Junior Psychology and Portuguese Major Sabrina Oliver spent her summer interning at Disney World. Photo by Grace DeSanti.
People bump into strangers all of the time, but imagine turning around to apologize to someone who turns out to be Hugh Jackman. Sabrina Oliver, a junior psychology and Portuguese major, just so happened to collide with the actor during her time at the Disney College Program.
Oliver was walking in the park one day and turned around to respond to what she thought was someone calling her name, swinging one arm out and hitting the “Wolverine” on the arm. After she apologized, Jackman responded in a playful tone, “Is this how Disney employees treat us?”
Oliver spent six months at the Disney College Program working as a ride attendant at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. She described the experience overall as amazing and eye-opening.
The program was a learning experience, according to Oliver. She said that the experience brought her out of her shell and that she now has a greater level of comfort talking to strangers as she interacted with them daily during her duties at the park.
Before the Disney College Program, Oliver said that she usually got anxious over having to talk to the person next to her in class.
“I’m not afraid to go up to anybody now,” said Oliver.
Meghan Harrington, a junior secondary education and history major, said that her friend seemed more outgoing after the experience.
“She just seems like she’s more joyful and she just loves talking to people and she’s very bubbly,” said Harrington.
As a Rhode Island native, the program also taught her how to be more independent. This was the first time she was quite a distance away from her friends and family from home for such a long time. At first, she was tempted to quit.
“I thought about terminating my contract early so that I could go home,” said Oliver.
However, after talking to leads at the program, Oliver decided to stay after realizing that she was part of a fraction of people selected to be a part of the program and could not pass up the experience.
The experience wasn’t magical all of the time, though.
Oliver said that the Disney College Program “is not a vacation” as participants work 30 to 60 hour weeks. The program is one where participants outline their availability, live with roommates they have not met before and learn time management skills.
Challenges also arose when customers on the “standby” line, specifically at the attraction “Peter Pan’s Flight” would get upset about long wait times and yell at employees in their frustration, according to Oliver.
“No matter what I did to try and calm them down they just decided not to listen to me,” said Oliver.
As for tips to get into the program, Oliver said that Disney was looking for people who are willing to experience “the most magical place on Earth,” and are passionate about Disney.
Oliver advised those that are accepted into the program to use their days off to go into the park, drink and eat around the world, “have a squad” and not to get too stressed out.