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23rd Nov 2011

What are the Disney International College Programs?

Since I have started my new job I have had to tell a lot of new people about going to work for Disney and had to explain exactly what the Disney ICP and CRP are. I realised that I had not really explained this on Dan@Disney and a great deal of this blog would make no sense to someone arriving at it by chance from a link or a Google search. This post is an attempt to explain exactly what the Disney programs are all about and the basics of how they operate. I hope my regular readers will also find this interesting as I have tried to include a few little known facts where I can!

Every year the Walt Disney Company bring hundreds of students and young people from around the world to Orlando, Florida to work at the Walt Disney World Resort. Students usually take part in one of three programs, the J1 International College Program, The Summer Work program or the Cultural representative program which all include slightly different opportunities and restrictions. In all cases participants live in Disney-run housing and work at one of the Disney World parks or resorts.

The Programs

To take part in the Academic program participants must be a student on a course related to the hospitality or tourism industry and are usually taking 6 months to a year out from their course to take part in their program. The program includes taking compulsory Disney-run classes on topics related to the company  and its operations. Participants usually work in 2 separate locations during their program and can work in 2 different lines of business (such as Food & Beverage, Merchandise, Lifeguarding and Park Operations). There are no visa restrictions on where participants can work so there is a good variety of job roles available.

The summer program runs for 3 months for students on their University summer break. It is also possible to take part in the final summer of your degree as you graduate. Students work in a single locations and the types of role available change each year depending on the business requirements of the company. There are usually 3 or 4 departure dates available between May and June to account for different University term dates. There are no classes for participants, this is purely a work experience. I have taken part in this program twice, you can read about my second experience in the ICP 2009 section of Dan@Disney.

The final program is the Cultural Representative Program which is a 12 month program for participants from the countries of the Epcot World Showcase and Sub-Saharan African nations. Participants are on a much more restrictive visa which only allows them to work in their own pavilion, representing their own culture. Roles include Merchandise and Food & Beverage and in some cases Attractions. In the case of African participants, roles are based at Animal Kingdom or Animal Kingdom Lodge. For non-English speaking nations there may also be the opportunity to work in Guest Relations providing language support to foreign guests. This is the only Disney program that does not require a university education, technically the only requirement is to authentically represent your culture. This program was the first International Program which began almost 30 years ago. This is the program I will be taking part in during 2012/2013 – stay tuned to Dan@Disney for updates. Why not follow the blog on Facebook (hint, hint – check the sidebar for details)?!

There is also a program run in connection with a local university for graduates from hospitality degrees to work in the parks and gain a recognised qualification in hospitality management. I am not totally familiar with the details of this but details can be found on the Yummy Jobs website.


So that is work, what about Living. In all of the programs you live in one of the Disney housing complexes. There are currently 4: Vista Way, Chatham Square, The Commons and Patterson Court; all of them are located close to South International Drive which is about 10 to 15 minutes drive from the Disney parks. Over the years the complexes have gained reputations which I am sure a quick Google will reveal, my personal experience is that these reputations are generally false and the ‘party’ complexes can be very quiet and the ‘quiet’ complexes can have lots going on. The accommodation is all shared rooms so you will share a room with one other person and apartments have between 1 and 4 bedrooms (although 1 beds are fairly rare) so in total you have between 1 and 7 roommates. Generally the apartments are basic but nicely furnished. You pay rent straight out of your wages and it works out very cheap at a maximum of not much more than $100 per week including all bills and charges. All the complexes have pools, gyms and computer rooms which make them a lovely place to live.

To get around the local area Disney put on a free bus service (currently run by American Coach) which takes participants to all Disney company locations (parks, resorts and offices) as well as WalMart and local Malls. Assuming you do not cut it too fine the bus service is great and gets you almost anywhere you want to go at no cost. Housing also run events such as backstage tours, sports events and pizza parties which are free and a great opportunity to meet people and make friends from all around the world – it is an international program after all.

In terms of pay most roles pay around $7.50 – $9.00 an hour and overtime is paid at 1.5 times – you are not going to make a fortune but the experience can probably pay for itself.

There is a lot more I can talk about the programs, for all the gory details get into the posts from my programs in the rest of the blog. If this short introduction has whet your appetite then take a look at the Disney IP website – if you have any questions feel free to get in touch with me and I will do my best to get you an answer.

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20th Jun 2009

Here You Leave Today and Enter the World of Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Fantasy

This is it! 10 months since I returned from last year’s ICP and put in my application to go back. In a little under 14 hours I will be on a plane back to the happiest place on earth. I can’t believe it has been over a year since the start of my last program – so much has happened. I can’t wait to get back.

Today was spent sorting out the last few bits. I suddenly realised that my shirt for Traditions had a stain on the collar – cue a mad dash to Marks and Spencer to get a new one. At least this one won’t arrive creased since it is still in the packet! I had to repack my bag today as I discovered that due to a few last minute additions I actually could not close it. I was originally going to take anempty bag inside my case to bring back any stuff I buy however it won’t fit so I guess I will just have to buy a bag out there if I need one. I managed last year so I guess I will manage again.

I am leaving the house at 6.30am tomorrow to make the journey to Gatwick. I am looking forward to the flight much more this time around. Last time I did not know anybody on the flight but this time I know of at least 3 other people on the flight (Alice, Rachel and Luke) and through a little planning we have all managed to sit together on the plane which should make the 9 hour flight a lot more fun. The plan is that we are all going to meet up in the departure lounge and then head off from there. I will be wearing my Disney College Program hoody from last year so hopefully even if I don’t recognise them they should be able to recognise me!

I have not been able to find out for definite where I am going to be working so I will be in the same boat as everybody else, finding out my location on day 2. I am kind of happy, it keeps the excitement which might otherwise have been lost. I did send a quick email last week asking to be in either Chatham or Patterson although I did get the reply ‘Nothing is guaranteed’ so we will see what happens…

The next blog will probably be from the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ and the place ‘where dreams come true’. I can’t wait to get started again and hopefully this year will be even better than last!

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