From its iconic characters to Cinderella’s castle, Disney World is considered “the place where dreams come true.” For sophomore Annabel Long, this statement has taken on a much deeper, more literal meaning.
Long was accepted into the Disney Dreamers Academy, a program designed to provide mentorship and learning opportunities to 100 high school students. The program gives students the opportunity to meet successful individuals and network with them, Long explained.
The program took place at Walt Disney World March 3-6, she said. Long added that each applicant could bring one parent and stay at the Coronado Springs Resort within the park.
“I decided that I would bring my dad on the trip so that he could also see what the program was all about,” Long said.
Long said she first learned of the program through an ad on Spotify. She later researched it and applied in the fall of 2021.
“From looking at the website, I learned that you have to be passionate about something and have a dream,” she said. “I thought I fit that description, so I applied.”
Long explained that the application consisted of written response questions, including one question that asked applicants to explain one’s dream. Hers is to be a published writer and work in the film industry.
“I’ve had this dream since I was 4 years old, and I’m passionate,” Long said.
She said she received her acceptance to the academy by mail in December 2021.
“I was really nervous because they won’t contact you if you don’t get accepted,” she said. “But then I got this big manila envelope in the mail with the acceptance letter and the other forms.”
After being accepted, individuals could not post anything online about their acceptance until it was announced to the public in January, Long explained.
Once at Disney World, every day was a little different, Long said. She had many learning experiences, but she was also able to have fun at the parks.
“The first day was the Welcome Day, so there were all the fun activities like the parade and fireworks,” she said.
The following days were the Career Days, where inspirational speakers and experts in various fields came in to talk to the students, Long said. She added there were also “deep-dives” where people could learn about their individual career interests and talk to experts and specialists in that field.
“I got to go to the film deep-dive and work with impressive filmmakers who are successful in the industry,” she said.
Long said that what she gained most from the trip were the connections she made.
“I can contact successful people in case I ever need help or I want a mentorship or internship,” she explained.
The trip also had many exciting activities, she added, and on Saturday night there was a big dance party.
Long said that this opportunity was a great introduction to screenwriting and that the trip gave her an experience like no other.
“If you have a big dream, apply to the program,” she said. “Be truthful in the application, and maybe you’ll have an opportunity to experience the academy.”