The Disney College Program will be suspended indefinitely, Disney announced Thursday.
The suspension applies to the internship programs at Walt Disney World, which is supposed to reopen its theme parks on June 11, as well as the Disneyland Resort, which has not announced a reopening date. Letters pointed on social media for both resorts cited the fact that Disney-owned housing complexes for DCP participants remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason for the decision.
“We understand this is is not the news you were hoping to hear and we want to assure you this decision was not made lightly,” the letters from Disney said. “We are committed to our Disney Programs and will resume in the future, when the time is right.”
Disney said it will change its eligibility requirements to accommodate the affected DCP applicants. This will allow those who have recently graduated to re-apply once the suspension is lifted.
DCP employees were sent home soon after Disney World and Disneyland closed in mid-March. The dorm-like environments used for the program — for which the students pay Disney weekly — were not designed with physical distancing in mind and present a higher risk of infection during the pandemic. Even if college-aged students are more likely to have mild cases of COVID-19, an outbreak among Disney employees could easily be passed onto guests.
The Orlando Sentinel had reported in June that college program workers would not be returning to Disney World anytime soon, according to Unite Here Local 362, which represents attractions, custodial, and vacation planning workers at the resort.
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