Danielle Prioleau ’18 recalls the magical moments she created during her semester in “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
Growing up there was one thing I knew I always wanted to do, and that was to work for Disney. Once I heard of the Disney College Program in middle school, I knew that I wanted Disney to be a part of my future. When I became a Hawk about three years ago, I planned on applying to the program because I knew that was the best way to get my foot in the door for the company. I applied my first time sophomore year and unfortunately did not get in. However, I did not give up and applied again the beginning of junior year and got accepted for the spring term of 2017. I received the role of Quick Service Food and Beverage at the All-Star Music Resort in the Intermission Food Court. Seeing the words “Congratulations” across the header in my email inbox was indescribable; it definitely brought tears to my eyes. Disney World would become my new home for the next six months. I was finally going to work at the place “where dreams come true!”
Working for Disney was different from working for any other company I had worked for because they live up to the expectation of being “The Happiest Place on Earth.” I had always dreamed of making magical moments similar to the ones you hear about during people’s vacations. For instance, giving out free Fast Passes or being able to meet a character after the time they were supposed to have left. No matter what role cast members are placed in, there is always an opportunity to spread magic. My favorite magical moment I got to be a part of was when I found a guest who was celebrating her 90th birthday and we got balloons, made cards, and placed Disney merchandise in her resort suite. Being able to make magic and positively change a guest’s experience from being good to unforgettable was one of the best parts of being a cast member, because you actually participate in creating the magic.
Along with making magical moments, another aspect I loved about the program was that I got to meet people from all over the world. I met people from Thailand, Japan, Haiti, France, Brazil, Australia, and of course students from the States as well. Going to SJU was extremely beneficial in this way, because I was already used to living in a diverse environment in not only nationalities, but beliefs as well. Although I was a little nervous when I moved to Florida, I was lucky enough to have a fellow Hawk as one of my suite mates. Even though we were all coming from different parts of the world, we all had two things in common: we were college students who loved Disney, so Disney icebreakers were always a go-to.
Through the Disney College Program I was able to fulfill my dream of working for Disney but I did not stop there. In the program you have the option to take classes toward your major taught by Disney professors. I took a five-week marketing course where I was able learn some of Disney’s previous marketing strategies for the parks, the resorts, cruise lines, and merchandise. This was a great opportunity because I plan on pursuing the marketing and public relations field. Some of the classes they offer even allow the students to leave the four-wall structure of the building, go out into the parks, and experience firsthand what they are learning. Networking also is a huge part of this program. All of the managers and people behind the scenes are more than happy to help the students further pursue their dreams through the company past the program, such as advocating a professional internship through the company.
I am so beyond thankful I applied again and found support through my family, friends, and faculty at SJU to do this program. It has honestly taught me so much beyond the work of a classroom and has widened my viewpoint on so many things. As cliché as it sounds, my dream has finally come true and I cannot wait to continue on this magical journey.
Danielle Prioleau is a senior declaring a Communication Studies Major and pursuing an Advertising Minor. She is a member on the Executive Board of the Student Union Board and is further involved in student activities such as Down to Pray (DTP) and Weekly Service.