With the Disney interviews coming up in Canada, I find myself a little nostalgic and wishing I could relive the experience again. As some of you might know, I participated in the Disney Cultural Exchange Program for three summers, from 2014 to 2016. Even though the Program does have its downs, the ups are magically worth it! Here are 6 reasons why you should do the Cultural Exchange Program if you have the chance.
1. The free stuff
This is one of the more popular reasons even though it is not the best one. But, lets be honest, free stuff is just as good as the Grey Stuff! (If your Disney knowledge is limited, you should know that the Grey Stuff is a popular dessert seen in Beauty and the Beast and available at the Be Our Guest Restaurant) While on the Cultural Exchange Program, you get free admission to all the Disney Parks! You also get 40-60% off Disney Resorts, 20% off merchandise and certain restaurants and free passes for your family and friends! You may not be paid a lot, but the passes for you and your family alone are worth more than 2000$!
2. The Experience and Training from One of the Best Company in the Entertainment Industry
No matter what industry you are in or what you are studying, having Disney on your resume is always good because it lets your employers know that you can work with high standards and meet the high expectations that come from working for the Mouse. You can work long hours in uncomfortable settings and you are excellent at Guest interactions and Guest relations. Plus, it is probably the most surprising thing on your resume and your future interviews will most likely be about Disney instead of your top 3 qualities.
3. the people
The Cultural Exchange Program is only three months, so I expected to meet some nice people and maybe make a few friends, but I never expected to make deep connections with my coworkers and other Cast Members. Although there were some people I did not get along with, just like everywhere else, everyone at Disney was so friendly, open-minded, ready to help others, hard working and just SO nice. I can honestly say I met some of my best friends at Disney. Some of which I am still in contact with and talk to regularly, even from my first program three years ago! Even though the people at Disney were not the reason I did the Program the first time, they are the reason I went back for two other Programs.
4. the activities
While on the Program, a lot of different activities are organized for you by Disney as a chance to meet new people on the Program and share different aspects of the cultures represented by the Program. There are Welcome Parties and dances, trips to the beach and sport events and a chance to be a Voluntear. I also went to a sunrise yoga event in front of the castle in the Magic Kingdom park before it opened in the morning.
5. the work atmosphere
I am not going to lie; working at Disney World is HARD! You work long hours, often outside in the heat (and not a little summer heat with some wind and nice sun rays on your skin no, I mean harsh sun burning through your skin and humidity to make your skin melt), often standing and lifting heavy objects in a heavy, thick and uncomfortable costume that is really not flattering for any body type. But, it is totally worth it! Making the Magic happen for others and seeing their smiles and surprise and wonder will make your heart beat faster and make you believe in Pixie Dust and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boos. Yes, there are bad days and rude Guests, but there are also days where you give a balloon to a child celebrating their birthday and you make their entire vacations or days where you run into Mickey while working and he gives you a fist bump with a Bah-la-la-la-la-la-la or days where a guest will come tell you how impressed they are because you smiled and greeted everyone single person in a waiting line while boarding them in the attraction or guests that come back everyday to say hi because you gave them directions on the first day of their vacation and they remember you… And that is without counting all the fun you have with your coworkers, the free Mickey bars on especially hot days and fireworks after work!
6. the new cultures
Like it says in the name of the Program, this is a cultural exchange. As Disney World is a multicultural resort, the employees come from all around the world. Part of our job as a Program participant is to inform Guests and other Cast Members about our country and culture and in exchange we get to learn about the United States and all the other countries that also participate in the Program. I now know a lot more about different cultures and have friends from all over the world I hope I get the chance to visit one day!
I will be back in Disney World someday! Maybe not as a Cast Member, but it will still be magical. To everyone doing the Program this year and in the next few years: enjoy every single moment and, if you are not exhausted, you are doing it wrong! Don’t forget three months go by real fast at the most magical place on earth.
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