Educational Opportunities at Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom can be considered the world’s greatest playground.  Its impressive combination of storybook rides, beloved characters, enchanting shows, and delicious food make it possibly the most charming place on earth.  Although “educational” is a word rarely used to describe this favorite recreational site, Magic Kingdom has much to offer both the eager – and reluctant – learners.

An entire course of literature can climax with a field trip to the Magic Kingdom.  Several classic writings come to life in this Disney park.  Have your student read Johann David Wyss’ Swiss Family Robinson and Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer. Begin the day with a walk through the Swiss Family Treehouse in Adventureland to receive a visual picture of what daily life might have been like for this fictional family.  Then continue to Frontierland and board a raft to Tom Sawyer’s Island.  Explore caves and a fort as your relive young Tom’s life.

Study a favorite in children’s literature, Joel Chandler Harris’ Uncle Remus Tales, These beloved accounts of Brer Rabbit and his friends and foes will draw you to one of our family’s favorite rides, Splash Moutain, an adventurous recreation of several Uncle Remus stories.    

Pause for a history lesson while in Frontierland.  Perhaps the most obvious academic attraction at Magic Kingdom is the Hall of Presidents, located in Liberty Square.  This audio-animatronic show includes all forty-three men who have served as Commander and Chief of the United States of America.  Selected Presidents speak about their terms and important events related to the era they lived in.  The current President gives a longer, motivating speech with a patriotic message.  Before being seated for the show, be sure to observe all of the fascinating displays, including clothing, weapons, letters, and other items that formerly belonged to our nation’s leaders.

More learning can be found throughout Liberty Square if you take a few minutes to look around.   Let your students test a consequence of bad behavior when they visit the stocks.  Have a school picture taken next to the replica of the Liberty Bell.  Enjoy a colonial dinner at the Liberty Tree Tavern.  This Magic Kingdom land is the perfect place for a history lesson.

Continue your study of children’s literature in Fantasyland.  Prior to the field trip, have your student familiarize himself with A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, and classic fairy tales such as Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Snow White. These sentimental storylines that most children are familiar with are often unlike the original writing, providing excellent discussion on the similarities and differences.  Beware, however, if you have very young students.  The early versions of these stories may be a bit disturbing. 

Literature class will conclude in Fantastyland, but proceed to Tomorrowland for a lesson on space and technology.  The most educational attraction in this land is the Carousel of Progress, another audio-animatronic show that discusses industrial advancements and inventions that have benefited home life over the past decades.  Allow your students to take a ride through space on one of Disney’s most famous rollercoasters, Space Mountain, or participate in a challenging, intergalactic game in Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.  While calling those attractions educational material may be a stretch, they are great rewards for the diligent student. 

A visit to Magic Kingdom and its sister parks is guaranteed to be one of the greatest and most memorable field trips of the school year.

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Alison Lawson

About Alison Lawson

I am a homeschooling mom to three boys who have inherited their parents' enthusiasm for all things Disney. We travel to Disney World almost yearly and talk about Disney almost daily. In addition to sharing Disney tips with friends and the Mouse For Less family, I enjoy blogging, reading, and planning vacations!

2 Comments to “Educational Opportunities at Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom”

  1. Stacey 2 May 2011 at 12:37 pm #

    If you have future Imagineers, a great series to read before heading to MK (or any of the parks) are the Imagineering field guide books. They teach you all about the makings of the rides and attractions and it’s neat to then ride the rides that you’ve read about from a more technical standpoint. As a mom of a child who once dreamed of working for Disney, we did a lot of research on theme park engineering and there were some great discussions to be had as we walked through the parks. It makes for a great unit study.

  2. Adrianne 2 May 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    Your suggestion to have kids read specific books before a trip to MK is a great idea:-) I think it would definitely make various attractions more meaningful as the child compares the attraction to the text. I am going to suggest that my boys read Swiss Family Robinson before our next trip:-)

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