Starting this summer, Disney World has a new offering that will appeal to kids that feel they are destined to swim in the sea with Ariel and her friends. Known as Mermaid School at Disney World, your little ones can learn to swim like a mermaid or merman, if the boys so choose. We surprised Anna and Elsa with a session on a recent trip, so we thought we’d write a Mermaid School at Disney World review for those of you that are interested.
As part of our review, we’ll give you the 411 on the cost, locations, and other basics of Mermaid School at Disney World. We’ll then dive into (no pun intended) this unique experience, walking you through what all the “class” involves. This will include picture as usual, but we also took some video of it too so you can see what it is like. Let’s get to our Mermaid School at Disney World review!
Mermaid School at Disney World Basics
We’ll start with all the basic information you might want to know about Mermaid School at Disney World. First things first, you should know that Mermaid School is not actually put on by Walt Disney World. Rather they have contracted with a local Orlando company known as The Mermaid Academy.
We had an opportunity to speak with the owner of The Mermaid Academy, Joe, after our experience. They’ve been doing this in the Orlando area for several years. It’s was only this year (2019) that they developed the relationship where they can hold classes on Disney World property. The business started out as more of a birthday party experience and eventually grew into sessions at Disney area resorts. That’s right, you can actually have this experience at non-Disney World resorts as well. There’s a locations tab on the website we linked to above that shows all the resorts they hold Mermaid School at.
Mermaid School at Disney World is currently held at three Disney resorts: The Beach Club, Art of Animation and Caribbean Beach. For our particular session, we were at the Beach Club. Our class was held at a kiddie pool at the Stormalong Bay Shipwreck. We assume that is the same for all the resorts, however we don’t know that for 100%. If you are concerned about it you should confirm directly with Disney.
The class currently costs $50 per child (plus tax) and can only be booked by calling Disney directly. You cannot book it on the Mermaid Academy website. To book with Disney just call 407-WDW-PLAY. As of this writing, there is not a way to book online.
The Mermaid School Experience
Okay, now that we’ve got all the basics of Mermaid School at Disney World covered, let’s talk about what the experience was like. One quick thing to note, we do have a brief video of some of the experience down below so you can see what it was like too. Photos may not do it justice, so we thought the video might help.
School starts promptly at 8:00 AM, before the resort pools open, and lasts for an hour. Although early, it’s great because it isn’t in the heat of the day and it allows you to get to the parks at a reasonable hour after finishing the class. Try to be there about 5-10 minutes early. There were two instructors during our session, but that will depend on the number of kids in each class. Space is limited, as to make sure there is a good instructor to kid ratio. In our case there were eight kids in the class. We thought a 4:1 ratio of kids to teachers was pretty good and it helped keep the kids moving.
When you get to the pool the first thing that the kids will do is a swimming test. Don’t worry, the kids don’t have to swim out 50 yards and hold their breath or anything crazy like that. It looked like the instructors wanted to see if the kids have basic swimming skills. Anna isn’t the strongest swimmer and she was perfectly fine doing the test. If for some reason the kids swimming skills are a concern, they do have life vests at the pool for them to use.
After the test was over, they fitted the kids with their mermaid tail. You’re going to kind of need that if you want to do Mermaid School right? The mermaid tail is made out of a mesh swimming material, with a mono-fin in the bottom of the tail.
Next up, the instructors showed the kids how to swim and stand in the tail. They want the kids to roll over on their backs once they finish swimming because it allows them to stand with the fin in a more fluid motion. This actually took a little more coordination that you would imagine, but all the kids eventually got the hang of it.
The first part of school involved the kids learning how to swim though hoops. Not really a mermaid thing to do, but the girls enjoyed it nonetheless. They did this a couple of times, getting progressively farther out into the water.
As the second “lesson” of Mermaid School, the kids actually did a treasure hunt. Sadly, there was no statue of Prince Eric or dinglehoppers to be found for Anna! Instead the treasure was made up of these varying small toys which sank to the bottom of the pool. The instructors would throw them out into the pool and let teams of two swim out to recover them. Because the pool was only 2-3 feet deep, it was a very doable task for kids. This part of school gave them a chance to really get out and use their tails.
After that, the kids were given free time to swim around and play. We’d compare this to recess during Mermaid School. The instructors were ever present in the pool to make sure everyone was safe and swimming well. I didn’t time it, but I think the free swim part of Mermaid School lasted for about 10 minutes.
After this, Mermaid School officially concluded. Each of the kids removed their tails and came to get dried off. We assumed the sales pitch for the mermaid tails would come at this point, but it never did. I asked one of the instructors and they told me that Disney actually has a restriction on them selling the tails right there. Disney is concerned that the kids would buy the tails and want to take them immediately to the main pool for swimming. Apparently, mermaid tails are against the rules for general pool swimming. Given that, it makes sense that they would not want the tails sold right there on the spot. Instead, the instructors handed out the below brochure where you can buy the tails from their website.
Overall, we found the instructors to be engaging and they worked really well with the kids. We saw several age ranges and swimming levels and the instructors were great about working with them. The kids all seemed at ease with the Mermaid School teachers as well.
Anna and Elsa both loved doing Mermaid School at Disney World. When it comes to unique experiences at Disney World, you’re not going to find too many that cost less than $50 per person for an hour, so we thought that the value was pretty good. Given that it doesn’t cut into too much park time makes it even better. The fact that we were able to get out of there without buying the $110 – 120 tail and fin set made it even better. If you’re interested in buying a tail, you can find them on the Mermaid Academy website we linked to earlier.
I’m not sure this is an experience we would necessarily do again with the girls, but not because it was bad. More so, now that we’ve done it once, we want to continue doing other experiences, like the host of Backstage Tours they have at Disney World. I would say that Anna and Elsa don’t agree with this, they would actually love to do it again. From a value, fun, and making memories perspective, we thought this was a compelling value and think it is worth your consideration if you’re looking for something to do besides the regular park activities.
With that said, we’ll wrap up our Mermaid School at Disney World review. It’s a fun time for kids, especially if they are fans of Ariel and The Little Mermaid. We hope you found the review helpful. If you did, we’d really appreciate it if you would take the time to share it on social media. It helps us reach more people and hopefully share our experience that can help them!
Have you done Mermaid School at Disney World? If you have, we’d love to hear about your experience! Just drop down in the comments below and let us know what you thought about it!