Recently, several people have contacted me about doing the Disney CRP in the Historical Research Center. There’s barely any information online and certainly no one’s experience. I’ve put together this post to try and answer the questions I’ve been asked the most. Hopefully, this will help you to decide whether you would be more suited for HRC or Disney.
First of all, when I’m comparing HRC or Disney, I’m referring to the merchandising role within the CRP, not food and beverage. What I will say is that if you want to do a program to make money, do F&B because you can earn a lot in tips.
With Disney Merch, you are in a rotation and work in all the stores, the cart and perform various other tasks like magical moments and stocking. Forgive me if I’m more wishy-washy about the Disney role, I didn’t do it. If you’re VERY into Disney, I’ll suggest from the off that merch is probably more for you. There are about thirty people that have this role and you are in ‘seniority’ order which means that the longer you’ve been there, the better shifts you’ll get. This is reflective in how likely you are to get the days off you want and your holiday requests are favoured more. Supposedly.
HRC or Disney; The Role
HRC is one store in the middle of the UK Pavilion at Epcot. It’s a small team of between 5 and 7 people plus Mariann (the manager/HRC Mum) and then Pete and Bev (who own the company). It’s very much like a little family; we work well together and do things outside of work too. It’s more personal than Disney, we can’t just call in because we’re hungover or similar.
Generally, we look up names in a database on our computers and bring up that person’s family history and a coat of arms if there is one. Yummy Jobs and Disney said in interviews that you would be researching names which was incredibly misleading as we don’t do the research. If there’s a name not in the database, a team in the Head Office will compile the research and work with historians to get the information. You don’t need a history degree to type in a name. I would definitely recommend that you have an interest though as the job could become tedious quite quickly.
Guests have the option to buy their coats of arms in different forms. It can be printed, framed, hand-painted on items, embroidered, personalised on to clothing, etc. We put frame pieces together in the office which you’ll get training for. We usually take it in turns to frame which is a nice way to break the day up, especially over Food and Wine and in the run up to Christmas.
There is the opportunity to also learn how to do the paperwork when Mariann isn’t in. There are normally only two people at a time who do this. This involves balancing sales, managing inventory, replying to emails and checking up on orders. Nothing too difficult but important to the business.
In a nutshell, that’s the role. I enjoyed it much more than I think I would have Disney Merchandise but it depends on what you want to get out of it. The main thing is you really need a good work ethic and want to push yourself a bit.
One of the most common things I get asked is whether HRC still receives the discounts that Disney do. Yes, yes you do. It’s not quite as easy as we don’t get access to The Hub but if we call the phone line, we can still book discounted hotels, tours, etc. You get the 40% discount during the holidays too. Along with the holiday vouchers for dining. We used someone’s from Disney to check prices but then call to book.
One of the best things about working in the parks is that you get free entry. This is the same for HRC. You get access to all four of the main parks and the water parks. Days off have never been so great! The only thing I would note is that we don’t have ‘Main Gates’ that Disney cast members have. Our’s are plastic tickets. They work in the same way but we can’t get guests in, just ourselves.
You’re not guaranteed these. You have to work for them. If Mariann can see you actively putting in the effort and trying to do more, you’ll get one. Always ask what more you can do, besides, time goes more quickly if you can do more.
This has become more of a recent thing I think but Mariann will always get us a cake or similar for our birthdays and on our last day. We had a little mini Christmas day buffet too and the odd pizza in the office when she knows that Disney are doing something. We can generally have the food related things that Disney put on too. Guy fawkes, Thanksgiving, the Queens Birthday, etc. They normally have sweets, ice cream, popcorn, sometimes savoury bits and the odd bit of hot food.
If we ever need time off or want to switch shifts, we can generally just swap with each other. There’s no seniority and being a smaller team, we can help each other out. With Disney, they have to put it through the Hub and it can sometimes get denied if one of the people switching is doing too many hours. Or if they were doing a specific role. It was much simpler in HRC, we would switch, okay it with Mariann and that’s it.
We paid more in rent than Disney which was really frustrating. It’s only $30 more per week, but that’s $120 more a month. And there are absolutely no benefits. We are in the same housing, with the same horrible Transtar buses, obeying the same rules. I think all Operating Participants (third party companies within WDW) apart from Arribas Bros pay extra. It’s one thing that really is not fair on Disney’s part. We are on the same program, why did we have to pay more?
Lower Starting Wages
I don’t think this was the case when I started (May 2015) but since Disney’s wages have increased again (August 2016), the HRC starting wage still hasn’t. As already mentioned, you are able to work towards a pay-rise so I ended up earning more than Disney. I think this is one thing that Yummy Jobs don’t necessarily tell you.
No Backstage Tours
This, for most of us, was the biggest let down. Although you work as a part of the pavilion, we are not included in backstage tours with Disney. These are cast exclusive tours which go backstage on rides with a guide and it’s supposedly their policy that we can’t do these backstage tours as we’re not insured. Bullshit. We’re insured to be backstage in the UK pavilion and anywhere else work related, so why not there? It’s the only thing that I would say made us feel like outsiders. I know that a few in HRC are still trying to fight for us to do them. Hopefully, this will change for any future HRC participants.
Working at HRC for the Cultural Representative Program in the UK Pavilion was one of the best 15 months of my life. I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s a team that becomes family and you look out for each other. I don’t think I’d ever be able to work for Disney, I loved the freedom too much with HRC.
There are pros and cons to both programs; you need to think about what you want to get out of it. Obviously, if it’s money, don’t do either. Go for Food and Beverage. If you want an easy job where you can call in to do stuff, do Disney. If you want some more responsibility, do HRC. Whatever you choose, you’ll have the time of your life. You’ll live for your days off, going to the parks, eating out, etc. The one thing you’ll learn doing a program is that the friends you make are for life. Whichever you choose, enjoy it!
I wanted to do this post mainly because Yummy Jobs don’t always seem to explain what it is thoroughly enough. You don’t have to have a Disney degree and HRC is probably more difficult to get as they are much more selective. You’re a part of a small team and need to work well with everyone. I hope this post has helped you to understand the role more.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or leave me a comment.
Sorry this has been a wordy post for those uninterested!