• Hillary Van Way

Spotlight: Disney Cast Member

Updated: Aug 19

I am so excited to include this "Disney Spotlight" segment in my Disney Blog. I will be interviewing many different Disney-affiliated people and sharing their love of Disney and their Disney experiences with all of you.



Melissa Wimberley, a former Disney World Cast Member, is my first "Disney Spotlight." She is a Sophomore at The University of Louisiana at Lafayette and is currently majoring in Child and Family Studies. She is a former Disney College Program (DCP) Cast Member who worked in merchandise at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Here's what Melissa had to say about her experiences during her Disney College Program.


What is your favorite memory of Disney World?

This is a toughie. Honestly, I can't just pick one! I can say that I had many, many interactions with younger guests and their families that were absolutely magical, and I am still friends with and in contact with some of the families today!

What is your favorite resort to stay at on property?

I have never actually stayed at either, but The Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge were my two favorites to visit. They are both so beautiful and have such fun themes! Also, The Art of Animation is the best Value Resort! So fun!

What is your must-do Disney attraction on every trip?

Hands-down, it's The Journey Into Imagination With Figment in Epcot! I know that this is not a popular choice, but it is my absolute favorite ride because I feel like Walt Disney would have loved it as well. It teaches the importance of having a good imagination and having fun!

What is your favorite Disney snack?

The Grilled Cheese and Tomato Basil Soup at Gasparilla Island Grill at the Grand Floridian. Also, Dole Whip Sundaes at Aloha Isle.

If you could take a picture with only one character on a Disney vacation, who would that character be?

Stitch or Donald Duck! They are my favorite characters, and they're both so fun to meet!

If you had one restaurant recommendation in Disney World, what would it be, and what would you recommend ordering?

My love for food is at an unhealthy level, so as you can imagine, I went to as many of the great Disney restaurants as I could while on my program. The absolute best dining experiences I had on my program were at The 50's Prime Time Diner in Hollywood Studios. Great theming and environment, and the food makes me want to break down in tears, it's so good! If you go, you need to order Aunt Liz's Fried Chicken and a Peanut Butter and Jelly Milkshake, and also request that Eric or Scott wait on you! They are the funniest, best waiters I have ever had there!

What is your favorite park in Disney World, and why?

I think Epcot! I basically went to Epcot at least once a day while on my program! As a kid, I loved Magic Kingdom the best; Magic Kingdom is still so close to being my favorite, but Epcot's World Showcase and, during the Fall, the Food and Wine festival, just blow me away. The whole front of the park is focused on building a great future and the importance of imagination (which feels very Walt Disney-esque), and the back of the park is focused on exploring different cultures!

Who do you love traveling to Disney with most?

My best friend, Claire, and my best friend from the program, Kayla! I have had so many adventures in Disney World with both!

What is your favorite Disney movie?

Lilo and Stitch and Meet the Robinsons, which were actually both made by the same studio, The Walt Disney Animation Studio, an off-shoot studio created after Pixar left for awhile.

When did you do the Disney College Program, and what made you want to apply for it?

I did the Fall 2017 program! I actually heard about it and decided to apply after my best friend, Claire, told me about it!

What was your top choice, and what did you end up doing at the DCP?

My top choice was Character Performer, and I got pretty close in my audition process, but I just didn't make the cut the first time! I ended up working in Merchandise and absolutely loved it!

What did you like doing when you weren't working?

I went to the parks pretty much anytime I wasn't working, which I recommend doing because the time flies by and most people end up regretting not having gone to the parks more! I also explored outside of Disney quite a bit, too. I went to Universal Studios, the beach, the Orlando Eye, the Florida Mall, and I had all kinds of other adventures. There is just so much to do in Orlando!

What was your weekly schedule like?

There is really no way to describe it because the way we were scheduled for work was different every week. Also, the number of hours we worked was different every week! Generally, I worked anywhere from 35-45 hours a week.

Did you enjoy the DCP? Why or why not?

Immensely! I plan on, hopefully, doing it again once I graduate! It was a completely life-changing experience. I became an even more confident and competent individual, learned to be more self-sufficient, learned how to interact with all types of people, and met so many friends that I will have for life. Now, I carry a bit of the magic with me every day, everywhere I go, and it empowers me to spread love and happiness wherever and whenever I can!

If you could hold a professional career in Disney World, what would it be and why?

I think I would really love to be a Character Performer Trainer and a part of the artistic team for the amazing shows Disney puts on! Maybe one day!


How many of you have done the DCP? If so, what was your job?

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