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Entertainment & Lifestyle

Revere grad goes behind scenes at Disney World

7/4/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Bath resident Mara Jones is shown with Mickey and Minnie Mouse after she graduated from the Disney College Program.
Photo courtesy of Teri Jones
BATH — Instead of spending her spring semester in the cold and snow at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C), Mara Jones enjoyed sunny skies in Orlando, Fla., and got to learn the ins and outs of the Disney parks.

Jones, 19, a Bath resident and 2012 Revere High School graduate, was part of the Disney College Program, a work experience that allows college students to spend several months at a Disney property to work and learn.

Jones said she has been a fan of Disney movies — especially “The Lion King” — and the parks since she was a young child.

“My first visit to Walt Disney World was in fourth grade, and I fell in love with Disney,” said Jones, the daughter of Teri and Bob Jones.

As a freshman at Tri-C majoring in criminal justice, Jones heard about the Disney program from a professor. She happened to see a poster on campus about applying, looked into it and applied right before the October deadline.

By Thanksgiving, after filling out an extensive application and taking part in an online interview and phone interview, Jones heard she made the cut.

She headed to Orlando Jan. 7 and met her five roommates, all participants in the program. They hailed from Massachusetts, Texas, Indiana and Ohio. She also met other participating students from countries such as Thailand and Australia, she said.

Upon arrival, Jones learned she would be working in quick-service food and beverage at the Columbia Harbour House in the Magic Kingdom.

Jones said she got paid for her work, which mostly included cashier duties. Though she did not get college credit, some participants in the program do earn credit, she said.

While in Orlando, Jones also had the chance to take a class at Disney University, at which employees and interns can learn more about the company. Jones took a class in security at Disney to tie in with her major.

“I learned how their security works throughout the parks and how they protect the magic,” she said, adding that she had the chance to work with the park’s K9 unit for a day.

Among the perks of the program, Jones said, was the opportunity to visit all the Disney park sites at no charge. She said she usually spent her days off at the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.

“I rode each ride in the park,” she said.

Jones completed her internship May 17 and is home for the summer. She plans to continue her studies at Tri-C in the fall.

And she wouldn’t mind interning again at Disney or finding a job there once she’s done with college, she said.

“It showed how a huge company can operate and how positive you can be toward everything,” she said. “I want to go back for another program or seasonal work or the Disney cruise line. It also opened my eyes to the fact that I need to get a college degree.”

More information on the program is at www.cp.disneycareers.com.

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