What happens when you gather a few thousand college kids in Florida, put them in shared apartments, and pay them just enough to survive? Spring break? Worse. Disney College Program.
Not everyone who takes part in the Disney College Program does so out of sincere desire to bring magic into your day (and increase Disney's bottom line). Some of them do it to party, get drunk, and get laid. A lot. Disney doesn't want you to know that. Disney will tell you it doesn't happen.
In I Saw Ariel Do a Keg Stand, Chris Grimm takes you through the hook ups, fights, party buses, drunken binges, and carnal exploits that filled his five months as a Cast Member at Walt Disney World. (At least what he remembers of it.)
Grimm's magical days included:
WARNING: If your son or daughter has been accepted into the Disney College Program, do not read this book (you won't let them go). If you're a Disney Mom who loves pixie dust and think Walt never farted, do not read this book. If you think Tucker Max and Howard Stern are disgusting excuses for human beings, do not read this book.
Everyone else: tell Mickey to close his eyes and pull down his pants, because this is the WILD SIDE of Walt Disney World.
1Knock, Knock, Knockin’ on Mickey’s Door
2The Facebook Games
3Going Away Party
4To Florida, with Dad
5House of Blues
7Lifeguardin' Ain't Easy
8All Aboard the Party Bus
9How I Almost Got Arrested
10Fallout with Xavier
12The Single Life
14White Men Can't Jump
16Awkward Caterpillar to Social Butterfly
17Super Happy Mondays
What the Pixie Dust Taught Me
About the Author
It was a beautiful night at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. The weather was warm and there were roughly a hundred happy guests splashing around in the pool. The carefree attitude that pervaded the scene didn’t extend to the four lifeguards on duty—we were watching the water like hawks. Our heads tirelessly swept back and forth as we worked to view our assigned zones of water, waiting for something to go wrong. We didn’t have to wait long.
Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a flicker of movement that seemed out of place. Abruptly spinning on my heels, I saw a young boy, about 9 years old, come down the slide and instantly get caught in the current. He briefly shouted “Help!” before slipping under the surface of the water. I had already blown my whistle and was sprinting toward the child before the shrill sound reached anyone’s ears.
Just as I hit a full sprint and was closing on where the kid had gone under, a family of four moved in between me and the boy I intended to rescue. I was going too fast to stop, so I did what any twenty-something who watches too many action movies would do…I jumped the family. Ignoring their look of shock as I sailed right over them, I kept my eyes locked on where I could see the boy thrashing underwater. I landed with a splash before taking a breath and ducking down to grab him by his wrist and pull him up.
That was my average day as a lifeguard participating in the Disney College Program; a program where college students move to Orlando, Florida, to work various jobs for Walt Disney World. “What’s the point of the program?” a friend of mine asked. “Why would you give up a semester of college just to lifeguard for Disney?” I didn’t have an answer for him just yet.
Growing up, I never thought I’d one day work for Disney. I wasn’t a freak who kept shrines to Mickey in his closet. It wasn’t my life’s goal to work for Mickey. Hell, I couldn’t name more than half of the Disney princesses. Sure, I watched my fair share of Disney movies and videos—my favorite is a video tape released when Blizzard Beach opened. It had every major Disney character up to 1994, music scenes galore, and featured all the attractions of Blizzard Beach. I watched it incessantly. Soon this VHS would be replaced by every Disney movie imaginable, from Snow White to Aladdin.
Apart from watching Disney films, I went to the parks my fair share of times. Before my program, I had been to Walt Disney World exactly twice—once at age three, once at age ten. The thing is, neither of these made an indelible impression on me. Later, I went to Disneyland multiple times, whenever we’d visit family in California. I hoped to find the magic there that I just couldn’t find in Disney World. Still nothing. “Oh, well,” I thought, “I guess Disney is just for little kids.”
