Welcome to paperwork: the joys and agonies of check-in day

This crappy snapshot does not even BEGIN to show how bad lines can be!
One thing that can get pretty complicated to explain is check-in day - after all, a lot of important things like filling out the last of your job's paperwork and getting your housing assignment happen and there's a lot of getting shuffled around.  It also requires quite a bit of preparation on your part beforehand, though unless you're reading this as you're checking in it's all easy to do.  Never fear!  Today I'm going to explain, albeit in broad strokes (my last program was before DORMS so I don't know much about how that works yet) what you should expect on your first official day of CP duties.

Before You Go

About ten days before your scheduled check-in date, you'll be sent emails to fill out your preferences in DORMS and fill out your new hire paperwork.  Fill this all out right away!  It'll save you a ton of time come check-in day and it's pretty much expected that you'll do it before you come anyway.  Plus, it's all relatively easy or quick stuff to fill out, like putting in account information for direct deposit and filling out a simple tax form or two.

If you've already found people you want to room with, ensure that you get all of their ID numbers before entering DORMS, as you'll have the chance to request them all as roommates.  This is a big improvement over the last program, where you had to essentially tie everyone together and hope that the line didn't separate you along the way (it almost did with my roommates on my last program).  Besides that, however, I can't really give too many details as I haven't had the chance to use it yet.  However, based on things I've heard from my CP friends this segment of check-in day, which usually took an hour or so to get through at least, is now really fast as they've already assigned you to housing by the time you arrive and just hand you your room key.

A few things to remember to keep on you at all times during check-in day:
  1.  Your forms of identification - If you have a US-issued passport you only need to bring that.  If you don't, you need two forms of ID.  One should be a government-issued form of ID like a driver's license, and one should be something that proves that you're a US citizen (like a birth certificate, or some sort of naturalization paperwork if you weren't born a US citizen but are one now).  If you're not a US citizen, you likely already know the appropriate visa you need to bring.  If you're an ICP/CRP, your stuff is completely different and I'm afraid I can't help you there!
  2.  Your DORMS form - I've heard that DORMS spits out a form with a barcode that you need to bring to check-in day in order to get your room assignment.  It'll likely be very clear what you need to print out and bring with you, so again I'm sorry that I've never used it myself so I can't be more specific than that!
  3. An uncanceled check - You need this only if you didn't complete the paperwork for it online but still want direct deposit.  If you opt to go for the card Disney offers instead, I think you can skip having this.
  4. A large bag, purse or backpack - You're going to have a lot of paperwork and other junk thrown at you, and although I think you might be given a goodie bag when you check-in I don't remember for sure.  Bring a bag just in case anyway!

Getting to Vista Way

Vista Way is where everyone checks in (and no, it does not mean that you'll be living at Vista - they just have all of the appropriate buildings and space to accommodate everyone) and you'll be here for most of the process except for when you go to Casting.  Since housing is determined through DORMS ahead of time it's no longer necessary (or really wanted) to show up any earlier than when check-in starts at 9 AM (exact time may change depending on program, know before you go).  When you show up there will likely be loads of signs directing you to the pavilion where check-in takes place, so don't worry about getting lost.  If you can't see any signs, just walk straight from the security gate as far back as you can get and you'll probably find what you're looking for.

I don't know if this bit has changed since the advent of DORMS, but if it hasn't your first stop will be to get your housing assignment.  As I said before, this is likely a no-muss no-fuss affair nowadays so you'll probably be in and out quickly.  You'll also get your housing ID made at this point which includes a photo of you, so... just be aware of that if you want to look pretty!  Make sure to pick up a Program Guide when you come across them - they'll have times and dates for housing meetings on the back.  If you're arriving with your roommates I encourage you all to find planners with the same time and day printed on them, as there are several slots available and it wouldn't make sense for you all to not have it together, right?

Next comes the paperwork.  You'll have a Program Guide/planner at this point; a cast member will give you a very important sticker.  What's the sticker?  Why, your job location!  However, depending on your role it can be very vague about what your assignment is - while globally-trained roles like custodial and Photopass only need to know which park they'll be working in, attractions may be given the name of a complex of attractions that they will be trained on but the actual names won't be used.  Other roles have similar things happen.  But... you'll know what park/resort you'll be working in, at least!

After this, you'll be given the first of several contracts.  They're all your basic stuff - there's one for housing that essentially says that you'll follow the rules while living there, and there might be one for your new job.  Most job stuff will be handled at Casting though, which I'll talk about in a bit.  You'll also be asked if you have a car you want to be able to park in the complexes - basically, if you want a car on your program you'll say yes to this.  You'll be pulled out of the line and given another form to fill out with your car's info (so I'd suggest knowing things like its make, model and plate number in case you need to record those).

Lastly, before you go to Casting you'll be given a time and date for your Traditions class and a cast member will look you over to make sure that you fit Disney Look.  By this, I do not mean that you have to dress in Disney Look or even wear your professional wear - wear whatever you can have on comfortably for an entire day of unpacking and running around.  The CM will just be looking at your hair and face to make sure you don't have a weird dye job or facial piercings outside of the one piercing in your ears you're allowed.  If either of these is something you have to fix before arriving in Orlando, be warned that they'll check right at check-in and may delay your Traditions class or even send you home if you don't fit it.

