Disney theme parks are marketed as Magic Kingdoms, and they certainly feel that way to young visitors. But what about those who work at Disney? We interviewed Maxine, 20, who left her home in Essex for a seasonal job at Disney World Florida.
What job were you doing?
Why did you choose to work there?
I was a big Disney fan and in a way it was like a three month working holiday.
How did you find the job?
I got it through Yummy Jobs.
Do you need to be qualified?
No, but I think you have to be a college or university student or a recent graduate due to visa restrictions.
What was your day-to-day routine?
My shifts and days varied but once at work I would collect my costume and then do a set which would last for 20-30 minutes meeting park guests. I then had the rest of that hour in the break room re-hydrating and getting changed (you still get paid for this). I did about 8 sets a day, you would get about 2 days off each week.
What was the salary like?
It was about $6.40 an hour, which isn’t great but the cost of living is cheaper so it was enough to live on. Also, apart from staff discount in the parks and free theme park entry, many restaurants and shops in the local area gave Disney discount to staff members.
Is accommodation included?
You stay in Disney-sponsored accommodation, which are spacious apartments near to Disney World. You usually have to share a room and apartments are shared between 4 and 6 people. The more people you share with the less your rent is. The rent comes out of your pay packet and it varies from $60-$80 dollars a week. They provide free transport to and from all the housing complexes to work – in other words all of the Disney complex. They also have free buses that run to the Florida Mall and supermarkets.
What’s the nightlife like?
Inside Disney World they have Pleasure Island which is a night time entertainment complex with night clubs, restaurants, shops and bars. There’s also live music and a comedy club. Entrance to Pleasure Island is free for Disney staff members and most places give discounts on food and merchandise so you can usually have a cheap night out. There are also many other bars and restaurants around Orlando which are in walking distance, or you can get a bus or taxi to downtown Orlando.
Are there other things to do like sports/beach/tourist attractions?
There are beaches such as Clearwater and Miami isn’t too far although you would have to hire a car to go to these places. International Drive has many other tourist attractions like the non-Disney parks Seaworld and Universal Studios. You can get a taxi to these quite cheaply or there are special bus services.
What’s so good about working out there?
You meet and live with people from all over the world and make great friends. Generally the work is not difficult and the emphasis is on fun and giving the guests the best experience possible, which in turn is very rewarding. Also the perks of free theme park entry are pretty hard to beat as it would cost much more to go on holiday there.
Tell us about the best and worst bits!
The best bits are making some really good friends and learning lots about yourself. The worst bit is probably the low pay and sometimes you work long hours.
Are there any negatives?
Only when you have to get up at four in the morning to start a 12 hour shift after finishing work at 11pm the night before. You work about 35-40 hours a week and because they are shifts, sometimes the way they are scheduled is annoying.
Did you make some new friends?
Yes, lots. I keep in touch with them by email as some live in America, Canada and Hong Kong. I feel like an experience like this bonds you with the people you live and work with so I believe I have made life-long friendships.
Do you plan to work abroad again?
I am planning to go back to Disney for six months when I graduate. I’d also like to do some volunteer work in Australia or Africa.
Do you feel this experience will help you with your career?
I think it will as Disney is such an elite company so it looks good on any C.V. It makes you stand out from the crowd a bit more.
Would you recommend this type of job?
Absolutely, I gained so much out of my experience and working in Disney World really feels like a fantasy!