*Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida is a place where dreams really do come true. On March 3-6, 2016 Disney opened its magical gates to 100 Disney Dreamers for its ninth Disney Dreamers Academy.
Playing host to the collaborative weekend were the comedian, radio host, best-selling author and Emmy-award winner Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine.
The selected dreamers were chosen out of thousands of applicants and received an all-expense-paid trip to attend the academy along with a parent or guardian.
During their three-day stay, dreamers were involved with mentoring programs where they had the chance to speak and learn from leaders in their respective fields through interactive workshops and seminars. While there was plenty of time for the dreamers to learn about their chosen careers, Disney made sure they had a considerable amount of time to play. Dreamers along with their chaperones, also enjoyed the park’s rides, food, and, of course, Mickey Mouse!
To kick-off the first day of festivities, there was a parade led by a marching band with dreamers following close behind representing their cities. Their faces shone brightly towards the crowd as they waved happily waving while riding on top of floats, driving in buggies, and other dreamers excitedly walked the parade on foot.
Later, the students were escorted to the World Showplace East Hall at Epcot to participate in the Welcome Ceremony. The first speaker was Vice President of Walt Disney World Resort and Disney Dreamers Academy Executive Champion Tracey Powell; she reminded the dreamers of how special they are because “We saw in you the qualities of a leader and a dreamer.” She encouraged the dreamers to take notes from their mentors and to connect with people who share your interests and aspirations.
The 2016 class of students were extremely impressive, many of the dreamers have committed many hours of community service, and some have even started businesses and non-profits. Tracey went on to say, “I am confident in this room there are future surgeons, mentors, engineers, scientists, Disney Imagineers. [Many of you] are already fashion designers, performers, philanthropists, writers, and much more. I know when I was in high school I was not thinking about these things. So you can imagine we are incredibly in awe of you.”
Following Tracey was President of Walt Disney World Resort George A. Kalogridis who encouraged the dreamers to dream big during their stay and to exemplify the Disney’s four C’s of success which are Curiosity, Confidence, Courage, and Constancy, and the greatest of these is Confidence.
After Kalogridis had spoken, Essence Magazine Beauty Editor-at-Large Mikki Taylor graced the stage and added to the uplifting message of the night by saying, “You have been called away to dream for this amazing weekend, this is a time of power and purpose. This weekend will inform, inspire, and empower you; and it will help you to navigate your dreams with clarity and determination.”
To conclude the night, Steve Harvey had the crowd falling out with laughter but later brought the assembly to church by speaking frankly to the young scholars, “You were selected because God saw something in you. Don’t miss the mark and think you are here because you think you are a great letter writer. You are here because you are blessed.”