UF Certificate in U.S. Resort and Destination Management
The Academic Exchange Experience program will require students to take four courses for a total of twelve academic credits. Three of these classes will be taught by University of Florida professors either on campus or online and the fourth course will be taught in coordination with UF and The Disney Institute at Walt Disney World® Resort.
The following is a list of required courses, each followed by their respective course descriptions:
Summer - 3 credits
This course is designed to provide students with an in-depth managerial examination of a full service lodging firm including each major operating and support departments. This course exposes students to the unique characteristics of managing and operating a service-based lodging product that is delivered by a diverse employee profile and received by an equally diverse consumer profile. The objective of the course is for the student to become familiar with the lodging industry and current principles and management practices of lodging properties.
The course will focus specifically on the integration of the hotel front office with other rooms division operating departments, such as housekeeping, reservations, bell desk/valet, concierge and transportation departments. The front office is the number one profit center of most lodging businesses and successful properties will coordinate the activities of the rooms division with sales/marketing, food and beverage, accounting, safety and security, engineering, and human resource departments of the property.
Summer - 3 credits
This course on resort and destination development provides students with an in-depth introduction and application of the concepts, theories and practices involved in planning and managing of resort tourism destinations. The course also provides students with the opportunity to develop a resort destination concept similar to that of the offerings found at Walt Disney World and understand the role that key tourism assets such as resorts and attractions play in a tourism-based destination. Beginning with the resort and destination concepts and theory, the course covers the planning, development, management, marketing, financial and service delivery aspects of destinations and their resorts as important drivers of tourism in the U.S.
Fall - 3 credits (Choose ONE)
The Advanced Studies in Hospitality Management Course is an advanced-level course that covers complex issues facing hospitality leaders today. This course will prepare students to become entry-level managers in the Hospitality industry by exposing them to contemporary operational issues and situations, equipping them with various problem solving methods and teaching them to develop and implement strategic solutions. Topics covered include guest service, leadership, strategic planning, trends and technology, communication, marketing, human resource management, and crisis management. Class content is delivered through lectures, group discussion, learning activities, and case studies.
The Corporate Analysis course provides an organizational exploration of The Walt Disney Company and covers a variety of topics including its corporate history, structure, governance, performance, and culture. In addition, students will learn more about our Company’s concepts around innovation & technology, globalization, history & heritage, corporate social responsibility, and diversity & inclusion. Class content is delivered through lectures, group discussions, learning activities, and situational studies.
The classes comprising the Organizational Leadership course are designed to examine, inform, and apply academic models of leadership. Genuine leadership begins from within and is not created in a personal vacuum. Thus, the leaders of today and the future must be familiar with the leadership insights from theorists, as well as how to apply these learnings in specific situations. Yet, as important as theory and application are to the learning process, it all begins with the heart and character of the leader.
This course examines the universal principles of leadership, including specific application to the Disney culture. It is designed to build repeatable and transferable leadership knowledge and skills. These skills are applied both within the context of the class and in earning and living environments of the internship experience. These skills are completely transferable to commercial organizational contexts. The content is delivered by a subject-matter expert in the field of leadership through lectures, group discussions, learning activities, self-assessment, project development and presentation, and situational studies.
The Corporate Communications course describes how companies communicate with key audiences, both internal and external to the corporation. The course introduces students to the communication function and how companies reach a variety of publics to include customers, investors, employees, media, government and communities in relation to the corporation. The purpose of this course is to engage students in the purpose and significance of communication within an organization at many levels. Students will learn both the why, how and application of communication techniques as organizations interface with customers, employees, and the public. As a result, students should have greater understanding of and appreciation for the corporate communication process.
Fall - 3 credits
The Internship in Leisure Services course will include practical field experience at the Walt Disney World Resort and exploration of tourism and hospitality career opportunities and real-world case studies. Students will be required to work an average of 30 – 37.5 hours per week from the start of the Academic Exchange Experience at Walt Disney World Resort until its completion. Students will have the opportunity to work in the following roles: concierge, character performer, lifeguard, resort hospitality, front desk operations, costuming, operations, merchandise and/or food and beverage. Evaluations and site visits will need to be completed by each student’s site supervisor and/or program at periodic intervals throughout the internship to mid-December. Each student will also be required to complete an internship experience evaluation.
UF will provide all students with their own email account and access to all of UF’s instructional (Canvas), technological, and student resources. Internet access and a computer are necessary to complete coursework for the duration of the program. Both are available at the Disney Learning Center and computer labs at the apartment complexes where you will live for the duration of the program. Laptops are also available for purchase at the University of Florida campus bookstore.
Via completion of the certificate program, students will earn twelve academic credits from the University of Florida that will transfer back to the home university and apply towards graduation requirements. Be sure to discuss which courses in which you should enroll (you have four choices for one course) and how the credits will apply in regards to your degree. We recommend that you set up a meeting with the Disney Program Liaison and/or academic advisor at your university.
Interested students apply and interview with both UF and Walt Disney World staff and should confirm the transfer credits with their home institution. Upon acceptance into the program, students will be responsible for obtaining an I-20 (or DS-2019) Certificate of Eligibility from the University of Florida, paying the $180 SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) fee, and having all official documentation when crossing the border to/from the United States.