It's my fifth day here in the Sunshine State, and so far, I've had a pretty stellar time. For those of you who don't know this (and if you're reading this, you most likely do), I'm currently a Disney College Program intern working at the Walt Disney World Resort. I'm still coming to terms with it, being an ACTUAL Disney Cast Member in REAL-LIFE, not just pretending in my room. Not that I've ever done that before...
While on the program, the three segments they focus on are living, learning, and earning. Your adventure begins with settling the living portion through a little process called check-in. Being the most daunting day of my experience, I figured I'd give a rundown to hopefully ease the mind of some prospective CP somewhere.
When you arrive at check-in, you're going to be whisked away to a magical office where all of your paperwork will be processed, your room will be assigned, and you will be worry-free for the remainder of the day. At least, that's how I hoped it would go down. But you're not checking into a Disney resort, and you're most certainly not treated as a "guest." The check-in process is about as smooth as off-roading in a Prius.
That first morning, you will report to Vista Way where two million students and four million parents* will be waiting in line. Many CPs will tell you to get there early before all the good apartments are taken, but the truth is, all the apartments are good quality, seriously. You're paying pocket change for the location you're living (practically in Lake Buena Vista), and you're not going to spend that much time at home anyway. So, my advice? Get some rest. Check-ins don't begin until 9AM officially, so you have time. I got there at 7, got the roommate I wanted, and got an awesome apartment (C-Square is where it's at!).
Now, on to what actually goes down at check-in. As you progress, you'll eventually make your way into the heart of Vista Way, where you will need to have ready your government issued ID and one of the forms of identification listed in section C of your onboarding information.
Do not put your ID away throughout the check-in process. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH. You will be asked for it repeatedly, so just keep it in hand. The actual paperwork is fairly simple, you'll sign several documents confirming your SSN and basic info as well as agreeing to not drink if you're under 21 and not to have guests in your room past 1AM. Simple stuff.
You will then be assigned your apartment complex and roommates. You will stay in one of three complexes: Vista Way (the party people, mostly 21+), Patterson Courts (the newest, most retirement-home-like complex), or Chatham Square (where the cool people go and the closets are like Narnia). All three cost practically the same amount, they're literally a couple dollars apart from one another, so choose based on what you think would be the best fit, not based on the money. You'll then get a CPID for your respective complex. GUARD THIS WITH YOUR LIFE. You will be required to have it on you at all times while on property and in order to ride the bus to and from the parks and local amenities. Security is not nice here, they're not employed by Disney either, so they aren't required to be nice. Keep that ID handy and accessible.
The good part comes next! After apartments are assigned, you'll be taken to the Casting Center via bus where you will be assigned...wait for it...YOUR JOB! Yes, the number one question on everyone's mind will finally be answered. There will be cheers, tears of happiness and sadness. It's a glorious time. The Casting staff will also reaffirm your personal information, take fingerprints, and set your schedule for Traditions and job training. The Casting Center is truly your first peek at the magic that is the Walt Disney Company. Make sure to take it all in, but no pictures or the Disney Ninjas will find you.
Welp, after that, it's time to move in. You'll head back to Vista Way where you or your parents will either take your vehicle that you drove and parked at Vista to your respective housing unit, or you will pick up your luggage that you stored at the building provided at check-in. Take the rest of the evening to unpack your stuff, go grab a bite to eat with your new roommates, start shopping for groceries, or maybe just go explore.
You survived the first day!
* possibly, slightly exaggerated figures