The Mouse Knows Best Podcast

Friday, August 25, 2017

Tips for the Disney College Program: Applying

In January 2012, I applied for the Disney College Program at Walt Disney World.  It was a spur of the moment decision, but it was a decision I do not regret.  Since it is Disney College Program application season, I thought I would pass some advice along to the next generation of Disney College Program participants.  Over the next four weeks, I’ll be doing a series titled Tips for the DCP where I will focus on four aspects of the program:  Applying, Arriving, Working, and Playing.  I’ll also be answering question over on my Twitter @rahrah6263 for anyone who has questions about the DCP!

So let’s get this started!  It’s time to apply for the Disney College Program!


The Disney College Program is a semester long paid internship for students in college or who have recently graduated. Program dates correlate with college semesters, so students will either be applying for Fall or Spring programs. For me, I applied in January and my program was August through January.  Applications for the Spring Program (January-May) typically come open in late August. It is best to get your application in early, so sign up for the Disney College Program emails to stay up to date with everything.

For me, the application process for the DCP went super quick.  Just two weeks after applying, I received the email that I had been accepted to the program.  I know I am lucky because I know some people who waited for over a month to hear back about their acceptance.
The application process starts with the standard job application where you fill out your school and work background and all that fun stuff.  It is a tedious application but don’t dispair!  It is also where you get to select the roles you want to apply for.  There are a vast array of roles to apply for so be sure to check all the ones you would want to do to increase your chances at gaining a position in the program.  With that being said though, don’t put down your interest for a role you wouldn’t actually want to do.

After the initial application process, you’ll receive an email for a web-based interview if you’ve made it past the first cut.  I’m not sure if this interview is the same as when I took it, but I had to answer several questions on a scale that ranged from your work ethic to if you’re ok with standing in the Florida sun.  This helps the recruiters get a sense of who you are before choosing to move you along to the next part of the application process.

Once you make it past the initial application process, you’ll receive an email to schedule a phone interview with a recruiter.  The phone interviews are a great time for you to express who you are and why you want to work for The Walt Disney Company.  It is also the perfect time to tell them what location and role you would most like to do.  Although they cannot guarantee anything, they usually make a note of your preferences.

For me, I told my recruiter I wanted to work at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in retail and that is exactly where I ended up.  Although not everyone may be as lucky, it is worth mentioning to your recruiter what you want to do and where you’d want to do it.

Once the phone interview is over, you’ll be sent into the longest waiting process of your life.  It can take over four weeks sometimes to hear back about your acceptance, but trust me: the email is worth the wait.

Accepting the Job Offer

After celebrating your acceptance into the DIsney College Program, it is time to select your arrival/departure dates and pay the program fees.  You only have a few days to do this so be ready once you get the email of your acceptance.

Your job offer will tell you what role you will be in, but it will not tell you the location.  They save the location until you arrive on the program, and it makes for a magical moment when you find out your work location.   The offer will also tell you all the details of your program so be sure to read it carefully.

Preparing for Arrival

As your arrival date draws near, make sure you have completed all the onboarding paperwork and you have all the necessary documents for your I9 paperwork once you arrive.  You’ll also need to print your boarding pass and itinerary prior to bring with you to check-in.  If you are bringing a vehicle, make sure you have the registration paperwork in your name at check in.  You will also need a proof of car insurance.

Enjoy the Adventure

The Disney College Program is an experience unlike any other.  It will challenge you in ways you never thought possible, and it will bring you more joy than you knew could exist while working in 100 degree weather.  You will experience an array of emotions from the happiness when you arrive to the sadness when you leave.

The best advice I received before beginning the Disney College Program was to keep an open mind. You might not get the location or role that you want, but you can embrace the fact that you were chosen to carry on Walt Disney’s legacy and go out there everyday and make him proud.

If you have any questions about any aspects of the Disney College Program, please tweet me at @rahrah6263. 

Robyn Fleenor is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. She is an avid Disney fanatic and would rather be at Walt Disney World eating glazed almonds than anything else.  When she isn't working to pay for her next Disney vacation, she likes to binge watch TV shows and fall in love with fictional characters. She can be found tweeting at @rahrah6263. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Attention on the Attractions: A History of the Jungle Cruise

Walt Disney World
During the 1940s and 1950s, Walt Disney Productions released a series of nature documentary films titled the True Life Adventure series that ranged from short to feature length productions.  The series was super successful and won eight Academy Awards including three Academy Awards for Best Documentary Feature and five for Best Two Reel Live Action Short awards.
According to The History of Disney, it was suggested by production designer Harper Goff that the success of the True Life Adventure series be used to create an attraction at Disneyland.  One film in particular, The African Queen, served as the inspiration behind the famous Jungle Cruise attraction at Disney Parks worldwide.  Walt Disney wanted the attraction to be filled with live animals so guests could see them up close, but after consulting animal specialist, he realized that an audio-animatronic lion would be much easier to control than a live one.

