Disney Dreamers Academy provides magical experience for teens amid changes

Cyril Josh Barker | 3/14/2020, 1:07 p.m.
The 2020 Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine is canceled over coronavirus concerns but students still had ...
Erica McPheeters of Louisville, KY at the 2020 Disney Dreamers Academy Parade at the Magic Kingdom

The 2020 Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine was canceled over coronavirus concerns but students still had the opportunity to experience the magic of Walt Disney World.

Mikki Taylor and Tracey Powell at the Disney Dreamers Academy Parade at the Magic Kingdom

Cyril Josh Barker photo

Mikki Taylor and Tracey Powell at the Disney Dreamers Academy Parade at the Magic Kingdom

The annual event, now in its 13th year, brings 100 high school students selected from 10,000 applicants from across the nation for an all-expenses-paid trip to Walt Disney World in Florida to participate in the four-day event. The Disney Dreamers Academy was scheduled to go through Sunday.

Walt Disney World public relations officials said growing concerns over the coronavirus was the reason for the cancellation. Several celebrities scheduled to attend the event also canceled their appearances.

"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," Walt Disney World said in a statement. "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."

Disney Dreamers Academy

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Disney Dreamers Academy

The 100 students along with their parents/guardians arrived in Florida for the Disney Dreamers Academy on Thursday and participated in a parade at the Magic Kingdom. They were later informed the event was canceled.

Three local high school students from the New York City area attend this year's event. Fatoumata Soumare from Brooklyn, Myah Mitchell from Cambria Heights, Queens and Danielle Phillip from Valley Stream were among the 100.

Disney Dreamers Academy

Cyril Josh Barker photo

Disney Dreamers Academy

The move comes as The Walt Disney Company announced on Thursday that it’s closing Walt Disney World, Disneyland in California and Disneyland Paris on Sunday through the end of March. Disney Cruise Line is also suspending all departures beginning Saturday.

Hotels at Walt Disney World and Disney Springs in Florida and Disneyland Paris will remain open until further notice.

Disney Dreamers Academy

Cyril Josh Barker photo

Disney Dreamers Academy

“In an abundance of caution and in the best interest of our guests and employees, we are processing with the closure of our theme parks,” Disney Parks said in a statement on Twitter.

The Disney Dreamers Academy began in 2008 and has provided all-expenses-paid trips to more than 1,200 students, plus a parent or guardian, to participate in the annual Disney Dreamers Academy. Students are selected from thousands of applicants who answered essay questions about their personal stories and dreams for the future.

Disney Dreamers Academy

Cyril Josh Barker photo

Disney Dreamers Academy