Is anyone else finally feeling like the Walt Disney World that we knew pre-Covid times is back with us?
New attractions are opening, information about renovations on the horizon is being confirmed, and hugs with our favorite Disney characters are back! Of course, we know that there are things that are still missing, but it seems that they are just about in the minority now compared to this time last year.
One thing noticeably missing from the Disney Parks since their closure in March 2020 has been the diversity shown among Cast Members from around the world. Historically, the Walt Disney Company has offered several programs that have made it possible for people from all over the world to become a Cast Member. Such opportunities have brought diversity and representation to the Disney Parks.
Of course, and understandably, the pandemic brought all Disney Programs to a stop. But we can now confirm that the wait is over! In addition to the EPCOT Cultural Representative Program being open for applications, the last couple of weeks have also seen additional Disney Programs open for applications too.
J1 Cultural Exchange Program
The Disney Cultural Exchange Program allows International Cast Members to take part in a three-month work experience in the Walt Disney World Resort. Applications are welcome from students who are 18 years or older and are currently enrolled at an accredited university or college.
An eligibility requirement for the International Program is to have completed at least one semester already. Additionally, Disney International Program participants will return to university or college for one semester, upon return from their work experience.
Future Cast Members that will participate in the Cultural Exchange Program are likely to be from Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Norway, or the United Kingdom. Participants will occupy a wide range of roles around the Disney Parks and Resort hotels. These include; merchandise; recreational activities; food and beverage; lifeguarding; and attractions. This list isn’t limited, allowing college students to see just how many roles are required at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Additionally, Disney Program participants are given the opportunity to work either in a Disney theme park, Disney Springs, or at a Disney Resort Hotel. This is a wonderful opportunity offered to international people who have always dreamed of working in Walt Disney World.
Other Disney Programs
On March 25, 2022, we received the exciting news that the EPCOT Cultural Representative Program applications were finally reopening. Future Cast Members from the United Kingdom, Norway, Mexico, Germany France, and Canada are applying to represent their respective cultures in EPCOT World Showcase as we write.
Applications have also recently closed for the Disney College Program. This Disney Program is open to residents of the U.S., aged 18 years or older. A Disney College Program participant has to be enrolled or taking classes in an accredited university or college. Alternatively, they must have graduated from an accredited college or university within 24 months of applying for the College Program. Previously the Disney College Program opened applications at least twice per year. We’re excited to hear if the same practice will resume.
Why we’re excited about the return of Disney Programs
Participation in Disney Programs has proved invaluable in opening doors for Cast Members in other areas of the Walt Disney Company. Cast Members who have previously worked around the Walt Disney World Resort later work for Disney Cruise Line, other Disney Parks around the world, and in the Walt Disney Company headquarters. A Disney career also provides Cast Members with invaluable experience that they can take into a future job role. Not only that, but having the Walt Disney Company on your resume is very well respected.
Whilst there are gains for Disney Program participants who have the privilege to fill the position of a Cast Member, at the heart of it all is making magic. It’s without doubt that we really have missed interactions with Cast Members representing countries from around the world in a Disney Park. Here are the reasons why we’re excited to see international Cast Members return once more.
A learning experience
Interacting with Cast Members from another country or culture is really insightful. Not only can you hear of places you never knew existed, but you can find out about different cultures. Hearing firsthand from somebody from another culture or country brings about a new level of appreciation for a place you may have never visited. These interactions could be what inspires you to visit a new place on a future vacation.
If you or a member of your family is a budding linguist, Walt Disney World provides the perfect place to practice speaking another language. It doesn’t matter if your attempt isn’t successful this time around, as all Cast Members are required to speak fluent English. If you haven’t yet had the chance to practice a new language, why not make it your aim to do so on your next Disney vacation?
Don’t forget that Guests may learn some Disney secrets too when stopping to chat with a Cast Member. Just because they aren’t a local to Lake Buena Vista, doesn’t mean that they won’t be of help. In fact, you may find that you’re speaking to someone who can share secrets and tips that help to make your vacations that extra bit more magical for years to come.
Share your own culture
Not only may you learn something during a Cast Member interaction, but they may do so too! Cast Members love to find out where Guests are from, and why your hometown is a great place to live. Why not find out a cool thing to experience where you live and pass your knowledge on next time you’re chatting with an international Cast Member? You may just inspire them to visit your corner of the world!
So, get ready for those interactions with Walt Disney World Cast Members to become even more magical! It really won’t be long before Cast Members from around the world are making magic for Guests once more at the Disney Parks and Resorts in Lake Buena Vista.