Sunday, April 18, 2021

Disney Dreamers Academy Postponed Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

Actors Marsai Martin (ABC’s “black-ish”) and Arica Himmel (ABC’s “mixed-ish”), editor-at-large of Essence Mikki Taylor and Walt Disney World Resort vice president Tracey Powell, along with Disney Dreamers Myah Mitchell from Cambria Heights, N.Y. and Joseph Adams from Marietta, Ga., serve as Grand Marshalls for the celebratory parade to signal the beginning of the 13th annual Disney Dreamers Academy Thursday, March 12, 2020. LEFT TO RIGHT: Joseph Adams, Myah Mitchell, Mikki Taylor, Tracey Powell, Marsai Martin, Arica Himmel. (Gregg Newton, photographer)

*Since 2008, every year around mid-March, Walt Disney World Resort Orlando, Florida, opens its magical gates to welcome 100 outstanding high school students, along with a chaperone or guardian, from across the nation to experience an all-expense-paid trip to Mickey Mouse’s palatial digs.

The teens, or Disney Dreamers as they’ve come to be know as, have the opportunity to listen to influential speakers, participate in immersive career-oriented workshops that explore a wide range of career disciplines found at Walt Disney World, as well as; learn life tools such as effective communication techniques, leadership skills, and networking strategies.

This yearly event is a pretty big deal, and as a way to usher in the four days, dreamers participated in a welcome parade at the Magic Kingdom highlighting the cities from which they hail.  Afterward, they had the opportunity to explore the parks and enjoy the adventure that awaited them. One new addition to the Walt Disney World Resort is the NBA Experience at Disney Springs.  Guests have the opportunity to engage in a complete basketball-themed venue that offers 13 activities inspired by the NBA and WNBA.  There is a section to practice dribbling, shoot three-pointers in 60 seconds, pose with the NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, check the stats of NBA teams on an interactive screen, and take pictures of NBA memorabilia.  The most touching aspect of the NBA experience is the tribute video of Kobe Bryant that plays on a big screen on the second floor.

Later that Thursday evening, dreamers were escorted to the Magic Kingdom Hall of Presidents to participate in the Disney Dreamers Academy Be 100 Welcome Ceremony. However, Walt Disney World public relations officials delivered the heartbreaking news that the event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Students from Los Angeles selected for the 2020 Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE meet actors Arica Himmel (ABC’s “mixed-ish”), Marsai Martin (ABC’s “black-ish”) and Walt Disney World vice president Tracey Powell at the Magic Kingdom. LEFT TO RIGHT: Michael McPhie (Irvine, CA), Lydia Kim (Cypress, CA), Audrey Hoven (Fort Irwin, CA), Taylor Haywood (Los Angeles, CA), Arica Himmel, Marsai Martin, Tracey Powell. (Todd Anderson, photographer)

Walt Disney World official statement states, “In response to the fast-changing coronavirus situation, we made the difficult decision to cancel scheduled activities and events for this year’s Disney Dreamers Academy. There are no reported cases of Coronavirus at Walt Disney World Resort, but in an abundance of caution, and in the best interests of our Guests and Cast Members, we are proceeding with closure of our theme parks at Walt Disney World beginning March 16 through the end of the month. We are also working closely with all Disney Dreamers Academy participants to get them home to their respective cities.    We greatly appreciate your support of the program.”

Steve Harvey, the host of the event, as well as other notable speakers and celebrities who scheduled to attend, unfortunately, had to withdraw from the Dreamers Academy due to public safety and health concerns.

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Disney Dreamers participate in a special Magic Kingdom pre-parade at Walt Disney World Resort to celebrate dreaming big. (Gregg, Newton)

The statement posted on Twitter from Disney Parks News announced Thursday that Walt Disney Company would close down Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, Disneyland in California, and Disneyland Paris Resort, beginning at the close of business on Sunday, March 15, 2020, until the end of March.  The other tourist attractions like the Disney Cruise Line also postponed all travels on Saturday.  The hotels at both Walt Disney World hotels and Disneyland Paris will remain open until further notice. The retail and dining complexes at Disney Springs Walt Disney World and Disney Village at Disneyland Paris will remain open.

Disney Dreamers participate in a special Magic Kingdom pre-parade at Walt Disney World Resort to celebrate dreaming big. (Todd Anderson, photographer)

Public Relations Manager, Annette Gibbs stated there is no clear decision as to what will happen for the dreamers amidst the abrupt cancellation of this year’s academy.  However, she pointedly said there would be significant discussions and meetings that will occur over the coming days and months to come up with a solution that will be beneficial for the dreamers, parents, and guardians.

For more information, visit DisneyDreamersAcademy.com. Regular updates about Disney Dreamers Academy are also available on social media at Facebook.com/DisneyDreamersAcademy, Twitter.com/DreamersAcademy, and Instagram.com/disneydreamersacademy.

Disney Dreamers participate in a special Magic Kingdom pre-parade at Walt Disney World Resort to celebrate dreaming big. (Gregg Newton, photographer)

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