My kids are always trying to convince me of the educational merits of activities they enjoy, like video games. At some point, I know they will try to convince me that visiting Walt Disney World is an educational experience. They will actually be right. The Disney Y.E.S. program, which stands for the Disney Youth Education Series, offers accredited educational opportunities. These programs run at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland for students ages 5 through 18. Topics range from arts and humanities, leadership and career development to natural and physical sciences. The Disney Y.E.S. program also offers discounted Disney tickets to its attendees.
Most programs last 2½ to 3 hours, are accredited, and designed to reinforce classroom lessons. They meet in the theme parks and sometimes start before the parks open. The classes teach lessons and then apply the lessons to real world examples and more specifically, examples at the Disney parks. The Properties of Motion Physics Lab in Disneyland takes the students behind the scenes of roller coasters (California Screamin’ and the Twilight Zone of Terror) and discusses Newton’s Laws of Motion and the science behind how the rides work. After discussing factors that influence the roller coaster and its design process, students build their own roller coasters for hands-on experiments that test the relationships between physics and their favorite Disney attractions. Of course students get to ride the roller coasters as well.
The Y.E.S. program offers a wide variety of class topics. In addition to physics, the science classes include chemistry, wildlife conservation, animal behavior, and marine biology. Liberal arts classes offer topics on American history, California history, animation history, photography, and designing a Disney story. Leadership and career building classes practice teamwork, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Disney Youth Education Series Registration
The Disney Y.E.S. programs are typically set up for groups, but individual enrollment is also a possibility. If you have a group of 10 or more students and are associated with an organization like a school, church, or Girl Scout troop, then you will need to register your group online. Disney must review the registration before you buy tickets. Registration includes a list of students planning to attend. Once Disney has reviewed your registration, they will contact you about purchasing ticket packages. Disney recommends submitting the registration at least six weeks in advance of your arrival. However, since programs are subject to availability, it is best to submit your registration as early as possible. You may submit it up to a year in advance. Group programs are available year-round. Chaperones are required. For Disney World programs, there may be up to one chaperone for every five students. Disneyland programs allow one chaperone for every ten students.
What if you do not have a group of 10 students? You can attend programs through the individual enrollment program. You may register as few as one student or as many as 9 students and you do not need to be associated with an organization. The number of parents/chaperones cannot exceed the number of students registered, except in the case of a single child and two parents. Students 14 and under must have a parent/chaperone. Students 15 and older must be signed in by an adult and the adult is required to remain at the park during the program. Individual enrollment programs are only offered January – February and June – October. You may purchase your tickets through the Disney Youth Programs website.
Not only does the Y.E.S. program fall under the category of educational, but you can also purchase tickets at a reduced cost. The Y.E.S. program tuition is sold with park admission as a package. For Y.E.S. programs at Disney World, the park admission passes range from 3 to 8 days. One-day ticket options are only available to Florida residents. Three options of packages are available – the Starter Packages, Park Hopper Packages, or Premium packages. Each package includes one Disney Y.E.S. program class. The Starter Package gives access to all four Disney World parks, but only allows admission to one park per day. The Park Hopper package provides access all four Disney World parks with the option to visit multiple parks on the same day. The Premium package is the Park Hopper package plus access to the Disney water parks, Disney miniature golf courses, Disney Quest, and the ESPN sports complex. Here is how prices compare for park admission with the Y.E.S. program individual enrollment versus regular park admission through the Disney website. The biggest discount is for the child attending the Y.E.S. program. In some cases there is no discount and there is actually an increase of a few dollars.
Standard Admission Prices
Standard 3 day pass (ages 3 – 9): $255.00; with Park Hopper option: $304.00
Standard 3 day pass (ages 10 +) : $274.00; with Park Hopper option: $324.00
Y.E.S. Program Admission Prices
3 day pass plus one Y.E.S. class (Ages 5 – 17): $184.15 (28% discount for ages 3-9, 33% discount for ages 10 – 17)
- with Park Hopper option: $208.44 (31% discount for ages 3-9, 55% discount for ages 10 – 17)
3 day pass for child not attending Y.E.S. (Ages 3 – 9), such as a younger sibling: $248.06 (3% discount)
- with Park Hopper option: $308.03 (Increase)
3 days pass for adult attending Y.E.S. (Ages 18+): $269.03 (2% discount)
- with Park Hopper option: $331.87 (Increase)
3 days pass for Adult NOT attending Y.E.S. (Ages 18+): $266.34 (3% discount)
- with Park Hopper option: $326.33 (Increase)
A real case scenario would be if my husband took our 10 year old to a class and I took our 6 year old to a class and we purchased a three day Y.E.S. Park Hopper package. Our total would be $1080.62. However, if we purchased a regular three day Park Hopper package (not through the Y.E.S. program), our total would be $1276. That is almost $200 in savings plus a fun education experience.
Participation in the scheduled Y.E.S. program is required keep the discounted tickets. Technically Disney can void the discount packages if a student does not attend the Y.E.S. program.
There are a few additional items to consider. Students must be residents of the United States, Canada, or Puerto Rico. Disney Y.E.S. packages are completely separate from Disney packages, which means you can stay on or off Disney property. The purchase of Disney Y.E.S. packages cannot be combined with resort or Disney Dining Plan packages. Of course you can make two separate purchases and utilize them at the same time. For example, you could make one purchase of a resort stay with (or without) dining, but get your park tickets through the Disney Y.E.S. program. Disney Dining Plans are always purchased in conjunction with a resort package and based on your number of nights booked. Disney will book resort rooms as a group if you are booking 10 or more rooms.
If students (and chaperones) wish to attend more than one program, additional program options are available for $34.00 per person per program. This is true for both group and individual programs.
I was not very familiar with the Disney Y.E.S. program before I started researching it, but I am seriously considering it for my next trip to Disney World.