The Living Experience
From WDWIP Walt Disney World International Programs Wiki
Welcome to your new home! One of the four infamous housing complexes: Vista Way, The Commons, Chatham Square or Patterson Court will be your new address for the next year or so. Arguably the most important and exciting part of the program is the opportunity to interact with people like you from around the world. Participants in the various programs are spread out through the complexes.
The Housing Complexes
- Vista Way is the largest and oldest complex, and is home to the College Program participants from American Colleges and Universities and International College Program Participans.
- The Commons complex is home to mostly Cultural Representative Program participants. The complex, built in 1998, covers several acres and features one, two, three, and four bedroom units built in clusters around the clubhouse facility. The clubhouse offers a pool, weight room, and many services you will find very useful. In total, the complex provides housing for about 1000 participants.
- Chatham Square was completed in late 2000 and is is located just past The Commons, beside the Mickey's Retreat recreation complex. Currently, the location houses participants from various smaller programs and the College Program.
- Patterson Court opened in 2008. The complex is located in the Little Lake Bryan area, beside Chatham Square.
The Living Situation
The buildings are co-ed, although individual units are not. Each apartment features a fully-stocked kitchen, private telephone line, full-cable TV, and one bathroom for every two or three residents. Washers and dryers are availiable communally in each apartement building using prepaid chip cards. At the commons these are within each apartement and their use is included in weekly rent. The bedrooms are each shared by two people. There are four configurations of units: one bedroom/one bathroom, two bedroom/two bathroom, three bedroom/two bath, and four bedroom/three bath. Weekly costs vary by unit size, and the recruiters are hesitant to even mention the existence of the one bedroom/two person units. You are assigned to a unit based on space availability, although preferences might be noted. The smaller units are more appealing to many, but be careful not to forget that more flatmates means more friends, parties, connections, and lifelong relationships. Living with a group of people from around the world is the most interesting and exciting experience, however many people find it difficult. Remember that you must be willing to share a room with someone who may fancy some exotic cuisine, or is foreign to the concept of taking the garbage out before the 'roaches appear to do the job for you. You must be accommodating and understanding to the needs of all the residents in the unit. After a period of time you may be able to relocate apartements for a fee. You may be forced to move appartements if a number of your fellow housemates are finishing their program before you so it can be given 'fresh' to new arrivals.
Security is provided 24 hours, and residents must show ID to enter at all times. After 9:00 pm residents may only enter their own complex unless signed in as a guest. Guests are only permitted when signed in by a resident, and can never remain on the property past 1:00 am - this is VERY strictly enforced! The overbearing behavior of security has been an issue in the past, however the service exists solely for the protection of residents. It is simply better to have it and deal with the nuisances which can pop up, than not have it and lose the secure environment within the complex. Transportation
Transportation is available to work, the theme parks, and Wal-Mart, of course. These vans haul residents around the area in relative comfort (relative to walking, that is). But they have been known to be convenient, and even reliable on occasion! During peak times you may have to stand in cramped conditions or wait for the next scheduled transfer. If you have a car it would be a HUGE asset to bring. Plenty of parking is available at your doorstep.
Each country is represented by around 100 participants, and apartments are intentionally mixed so you are roomed with someone from another country. Lifelong relationships can develop from this grouping, and by the completion of your contract, you will have friends around the world. On the flipside, though, you must learn to deal with the cultural differences which will undoubtedly arise. But that is a major component of the Learning Experience at The Commons and Chatham Square.
Partying is a full-time activity here. Whether with roommates, countrymates, or just about anyone else, the Commons environment is never without a party. Of course, those who want to rest are seldom disturbed, but why rest - this only lasts one year!
A wellness apartment is a unit where no alcohol is allowed. This is strictly enforced, to the point that if alcohol is found, the person who possesses it will be terminated. If you are under 21 when starting the program, you will be placed in a wellness apartment. If you turn 21 while there, you can request to be moved from a wellness apartment to a regular one (these requests are accommodated as space opens up). Wellness apartments are located in each complex.
Rent is deducted from your paycheck on a weekly basis. Currently, there are two levels of rent, a rate for one and two-bedroom units, and a rate of all other units (all rates are weekly per-person). in January 2005, weekly housing-payment rates, which have remained the same for the last four years, were increased.
Because Cast Members raised concerns about varying amenities among the complexes, the rate structure was altered to reflect the differences at each complex. This amount covers unit rent, utilities, phone service, cable TV (see full list of channels in the FAQ), transportation, recreation, and many other services provided. This amount is automatically deducted weekly, regardless of whether you live at the complex or at your new local boyfriend's house in Kissimmee. Weekly housing rates are as follows:
* Vista Way, $69 or $81 a week. * Chatham Square, $71 or $83 a week. * The Commons, $75 or $87 a week.
These rates are as of 2005.
Living In Florida
You know that your year at Disney will not be spent entirely at work or in the housing complexes, so get to know the local area that surrounds you - visit the Living in Florida page to find out more!