Correction: The article originally said Reagan Ogle is a senior, she is a junior. Elon News Network deeply regrets the error.

When she was 12 years old, junior Reagan Ogle, wearing her “Priscilla and Dana’s Dance Studio” T-shirt, was exiting the Winnie the Pooh ride in Disney World when a Disney character approached her and asked to dance. 

Ogle was shocked.

At the time, she felt discouraged and as if she wasn’t getting anywhere with dance. She said she couldn’t dance in the middle of the Winnie the Pooh store.

“He said, ‘No, no. Come on.’ And he started dancing with me in the store,” Ogle said. “He just made me feel really special and told me I should never stop chasing my dreams, and I shouldn’t let other people tell me I can or can’t do things. He just really changed my life in that moment.”

Ogle later found out the employee was a dancer in parades as part of the Disney College Program, an opportunity to take classes at Disney University and work at the park for a semester.

“Then I watched the parade and I saw him and I thought, ‘I really want to do this. I really want to make someone else feel this way,’” Ogle said.

Today as part of the same program, she works as a Fairy Godmother In-Training at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in the Magic Kingdom for the fall semester.

Ogle spends six-to-eight hours a day doing hair, makeup and nails on girls from 3 to 12 years old. Using “Ariel’s Jellyfish Jelly” and “Elsa’s Freeze Spray,” she transforms them into mini princesses before spinning them around in a chair so they can see their makeover for the first time.

“They’ve got pixie dust all over.,” Ogle said. “Their hair is done. They have a beautiful ball gown and the photographer is taking a picture of their expression. That’s the most magical moment — because that’s when they truly see themselves.”

Ogle isn’t the only Elon student working at Disney this semester. Junior Mara Wilson is spending her days dancing in parades.

After two rounds of online applications and a phone interview to be accepted into the program, Wilson auditioned to be a character performer. After three rounds of dance sessions, she was accepted.

Wilson had intense rehearsals for two days to learn the moves for the two different parades she does throughout the day and she was also cast in the Christmas Castle Show.

“Almost every day is different because I can do so many things, so whatever they need me for during the day, I do it,” Wilson said. “My role is global unless I’m scheduled for a certain park that day.”

In the morning, Wilson normally greets at the park before getting ready for a parade, performing for an hour, taking an hour break and getting ready for another show.

“Obviously, I love living the magic every day, but I love bringing it to other people — which sounds so cheesy, but it’s just so rewarding,” she said.

Though Ogle and Wilson aren’t playing specific roles, their musical theater experiences at Elon have helped prepare them for the program.

“Having a musical theater background has helped me because I have to learn lines and how to work on my feet quickly,” Ogle said. “If a problem happens or I have to respond in a certain way, musical theater has helped me with my intuition.”

In addition to having free admission to the park during their free time, they are also taking classes at Disney University. Ogle is taking a Disney human resources class and a Disney entertainment class, while Wilson is taking Disney Heritage I and Disney Heritage II, which she said is the history of Disney and its science of happiness.

Wilson is also getting credit for a musical theater co-op and internship.

Both girls agree that the Disney College Program is a great credit to have on a resume.

What Wilson finds most incredible is the opportunity for growth in all areas of a park. She’s seen people who have been there for 30 years — beginning with pushing buttons for “It’s a Small World” to becoming an ambassador for Disney World.

“A lot of people ask me, ‘If I do the Disney college program, am I going to lose the magic of Disney?’” Wilson said. “I appreciate it more now than I ever did before, because I know how much it takes and how many people it takes to get the show running, and it’s just a magic of
its own.”