As a Disney fanatic and a mom who homeschools my three sons, I am well aware of the educational opportunities at Disney World. We plan special school assignments and projects in preparation for each trip to our favorite vacation destination. While in the World, the academics continue without any of us ever picking up a pencil.
Each park has plenty to teach children, but perhaps no place at Disney offers as much academically as Epcot. I wish there was a similar place in my hometown so that we could frequent it often and without the distraction of the exciting rides and stunt shows that my sons are drawn to in the other Disney parks. However, we do love Epcot and, with a bit of preparation prior to trips, have made it an enjoyable stop for our three thrill-seeking boys.
Before each Disney vacation, the boys together choose a country from the World Showcase to study. Some of their favorites have been Norway and Morocco. In preparation for our 2009 trip, we studied Vikings of Norway, which included making our own miniature stave house. The boys were almost as excited about visiting the stave church in Epcot as they were about riding Maelstrom, the Norwegian boat attraction. Our study of Morocco several years ago led us to Restaurant Marrakesh, where the boys tasted authentic Moroccan food that they had learned about just weeks before.
Our sons also enjoy talking with the cast members from each of Epcot’s countries and asking them questions about their native land. Without a doubt, our advanced research makes visiting the countries of Epcot and sampling their food more enjoyable than they would have been otherwise.
Every school year includes a certain amount of United States history. Before leaving Future World, a visit to our own country must be made to watch “The American Adventure”, which relates the development of our great nation. One year we were able to listen to an a cappella group sing traditional American songs prior to the show. This music “class” was quite a treat! On a separate year, we arrived in time to watch a fife and drum parade, which include our oldest sons and other young volunteers, who afterwards were given copies of the Declaration of Independence for their participation.
Future World is also packed full of teaching moments. “Journey into Imagination with Figment” will help younger students learn more about their five senses in a fun, entertaining manner. Mission Space gives older children an opportunity to experience what it might be like to take a journey to the moon. Ellen’s Energy Adventure and Spaceship Earth present the theory of evolution and provide excellent debate material.
One of our favorite educational discoveries that we happened upon is a simple, yet informative boat trip called “Living with the Land” that explores gardening with hydroponics and other alternative forms of food production. Sound boring? It is actually quite fascinating and holds the attention of our boys, who enjoy the fish farm and seeing some of their favorite foods being grown. Of course, the Hidden Mickey pumpkins are amusing, too.
Even though our family has been on six Disney trips with at least one visit to Epcot on each trip, we have yet to explore all of the educational opportunities this park offers. We have only scanned Innoventions and hope to spend more in that section on upcoming trips… if we can pull ourselves away from our favorite ride, Test Track! Of course, even our favorite Epcot thrill ride is instructive as it teaches about the testing of vehicles in preparation for consumers to safely use.
Without a doubt, opportunities for learning abound at Epcot!