| • World Showcase Fellowship Program|
• International Hospitality Program
• Waterpark/Sports and Recreation Trainee Program
• International Culinary Trainee Program
• African Cultural Representative Program
• International Management Program
• Walt Disney World International Program
|Disney Internships & Programs|
|Affiliation||The Walt Disney Company|
|Students||500+ per semester|
|US-based||Disney College Program|
Disney International Programs (previously named the Walt Disney World International Program) is an international internship program operated by the Disney Internships & Programs division of The Walt Disney Company at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, in the United States. The program recruits participants and college students (18 years and older) from outside the United States and its territories for year-long cultural exchanges with paid positions and summer-long paid internships working at the Walt Disney World Resort. This program, which is designed to attract international workers and students, shares many similarities with the U.S. based Disney College Program and its philosophy of Living, Learning and Earning.
Originally, Disney International Programs operated several different types of programs. Program length, work locations, job responsibilities, living arrangements, pay and required qualifications varied depending on the program which was applied for. Once all the programs were merged, they became one Walt Disney World International Program, now the Disney International Programs. Previous programs included:
- World Showcase Fellowship Program: similar to the Cultural Representative Program but with a structured educational program and community involvement.
- International Hospitality Program: aimed to students fluent in Japanese, Portuguese, French or German, pursuing a career in hospitality. Participants were able to experience different work roles all over the resort.
- Waterpark/Sports and Recreation Trainee Program: training and development opportunities in Disney's water parks and recreation locations for students interested in the recreation/leisure industry.
- International Culinary Trainee Program: for participants with 2-3 years of experience in the kitchen area of the food service industry, aiming to develop skills in Disney's food-service locations.
- African Cultural Representative Program: for African participants working at Disney's Animal Kingdom and/or Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, similar to the Cultural Representative Program.
- International Management Program: primarily for students who had completed one of the above programs and were considering a management experience at Walt Disney World Resort.
Eligibility is open to applicants who reside outside the United States or their territories and are not American citizens. Applicants must contact one of the contracted in-country agencies that assist with international applications or the International Casting office with a résumé and cover letter.
Interviews and meetings
Some countries hold a preliminary phone interview before issuing an invitation to a scheduled Disney International Programs presentation and interview. Qualified candidates receive an invitation approximately four weeks prior to the presentation and interview and in some cases, an invitation is issued at the end of the phone interview. Presentations outline key components of the program and provide further information on the program's offerings. In some cases, applicants may have to travel abroad to meet with a recruiter from Disney Worldwide Services.
Over the years, several International Programs were operated and subsequently suspended, a new one was created for Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park and ultimately in 2004, all the Walt Disney World International Programs were combined into two new all-encompassing programs, namely the Walt Disney World Cultural Representative Program and the Walt Disney World International College Program. A new seasonal worker program has also been launched which initially required applicants to have previously completed an International Program in order to be eligible, but this requirement was soon waived due to insufficient applications. The locations and positions available to participants on International Programs vary according to program and preference in that order.
Cultural Representative Program
The Cultural Representative Program (CRP) showcases participants' culture and customs with guests visiting the Walt Disney World Resort, over the course of approximately a year. To qualify for this program, applicants must "authentically represent" one of the countries or regions recreated at a Walt Disney World theme park or resort. During their interview, applicants fill out their role preferences from most interested to least. The applicant's employer may not be Disney once a position has been offered, but an "operating participant" instead, trading within Walt Disney World, in which the participant would not be eligible for the same benefits as regular Disney Cast Members.
Participants in the Cultural Representative Program perform their roles at Epcot's World Showcase, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, or a combination of them, while for guest relations positions, participants are assigned to one of the four theme parks or Disney Springs. The Cultural Representative Program has different options open to applicants during their application process, depending on the pavilion's offerings. For example, Norwegian applicants may apply for attractions operator on Frozen Ever After at the Norway Pavilion at Epcot. However, this would not be the same case for applicants from the United Kingdom, since the United Kingdom pavilion does not have an attraction. The exact location for positions varies according to the country the participant represents.
International College Program
The International College Program (ICP) is a program similarly based on the Disney College Program, designed for international students who are currently enrolled in an accredited semester-program college or university, pursuing a 3-to-4 year degree. Applicants must be between academic years and as such, the program will run during their summer vacation, varying in length.