Disney Parks Blog
The Jungle Cruise was an opening day attraction at Disneyland on July 17, 1955, and is still in operation at the California park.  It’s said that Walt Disney used to drive his Nash Rambler through the riverbeds to give tours of the coming attraction and to show off the mechanics of the animals.  Today, the seven minute boat ride also has tours taking place in the Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland, and Hong Kong Disneyland.  
Although theming may change slightly from park to park, the basic setting of the boatdock of Jungle Cruise is a depression era British outpost on the Amazon River operated by The Jungle Navigation Co.  While standing in the queue, guests can hear a radio broadcast full of jokes and puns to prepare them for their impending voyage.  There are also several artifacts, tools and photos to help set the atmosphere for the cruise.

Theme Park Tourist
Once guests arrive at the loading area, they will board one of the uniquely named boats and begin their journey into the jungle.  The boats at each attraction have their own names, but since Walt Disney World is my home park, I thought I would share their names because they're too fun not to mention.  Amazon Annie, Bomokandi Bertha, Congo Connie, Ganges Gertie, Irrawaddy Irma, Mongala Millie, Nile Nellie, Rutshuru Ruby, Sankuru Sadie, Senegal Sal, Ucyali Lolly, Volta Val, Wamba Wanda, and Zambezi Zelda can be spotted at the Magic Kingdom bringing a smile to guests all year round.  The boats are designed to look like they have seen better days, but rest assured, your Skipper knows how to steer them.  Just don’t pay *too* much attention to the steering wheel.
After boarding, guest will get to tour four unique rivers of the world while taking the Jungle Cruise - the Amazon, Congo, Nile, and Mekong.  As guests travel through each of the rivers, they get to see animals and plants from each of the river's’ natural environment.  Bill Evans, a WDI Master Landscape Architect, meticulously selected the plants for the attraction so they would have a tropical feel and would also stand up to the varying climates of its respective park.  While walking up to the queue to the WDW attraction, you will notice wooden planted boxes with trees planted in them and their tagged destination is “Evans Exotic Plant Exporters.”  This is a tribute to all the work Bill Evans did to bring the Jungle Cruise to life.

All Ears
The Disney Parks Blog reports that Bill Evans’ “goal was to develop a ‘Hollywood Jungle,’ a mixture of exotic plants and trees that would give the feeling of traveling through exciting and uncharted territories. To create his Hollywood Jungle there in Anaheim, Bill developed some intrepid techniques, like smuggling plant seeds inside the cuffs of his socks and planting orange trees upside down to resemble mangroves.  Bill also worked with the site’s existing horticulture when designing the Jungle Cruise. Originally planned for the east side of Disneyland park (where Tomorrowland would be built), Adventureland was moved to the west side of Main Street, U.S.A., to incorporate the large eucalyptus trees planted there by the orange farmers who previously owned the land. Planted to function as a windbreak for the orange groves, these trees made the perfect visual barrier, hiding all the mysteries that lay within the Jungle Cruise.”
In addition to the imported vegetation, there is also native trees and plants that make their home on the Jungle Cruise.  There is even a tree at the Disneyland attraction that predates even Walt Disney himself.  According to Mental Floss, the large palm tree is located just outside the entrance to the attraction and dates back to 1896.  It is named the Dominquez Palm “after the family who lived there before the land became a theme park.  The rancher who sold the land to Disney requested that this particular tree be spared, and Disney obliged, moving all 15 tons of tree from the parking lot area to Adventureland.”
When the attraction first opened at Disneyland, the script read just like a documentary film, lacking all of the comedy that made the Jungle Cruise world famous.  Today, Skippers are given a script but are encouraged to adlib their tour to make each one a unique experience. This is said to come from Walt Disney himself who overheard a mother tell her son they weren’t going to ride the Jungle Cruise because they did that last time they were there.   

The comedy starts before you even set sail and soon guests will encounter Amazon butterflies with wingspans from twelve inches to a whopping one foot before reaching Inspirations Falls which inspires them to go deeper and deeper into the jungle.  After leaving the Amazon, guests head to the Congo where they discover a deserted Pygmy party.  Traveling on into the jungle, the Skipper arrives back at their camp on the Nile River, only to find it has been ransacked by gorillas.
After seeing some more African wildlife brought to life by audio-animatronics, guests get to experience the eighth wonder of the world: the backside of water at Schweitzer Falls.  The cruise ends by passing the head salesman of the jungle, Trader Sam.  He has a great bargain you might just lose your head over if you take it.