So, how did I end up at Disney? Opportunity came in the form of a good friend named Xavier. He talked about an internship he had done called the Disney College Program (DCP) where he lived on Disney property, made good money (later discovered to be a lie), and where there were insane parties and lots of hot young ladies who were much more promiscuous than the average girl I find here in Baltimore. This was enough to make me apply on the spot. Unfortunately, my first application failed. It’s not that the application process is rigorous; I just didn’t take it seriously, expecting to breeze through. I didn’t. In fact, I was sleeping when my phone interview was supposed to happen and all Disney got when they called was my voice mail.
One semester later, I was foaming at the mouth, I was so eager to do the program. What changed to make me so eager? I still wanted to party, but no girl is so hot and no beer is so good that it warrants foaming at the mouth.
I did my program for many reasons, but the most prominent were:
As I sat down to write this book, I realized something—I had the answer to my friend’s question. Why should I give Disney a semester of my life instead of going to college? What is the Disney College Program and why should every person do it?
The Disney College Program is a fish tank where you and everyone are separate from the real world. You can see everyone outside the tank and they can see you, but the world outside seems to speed by while time slows down in the tank.
It’s 10,000 people living in a 5-mile radius. It’s people from countries all over the world. It’s where I walk to Walgreens and hear Spanish, German, French, Italian, and Mandarin.
It’s where I go to a bar with Spaniards, leave with Americans, and somehow end up crashing at a German’s house. It’s where you make lifelong friends you’ll cherish forever.
The program did more than just giving me lifeguard training and the addition of Disney to my resume. I grew significantly as a person, both in maturity and in social skills. I made friends whom I consider as close as family. And I gained valuable insights into cultures vastly different from those in the United States that I wouldn’t have encountered otherwise.
Would I do it again?
In a fucking second.
Chris Grimm grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, where he attends UMBC working toward a degree in Business Administration. Upon graduation, he plans to continue writing, running his online business (ChrisGrimmSEO.com), and traveling the world.
Chris’ Disney College Program took place from August 2013–January 2014. He spent a majority of his time as a lifeguard at Disney’s Blizzard Beach and at the Caribbean Beach Resort.
This is the first of many books he will be writing.
If you have a question for Chris that you would like to see answered, please ask it here.
That is a tough question. There were definitely kids that came down to Disney to party and go nuts, but I would say that we were in the minority—maybe 30%. I just hung out primarily with people from that demographic and lived in party central (Vista) housing, so it seems like it was even crazier than normal.
I definitely went down looking to party—maybe even a bit more so than I should have. If I had not tried as hard and just eased off the throttle a bit, I probably would have had more fun in the long run because I would have acclimated to the new environment faster.
I know several people personally that were termed from the program, and I've heard dozens of stories of people that were termed for various reasons. My personal favorite would have to be a kid named Andy who tried to sneak a girl from the Patterson apartments into Vista past visiting hours in the trunk of his car. Not his brightest move. The drunk girl freaked out and started kicking around in his trunk and security popped his trunk and termed him.
The reasons are endless, but the most common are underage drinking or serving alcohol to minors in your apartment. You can also be termed for the same things that would get you fired from any other job, like missing too many days of work or being late too often.
The party buses are companies not owned by Disney that work with nightclubs throughout Orlando. They provide transportation to and from clubs, and often try to get special deals for College Program kids (and other groups) to encourage more people to ride them.
In all honesty, I'd hope my sister joins a nunnery, but the odds of that happening are non-existent. I'd want her to avoid the party buses because I don't trust the people who run them, but I know she'd ignore me if I said that. What I would insist is that she not drink to excess on the bus and stay with friends she can trust…common sense, basically.
Disney has no control over them since they are not Disney-owned companies. They do their best to discourage people from using them, but there really isn't more that they can do.
