Disney World College Program Becomes The Latest Casualty Of The Theme Park Shutdown

Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland

Walt Disney World is now mere days from reopening following its months-long closure. It means the return of thousands of cast members who have not been on the job since March. However, with the phased reopening, not everybody who has been on furlough is returning to work, and that includes the popular Disney College Program. The program saw an early end when the parks closed down in March, and now Disney has announced that the program will remain closed until further notice, meaning that not only will those that were in the program not be back, those that were planning to start the program later this year will not.

This certainly wasn't what perspective Disney College Program participants were looking forward to hearing just before the 4th of July holiday. However, in a pair of letters that were sent to those expecting to go to work at either Walt Disney World or the Disneyland Resort, that were reprinted on the Disney Programs Twitter account, all perspective College Program members were informed their offer of employment at the parks was being officially withdrawn. Any fees that had been paid would be refunded.

In the case of Disneyland Resort, there is still no official reopening date set, the park had wanted to reopen on July 17, but with a rise in COVID-19 cases taking place following reopening, the State of California has largely put reopening on hold. At Walt Disney World, while the parks and hotels are being reopened in phases, other resort buildings, like Disney College Program housing, is not set to reopen yet, so there's simply no place to put the program members.

If there's an upside to the situation, those that have had to be kept from the program who still may want to participate in the future are being given the chance to make that desire known. Eligibility requirements are also being modified for the future, so that even those that have recently graduated from college can be part of the program in the future when the opportunity comes back.

While this decision was perhaps not all that surprising, it's still heartbreaking for a lot of people. They thought they had jobs lined up, as part of a prestigious program that is in high demand, and now they need to figure out something else. Social media right now is full of frustrated people who are now dealing with this massive change. Many were planning on moving in the next month and now are not. Considering the way former Disney College Program Members sing the praises of the program, a lot of people were certainly looking forward to this experience.

A lot more is going to be different before things return to normal, assuming that ever happens at all, but there's no indication that the Disney College Program won't be back as soon as it is able, and there will likely be a lot of interested students when it does.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.