WDW Live
As if the Jungle Cruise couldn’t get any more amazing, in 2013, the cruise received a Christmas overlay that was titled the Jingle Cruise.  Although most of the attraction looks the same except for some Christmas lights and decor, the Skipper’s jokes take on a more holiday approach that are sure to make everyone laugh.
The Jungle Cruise is one of the few attractions that has withstood the test of time and I truly believe - and hope - it will have a constant presence in the parks.  Disney Parks just wouldn’t be the same without the world famous Jungle Cruise and it’s Skippers entertaining us through the jungles of the world.

Robyn Fleenor is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. She is an avid Disney fanatic and would rather be at Walt Disney World eating glazed almonds than anything else.  When she isn't working to pay for her next Disney vacation, she likes to binge watch TV shows and fall in love with fictional characters. She can be found tweeting at @rahrah6263. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

I Want It All: Disney's Streaming Service

You may have heard by now that The Walt Disney Company is planning on pulling it’s media content from Netflix in 2019.  It was also announced that Disney will launch its own streaming service and has plans to acquire BAMTech, a streaming and marketing service.

With the change in viewing habits, more people are cutting cable cords and moving to strictly streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon.  Numerous households subscribe to several of the streaming services, and according to eMarketer, a digital research firm, almost  80% of millennials have access to streaming services.

With these statistics, it is no surprise that Disney is ready to venture out into it’s own streaming platform.  The only thing that surprises me is that it’s taken this long for them to do so.

A majority of The Walt Disney Company’s cable earnings come from ESPN and it’s countless subchannels.  However, with the countless other ways to watch a sporting event on a mobile device, ESPN’s earnings have steadily dropped over the last few years.
When Disney launches its ESPN streaming service is 2018, it will include thousands of live regional, national, and international sporting events.  For the sports lover, this will be a must-have package to keep track of all the sporting events.  And for those of us who don’t care much about sports, we won’t have to pay for a service we don’t even watch.  Brilliant.  Thank you, Iger.

In 2019, Disney will launch its separate Disney streaming services that will include live action and animated movies from Disney and Pixar as well as content from the Disney Channel, Disney Junior, and Disney XD.  It is unclear yet if content from ABC and Freeform will be included in the streaming service.

Unlike Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, Disney has a time-tested vault full of classic movies and TV shows that people are going to be willing to pay for.  They don’t have to struggle to prove they can make an original movie - they’ve been doing it since the 1930s, which is decades longer than any of its current streaming competitors have been around.

Paul R. La Monica, a digital correspondent for CNN, had this to say about the future of streaming services:  “But here's the thing. For many couch potatoes, a subscription to several of these services -- if not all of them -- might still be necessary because they all churn out original, exclusive content.  That's especially the case with Netflix. Disney won't have House of Cards, Orange is the New Black or Stranger Things.

It's important to remember that Netflix also has original shows that are produced by other big media companies, and Hollywood studios may decide they would rather put their content on their own platforms than on Netflix.  For example, Disney owns Marvel, and it's not clear whether Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, all based on Marvel characters, will stay on Netflix or move to the new Disney service. The Defenders, a new show that brings these four together, will premiere on Netflix on August 18.

The other streaming companies also realize they need their own hits to attract subscribers. Want to watch the dystopian nightmare that is The Handmaid's Tale? You need Hulu. Amazon is home to the award-winning Transparent as well as Sneaky Pete and Mozart in the Jungle. And you won't find Game of Thrones streaming anywhere but HBO Go or the Internet-only subscription service HBO Now.

With so many streaming services offering a variety of original content, it will be interesting to see how the addition of Disney’s own streaming service will pan out over the next few years.  There are still some questions to be answered, most importantly the cost.  With it’s competitors currently charging anywhere from $7 to $12 for their streaming services, it could be assumed that Disney’s service would fall in that range as well.  

An avid Disney tweeter and former fellow Cast Member friend, Matt DeWater, recently offered his thoughts on Disney’s future pricing and I think it would work well.  He suggested a tier system for the Disney content.  For a Disney only streaming services, it could be $7; a Marvel tier could be $5; a Star Wars tier could be $5; and if you bundled them all together, it could be $15.  Of course with inflation over the next few years, the pricing could go up but even $20 a month for all of Disney’s content would not be a bad deal at all.

Another important question that still remains is exactly what content will be available.  Will it be all of Disney’s repertoire of animated and live action movies and TV shows?  Will it cycle in content for so many months and then remove it to keep the demand up for it?  Will the Marvel shows on Netflix be removed from Netflix and put on the Disney streaming services?  I guess only time will tell.  It will be an interesting two years to say the least.  All I know is that I am super excited to see what is to come.

