It's the place where dreams come true, and magic comes with an extra dose of glittery pixie dust. I was fortunate enough to be selected to play a role in the magic that is Disney for my final internship before graduating with my Bachelors from the University of Utah.
My starring role at the most Magical Place on Earth was at the Grand Floridian Resort as a humble seater at their 1900 Park Fare character dinning experience. In the mornings we would be hosted by Miss Mary Poppins and friends, while in the evenings we were graced with Cinderella and her Royal Family.
As a team of seaters we were collectively responsible for providing guests with a magical experience by assisting with reservation related issues, reservation check-in, distributing guest seating invitations, seating guests, communicating with the kitchen/bakery in regards to dietary restrictions or specialty cake orders, pre-shift and post-seating side work, and in my case there was some minor cash handling as well, but the most important job (besides safety) was to interact with the guests.
While interacting with guests may seem trivial in light of efficiency to many establishments, we were as much of a show as a restaurant, and therefore we as seaters are the first and last impression of said show.
There are benefits to working with such a well respected company; however, like anything there were issues that could not be avoided. One of the challenges that I met with was the lack of responsibility and challenge. As a college program student I was unable to do more than my role allowed, which was restricted to the responsibilities already listed in previous paragraphs.
In an effort to challenge myself, making the most of my internship, there are options to be deployed to other locations, thus learning the ways of a new restaurant despite the same role. In this case I was deployed to one of the Grand Floridian’s other locations, the Garden View Tearoom. While working at this location I got to learn not one, but two other locations along with it, the Grand Floridian Café, and one of the Grand Floridian’s signature restaurants Citricos. To give a little perspective in just a few short months I worked with number of guests ranging anywhere from twelve people, to over nine hundred and fifty, with different themes, food, target market, guest capacity, and varying levels of service.
Additionally there are several professional networking opportunities for cast members from different departments to meet and learn more about their roles. My roommate made use of this particular opportunity. She worked in quick-service food and beverage at the Magic Kingdom, but wanted to work in a kitchen. After talking to one of her leaders, they got her in touch with one of the lead bakers, and during the last couple months of our program she worked mainly in the bakery honing her culinary skills.
For students considering participating in one of Disney's College Programs, or Disney Professional Internships my advice for you is to talk with your managers, ask a million questions- then ask a million more, and take advantage of the opportunities that are presented if you want to get the most out of your internship. And finally, take the time to pick out the right set of Mickey ears before you leave.