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Unlocking Potential: The Impact of the 2024 Disney Dreamers Academy

Taken inside the Convention Center at Disney's Contemporary Resort
Disney Dreamers Academy 2024

The year is 2008 and the news began about a program developed by Steve Harvey in connection with Disney. I remember being in 11th grade and thinking wow I love Disney and this could be a great opportunity but ultimately shy away. Though I went on to do things I am proud of, it is something I always thought about the what if?

Fast forward to 2024 and I am invited as a media guest at the same event that has now evolved into something students still dream of. The 2024 Disney Dreamers Academy just came to a close and what a phenomenal four days it has been. Before I talk more about what I saw let me give you some background on The Disney Dreamers Academy!

What is the Disney Dreamers Academy?

By TJM Communications
Disney Executive Tracey Powell & Mickey Mouse

The Disney Dreamers Academy is a vibrant, transformative experience aimed at unlocking the potential within high school students who are eager to dream big. This annual event, held at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, serves as a powerful platform for 100 selected students from across the United States. These young dreamers engage in a comprehensive four-day program that combines inspiration, motivation, and practical strategies designed to empower them to pursue their dreams with confidence and a sense of responsibility.

The academy's curriculum is meticulously crafted to encompass a wide range of interactive workshops and motivational talks, providing participants with a unique blend of learning experiences. Industry professionals and celebrity guests share their journeys, imparting wisdom and insights that resonate with the young attendees. The essence of the program extends beyond conventional classroom learning; it emphasizes the importance of leadership, effective communication, and the courage to imagine and realize one's potential. This immersive experience is designed not just to inspire but to equip students with the tools and confidence needed to take actionable steps towards their future ambitions.

What do the Dreamers experience?

At the core of the Disney Dreamers Academy is the belief that a single weekend can alter the trajectory of a young person's life. By providing access to Disney's vast network of professionals, from entertainers and entrepreneurs to scientists and executives, the academy offers invaluable insights into various career paths. These mentors share their experiences, challenges, and successes, offering a realistic and inspirational view of what it takes to achieve one's dreams. The program's unique approach combines career exploration with critical life skills, such as effective communication, leadership, and networking.

Plus Dreamers are spending time enjoying the Disney Parks, making friends and magical moments. They participate in a parade through the Magic Kingdom Park including an experience from Drum Major Mickey Mouse, meeting celebrity guest, and their parents/chaperones are learning with them. With each year, the program evolves to include new workshops, speakers, and experiences, ensuring that it remains relevant and impactful. For aspiring participants, the application process is competitive, yet highly rewarding, with the academy seeking students who demonstrate curiosity, passion, and a readiness to take steps toward their future goals.

2024 Disney Dreamers Class

By TJM Communications
Disney Dreamers Commencement

Thousands apply but just 100 students are selected. This year the Disney Dreamers Academy celebrates 17 years. The program is designed to broaden career awareness and create opportunities for Black high school students and teens from underrepresented communities across America! Representing over 26 states the wide range of diversity was seen over the event. From those interested in Imagineering/Engineering to Marine Biology they truly have been able to see the possibility in their future aspirations.

We had the opportunity to sit in on interactive workshops. One being with Imagineering/Engineering dreamers who had the chance to hear from Disney Legend Lanny Smoot! Lanny is a Disney Imagineer who has 106 US Patents and created the retractable lightsabers we see at Disney Parks. That is just one of Lanny's amazing accomplishments and these students took every moment with him to soak it up. The Aero Space Engineering Dreamers sat and worked one on one with representatives from Axion Space, Dolby Labs, and ISS Zero-G for a hands on learning lab. Marine Biology Dreamers had the chance to hear from Animal Experts plus learn hands on from Ocean Advocate Danni Washington.

Each year there are celebrities, community leaders, educators and Disney executives who join in the fun. This year we saw reality tv star Sanya Richards-Ross, Actor Lance Gross and even ABC's Shark Tank Daymond John. There is a DREAMbassador selected each year and the beautiful Dara Reneé was here to lead aside Disney Dreamers Executive Champion Tracey Powell these students are being guided by the best. They reminded them all of the ability to believe in their dreams, go after those dreams and to NEVER EVER give up!

Magic Kingdom Park
Disney Dreamers Executive Champions Tracey Powell & Myself!

A very cool aspect is that they invite back former dreamers to attend and share their stories with current dreamers. The sense of joy in these proud graduates and sense of community is something to see. At the end, there is a Commencement Ceremony filled with live entertainment, parting words of wisdom and a ring ceremony. There is not one dry eye in the building as the Dreamers wrap up their experience along their Parent or Chaperone sharing in this moment.

Beyond the immediate impact on the participants, the Disney Dreamers Academy aims to create a ripple effect, encouraging these young leaders to become role models in their communities. Graduates of the academy often speak of a renewed sense of purpose and an increased desire to give back, underscoring the program's role in nurturing a generation of determined, socially conscious dreamers.

Never Stop Dreaming

Disney Dreamer

Those selected for this life-changing experience will leave with not just memories, but a renewed sense of purpose and a toolkit of skills to help them navigate the journey ahead. Graduates of the Disney Dreamers Academy have gone on to become doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs and more!

Applications open typically in the Summer for the following years event. Students ages 13-19 are eligible to apply. Though 17 year old Brianna did not apply she is definitely believing in her dreams. Attending this event not only inspired me but reignited a spark of passion to never stop dreaming. As such, the Disney Dreamers Academy stands as a testament to the power of dreams and the belief that with the right guidance and support, young people can achieve extraordinary things.

Until our next expedition....

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