Robyn Fleenor is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. She is an avid Disney fanatic and would rather be at Walt Disney World eating glazed almonds than anything else.  When she isn't working to pay for her next Disney vacation, she likes to binge watch TV shows and fall in love with fictional characters. She can be found tweeting at @rahrah6263. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

It Is Time: Top Five Daytime Shows & Parades, Past and Present

"What time is the 3 o'clock parade?"

It's a long standing Disney joke that this is the most asked question to a Disney Cast Member.  But honestly, it kind of makes sense.  Let's say you're watching the Festival of Fantasy Parade in Froniterland.  Then, for you, the parade would indeed begin at 3 o'clock.  However if you're watching on Main Street USA, the parade wouldn't start until about 3:20.

Anyway, enough of my former Cast Member self trying to justify the random questions guests ask.

Parades and stage shows have been a staple at Disney Parks from the beginning.  My family has countless home videos of parades and shows of days gone by that we re-watch on occasion because they are still that good.  And since Walt Disney World is my home park, I have decided to rank the five best shows and parades from the past and present.

Inside the Magic

5. Citizens of Hollywood

The Citizens of Hollywood were there on opening day at Disney-MGM Studios, and for years, they entertained people on Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards. The Citizens were able to transport you to the Hollywood that never was and always will be at the Studios with their costumes, jokes, and general antics.  Their shows ranged from a bachelorette type show to an always entertaining game of "99 objects walk into a bar" jokes.  They were the perfect Streetmosphere for Disney’s Hollywood Studios and I can only hope something half as great as the Citizens of Hollywood come to my home park soon.

Walt Disney World

4. Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage

This show opened at Disney’s MGM Studios on the same day it premiered in theaters, and it’s safe to say that both the film and the stage show became instant classics.  The 25-minute Broadway style production stays true to the original film and features most of the hit songs from the film. I remember being a little kid and watching this show every time we visited the park, usually while eating popcorn or ice cream.  With the recent successful live-action remake of the film, one can only wonder if the new songs will be added into the show.  (I could totally get behind ‘Evermore’ being added if nothing else.)

WDW Live

3. Celebrate a Dream Come True

I may be biased as I got to see the last performance of this parade while working at the Magic Kingdom, but I seriously loved this parade.  It was a redesign of the Share a Dream Come True parade from the early 2000s, and although it lacked the awesome snow globe floats, the parade still made hoards of people stop every day at 3 p.m. to see it pass by.

Walt Disney World

2. Festival of Fantasy

On March 9, 2014, my brother and I stood at the bridge from Liberty Square to the hub, along a few thousand of our closest friends who had lined the parade route at the Magic Kingdom in preparation for the brand new Festival of Fantasy parade.  I had seen pictures of the new floats and had snuck a peak of them while at work, but when that music came over the loudspeaker and the parade floats came around the corner at Liberty Square, I truly felt the Disney Magic.  I adore this parade because it stays true to the classics while welcoming in the new.  It blends the two perfectly with a soundtrack that I am currently humming along to.

WDW Live

1. Festival of The Lion King

This opening day Disney’s Animal Kingdom attraction is, in my opinion, the best show at Walt Disney World.  The show uses the classic songs and characters from the film as dance and puppetry bring The Lion King to life.  Instead of being a shortened version of the Broadway play, this show is more true to the revue style of show in that it keeps the general theme of the storyline there without literally retelling the whole story.  And the four main vocalists are truly four of the most talented singers anywhere.  With tumble monkeys, aerial dancers, and even a fire twirler, The Festival of the Lion King will not disappoint Disney fans of any age.

Bonus: Rainy Day Character Cavalcade!

I remember seeing this parade for the first time as I was playing the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game in the rain one day.  I didn’t think a parade would be going on and then suddenly, as I was wandering around Frontierland, I heard music begin to play on the loudspeaker.  I looked toward Splash Mountain and then I saw it: my favorite hidden gem of the Magic Kingdom.  The rainy Day Character Cavalcade only comes out when it is raining (no lightning) too much for the parade floats to safely get out.  The cavalcade features the vehicles of Main Street carrying various Disney characters from Mickey Mouse to the Disney Princesses.  It’s never fun with the parade gets rained out but Disney has done a great job trying to bring a little happiness to the day with its Rainy Day Character Cavalcade.

So now that you know my top daytime parades and shows, let me know yours! Tweet us @TMKBPodcast and let us know your favorite!

Robyn Fleenor is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. She is an avid Disney fanatic and would rather be at Walt Disney World eating glazed almonds than anything else.  When she isn't working to pay for her next Disney vacation, she likes to binge watch TV shows and fall in love with fictional characters. She can be found tweeting at @rahrah6263.