Shaye from Popcorn and Tater Tots created this wonderful recap of Disney Dreamers Academy 2020 launch weekend! This year, the academy went virtual, and here is what Shaye took away from this new experience.
Here’s Everything That Happened During The Disney Dreamers Academy 2020 Launch Weekend
L to R: Disney Channel’s China Anne McClaine, star of the upcoming movie, “Descendants 3,” Sierra McClain, Lauryn McClain, and ABC’s “Black-ish” stars Miles Brown and Marsai Martin pose with high school students Saturday, March 10, 2018, following a panel discussion of Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 11th annual Disney Dreamers Academy, taking place March 8-11, 2018 is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students from across the U.S. (Gregg Newton, photographer)
So I’m not sure if you know, but this weekend, I got to cover the Disney Dreamers Academy 2020 Launch Weekend.
If you’re not familiar with this amazing event, Disney Dreamers Academy is a four-day, transformational mentoring program that brings teens from across the United States to Walt Disney World Resort for an immersive education and mentoring experience.
(Yes, there’s also a Disney trip involved! I’m completely jealous!)
The program debuted in 2008 and each class of 100 teens is selected from thousands of applicants. The free program encourages participants to “Be100”, to be positive, to be “all in,” and to pursue their dreams and make a difference in the lives of others.
However, for the first time ever this year, DDA has gone virtual. (Which brings a few exciting additions to the schedule!)
While it may seem like the 2020 class of Dreamers are losing out on valuable face time with their new mentors, and fellow Dreamers, with virtual comes new perks!
So while physical handshakes were traded for digital high fives through Zoom calls, the 2020 class of Dreamers also got to hear messages from additional surprise celebrity guests, some of who they may not have heard from if it weren’t for video, since so many of these Disney stars are all still working.
SEPTEMBER 26, 2020 – LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Gospel legend and GRAMMY Award Winner Yolanda Adams welcomes teens from across the country to the first-ever Virtual Disney Dreamers Academy Program Series on Saturday, September 26, 2020. The program kicked-off its launch weekend with a select group of teens from across the country participating together online. Virtual Disney Dreamers Academy Program Series is an all-new program that offers sessions inspired by the in-person Disney Dreamers Academy that’s been held annually since 2008 at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Participants in the virtual series experience career and motivational content, weekly live interactive sessions and an online commencement celebration.
Dreamers are also getting exposed to all of the career options this year opposed to just one!
In previous years Dreamers only had time for exploring one career path of their choice during their transformational and life changing weekend. But with everything being digital this year, Dreamers now have the option to explore as many career paths as they’d like.
These ‘Career Deep Dives’ will premiere online over 6 weekends, starting on October 3rd, and include fields like Medicine, Education, Imagineering and Engineering, Film Production, Theater Acting, Costume & Fashion Design, Media and so much more!
But that’s not it! This year there’s one huge bonus all 100 Dreamers are receiving – externships!
We’re still waiting for more details about how this will work, but Disney has confirmed that following the virtual experience, all 100 students will experience career shadowing externships based on their dream professions. Which is a huge difference from previous years, where only maybe 2 or 3 Dreamers were offered this opportunity.
So I’m super excited for the Disney Dreamers Academy Class of 2020!
I’m also wondering if they’ll offer me an externship. (Probably not! Let me start using these skills I learned to wrangle me a mentor or something.)
However, as a member of the media, I was invited to join the students on their virtual journey, and I have to say I’m extremely excited to check out a few of these Career Deep Dives!
Listen, I don’t know about these kids, but I sure will be joining every Deep Dive that I can! They better teach me how to create an awesome podcast, and all I need to know about costumes and fashion.
Shoo, they can also teach me how to dougie, ’cause it’s been years and I still can’t do that dance! (Don’t judge me!) But I will say, if the information received there is even as half as good as what we received this weekend, these Dreamers are in for a special treat.
Here’s Everything That Happened During The Disney Dreamers Academy 2020 Launch Weekend
DDA’s Countdown Videos gave us priceless professional tips from Princeton Parker and more.
5 days before the DDA launch weekend began, Princeton Parker, a former Dreamer, hosted a series of countdown videos to share tips and advice with the incoming Dreamers to help them get prepped for success!
From tips like “be proactive”, to “add these dates to your calendar”, Princeton made sure to walk these High School students through each step of professional organization so they wouldn’t miss out on the great opportunities before them.
Along with tips for success, the countdown videos were also filled with Be 100 Conversations, from motivational speakers to really boost the Dreamers confidence in themselves, and remind them how great they are and how great they can be if they give themselves a chance.
We heard inspiring words from Jonathan Sprinkles, a motivational speaker, who is now one of my personal faves (and almost made me cry), along with a few other greats like Dr. Steve Perry, Sonia Myles Jackson, and Brandi Harvey.
Here’s one of my fave quotes before we get into Saturday’s events.
“I had to go from comfortable to courageous, fearful to faithful.” – Sonia Jackson Myles
You can check out the Disney Moms of Color Facebook page, and the Brown Side of Disney Twitter accounts for a ton of other inspiring quotes from these amazing speakers, along with a few others. So what happened during the launch weekend?
Saturday gave us life lessons on how to ‘build your belief’, ‘reasons vs results’, networking and picking the right mentor.
Dreamers were encouraged to arrive to their daily LIVE streams during the launch weekend 30 minutes early to watch trailers for new Disney movies and tv shows in the virtual ‘waiting room’.
However, whether these Dreamers noticed it or not, I’m 99.9% sure this was just a ploy to teach them to arrive early! Remember, if you’re not 10 minutes early, you’re already late!
So it was cool that they got an incentive to arrive early, which helps them get into that “always be early” mindset.
