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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Disney College Program: Vacation Planner Role

I haven't posted about my College Program at all since my training. My program ended on January 5th and now I'm on a short break before I start my Professional Internship (more on that later). Now that I've finished with the role, I figured I'd give any new VPCPs (that's vacation planner college program-ers) some info and tips about their new role.

Look at how much fun we're having! Vacation Planning rocks!

Vacation Planner: The Job

Probably your first concern is the job itself. Vacation planner is basically a fancy way to say ticket seller. You will be located at the Ticket and Transportation Center or the main entrance of Epcot, Hollywood Studios, or Animal Kingdom. Every day, you get an update on what's happening that day, get your till fund, and head out into the booths. In the ticket booths, you will help Guests decide which tickets to buy, pick up will calls, and fix ticket issues. You will have a home park, but you can pick up shifts at any of the four theme parks. Depending on special events and expected crowds, you may be sent to another park.

You will also be trained as a greeter--the CM who stands in front of the vacation planning booths to help Guests and answer questions--and may be scheduled for greeter shifts. At the TTC, vacation planners are also trained in Parade Audience Control, or PAC, and will be sent to the Magic Kingdom some days to help with the parades. You will also be trained in "squeegee", when you help clear the area of water before the TTC opens to Guests. This holiday season, all of the CPs were trained to use iPads to sell tickets and fulfill will calls, but I'm not sure if they'll continue doing that.

Transportation and Ticket Center

The Transportation and Ticket Center was a great place to work. The location had the highest volume of Guests. I picked up shifts at other parks and I was often bored there waiting for Guests to arrive. I preferred the faster pace at the TTC. The costuming building is located right at the parking lot, and parking is much easier than at the theme parks.

Vacation Planning Hours

The earliest shift I ever had started at 6:00 AM and the latest shift went until 9:00 PM. From what I've seen, these are the most "normal" hours for any College Program role. As a rule, CPs get the worst shifts. So if you're working in a resort, which operates 24/7, you'll likely be getting overnight shift. And guess who has to stay at Magic Kingdom all night when Extra Magic Hours last until 3:00 AM? Vacation planners are only scheduled for when the ticket windows are open, and they only open slightly earlier than park opening and close well before park close.

There's a downside, however: you may have fewer hours available to work. During my program, I was rarely scheduled more than the minimum 30 hours a week. During the less busy times of the year, there were a lot of vacation planners desperate to pick up extra hours. Magic Kingdom vacation planners, since they are PAC-trained, can pick up non-vacation planning PAC shifts for some extra (often overtime) hours.

You're able to switch shifts, give away shifts, and pick up other VPs' shifts. This is mostly organized through a dedicated Facebook group.

Vacation Planning Rewards

Since vacation planning is a sales position, incentives are offered for your sales. If you sell good tickets, you can select rewards such as gift cards, resort stays, and electronics. It's one of the first thing you'll hear vacation planners talking about, and some people stress out about it a lot. In my experience, though, it was not difficult to meet the goals as long as you followed the sales tips. I got a reward every month without much stress.

Other contests are held throughout the year depending on what the sales focus is. I won Target gift cards, Publix gift cards, movie tickets, and a Memory Maker through these contests. We were also given free tickets to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party so we could better sell it to Guests.

Professional Internship Opportunities

The vacation planner role opens the door to Professional Internship roles. Some roles, such as College Program Alumni Only Ticketing Internships, require or highly recommend experience with Disney's ticketing system. The sales experience is also great for marketing and sales positions. Many of my fellow CPs in vacation planning got Professional Internships.

The Vacation Planning Family

Vacation planning is a small group; there were only about 80 vacation planners at the TTC, and TTC is the location with the most vacation planners. There were only 14 CPs at the TTC during my program. I knew virtually every vacation planner by name and was able to make great friends. Like every workplace, there are some people who are overly competitive or unfriendly, but overall vacation planning is a family. My managers and coworkers were all amazing.

I will definitely miss being a vacation planner and could not have picked a better position for my College Program. Congrats to any future vacation planners and congrats on getting the best role in the program! If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.

