Walt Disney World to Bring Back Its College Program

May 3, 2021, 1:26 PM · Walt Disney World is bringing back the Disney College Program. Disney today is emailing former program participants who were sent home early or denied the chance to work in 2020 because of the pandemic to reapply for the program.

The Disney College Program brings college students from across the country to work in a variety of roles at the Walt Disney World Resort as part of their college curriculum. Disney canceled the program in March 2020 when it closed its theme parks and has kept the program closed even as parks reopened, due to the lack of need for additional cast members while the parks were operating at reduced capacity.

"As our industry and community continue to bounce back, we have welcomed back thousands of cast members to work and have also restarted our recruitment efforts amid a tight labor market at Walt Disney World," Disney said in its announcement about the college program's return. "Both of these measures are important indicators toward fully reopening our businesses and getting more people back to work."

Disney is also modifying the program's eligibility to allow applicants who have graduated within 24 months of their application date. This allows 2020 and 2021 graduates who would have been able to apply, had the program been open last year, to still have a chance at a Disney college program experience. You can learn more about the DCP, and find the link to apply, on the Disney Careers website.

The restart applies now only to the domestic college program at Walt Disney World. Disney said that it will announce news about the Disney International Programs (which brings cast members to the Epcot World Showcase pavilions, among other things), Disney Culinary Program, and Disneyland's College Program at later dates.

When the Disney College Program returns to Walt Disney World, participants will stay at the new Flamingo Crossings Village, located near the intersection of Western Way and the 429.

Flamingo Crossings Village
Photo courtesy Disney

"This incredible, state-of-the-art complex will surely dazzle and delight participants, adding to the holistic Disney Programs experience," Disney said in its announcement. "The apartment complex offers a variety of amenities, including a resort-style pool, study areas, and fitness facilities."

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Replies (10)

May 3, 2021 at 1:44 PM

Just a heads up: the ICP is not only about Epcot and its pavillions... it also brings students from other countries, to work in all areas of the resort (parks, Disney Springs, hotels etc). I was a part of it in 2005/06, working at Splash Mountain from Brazil, and met people working from Peru, Colombia, just to name a few!

May 3, 2021 at 2:00 PM

Methinks Disney is anticipating a hiring/staffing problem on the horizon. Between relaxing the dress code and bringing back a program that was used to fill tons of high-season staffing holes, it seems pretty clear that Disney expects to quickly staff up despite still limiting capacity right now. To open up the program to people who have already graduated really shows how much they need to replenish their staffing pipeline.

May 3, 2021 at 2:28 PM

/\ The entire hospitality industry is experiencing a labor shortage and is expected to continue that way because the economy is expected to boom in 2021/2022. Most employers in Orlando, including WDW, are already having major staffing shortages and people have been scheduled 60+ hours a week for months. People who are applying for service-related jobs right now are getting hired right away I even know a few people who called about a job posting and the employer asked if they can start the next day. Right now is a great time to be looking for a job. The fact that no foreign labor is allowed into the country has made it very difficult for parks and tourist towns in general to staff as they were heavily reliant on that especially in the food service sector, I mean just look at how many parks have opened in the past month with almost all of their food places closed.

And funny thing about ICPs at Disney, like 8 years ago they stopped allowing ICPs to run e-ticket attractions so if you go to MK at like midnight its pretty common to see the easier attractions (Tomorrowland Speedway, Peoplemover, Winnie the Pooh, etc) being ran almost by entirely ICP crews while the regular CPs and part time workers are working at the e-tickets.
Another random funny ICP fact: they don't have any ICPs from France working in custodial anymore because so many would come over and refuse to do the job that they stopped custodial as a role for the France ICP alltogether.

Anyway this is great news, WDW needs the staff and the American Campus developers probably took a huge bath on that housing complex in 2020/2021 (that had to sting). Based off the verbiage in the announcement it sounds participants have to be vaccinated and are prepared to still have covid measures in place when they get there.

May 3, 2021 at 2:43 PM

I have been seeing more "jobs open" signs at spots from restaurants to movie theaters as vaccinations are helping folks get out more. Hospitality is a bit trickier but seems some increases there even though it'll be a long while before tourism kicks up but promising to see hiring more.

May 3, 2021 at 9:09 PM

Interesting about the ICP. One would think that all the international travel requirements would need to be more loose before they allow foreign employees again. I suppose Disney could allow for flexibility in travel and arrival arrangements should some recruits be barred from a flight due to positive tests.

May 3, 2021 at 11:58 PM

That article says the international college program is not returning yet.

May 4, 2021 at 7:05 AM

Ah, completely missed that part...

May 5, 2021 at 7:55 AM

THC - MKCP alum - Fall 1982.

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