Working for Disney World

Edited by Kathy McGraw, Maria Quinney

Disney World is a magical place where you're encouraged to let your imagination flow free. It's a world where beloved characters such as Mickey Mouse, Mini Mouse, Donald Duck, and Snow White come to life, and for many, it's a coveted place to work. And what's not to love? You get to enter the park for free as long as you are employed there and get a discount on Disney merchandise besides. While it's true that there are positives to working for the Mouse that goes beyond just these, there are some significant drawbacks of which you should be aware before you apply.

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The Disney Culture

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Part of getting a job at Disney World is proving that you fit into the Disney Culture. Disney Culture is primarily centered on maintaining the illusion of its the Magical Kingdom for all guests. So important is maintaining this illusion that employees are called "cast members," regardless of their role, and are forbidden from doing anything that will disturb the world Disney has created. For instance, one former employee revealed how even though there were at least seven "Mickeys" roaming the park, they were always to answer "just one" if asked how many there are. Another aspect of fitting into the Disney Culture is looking the part. All employees must be well-groomed and style their hair and makeup conservatively. Men may not grow facial hair or have any piercings and women should not have piercings beyond a single one in each ear. Neither sex should have visible tattoos.

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Getting the Job

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Most people who work for Disney World are front-line employees, or at least start off that way. Getting into the executive and higher level jobs such as working as an engineer (Disney calls them Imagineers) requires that you demonstrate a specialized skill and be very good at it, so most people start off at the bottom and work their way up. Here are some tips to help you get the job:

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  1. 1
    Look the part. As I stated earlier, a large part of the Disney Culture involves maintaining the illusion, and front-line workers play a major role in that. If you're a man, make sure that your hair is cut short and that you're clean-shaven. Ladies, lose the funky nail polish and the purple hair. Both sexes should cover any tattoos and remove the nose studs.
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  2. 2
    Have reliable transportation. Orlando doesn't have the best public transportation system, so you will want to have your own car or at least the ability to carpool with someone who has a car.
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  3. 3
    Live in Orlando. Disney will give preference for people who live locally. So, if you want to get a job at Disney World (aside for the Disney College Program,) you should first move to Orlando. However, you should plan to have another job lined up for yourself as you work at getting hired on at Disney.
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  4. 4
    Know a Cast Member. About one-third of Disney roles are filled through cast member referrals, so get to know someone who works for Disney and ask them to refer you to the Cast Referral process. The Cast Referral process is simply a getting and turning in a card to Casting that suggests a current cast member thinks you would fit in well at Disney.
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  5. 5
    Do well on the interview. As with any job, the interview is your chance to shine and to show the hiring manager that not only can you do the job for which you are applying, but also how you fit into the role and the company culture.  
    1. Ask questions. Jody Sweet, vice president of recruitment, diversity, inclusion, and talent management, told Glamour Magazine that the biggest mistake people make during an interview is not asking questions. Good topics to ask about including the company culture and values. Questions such as these show that you are interested in the company's mission and want to know how you fit in.
    2. Dress professionally. Regardless of the role for which you are applying, always come to the interview dressed in business attire. This means a suit ensemble if you're a woman and a suit and tie if you're a man. Choose neutral colors and women should go easy on the makeup and jewelry.
    3. Do your homework. The more you know about the company, its history, and its vision, the better you will come across as someone who cares about how their specific job applies to furthering the company's goals. Sure, the job you are applying for is low on the totem pole, but Disney is huge on how every employee affects guest experience and maintains the illusion of all things Disney.
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  6. 6
    Don't have a criminal record. Disney won't hire you if you have a criminal past, no matter how much time has past since you served your time. If you do, forget about working for Disney in any capacity. Part of the hiring process involves a background check, and although it may not happen when you are hired, it could happen at any time in the future, and lying on your application is grounds for dismissal.
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Important Things to Know About Working for Disney World

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While working for the "happiest place on earth" may seem like a dream come true for many, it's not all sunshine and roses. The perks you receive, such as free admission to the parks every day, 365 days of the year, may pale in comparison to the drawbacks for some.

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  1. 1
    Realize your wages will be low. Disney pays on average about 50 percent more than a similar position pays elsewhere. So, if you work in food service at Disney World, you'll only make about half more than a food service worker at McDonald's. It's basically a little over the minimum wage.
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  • 2
    You will work a lot of hours. Most Disney World employees put in 70 to 80 hour weeks, not only because it boosts their take-home pay, but also because the company requires it. In fact, when you take a job at Disney, you are committed to working whenever, and for however many hours the company needs you.
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  • 3
    You will form friendships that will last a lifetime. Park employees work such long hours and spend so much time together that it is almost impossible not to form lasting connections with each other.
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  • 4
    You have to have an outgoing personality. Whatever your job, while you are working for Disney you are playing a role and interacting with guests. You have to be a people-person. Otherwise, you likely will not last long.
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  • 5
    The Disney magic will take you in. Disney is so diligent about maintaining the world that it has created that every interaction seems full of magic, even for park employees. Disney really wants you to feel like you are part of the Disney experience, so it pushes hard during employee orientation and other interactions to indoctrinate you in its lore and ethos.
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  • The Disney College Program

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    The Disney College Program is a paid internship program aimed at undergraduate college students and recent college graduates. Through workshops and on-the-job training, you will learn the skills that will help you advance in the workplace, regardless if you remain with Disney or not. The program also opens up the doors of future employment with the company.

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    About the Program

    The program itself lasts for five to seven months, during which you will live in company-sponsored housing near the park. You will work in any number of front-line roles ranging from food concession to running the rides and more. You will also attend workshops that teach you about " problem-solving, teamwork, guest services, and effective communication." Visit the Earning to find out more about the available roles and the Learning to find out more about the workshops.

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    Program Requirements

    The program requirements are pretty basic and include the following:

    • You need to be enrolled in an accredited college program and have completed at least one semester or have graduated in the past six months
    • Meet your school's requirements for participation, which may include having a certain GPA.
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    Program Fees and Housing Information

    One thing to be aware of if that neither the program nor the provided housing is free. The fees involved include the following:

    • Housing :$99 to $130 per week, deducted from your paycheck
    • Program Assessment and Housing Administration Fees: $350 due upon acceptance to the program

    If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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    Article Info

    Categories : Communications & Education

    Recent edits by: Kathy McGraw

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