When Katelyn Jones was a 6-years-old she experienced Disney World for the first time.
Since then, Jones has made it her mission in life to one day work at the parks and do her part to make the experience as magical as it was for her growing up.
“I love all things Disney,” she said.
That dream recently came true for the 21-year-old.
After two years of applying, Jones was accepted into the Disney College Program, a full-time paid internship opportunity that puts someone right in the experience.
“As a Disney College Program participant, you’ll become part of the magic that is known worldwide,” the website reads. “Gain valuable, on-the-job experience working in parks and resorts, participate in college coursework and have the opportunity to meet and live with people from all over the country and potentially the world.”
After applying, doing a web-based interview then phone interview, Jones received notification in April.
“My whole body just started shaking,” she said, adding it took her a couple times of reading through the email to accept its truth.
When it hit her, she called her mom.
“I just started bawling my eyes out,” Jones said. “It was just so surreal.”
Jones made the journey in June to Orlando, Florida where she went through days of company training learning about Disney’s four keys of success — park safety, being courteous to guests, putting on a show and creating a brand new world and being efficient.
She also underwent training in her area, the Tomorrowland Speedway.
Growing up, Jones said the experience was always so magical to her that that was one of the concerns she had when she started working there.
She said it’s even more magical as an employee and so fun being able to play her part to make that happen for the guests.
In her area, Jones said, she’s close to the castles and gets to see the fireworks go off night after night.
“I’m awestruck by it every single time,” Jones said.
On her days off, she’s still all Disney, going to the other parks and touring the fun attractions.
The program’s website rings true about meeting people from across the world, she said has been her favorite part so far.
“It’s been super cool to see different backgrounds, different cultures,” Jones said.
She said she’s met people from France, Australia and other places.
Jones will remain where she is for the seven-month program but has already been thinking about extending her stay to go past the January mark.
She said there’s several options and coming back to Conway and reenrolling in the University of Central Arkansas to finish her degree — she put that on hold to do the Disney internship — is also an option.
Either way, she said, this experience has been a great way to “get her foot in the door,” for her ultimate goal of working for Disney one day.