Disney is extremely safety conscious. They have hired security that screens all people attempting to enter the apartment complexes and enforces all the rules. How they enforce the rules generally changes from person to person. I've been at parties where security will knock on the door for a noise complaint and just politely ask us to keep it down. I've had other instances where the guard seems to have a chip on his shoulder and seems intent on provoking an incident just so he can have an excuse to get you in trouble.
Real life was calling. I had to get back to school and finish my degree. I have every intention of going back for a "victory lap" of sorts once I graduate.
If you enjoyed any of the books by Tucker Max, or W.R. Bolen's Total Frat Move…this book is for you. If you enjoy looking at Disney from a completely different view than normal…this book is for you.
Who shouldn't read this book? If you think Tucker Max is a disgusting womanizer, then you probably should not read this book. If you want to keep a rose-tinted view of Disney, you should not read this book. Basically, if you are a decent human being who looks down on a level of debauchery that makes Animal House seem tame…this book is not for you.
In this excerpt, from "To Florida, with Dad", Chris Grimm recalls the most hellish car trip in his life: driving from Baltimore to Orlando, with his dad offering advice and "paranoid theories" at every mile marker.
I’ve been through plenty of long drives, some that I would say are the quintessence of hellish travel. I’ve driven six hours on my own after going for two days with no sleep. I’ve driven sixteen hours in a cramped van with my wrestling team to nationals while suffering through an allergic reaction to ibuprofen. My face swelled to the point where my lips resembled Bubba from Forrest Gump. Another time, we got out of the car and walked up and down the highway for an hour, traffic was so bad. But none compared to day one of this trip. One thousand miles over two days should have been cake, especially since I wasn’t driving at all. Except it still sucked, horribly.
I blamed it on the anticipation. I spent the entire time thinking about the program. What would my roommates be like? Would the housing be a dump? How strict would Disney be when it came to drinking or allowing visitors? My dad was no help—he alternated between stoic silence or giving me advice which always boiled down to avoiding drinking and girls, or his paranoid theories that my roommates would steal my Adderall, get caught selling it, and blame it on me, which would lead to me being arrested as a drug dealer.
I was hoping the hotels we stayed at would give me a chance to unwind; that wasn’t the case. We stayed in an upscale hotel, but it only had one bed. I despise sharing a bed with anyone, so I had to crash on the couch. Unfortunately, sleep wasn’t going to happen—I had forgotten about my dad’s proclivity to snoring. Imagine revving a chainsaw into a microphone, with the speakers turned up to 100% and placed next to your ear. This is about 1/1000th of what it is like to listen to Dad’s cacophony of snoring. It may have registered on the Richter scale. The room certainly shook like an earthquake was going on.
Luckily for me, the last day of the trip offered some respite. Morgan, my friend from home who was also doing the program, had already arrived in Florida. In what I could already tell was his typical approach to things, he had booked the flight with absolutely no plan for what would happen next. He had no ride from the airport, no money, and no place to stay. I passed this along to my dad, and he was on board with the idea of picking up Morgan and letting him crash in our hotel with us. Morgan just had to wait six hours for us to get there, check into the hotel, and then grab him from the airport.
This final six hour leg of our journey flew by. I wouldn’t be alone with my dad for much longer, and that meant no more lectures. I know some people will say I should stop ripping on my dad, or that I’m being too harsh. To these people, I’d like to say I love my dad dearly and I know he does everything out of a love for me and because he cares. But, there is just a point where I reach my limit, and that point is when I can recite his lecture by heart and also know when a lecture is coming just by listening to his voice tonality.
Six hours later, we checked in to the Gaylord Palms, and it was time to pick up Morgan. My dad had never met Morgan before, and I was a bit nervous. Morgan was of legal drinking age and had been sitting in the airport for six hours, so there was every chance he would get bombed. Fortunately, when I saw him walk out to where I was waiting, he was the picture of sobriety. Grinning, we walked up to each other and hugged. It was good to see him again, even if he was too dumb to plan things in advance.
