10th Annual Disney Dreamers Academy – Event Recap #ddaDisney

Hopefully, by now you’ve had a chance to follow me on social media, as I shared some of the amazing experiences we got to witness. This past weekend, the 10th Annual Disney Dreamers Academy (DDA) kicked off. There is so much I’ll be writing about in the upcoming weeks and months. But for now, I wanted to give a quick(ish) recap of the weekend.

We packed more in these four days than most people can pack in two weeks. And it was all worth it. I am forever grateful to be able to witness the amazing power of impact that these Dreamers will remember for the rest of their lives.

Thursday 3/9: Day 1 of DDA – Kickoff events

I flew into Orlando early Thursday morning. I caught Disney’s Magical Express to the Animal Kingdom Lodge where we were staying, and it was time to meet our group. Sidenote: we had THE most amazing Disney reps that were with us the entire weekend and made sure we got to where we needed to, as well as had anything we needed.

We had a media only luncheon which was absolutely everything my taste buds needed and more. Seriously, I ate like a queen all weekend long.

After our luncheon, we then headed over to one of my favorite parks: Magic Kingdom®. We wanted to be on the front lines when the Dreamers walked in their special Pre-Parade welcome event.

We then had the official DDA welcome ceremony at the Circle of Life Theater. Speakers at this welcome event included Mikki Taylor, Yolanda Adams, Steve Harvey, and the big boss himself, Mickey Mouse! They also introduced the Speaker Resource Group.

After the ceremony ended, members of the media were able to have an intimate press conference with Steve Harvey, Tracey Powell, Michelle Ebanks and select DDA Alumni (more details on this later).

The evening concluded with a special media dinner hosted by the Disney Public Relations Team at the Test Track® Attraction.

Friday 3/10: Day 2 of DDA – Speakers & Deep Dives

Our first full day started at 7 am when we had to meet our groups in the lobby. We then headed back over to Epcot where the majority of DDA events were held.

There were morning speakers and we also got to chat with some of the Dreamers (some of which I’ll be sharing their stories here on the blog). I got to chat with Jonathan Sprinkles and Wynton Harvey, and look forward to sharing their tips on dreaming big.

One of the things I really love about this event is that they have programming for the parents which is separate from the programming their children receive.

Students in the Media Careers deep dive

Also related: Engineering & Disney: They Go Together

The afternoon was filled with peeking in on the deep dives that the Dreamers were participating in. Deep dives essentially allow them to get hands-on experience working in the career fields they are interested in working in. Click here for more info on how these will be shared.

We ended the night with a fun dinner at STK restaurant in Disney Springs, along with the amazing PR team who worked tirelessly to put all of this together. The food was absolutely delicious, so be sure to check it out next time you’re there. They were also kind enough to give us some shopping money to spend while at Disney Springs.

Saturday 3/11: Day 3 of DDA – The Power of Dreaming

It didn’t matter who was speaking. When they spoke, you listened and you took notes. I was really impressed with how attentive these groups of students were for the entire event. From Princeton Parker, to Jonathan Sprinkles, to Patrice Washington and Dr. Steve Perry, they delivered powerful tips and talks on the power of dreaming (each in their own way).

We also got to here from two different groups of successful individuals, and hear their stories of how they reached success. They also shared their input and tips for the Dreamers.

(l-r) CEO, President and Founder of Bledsoe Technologies, LLC. Jaylen Bledsoe, Founder and CEO of Scholly Christopher Gray, and Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton capture a moment with 100 Disney Dreamers during a Disney Dreamers Academy panel discussion Saturday, March 11, 2017 at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The tenth annual Disney Dreamers Academy, taking place March 9-12 at Walt Disney World Resort, is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students across the U.S. (Gregg Newton, photographer)

It was actually refreshing to see so many men up there giving their tips. They included Christopher Gray, Jaylen Bledsoe, Bryshere Gray, DJ Nasty, Tahj Mowry and Cam Newton. And it was such a great surprise to see and interview Kim Fields (more on these interviews later)!

(l-r) Actress and director Kim Fields, actor Tahj Mowry, actor and rapper Bryshere Gray, DJ Nasty, and editor-at-large for Essence Magazine Mikki Taylor host a panel for 100 high school students about dreams, hardships and giving back during Disney Dreamers Academy, Saturday, March 11, 2017 at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The tenth annual event, taking place March 9-12 at Walt Disney World Resort, is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students across the U.S. (Gregg Newton, photographer)

Sunday 3/12: Day 4 of DDA – Commencement Ceremony & Circle of Life

I will tell you this: I don’t think anyone can go to this part of the event and not shed a single tear. It is truly magical in a way only Disney could do it. From the awards and presentations to the keynote from Good Morning America’s TJ Holmes, and THE Patty LaBelle’s surprise performance, it was simply outstanding.

I interviewed and spoke with a few of the DDA Alumni who are out here making a difference in this world.

In my next post, I’ll be sharing some key takeaways that were meant for the Dreamers, but they were also meant for everyone in that room who was listening (myself included).

