Disney College Program
What is it?
A full-time paid internship at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Students can receive academic credit while building their resume working for a Fortune 100 company.
Who is eligible?
The program is open to all college students. At Tompkins Cortland, it works especially well for those in Business Administration, Hotel & Restaurant Management and Liberal Arts General Studies. Students in any major are welcome to participate.
Participants must be at least 18 years of age. Older, non-traditional students are welcome.
International students without U. S. citizenship or permanent resident status must contact the Global Initiatives office to discuss visa regulations.
Note: This information is intended for current students. Students attending Tompkins Cortland Community College international partner schools should contact their school's international programs office for information about the Tompkins Cortland Disney International College Program.
What are Tompkins Cortland's requirements for applicants?
- At least 12 college credits completed prior to applying, not including high school dual credit
- Minimum GPA of 2.0 at the time of application
- ENGL 99 completed (if needed.)
- Recommendation by a Tompkins Cortland faculty or staff member
What are the dates and how long does it last?
Fall program: August through early January.
Fall Advantage program: May/June through early January.
Spring program: January through May.
Spring Advantage program: January/February through August.
Note: There is no summer-only program.
Students should talk with their academic advisor to determine which semester would be best to be away from Tompkins Cortland, as some required courses may only be offered in certain semesters. Some students find it easier to complete their degree requirements first and do the Disney program as a post-graduate internship.
What are the benefits of participating in this internship?
Disney College Program students develop transferable skills that are essential for success in any career. Among them are responsibility, problem solving, effective communication, teamwork, customer service and cultural sensitivity. Having Disney on one's resume can be a real competitive edge. How many people can boast of working for a Fortune 100 company while still in college? Additional benefits include the opportunity to return to Disney World to work during school breaks or for professional internships, as well as the possibility of full-time employment with Disney or its sister companies (ABC, ESPN and others) after completing college. Many Tompkins Cortland alumni have made careers with Disney World after participating in the College Program. And of course, there is the benefit of making lifelong friends from all over the world.
What are the jobs?
More than 20 different positions are available in Operations, Lodging, Food and Beverage, Retail/Sales, Recreation, and Entertainment. Students may be placed anywhere at the Walt Disney World Resort, including Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, Downtown Disney and Disney resort hotels. Participants must work when they are scheduled and understand that it is normal to work late nights, early mornings, weekends, and holidays. All roles may include prolonged exposure to outdoor elements, including heat/humidity, cold temperatures, and/or wet conditions. Complete role descriptions are available through the Disney College Program.
What is the pay?
Pay rates range from $9.00 to $9.43 per hour, depending on role. Students are guaranteed at least 30 hours per week and may be scheduled for 50+ hours per week during peak periods. Time-and-a-half is paid after eight hours a day or 40 hours a week.
What about housing?
Most students live in Disney's fully-furnished apartment complexes. These are gated communities with one to four bedroom apartments that house two to eight residents. Weekly housing fees range from $79 to $109, depending on apt. size and location and include local phone, cable and Internet. All residents abide by Community Codes that govern safe and respectful behavior by all. Underage drinking is strictly prohibited and is grounds for immediate dismissal. All visitors must sign in and no guests are allowed after 1 a.m.
What about transportation?
Students must provide their own transportation to and from Florida. It is helpful to have a car while in the program. For students who do not have their own vehicle, Disney provides regular bus service to all work locations and nearby shopping areas.
For More Information
Visit the Disney College Program.
What about academic credit?
All Tompkins Cortland Disney students have the option of enrolling in BUAD 261- Walt Disney World College Program. BUAD 261 can be taken for 3 to 15 credits, depending on the student's major and to what extent the course can help to fulfill degree requirements. BUAD 261 can count as an unrestricted elective or as a BUAD elective. Or it may be substituted for a specific course(s). For example, a Hotel and Restaurant Management student may be able to substitute BUAD 261 for HRMG 102, HRMG 103, HRMG 213, or some elective courses. Similar possibilities are available for Business Administration and other majors. Advance planning and communication with an academic advisor and the Tompkins Cortland Disney Coordinator are essential for students to maximize their credit opportunities.
To earn BUAD 261 credit, students must successfully perform their work role, write several learning reflections essays, and complete one or more courses on-site at Disney (see below.) Learning activities and assignments will be tailored to the number of credits selected by the student for BUAD 261.
Disney on-site courses:
Disney offers numerous opportunities for on-site learning. Disney Collegiate courses are the equivalent of university courses and are endorsed for credit by the American Council on Education. Disney Seminar courses offer the unique opportunity to learn more about how the Walt Disney World Resort operates. Complete course descriptions are available through the Disney College Program.
Tompkins Cortland online courses:
Students who are thinking about taking a Tompkins Cortland online course in addition to BUAD 261 while at Disney should realize that in addition to working full-time, many other activities will compete for their time and attention while living in Orlando. Therefore, self-motivation and excellent time management skills are critically important for success in online courses while at Disney.
What does it cost?
Students who enroll in BUAD 261 must pay tuition and fees to Tompkins Cortland. The tuition amount depends on how many credits the student selects for BUAD 261. Financial aid is available for those who qualify. Disney charges a nonrefundable fee of $300. All of Disney's educational courses are free of charge; students pay only for textbooks and supplies. Housing fees ($79 to $109 per week, depending on apt. size and location) are deducted from weekly paychecks. Students need to have enough money for transportation to and from Florida and to live on for two to three weeks until they receive regular paychecks.
I'm interested! What should I do next?
- Complete information is available through the Disney College Program.
- Talk with your academic advisor to see how and when this internship will best fit into your degree program. Remember that some students do it as a post-graduate semester after completing their degree.
- Meet with the Tompkins Cortland Disney Coordinator to get your questions answered and to discuss your eligibility for the program.
The application process
Timeline: For Fall and Fall Advantage programs, applications are accepted the preceding February and March. For Spring and Spring Advantage programs, applications are accepted the preceding September and October.
- Submit the Tompkins Cortland Disney application to the Tompkins Cortland Disney Coordinator.
- After the coordinator confirms your eligibility for the program, complete the Disney Online Application. This includes a Role Checklist to indicate which roles you are willing to perform, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the roles beforehand. Full descriptions are available through the Disney College Program.
- After Disney accepts your application, the next step is a "web interview," which consists of approximately 100 questions that probe your personality and values.
- If you pass the web interview, you will be invited to participate in a telephone interview.
- You will hear whether Disney has accepted you anywhere from two to six weeks after the phone interview. If you are accepted, follow Disney's instructions for accepting your role offer.
- Work with the Disney coordinator and your academic advisor to decide whether to take BUAD 261 and how many credits are appropriate for you.
- Attend the Tompkins Cortland WDW pre-departure meeting to be scheduled by the Tompkins Cortland Disney coordinator and register for BUAD 261, if applicable.