A Disney fairy tale

It sounds like something out of a fairy tale. A girl goes to uni in the big city and learns about the world of entertainment production. She studies for three long years and learns about all the creative, business and law elements that make any piece of entertainment tick. She then graduates and goes to work at the home of entertainment – the most magical place on earth – Walt Disney World.

Luckily for me, this fairy tale is becoming a reality. In January 2018 I’ll be moving to Orlando, Florida to embark on the adventure of a lifetime! As a participant in the 2018 Disney Australian Cultural Exchange, I’ll be living and working with fellow program participants from all over the world as an attractions cast member (what Disney calls the park staff!).

Disney World

Disney World, Florida | image credit: Josh Hallett via Flickr

You may be wondering, like many people who I’ve told about my newest adventure, how on earth I got to be in this position. After hearing about the program from a few friends who had done it before (which sees students from all over the world move to Orlando and work in the Walt Disney World parks for six months), I decided to apply online.

It was just like any other job application – you submit a cover letter (using as many Disney-esque phrases as possible!) and resume, tell them about your previous work experience and study history. A few months later, you might get an email about attending a face-to-face interview. This stage is really exciting because Disney sends one of their recruiters out to Australia to interview potential participants. You’ll sit in on a presentation with all the other applicants from your city where you learn more about the program, then you’ll have a one-on-one interview with the recruiter.

From here, it’s a seemingly never-ending wait for an email, until it finally arrives. While a few people I know jumped up and down screaming, I myself took to spamming my best friend with Disney GIFs until she got the hint…

However, while this all sounds magical and like a dream come true (it kind of is…), not every aspect of moving overseas it straight out of a fairy tale… Namely, the work visa process.

To get a working visa for the US as an Aussie citizen, you need to have a company sponsor you. Luckily, Disney does this! You then need to fill out some truly confusing paperwork (trust me, I’m a nut for filling out forms and these did my head in!) and schedule an appointment with the US Consulate. Unluckily for us Brisbanites, the closest US Consulate office is in Sydney. Which means a sneaky day trip (or several-day trip if you’re lucky enough to get a few days off in a row!) down to Sydney. While it was a big pain, I ended up having a great day in Sydney as it was my first time down and it had been on my travel list for a while now!

Sightseeing in Sydney after getting my work visa!

Now that I have a working visa and have found a roomie (we actually met by chance at the interviews!) all that’s left to do is pack and save like crazy. I’m really excited to get over to the US and begin work! I won’t find out my exact location and attraction until I get there, but I intend to make the most of wherever I’m placed.

To anyone thinking of applying to the Cultural Exchange Program, I say do it! There are intakes twice a year, so applications should be open online for a mid-2018 start very soon. I can’t speak from experience just yet, but I’ve heard so many good things about people gaining personal growth, worldly experience and extra sparkle from this program! So take a chance – you never know where it could lead…

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