by Meghan Lemmo and Lindsey Byrom
Q: What made you want to do the Disney College Program?
A: I have always loved Disney. More than anyone in my family. I’ve always had that connection with it, and it was something I could very much relate to. When I found out there was actually an internship in college to work AT Disney, I was very intrigued. I never thought I would do it, but it was something nice to think about. Fall 2016 I was sitting in the office I work at, and one of my coworkers was talking about how she did the program in California. That really got me thinking “Hey… I kind of want to do this.” So I applied, got in, didn’t go (for various reasons) but applied the very next semester and went!
One big reason I did this program was to figure out my life. In college I have switched majors too many times, and I wanted to see if I liked Orlando, and I enjoyed working for Disney. Yes to both. I wanted to see if this could possibly be my future.
Q: What was your role and location? Was it your first choice? If not, what was?
A: I worked at the World Famous Jungle Cruise in Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom! This honestly was not my first choice, I wanted to be a character attendant. (Who doesn’t?) To this day I do not know why I wasn’t selected as an attendant, it might be because I do not have my license. I don’t know if that’s related. In my phone interview, I did request Magic Kingdom as my home park, so that is very exciting I got that. I absolutely loved working at the Jungle Cruise, and am very blessed to have received that as my attraction. I didn’t even talk about attractions in my interview, so when I saw that that was my role I was very shocked (but in a good way). If you’re thinking Jungle Cruise is something you might want to work, I will tell you it is absolutely amazing, but not for everyone. I’m not trying to scare anyone off, but it is hard work. You are standing in the Florida heat all day, talking non-stop, and the hours are pretty long, especially for CPs. But it is so rewarding!
Q: What was your training like?
A: I believe we were training for 1.5 weeks max. Our very first day of training was a guided tour of the Magic Kingdom. (Which I actually slept in on that day and was late too and it’s fine everything’s fine) So I can’t say what happened the first 2.5 hours of that because I wasn’t there, (I’m assuming they just went on rides) but when I got there, we all received our locations. It was everyone in Adventureland/ Liberty Square so we had students who were at Jungle, Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean. We also had kids at Tiki Room/Aladdin’s Magic Carpets and Swiss Family Robinson Tree house. I felt a little bad because you could definitely tell everyone wanted to be at the Jungle Cruise, but not everyone got it. After we received our locations, we went and rode some of those attractions, then met all the managers of the area.
In our real Jungle training, we had seven days. Basic days (days one through five where we learned actual Jungle Cruise information, day six which was assessment day, then day seven was when we learned about the FastPass kiosks). Days one through five consisted of learning how to control the boats. The only thing we could control was the speed and whether it was going forward or in reverse. No, we did not actually drive them. We started learning our spiel for on the boat, that was A LOT. But no one had any real problems with it, other cast members are there to help you. I have a background in theatre, so I’m used to memorizing huge chunks of speech. Days one through five also focused on other land positions such as load, unload, greeter, helping with wheelchair parties, merge, and others. Day three was the day my training buddy and I went live (had guests on our boat).
I was nervous to go live, but it all works out in the end. A lot of people worry about whether they’re funny or not… it honestly doesn’t matter. What matters is whether you know how to dock the boats properly when you are loading and unloading to ensure the safety of your guests. Assessment day isn’t that hard at all. You literally just go through each position, and have someone watch you to make sure you are doing it safely and correctly. We had a multiple-choice exam (which I actually think I failed initially) but my assessor just went over it with me and made sure I knew everything.
Q: What did you like most about your role?
A: The guests! They made it worth it! I absolutely loved being able to make people laugh everyday, and make magic for everyone. Whether it was handing out FastPasses, giving free ice cream, or simply posing in a picture for a guest, seeing the smiles made it worth it.
I loved being in a role where I could be as goofy as I wanted to be. I was able to laugh at myself, and roast other guests. (Who doesn’t want to do that?!) Best part is the guests loved it as well, especially if they were a regular Jungle fanatic. This made the days go by fast, and honestly it didn’t even feel like work.
Q: What did you like least?
A: I just want to make it clear that I am not a Debbie downer. But the jungle was very dramatic. Let me be more clear… some of my coworkers were very dramatic and gossipy. With every workplace at Disney, there is a certain group of coworkers who will always talk bad about others behind their backs, start rumors, start drama, and just create a very negative/toxic environment. Unfortunately, there was a group of CPs who came to Jungle the same time I did, and created nothing but trouble. I’m not saying everyone at Jungle Cruise was like this, because that certainly was not the case. But wherever you work there will be snakes, that’s just what comes with life.
Q: Would you recommend this role to a friend?
A: ABSOLUTELY. The Jungle Cruise is the best.
Q: What advice would you have for new CPs in this role?
A: My advice would be to take it slow. Jungle Cruise is an amazing attraction to work at, however it can burn you out very easily. As CPs you are guaranteed at least 30 hours every week, and they usually have you working 33-40 hours a week. And your shifts will be long. Take time for your mental, and physical health. Sleep, eat, be active, and breathe. Take care of your voice because it will be worn out, especially if you have never had experience with theatre, speech and debate or voice before. And even if you have, it will hurt. I don’t want to scare anyone away from the jungle, but it is very taxing. So my advice is to take it slow, and limit yourself. This advice is also great advice for anyone in the Disney College Program in general.
Q: What will you be up to when your program ends?
A: Going back to school! I am writing this in my dorm right now! I am a Resident Assistant for the 2017/18 school year, and am very excited for this position. I believe I will be switching majors to something to do with business so I can go back to Disney after I graduate and possibly work up to a management/recruiting position there!
Q: Do you want to come back and work for Disney?
A: Absolutely! Being away from Disney is honestly so hard for me, especially since I was there for 6 months. I fell in love, and I love the fact that there are so many options down there when it comes to work. I want to do another college program! Either at the Jungle Cruise, or attending characters.