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Australian shares her experiences as a Cultural Exchange Program participant

While walking past a café on campus, Alicia, a Zoology and Marine Biology major, saw an advertisement for our Disney Australia & New Zealand Cultural Exchange Program.

“I have always wanted to work for Disney ever since I can remember,” she said. “The company has been a huge part of my life growing up. So I was excited to learn about the program and have my dream come true.”

Alicia posing with Chip & Dales mascots

So she applied, interviewed and was accepted. She packed her bags and moved from Perth, Australia to Orlando, Florida. She describes her time working at the Walt Disney World Resort as “rewarding, life-changing and incredible!”

We caught up with Alicia who recently finished her program and returned home.

Alicia escorted by Mickey Mouse

How did you adjust to life in America and working for Disney?

It was scary at first being on the other side of the world by myself, but one thing that helped a lot was surrounding myself with amazing people and just spending time with friends so that it felt more like home.

Tell us about your work location.

I had two different roles for my program. For the first half, I worked at Mission: Space in Epcot. And for the second half of my program, I was a Character Attendant based at Magic Kingdom Park. 

What is your role/program?

At Mission: Space, I was an Attractions Hostess, so I operated complex ride systems and used theming to transport guests to space. As a Character Attendant, I facilitated meet and greets with the Disney characters.

Alicia at the Mission Space section in Disneyland

What’s your favorite part of your current role?

I loved seeing the joy children – and often adults – get from meeting their favorite characters.

What’s your favorite part of your program?

The friends I’ve made! I’ve made lifelong friends that mean everything to me, and my program wouldn’t have been the same without them. 

Do you have a favorite memory?

My favorite memory was one day after working with Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger, I was walking Tigger back to the 100 Acre Wood during the Happily Ever After fireworks. Tigger and I stopped and watched some of the fireworks and then danced together to the music.

Alicia walking with Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger

What would you have liked to know prior to starting the program?

I would have liked to have known that this program can be very challenging. It requires a lot of physical work, and you will feel many emotions. But looking back now, I would do it all again in a heartbeat. 

Were you able to go anywhere outside of Orlando?

I went to Miami, Tarpon Springs and Atlanta. 

What advice would you give to future Australia/New Zealand participants on adjusting to life in America/Disney?

Americans love our slang and accents so have fun with it! I would talk with an excessive amount of slang and watch them get confused. 

And make sure you go with an open mind. It may not be everything you expected or it may be so much more. The effort you put in will make all the difference.

Alicia kissing Donald Duck

Where do you see yourself in the future?

I want to come back and work as an Animal Keeper at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. And my dream is to work for the Disney Conservation Fund. 

Anything else you would like to mention?

I would recommend this to everyone. This program helped me grow so much, and I feel like I really did find myself, all thanks to Disney. 

Alicia hugging Goofy

Fun facts about Alicia

  • Favorite Park: Disney’s Animal Kingdom 
  • Favorite Attraction: Mission: Space 
  • Favorite Disney Character: Chip ’n’ Dale
  • Favorite Disney Snack: Churros 
  • Favorite Disney Entertainment: Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire 
  • Favorite Disney Movie: “The Lion King”

Alicia looking at the Disney castle

To learn more about the Disney Cultural Exchange Program, visit the job page here.