CP was one of my personal goals ever since I first found out about it. I didn’t really think it was an option since I’m deaf, but then I realized I could participate. I applied to do my program after graduation and made the decision to delay grad school. When I got in, I had multiple students at my school telling me they had always wanted to do the DCP, but thought they couldn’t because they were deaf. Two of my friends applied for fall 2020 and both were accepted for attractions. They applied because they saw that I got in.


Lilly Nickels
Attractions – Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid, Magic Kingdom
• Program end date: July 30
• Originally from: Georgia
• Coming back: Yes

My favorite memory of being a cast member is when I was able to make magic for a boy who had never ridden the ride, but loved The Little Mermaid. Seeing how happy he and his family were made me realize why I came to Disney in the first place — to make magic.

Once this craziness passes over, I will absolutely come back. I feel a sense of home and love at Disney like I have never felt anywhere else, and I would come back in a heartbeat.


Lisa Burden
Attractions – Mission Space, Epcot
• Program end date: July 30
• Originally from: Philadelphia, PA
• Coming back: Yes, if possible

My favorite DCP memory was actually at work when a child came up to me and told me my ride was a great ride for torture. As a guest, it was meeting Chewy and him Facetiming my boyfriend from home to spread some magic.


Lexi Mckinney
Merchandise – Discovery Island, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
• Program end date: July 23
• Originally from: Pennsylvania
• Coming back: Yes, if possible

My favorite memory of the park is from years ago when me and my sister were little and Minnie held our hands and walked us out of Chef Mickeys.


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Meg Burke
Food & Beverage – Outdoor Vending, Magic Kingdom
• Program end date: May 14
• Originally from: Buena, NJ
• Coming back: Yes

My favorite Disney memory would have to be when Chip gave me a hug. I was walking to my stand next to Big Thunder Mountain, and I was having a not-so-great day. I guess Chip could tell or just did it out of the kindness of their heart. As I was walking by, they ran up and hugged me really tight. it made my day 100% better.

I joined the DCP because I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do in life and my college was starting to become toxic to my mental health. I needed a break from it all and what better place to boost mental health than Magic Kingdom. Disney has been so therapeutic for me and I’m so upset that it’s over.


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Nadya Medina
Food & Beverage – Pinochio’s Village House, Magic Kingdom
• Program end date: May 14
• Originally from: Texas
• Coming back: Yes, if possible

My favorite moment was when I was working in the kitchens and a few other CP’s and I were singing Disney songs along with trying to remember the choreography for “We’re all in this together”. I originally did not even think I was going to get into this program, but my boyfriend convinced me to do the application and even helped improve my resume. He gave me hope that I would be able to work for a company that makes such an impact in our daily lives. I also had support from my family and friends to go through with this program and they shared my excitement when I was finally accepted. I hope to have that excitement again in the near future.


Natasha Treuman
Custodial – Main Street USA, Magic Kingdom
• Program end date: July 23
• Originally from: Long Island, NY
• Coming back: Yes

My new favorite memory was being able to do my first water Mickey on stage (also my last shift) and every guest standing around cheering me on and taking pictures. I’d love to come back. Disney has been a home to me since I was a kid. I’m not ready for my time as a cast member to be over.


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Patricia Sigmond
Merchandise – Disney’s All Star Movies Resort
• Program end date: August 6
• Originally from: Broomfield, CO
• Coming back: Yes, for a statused job

My favorite memory is a Cast compliment Tweet and photos being taken by guests.

You’ll hear people say I have apply three times, six times or twice before getting in. Have you heard of someone that has been accepted three times and then was told they can’t work for Disney, then participated? My first program was in spring 2017. I got termed because my roles didn’t work out for me, which can happen. I was so happy when I got into program for second time for fall 2018. I was hoping to at least extend. I got the acceptance for that and accepted ’til July, but during my whole program, I was sick. I did go to doctors and all, but never got better. This program, I decided to apply, but just interview because I have interviewed and failed before. This time around I knew there was no way I could be let go early. I’ve done merchandise for Disney before and I excelled in that. With this happening, it made me more upset to be leaving without being there like I planned. It feels like DCP won’t ever let me stay. My hope for the future is to work once again for Disney, but hopefully stay the whole time.


