31st Oct 2011

140 days to go…

Disney College Program 30th Anniversary Mosaic (Click to See Full Size)

First, an apology, I missed 150 days… mostly because I do not actually have a countdown clock so it was only when I worked it out this morning I realised that I had totally missed a quite important milestone. But anyway here we are at 140 and we will make the best of what we have.

I have become a fairly regular reader of the new Disney Programs Blog (officially run by Disney Recruiting) who wrote a post this week about the history of International Recruiting in the company and it turns out that 2012 is the 30th anniversary of the launch of the department. The US College Program celebrated its 30th anniversary this year and they put together a photo mosaic made up of participants photos from the last 30 years – I submitted mine but I do not have the patience to try and find it in the photo (shown above), click it to see it full size. Leave a comment below if you find me!

[EDIT: The wonderful Alice Hands has found me! From the top right hand corner go down 11 rows and left 7 columns. Did I mention she is awesome…]

Last week I had a customer at work who was from the New York area and we got talking, it turned out that she had taken part in the US College Program over 20 years ago and had been there with some of the first ‘International Fellowship’ participants just a year or so after Epcot had opened. I am quite excited that I will be on the program when it celebrates its 30th Anniversary and the Disney post and my customer got me thinking about the history of the program. As I always do I turned to trusty old Google in search of the answer. Wikipedia was, of course, an obvious place to start but as ever was pretty unhelpful in telling me anything I did not already know. After a bit of searching I came across and academic paper from the Florida Law Review, not exactly what I thought I would find. It turns out that Kit Johnson has researched the history of the international programs and the invention of the Q visa which all CRPs travel on (and even cites my friend Louisa’s blog!).

For all the information you should read the paper which I have included at the bottom of this post but I will try and give as good a summary as I can. When EPCOT opened in 1982 it was decided that to give the World Showcase some authenticity it should be staffed by young people from each of the pavilion countries. At the time the only way the company could bring internationals in to work was as students so they introduced classes for them which was the start of the modern educational element of the program. Later the Q visa was developed which was essentially the ‘Epcot visa’ since Disney campaigned for its introduction and to this day remain the most significant user of it. Later the ICP programs were also introduced to give more diversity to the international programs. My googling also led me to an amazing YouTube discovery – a video from a UK pavilion participant from 1993 which shows Vista Way (the only complex at the time). There is also a video going around meeting different participants within the UK pavilion. This will probably be of more interest to people who have been on the program before and can compare to today but I think it is a really cool little find.

I think it is amazing to think that all current CRP participants are continuing a tradition that has continued with no breaks for the last 30 years. This kind of respect for tradition while at the same time moving forward is one of the reasons that I respect the Disney company and want to work for them. I hope in 30 years time people will find this blog and share it with future participants who can enjoy seeing how different (or not) things are then.


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27th Oct 2011

The Disney International Programs Reading List

Pile of Books

I discovered today that I passed my Master’s degree, which is very exciting. I have spent the last year reading a tonne of books on really not very exciting topics and frequently had a reading list to plough through so I thought it would be a nice idea to put together a Disney International Programs reading list with books that are a lot more interesting!

I have divided it into sections with links to Amazon if you are interested in checking them out yourself. Some of the books are only available in electronic Kindle format which can be read on Amazon’s Kindle reader (which I own and love) or on any of their free apps for Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad, Android etc.

Books on the US College Program

  • Mousecatraz – a book on one person’s experiences in the US college program, they did get terminated so take their opinions with a pinch of salt! (An updated version appears to now be available on Amazon, I have not read that one but it is worth looking at)

Books on the International Programs

As far as I can tell, there are no books written by Disney CRP or Disney ICP participants – maybe I will write one when I get back…

  • Mousetrapped: A Year a Bit in Orlando, Florida – written by an Irish girl who went to work at one of the Epcot resorts as part of the Yummy Jobs hospitality program, technically she did not work directly for Disney and did not take part in the International Programs but it is still an interesting read to compare her experiences with the services provided to participants in Disney housing

Books on being a Cast Member

  • Stories from a Theme Park Insider – written by Robert Niles of the Theme Park Insider website. A fantastically written book on his experiences of a student Job at WDW. He worked on the Tom Sawyer Island (TSI) rafts which is part of the same area as Thunder Mountain so there is a great deal of this that I can personally relate to. I would say a must-read for all cast members.
  • In Service to the Mouse: My Unexpected Journey to Becoming Disneyland’s First President – written by former president of Disneyland Jack Lindquist, this is his personal memories of his journey from a new employee at Disneyland through to his days running the west coast resort. It is a brilliant book which shows much of the inner workings of the Disney company and emphasises just what a great opportunity participation in the programs is.
  • Theme Park Design: Behind the Scenes with an Engineer – a slightly odd one here, this is written by Steve Alcorn of Alcorn-McBride who are an engineering firm who design automation systems for theme parks. This book tells the story of how to design a theme park attraction but also contains fantastic anecdotes of his time working for Walt Disney Imagineering on the American Pavilion at Epcot. I would not recommend this as the first book you read but it is worth checking out if you have an interest in the design side of a theme parks career.

Books on Disney Parks

  • Project Future: The Inside Story Behind the Creation of Disney World – a WDW history lesson, pure and simple. A really interesting book which includes a lot of the details about the setting up of the Reedy Creek Improvement District which is the local government for the Walt Disney World resort area and means that Disney can effectively make laws covering its own operations.
  • Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service – The Disney Company’s guide to good customer service. A great, short book which explains the Disney theory of customer service and why it is so effective. I think all Cast Members should have to read this as required reading.
This is far from a complete list, these are simple the books I have personally read in the last couple of years. A quick search on Amazon for ‘Disney Parks’ or ‘Disney Cast Member’ will come up with quite a few more options. I hope you find this list useful, most of the books are pretty cheap and definitely worth a read if you are considering or taking part in one of the Disney programs. More updates on my own program to come as they happen, next steps will probably be sorting out Visa paperwork and getting into the nitty-gritty of what I want to take with me – stay tuned!
 PLEASE NOTE: Many of the opinions expressed in some of these books are not positive about the college or international program experience. These are the opinions of the book authors and I do not necessarily agree with them. They are included here in the interests of completeness.

Image: Exsodus / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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