I recently went to a seminar on working for Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida as part of a college program and found out some interesting information. First, Disney pays very poor wages. The wage is $6 / hour and you must live in a specific 'college community' approved housing. This approved housing is not free & comes out of your weekly check. You are expected to work 35 - 45 hours a week and the rest of the time is up to you how to spend it. They do offer courses in Retail, Management, & Public Speaking for free to students in the college program, which is a plus and they said that many Universities take the courses as actual college credit.

On the plus side however, all the alumni kids that were at the meeting said that they absolutely loved the job. Although they didn't get paid well, they describe the setting as living in Florida in a big dorm-like place with 2,000 - 2,500 other college kids. The Atlantic ocean is a 1 hour drive away, & the Gulf of Mexico is only 2 hours away. So if you're a college student and want to work for Disney, it's basically a chance to have a lot of fun, meet lots of people, put a big company on your resume, but not get paid well at all.

Oh, one last thing, they had a lot of various jobs, which they actually called "character roles". These were:

Quick Service (Fast Food)

Full Service (Restaurants)

Operations (Attractions, Greeter, Parking)

Showkeeping (Custodian)





Role Hopper (Assigned to multiple positions)

Aquatics Program

I'd reccomend attending one of their on campus seminars if you're intersted in going. As for this writer, I'm still deciding...

Warning: This tale is hearsay. Having said that, I trust the teller. Whether you trust me is entirely your choice. Plus, it's not that shocking anyway.

A friend of mine who was working in theater after graduating was once offered an audition at Walt Disney World. At the time, The Mouse was considering resurrecting The Mickey Mouse Club with new young talent, and were vetting the current crop of young hopeful potentials. Although my friend would characterize herself as a complete and utter cynic, she figured "what the hell, it's paying work and worst case I can fuck with loads of young, impressionable minds." So off she went to Florida, where Disney was kind enough to put her up in one of their many hotels.

One of the things about Disney theme parks (like most theme parks) is that one of the critical tasks of the designers and operators is the make sure that the paying public never get a sense of the massive operation it takes to make the things run. In the case of Disneyworld, it's even worse than usual, given the huge complexity and size of the attraction. As a result, there are really two Disneyworlds - one, the primary-colored funland that we all see, and another that is intertwined with it like a Dark Force Octopus, with tunnels and galleries and crawlways and passages. This is the part that workers at the park use to do their jobs, which usually involve popping up at some particular place at some particular time; or maintaining the enormous physical plant.

In the case of Disneyworld, it is referred to as backstage. It also contains, besides the maintenance works, lots of the operating facilities of the park - first aid, personnel offices, waiting areas, dressing rooms (loads), costume storage, etc.

Back to the story.

So she's been in the park three days. She has discovered that there are complete studio facilities hidden away in the park, and it is in these rooms which she plies her trade. Although (she told me) the auditions themselves were not terribly onerous (and, in fact, the Disney crew remarkably solicitous compared to most theatrical types holding auditions) she's getting exhausted. This is normal. What's not normal, however, is her jonesing.

See, you can't smoke in Disneyworld. Anywhere. The hotels, the park, the backstage area, nowhere. Which she hasn't left for three days. At the end of her final audition, she's in an elevator which is carrying her back up from an underground office area to the park levels, and she is dying for a cig. A butt. A cancer stick. A fag. SOMETHING with nicotine in it. She's fairly sure she hasn't gotten the part or that they're not really going to do the show (she claimed to me...I think she was just desperate).

Just to make matters worse, this is the slowest elevator in All Of Creation.

So she says "Fuck it," to the air and lights up a cigarette. Takes a drag. Holds the smoke in her lungs to let those enormous mucous membranes grab the good stuff from that funky air and spike it into her bloodstream. Exhales.

Just as the trembling is subsiding, the elevator slows, stops. The doors open, and a young man, in civvies but wearing facepaint and an incongruous pair of sunglasses gets on the elevator. The doors close and they resume their ascent. He removes his sunglasses and smiles at her. She nods.


He turns to her with the air of someone who has just decided to discharge a duty he has been considering skipping. "Hi! Are you enjoying your stay at Disneyworld?"

She waves her bag and scripts at him. "I'm not a guest, I'm here to audition. I was, I mean."

"Ah." He turns back, studies the panel for a time, then turns to her. "But are you enjoying your stay here in The Park?" Capitals clearly audible.

She is a bit confused, and realizes she is holding a lit cigarette while standing directly underneath a 'NO SMOKING IN ELEVATOR' sign. "Oh, look, I'm sorry -" waves the cig "- but I was dying." She stubs it out.

He shakes his head just a fraction of an inch. "Oh, no problem, ma'am, no problem, not my department. But you're having a good stay?"

At this point, my friend is convinced this guy is deaf, or maybe wearing earplugs for his costume, so she replies in slow, loud speech, clearly enunciated. "NO, I'm NOT A GUEST, I'm auditioning. Really, you don't have to worry about me, I'm on my way out anyway, and I've been down here the whole time. Seriously -" because he is once more shaking his head slightly "- seriously, you can skip the pitch."

As she is speaking, the elevator has slowed, and the doors opened at the top level. Her companion is about to move, but stops, turns to face her with a slightly fixed and inane grin, and then mumbles without moving his lips: "Nope. Nope. Can't. Cameras everywhere."

Then he flees down the corridor.

To this day, Disney makes me nervous.

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