15 comments:

  1. Hey Maddie! I just got accepted to the Fall Advantage College Program at the Disneyland resort in California! I also got accepted as a vacation planner! Have you heard much about the differences between Disneyland and Disney World? I also go to a school that is on the quarter system and would not be able to start the program until mid-June and everything says early June, so I am a little nervous about dates! I would also love to hear more about the VP program and how you like it!

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  2. Hi Stephanie! I haven't met anyone who was a vacation planner at Disneyland so I don't know much about it. If it's anything like Disney World, you're going to have a great time. At WDW, they were able to adjust my start date to match with my graduation date, so make sure you talk to your recruiter.

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    1. Thank you so much Maddie! I'm going to call them tomorrow, it is hard because they do not work on the weekend so I can only call monday-friday! Did you live in the housing?!

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  3. Hi! Just got accepted! I'm excited, but at the same time I'm more than slightly concerned about those hours O.o (student loans will kick in) how hard is it to pick up those Parade shifts?

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  4. The night parade shifts have been available a lot lately. They're often available even if you're not parade trained.

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  5. Hey! I just got accepted as a vacation planner for the fall. Hopefully this never happens to me but what happens if you do not reach your monthly quota?

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    1. I don't remember exactly--luckily I never had that issue--but I believe the first time it happens, you have a meeting with the manager to talk about selling strategies. If it happens three times in a row, you get extra training. It was never a "sell lots of tickets or you're fired" situation. And as long as you're making an effort, you'll be fine.

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  6. Hi Maddi! I see we are both from MD, I am about to graduate from Salisbury University! :) Your post helped me so much, I was able to get an extension to make a decision by next week regarding the DCP but your post made me really feel like it is worthwhile. I will update you if I decide to do it or not!

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    1. Good luck on your decision! I think it's definitely a great experience even if you decide not to stay with Disney long-term. And vacation planning was a great job. Hope to see you down here!

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    2. Maddi, I have chosen to do the program and I check in this Monday! SO excited, thank you for your advice! :)

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    3. Congrats, good luck on your program! I would love to know what park you get once you check in, hope to see you around!

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  7. this is a great blog! can I also ask what were the shifts like I know you said starting at 6am what time would you finish regulary or how many hours was the shift per day like 10 hours or more? :)

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    1. Sorry I didn't see this comment before! When I was a CP in vacation planning, our shifts were rarely longer than 6 hours except on holidays. When I returned to vacation planning a year later, many CPs were being scheduled overtime. It really depends on the attendance and staffing levels at the time.

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    2. Hi Maddi! How long was the training process? Some people say two weeks, others say ten days, and I've also heard five days so I am not really sure. I was offered a position as a Vacation Planner at MK at the end of my second in-person interview and now I am just waiting the official offer through email which I was told could take anywhere from 2-4 weeks. Before I walked away from the manager of vacation planners, he mentioned that the process takes 3-4 weeks before I will begin. I am not sure if the 3-4 weeks includes the waiting period for the official email and training or if training is 3-4 weeks.

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    3. When I was training and when I was a trainer, the training for the job itself was 10 working days: 5 days at Disney University learning the sales process and computer systems, 4 days of on-the-job training in the ticket windows, and 1 day assessment on-the-job. However, before that, you have more generic training. If I recall correctly, it was 1 day of "Traditions" (basically Disney orientation and heritage), 1 or 2 days of Operations department training (I honestly don't remember much about that other than it was really boring), and 1 day of park-specific orientation, called "Once Upon a Time is Now" for Magic Kingdom, where the first half of the day you tour Magic Kingdom and the second half you tour your specific location (TTC in this case). So it was around 15 days of actual training, but depending on class and trainer availability it could end up taking 4 weeks. If you already work for Disney, you may not have to do some of the classes you've already done. I'm not sure about the time between the interview and starting the job, since I started as a CP and then transferred at the end of my PI. Of course, it's now been a few years since I was training so things could have changed. Good luck and congrats on the new job!

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