Our baby duck was accepted into the Disney College Program in 2015. In many ways, we felt like she was prepared for the experience; she loved Disney, lived away from home during college, and worked a full time job. My family considers Disney our home away from home and we had been to the parks dozens of times. As our daughter currently prepares to head out the door to participate in the program for the second time, however, I would like to share some things I wish I had known:
Disney contracts with a separate company to supply the bus system for college program participants. The bus routes include four housing areas, all the Disney parks and resorts, Walmart, and other Orlando destinations. The system is designed to transport thousands of kids to a myriad of destinations and is complex.
The students operate on a point system and if they are late for work, a point is issued against them. Although my daughter was always at the bus stop a full hour before her shift, there were several occasions when the buses were late due to breakdowns and or/traffic and she barely made it to work on time. This can create a stressful situation.
The Traditions classes offered during training are held at Disney University which is located near West Clock behind the Magic Kingdom. The rest of the classes are offered at the apartment complexes which makes it much easier to attend.
Many factors can cause ill health during the college program such as plant and food allergies, mold from humidity, abnormal schedules, long work hours, sun exposure, ill guests, stress, and the dreaded homesickness!The health clinic at Disney is only for work related injuries and does not cover sickness. Students who become ill will need to seek care from a walk-in clinic and are required to provide a doctor’s note if they miss a day of work. My daughter visited a local walk-in clinic which resulted in a prescription and a bill for over $350.00.
Each apartment building has full time security guards. The students are allowed to come and go as they wish but are required to show their housing ID to enter. When parents visit, security guards will check their licenses and record entrances and exits. Students can meet parents at the gate.
Prepare for the Sunshine State by bringing rain gear, sunscreen, and comfortable walking shoes. Be aware that everything molds and rusts. If there is an open body of water, assume there is an alligator and understand that there is going to be a lizard incident!
Second Time Around
Imagine throwing up and having to go to the walk-in clinic on a bus or by UBER! The biggest and most positive change this time around is that my daughter will have a car and be able to go to church, grocery shopping, the laundromat, and more Disney College Program activities in a timely manner. Time is valuable as the students are very busy and normally only get one day off a week.
Sebastian: Like I always say, Your Majesty, "children have got to be free to lead their own lives."
Triton: You always say that, Sebastian?
Sebastian: [nervous] Tee-hee.
Triton: Well I guess there's one problem left.
Sebastian: And what's that, Your Majesty?
Triton: How much I'm going to miss her.
from The Little Mermaid (1989)
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Angie Roberts Harris has been Going Out The Door to Disney since 1974 when she was 11 years old. Today she travels to the ‘happiest place on earth’ with her husband and their crew of 5 children and their families.