2011: My Walt Disney College Program, Orlando!

Orlando, Florida became my home for three months last year. I had the amazing opportunity being a Cast Member at the Walt Disney World Resort. Future World North merchandise at Epcot enabled me to work with some amazing people that made my experience unforgettable. Disney life lasted for just under three months during the summer of 2011, it was utterly magical!

From the moment I smiled through my interview at University the whole experience seemed very surreal. I got the job and I couldn't believe I would be making the journey back to Orlando, Florida to work at the Walt Disney World Resort. For the first time visiting America I wasn't going to be a tourist so I had to make an appointment at the American Embassy in London for my visa interview. With a new sense of confidence I went down to London independently I secured my J-1 visa. I had already been very fortunate enough to experience the theme parks of The Walt Disney World Resort before on more than one occasion but working rather than being on vacation proved to be very different! The sweltering Floridian weather blessed the days I spent playing in the parks meeting the character performers, especially Princess Tiana from 'The Princess and the Frog!' Trust me, I saw a lot of characters! Yes, it was so exciting!

Looking back I can't believe that I worked at Walt Disney World Resort, cliche as it sounds I was living a dream. Working for the 'Mouse' nearly every night and day has led to been a very useful decision for future projects, lets just say other components of the experience are helping me now on my Virgin Atlantic Airways Placement. Chatham Square became my place of refuge when I could not find the willpower to smile any-more or wish a guest a magical day. Living at the Chatham Square Apartments was a truly great experience, well there were times when it drove me crazy. I was lucky enough to have a great flatmate, Chris worked in entertainment and had the coolest job in my eyes! Chris happened to be a Goofy character performer and allowed me to see some secret areas at Magic Kingdom that opened my eyes to the life behind the closed doors at Disney. Communal living away from university halls had me fronting new situations and characters who tested my patients!

Maintaining a work/life balance I managed to make the most of my days off and some of the late nights after my scheduled evening shifts. From lovely nights at the Polynesian Resort within Disney World Resort with my UK friends who all lived in Chatham Square, some were university classmates who were also working on the same college program. Those evenings in the parks were great because we didn't spend much money. I really enjoyed those low key evenings that were spent gorging on ice cream at the 'Kitchen Sink' ice cream parlour at the Beaches and Cream Soda Shop, the peanut butter ice cream was to die for! Downtown Disney was also a nice place to spend a quiet evening because I wasn't quite 21 years old at that point. The day down to Miami was amazing, it was such a long day but we soaked up the vibes of South Beach brought something different to our American experience! It wasn't all about the Mouse! No!

Leaving the Mickey Mouse appropriate night outs I regrouped with Zach and Alexis, we snuck out after hours to turn up the music at Pulse! It was Latin night at that Orlando Gay club, I had never experienced a night out before without consuming anything alcoholic! Remembering everything from that night with a clear head we moved onto 'Denny's' for some 'Eggs Over My Hammy!' That was what Zach had to eat! To my horror during June 2012 an unforgivable act of terrorism was committed at Pulse, a mass shoot out rained gunfire and bloodshed upon the same club that I had frequented the year before! No mistakes made, I had some unforgettable encounters of a Fuego Puertorriqueño with a period of summer love! I was learning so many things about myself, I loved what was unfolding because in my current American life those choices have prepared me for a part of life. No, it wasn't all as it seemed within Celebration, my squeaky clean neighbourhood harboured secrets! O, dios mio!

Working at Future World North was a complete pleasure, on the whole it was crazy to say that I worked at the 'Happiest Place In The World'. Whether If I would be cleaning strollers, selling gifts or making a magical moment at either Gateway Gifts or Camera Center. Believe me I did have some days when I didn't want to smile but the magic of the Walt Disney World Parks is infectious so I got over my sullen mood pretty fast indeed! I must admit that it was my co-workers that made it so special. There was so many people like Ritika, Janice, Alexis and of course the fabulous Zach Airstarr, just a few of the long list that made working at Epcot that lot more special. I'll keep in contact with you guys! I promise! Away from work I loved playing at EPCOT on my days off, I knew where the secret doors were and it was always great to talk with my colleagues who were busy at work. It was such an experience! See you soon, no goodbyes now!

It was definitely a case of international love at my department at EPCOT, I'm sure the whole of Central and South America had chose to work at my location! I had the best co-workers from places like Puerto Rico, Honduras, Dominican Republic and the good old United States of America that gave me a great insight to the beautiful people of the Americas. Who knew that my dear sister friend Fiorella Sanchez once worked as a Disney intern on her International College Program! I had been on holiday to Spain a few times before my working summer at WDW, during the summer of 2012 I learned a whole new tone of Spanish. From the Puerto Rican tones, the Dominican Republican quirks blended with the Honduran variations of that Spanish language. I definitely took those different strands of Spanish with me to Newark! I adored my time at FWN EPCOT, I didn't want to leave but university had me boarding my JFK Delta flight back to Manchester Airport, England. New York City was in my sights! Yes!

Don't be Strangers! 

Joseph Harrison


  1. Sounds like it was a really magical experience and I'm glad you were able to experience Pulse🤗💕

    1. From experiencing the Parks as a child and teen it was a whole different ball game to work there as an adult. The mouse had us covered, playing tricks away form works it was always an international affair! 4 Loko was by our under 21's so we got our drinks one way or another! Pulse was such an amazing night with Denny's drunk food done very sober. Those friends are golden and the moments won't ever leave me. Good old Disney!


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