It’s finally happening! MOVE IN DAY!!! If you’re anything like me, you’ve been waiting for this day to get here for months (even years).
Exactly one week ago I moved into my Vista Way apartment and began my program. I can confidently say these past seven days have been the most ~magical~ days of my life.
…..but also some of the most hectic days of my life.
To give you an idea of what it’s like, I outlined what my first week looked like. I tried to offer as many tips as I could to help you make the most out of your own first week living at Walt Disney World.
Check-in: Similar to most lifeguards, my check-in time was at 8:00 AM. As much as it might suck having to wake up early, if you also get this check in time don’t be too bummed about it. By checking in so early, I was the first person in the apartment. Therefore, I got first dibs on what room and bed I wanted (huge perk).
I arrived at Vista Way around 8:05 (do not stress about being a little late to check-in, they are not too strict about that). At the security gate, they asked to see my itinerary to make sure I was assigned the 8:00 AM check-in slot (sorry but if you’re a 10:00 AM check in, you won’t be able to get in early).
Next, I drove to the Vista Way pavilion building and found a parking spot. Once I got to the front of the line, I had to show them my photo ID in order to receive my guidebook, apartment assignment, and key. FINALLY, I was able to find out what kind of apartment I was assigned (2 bedroom, 4 person).
For check in, you only need to be dressed in Disney look from your shoulders up. This is because after you get your guidebook and apartment key, you will be getting your housing photo taken.
Then, I was directed to a table where they gave me my parking decal for my car (which I had previously paid for online). At the next table, I was given my housing ID.
And that was it. Check-in was super simple. I was in and out in about 10 minutes. As you can see, it’s not something to stress over. All you need to keep in mind are these few things:
- your family can come into the housing complex while you check in, but they need to wait in the car until you’re ready to go into your apartment
- you need to be in Disney look from the shoulders up
- you need to have your itinerary printed
- you need to have your photo ID
Casting: After check-in I drove to my assigned Vista Way apartment building. My casting time was at 9:00 AM, so I did not have enough time to move everything into my apartment right away. I just grabbed a few things from my car and put them on the bed I wanted. This made it clear to anyone else moving in (since I was the first one), that I had called dibs on that room.
Similar to check-in, it is not a big deal if you’re a little late to casting (I was 20 minutes late, and no one said anything to me).
Casting really is not anything exciting. The building is really cool (especially the door knobs), but the process is not.
At casting, I was finger printed and my blue ID photo was taken (so again, just be in Disney look from the shoulders up). I also had to provide my I-9 forms to verify I was able to legally work in the United States (I just had my passport). At the end of the whole process, someone was there to answer anyones questions regarding the Disney look (ie tattoos, piercings, etc), and if they think anyone’s hair color/cut is not acceptable I believe this is where they would inform them that they need to fix it.
Overall, going through all of casting took me less than half an hour. Key things to remember about casting:
- have your I-9 forms (passport, SSC+photo ID, birth certificate+photo ID, etc)
- be in Disney look from the shoulders up
Drug Testing: Because I was cast in a safety critical role (lifeguard), I was required to take a drug test. My drug test was scheduled for 11:00 AM, which gave me plenty of time to move the rest of my stuff into my apartment after casting and start unpacking. This also gave me time to FINALLY meet my other roommates (I was only allowed to link with one person for my program, so the other two roommates were a mystery).
I arrived for my drug test at 10:30, and was able to get that done a little bit early. My drug test was inside one of the Vista Way apartments (kind of weird right?). The entire drug testing process took me about 15 minutes, and most of that time was spent waiting to get called back into a room (literally just a bedroom).
So again, nothing to get stressed out about. Looking at my Monday morning schedule seemed a little overwhelming at first with check-in, casting, and drug testing all right in a row. However, the scheduling of these three things was all very lenient so try not to feel rushed or overwhelmed.
A few things to keep in mind for drug testing:
- don’t do drugs
- don’t show up drunk/hungover
- don’t pee for a few hours before your scheduled time
- you can go early if you would like
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday:
FREE TIME! My schedule for these next three days was almost completely free. The only thing I was required to attend was my swim test on Wednesday morning. The swim test took less than an hour to complete, so in total I had 71 hours to do whatever I wanted. Here are some of the ways I managed to pass the time:
- get groceries
- organize the apartment
- go to Walmart about 7 different times
- go to Disney Springs
- try dole whip for the first time
- watch the Happily Ever After fireworks from the Polynesian resort
- go to a line dancing bar called Cowboys (Thursday nights are ladies drink free until 11 PM, $2 cover fee or free with a student ID, and even if you’re not 21 you can still go in and dance)
Traditions: My traditions class was scheduled for 3:10 PM. Therefore I had the morning to do whatever I wanted (I was actually lucky enough to get to preview Galaxy’s Edge that morning and meet Mickey and Minnie in Hollywood Studios).
Even though my class didn’t start until 3:10, all participants with an afternoon class were required to be at Disney University at 2:00. Although it’s pretty unfortunate that I had to get there SO early, it allowed me to talk to the people there and I was able to make some friends.
I arrived at 1:45 PM dressed in business casual, with a backpack full of snacks and my housing ID. I left at 7:45 PM with a stomach full of snacks, my traditions ears, my blue ID, and my name tag. Oh and a ticket to get my into the parks for free until my self admit pass arrived in the mail!
So as you can see, unlike check-in and casting, traditions is extremely long. But it’s not as bad as it sounds. Traditions is an experience I wouldn’t have wanted to skip. It is truly ~magical~ and it made me so excited and proud to get to work for this company (I even cried).
Key takeaways for traditions:
- dress in business casual, but make sure it’s still comfortable (especially the shoes, you walk around a decent amount)
- BRING FOOD
- go into it with a good attitude, and it’s going to be a good experience
- talk to the people at your table with you (this is a great opportunity to make friends, and it makes the time pass so much faster!)
Saturday and Sunday:
Ellis training: Just when I got super excited about finally getting to go to the parks, I looked at my training schedule and realized that for the next three days from 8:00 AM- 5:00 PM I will be stuck working. Not everyone’s schedule was like this, but for me and 23 other lifeguards we spent our first weekend at Disney World working. YAY welcome to the DCP!
It really wasn’t as bad as it seemed. Getting done at 5:00 PM left plenty of time to go to the parks, and Saturday night I was still able to watch Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom and ride a few rides (getting up on Sunday morning was a bit rough though). I personally spent most of the night Sunday studying for the Ellis lifeguard test, but I know plenty of other lifeguards chose to go to the parks instead.
As much of a bummer as it was to see my roommates playing in the parks and laying out at the pool Saturday afternoon, this was a great example of what the DCP is like. It’s always important to remember that the reason we are here is to WORK.
So that was it, and just like that, my first week of the program was over. I couldn’t have asked for a better first week, and I hope that if you’re reading this your first week goes just as wonderfully.