Ok, so we didn’t book our trip to Florida for the educational value. We booked our trip as I am a die hard Disney fan and I have dreamed of visiting Walt Disney World since I was a little girl. I was looking forward to meeting the characters, experiencing the rides and most importantly sharing the magic of Disney with my family. What I didn’t expect was that so many parts of our trip would be valuable educational experiences that I think will stay with the boys and us forever.
Education is very important to me having worked in a High School for twelve years. I am a mum of three Aoife ( 18) James (4) and Joseph (20 months) Aoife is currently studying Fashion at University in London and didn’t want to come away with us so it was just my husband and boys that went on the trip. Although school is a massively important aspect of education, I also believe that the foundations for learning start at home and that parents and families have such an important role to play in shaping the minds of our little people.
I believe that experiences are just as important in shaping the minds of children as classroom teaching. this can be through travel, visiting museums, planting seeds or just exploring whenever and wherever you can. I have done this with all three of my children, even when I was on my own with Aoife, I used it save up to go on little trips together, just the two of us and we would visit places like London or York and explore.
So whilst planning our trip to Florida, if I’m being really honest, I didn’t consider an educational element to the trip. James loves dinosaurs so I wanted to include as many dinosaur related experiences as possible. However, my planning was more about which rides we wanted to fast pass, which restaurants we would I eat in, what we would wear etc… I did not think beforehand that the trip would leave have such a profound effect on me in terms of how much all members of the family learned from it.
We arrived at the Art of Animation resort and the learning experience started there! We were walking to our hotel room for the first time and James points to a sign near the lake. It has an alligator and snake on it. James explains to me that this means there might be Alligator or snakes in the lake. I actually had no idea that this may have been the case but James told me that rattle snakes live in florida. We then went to our room and researched what types of Alligators and Snakes May live in Florida and what we needed to do if we encounter them.
This was only a tiny snippet of how much we learned during our trip. All of the parks have an aspect of educational value however it was two parks in particular that I believe offer the most valuable learning experiences . If you have been to Walt Disney World you will probably know that they are Epcot and Animal Kingdom and they were our favourite parks as a family to visit.
I thought I would share my TOP TEN educational experiences at Walt Disney World with you all.
1) Kilimanjaro Safaris
We did the Safari twice, in the morning and the evening and I am so pleased that we did. The Safari takes place on an an open sided jeep and drives through an area created to replicate the a savannah of East Africa. On the day time Safari we saw Elephants, Crocs, Giraffes, Hippos amongst others and the whole family were in wonder at being so close to these stunning animals. I was worried about the evening Safari as I thought it would be difficult to see the animals. However, it was a very different experience to our daytime visit. I was actually a bit scared… but Gareth and the boys loved it and we saw the Lions which we hadn’t during the day and James hasn’t stopped talking about that fact since.
2) Epcot World Showcase
It is just amazing!I mean where else in the world can you watch an Italian street entertainer, listen to a Canadian band and pick up some British Fish and Chips within an hour? James was fascinated by it. He was continuously asking questions about things he was seeing and he was over the moon that he had his photo taken beside the Eiffel Tower. We actually didn’t have enough time to explore the “world” as we much as we would have liked. I know that many people said to me that there weren’t many rides here and that’s why they disliked it. In all honestly, it doesn’t need rides, for us it was a welcome, relaxing break and again another opportunity to for the little ones to gain knowledge of the world. I also believe that there are Kidcot stops around the world where children can collect stamps and create a personalised souvenir. We will definitely be doing this if we get the chance to visit again.
3) Spaceship Earth – so I had no idea that the big Golf Ball was a ride! I hadn’t really given it much thought at all. We managed to walk straight on it during magic hours and we loved it. It takes you on a time travel of how communication and knowledge has developed from the time of the first humans. No one had mentioned Spaceship Earth to us so we had no idea what to expect but we loved it. James asked so many questions afterwards like “why were people writing on walls” what is papyrus?” And he embraced the interactive side of the ride.
