Okay, so officially my visa has been approved, and I can finally officially say that I will definitely be able to go to Walt Disney World for the summer! And I know people have got back to me after reading my articles and others online to say they’re very excited and they’d consider applying too! I think on social media we always tend to post the happiest and most exciting parts – and maybe hide the ugly details. Which brings me to a post about the cost of taking part in the Cultural Exchange Program. Don’t be frightened – I’m just going to give you a breakdown of what you should expect to pay!
Note: These prices are accurate for the 2017 program. The prices could increase or decrease depending when you’re applying!
I’ve tried to split it up to the order than things came in for me, to give you an idea of when to expect to pay for certain things.
Getting to/from interviews
Obviously this cost will vary for each applicant, depending where you live! There are 2 interviews – One at the Yummy Jobs HQ in Epping (just a short distance outside of London) and one in Disney HQ in Hammersmith. I was paying for flights for these because living in Belfast means flights are the most convenient option. For the Yummy Jobs interview I also stayed overnight (and you may choose to do so as well!), but there are tons of cheap B&Bs to choose from. There’s other things too, like getting taxis and the London Underground, depending how you choose to travel.
Between return flights from Belfast to London, and a B&B for one night and transportation around London, for both interviews, I spent about £280.00. I should add I brought my mum to London for a shopping spree so technically I paid for three flights!
So you did it! Woo! Congratulations on getting an offer from the Walt Disney Company! Disney expects that when you accept your offer, you pay their program fees. These include the first 2 weeks of the accommodation provided by Disney, as well as other events hosted by Disney throughout your program. This has to be paid before you can continue with Disney (and they normally give you a deadline to do this, about 3 weeks after offers are sent out). In 2017, the fee was $354.50 (about £304 when I paid).
Criminal Background Check
This is a fixed fee of £80.00. Basically after you’ve accepted, Yummy Jobs will ask you to fill out a criminal background check to allow you to work in Disney. It’s a pretty straightforward process, and you just pay this money to Yummy Jobs through their website. It’s fairly straightforward!
VISA Appointment, SEVIS Fee & Passport Return
The last stage (before you’re whisked away in June!) is the Visa appointment stage. There’s a couple of different fees to pay, including $160.00 for the visa appointment, $35.00 for the SEVIS fee (required for students and exchange visitors), and then a fee of £30 to get your passport delivered to you. This last part can have an extra amount- as I’d already spent a LOT of money so far, I opted to have mine delivered to a pick up centre where I’d go and get it. It’s an extra £18 to have delivered to you – I figured the drive might do me good!
If you’ve applied through Yummy Jobs, you’ll almost certainly have heard that you’ll need to fly out a day or two early before your program starts. This is where you can use the Facebook groups (if you’re part of them) to your advantage! I found three roommates and we all agreed to go to the All Star Music Resort (the cheapest one) and split the cost – it ended up being about £64 each for 2 nights stay, which is a great deal considering Disney prices! We’ve also booked dinner in ‘Ohana and breakfast in Boma, so be prepared to pay for reservations and food while you’re there!
It’s a bit obvious but you’ll almost certainly need flights to get there! Depending who you fly with and where you fly from, you could end up paying quite a bit! Mine cost about £670, and I got direct flights from Dublin with Aer Lingus – primarily because you can do pre-clearance at Dublin Airport – that just means you don’t have to stay in the customs line for ages at Orlando airport!
All in all, my total costs before buying supplies to get there have cost £1,518! It certainly is a lot of money but for the experience it’s certainly worth it! The costs can definitely be cut by getting cheaper flights (and if you live in England, Scotland or Wales, getting to interviews is probably a lot cheaper)! So costs will obviously vary. Either way I hope it gives you an insight of what to expect!