Living the Dream: I Moved to Orlando to Get a Job at Disney World
Ever wondered what it’s like to move to Florida to work at Walt Disney World? We asked a Disney "cast member" to tell us all about it.
Welcome to Living the Dream, a Livability.com series about people who made their big dreams a reality - and the places and communities that made it possible. Do you know someone who's carved out a unique lifestyle or business in a small town or small to mid-sized city? We're always looking for great stories. Email our editor for a chance to be featured!
Today we're talking to Kirsi, a guest relations hostess and guide at the "most magical place on earth."
Name: Kirsi McCrea
Hometown: Cookeville, TN
Current Location: Celebration, FL
Occupation: Guest Relations Hostess and Guide for the Star Wars Guided Tour at the Walt Disney World Resort
Have you always wanted to work at Disney? How did you go about making this dream a reality?
Disney has always been and still is my happy place. Like most Cast Members [what Disney employees are called], I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a part of the magic, but I never imagined that I would actually get the chance to work for this company. I discovered the Disney College Program and began my university career knowing that Disney was my goal. I participated in the Disney College Program my sophomore year of college and returned to Disney World once I had graduated.
What is the application/interview process like?
The process can be different depending on where you begin your Disney career. Like I said, I began through the Disney College Program, which typically has thousands of applicants. It is a three-part application beginning with a basic questionnaire to qualify you by asking your year in school, your age, right to work etc.
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Once you qualify, you are sent an online interview in which is a compatibility test essentially to match you with the company and the roles that are available. Last, there is a phone interview in which you speak with a Disney Recruiter who narrows down your personality and skill set in order to place you in a role with the program. Keep in mind that this is a simplistic breakdown of the Disney College Program application/interview and does not necessarily reflect other applications or the current DCP application.
What does a typical day of work look like for you?
As a Guest Relations Hostess I like to call myself the magic maker and the problem solver for the parks. There is absolutely no typical day at work, which is why I love what I do. I get to help Guests from around the world with every aspect of their Disney vacation. From proposals to granting a wish for Make-A-Wish families I get to participate in absolute magical moments. That doesn’t even count the memories I get to help create while guiding the Star Wars Guided Tour through Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
I get to travel the galaxy with Guests and showcase the partnership between the Walt Disney Company and Lucasfilm all while experiencing all of the Star Wars attractions the park has to offer. Yes, I sound like an advertisement, but honestly my job is sometimes too good to be true!
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How did you prepare for your move to Florida?
Finding a place to live was actually pretty easy. Luckily, there are different group pages across social media outlets that Disney Cast Members post to and offer living accommodations. I was able to move into a gorgeous townhouse in Winter Garden and begin my journey
What was the transition like from Tennessee to Florida?
Things you don't exactly notice about Florida while on vacation:
There are no trees here! I never thought how much I would miss the lush green of Tennessee.
It’s HOT. Like really hot.
Tourists everywhere. Yes, I know that I live in one of the highest tourism cities in the country, but you just don’t notice when you are one of them!
Things you take for granted about living in Florida:
There are no trees here except palm trees. The beach is right there. I can drive an hour in either direction to get to the beach which is just crazy to me and I don’t take advantage of it nearly as often as I should.
It’s HOT. But, like, that’s better than being cold right?
Tourists everywhere. Yes, tourists can be a lot to handle, but it’s incredible to experience so many different cultures and customs with the people you meet here.
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What's your favorite thing about where you live now?
I live in Walt Disney World. How much better can it get?! There is always something going on in the town, but I tend to spend a lot of my time in the Disney bubble as I like to call it.
What's something that surprised you about relocating to Florida, or Orlando specifically?
I love where I live because I love where I work, which is probably not the case for most people. I do love the neighboring cities and beaches though. Tampa and St. Petersburg are two of my favorite places to spend the weekend for all the activities they offer.
I love how accepting Orlando is. This is such a diverse city and so many people here accept each other for their differences — and that is truly magical.
What advice would you give someone else who's dreaming of making the move to Orlando to get a job at Disney World? Anything you wish you'd known before you made the move?
DO IT. Take that leap of faith. Whether you come here for a semester on the Disney College Program or you want to permanently work for this company, just do it. I am surrounded by some of the most positive and wholesome people I have ever met.
There is something to be said about this company for the kind of work we do and I am honored each and every day to be able to be a tiny part of what we create. If you want to feel proud of yourself and the product you represent, The Walt Disney Company will make you very, very proud.