- Summer International College Program: students participate in a program similar to the Disney College Program's summer program, which coincides with their summer vacation/holiday from their college or university. This program, with a duration of two to three months, is reserved for students currently enrolled in an accredited semester-program college or university and are pursuing a 3-to-4-year degree.
- Academic Exchange International College Program: students participate in a program which also mirrors the Disney College Program but may spend up to a full year working at the resort while taking coursework through the DCP and distance-learning at their U.S. sponsoring university. Alternatively, students may spend five months studying at their U.S. sponsoring university and seven months working and taking classes at the Walt Disney World Resort. This program is available to current students and recent university graduates.
During their interview, applicants fill out their role preferences, from most interested to least, for their International College Program, often assigned to roles based on seasonal need and may be rotated based on peak time operational needs. Participants in the International College Program may work in any of Walt Disney World's four theme parks, two water parks or on-site resort hotels and are often rotated based on peak-time operational need and may be cross-trained as such from position to position and park to park.
H-2B Alumni Program
The H-2B Alumni Program allows participants to work at the resort on an H-2B seasonal work visa as a seasonal employee while in the United States. Candidates must complete their current program successfully with a confirmed rehire status and return to school for one semester in their home country before returning on an H-2B visa. The available options for H-2B participants, in regards to available roles, are similar to those for the International College Program.
Experiences of the program
Just like the Disney College Program, the International Programs emphasize three experiences: Living, Learning and Earning.
The living experience is similar to the original program's recreational experience. Once the participant has accepted their Disney offer, they can reside in one of four company-sponsored housing units near the Walt Disney World Resort during the duration of the program.
Participants are expected to follow certain guidelines in the company-sponsored housing complexes.[a] Apartments are single-gender only, except in the case of a married heterosexual couple, which both have to be accepted into an international program in order to live in a one-bedroom apartment, if they choose this accommodation. Participants go through previously-notified apartment inspections at least twice throughout their program, though the complex administration reserves the right to inspect more than twice. Apartments must be deemed clean to the inspector in order to pass, this includes minimal dishes in the sink or dishwasher, vacuumed floors, clean counter tops, clean bathrooms and organized bedrooms.
The learning experience began in the early 1980s on the Disney College Program as a group of nine seminars on the "philosophies and operating practices" of the various sections of their resort's business. It has grown to include eight different courses, each focusing on a Disney topic, rather than a business area. Most of the courses are approved by the American Council on Education and offer participants the possibility to earn college credit during their program, subject to a decision by the participant's college or university. Classes meet once a week for most of the program and are four hours long, with breaks during peak seasons. Participants are required to utilize textbook readings, write term papers and participate on projects. Additionally, the Disney Exploration Series offers courses focused on business areas as they relate to Disney.
Like every Cast Member, participants must attend Traditions at Disney University, a 4-to-5-hour-long welcome orientation focused on the introduction of the resort, from employment to the company's values, which also symbolizes as their official first day as a Disney Cast Member. Participants are expected to uphold "The Disney Look" required not only for Traditions but for all types of professional meetings, classes and training. The Disney Look policy follows strict guidelines of Cast Members' appearances, that include natural hair color and style, neutral nail polish color, certain nail length, limited jewelry, facial hair restrictions, etc., varying per gender. Failure to follow these guidelines may result disciplinary action.
The earning experience consists of participants working within their role at the resort who are expected to work in one of four major operating areas: food service, merchandising, attractions and custodial. A fifth area, costuming, offers opportunities to work backstage with performers or in costuming operations. Just like the Disney College Program, Disney International Programs offer opportunities for participants to work in more than 20 different roles.
From the beginning of the program until 1988, almost all International Program participants resided along Disney college Program participants in Snow White Village, an off-property location and the remainder of Lake Vista Village apartments in Kissimmee. 1987 saw the opening of Vista Way apartments, nearby Lake Buena Vista, which were much closer to the Disney property. By 1988, all students were fully relocated out of Snow White Village, which was later converted into a vacationing site.
After the opening of Vista Way, and over the years, three additional company-sponsored gated-community apartment complexes opened as the Disney College Program expanded to accommodate more participants: Chatham Square, The Commons and Patterson Court, all adjacently located in Little Lake Bryan, less than three miles away from Vista Way. International Program participants were housed along Disney College Program participants, until March 2020. Initially, The Commons was the only complex where all international participants were housed in. Participants were provided with fully-furnished apartments, access to recreational amenities, computer labs and housing-sponsored transportation to and from all housing complexes and all work locations, as well as stops at grocery stores, the post office and a leisure route to The Florida Mall. Participants were given options to reside in apartments of up to four bedrooms for up to three roommates per room, upon availability, prior to their arrival date but were not allowed to reside off-site due to conditions in their visas.