At this point it was late evening, and Morgan and I wanted drive to Vista Way, where my friend Xavier was staying, so we could party with him before check-in the next morning. We brought the idea up with my dad, and he was all for checking out the path to Vista so we’d have an easy time finding it in the morning. He was less enthusiastic about us going to a club—but soon gave in when I told him a friend of mine would give us a ride back.
One five-minute drive later, Morgan and I were standing outside Vista Way, also nicknamed “Vista Lay” due to its reputation for having the most promiscuous Cast Members and wildest parties. As we both stood there taking in the scene, waiting for Xavier to come sign us in, I was nearly overcome with excitement. We had made it! The adventure of a lifetime had almost begun.
I guarantee you that Chris never expected his "adventure of a lifetime" to unfold the way it did. Ariel doing keg stands was probably the TAMEST part of his program.
In this excerpt, from "Lifeguardin' Ain't Easy", Chris Grimm recounts a typical clusterfuck of a day at Blizzard Beach.
“So, Chris, explain to me what happened.” Fuck me. I was sitting in my manager’s office at Blizzard Beach responding to a guest complaint that had been made fifteen minutes prior. There was one key difference with this one: I hadn’t actually done anything wrong. Usually, at my past jobs, there was no doubt that I was guilty of whatever the customer had complained about, usually me swearing in front of them on accident, or on one occasion when I intervened with a man yelling at his son.
What happened this time? Blizzard Beach has an attraction called Snow Stormers where guests ride a mat down a slide, on their stomachs. The ride had lasers built in so that the slide operators at the top know when to send the next group of people. This is a good system, in theory, and usually a good one in practice. Issues only seem to arise when someone is extremely large or extremely small. The extremely small ones tend to get launched out of the slide into the pool at the bottom like a bat out of hell; the extremely large ones tend to get stuck on the slide. Combine extremely large and extremely small, and you have a recipe for disaster.
This particular day, people were being stuck with annoying regularity at the bottom of the slide. They generally just wiggled their bodies and made it to the water in the end—no harm done. Suddenly, I saw a little girl being propelled down the slide with a fat man behind her. I immediately hit my EMERGENCY STOP button which stops all water flow and keeps any guests from being sent down until it is pulled back out. As I got up, ready to jump in if I had to, everything looked to be under control.
Then, out of nowhere, a third man with a ratty ponytail came down and crashed into the fat man, ejecting the little girl into the water. The girl was a good swimmer and seemed okay; the man, as expected, became stuck. With this in mind, I turned around to call the top to let them know that something was really wrong with the slide…only to hear someone yelling at me. Turning around once again I saw Pony Tail, who was sporting a gash on his forehead. What I hadn’t noticed before was that he had cut himself on the toe nail of the man in front of him. He was not a happy camper.
Pony Tail: Why didn’t you jump in? I’ve been a lifeguard for seven years and I would have jumped in. You’re such a horrible guard! Who trained you?
Me: I’m sorry, sir. Nobody looked like they needed to be saved and I didn’t realize you had been cut.
Pony Tail: *Still ranting for another minute.* WELL, what are you gonna do about this (points to his cut)?
Me: Oh, here you go.
I reached down to my hip pack, which had some towels that I could give him for his cut. What I forgot was that I had jumped in that day, so the towels were wet. As I handed him the towel, it slipped out of my hand and fell at his feet. Knowing what this looked like, I just winced and waited. I didn’t wait long. “Fuck you, man,” he said as he walked off, giving me the finger. I looked around and saw a bunch of silent, staring Hispanic families who seemed horror-struck. I gave them a smile and said, “Lo siento para su idioma, amigos. El es tiene una dia mala.” (Sorry for the language, folks. He was just having a bad day.) They just chuckled and went on their way—life is too short to worry about every asshole you run into, especially at Disney World.
Think that's it? Read Chris' book for more stories from Blizzard Beach, including lost children and guest fights. Have a magical day!