Depending on your role, you may also get pulled aside for a drug test (though any role can be randomly tested - there are just a few where it's essential that they test you right away).  From what I've heard it's a standard urine test (I know, ick, but you gotta do what you gotta do), so don't worry about them wanting something weird.  However, if you feel there's anything in your system that might get you in trouble (no judgement), get clean now.  And stay clean throughout your program.  If you're taking prescription medication that might interfere with your test results, make sure you let the cast members know.

After that's all done, it's off to Casting!  If you brought luggage with you but don't have family to leave it with there's a luggage room you can stash it in until you come back from filling out all your paperwork.  It'll be clearly marked and close to where the buses pick you up so you shouldn't have trouble spotting it.  There's also a reception room for anyone who came with you, as they won't be allowed to travel to Casting with you.

The Holy, Glorious Casting Building of LINES

As far as I know you can't drive yourself to Casting - you'll have to take the CP buses.  However, housing security will direct you to a place to park your car when you arrive at Vista so it won't be a problem to leave it there.  Plus, Casting is literally right across the street (okay, highway - but who's being picky here?) so it's not a long ride there or back.

At this point, I'm going to get really vague on what to expect.  This is for two reasons.  The first is that on my last program I was going through check-in on about three hours of sleep so I could barely process what was going on.  The second is that you're essentially going to spend half of your time there in lines - through the atrium, down the hallways, in large rooms.  Lines everywhere.  Hey, what'd you expect - it's Disney! ;)

However, there are definitely a few things I remember doing distinctly.  You'll be fingerprinted so that Disney can have an independent security firm run a background check on you.  This is where that whole "have you ever been convicted of a crime" question from way back when you applied comes into play - if something pops up on your record that you didn't admit to at the time of your original application you're in trouble!  However, if you've already worked that out with your interviewer you'll be just fine.

Also, you know those forms of ID I said you had to have on you at all times?  Well, prepare to show them at least a couple hundred times (this is almost not an exaggeration).  Don't put them away, don't leave them with your luggage and don't lose them.  Actually, make that a general rule of thumb to never misplace important government documents, kay?

You'll also likely have a few cast members verify things you said both on your application and new hire paperwork, so make doubly sure all the information they're showing you is correct.  This is so Disney can make sure that they don't put you in the system with inaccurate information among other reasons.

After you're done with all the paperwork, you'll be told that you're free to leave! YAY!  However, don't be stupid like me and get lost in the building - there are signs pointing out but they may not be clear and Casting is pretty confusing to find your way around by yourself.  When you get back outside you'll have to wait for the bus to come back and pick you up - they come pretty often so don't worry about waiting for very long!  If you want to wait for anyone in the Casting building that's fine - just make sure the bus driver knows he can go on without you.

Back to Vista and Freedom

One you get back to Vista, pick your luggage back up from the luggage room along with your friends/family if they came with you.  You're free for the day!  If you don't have access to a car special shuttles will be available to take you straight to your housing complex - don't use the regular CP buses as there's not much room on them for luggage and they're likely busy with working CPs anyway.

Here are a few things you'll probably want to do now:
  1. Unpack your stuff in your apartment.
  2. Go shopping for any food/toiletries/other home essentials you don't already have.
  3. Get to know your roommates.
  4. Become familiar with your complex's layout - make special note of where the nearest laundry facility, pool, mail room, etc. is.  Also note where the front desk is - it'll be important for a lot of things over the course of your program.
  5. Make a game plan for the next few days, as they're likely to be the most free time you and your roommates get before you start training for work.
  6. If needed (and I highly recommend it), work out a few house rules with your roommates.  They don't have to be too crazy, just outline things like sharing property/chores/guest policies.
Make sure to get a good night's sleep!  Even if you aren't busy the next day, you'll want to be as well-rested as possible leading up to your first week or work.  Also remember that your family must be off the property by 1 AM, and if you have members who are younger than 18 they need to be gone by 7 PM.  Security might be more lax on this since it's move-in day but I wouldn't push my luck if I were you.


  1. You can never give anyone else your apartment key.  Don't give it to your family so they can move you in while you're at Casting; if you get caught doing this you will most certainly be termed.
  2. If you arrive to check-in with hair or face that doesn't meet Disney Look, you may either be denied a Traditions class until you fix it or even termed on the spot depending on how bad the offending feature is.  For example, it'd be much easier to dye your hair than it would be to shrink any gauges you might have.
  3. Your family cannot come on any of the buses with you - not the one to Casting and not the one to your housing complex.  Make sure they have a way to get to your complex with you if they're helping you move in.
  4. Don't wear yourself out too much.  Anything you'd want to do late at night can wait until you've had a chance to settle in.  Take the time to get comfortable with your new living space.
With that, I'm about finished explaining check-in day!  I may write another post over your first few days on the program will be like, including your housing meetings and Traditions, but it'll be a few days before I'll be able to get around to it.  Until then, have a great day!


  1. As far as housing goes do they also assign the rooms and beds in your apartment? When we moved my cousin into her dorm at her college they had the beds numbered and gave her her bed number with her room key.

    1. Hi Kady! They do not assign beds or rooms as far as I'm aware, that's up to you and your roommates.

  2. Will a copy of a passport or birth certificate suffice as ID during check in? Or do you have to bring the real one. I am just scared of losing it.

    1. I believe all documents have to be the originals, but I would call just to double check!