Patsy Paredes
Attractions – Theater East District, Disney’s Hollywood Studios
• Program end date: May 28
• Originally from: Houston, TX
• Coming back: Yes

My favorite Disney memory as a guest had to be today when the entertainment manager for Jedi Training let me start/end the show in the tech booth. As a cast member, one day I went all out for a family that I completely fell in love with. Their son, who was probably only 9 years old, wanted to tip me. Of course I said no, but I had imagined that the parents sent him with the money to give to me. Turns out, the little boy begged his mom for money and even told her “I’ll pay you back! I love her so much she’s amazing”. Of course I went all out even more for them. LOL!

I went through a lot a few months before the program started. I was in a very abusive relationship that ended right before the program started. Of course, I was devastated because I thought this person was right for me. I honestly thought my life was over, but what kept me going were my parents reminding me of the amazing opportunity I got to work at my dream company. I never realized how much the DCP would save my life. It changed me in the best ways possible and has lead me to meet the most important people in my life now.


Payten Smith
Food & Beverage – ABC Commissary, Disney’s Hollywood Studios
• Program end date: May 14
• Originally from: Bellevue, OH
• Coming back: Yes

I applied on a whim one day in October 2019 and was accepted only a week later. I had no idea what to expect, considering I have never been to Walt Disney World before, or any Disney park for that matter. This program, my roommates, and my coworkers meant the world to me and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I love it here and I will never stop praising my experience and The Walt Disney Company.


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Rebecca Rushing
• Merchandise – Magic Kingdom
• Program end date: July 23
• Originally from: Louisiana
• Coming back: Yes

It took me four tries to finally make it into the program. Honestly, my favorite memory was watching the fireworks for the last time snuggled up to my coworkers.


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Sarah Vredenburg
Character Attendant – Magic Kingdom
• Program end date: Aug. 6
• Originally from: Grand Rapids, Michigan
• Coming back: Yes

My favorite memory as a CP was with the Country Bears, being able to hand out Mickey ice cream bars to kids and see the smiles on their faces.

I had been planning on applying for the DCP since I was a little girl. I researched for years, and watched countless YouTube videos about the program to prepare myself for this moment. In 2019, my mom passed away from cancer and I made it my mission to work for Disney so I could not only make her proud, but so I could live each moment to its fullest. I am deeply saddened my time as a character attendant has came to an end, but I am so thankful I got to come into work everyday and love what I do. I finally found a place where I fit in and I hope that soon I can return.


Serina Stacholy
Merchandise – Emporium, Magic Kingdom
• Program end date: May 28
• Originally from: Atlanta, GA
• Coming back: Yes

My favorite memory of my program happened during my last shift. My leaders made it a point to let my work family watch Happily Ever After on Main Street. When guests realized who we were, they started cheering for us.


Shar Wright
Food & Beverage – Epcot / Guest Flow – Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge / Outdoor Vending – Magic Kingdom
• Program end date: May 28
• Originally from: Pittsburgh, PA
• Coming back: Yes, for a statused job

I think my favorite memory from my program (there are so many!) would be meeting a girl who was about my age and her parents in Galaxy’s Edge. It was her birthday trip, and she had just built a droid and was having photos taken with it. We began talking about how her trip was going and what she would name her droid when I suggested she name it after me. My name did end up making it as a middle name and we took family photos with me, her, and the droid. She was just excited and entranced by the land and it reminded me of the first time I had ever experienced it. I talked to the family for maybe 20 minutes before we finally parted ways with a “May the Spires keep you!”

Working for The Walt Disney Company, Disney World in particular, has been my dream since I was a kid! I remember coming here for vacation and loving it so much my sister and I decided that once a year it would be our sister trip vacation spot! I plan to be surrounded by Disney magic for quite a long time once I graduate.


Stephanie DeAngelis
Attractions – Fantasyland West, Magic Kingdom
• Program end date: August 6
• Originally from: Rhode Island
• Coming back: Yes, if possible

My favorite Disney memory would be working on the loading side of Peter Pans Flight, where you make a hand gesture as if sprinkling pixie dust across the lap bar that then came down automatically. But because it seemed as if I was magic and I had pixie dust, I would watch so many guests reactions to this. And it absolutely would make my day. The children would look to their parents and say “she’s magic” or “where did she get that pixie dust?” It filled me with joy every time I was there.


