Fullerton College’s four-year long machining program prepares Disney Cast Members for advancement within the company through their machining program.
“This is an internal training program in which Disney picks the recruits,” said Dan O’Brien, department coordinator.
Attendees of the program must first gain employment at Disney, then the company take applications from within the company for the machinist program.
Most applicants start by working in lower-level positions, and work their way up to higher paying ones with the program.
Disneyland does take into consideration recommendations from Fullerton College professors who work with the program for external hires as well.
Disney typically selects around six students per spring term to Fullerton’s campus in order to complete the degree program needed to work as an official ride mechanist.
O’Brien went on to say that the school eventually intends to set up a separate degree for this kind of training and experience.
The program isn’t only marketed towards Disney, although they are the main beneficiary. Theme parks such as Knott’s Berry Farm and others in the area are also asking for students with the type of training the school specifically offers.
Jeff Elliot, an advisory member for Fullerton College, realized that the school had machinist program with potential, and got the ball rolling for the program back in 2007. However, it wasn’t set up until 2011 due to issues with paperwork and labor union contracts.
A park machinist is different than just an everyday machinist. They have to be specifically trained for rides and the rigorous maintenance schedule required.
The Indiana Jones ride, a popular attraction at the Disneyland park, is on a regular interval where it that has to be serviced once a year. Machinists have to completely take apart the vehicle, ensure that all technical parts, as mechanics, are running smoothly before putting it back together.
Disneyland does have their own machine shop, which is hidden backstage, but often times the company reaches to outside vendors in order to obtain the parts required to fix or enhance rides and attractions.
“It really has changed a lot of the lives of the people who have come through the program,” O’Brien said.
The machinist program isn’t the only program that Fullerton works on with Disney.
Recently, a program for sound technicians has been added.
This includes programmable logic controllers, which can be seen at such attractions as the Lincoln Memorial, and production technicians, which are used for the show “Mickey’s Magical Map”.
The programs that Disney offers through Fullerton College are continuously growing and will continue to do so as long as technology continues to grow.
The school is looking to expand by also adding a hydraulics program, which will also be towards a specific Disney certificate.