Disneyworld is a great place to have fun with the kids – but it can also be a wonderful place to support their education. The best park for this is Epcot, of course (followed by Animal Kingdom). The name is an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, and it was originally planned in part as a place where children and adults could learn about advanced technology in a fun way.
So how can you use it as an educational tool for your kids? First, realize that the rides and characters may well be a more compelling draw for the kids, and be ready to be flexible. Cut down the ride time with Fast Passes; then use the time you’re waiting for the ride to encourage your kids to come into the non-ride educational areas to explore.
For instance, the breathtaking new ride Soarin’ has a long wait, and is also housed in the Land pavilion. Go up and get your Fast Passes, then while away the time you’re waiting by visiting the Living with the Land boat tour through a working greenhouse, or go to the nearby Living Seas pavilion to visit downstairs, learning about the deep oceans and sea life.
The keys, though, are planning and parent interaction. You need to be familiar with Epcot in order to know where to go for educational exhibitions. Study a map before you visit, so you know which pavilions are close together – and don’t underestimate either walking time or wait time.
Once you’re at the exhibitions, talk to your kids about what they’re doing and playing with. One of the best ways to “teach” them what’s going on is to ask them to tell you what they are doing with the hundreds of kid-friendly activities. Being able to teach you something new will get them excited about learning – perhaps the most important part of education.
Suggestions for lessons:
- Learn about foreign lands by picking up a passport before going through the World Showcase
- Learn about space at Mission: Space
- Learn about vehicles, engineering, and physics at the Test Track
- Learn about the ocean at the Living Seas pavilion
- Learn about ecology at The Land pavilion
- Learn about telecommunications and computers at Spaceship Earth
- Feel and see music at the dancing waters of the Fountain of Nations (especially after dark when it’s lit up)
- Cutting-edge and future technology at Innoventions East and West (two different pavilions)
- How energy works at Universe of Energy
Having an idea about what you’d do at each of these will allow your child to go to the ones he or she is most interested in, while still affording you the opportunity to get those lessons in.