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Terri Sitton
Character Attendant – Magic Kingdom
• Program end date: May 28
• Originally from: Springfield, IL
• Coming back: Yes, if possible

My favorite Disney memory is when a little boy met Mickey Mouse and as he was leaving, he told Mickey, “bye”. This is typically normal, but not for this kiddo. His mom exclaimed with happiness and shock because her son is nonverbal and she rarely, if ever, hears him speak. It felt really special and important for me to be there to witness that moment. It really proved to me that Disney magic extends past any and all language barriers.

I didn’t become familiar with the Disney Parks until 2016 when I was 19 years old. I decided I wanted to work at Walt Disney World, so I applied for the program after hearing about a friend’s experience. I was accepted for fall 2017 as a seater at Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom. I loved this location, my fellow CP’s, my role, and being a part of the magic at Disney. Unfortunately, I was in my junior year of university and needed to finish school. I came back for a summer alumni 2018 program as a seater at Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom (my true home) and did not have the best of times that summer. But I got close with my roommates and stuck it out and was determined to come back to the company after I’ve graduated and I was able to get my dream role.

I graduated in May 2019 and was moving back to Orlando for a third time in August 2019. I was starting my third DCP in one of my dream roles, character attendant. And my heart was/is set on staying here. So I packed up my car in Illinois with the intent of not driving back for many years to come.


These numerous College Program participants represent just a handful of the thousands of CPs that worked daily at Walt Disney World. If you were a CP for the 2020 spring timeframe and your name is not shown here, please comment below so others can read your story as well. Thank you to all who helped create the magic. See ya real soon!

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17 comments

Taylor Grantham March 18, 2020 - 11:18 am

Hello, my name is Taylor! I’m from a small town near Springfield, Missouri called Nixa. I arrived the week before the shut down so I never got to find out my placement at the parks. I do know I was working attractions at Animal Kingdom though! My program was supposed to end the last day of July. I had sacrificed so much to get to this program, but I would do it all again. I love Disney and it had been my lifelong dream to work for the company. I switched my major, pushed off graduation, and left behind all of my family and friends to be here. My favorite memory of Disney was when I got to meet Mickey and Minnie for the 1st time! They hugged me and told me they were so thankful for the magic I had come to help make for our guests. Even though it’s sad to leave such a wonderful program, I would love the chance to come back.

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Tharin White March 18, 2020 - 11:26 am

Thank you so much for sharing your story! Please come back and try again. I know the immense work it takes to get in the program and appreciate all the effort you have put forth so far.

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Faith March 18, 2020 - 11:50 am

My name is Faith and I was a guest flow cast member working at Hollywood Studios for the Spring 2020 program. My program was supposed to end May 14, but ended 2 months early. I have a few stand out memories. My favorite as a cast member was when a young girl came over to me and a couple of the people I was working with and gave us a thank you note and told me to read it since it was for everyone. She told me to keep it though and I still have it. My favorite as a guest was when I was at Crystal Palace and tigger sat down with me and a few of my friends and ate with us. It was the highlight of my day at Magic Kingdom. I’m originally from Maryland, so I don’t think I’ll be able to return to finish this program, but I definitely want to do another program in the future, probably after I graduate. I learned so much about myself during this program, and even though at times things were tough, I still had a lot of great times too. I made a bunch of great friends that I will have for the rest of my life and a bunch of incredible memories that I will never forget. I had some incredible people that I worked with which made coming to work really fun and it really didn’t feel like a job, more like us having fun. This program is something I will never forget and I encourage everyone to do it of they have the opportunity to. I’m going to miss everyone I worked with and all of my friends so much, but I will see everyone real soon!

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Theresa March 18, 2020 - 11:52 am

Front desk concierge at Coronado Springs
May 14th end date
Grand Rapids, MI
I wont be able to come back via the survey but plan on reapplying next year after I graduate

My favorite memory is meeting my best friend on the program. We spent every waking hour together and he took me to all the parks because I’ve never been before and I took him to Universal. While we understood the closing we were absolutely heartbroken because hes from New Zealand so we dont know when we’ll get a chance to see each other again and thought we would have until June to have to part ways.

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Klo March 18, 2020 - 11:57 am

Hey friends! My name is Klo and I was a character attendant in EPCOT. I come from Quincy, IL and I moved to Orlando for my college program at the beginning of February. Having to leave was incredibly difficult; EPCOT was my home and my favorite place to be.
My favorite memory comes from a night I was with Mickey in the Pixar Short Film Festival building. That location does not have lots of guests visiting at night, so when a little boy named Charlie who had come to see Mickey earlier that day came back, the character attendants (there were several of us there) decided to do something extra special. Charlie and Mickey played hide and go seek with us blueberries! We all hid around the room while Mickey and Charlie tried to find us. I love this specific moment because I know that Charlie’s mom will never forget when that happened because, as small as it sounds, it was truly a magical moment for all of us.
I am missing Disney World so much right now, but I know I will be back real soon!

