As applications open for the 2025 Disney Dreamers Academy, one recent graduate, Te’Lario Watkins II of Ohio, exemplifies the transformative power of this Walt Disney World Resort mentoring program. Watkins, a 16-year-old aspiring entrepreneur, recently experienced a dream-come-true moment due to his participation in the academy.


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Watkins, who has been running his own mushroom farm, Tiger Mushroom Farms, since the age of seven and started a non-profit Garden Club Project to address food insecurity in his community, caught the attention of investor Daymond John during the 2024 Disney Dreamers Academy. John, a celebrity mentor at the event, was so inspired by Watkins’ story that he invited him to spend an afternoon on the set of ABC’s hit show Shark Tank.

Walt Disney World arranged for Watkins and his father to fly from their home in Blacklick, Ohio to Los Angeles, California. There, John gave Watkins an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of the Shark Tank set, connected him with other entrepreneurs, and introduced him to the show’s other “Sharks.” The highlight for Watkins was the opportunity to learn business strategies from John, gain entrepreneurial insights, and acquire life lessons from one of the most well-known self-made millionaires of his generation.

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“Being able to meet Daymond John again was super exciting to me,” said Watkins. “I wouldn’t be here without going to DDA. To high school students: applying to DDA would be one of the greatest decisions you’ve ever made in your life.”

Earlier today, Disney announced during the ESSENCE Festival of Culture in New Orleans, Louisiana, that applications are now open for the 2025 Disney Dreamers Academy at www.DisneyDreamersAcademy.com. High school students looking to achieve their dreams can be nominated or apply themselves.

Disney Dreamers Academy 2025 Applications Now Open

The Disney Dreamers Academy is an annual four-day transformational program at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. It is designed to broaden career and personal development for a select group of 100 teens from Black and underrepresented communities across America. These students will receive an all-expense-paid trip, along with one parent or guardian, to Walt Disney World Resort to experience a combination of inspiration, education, and fun at The Most Magical Place on Earth.

Disney Dreamers Academy 2025 Applications Now Open

During the program, students attend in-depth workshops in a variety of disciplines aligned with their dreams. These workshops introduce the Disney Dreamers to diverse career paths within business, entertainment, and sciences, including opportunities within The Walt Disney Company.

Watkins was one of several teens from this year’s Disney mentoring program who had a life-changing experience following their involvement in the event. Elijah Moore of Norfolk, VA, an aspiring producer and musician, was flown to Los Angeles where he received a special tour of Dolby Studios and Walt Disney Studios. Orlando Ecung of Los Angeles, who dreams of being a business executive, attended the world premiere of the movie Inside Out 2 as a special guest of Walt Disney Studios.

Over the years, Disney Dreamers Academy has inspired more than 1,700 students from across the country. Graduates have gone on to become doctors, engineers, performing artists, entrepreneurs, Disney Cast Members, and more. Some have even transitioned into mentors for the next generation of Disney Dreamers.

Disney Dreamers Academy is a vital part of Disney’s commitment to supporting diverse communities. It encourages the next generation to think big and use what they learn in their relentless pursuit of their dreams to help make a difference in the lives of others.

CLICK HERE to nominate your favorite high school student today!