4) The American Adventure
Again, no one has mentioned The American Adventure to us. I have never seen it on anyone’s Instagram or heard anything about it. We just kind of stumbled past it on our last day and Gareth suggested we went inside to cool down… what a wonderful experience we had! We missed two fast passes but it was absolutely worth it. The experience we had was in two parts. Firstly the Liberty Singers sang some traditional American songs. They were unbelievably talented and the boys were entrances by them. Then we went on to the theatre to watch a stage show of American history which was fascinating, more so for me and Gareth and I think important for the kids to see considering we were visiting America!
4) It’s a Small World
We were familiar with this ride as I have visited it many times at Disneyland Paris. However, this was the first time that the boys have gone. They LOVED it and James spent the whole ride asking “which country is that? how do you know? Why are they wearing that?”
Again, it’s just another example of how a 10 minute Attraction can start a conversation that will stay with a young person.
5) The seas with Nemo and friend
Again, this was one attraction that no one had actually mentioned to me before our trip. So I just assumed it was another story telling ride through Finding Nemo. So we were shocked ha thrilled to discover that there was an actual aquarium inside! I actually almost cried to see the boys excitement when they watched the fish, turtles and sharks swimming by. They would have happily spent hours viewing the aquarium but we had a fast pass to visit. We did however go back to visit them on our last day to say goodbye!
6) Gorilla Falls exploration trail
This was another attraction that we stumbled upon at Animal Kingdom. I don’t think we even realised we were following the trail until we ended up in the bird area. We headed here straight after the Safari and we are super glad that we did. The boys love animals and the happiness on James face when he saw creatures such as an African Bull Frog that he has never seen in person was priceless. He pointed at some strange looking creature and told me that they were Mole Rats? He is four… I have no idea how he knew this but he was correct and so thrilled to see them up close and personal. There is also an area where you can look for birds that are shown on a guide and it was inspiring to see James hunt around the area for a specific species.
7) Living with the Land
We managed to jump straight on Living with the Land when we arrived early at Epcot one morning. Living with the Land is a boat tour that travels through the Greenhouses at Epcot and it explains how Scientists work to develop a sustainable approach to farming and how farming has developed over the ages. For the first four days this was James favourite ride ( till he rode Everest! – very different I know!)
Ahhhhh where do I start? Mine and Gareth’s absolute favourite ride at Walt Disney World. It was both exhilarating, fun and thought provoking! Soarin takes you on a journey across the world where you encounter Orcas ( James told me this), Polar Bears, fly across the Great Wall of China and soar across Mount Everest. It was such an exciting attraction for a young mind and again opened a floodgate is questions. It also ignited a need to travel in both me and my husband and it makes you want to see these places in person. Although, it did actually feel like you were there in person. We were in the front row on our first ride and I had no idea just how high we we’re traveling until I was in row three on our second turn. Love love love Soarin!
9) Carasoul of Progress
This was another surprise! We were just pottering around Tomorrowland waiting for our fastpass for Monsters Inc Laugh floor to arrive when we spotted the Carousel of Progress. I had a quick look online and when I saw that it was apparently Walt’s favourite attraction, I was very excited to try it. The boys sat throughout the whole show and were transfixed ( with the dog mainly). We also had “there’s a great big beautiful tomorrow stuck in our heads for a long while after. I actually felt very emotional on this ride and shed a little tear as it reminded me so much of Walt! The fact that it takes you through a time travel of innovation is so interesting and nostalgic! Not only that but the fact that the whole theatre rotates was so exiting… for all of us!
Our budding Palaeontologist loved exploring Dinoland and pointing out all of the species to us! There is also a Dinosaur boneyard which he could have quite happily spent all day digging for fossils. There was also the Dino bash taking place whilst we were there which was a lot of fun!
So to summarise, we had a great holiday at Walt Disney World and this was only a fraction of the experience and knowledge that we learned during our trip. I haven’t even touched on the transport systems, local wildlife and learning about different climates and currencies. So although a great deal of our holiday was thrill seeking and cuddling some of our favourite characters. I was shocked at just how much we all learned and I think that I have told so many people in person just how impressed I was with the education aspect to it!
I know this might not be everyone’s idea of fun but for us I believe this is what made our trip extra special.
Let me know if there are any other bits of information or knowledge you have gained during any of your trips?
Thanks for reading!
Love Roisin 🌟💫✨