What is the Disney College Program?

Did you grow up going to Disney parks in California and Florida? Or perhaps you grew up watching Disney movies and shows? If you love everything Disney, you may just want to consider adding the Disney College Program to your resume – especially if you dream about working there. It’s a type of paid internship that can even lead to a full-time job.

What is the Disney College Program?

The Disney College Program is a type of paid internship that gives students and recent college graduates experience in the field while also offering seminars, classes, and shadowing opportunities. Participants can work in several areas of the parks, both in Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. 

Three educational formats are available for students to choose from including

  1. Spotlight On. This is a focus on business, marketing, costuming, entertainment, and other areas of operation in the organization.
  2. Disney Exploration Seminar. These classes focus on several different areas of study including leadership, animal sciences, event operations, and more.
  3. Discover Disney. This format is about the hospitality sector of the organization, mainly the organization and management of the resort.

Quick Facts About the Disney College Program

Here are just some other quick facts you’ll want to know about the Disney College Program including how long it lasts, what roles are available, and where you’ll be living!

  • Program roles include Operations, Entertainment, Lodging, Food and Beverage, Retail/Sales, and Recreation.
  • Students will be working the front lines during this program and likely be interacting with guests.
  • You can continue your education at your college while you participate.
  • The program lasts between 5 to 9 months, but you are welcome to extend your stay and participate for additional semesters.
  • There are four apartments available for students. Rent is required and some restrict alcohol use.

What are the Pros and Cons of the Program?

There are notable benefits and downsides to the Disney College Program.

We’ll cover the pros first:

  • You gain on-the-job experience. The Disney College Program isn’t all about classes – you’ll be gaining real-life experience that can look amazing on your resume.
  • It could lead to a career at Disney. About 5% stay on with the company!
  • You’ll get several benefits. These can include free admission to the parks, attending free classes, food discounts, merchandise, some cruises, and more.

There are downsides, of course, too:

  • It can be grueling. This is especially the case if you are attending school at the same time. You’ll be working long hours (30 to 40 hours a week, if not more), possibly in the heat, and it can be a lot to handle.
  • Disney’s rules and codes tend to be very strict. Disney has set rules in place for culture, demeanor, attire, and more to optimize the experience for guests. If you have a hard time following rules, even if you don’t agree with them, you could find this position frustrating.
  • You may have to work over the holidays. Depending on when you participate, you could be away from your family during the holidays. Disney is open 365 days a year!

How Does the Disney College Program Differ from Other Disney Programs?

Disney has a few other programs and entities that are similar to the college program, but not quite. They are:

1. Disney University

Disney University, also known as DU, is not an accredited school, but rather a training program available to Cast Members (Disney’s term for employees) all over the world. Classes are offered and delivered by professionals.

2. The Walt Disney International Exchange Program

The Walt Disney International Program consists of three programs (Academic Exchange Program, Cultural Representative Program, and Cultural Exchange Program) that offer training and work opportunities to international students. These individuals work at Walt Disney World in Florida for a set period, before returning home.

3. Disney Culinary Program

Similar to the College Program, the Disney Culinary Program allows students to get hands-on training from Disney chefs. Cast members can work in quick service, baking, fine dining, and more.

How to Apply to the Disney College Program

If the Disney College Program sounds interesting to you, you may just want to apply! First, let’s cover some requirements of the program that you’ll need to know before you even start on your application:

  • Students must be 18 years or older
  • Applicants must be currently enrolled in an accredited United States college or university or have graduated within the last 24 months
  • One semester of college should be completed before applying
  • Students have to be meeting college’s expectations for Satisfactory Academic Performance

The program is highly competitive and requires applicants to complete three application stages, including an online application, a web-based interview, and a telephone interview. You will also be asked if there is an area of the park you’d like to work in and rate those roles by preference. Some have stated that it can be beneficial to select many different roles as this increases your chances of gaining acceptance. Only about 25% of applicants are accepted.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Disney College Program or are thinking about applying, be sure to head over to the Disney Programs website for more information, including the application.

The Disney College Program has some great benefits for current students and recent graduates! It can look amazing on a resume and could potentially give you experience that carries into your future career. It’s a fun and intense program, so it’s important to give careful consideration before applying! 


Still unsure of your career path? Our Career Finder is a great place to start! You can learn more about different jobs, expected salaries, job growth rates, and responsibilities right here.


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