African Cultural Representative Program

Mar 28, 2014
African Cultural Representative Program
  • African Cultural Representative Program
    Please note: the African Cultural Representative Program is now part of the standard Cultural Representative Program. Requirements and application procedures are the same. Below is an account of the African program by alumus Chris van der Merwe:

    The experience started after boarding a Virgin Atlantic A340 in Johannesburg for our flight to Orlando over London. Most of us were getting our first international travel experience and you can imagine the excitement building. Making new friends onboard, missing the ones you left behind, and imagining and dreaming about the start of a new life in a place of magic and wonder, after all, we were going to Disney World...

    Similar to the Cultural Representative Program at EPCOT, the Disney's Animal Kingdom (DAK) Program offers the Working, Learning and Living Experiences to Cast from all over the African continent. The program is exactly the same as any other IP at Walt Disney World, but for the fist time in 1998, allowed Africans to participate with the Opening of Disney's fourth and largest theme park, Disney's Animal Kingdom.

    [1The Working Experience
    Vista Wayand it will also be your home away from home when selected for the DAK Program. Vista Way is located about 15 minutes from DAK and Disney shuttle services are provided. Rent includes your fully equipped apartment which you will share with five other International or College Program participants, shuttle transportation to work and various other locations, clubhouse with pools, fitness center and email facilities. You are really looked after well while rent is automatically deducted from your weekly paycheck. Staying at Vista Way really is an amazing experience. You get to meet people from all over the world, not only once a year but several times a month because of the different contract start and end dates. This is the place where friendships of a lifetime are made, people that you know will be your friend until the day you die. Being a big group made a difference to our experiences but still individual arrivals will have no problem making new friends and being part of the big Disney family.

    The Living Experience doesn't end atVista Way, you are in Orlando after all, vacation capital of the world. There's millions of things to do and travel in the US is relatively cheap - providing you do some overtime at work. Travel agents have special rates for Vista Way residents and that makes it even better. We went on several trips during 1998, they included a Mexican cruise, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Miami, Grand Canyon, Florida Keys and some other great destinations. It's really up to yourself on how much you travel. You will have to choose, either make this a money making year by cutting down on travel or go wild with shopping in some great stores and by traveling as much as you can.

    How to Apply?
    This is wide open, if you think that you will enjoy representing your country at a place like Disney's Animal Kingdom, start working on that application. To qualify for this program you must:

    • be at least 18 years old • have good conversational English • have a positive attitude and personality • be willing to model Disney values • have an outgoing personality • be ready for the year of a lifetime

    When we applied for the program through our schools Disney recruiters were looking for students with a Hospitality and/or Tourism background, but don't let that hold you back. I would still try and apply no matter my experience and education, there's nothing wrong with trying and you might just be the type of person Disney recruiters are looking for. The Tourism Concept in Johannesburg, South Africa are doing all the pre-screening for Disney applicants so be sure to get in touch with them.

    Is there life after Disney World?
    Hard to think so but yes, absolutely! Working for Disney really is a great opportunity. This is only a year contract but if you value the Disney experience and would like to continue with the company, there might be opportunities with the International Disney family, such as Disney Cruise Line and Walt Disney International. I recommend the International Program for any adventurous person wanting to meet new friends from all over the world. And the best of all, learning from the world's hospitality and entertainment leader the great values of Disney. See you in Disney World!

    As part of the 1998 Disney's Animal Kingdom (DAK) International Programs Opening Team, Chris has experienced the Program firsthand from its very beginning. Chris has worked aboard the Disney Magic and as a Manager of Tusker House at DAK. He is currently working in Dubai for Jumeirah.