Visiting Walt Disney World is something most families make an effort to do as an incredibly memorable family vacation. There is really no other theme park that compares. In the way they do everything to excellence, and down to the details you see everywhere you look, it is an experience like no other and everyone in the family can really enjoy it.
So if you are a homeschooling family, maybe you’ve considered doing this already, and you have the luxury and flexibility of going in an off-season time when it won’t be crowded, and being able to work some of it into your studies at home and count it as “school”.
There are many things at each park to use as educational, but we are going to talk specifically about Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida.
So here are some suggestions of ways to work things into your schooling before you go, to make the experience even better, and things to be sure and do at the park that your kids will love.
Main Street, USA
This is the area you walk into when you enter the park, and other than Cinderella’s Castle, the most classic part of the park. It’s the spot you see all the photos from and the spot with all the awesome shops. I would suggest studying the biography of Walt himself before going. The book, Who Was Walt Disney, in that “Who Was” kid’s series is a really good one and for my kids, it made going so much more impactful as they got to see things it had touched on and feeling like they knew him a little. If you research him a little further, and have some time to spend in Main Street studying the details, you’ll find some fun things there that are directly related to his life and what he loved.
The train station is located there by the entrance (as well as a few other stops in the park), and that is one thing he loved and a good way to connect with that history there.
Carousel of Progress
This classic show is located in Tomorrowland and has been there for ages. It’s first appearance however was at the 1964 World’s Fair! What a lesson in history in this Images of America book. If you’ve never been on it, it’s a big wheel-shaped theatre that rotates one “theater” over as you go to the next stage, and you see how inventions and trends have changed over the years. It has the classic Disney animatronics in each stage scene and you watch a family as they talk about what is going on in that era, what the latest inventions are and it touches on the future as well. It takes about 20 minutes to watch, so it’s not long, but it’s a great educational thing to do while you’re there and being able to actually see some of the household appliances and clothing in person is really neat for your kids.
Art & Animation
All over the park you can see all kinds of artwork, from classic posters to the general advertisements and art sold in the shops. Disney’s animators have such a wide range of styles, and of course the more classic animation is what you will see the most of, but if you have a child interested in art or cartooning, be sure to point things out to them, or give them a challenge to find specific things while you’re there.
One place to be sure to go in, is located in Main Street right near where you go to meet Mickey Mouse and Tinkerbell. It’s a shop where they have a large screen that is playing classic cartoons and there are tons of original framed art pieces for sale, as well as some figurines and collectibles of the characters. They have things you won’t find other places and they also have computers set up to help you order your own customized piece of art, in a frame and have it shipped to your home. Just to go in and browse this spot is amazing, even if you don’t make a purchase.
The Classic Rides
There are a lot of rides in this park and they have a great range of types, so that all ages can find several to enjoy. There are some classics you will want to be sure and do while you’re there: The Tomorrowland Speedway is a fun one where you can drive your own car if you are tall enough, but otherwise you can have a child ride along with a parent. Dumbo, Its a Small World, and the Carousel are ones that everyone can ride as well and they are truly classics. Buzz Lightyear is a fun interactive one where you shoot at targets with laser guns, and Space Mountain is nearby to that, and it’s a great coaster that is in the dark, and you don’t want to skip it. The Haunted Mansion and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad are another few that are must-dos!
Many of the rides and shows at the park come from classic literature. Some of which your kids will be totally familiar with already, and some of which is more current and still shown on T.V. and places. A few things I would suggest having them get familiar with before going if they haven’t already, are the Winnie the Pooh series, which there is a ride for, as well as a fun tree set up that is just like the drawing in the books, Swiss Family Robinson, which there is a huge treehouse for, where they can climb and walk up, and also Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, as there is a riverboat ride and Tom Sawyer island there to check out.
Now, depending on what level of enthusiasm your children have over Disney characters, this could be a big deal to your family, or not so much. They have several meet and greet locations all around the park. . There is a spot in the guide that tells you where all of those types of meets are, and you can also check ahead of time on the app as well. They do have many spontaneous ones all over the park too, like Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, Snow White, Alice Characters, and more. Plus, if you watch the 3 pm parade, and the show that goes through Main street a few times a day, there are tons of them in that to see, so if actually being in the photo with them isn’t a huge deal, this is a great way to see several of them in person.
Sorcerer of the Kingdom
This is a really neat thing that your kids will enjoy doing. When you first get to the park, visit the Fire Station (in on the left just past guest services) to get your initial map and Sorcerer’s cards. Each person will get a package with a few random cards, a map and guide, and then tell them where to start. Then, throughout the park, there are symbols to look for that they can use them at, to do interactive things. The cards are really neat and they will enjoy keeping them afterwards. Each guest can get an additional set of cards every day!
Depending on how much you have studied plants or flowers with your kids this may interest them or not, but all over the park there is a huge and gorgeous variety of plants that are so well kept. You will see all the classic trees like the huge oaks of course, but they make a point in each section of the park to use different plants and flowers that coordinate with the colors and themes. There are topiaries that are very impressive, and flower beds in just about every color. With all you are doing there, and the crowds it can be easy to miss some of these details, but be sure to try and catch them. In the Fall season and at Christmas time, for a few months, of course they are even more done up for the season, too. Here’s a great botany homeschool unit to check out pre-trip to present this lesson.
Kids of all ages love to build and Magic Kingdom is full of great building lessons. Cinderella’s Castle – The most classic image in the whole park of course. Make sure to go all the way up to the castle, even if you don’t go inside. (You can book a dining reservation to eat there, and dine with characters, too.)
Walking up to it, there is a great bronze statue of Walt with Mickey and normally a Disney photographer nearby who will take your family’s photo for you as well. (Hand them your phone or camera too, don’t be shy about that, they don’t mind at all!)
The details on the actual castle are so beautiful and it’s easy to end up walking all the way around it and never end up close to it. You can walk under and through it and there are neat things near it, like sometimes a meet and greet of a character, and there is a cool tribute to Cinderella with a well and the mice too.
Have a little bit of fun….see if the kids can guess how many bricks it took to make the castle. It’s a trick question – there are zero bricks it is concrete and fiberglass. Looking for more on architecture for older children, turn around and look back down Main Street. It is a great lesson in forced prospective.
Adventureland & Pirates
One more thing to be sure to check out that kids really love is the Pirate area in Adventureland. Ride the Pirates of the Caribbean ride for sure, and have them check out all the neat props both in the line and in the shop outside of the ride. There is also a fun show or two outside there throughout the day that features Jack Sparrow from the movies and is very funny. Have a preschooler/Kindergartner? Check out this Pirate Unit. If you trip is booked with EZ Dis, ask for a code to get this unit free!
Overall, planning ahead for your visit, and working some of the stories and movies into your schooling ahead of time will help to prep them and make their visit all the more fun and memorable. Check with an EZ Dis by Instant Impressions agent for a vacation quote. They can help guide you through the educational opportunities in other parks and even the resorts!
Have you created a homeschool lesson to incorporate into a Magic Kingdom visit? We would love to hear about it with a comment below.
Planning your trip and need more educational ideas? Check out our article about Homeschool ideas in Animal Kingdom!
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