Posing with new and old friends on the media team, during the opening pre-parade event at Magic Kingdom.

** Feature image: Disney Dreamers from Washington, D.C. (l-r) Branden Jenkins, Antjuan Goodwin and Jayden Schexnayder pose with Mickey Mouse, Tracey D. Powell, Disney executive champion of Disney Dreamers Academy (center) and Minnie Mouse during the 2017 Disney Dreamers Academy at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The tenth annual event, taking place March 9-12 at Walt Disney World Resort, is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students across the U.S.  (Gregg Newton, photographer)

I think this photo below sums the weekend up 🙂

Disney Dreamers erupt with excitement as Actress and director Kim Fields, actor Tahj Mowry, actor and rapper Bryshere Gray, DJ Nasty, and editor-at-large for Essence Magazine Mikki Taylor take the stage to host a panel about dreams, hardships and giving back during Disney Dreamers Academy, Saturday, March 11, 2017 at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The tenth annual event, taking place March 9-12 at Walt Disney World Resort, is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students across the U.S. (Gregg Newton, photographer)


This visit to attend the Disney Dreamers Academy was sponsored by Walt Disney World. As always, the thoughts and opinions are my own.  For more information about Disney Dreamers Academy CLICK HERE

 

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    Tia | Pennies In My Pocket
    March 13, 2017 at 11:37 PM

    This looks like it was such a great event. I would love to participate as a volunteer or mentor. I see a lot of familiar faces in your pictures.

    • Reply
      Christine St.Vil
      March 14, 2017 at 12:02 AM

      Hey Tia! It really was awesome! They might have some info on their website for mentoring and volunteering 🙂

  • Reply
    Joanna
    March 14, 2017 at 10:37 AM

    Sounds like an awesome event. I’d love to participate one year.
    Joanna would like you to check out…Lasagna Stuffed Bell PeppersMy Profile

    • Reply
      Christine St.Vil
      March 14, 2017 at 2:31 PM

      It would definitely impact your life. I hope you get a chance to attend Joanna!

  • Reply
    Carlana Charles
    March 14, 2017 at 12:46 PM

    This seemed like a lovely event. Always heard great things about Disney World, definitely plan on visiting on day.

    • Reply
      Christine St.Vil
      March 14, 2017 at 2:30 PM

      You absolutely should Carlana! I went many times even before I had kids LOL The event as spectacular!

  • Reply
    Felecia Monique
    March 14, 2017 at 1:48 PM

    Wow! I’m such a huge Kim Fields fan!! Looks like an amazing event.

  • Reply
    Michelle
    March 14, 2017 at 6:48 PM

    WOW! Such an amazing event! I hope that I can attend this one day!

    • Reply
      Christine St.Vil
      March 15, 2017 at 12:16 AM

      It truly is amazing!!! I sure hope you get to experience it too!

  • Reply
    Mimi Green
    March 14, 2017 at 7:32 PM

    Disney is magical on its own but I love that they have rolled out the red carpet for the kids. The panel of guest were incredible, I would have whipped out my camera and got to snapping as well.
    Mimi Green would like you to check out…Did You Know the Gospel World Gave St. Jude a Unique Gift of Life?My Profile

    • Reply
      Christine St.Vil
      March 15, 2017 at 12:17 AM

      Ha! Yes girl, I couldn’t snap fast enough. And I absolutely love how Disney rolls out the red carpet for these families. It’s priceless.

  • Reply
    Lauren
    March 15, 2017 at 1:00 AM

    I’ve always admired the Disney Dreamers Acadamey event. They really do such great work and provide such an awesome experience for the attendees.

    • Reply
      Christine St.Vil
      March 15, 2017 at 11:35 PM

      They really do! That’s awesome that you know about it Lauren because so many people don’t. Hopefully we can spread the word a bit more 🙂

  • Reply
    RaNesha
    March 15, 2017 at 5:44 AM

    I am really happy this program exist and these young adults experienced four days of a positive, but fun opportunity.

    • Reply
      Christine St.Vil
      March 15, 2017 at 11:35 PM

      Me too RaNeesha! These are four days they will never forget, that’s for sure!

  • Reply
    Courtney CJ
    March 15, 2017 at 12:28 PM

    Ahh I love this. My heart was happy seeing the photos. I’ve NEVER been to any Disney park and it’s on my bucket list. I’ve got to get this done sooner than later.

    • Reply
      Christine St.Vil
      March 15, 2017 at 11:36 PM

      Yay, so glad to hear that! OMG Courtney, you absolutely should get it crossed off your list soon. We had so much fun even during the little bit of downtime we had (and there were no kids in sight LOL).

  • Reply
    Tione
    March 16, 2017 at 12:20 AM

    This seems like a fun event. I wish I was there to see Steve Harvey. I have only been to Disney once and I did not get to see much.

  • Reply
    Vany|misscoilyhair
    March 20, 2017 at 7:42 PM

    Love it when they have events to empower our youth and Disney is so magical. It really looks like a great event.

  • Reply
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