This summer, I had the great opportunity to learn about Disney Youth Programs.
Have you heard of Disney Youth Programs?
Maybe you’ve seen those cool, Disney Cast Members with YES! on their blue shirts? Or maybe you’ve heard of a high school band or choir performing in a Disney parade?
Honestly, Disney Youth Programs are Disney’s best-kept secret if you ask me. You know I’m always on the hunt for fun and sneaky learning opportunities, and you know we’re huge Disney fans. Right?
So this is the most perfect combination ever, ever in the history of the universe.
While we were in Orlando, Owen and I got a first-hand look at the YES and DPA Programs, and we were in awe.
I’m going to do my best to share what I learned, but know there’s a boatload of info on the sites as well.
You must read on if you ever wondered:
- Why are those cast members wearing YES! on their blue shirts?
- How can kids get a “behind the scenes” look at the Disney parks and attractions?
- Wouldn’t it be awesome if Disney World or Disneyland became “classrooms”?
- Could you possibly examine the art of leadership and teamwork from Disney?
- What is the audition process like for Disney cast members?
And if there’s anything else you want to know that I haven’t answered here, you just let me know, and I’ll do my best to get the answers.
Here’s the skinny. . .
Disney Youth Programs — YES You Need to Know About This!
Our first YES program was a look at the Energy and Waves Physics Lab, and our teacher, Chris, was awesome–he was super smart, charismatic, fun, and really knew how to engage and involve the tweens and teens in our group.
You guys–fyi, what we experienced was a 90-minute version of the 3-hour program, and it was so cool.
We never wanted it to end.
Our program took place in the Magic Kingdom, and even in the short time we were there, we learned a ton.
We started by chatting in the shade of one of the shops about prisms and light and waves.
Chris kept pulling things out of his “Mary Poppins bag” to help explain and illustrate his points.
Even though it was super hot and Orlando-muggy, Chris had our group engaged and everyone actively participating. He’d get the kids thinking about what they already knew and then would have them tie that info into newer concepts.
We were introduced to scrim–this mesh cloth that seems opaque until lit from behind–and we talked about how it is used to control what we see in and around much of the Disney parks.
Then, as a group, we headed into the Haunted Mansion to look more closely at this super-spooky attraction and to see if we could tell how light was used to create special effects. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t easy! These Disney Imagineers are good at what they do!
Honestly, one of the coolest parts of the whole experience was our behind-the-scenes look at the Haunted Mansion. I mean a true behind the scenes look.
It was so behind-the-scenes that we had to put our cameras away and promise not to take them out until we were back on the other side of the attraction.
One-by-one, we followed the lead of our Cast Member guide and walked out of the bright, Florida sunshine and into the back end and under the Haunted Mansion. We were able to see park guests on the ride, Oooohing and Aaaahhhhing at the special effects as we stood by in the shadows, silently watching it all unfold just like Chris told us it would.
It. Was. SototallycoolIcantevenhandleit.
If you want to see more, definitely check out my Instagram highlights: Disney!.
I am hoping beyond all hope that the kids and I are invited to check out more of these programs because before this summer, we had no idea about them.
Many of the Disney Youth Education Programs have printables and resources to print out and use before the experience.
In fact, Our Energy and Waves Physics Lab included these printables below:
But others don’t have any prep or printables. They might not need them–each program is different and unique!
The Youth Education Programs vary as much as their topics.
Like I said, Disney Youth Programs consists of three categories: 1.) Youth Education Series (YES); 2.) Disney Performing Arts (DPA); and 3.) Celebrations and Field Trips. Each component has a ton of options within.
Youth Education Series (YES) are:
- field studies that take place within the Disney parks;
- programs in science, arts & humanities, and leadership that enhance classroom lessons while emphasizing critical thinking skills;
- on topics like Energy and Waves Physics Lab (This is the one we got to try!), The Science of Disney Imagineering: Gravity (use the Tower of Terror and Rock n’ Rollercoaster to learn about gravity!), Creating a Leadership Legacy (How did Walt do it?), Designing a Disney Story (How do the Disney animators do it??);
- each about 2-3 hours long;
- accredited and meet National Core Arts Standards;
- open to students age 8 through grade 12 (and there are four college-level programs as well!);
- offered at both Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort year-round (with the exception of some blackout dates);
- in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom and in Disneyland Resort.
Who can attend Disney Youth Education Programs?
Attendees for YES programs:
- can be groups of 10 or more students, age 8 through grade 12 from the US, Canada, or Puerto Rico;
- must have one adult chaperone for every 5 students at Walt Disney World Resort and one adult chaperone for every 10 students in Disneyland Resort;
- can be from any youth organization including scouts, camps, daycare centers and religious groups;
- read more about attendees here.
So how do you get started? Where can you sign up for Disney Youth Programs?
- Find the YES program that interests you most here, then click to learn more.
- Registration usually fills quickly for these programs so plan ahead! Click here to register!
How do you get connected with Disney Youth Programs?
Now it’s time to learn about the Disney Performing Arts programs.
Check it out:
And check out a few other Disney-related posts:
fyi: I was invited to learn about and explore the Disney Youth Programs by my friends at Walt Disney World, but as always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experiences as an educator and parent. My travel and accommodations were covered by Disney, and for that I am grateful. I received no other compensation for this post.