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Taylor Griffin March 18, 2020 - 11:59 am

Hi!

I’m Taylor, and I worked at Epcot Future World Custodial. My program was set to end May 28th, after which I had every intention of going part-time or full-time.

My favorite Disney memory had to be my very last day as a guest at Epcot, the last day the parks were open. People were overwhelmingly kind and generous – my friends and I received free desserts, immediately fast passes, and tons of magical moments. As sad as that day was, it was beautiful, too. It was a bittersweet final testament to the goodness of my fellow cast members. I cried and hugged so many people I’ve lost count. Not to mention the countless coworkers and strangers who, without hesitation, offered me their homes during this time. I got to end my night seeing something on Journey into Imagination I had previously believed was a myth, and watched Epcot Forever for the last time with my best friends. Nothing brings people together like hard times, and I will remember that day for as long as I live.

I’m originally from Wappingers Falls, New York, but I’ll be back, without hesitation.

When I applied for the college program, it was as someone who didn’t know what was ahead after graduation, who loved Disney as a kid, and who wanted a new adventure. I was shocked to find that I had made the most incredible friends (many of whom have dropped everything to help me right now) and to have found that I want to stay with this company and grow within it. New York is a long way from Florida for a homebody like me, but this experience helped me so much more than I could’ve ever imagined. I was devastated to learn that I’d have to leave, but I’m just going to come back as soon as I’m able. This is by no means goodbye.

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Matt Roseboom March 18, 2020 - 12:07 pm

Now you have our interest in what you saw in Journey Into Imagination …

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Hailey Pulliam March 18, 2020 - 1:38 pm

My name is Hailey Pulliam and I was a photopass photographer in Hollywood Studios. My program was supposed to be from 1/13-7/23, and then I was gonna go PT and eventually FT and live here and work here until I physically couldn’t anymore ( one day in the very far future ). In the short 2 months that I got to be here, I experienced COUNTLESS memories. To be completely honest though, I have to say that my favorite memory was from yesterday ( March 15th AKA the last day of park operations ). I have this crazy amount of love for Daisy and Donald, who are my absolute favorites, so one of my other CP photopass friends knew this, and traded shifts with me so that I could work in Hollywood and Vine; the character dining, in Hollywood Studios, which includes Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy. Obviously everyone was upset because, CP or not, it was the last day for a while for everyone. And so I think everyone was feeling a little emotional, to say the least. It wasn’t very busy in there, so we all had some extra time to talk and hang out and interact and have fun. The character at the front that people get to take pictures with when they first walk in changes every season, so for spring time, Daisy is front and center. Let me just say, she was AMAZING. She’s so sassy, so sweet, and very good at being #1, right alongside Donald. And all of the characters were so loving, and made sure to create some extra special magic for me. Minnie would give me a hug every time she walked past. Goofy would stop and just be himself for a minute and make me laugh. Donald kept bringing me stickers throughout the day, and have cute little moments with Daisy and I. And Mickey would keep coming over and hanging out for a little while and made sure I was smiling. So to sum it all up, my favorite memory of being here was just March 15th as a whole. As sad as I wanted to be, every single character attendant, captain, the other photopass photographer, and the characters, made sure that I was having a very magical last day. Not to mention afterwards, they let us stay in Hollywood Studios until the very last second ( since it had been blocked out for several months ). Yesterday, as a whole, meant so much more to me than I’ll ever be able to describe in words.
I’m originally from Charlotte, NC. I won’t be going home right now, because I have faith that this is where I’m meant to be. Disney truly is the happiest place on earth, and not just for its guests, but for its cast members as well. I keep telling myself that this isn’t the end, and I really don’t believe it is.

