So it’s officially been over a month since I clocked out of work and walked off Disney property one last time. It was a huge relief, but also a bittersweet feeling. I spent every single day for five months on one part of Disney property or another, and was able to explore tons of areas that I wouldn’t have access to as a guest. In cast member talk, we refer to those areas as “backstage” and I was able to experience so many backstage locations thanks to my (sometimes) wonderful role of Merchandise.
No, I did not spend the past five months working at Walt Disney World as a princess (although if people asked, I wouldn’t deny it), but I did spend my time there selling hundreds upon thousands of bubble wands to children, which made for some interesting stories. Yet when I was lucky enough to branch out of my normal operations of roaming Magic Kingdom with a cart full of plastic goodies, I was able to work shifts in three of the four parks, as well as a whole slew of places in Disney Springs.
It was so cool to check out how different stores operated, plus if gave a good excuse not to get bored at work. Being able to work somewhere new whenever I wanted to trade shifts kept the job exciting, and of course I mostly switched it up so I could try on all the (not so) cute costumes.
So here is my final compilation, in order, of all the places I worked during my Disney College Program, along with some super flattering selfies to show off those beautiful costumes.
Magic Kingdom Ad/Lib Merchandise
Ad/Lib was my assigned role, and therefore became my home over the semester. Although I just heard word today that ad/lib as a section no longer exists and was rezoned, it will always have a place in my heart (except for you Pirates. I hated you). Ad/Lib is short for Adventureland/Liberty Square, so my stores included Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe, Memento Mori, Pirates Bazaar, and Agrabah Bazaar. See if you can figure out from the pictures which costume goes to which (it’s really not that hard).
In addition to the stores, we were in charge of the Glow opperation, which became my main role, and were responsible for selling anything that lights up across the park at night.
Magic Kingdom Main Street East
This was the first shift I picked up outside of my zone, and also happened to be one of my favorites. I mean, come on, I was born to wear this costume. I worked in Uptown Jewelers for this shift, so I sold Dooney & Burke bags, Pandora charms, and lots and lots of expensive Disney jewelry.
Animal Kingdom Discovery Island
This was my first time working outside of Magic Kingdom, so I was a little nervous, but I quickly became comfortable with the laid back vibes Animal Kingdom gave off. After steering every guest in the wrong direction due to my lack of knowledge on the park, I was able to really fall in love with the ugliest costume ever, and enjoy my 10 hour shift.
Animal Kingdom Main Entrance
For this shift, I didn’t even have to go in the park, so half the stress from guests was gone. Although I did arrive an hour late due to bus issues (#thanksTranStar), and they sent me home an hour early (probably because they didn’t want me screwing anything else up), it was a super laid back shift that I would totally have picked up again if given the opportunity.
Disney Springs Wonderful World of Memories
Probably one of the most boring shifts of my life because no one knows this store exists and all we sold were the tackiest of tacky souvenirs, but it invited my into the wonderful world of Disney Springs, which became my favorite location to pick up shifts.
Hollywood Studios Rock Around the Shop
Aside from the costume, I was so incredibly excited to pick up at the Rockin’ Rollercoaster gift shop. What could be better than working in my favorite park and listening to Aerosmith for 6 hours? (I quickly found out that there are only ~12 family friendly Aerosmith songs that they can play on loop in that area)
Hollywood Studios Tatooine Traders
Another store in Hollywood Studios that really made me wish it was my home park. I was able to geek out over Star Wars for eight hours and pretend I knew more than I actually did. One of the super unique things about this store was that they have a lightsaber building station where kids (or adults, we don’t judge) can create their own lightsaber, so that was incredibly fun to work on.
Disney Springs Pin Traders
I went into this shift thinking it was going to be a drag, due to the fact that the store is all outdoors and only sells one product: pins. Yet it was actually one of my favorite locations that I worked. All of the guests there were avid Disney fans, so they were great to talk to, and stocking pins was an incredibly relaxing way to kill time. I wanted to pick up there again, but never had the opportunity to.
Magic Kingdom Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Treats
This was a super fun one, because I didn’t have to sell anything! For this shift, I handed out candy to all the trick or treaters, while wearing the infamous party costume. Although I was lucky enough that I got to wear it three times a week anyway for my glow shifts.
Hollywood Studios Fantasmic
Since I was glow trained, I was able to pick up a Fantasmic glow shift, where we sold stuff off our carts in the amphitheater before the nightly show. this was super fun because I actually got to watch the show, which I rarely saw because I only worked nights, and I got to meet people who wanted to trade Magic Kingdom glow shifts.
Disney Springs TrenD
I had high expectations for TrendD, I really did, but aside from the wonderful loop of Christmas music playing, I was let down. It was super boring AND I had to fold clothes, which I am highly incapable of doing. So I didn’t want to go back (but guess what, I did!) Later in my program I had to call out sick one day, and the only shift I could pick up on my day off was back at TrenD, yet I’m happy to announce it was much better the second time around. The costume tho? The opposite of trendy.
Disney Springs Disney’s Days of Christmas
Drumroll please……the was my all time favorite location to work at, and I am so envious of those who had this as their permanent location. Starting with the costume (so cute!!) and moving on to the store itself (so organized!!). So I felt a little bad cheating on my own Christmas shoppe with this one, but I don’t feel bad at all for saying it was 10x better. Their organization was off the charts, and I was never bored. it helped that I was already familiar with the products, so I felt right at home. Loved it so much that I picked up there twice more following the first time. If I ever worked merchandise for WDW again (which I don’t plan on doing) I would be ecstatic if that was my home location, and I guarantee I’d be happy to go to work each morning.
Disney Springs Marketplace Co-Op
Last, but certainly not least, was the Co-Op in Disney Springs that is made up of about 6 mini stores. This was Christmas Eve eve, and it was a madhouse full of last minute shoppers, but it was also calming to know I was there instead of the insanity that was the parks. I never got bored due to the constant rotation between the shops, and I had an amazing time knowing it was the las shift outside of my home location.
Magic Kingdom Very Merry Christmas Party
This wasn’t an additional shift, but I did want to share the costume I was able to wear every Christmas party during my glow shifts, because I loved it so much.
If you kept up, you noticed Epcot sadly didn’t make the cut. I was trying desperately to try to work there to finish my 4 park goal, but it was very hard due to all the international pavilions. I guess that just means I need to work for the company again so I can pick up a shift there huh?
So there we have it. I worked in a total of 16 stores, 3 parks, Disney Springs, and all of the lands in Magic Kingdom. I was able to wear 19 different costumes, which is all that really matters, right? There were definitely a ton more stores on my bucket list that I wanted to try, but it’s really hard to get what you want in the blood pool that is the Merchandise Shift Exchange Facebook pages. I’m really happy that I was able to try so many different places though, because like I mentioned, it kept the job exciting.
I don’t have much more to write about the Disney College Program, so this is probably my last blog on the topic, but new and exciting things are in the works for the future, and I can’t wait to share them with you!