Posts tagged with "Walt Disney World"

The “Magic” of the Disney College Program 

By Hannah DiPilato

“The Magic Kingdom is now open!” a loud voice blares over the intercom at the entrance of the most famous park at Disney World. Hoards of people rush towards the small gates to journey into the land of magic. Upon entering, the magic hits like a wall with Mickey Mouse balloons and a Main Street lined with buildings that look like they were pulled from a storybook. This all leads up to the glistening masterpiece that is Cinderella’s castle. 

But how magical is this experience when you have to do it daily as a burnt-out college student working to make ends meet? For thousands of college students, this is their daily life, but the magic gets dull with each screaming child and cranky parent they encounter. Does the magic truly vanish while working for the Disney College Program, or is all the hassle worth the enchantment that encompasses Disney? 

What it Takes to Work for the Mouse

Although it may seem like no one would be begging to work in a theme park, the Disney College Program gets thousands of applicants every year and only ends up accepting less than 20% of those students. The Disney College Program offers programs at both Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland Resort in California. There are five basic qualifications students must meet before they should begin to apply.

According to the Disney Program website, students that hope to apply to the program must be “enrolled and taking classes at an accredited program or institution” at the time they hope to apply. Students must have already completed at least one semester of classes or have graduated within 12 months. The program is specifically designed for undergraduate students, but graduate students are able to apply. Some individual universities have special requirements for students to meet such as a specific GPA, so students should meet with an advisor at their school before applying. 

The program also requires all applicants to be at least 18 years old by the time the program starts as well as possess an unrestricted work authorization. Finally, students that have done the program before must wait at least four months from their departure date to return to the program again. 

However, the program requirements go deeper than this. Since the program is so competitive applicants need to do their best to stand out. The first step of the application process is a general questionnaire that’s similar to many basic job applications. After passing this step, applicants move on to a more in-depth web interview. Finally, a phone interview makes the final decision if someone is selected for the program. 

The Captivating Cast Member Positions

There’s a variety of positions available for students that register for the program. The jobs range from working in the parks to working in the hotels and are assigned by random or based on applicants’ prior experience. These positions are no walk through wonderland, they’re full-time positions and students need to be available to work days, nights, weekends and holidays. The wage depends on the position, but most of the employees only make around $9 an hour or a similar amount close to minimum wage. The paychecks certainly aren’t fit for royalty. 

One past cast member who was a part of the Disney college program, Rebecca Condon, worked Merchandise at the Emporium on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. This retail experience allowed her to become a manager at Lilly Pulitzer at the young age of 22. Northeastern alumni, Kayla DiPilato also participated in the program as a seater at Be Our Guest, a themed restaurant in the Magic Kingdom. She believes she received this position because of her prior experience as a hostess at Top of the Hub in Boston. 

As both of these jobs seem to capture the whimsical essence of Disney, many positions in the program are not as sought over. Some roles such as custodial or food prep, are minimum wage jobs that can be found at most basic establishments all around the country. However, what would be a part-time job in a fast-food restaurant or a business turns into hours on hours in an amusement park to make ends meet. Depending on which job an applicant is selected for could determine whether they love or hate the program. Although, one person’s job nightmare could be a dream come true for somebody else. 

Not a Castle Nor a Carriage 

The housing and transportation for the program has not received stellar reviews from past cast members. Members of the Disney College Program are housed in apartments and rent is taken weekly from their paychecks. Rent can cost anywhere from $114 to $205 a week depending on what housing a person is placed in. Many times cast members have to share a room as well as sharing the apartment with a few other workers. The rules of housing are apparently incredibly strict, with restrictions against alcohol as well as overnight guests of the opposite gender. 

“My least favorite part of the job was the apartments they housed us in,” said Rebecca Condon. “My apartment was the oldest Disney property and had tons of issues. My toilet overflowed 7 times during the program because of bad pipes in the wall to the point where it flooded our whole apartment with about 2 inches of water.” The rent might be cheap, but in the end you get what you pay for. 

If students were unable to bring their own car, they had to rely on the transportation provided by Disney. The college program in Orlando provides a shuttle service to help transport cast members, but the Anaheim program only provides cast members with a free city bus pass. Although the shuttle sounds like a convenient option, it was much less practical than having a car on the property. 

“It is unbelievable how they are able to transport thousands of us,” expressed Condon. “Although, with that being said, it was really hard because I would have to leave two hours before my shift to make sure I got there in time and I often wasn’t home until two to three hours after my shift.” After an incredibly long day of working in a busy park, a two-hour commute is much longer than anyone would want to endure. 

The unreliable shuttle was one reason DiPilato decided to drive her car all the way from Massachusetts to use during her time in the program. “I knew how disastrous it would be to take the shuttle for commuting,” she said. “I also wanted to have the freedom to explore Orlando.”

Experience the Magic but Fight the Villains 

Disney has its perks as well as its downsides just as any normal day job does. DiPilato said her favorite part of the job was making magic for guests, especially for kids that were part of the Make A Wish program. However, she also recalled that families would often get hot and tired after a long day in the park and take out their frustrations on her.  

