Disney Travel Hack: Saving Money with the Y.E.S. Program

Youth Education series
 Disney lovers know that there’s so much more to the theme parks than just rides and attractions- there’s amazing dining, attractions, character meet and greets- and even educational opportunities. We love to road trip  twice a year to Walt Disney World, so I’m always looking for ways to incorporate learning while on the road into my teen daughter’s trips to the parks (perfect for home school and cyber school families!), and Disney’s Y.E.S. Program has the perfect melding of education and pixie dust- plus it’s a great way to save on your next family vacation!
Looking for a super simple way to educate kids in the parks? It’s all about saying “Y.E.S.”!

What is Disney Y.E.S. Individual Enrollment?

Disney Youth Education Series (or Y.E.S. Program) is the answer for families that want a little bit more out of their vacation with learning right in the parks. Available at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, the Y.E.S. Program offers guided field studies focusing on science, the environment, liberal arts, and even leadership development. These programs were designed to reinforce what kids are already learning in the classroom and, by adding special Disney touches, allow them to grasp concepts in these fields of study. Children are grouped by age and educational level and each class caters to their already learned concepts. Individual enrollment allows families that aren’t part of, say, a large school group, to be able to enjoy the classes on property. 

What does that all mean? It means that Disney is reinforcing important learning concepts with fun in the parks! My teen daughter was so excited to learn that she would be taking two separate classes during our recent visit and, I have to admit, I was really digging her fervor for learning.

How the Disney Y.E.S. Program Works

The sign-up for the Disney Y.E.S. Program is super easy. After you’ve chosen the type of educational program your child wants via the website, you’ll be forwarded to another site to choose dates and lock in the programs available during your travel window. There’s only one catch to the program: if you’re traveling with more than one parent, only one may attend with each child. So, say you have a family dynamic like ours- two parents, one child. Only one of you may attend the program. Definitely not a deal breaker (my husband actually enjoyed the alone time in the parks and has no problem visiting attractions and riding rides solo), but it is definitely a point that needs to be made aware. I’m certain it’s due to keeping each group at a reasonable size and I and my teen daughter were totally fine with it.
After we checked in, which was before 8am (a good point to keep in mind if you have kiddos that like to sleep in), we all became fast friends. No, seriously. My daughter actually rode rides with a family later on that day. I loved the feel and take that Disney has in regards to education: make it fun and kids will love learning

Which Programs Did We Choose?

We had a difficult time narrowing down which programs I wanted my teen daughter to try, but in the end we chose Managing Your Personal Brand at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Properties of Motion Physics Lab 201 in Magic Kingdom. She wanted to try two completely different programs and I’m delighted she did.
Managing Your Personal Brand was all about how we perceive people and how people perceive us, effective branding (including improving your own brand!), and how to identify personal skills. In a nutshell, it teaches kids how appearance can affect perception. What I loved about this program is that the kids in the group started out working solo and, as they got to know each other, they began working together in groups. Also included in the field research was a spin on Aerosmith’s Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, and a trip to catch Muppet Vision 3D show. My daughter came away with a new sense of self and now totally understands how appearance can make a world of difference. As for the program guides? Let’s just say Disney couldn’t have picked more competent teachers for this one.
Properties of Motion Physics Lab 201 was all about hands-on experimenting including application of the scientific method (perfect since she was just learning about it in school the previous week), gravitational pull, centripetal force, and Newton’s First Law of Motion. My kid’s a definite science buff and she loved every second of the three hour program. Once again, Disney does a great job of letting the kids warm up to each other and then grouping them together to problem solve. The field research in this class? A ride on Splash Mountain ( centripetal force and gravity) and Pirates of the Caribbean to check out Disney robots.

How to Save with Disney Y.E.S.

Here’s a great little perk for folks that sign up for the program: Disney offers a discount on park tickets.
No kidding.
Each program’s cost is between $171 and $225 each, but when you add in park tickets you’re basically getting the program for free as opposed to purchasing tickets separately. Annual passholders can benefit as well and receive a discount on the cost of each program. Families can also save on purchasing additional programs as Disney offers a huge discount on additions. Florida residents also get a discount on program pricing, too.
You are able to choose from base tickets or park hoppers and add in water parks as well.

In a Nutshell

  • The Disney Y.E.S. Program is perfect for families traveling to Disneyland or Walt Disney World that love learning while on vacation.
  • Programs cater to individual enrollment, large groups, and girl Scout troops, and children are placed in the appropriate class depending on age and school level (elementary, middle school, high school, and even college).
  • A separate park admission ticket must be purchased for each program day (we had to scan our MagicBands to enter the park once we were ready to begin).
  • An adult parent or guardian must be present at each program and stay during the entire length of the program for children under 16. Children must be of school age (5-18) to participate.
  • Attractions visited for  each Y.E.S. program may change at any time and both kids and parents may choose not to ride any of the rides during the program.

Disclosure: The Kid and I were hosted by Disney Y.E.S. to give you fine folks the scoop on what makes the program so great for families. I was not asked to state a particular point of view and all opinions are my own!

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