Flamingo Crossings Village
Flamingo Crossings Village is a new and more modern apartment complex, announced in 2018, that was intended to become the new home of all Orlando International Programs and Disney College Program participants in 2020. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic and its spread to Florida, the opening of Flamingo Crossings Village was delayed and the four existing housing complexes were all closed as part of the previously-established relocation plan. In the wake of the indefinite suspension of the Disney College Program announced in December 2020, and with construction completed, the Walt Disney Company opted to maintain the main purpose of Flamingo Crossings Village apartments by leasing exclusively to company Cast Members.
On March 14, 2020, Disney Internships & Programs announced the suspension of the Disney International Programs due to the ongoing worldwide outbreak of the coronavirus and its spread to Florida. International participants actively enrolled during this time in company-sponsored housing were asked to vacate in a short period of time, as well as Disney College Program and culinary students, providing full credit and completion of the program in return. Shortly after, the Walt Disney World Resort closed operations, initially until April 19, 2020. On April 6, 2020, the suspension of the program was extended to those applicants with May 2020 arrival dates, after The Walt Disney Company extended the closure of its resorts until early June 2020.
On July 2, 2020, Disney Internships & Programs announced the Disney International Programs and the Disney College Program would be suspended for the rest of 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic further impacted operations of both the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. On July 14, 2020, less than a week after the Walt Disney World Resort reopened during the coronavirus pandemic, Disney Internships & Programs announced the indefinite suspension of the Cultural Representative Program, impacting those who were actively participating at the time and future participants who were accepted for the Fall 2020 semester.
- Prior to 2019, students were required to live in "wellness" or "non-wellness" apartments based on age. Students under the age of 21, were automatically placed in a wellness apartment, deemed alcohol-free. Students over the age of 21 who chose to live in a wellness apartment were also be prohibited from consuming alcohol in their own apartment but allowed to consume in any non-wellness; this rule was discontinued after fall 2019.
- "Disney International Programs overview". Disney. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
- "Job Roles for Disney's Cultural Representative Program". Mouse Unleashed. January 3, 2019.
- "Dan@Disney". Retrieved January 23, 2012.
- "Disney College Program - Living". Disney.
- "Disney College Program housing policies". Disney.
- Walt Disney World College Program. Walt Disney Productions. 1983.
- "Disney College Program - Learning DORMS (Disney Onsite Resident Management System)". Disney. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
- "Disney Look" (PDF). Disney. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
- "Disney College Program - Earning". Disney. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
- Schultz, Olivia (June 9, 2017). "Disney College Program Roles". Odyssey. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
- Storey, Ken (March 27, 2018). "Disney is building 2,600 new apartments for its College Program and that could mean bad things for Vista Way". Orlando Weekly. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
- Barton, Rebekah (October 20, 2020). "Furnishings Removed From Disney College Program Housing". Inside The Magic. Retrieved December 24, 2020.
- Sheehy, Keira (December 21, 2020). "NEWS: A Brand New Apartment Complex is Now Available to Disney Cast Members!". AllEars.net. Retrieved December 24, 2020.
- Carter, Ashley (March 14, 2020). "Disney College Program to be Suspended, Participants Sent Home". News 13. Retrieved March 17, 2020.
- Russon, Gabrielle (March 14, 2020). "Disney suspends college program, tells students to go home by next week amid coronavirus closures". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved March 17, 2020.
- Brieskorn, Katlyn (March 14, 2020). "Thousands affected after Disney temporarily suspends college program". KIRO-TV. Retrieved March 17, 2020.
- Carter, Ashley (April 6, 2020). "Disney to Suspend Remaining Disney Internships and Programs This Month". News 13. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
- Coffey, Kelly (July 2, 2020). "Fall 2020 Disney College Program Officially Cancelled". Inside the Magic. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
- Tuttle, Brittani (July 2, 2020). "Disney College Program suspended until further notice at Disneyland, Walt Disney World". Attractions Magazine. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
- Sheetz, Janelle (July 14, 2020). "News: Disney World's Cultural Representative Programs Have Been Canceled Indefinitely". Disney Food Blog. Retrieved July 14, 2020.