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Happy Birthday, Disney Institute

Often, it takes time to find success.

It was 15 years ago today that Disney Institute opened a campus in the area that is now Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa near Downtown Disney. The campus offered a variety of “leisure learning” activities such as cooking and landscaping classes. Eventually, the campus closed and many thought Disney Institute closed with it. But we’re still here, better than ever.

Disney Institute

We always offered business programs in addition to the leisure classes. It took us some time, though, to realize that the business programs are our sweet spot. So now we travel the world teaching Disney best practices in leadership, management, service, loyalty and innovation. The programs often include behind-the-scenes experiences at Disney Parks, where you get to see first-hand how Disney keeps things running every day. It’s a pretty cool way to learn from one of the world’s most admired companies.

Here’s programming director Bruce Jones with more on what we do and how we do it.


  • I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the Disney Institute because I lived there!! When I did the Advanced Internship in 2003, they allowed me and the rest of my fellow interns to live in the villas on one side of the resort while the other side was being converted into Saratoga Springs. I have a lots of fond memories living in the villas, walking by the treehouse villas to get to the pool and enjoying all the green trees around us!! Some of the best times of my life were had there!!

  • This looks really interesting, could you post a web link with more information about the Disney Institute?

    • Hi there! Glad you are interested in learning more. Our website is http://www.disneyinstitute.com. There you’ll find a wealth of information about us.

  • I attended the original “leisure” version of Disney Institute in November 1996. I had such a fantastic and educational time that it enriched my life in many ways. I wished some of those programs still existed for others to enjoy. I have especially fond memories (and video tapes) from my TV News production class and TV commercial production class, and the audio recording created in my Radio production class as well as snip-its of my half hour as a host on WALT Radio, the in-room radio station of the resort. The architecture class took me to places in the resort that I have never gotten to revisit since and showed me details of places that I do revisit all these years later and still remember (I became a DVC member in 2000 and return to Walt Disney World often). The improv class I took led to years more of visits to (the late, lamented) Comedy Warehouse at Pleasure Island as well as to further improv classes in Chicago at Second City and ComedySportz. While I’ve seen pieces of some of the architecture program offered through tours, I hope in the years to come that Disney Institute finds a way to bring some of those group educational “leisure” activities back to the Resort for adults looking for more ways to enjoy their vacation.

  • I attended the on campus events for Photography on Discovery Island, the Third Annual Animation 5 day event, the tours, and other animation classes. I LOVED the idea of having a learning campus on site, it was way before its time. Here’s the thing, for those of us who find ourselves single at times in our lives, its good to go to Disney with extended family, and enjoy that time, but having something enriching to do while there, well, that made me go another 10 trips to Disney. I’d estimate easily that the on-site Disney Institute led me to spend an additional $15-20 K at Disney over the years it was operational via trips, hotels, park and class fees. I’ve since taken their business classes but I gotta say, the on-site campus had real value, too bad the financing managers didn’t grasp the value of the intangible.

    • Hi, Chris — thanks for sharing your story. It’s nice to hear that you enjoyed your time with us back when we were “a place.” Thanks for staying with us for the business programs.

  • Happy Birthday, Disney Institute!

    I have attended two courses, Leadership Excellence and Quality Service. I am scheduled to attend People Management in April! Can’t wait!!!

    • Hi, David — really great to hear that you enjoyed the management and leadership programs. Hope to see you again soon.

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