When the magic starts, it’s just the beginning

You may not believe me when I say I work for a mouse. Yes, I’m talking about Mickey Mouse at Walt Disney World located in Orlando, Florida. I started working here on July 12th, 2017. This is where I am currently carrying out my one-year International College Program. It involves working full time at Magic Kingdom Tomorrowland attractions for the first six months, with the remaining six months to be spent in merchandising. I am also registered in online classes with Central Michigan University to gain extra credit.

This opportunity was offered through a placement session, organised by the University of Portsmouth’s placement team, and conducted by a third-party job recruitment agency called Yummy Jobs. They made the process of applying for the J1 visa less of a hassle, helped organise interviews with Walt Disney World recruiters, and gave valuable tips on making travel arrangements.

To be able to work for Mr Mickey Mouse himself at Walt Disney World has been tremendous. Multiple perks are all part of the package, including free park entry, staff discounts and not to mention free skills improvement classes. I am currently taking classes in leadership, hospitality, and guest relationships. These classes help me learn about the industry, while also preparing me for my future career in leadership. The company also introduces different wording for job roles, where employees are referred to as ‘cast members’ and supervisors are ‘coordinators’. 

Along this wonderful journey I have met many people, experienced different cultures and learned new languages from fellow friends and cast members. It is a wonderful feeling to represent both my university and my country. Thanks to this experience I am able to share my culture with others and live up to my country’s moto of being Caymankind, even while abroad. I’ve also learnt new ways and strategies to deal with difficult situations and how to practice efficiency in everything I do by using the Disney 4 Keys – Courtesy, Safety, Show, and Efficiency.

Furthermore, I’ve learnt that Disney obtains a lot of loyal guests each year through their outstanding guest services which involves meeting unexpected needs and going above and beyond to make your day. This is what I hope to achieve as I leave the company to incorporate this in everything I do and as I work towards my future career as a hotel manager. It was an unparallelled experience, as I am a person who likes to move around and work in different environments. Even so, working at Walt Disney can be a bit of a shock at first because a lot is happening all at once. But in the words of the great Walt Disney: “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

Amy Thompson

IMAC Scholarship 2015 Recipient

University of Portsmouth