It’s hard to believe that the year 2021 marked 40 years of the Disney College Program – how time flies!
For those who don’t know, the Disney College Program is a program that lets students and recent graduates live and work at Walt Disney World Resort. During their program, they have the opportunity to take courses, network, attend exclusive events and, of course, learn and develop as a Disney cast member.
What started with less than 300 college students recruited to work over the summer of 1981 has since transformed into a beloved, world-renowned program that has welcomed thousands of new cast members each year to Walt Disney World Resort.
Jarel Settles, a 2013 College Program alumnus, now works as a program experience manager for the Disney Programs team at Flamingo Crossings Village, the new housing community built for our participants. “This program truly is a transformative experience,” he shares. “The thing I love most about Disney College Program participants is their energy. I love seeing their enthusiasm as they get excited to experience and make magic for the first time!”
This program has played a special role in the growth and development of many cast members throughout the company – including leaders and executives – whose careers started on the Disney College Program. “It gives me hope for my own future, being able to see myself in leaders who had beginnings like mine,” says Jaonni Riley, a 2021 College Program participant and current professional intern on the Disney Programs recruitment team.
It has been a big year for Disney Programs, as we are not only celebrating our 40th anniversary, but this past year we welcomed the first group of participants to move into the brand-new Flamingo Crossings Village housing community. “It is an honor and privilege to have been accepted into the College Program and have access to everything the program has to offer,” says Jaonni. “Moving across the country to a place you’ve never been can be scary, but moving into Flamingo Crossings Village could not be a better place to call my home away from home.”
When you step inside Apprentice Hall, the Disney Programs office located at Flamingo Crossings Village, you’ll see our Legacy Wall, a collage-style wall display designed to showcase the history and heritage of our programs over the last four decades. Many items on the wall have been donated by alumni, and the display is a reminder of the lasting legacy these programs have left on not only our company, but also the students who have participated throughout the years.
“The network of alumni who did the program over the past 40 years is vast,” says Jarel. “It’s amazing to have that shared experience with cast members at all levels of the company.”
Here’s to 40 years of magic, and many more to come!
Interested in participating in a Disney College Program? Learn more and apply at disneyprograms.com.