Valencia College moving hospitality and culinary programs to downtown Orlando with help of $1.5 million Disney donation

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IMAGE VIA VALENCIA COLLEGE
  • Image via Valencia College
Valencia’s newest campus in downtown Orlando’s Creative Village just received a major donation for its culinary and hospitality arts program. The combined facility with UCF is opening this fall.

The school’s culinary and hospitality programs will take up three floors of the 15-story 
The UnionWest building in Orlando's Creative Village - IMAGE VIA UCF
  • Image via UCF
  • The UnionWest building in Orlando's Creative Village
UnionWest educational building that is currently under construction. The new facility will be known as the Walt Disney World Center for Culinary Arts and Hospitality, thanks to a $1.5 million donation by the resort.



The donation will fund classroom technology, a demo kitchen and a beverage lab. The demo kitchen is also designed to help teach students how to produce cooking videos, a vital source of income for many chefs.

With a 100 percent graduate placement rate, the Valencia programs are in high demand, and the new facility will allow the program to triple in size.
On top of the financial assistance, Disney World’s culinary team also partnered with the school to update its curriculum. Valencia is now part of Disney’s Aspire program, which allows cast members to work on college degrees with the company paying 100 percent of the tuition up front.
IMAGE VIA VALENCIA COLLEGE
  • Image via Valencia College
“We couldn’t ask for a more creative and innovative partner than Walt Disney World Resort, and we’re so glad they’ve supported us in our efforts to provide revolutionary learning facilities and educational opportunities,” says Falecia Williams, campus president of Valencia College’s West and Downtown campuses. “Our latest endeavor to reimagine our culinary arts and hospitality campus and programming will be a transformational experience for our current and future students.”



Disney World has more 16,000 cast members in its food and beverage programs. Aside from Disney, Orlando is a known epicenter for the culinary industry with leaders like Darden (Olive Garden, Longhorn, LongHorn, The Capital Grille, etc.), Earl Enterprises (Planet Hollywood, Bucca di Beppo, Earl of Sandwich, Chicken Guy, etc.), Food First (Brio, BRAVO), Ruth's Hospitality Group (Ruth's Chris), Red Lobster, Sugar Sugar, and Tupperware headquartered here. The culinary and hospitality industry in Central Florida is expected to grow by more than 10 percent within the next five years.

The updated culinary arts and hospitality programs at Valencia’s Creative Village campus will offer degrees, certifications, and training programs. More than three dozen degree programs will be offered at the new campus through Valencia and UCF. An estimated 7,700 students are expected to attend classes there.

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