For some reason, the word “traditions” is enough to strike fear into the hearts of candidates of the Disney College Program. Maybe it’s because of the total secrecy that comes with the start of the program or maybe it’s because of the horror stories that come from people that haven’t followed the strict dress codes. Either way, it seemed like a majority of people in my program were freaking the hell out about Traditions, so I’m here to tell you why you shouldn’t.
First of all, it’s Disney. What are they seriously going to do to you on your first day being introduced into Disney? All the smiles and courtesy and show doesn’t just stop when cast members go from interacting with guests to interacting with fellow cast members. They’re genuinely excited to welcome you to the Disney family because if we’re being honest, a lot of cast members began their own Disney journey on the college program. So if your skirt is patterned or your dress shirt is a little on the snug side THEY WILL NOT CALL ON THE HEAVENS TO SMITE YOU.
Are we clear on that fact?
Let me just go over this very important fact with you one more time: YOUR DISNEY UNIVERSITY TEACHERS WILL NOT TAKE ONE LOOK AT YOU AND TELL YOU TO PACK UP AND LEAVE THE PROGRAM ON THE SPOT.
Okay, now that we’ve gotten that point out of the way, let’s take a deep breath together and we can move on to some general advice about Traditions.
If you don’t know what Traditions is, it’s the first official welcome and class you take at Disney University. Not only do all the CPs have to take this class, but everyone who Disney hires goes through this same process. Without revealing too much about what Traditions is or what you’ll learn there, just know that it’s a crazy exciting first step in your Disney journey. It’s even more exciting to know that after you go through your Traditions class, you get to go into the parks, because you’ll have your official blue ID.
In my experience, the thing that seemed to stress people out the most about Traditions was the dress code. I joined the Facebook page for the DCP Spring 2016 semester to find a roommate (which I highly encourage doing—I LOVE my roommate that I linked up with before the program through the page) and I mostly stayed on the page for the entertainment factor after I found Kaitlyn (the roomie). Not to knock on my fellow CPs, but when you get 6000+ 18-22-year-olds from all around the world on one Facebook page, you’re going to see some not-so-intelligent posts, and I’m willing to bet over 80% of them were about Traditions.
Every time I logged onto Facebook, it would show yet another 20+ posts in the page asking what to wear or people posting pictures of their outfits and asking if it was appropriate for Traditions. You would think that after seeing a handful of posts about the subject, people would be able to form a pretty solid idea of what they were going to wear. Unfortunately, this was not the case and the closer to move-in day and Traditions came about, the more constant the questions were.
I’m here to hopefully help future generations avoid the same face-palm-inducing posts that I had to endure at the start of my program.
THE DRESS CODE
It’s business casual. The best question you can ask yourself when picking out an outfit: would I wear this in an interview? If the answer is yes, then wear it. If the answer is no, then don’t wear it. See how simple that was? That’s literally it.
I understand that a lot of college students entering the program are freshman and sophomores and have therefore never been in an official interview situation. This is where your common sense has to make a quick appearance. Here are a few questions you can use as a quick guide while looking at your outfit:
- Would I wear this to a wedding? (i.e. fancy dress/high heels for girls, tux for guys) If the answer is yes, DON’T WEAR IT. It’s too fancy. While you do need to look clean and professional, you don’t need to be dressed to the nines. This isn’t Cinderella going to the ball. This is Cinderella attending royal meetings and hearings with her royal cabinet.
- Would I wear this to a bar? (i.e. skin tight dress/skirt, low cut shirts for girls) If the answer is yes, DON’T WEAR IT. It’s just not professional.
- Would I wear this to church? If the answer is yes, WEAR IT. …Well, for the most part. My church has a super casual service in which I would wear sweatpants and sweatshirts when I was running late and football jerseys for NFL Sundays. If your church is as casual as mine, then maybe choose something you would wear to your grandparents’ church.
- Is the color distracting? If the answer is yes, DON’T WEAR IT. If you have a lime green shirt or hot pink shoes, please pick something else. You want to bring attention to yourself through intelligent responses and a clean look, not because your clothes are literally drawing everyone’s gaze to you. You don’t necessarily have to stick to neutrals, just make sure if you wear something with color, it’s not obnoxious.
- Is it comfortable? If the answer is yes, WEAR IT. Find some nice clothes that fit you and make you feel confident while you’re wearing them. Traditions is a few hours long and so are the other classes at Disney University, so make sure whatever you’re wearing doesn’t make you hate yourself. (HINT: use this question for the shoes! Can you walk in them for a few hours without your feet falling off? If yes, then you’re golden. If no (i.e. high heels), then save yourself some pain and don’t wear them.)
WHAT I SAW AT TRADITIONS
- A few people in jeans. While I rolled my eyes, the instructors didn’t kick them out. They might have said something like, “Hey, don’t wear that tomorrow” but they were still allowed to participate.
- Hot pink nail polish. Technically, the “Disney Look” means your nails either don’t have any polish at all or they’re only painted in neutrals (brown/navy/plum/maroon). Basically nothing distracting. Yet, this girl wore her hot pink nail polish every day (she was in a few of my classes) and either they didn’t say anything to her or she didn’t care enough to take it off. Either way, she was still allowed to participate.
- Patterns on clothes. For some reason, there was a rumor going around our Facebook group that you weren’t allowed to wear colors, which was just absurd, but it still caused a wide-spread panic among all the CPs who took that seriously. But patterns and colors were both allowed and everyone who wore them (myself included) were allowed to participate.
- Multiple ear piercings. I myself have double-pierced ears, my cartilage, and my tragus pierced. Granted, I only wore my Mickey studs in the tradition spot on my earlobes (like you should when conducting yourself in a business casual fashion) but some people still had all their piercings on display. And guess what? They were still allowed to participate.
Please tell me what all of these sightings have in common: THE CP WAS STILL ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE.
So basically whatever you choose to wear to Traditions, you’re going to stay and go through the class. On my third day of Disney University, they actually looked us up and down for the Disney Look and I heard them tell one girl her dress was just a bit short, so next time choose something longer. They didn’t send her home or fire her on the spot, so once again, there’s no real reason to freak out about what you wear to Traditions.
Here’s what I wore to Traditions/the rest of the training classes for the week.
The first outfit was a shirt/skirt combo. Then two blue dresses were both tank tops, so I added a black cardigan over it. Notice all have modest neck lines and they all reached either just above or at my knee. I wore the same shoes all three days because they were the only pair of flats I brought with me to Orlando. I also carried around a purse with some clementines (I encourage bringing snacks–classes are long and they give you breaks!) and my travel coffee mug.
As far as hair and makeup goes, I had my hair in a ponytail for all my classes because they started at 7 or 8 a.m. and let’s be honest, I am just not ready to be a person at that time of the day. I kept my makeup neutral because that’s just my kind of style and I felt like it was more Disney Look than any crazy colors or eyeshadows.
I sincerely hope this post helps you worry less about Traditions, not only for the lessening of the Facebook posts, but because this is your start of your DCP—this should the start of one of the most exciting experiences of your whole life, so there’s no need to start it out by worrying about nothing. Just have fun with it! And of course, clear your schedule for after Traditions, because this is the moment you’ll finally, finally, finally get into the park with your cast ID! (Excuse our odd expressions, this is a screenshot of a video of us screaming “WE’RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!”)