Hourly Pay Increase Announced for Cast Members on the Disney College Program

Disney College Program
Credit: Disney

Cast Member wages have been a hot topic for several years at Disney Parks, and recent union negotiations finally resulted in pay increases that could make substantial differences for many Cast. Disney College Program Cast Members, or interns, are not represented by unions.

As such, their wages are typically not part of the larger discussions on the topic despite the fact that they work many of the same roles as their regular full-time counterparts. While there are still major differences in pay and benefits between the two groups, Disney just announced that the starting wages for Cast on the Disney College Program will also increase.

Cast Member Appreciation

Credit: Disney

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The Disney College Program offers college students and recent graduates the opportunity to “live, learn, and earn,” at the Walt Disney World Resort. During the internship, which could last for a semester, summer, or a year, College Program participants (CPs) can live in company-sponsored housing at Flamingo Crossings Village, work on frontline roles at the theme parks and Resorts, and take classes, participate in networking events and opportunities, and more.

For many future full-time Disney Cast Members, the Disney College Program serves as a “foot in the door,” to the company. And while the positions CPs work may be similar (or exactly the same) as full-time and part-time Cast Members, the pay and benefits students receive has not always reflected that.

While there is still more work to do, the Disney College Program has confirmed that hourly pay for CPs will increase to $16 per hour beginning June 4, 2023:

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The bump to $16/hour will give CPs a $2 increase over their previous pay of $14 per hour. As a reminder, Disney Cast Member starting wages were recently increased to $18 per hour following tense union negotiations. Regular Cast Member pay increases also include backpay, along with several other benefits not available to CPs.

Participants of the Disney College Program receive several benefits that all Cast Members are entitled to, such as complimentary theme park admission (subject to blockout dates), and discounts on merchandise, dining, and more. They do not, however, receive some of what many consider to be the most important benefits like holiday pay, paid time off, and of course the aforementioned backpay.

With Disney stating that College Program pay will not increase until June 4, and Cast Members on the DCP only working for the company for a few months at a time, they will not receive backpay that regular Cast will receive based on union negotiations.


Credit: Disney

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Students on the Disney College Program could work in roles like quick-service food and beverage, merchandise, attractions, custodial, recreation, entertainment, and more, with character performer positions recently returning to the program.

In addition to working in the theme parks and Resorts, CPs can live in company-sponsored housing. Rent is deducted automatically weekly from CP paychecks, and housing includes transportation to and from the theme parks and Resorts, as well as grocery stores and the post office, utilities, fitness centers, Wi-Fi, and more.

Applications for the Disney College Program are available online for arrival dates May-October 2023. (Note that with the pay increase beginning June 4, 2023, CPs who arrive before this date will make $14 until the increase goes into effect. For more information on the program, visit

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."