The Disney World College Program is an internship that hires students, from all over the world, to work for Disney. My main motive for joining was because I wanted something to film.
Below is a video I made in 2004 about my experience working at the Disney College Program. This won the best video of the year award at the Disney World Night of Stars Show.
Fiction vs Reality
Cast members (Employees) were encouraged to be creative with our work experience. We were allowed to invent stories about our interactions with the characters. Inasmuch, at Disney World, it was difficult to know what what fact and what was fiction.
One time, I got in a fight with Piglet and Pooh Bear. They broke my nose and took my wallet. On another occasion, Aladdin put a knife to my throat and threatened to kill me if I did not stop flirting with Jasmine. Also, one time, me and Stitch made out with Tinkerbell and a Pocahontas. I had Tinkerbell. Stitch had Pocahontas. Then, we switched.
When I arrived at my assigned living quarters I discovered that six of my eight roommates were gay. The boy who shared a room with me was Peter Pan, and he was dating Prince Charming. I learned of this fact, late one night, when I was awakened by repetitive thumping noises in the bed next to mine. That’s when I realized that hidden underneath the costume of the Disney name was a story that was not G rated.
I liked my roommates, but I was fighting my own feelings of same-sex attraction and I felt that I could not obey God's law if I continued living in that environment. Therefore, I applied for a special Christian housing unit and was accepted.
The Christian housing unit had a curfew and a dress code. Boys were not allowed in the girls bedrooms and vice versa. These rules were in contrast to the rest of the campus which was full of recent high school graduates who were living on their own for the first time and had no intention of following rules.
Below are clips from some of my adventures with my Christian friends.
I worked at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. It was hamburger restaurant from outer space. Also, It was the busiest fast-food restaurant in the world. My job was to squirt ketchup for 8,000 people a day. My boss was a purple dinosaur named Sonny Eclipse.
Sword and the Stone
One day, I saw a crowd gathering by the merry-go-round. I approached to find Merlin, the magician, inviting guests to pull the sword from the stone. After many people tried, the sword was pulled by a young girl. She was given a medallion and was pronounced The Ruler of the Realm. She was invited to be in the parade. The sword was returned to the stone.
After the show, I stayed to chat with Merlin. We talked for 45 minutes about the history of King Arthur (I’m a huge fan). At the end I asked what the real secret of the sword was. Then, he said:
"Every day people assume they can pull the sword because they are big or strong. But true nobility has little to do with the way a person looks. The true ruler of the realm is the one who has the ability to see with his heart, NOT his eyes. The true ruler is the one who has the power to see the sword and the stone for what it, really, is, when no one else can."
He asked if I could see it. I closed my eyes and said I could. Then, he took my hand and placed a medallion inside. I opened my eyes and saw that the sword had been removed from the stone. Then he said, "The reason you can see the sword, is because you are the true prince.
You, Jonathan, are the ruler of the realm.”
Cast members at Disney World get paid to make guests feel special. But I’m telling you, that he was not an employee. THAT was Merlin. And THAT was one of the most powerful experiences of my life.
How to stay a Virgin
At first, us Christians found strength in each other. But staying true to the regulations was difficult because everyone around us was breaking the rules.
But, really, they weren’t breaking the rules because sexual abstinence was a Christian regulation. It did not apply to outsiders. And that made us wonder: Why can't Christians have sex before marriage? Why do we have a curfew? Why do we have a dress code? Why are our rules different from other communities?
Furthermore, because we were unsupervised, there seemed to be no incentive for obeying God's laws and no punishment for not keeping them. Midway into the program my Christian friends started breaking the rules. By the end of the internship, there was no way to differentiate Christians from any one else.
As part of my quest to convince myself that I was straight, I got engaged to a female (Elisha).
But the engagement was a sham.
One day, while working in Disney's secret underground tunnels, the power went out while I was in an elevator. I was with two female co-workers and several crates of ice cream. Because the air conditioners were down, the ice cream was melting and we were hot. We were told it would be a while until maintenance could save us, so, we ate the ice cream while making out with each other. That's when I realized I was, definitely, gay.
Melissa was my best friend in the program. One reason we clicked was because I loved making movies and she loved being in them (she was a model). Because of our common love, toward the end of the program, we spent a lot of time together.
However, Melissa was not a Christian and rumor suggested that her sex life was hyper-active. My Christian friends criticized me for spending time with her. I argued that it did not matter who I hung out with because none of the Christians were keeping the rules. Therefore, the only real difference between the Christians and the non-Christians is that when non-Christians have sex they are not breaking rules.
At that time, it occurred to me that there is a difference between what a person seems to be on the surface and what they really are inside. On the surface, Melissa seemed to be a Biblical harlot. But when I got to know her, she was one of the most Christ-like people I had ever met.
Because of our different backgrounds, we had many debates about God and religion. But our discussions were not like those I have had with other people.
Her arguments were sincere and well thought out: Why does God seem to ignore people's prayers? Why are some girls born in safe environments and others are not? Why does God seem to care more about some girls and less about others? If God is real, why does he allow rape?
Melissa was different from me, but rather than contradicting, our differences complimented one another. When I was with her, I felt like it was okay to be wrong about things. Because of this, in her company, I felt like I was free to be myself.
After Hours at Disney World
In my quest to make my story worth watching, I had many adventures at Disney World. I was caught in the middle of a hurricane and almost died. I went sky diving.
One night, after the park shut down, me and my friends snuck into the Haunted Mansion. On another occasion, we broke into the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and I stole a pirate coin, and now I’m cursed with immortality.
TPing the Castle
On the last week of the program (Christmas day) me and my friends, Piglet, Jasmine, and Stitch toilet Papered the Disney World Castle.
Where is Jonny?
On the last night of the program, I planned a party at my apartment in the Christian complex. But earlier that day I went on a date with Melissa to see the MGM Christmas lights.
When it was time for the party, Melissa asked me to stay with her instead of returning to my Christian friends. I told her I liked her and I was afraid that if I stayed, I might do something I would regret. Then, she made me a deal. She said that if I spent the night with her, in the morning, I would have no regrets. I agreed.
That night, everyone wondered where I was. They felt abandoned. They accused me of breaking the rules. But I did not break any rules because Melissa kept her promise.
At the close of 2004, the Disney internship had come to an end. I felt that it was a worthy chapter of my story for God. I examined many issues regarding the difference between fiction and reality. I pondered the nature of camouflage and deception.
At this time, I wanted to go to college, but I needed money. Therefore, for the next chapter of my life, I joined my brother Jason doing door-to-door sales in California.
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