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Cast Member Corner: Disney's College Program - West Coast Style

Cast Member Corner: Disney's College Program - West Coast Style

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Hi Jim~

I just discovered your site and am coming "to the party a little late." Since I'm new to your site, I'm not sure whether I should direct this response to your message boards or to you personally, but here goes.

My experience in the College Intern Program at Disneyland in the summer of 1990 is more in line with your first guest columnist. When the Disney reps came to my campus (University of San Diego), they portrayed the experience as a big, fun summer camp. Instead, it was slave labor: $5.00/hour and housing ($700/month) 4 miles away from the park. My tale of woe begins with not having a car. I had to leave the apartment 2 hours earlier than my shift to make it there in time. Getting home was another 2-hour journey. By the time I got home, I was totally wiped out, from the length of the day and the frequent heat waves that summer (I remember many 100+ days). I also remember quite well the walks to the grocery and basing my food choices on how much I could carry back to the apartment. And then there was the attempt to set up a bank account. I couldn't use Disney's credit union because I wasn't a union employee, YET I had deductions from my paycheck to support the union! When I tried to set up an account in an Anaheim Bank, I was refused because the paychecks were too small- you'd think Anaheim banks would have a different policy for their city's main employer.

As you can see, my experience would have been different if I had had a car or if I hadn't been so naive to buy into their portrayal of the Program as a non-stop social event. However, the Stepford Wives-style of Disney management could not have been avoided. If you expressed any individuality, you were condescended to and blackballed from any promotion. I don't want to come across as a negative person, because I'm actually not. It's just a shame, as I had higher expectations of Disney.


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