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YES! to Disney\'s YES Program

Recently my son and I had the opportunity to go to Disney to participate in Disney’s YES program. What? You don’t know what YES is? You’re not alone!

Disney has an amazing educational program called YES (Youth Education Series) where school-aged children, kindergarten through 12th grade, can take a variety of classes during certain times of the year. These are essentially small group field trips held within the parks at both Disney World and Disneyland and cover a wide variety of topics.

The YES program courses are hands-on educational adventures in the Disney parks! The courses are available in sciences, environmental studies, liberal arts, and leadership development (for the older kids). They use the magic of Disney to make learning even more meaningful. There are two options—either a group course (for school field trips) and an individual enrollment opportunity.

The individual enrollment is available for homeschoolers or even vacationing guests to participate in this unique park experience. The programs are typically available in the “off-season” in September and October as well as January and February.  Attendees are divided into groups by age with no more than 9 students per group.

My son is a homeschooled 5th grader who loves math and science, so we looked for programs for his age and his interests. We participated in Energy & Waves Physics Lab 101 in Magic Kingdom and Discovering Marine Conservation in Epcot.

Photo Credit:  Walt Disney Company

Energy and Waves was a fun experience. The facilitator explained and discussed different kinds of energy and waves—sound waves and light waves—and how they used energy and waves in the attractions in the Magic Kingdom.  They also learned the parts of a wave, what effects the speed of sound, and about sound frequency.  For example, we rode Stitch’s Great Escape and talked about the use of sound—volume, acoustics, and various sound effects. We also rode The Haunted Mansion and discussed lights—the use of scrim, lighting, mirrors and refraction and projected images as well as holograms and 3D effects! After a few hours in Energy & Waves, we then had the remainder of the day at Magic Kingdom.

Viewing Little Joe, the manatee, at The Seas.

The next day we were in Epcot for Discovering Marine Conservation which took place in The Seas. This experience was more hands-on and we spent more time behind the scenes. While there’s no interaction with marine animals, the children pretended to be baby turtles in a game, built scale-model fishing nets that were safe for dolphins and other large sea animals, did a full observation in the aquarium, learned about the food chain in the ocean, and practiced picking up food like some of the shore birds.  It was a great way to learn about human behaviors and their effects on marine life and even sustainable fishing practices! My son, who loves dolphins and manatees, really enjoyed this experience! Again, after a few hours, we then had the rest of the day to explore Epcot.

In order to participate in the program, you must purchase park tickets through the YES program. You are required to purchase a minimum of a 3-day starter ticket (a base ticket) with one course included; any additional courses can be added for $34 per person. One adult is allowed to go to each course along with their child, and you can purchase tickets for other family members not attending a YES program.  Florida residents also have a one-day ticket option.

Ready for a YES program wearing a cool earpiece!

Tickets are quite affordable.  You are even able to plan your FastPass+ reservations in advance using these tickets.  Since we stayed at Disney\’s All Star Sports, a Disney resort on property, the tickets were easily linked to our Magic Bands.

This is a great way to make a more educational experience for a child missing school to go to Disney, or it is a great enrichment experience for a homeschool family. With classes in animation history, chemistry, animal behaviors, conservation and more, there is something for every interest.

For more information on individual enrollment, visit Disney\’s Individual Enrollment or call 1.877.WD.YOUTH.   Additionally, Disney also offers Disney Student Seminars (\”Homeschool Days\”) specifically designed to enhance homeschool curriculum.  Visit Disney\’s Student Seminars for more info.  

Susan Burks is a Disney travel planner at WishdrawalsTravel and a homeschooling mom to a space-loving 10 year old!  As a former teacher and a Disney enthusiast, she loves being able to combine her love of Disney and education in the Disney parks.

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