There were also a lot of strict rules such as never being allowed to point with one finger, never calling guests “people” instead of guests, not being able to have piercings besides one on your earlobes and not being able to wear too much makeup. 

“Once I got yelled at because a child threw his shoe into our moat. How was that my fault?” recalled DiPilato. “Although, I did get to meet Josh Gad in promotion of the Beauty and The Beast live-action movie that was set to come out at the time, so that was a super cool experience.”

Condon recalled one occurrence where the cast members got to experience an exclusive party for the cast members. “Disney opened up one of their water parks for cast members after hours,” she recalled. “They hired a DJ and catered with some of the best Disney Treats, especially the Mickey Bars!”

Every day working at Disney for the Disney College Program is a unique experience. DiPilato mentioned that guests would often sprinkle ashes of relatives within the rides and cast members would have to clean them up. “Yeah, that happened a lot, mostly in the Haunted Mansion,” she said nonchalantly. She also touched on the fact that kids would often get separated from their families, throw up randomly and scream… a lot. “Giving kids a magical experience is amazing, but it comes with so many more problems than would come with working strictly with adults,” she said. 

Is the Work Worth the Pixie Dust?

It takes a special and dedicated person to participate in the Disney College Program. Days are full of long hours of work and lots of cranky families. However, the perks and experience a cast member receives from the job will last a lifetime. 

“I absolutely loved the program and feel like I grew so much from it,” concluded Condon. “The skills I learned from working for this Fortune 500 company is something I carry around with me every day.” 

If you could walk through the streets of Magic Kingdom daily without it ever getting old, or eat a Mickey Ice Cream bar every day without ever getting sick of them, you could have what it takes to become a cast member. To many, it is the job of a lifetime to be able to play an important role in millions of children’s most magical memories and the free park entry doesn’t hurt either. 

If you can get over the job’s flaws, you could have Mickey Mouse as your coworker. And hey, don’t all jobs have their downsides? 

NBA Expands Second Annual Jr. NBA Global Championship

The National Basketball Association (NBA) today announced details of the second annual Jr. NBA Global Championship, a youth basketball tournament for the top 13- and 14-year-old boys and girls teams from around the world that will be held Aug. 6-11 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Fla.  Thirty-two teams will participate in a week of on-court competition and off-court programming centered on the Jr. NBA’s core values of teamwork, respect, determination and community.

The NBA will introduce a new layer of local competitions, including more than 20 local tournaments – 14 of which will be hosted by NBA teams in their respective markets – to expand the pool of participating boys and girls teams in the U.S. The Dallas Mavericks will host a local qualifying tournament and teams that win at The Sportsplex Dallas, March 22-24th, 2019, will receive an automatic bid to Jr. NBA Global Championship South Regional Tournament in Dallas, June 7-9th, 2019. 

Long-time league partner and leading basketball stakeholder USA Basketball will enhance all domestic competitions and help increase accessibility by accrediting local tournaments, again licensing participating coaches, supporting all eight U.S. regional tournaments and promoting best practices through the implementation of the NBA and USA Basketball Youth Guidelines.

Qualifying competitions will tip off in January 2019 and run through June 2019.  In the U.S., the winning boys and girls teams from each of the new local tournaments will advance to one of eight regional tournaments in the spring.

The international competition, which will once again leverage the Jr. NBA’s extensive global reach, will expand to additional countries and territories. Top players from the Caribbean will now have the opportunity to compete alongside players from South America for a chance to represent Latin America in the Jr. NBA Global Championship. The Asia Pacific regional competition will expand to include youth from Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The winning boys and girls teams from each of the eight U.S. regional tournaments (Central, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northeast, Northwest, South, Southeast and West) and the boys and girls teams representing the eight international regions (Africa, Asia Pacific, Canada, China, Europe & Middle East, India, Latin America, and Mexico) will receive all-expenses-paid trips to compete in the culminating event in Orlando.  U.S. teams will have the opportunity to register online for a chance to compete in their respective regional tournament.

The Jr. NBA Global Championship will feature boys and girls divisions, separated into U.S. and international brackets that begin with round-robin play and continue with single-elimination competition.  The winners of the U.S. and international brackets will play in the global championship games on Aug. 11.

FOX and FS1 will televise the Jr. NBA Global Championship in the U.S. as part of the multiyear partnership launched last year, while Tencent, the Exclusive Official Digital Partner of the NBA in China, and China Mobile Migu, the Official Telecom Carrier Immersion Platform of the NBA in China, will livestream the Jr. NBA Global Championship in China.  Additional international media partners will be announced at a later date.

More than 300 boys and girls from 35 countries participated in the inaugural Jr. NBA Global Championship in August 2018.  During the weeklong event, all 32 teams participated in off-court activities including life skills sessions, Disney park visits, a community service project, and educational meetings with current and former NBA and WNBA players and coaches.  The Central girls (Kansas City, Mo.) defeated the Europe girls team 68-38, while the Central boys (Overland Park, Kan.) defeated the Africa & Middle East boys team 60-50 in the global championship games.

More information about the Jr. NBA Global Championship and dates for the U.S. regional tournaments can be found atJrNBA.com/GlobalChampionship.  Registration for teams to compete in the Jr. NBA Global Championship is not yet open but those that sign up online will be notified as soon as registration information is available.

