Wednesday, February 17, 2010

WDW Educational Experiences

This past week on the Be Our Guest Podcast we talked about whether you should take your kids out of school for WDW trips, which is always a hot topic in the Disney community. We also discussed some educational experiences that you can have while visiting. (To hear the actual show visit )

The show was very informative for people who are considering a school time trip as we discussed things you can do during the trip that will also work as learning tools for your children. But I feel we left out so many great options for things in the park that can be educational. There's so much in the parks that you can learn from--things you may have never even thought of.

So, without further adieu, here are some other options of activities that you can participate in that will help your children (or even you) learn from.

For those who want a taste of American History, you should definitely take in the Hall of Presidents. It was educational before, but ever since they updated it, I feel as the educational value has been upped tremendously. This is a great taste of what the Presidency actually entails. It can teach children about the importance of the position and of course, they can learn about some of the most famous presidents of all time.

However, for another taste of American History, look no further than the American Adventure pavilion. There is a treasure trove of education there. Starting in the lobby, with the musuem that's there. Then, of course, the actual show teaches a great deal about how our country has grown and prospered over the past 200 years. This is a great place for kids to really actually see what they've learned in a textbook and realize, that it's not just words. What they've read had actually happened.

Another look at American History, albeit it an totally unorthodox kind of way is to take your kids on the Carousel of Progress. This attraction also really shows kids what life was like living throughout the last century. (Just ignore how out of touch the last scene is...I'm still waiting on my talking oven. lol!) While this attraction is as little more lighthearted, it does shed a lot of great light on how we've progressed as a country, yet again. From the evolution of electricity, to the fact that traveling across the country used to take much longer than it does now, to what life was like without air conditioning, and even a look at how media, like the radio and television has morphed through time. All of this, while a bit trivial, is still important in learning about where we've come from and what we've been through.

Of course, there's also a lot of Science that can take place. Look no further than the Universe of Energy. Sure, it's not the most updated attraction, (I mean, Ellen looks a tad different, Alex Trebeck has no mustache, and I doubt kids nowadays know who Bill Nye is) however, the basic principles are still important. Some of what was discussed back then still applies to where we are now. And of course, we learn that the most important thing for the future is Brain Power.

And if you want a pavilion that is almost completely educational, take a look at The Land at Epcot. (Granted, Soarin is not a great learning tool.) However, the Circle of Life film takes an important look at animals and how the chain of life really works. Plus, Living With The Land is important in extolling the virtues of actually living in harmony with the land and what can happen when we don't care about taking care of such a vital part of life.

You can learn about marine life in The Seas Pavilion. Granted, The actual ride isn't very educational, but there's a ton to explore in the actual pavilion. Lots of great ways to interact with the fish, sharks, turtles, manatees, and other sea creatures that live there. And even Turtle Talk with Crush can have educational moments to it.

Want to teach your kids about the value of a dollar? Or teach them what to do in the case of a fire? Or how math can be used to create roller coasters? Look no further than Innoventions. These areas have grown exponentially recently with lots of new learning opportunities for families. And the great thing is, it keeps getting updated! So, lots new stuff is constantly on it's way.

Of course, I can even see education in something like Test Track. I know most people think, Test Track, really? I don't see education in that. But, if you take a look at it, it teaches something that many people never see...and that's what it's actually like for a car to get put through the paces to make sure they're safe. (some recent car companies may want to take a visit to this attraction...) I know I would have never seen what a proving ground really looks like, so to me, this is something totally educational.

You could even take a trip in One Man's Dream and teach kids about the life of Walt Disney. Reading biographies is a common practice in school...well, in this attraction, you're getting to WALK THROUGH the biography. It's spelled out in pictures and artifacts, not just words on a page.

Of course there are tons of other opportunities to learn in the parks and I'm sure I've missed quite a few. I just wanted to get a few more ideas in your heads about what could be learned on a Walt Disney World trip. And I want to hear your ideas as well. What attractions or activities do you think could be educational? Let me know in the comments section.

Happy Learning!

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