So what is this Disney J1 Cultural Exchange Program?
The Disney J1 Cultural Exchange Program (formerly known as the Disney International College Program or ICP), is a program provided by Disney that allows for post-secondary students all over the world to work at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Who can participate in the program?
The Disney J1 Cultural Exchange Program is currently available to individuals in:
- Hong Kong
- United Kingdom
- Australia/New Zealand
You must be a current student or just graduated from post-secondary education, at least 18 years old and speak english fluently.
How long is the program?
Being from Canada, the program runs for 3 months during the summer (May-August) but differs for individuals in other countries depending on their visa. It is usually 2-12 months.
What will your role be?
You will get to rank your interest in the variety of roles offered. Keep in mind that you could be placed in any of the roles listed below so make sure you go into it with a very open mind. Not all roles are as *magical* as others but you will be working for the Mouse so you will have a great time no matter what!
- Character Performer
- Full Service Food & Beverage- Hostess (Not Tipped)
- Resort Bell Services
- Quick Service Restaurants
Due to visa restrictions all roles that accept tips are restricted, so do not get your hopes up of making money in tips on the J1 exchange program!
How does working in another country work?
Where will you live?
Disney provides housing for participants at one of their four housing complexes: Chatham Square, Vista Way, Patterson Court, and The Commons. Each complex has various rent rates depending on the amount of people and number of rooms your apartment unit has. Your rent will automatically be taken out of your pay each week so you won’t have to worry about any paper shuffle. You will almost always have a roommate so this can be an adjustment if you are usually used to having your own space!
Will you have any free time?
Yes and No! Depending on your work location you could be scheduled anywhere from 30 hours a week-60 hours a week but keep on mind that the whole purpose of the program is for you to have a wonderful experience working at Walt Disney World! In most locations you can book time off, trade shifts, give shifts away, pick up shifts, etc. so you have the opportunity to work as much or as little as you like. Even with working full time I went to the parks more than I slept during my program! Before work, after work, days off, every spare moment I had I spent hanging out in the parks or adventuring around Orlando!
Does it cost money to do the Disney J1 Cultural Exchange Program?
YES! Often you will not save any money if you want to make the most of your program! You have to pay for a flight to the interview location if you do not live in the city the interview is taking place, visa fees, program fees, flights to Orlando, items to set up your apartment (yes we had to buy a toaster and hangers for our closets and random stuff like that), and food when you get to Florida before you start working. Once you start to make money you may be able to break even from all the money you put into doing the program by the end of the summer but remember that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity so have a lot of fun and don’t stress too much about saving money!
How do I apply?
The Disney International Programs website has all the information you will need in order to apply! And applying is super easy through their online form just click the Apply Now button! You need to fill in your basic personal information as well as past work and volunteer experience, upload a cover letter and resume, and then wait! The applications usually open at the end of August and you will hear back about an interview in late December or early January. The interviews generally take place in February and you’ll find out if you are accepted about a week and a half later!
Is it worth it?