I love hearing about other people’s career paths, and a couple of weeks ago I shared about how I became an extra in Hollywood, so I thought I’d share another job that I held on my road to becoming a photographer. Spoiler: It had nothing to do with photography.
You see, I spent a lot of college trying to get away from college (I just wasn’t very good at it). And one night after considering dropping out for the billionth time, I saw a flyer on the ground on my way back from a late night event. In the dark, it seriously looked like a beam of light was shining down on it, so picked it up, and it said something about working at Disney World.
Uh, come again? Did you say Disney? I’m pretty sure angels started singing.
You have to understand, I’m a Disney nut. I can name too many characters, quote too many lines, and sing way too many Disney songs for my own good. Well, and my sister’s, because she would have to bear hearing me singing Ariel’s voice getting stolen from Ursula before we’d go to sleep as kids.
I know, it’s scary.
Anyway, since you had to be enrolled in college to do Disney’s College Program, I stayed enrolled. I went to the orientation, had my interview, and freaked the eff out when I got the e-mail that I’d be heading to the Magic Kingdom.
When I arrived, I was greeted by three housemates. Two girls from Puerto Rico, and my roommate from Boston. I was pretty nervous, since I tend to be fairly shy around people I don’t know, but they were all really nice. We all lived in the compound known as Vista Way (aka Vista Lay — I’ll let you do your own research to find out why).
Top right floor? That was us!
My job really was right in the Magic Kingdom– on Main Street, actually. I worked in a number of stores, but the Confectionary was my favorite. I loved it mostly because I got to be around sweets all of the time. I’m not kidding. We were constantly surrounded by sugar.
In my big bright yellow Confectionary costume, hanging out with some freshly made caramel apples.
But I also loved the Confectionary because I got to work the bulk counter with my friends. Bulk was where we would sell treats (fudge, cookies, rice krispy treats, chocolate covered Mickey shaped pretzels and chocolates) straight from the case. It would get crazy at bulk, with an insane line, but when I was with my friends, we would work like a well-oiled machine, and I knew it would be an easier day with them.
When Halloween hit and the parade would come by a couple times a day, the shop would empty and we would act like maniacs (it was the sugar, I’m telling you) and dance around the store floor. It was really cool watching people in all sorts of Halloween costumes walking around (my favorite was the Peter Pan, Wendy, and Lost Boys family).
A rare sight– the empty Confectionary.
We also got to experience some really neat things too, like watching the new fireworks (Wishes) being tested after hours, riding a new ride (Philharmagic) before it was open to the public, and running into random celebrities (Joey Fatone and Edward James Olmos).
It admittedly wasn’t all fun and games all of the time, though. Even though we did get into any of the parks anytime we wanted (of which I took full advantage, of course) and clubbed our nights away at Pleasure Island (which, at the time was constantly packed with college aged people– very different from what it is now), the days were definitely long and often hard. We also had to be available for all holidays, so that meant spending Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years working. It could be strenuous work at times too, because we would work really long shifts, be lifting heavy things, or dealing with tired, grumpy guests at the end of the day.
Opening Christmas presents with my roommates. Brother Bear came out that year, crazy!
But what I can say without a doubt, is that overall the college program was one of the most significant shaping forces of my life. I learned what it meant to work hard and get along with almost anyone, it kept me in school, and I forged bonds that I never could have anticipated. I even met a few boys.
Crazy enough, it’s actually been almost ten years since then, and I still keep in touch with many of the friends that I met during the program. One of my best friends in life is someone that I met there, too.
There are so many stories from my time on the program that I wish there was space in one post to tell– so many funny, crazy ones, and some that just plain make me emotional, but that would take forever!
Good times with Donald and Goofy.
So If you’ve ever done the program, or have any questions about it, definitely e-mail me anytime! I love to talk Disney, and I’d love to hear your stories, too!
What type of jobs have you worked? Have you ever worked at Disney or another theme park?