QUOTES:

NBA President, Social Responsibility & Player Programs Kathy Behrens:

“We are looking forward to building on the success of the inaugural Jr. NBA Global Championship to host another best-in-class event.  The expanded programming and new strategic partnerships will allow more youth players from around the world to participate in this year’s event and have the opportunity to showcase their talents on a global stage.”

USA Basketball Chairman and Jr. NBA Leadership Council Chairman Retired General Martin E. Dempsey

“The Jr. NBA Global Championship is taking another positive step forward by bringing together several of basketball’s leading stakeholders to advance and grow the game at the youth level.  The expanded Jr. NBA Global Championship, along with the USA Basketball U.S. Open Basketball Championships, will continue to promote age-appropriate rules, playing standards and safe play to help young players develop on and off the court.”

Three-time NBA Champion and Jr. NBA Global Championship Ambassador Dwyane Wade:

“I attended last year’s Jr. NBA Global Championship and it was incredible to witness the talent and passion displayed by boys and girls from around the world.  This event offers a unique opportunity for young players to learn about different cultures while bonding through their love of the game.”

WNBA Champion and Jr. NBA Global Championship Ambassador Candace Parker:

“I’m thrilled to return as an ambassador for the Jr. NBA Global Championship, which is an amazing showcase and development opportunity for talented young players.  I’m proud to support a program that will help advance the growth of girls basketball at all levels.”  

Disney x Gigi Burris

In celebration of Mickey Mouse’s 90th birthday, New York milliner Gigi Burris launches a capsule collection interpreting through headwear an American icon, Mickey. Burris debuts today a nine-piece collection of felt hats and hair accessories that celebrate Mickey’s timeless style and color palette.

Raised in Central Florida with Walt Disney World essentially in her backyard, Burris was transfixed by Mickey Mouse from a young age—his unmistakable ears shaping more than just an unforgettable character, but also the dreams of a young, creative spirit. As a renowned milliner, Burris possesses a rare talent for taking the old and making it new, using centuries-old techniques to handcraft one-of-a-kind pieces that are all locally made in New York City.

The first place that Burris draws inspiration from are the two simple black circles on top of Mickey’s head that have become as recognizable as the mouse himself. Burris plays off this silhouette in her Icon Cap, which comes in red, yellow and black. Now three dimensional, this innovative piece is a wearable sculpture. The Icon, is a limited edition drop with 30 hand-numbered pieces per color. “I wanted to create a forward-thinking take on the ears that looks as welcome at Walt Disney World as it would on the streets of New York,” Burris explains.

For a more classic silhouette, Burris creates a black and red fedora, drawing inspiration from the period of Mickey Mouse’s inception in 1928. For this piece, the ears appear as subtle, black circles that add interest to the crown of the hat. Mickey’s black and white beginnings are referenced in an elegant veiled headband that features hand-applied sequins and Swarovski crystals on ears formed from hand-tacked French veiling.

To emphasize Mickey’s natural charm, Burris individually places a pattern of Swarovski gunmetal pearls and red crystals onto a luxe, gunmetal headband in the shape of his ear silhouette. Another accessory pays homage to Mickey’s iconic design and recognizable ears. Here, it is plated in 14 karat gold—a simple and chic way to portray Mickey’s hairline. “As a hat maker, I was drawn to what shapes Mickey’s face—the dramatic widow’s peak that punctuates his every expression.”

While Mickey’s ears are his trademark, the mouse has never shied away from headwear. He has always selected just the right topper to complement his most memorable looks. Burris is particularly inspired by the captain’s hat Mickey wears in his debut film, Disney’s Steamboat Willie, as well as the square brimmed hat Mickey puts on as a conductor in Disney’s The Band Concert.

These references are alluded to in the form of a lambskin leather Greek Fisherman’s hat, featuring Mickey’s signature white buttons and a subtle nod to his hairline stitched in white thread on the top of the cap. A cheery, red, square-brimmed hat is a modern update to a classic baseball cap, complete with three Disney x Gigi Burris pins—Mickey tipping his boater hat, the classic icon of Mickey’s ears, and an “M” for Mickey. This moment harkens back to the days when Burris, like many others, would leave Walt Disney World with a plethora of Mickey Mouse souvenirs and memories of another special day spent with the beloved mouse.

Each piece in this collection embodies what Burris and people everywhere love about Mickey Mouse— his playful mischief, his joy, his style and, of course, his ability to make you smile.

Earlier this year Disney announced the launch of “Mickey the True Original”– a global campaign in celebration of Mickey’s heritage spanning over the last 90 years. Since his inception in 1928, Mickey Mouse has become a global pop culture icon, transcending languages and cultures – embodying a ‘true original’ spirit; Mickey Mouse was the first licensed character franchise and appeared in the first-ever synchronized sound cartoon, Disney’s Steamboat Willie.

Recognized the world over, Mickey continues to inspire artists, musicians and fashion designers from around the globe. The True Original campaign will bring together other original brands that are recognized as pioneers in their field, and Gigi Burris epitomizes this.