Skip to content

Learning at Disney – YES, Of Course

Disney_YES_LogoMy freshman year of high school, I took physics and learned from one of my favorite teachers to this day, Mr. Crane.  Sometimes I am a thousand percent sure that he is actually a seven year old trapped in an adult’s body. Long story short (and many practical jokes later), I became one of his many “favorite” students. One day, he found me at my locker and gave me a pamphlet, said he got it in his mailbox, and just walked away. I opened it, and found out that it was information given to educators about Disney’s Youth Education Series.

When I went into his classroom a few hours later to discuss it, he said he gave it to me because he didn’t need it. DIDN’T NEED IT?!?! The Youth Education Series programs are only something I have wanted to do for a while! I managed to get him to change his mind a week later, and he recruited me to go find ten other students to join us on our adventure. Of course, I talked to ten of my friends first! Mr. Crane also left me in charge of ALL the planning, which is a lot of fun with a little dose of stress, but I was ready to take on the challenge. This means I had to look into the Disney “YES” (Youth Education Series) programs.  There are a few that grabbed my attention, and two of them are even a high possibility for the ones Mr. Crane wants to do! Here is some more information about all the YES programs have to offer.

Disney’s Youth Education Series programs are available to many different students who fit different criteria. There are 32 assorted programs you can choose from, but more on that later. Many of the programs are three hours long, so you still have free time that day to enjoy all the things Disney has to offer. Most of these programs require a group of ten students, but some require fifteen. If you can’t get this many people to go, no worries! They also offer “individual enrollment” options (groups of nine or less) for some programs. You can even go by yourself, and they will pair you up with a small group! Here are some of my favorite programs you can do – although, let’s face it, they are all probably magnificent!

(Disclaimer: All of these are for high school students in groups of ten or more, since that was the criteria for my physics teacher. However, the YES programs can accommodate learners from Kindergarten to 12th grade and take place in both Florida and California Disney locations.)

Disney Leadership Strategies

This was the top one on my list, and luckily Mr. Crane’s, also. It is a three hour adventure in Epcot® about communicating effectively, how the Walt Disney Company uses leadership, and the layers of teamwork. The best part of this program is that it applies to every student, not just the ones taking chemistry or the ones in an animation elective. All participants will walk away winners after uncovering the advantages, barriers and challenges of effective communication in addition to analyzing the role of quality service and standards within the Walt Disney community. We all have the opportunity to exhibit leadership traits and behaviors, and Disney is ready to show you how! According to the itinerary, you even get to speak to a special guest, which I assume is someone within the company! How awesome!yes program

 The Evolution of Technology

This program also takes place in Epcot® for three hours.  Some subjects you get the opportunity to touch on are how technology is constantly evolving, how technology is everywhere – from the most simple to the most complex things we use daily, the importance of math as both a building block of and critical part of technological advancement and how safety plays an important role in product and technology development. You even get to ride a few rides between learning ventures, including Test Track® Presented by Chevrolet® and Mission: SPACE®!  Although these rides are used to demonstrate key factors in the advancement of automobiles and space ventures, everybody deserves a break every once in a while, too.

Backstage at La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil

This is the program that the actress and dancer in me fell in love with. How could you turn down the opportunity to go backstage of a Cirque show? When I first saw La Nouba, I fell in love with the main bird character, and the show itself. Going behind-the-scenes would be dreamlike. You get to explore backstage facilities including costuming, training and props areas and learn about the connection between the circus acts, dance and visual effects along with the importance of communication and teamwork. Plus, you get to see a performance of the show.

Fundamentals of Photo Storytelling

This program sounds really complex, but in reality it is just photography. You learn about the connection between pictures and telling stories, how to take a great photo, and how to create an impactful caption. I think it would be really fun to take photos in Epcot® with your friends! The only catch is that you have to bring your own cameras for this adventure, but that also means you get to keep all the pictures that you take under the creative supervision Disney.

 Exploring Careers in the Zoological Sciences

This three hour tour takes place in Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park. It includes a look at the many of the different types of careers that people can have which aid animals, all the work that is put into each and every animal diet, and how the animals in DAK are actually promoting conservation because of the connections they make with the guests. Straight out of today’s headlines, participants also examine the responsibilities that zoos and other facilities have in order to maintain a genetically diverse population of captive animals, and what they must do to ensure their animals’ genetic health. Maybe most importantly, participants leave thinking critically about the role that we all play in conservation from community to global levels.

yesThese are just some of the programs Disney’s Youth Education Series has to offer. The others are: Creating a Leadership Legacy, Designing a Disney Story, Discovering the American Spirit, Discovering Marine Life Conservation, Disney’s Approach to Leadership and Teamwork, Energy and Wave Physics Lab 301 and 201, Properties of Motion Physics Lab 101, 201, and 301, Everyday Chemistry 101 and 201, Experiencing Synergy in Science, Exploring Careers in the Marine Sciences, Exploring Disney’s Animation History, Exploring the Golden State, How Things Move, Introduction to Global Citizenship, Managing Your Personal Brand, Principles of Animal Behavior, Sustainable Practices in Wildlife Conservation, Techniques of Teamwork Through Improvisation, and The Science of Disney Imagineering: Gravity (WHEW! That was a lot to type!).

As you can see, Disney has basically covered any topic that you could dream of learning about as a high school, middle school, or elementary school student. If you are in college, you are probably pondering “It’s a shame I can’t participate in these amazing events…” Well, you can! There are two versions dedicated only to college students. These are Disney Leadership Strategies and Techniques of Teamwork through Improvisation. Therefore, you have NO excuse not to participate in Disney’s Youth Education Series.

I am so excited that some of my closest school friends and I have the opportunity to learn together at Disney – all because of an enthusiastic student, a teacher willing to take a chance on teaching “outside the box” and a wonderful Board of Education! It just goes to show that if you have an idea that you really want to pursue, make sure your idea is heard, because you never know who may be listening.

(All images copyright Disney.)

I have two questions for this week’s blog!

1. If you could create YOUR OWN Youth Education Series program, what would the topic be, and where would the program take place?

2.  Have you ever participated in a Youth Education Series program? If so, what was it like? If not, which one would you like to participate in?


See ya REAL soon!

makena signature transparent




Quote of the Week:  “We’re doing a sequel, we’re back by popular demand, come on everybody, strike up the band.”  ~ Kermit, Muppet’s Most Wanted


Makena is a 15 year old high school student who spends much of her free time researching Disney. She enjoys sharing Disney facts and even plans Walt Disney World vacations (including searches for secrets and Hidden Mickeys) for friends and family. You can follow Makena on twitter @Makattack98 or on Facebook (Makena Wolcott).  Makena began blogging for WDW Radio in December 2011.