By Kelsi Peace, Features Editor
When Sandra Larson was in elementary school, she made a poster saying when she grew up she wanted to work at Disneyland. More than ten years later, Sandra’s about to live up to the dream that she keeps pinned to her wall.
Sandra, junior interdisciplinary major from Tuscan, Ariz., recently received her acceptance letter to the Walt Disney World College Program, where she will work in merchandising and take two college classes during the program.
“I’ve wanted to work for Disney for a long time, and this just seems like the perfect way to get my foot in the door,” Larson said.
According to BusinessWeek, it is. In its “Best Place to Launch a Career” for 2006, the magazine named Disney No. 1.
Larson said she hopes the internship will be the opportunity she needs to begin a career with Disney, possibly in event planning, she said.
“This is such an entry into the Disney company,” she said. “Most of the people who are working for Disney started here, so that’s kind of reassuring.”
Future cast members swap advice, excitement and concerns on their Facebook group, WDW College Program Fall 07. The program maintains strict regulations on everything from a no-tolerance underage drinking policy to maintaining the “Disney Look,” with no visible tattoos or excessive piercings.
Larson is part of the Fall Advancement Program, which means she will begin in May and end in January. In keeping with its goal of entertainment, Disney refers to its employees as “cast members,” Larson said. Cast members work “onstage” in the park and wear “costumes” rather than uniforms – all of which makes it more fun, Larson said.
“It’s kind of cliche, but I’m excited about being a part of people’s magical adventures,” she said. “I remember going to Disneyland so many times, and just little things that cast members do, it still sticks in my mind. I’m just excited to be that person who helps create those memories for people.”
She is hoping to create those memories from Epcot’s World Showcase, the kingdom in Disney World that allows visitors to take a “passport” and tour the world, enjoying the food, culture and costumes of many countries. Larson won’t find out where she will be working until she arrives, which she said is a little nerve-raking. While acting as a Disney character was one option, Larson said an extra audition was required and she selected merchandise instead.
Disneyland is familiar territory to Larson, who recalls going often while growing up in Arizona, and she has been to Disney World several times as well. In fact, her spring break plans include a family vacation to the Magic Kingdom, Larson said, laughing.
If only her elementary-school self could see her now.