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Morgan March 18, 2020 - 1:46 pm

Hi! I’m Morgan. I’m from Broomfield, Colorado. I’ve been wanting to work for Disney world on Main Street since I was 5 years old walking down Main Street USA. When I found out the college program was an option I looked into it a lot, I applied 3 times and got accepted on my 4th time applying. My original program was Spring Advantage from Jan 21 – July 30. During my first month of my college program I was working in magic kingdom on Main Street at the ice cream parlor. For the second month I was deployed to Be Our Guest. I had a blast working at both locations for some time making magic for guests of all ages. Once everything is cleared up I will absolutely go back to the Walt Disney company continuing to make magic for everyone! I enjoyed my job more then everything. Thank you to Disney, my family, and all my friends for making my dreams come true and for being my support system through the troubles of getting back home. I have so many favorite memories from working with the Walt Disney company, so many to choose my number one favorite. As I told Mickey, this isn’t a goodbye, I’ll be back no matter how long it takes.

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Kaylee Goral March 18, 2020 - 2:57 pm

My name is Kaylee Goral and I was a merchandise cast member at the Artist Palette at Saratoga Springs. I am from Bristol, CT and my original end date was supposed to be May 14. I didn’t extend because I had things that I needed and wanted to do at home after May 14th but, I 100% planned to come back and work part time or full time at Disney and I still do. My favorite memory from this program was one night while I was working a little girl, maybe 8 years old, and her mom came into the store and she wanted to pin trade. She traded some pins with me and she was looking at our pin board and was so excited trading. I could tell she loved pins and trading. After a few minutes of pin trading her mom went to get food and her dad came over. As she was finishing her last trade, I told her I had something special for her and to wait right there. I came back over to her with a tinkerbell pin that says where dreams come true. This is a pin that isn’t sold in our stores but cast members can use as a magical moment. I showed her the pin and explained to her that it was special because she couldn’t buy it in a store and had to get it from a cast member. She was so excited, she started jumping up and down and hugged me. Her dad asked if she could take a picture with me and of course I said yes. Seeing the look on her face reminded me of why I wanted to be here. The long nights could be hard but, those magical moments with guests made the job more than worth it. She put the pin on her lanyard and went up to everyone in the store to show them her special pin. I first came to Disney World when I was 4 years old and I fell in love instantly. I wanted to move into Cinderella’s castle. As I got older, I realized I couldn’t move into the castle, but, I could be a cast member and help make the magic that I experienced as a guest. I wanted this program so badly that I broke down in tears when I found out I actually got accepted. This job was a dream come true and I am so sad that it is ending early. But, it wont be the end for me. I will come back to make more magic.

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Brooke Geromini March 18, 2020 - 3:21 pm

My name is Brooke and I was a CP in Hollywood Studios in Animation Courtyard Attractions! I worked at Voyage of the Little Mermaid and Disney Junior Dance Party! I very much plan on coming back as soon as possible. One of my favorite parts of everyday was seeing the kid’s reactions to seeing Mickey come out at the end of the Dance Party. The children would scream and start cheering so loudly, and it made me realize how much happiness this mouse brings to guests. Watching kids dance alongside the Junior characters always made me happy, and giving out stickers with their favorite characters on them was an added bonus! I am forever thankful for my program, even if it did end before July.

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Christina Bass March 18, 2020 - 5:24 pm

My name is Christina Bass and my role was attractions in Hollywood Studios. I was guest flow in front of Rise of the Resistance and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. My program was originally going to end on May 14th, and then when summer extensions were out I applied. I got accepted to extend and would’ve stayed till July 23rd. I am from Oklahoma and this was an amazing decision I made to move to Florida and live on my own for the first time. I applied at least 4 times in order to have this experience. My favorite memory was when all of my roommates got together for breakfast at Be Our Guest restaurant because sometimes we hardly ever see or hung out with each other. My program did cut short but at least I got to experience this program with my amazing roommates, friends, and coworkers! I will definitely come back and do a full college program once this is all over!

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Kathy March 18, 2020 - 7:48 pm

Hello my name is Kathy Wertzler and my role was quick service food and beverage at animal kingdom, I was supposed to originally be at typhoon lagoon for my program but since it was down for refurbishment I was deployed. My original departure date was supposed to end may 14th but I had the opportunity to extend until the end of July as a lifeguard:) sadly my program came to an end but I would not change it for the world. It has been a dream of mine to come work for Mickey Mouse himself and make magic for other guests, I am from Minnesota and this was an amazing decision I made to move to Florida and live on my own for the first time. My favorite memory was when all of my roommates got together and went resort hopping and rode the skyline for the first time. Another memory I enjoyed was making magical moments for multiple guests. My program did get cut short but at least I got to experience this program with my amazing roommates, friends, and coworkers! I hope I am able to come back and do the full program in the future!

