Cinderella once said, “A dream is a wish your heart makes, and if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.” For three area students, those dreams are becoming a reality.
Three area students, including two Cobbers, have been selected for the Disney College Program beginning in January 2018. Only 10% of 80,000 applications are accepted for each of three terms—spring, summer, and fall—and the variety of experiences and opportunities available through the program only add excitement.
The Disney College Program is a five-to-seven month program where participants gain on-the-job experience through working at Disney parks, take college courses in management, hospitality, business, marketing, and communications, and live in dormitories with other students from around the country and the world. It costs $355 upon accepting the offer, and other costs throughout the program. Activities are planned for the students as well. Though unable to gain college credit through the program, it does count as an internship for the students. It also offers an opportunity to network and build transferable skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving, according to the Disney College Program website.
Concordia sophomore Allie Holt, a psychology major with a music minor, is one of the students selected for the program.
“On a scale of one to 10 of excitement, I’m at a 15,” she said. “I’ve been a Disney fan basically since birth.”
There are a wide variety of jobs offered through the program, from food service to ride attendants to sales associates, and though the participants know the general division of their job, they do not find out the specific job until check-in when they arrive at Disney.
“It’s kind of exciting that it’s a mystery, because then I can think ‘Oh, what if it’s this, what if it’s this,’ but I also want to know so badly,” Holt said.
Gabrielle Johnson, an elementary education and Spanish double-major at Minnesota State University-Moorhead, was also accepted into the program, which has been a dream of hers from an early age.
“I have known since I was 10 years old that I was going to apply for the program. It has been a long time dream of mine to participate in this program. I know that not only am I proud of myself, but my family is just as proud. My love for Disney only grows, and I am so excited to start my new adventure working, living, and breathing Disney World,” she said.
But for Angela Barnes, a Concordia junior majoring in global studies and German, applying was a more spur-of-the-moment decision.
“I found [the program] by accident last year right before that application season ended, and I thought it would be a cool experience. Last summer I was visiting with a friend of the family who lives in Orlando, and she had friends who worked at Disney and did the program. Both of them said I should apply and that I would be a good fit for the program,” Barnes said.
Each student has visited the parks at least once: Holt has visited 15 times, Johnson is at 17, and Barnes has gone five times.
Regardless of the park visit count, all three students look forward to all that they will learn from the experience, as well as the chance to live out their dreams.
“[I look forward to] making new friends and the experience of working at Disney World, and to interact with guests from all over the world,” said Barnes.
“I hope to gain friendships from around the world, create magical moments for guests, experience working on the other side of the country, and working in a profession in which I’ve never had. I also can’t wait to use my Spanish to help others. I am very excited for this incredible opportunity, and in just 42 short days, I will start living my dreams,” Johnson said.
Holt looks forward to gaining a new perspective on the world.
“I’ve lived in Washington my whole life, and then I come over here and I feel like I’m just kind of in this little college bubble. Getting out there, in Orlando, big city, seeing everything, I feel like I’ll learn so much in general. Disney is so magical. Everything about it is so amazing. And now, I get to be part of making the magic,” she said.
A program on a scale as large as Disney may seem intimidating at first, especially with the low selection rate. But Barnes has some advice for those who are uncertain about applying in the future.
“Don’t be afraid to apply to the Disney College Program or any of the other internship programs that Disney has to offer. Once the application goes up, apply right away and be yourself,” she said.
After all, as Walt Disney himself said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
To follow Allie and Gabrielle’s Disney adventures, follow them on Instagram at @disneydreamin__ and @gabidoesdisney.
Annie is a senior double-majoring in Environmental Studies and Heritage and Museum Studies, as well as minoring in German. She loves adventures, coffee, and dogs. This is her third year with the Concordian.