SEPTEMBER 26, 2020 – LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Disney Signature Experiences Vice President Tracey Powell welcomes teens from across the country to the first-ever Virtual Disney Dreamers Academy Program Series on Saturday, September 26, 2020. Powell is Executive Champion for the event, which kicked-off its launch weekend with a select group of teens from across the country participating together online. Virtual Disney Dreamers Academy Program Series is an all-new program that offers sessions inspired by the in-person Disney Dreamers Academy that’s been held annually since 2008 at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Participants in the virtual series experience career and motivational content, weekly live interactive sessions and an online commencement celebration. (Credit: Walt Disney World Resort)
Once things kicked off at 2pm EST, there was a welcome message from Tracey Powell (one of Disney’s Vice Presidents), Princeton Parker, Yolanda Adams and Mikki Taylor (Essence’s Editor-in-Chief). Dreamers also got welcome messages from Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Ne-Yo, Miles Brown, Chloe and Halle, JD McCray, Magic Johnson, Patti Labelle, and Usher.
Then came the Dreamers Life Classes!
Jonathan Sprinkles taught us how to build the belief and build unstoppable confidence.
He shared personal stories, and lots of tips, like …
What the 3 self limiting beliefs every high achiever tells themself, that’s not true.
- I am not enough.
- I am not ready.
- I am going to fail.
How to build the belief in yourself.
You have to …
- See it
- Say it
- Celebrate it
- Surround it
And dropped a ton of gems, that I wrote in my notes for later on, like …
“You’ve got to say what you see until you see what you’ve said.” – Jonathan Sprinkles
And if you’re wondering how amazing Jonathan really is, just know that he used to stutter as a kid and now he’s a motivational speaker! So he’s definitely amazing. And everything he said I soaked in, because believe it or not, I needed those reminders just as much as the Dreamers did, if not more.
Brandi Harvey taught us the difference between reasons and results.
As she said this weekend …
“You can either have reasons or results but you can’t have both.” – Brandi Harvey
Brandi also shared how her father fired her years ago, and shortly after being fired she realized that he didn’t fire her, he just released her into her destiny. Which is such a great mindset to have.
But the one thing I hope all the Dreamers wrote in their notes that Brandi shared with us is that you have to commit to the results! While we all want great things, we can’t get there if we don’t keep our eyes on the prize.
Princeton Parker and Karli Harvey taught us how to pick a mentor that’s right for us.
SEPTEMBER 26, 2020 – LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Virtual Disney Dreamers Academy Program Series event host Princeton Parker speaks with entrepreneur Karli Harvey Raymond during the first-ever Virtual Disney Dreamers Academy Program Series on Saturday, September 26, 2020. The program kicked-off its launch weekend with a select group of teens from across the country participating together online. Virtual Disney Dreamers Academy Program Series is an all-new program that offers sessions inspired by Disney Dreamers Academy that’s been held annually since 2008 at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Participants in the virtual series experience career and motivational content, weekly live interactive sessions and an online commencement celebration. (Credit: Walt Disney World Resort)
Princeton shared how his mentor (Jonathan Sprinkles) picked him and Karli shared how she decided to mentor a previous Dreamer, who reached out to her via email a few years ago.
They also shared what a mentor does, (such as give advice or words of wisdom, and help motivate you) so Dreamers were very clear on how their mentors could help them. As well as email etiquette tips so they knew how to approach their mentors in the digital world.
Then there was a session with Dr. Steve Perry for both Dreamers and their parents.
Dr. Steve Perry went through a few “questions” the Dreamers wanted to ask their parents, and gave both Dreamers and parents valuable advice I hope they really consider and take to heart.
At one point one of the Dreamers said that they wished their dad didn’t have to work so much because he misses out on so much of her life and it broke my heart.
As someone who’s worked with students, doesn’t have a great relationship with her parents and is a single mom, I know first hand what needing your parents around can do to kids. However, Dr. Steve Perry was able to not only relate, and explain from a dad’s point of view, but also helped everyone understand why her feelings were valid and advised them to come up with a plan that would allow them more time to see each other.
Sunday gave us more life lessons, including one on style.
Sunday was packed with more inspirational quotes and tips from all speakers, but the one life lesson that really stood out was the style class with Dr. Alex Ellis and Brandi Harvey.
Both speakers, explained to the Dreamers why it was so important for them to not only feel amazing, but also dress the part as well. They gave a few of the Dreamers “makeovers” and showcased it to the other Dreamers so they would have perfect examples of what to wear on campus when they go off to college, what to wear at an interview, and even what to wear just hanging out with friends so they really were prepared for success at all times.
Oh and I can’t forget their special guest Dapper Dan, who stopped by to give the Dreamers some words of wisdom himself. When he started speaking I checked the chat to see what the kids were saying and they were super impressed by his background, as well as his style.
But overall, the Disney Dreamers Academy 2020 Launch Weekend was an absolute success!
I’m still amazed at how great this event was produced, and how awesome these videos were. Not only were they insightful, and inspiring, but they also managed to have two days worth of LIVE videos with almost no technical difficulties!
I mean, I know it’s a Disney production, but whew! I expected a hiccup or two, with everything being digital and all. But nope!
So yeah, it was a pleasure covering this event this weekend and I am so looking forward to hopefully talking to a few of the Dreamers and speakers soon, as well as taking a sneak peek at what some of these Career Deep Dives look like!
And I can’t wait until my daughter is old enough to apply, because she sure will be! This seems like the opportunity of a lifetime, and after getting to see what it’s really like, I can surely say it’s worth applying for!
For more information on the Disney Dreamers Academy, feel free to visit their website at www.disneydreamersacademy.com.