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Faith March 19, 2020 - 10:06 am

My name is Faith, and I got to work as a Skipper at the World Famous Jungle Cruise. My program was supposed to end July 30th. Picking a favorite memory is hard, but the magical moment that kickstarted many wonderful memories was the moment I found out I’d be a Skipper (after months of waiting!). I am originally from Cumberland, RI, and unless God gives me a hard “No,” I am absolutely coming back, even if it has to wait until after I graduate.

I knew for a long time that I wanted to do the program at some point. In preparation for a Disney trip a few years back (2017), I would listen to DPark Radio all the time. I remember hearing an entire Jungle Cruise spiel (I now know from Disneyland) and hearing the jokes and thinking, “Wow, these are terrible… I love it!” I told my recruiter I wanted to be a Skipper, despite having never ridden the ride within memory. By some lucky chance, I got to fulfill a dream I didn’t know I had, even just for a little bit. I can’t wait to get on those botes again. ❤️

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Alivia Schulz March 19, 2020 - 2:38 pm

Hi my name is Alivia Schulz. I worked at Epcot at Journey into Imagination, Magic Eye Theatre, and cleaned 3D glasses (for 3 out of the 4 parks). My program end date was supposed to be May 14th. My favorite memory was having game nights and after work tacos at Mexa’s with my work family. As well as making magical moments for our guests. My all time favorite magical moment was when there was a family that came to celebrate their parents 50th anniversary. I was able to bring the happy couple behind the ropes to take pictures at the reception desk and write their anniversary in the calendar ❤️ I’m from Wisconsin and drove all the way down for this amazing opportunity 🧀 I’m hoping to come back whenever the parks reopen, but we will have to see when that’ll be.

This past year has been the most difficult year for my family, friends, and I. I lost both my boyfriend and dad within 5 months of eachother. On a whim I reapplied to Disney and applied into 2 nursing clinicals. Was accepted to all 3, but I wanted to bring joy to others in hopes to bring joy back into my life as well. Even though it was ended short. I’m so glad I was able to experience the DCP. I’ve made life long friends from all over the world. We got this guys! Just remember to keep on swimming 🐠

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Jennie March 19, 2020 - 7:07 pm

My name is Jennie Quiles and I was a QSFB cast member at Port Orleans Riverside. My program was set to end on May 14th. I’m from NJ so The traveling is a bit easier than a lot of people who came from other parts of the country. Working for Disney is something I’ve dreamt of doing since I was little and this program is something i learned about 5 years ago. It took two tries but I finally got it! My major is hospitality and tourism management, so this program is perfect for me. Hopefully sometime in the future I’ll be able to return and make magic for more families.
One thing I learned on this program is that the guest can make just as much magic for you as you can for them. On my second day of training I was in the bakery of our food court and a little girl whispered in her dads ear and then her dad handed me a little Minnie Mouse. He looked at me and said “she made this before we came and she wanted to give it to someone who deserved it.” I was so nervous when my shift started but that one guest interaction pushed me through my day and kept me going.

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Bernadette March 19, 2020 - 8:38 pm

My name is Bernadette and I was a lifeguard at the Wilderness Lodge. My program was supposed to be from January 27 to May 14. My favorite memory as a cast member was working at the pool and meeting a little girl named Bernadette. It’s not a very common name especially in younger generations. This little princess was so happy to see her name on a Disney name tag. I talked to her and her siblings all night and by the end of the night they had asked if I would be working the next day and I was not but I was working the last day of their vacation. They woke up early to come to the pool before their flight just to come see me. I let princess Bernadette take a picture holding my name tag, and she asked if I could be in the picture with her. It melted my heart and showed me the difference you can have on someone’s holiday. You can make magic in any role whether it’s lifeguarding or attractions or even quick service. At the end of the day we create happiness, and that’s why I applied to the Disney College Program. Yes it is a great opportunity in your career, but it’s also a great opportunity to become who you’re meant to be. Disney became my home and showed me what true happiness is and what I deserve. I was hesitant to apply to the program because of past experiences going away to school and being bullied. Once I got over this fear and decided to take a chance on myself, I found nothing but love for my Disney family and for me. I know one day I will return and I cannot wait for that day to come. I am heart broken at the loss, but the gain was way greater and the future gives me hope. Never stop searching for that happily ever after, thank you Disney for changing my life for the best❤️

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