Education is all around us and going on vacation is a perfect way to broaden your child’s horizons with new educational opportunities. Before we were a homeschooling family, we merely went on a Disney vacation. The purpose was to escape the craziness (and often weather) of Illinois and find the magic at Walt Disney World. Now I am always looking for ways to enhance our children’s education and since Magic Kingdom is ALWAYS our first stop, I am going to begin there. This post will only include a few places and next time we will finish up Magic Kingdom.
One of the things I love about all things Disney is that it is designed to make you forget what may be happening at home. This starts the moment you enter the park passing under the train station. This was designed to usher guests into a magical world. My children had learned about this concept at home, but we were very careful to pay attention to it when we entered the parks. When Walt Disney designed his theme park in California, he had a very specific plan in mind, one that had never been used before in an amusement park, a hub and spoke concept. As soon as I got the map and times guide, we sat down and observed this on the map. My children noted that it was funny that everyone had to walk back past all those stores to get out of the park. Guess what we talked about following that brilliant idea!?
While on main street there are many architectural concepts your can note with the biggest being forced perception. In this idea, the buildings look like they are 2-3 stories tall, but they are actually not. The buildings get smaller as they go up, but trick your eyes into thinking they are taller. Finally, on main street we discussed how Walt Disney World plays on all 5 of our senses. Specifically we discussed smells. We stopped to see what we were smelling and both kids noticed that it smelled like baked goods. Did you know that WDW actually pipes the smell of fresh baked goods, usually chocolate chip cookies, out to the street? My kids were fascinated by this concept and wanted to track the smell to it’s source, which of course resulted in a snack before we even got started on our day!
The other most obvious place to find some education at Magic Kingdom is at Liberty Square. Right in the middle of Liberty Square is the replica of the Liberty Bell and this is the perfect place to begin discussing history of the United States. If you need to brush up on your US history, check out this website before you go ( http://www.nps.gov/inde/liberty-bell-center.htm). Another interesting feature of Liberty Square is the brownish winding path that runs the length of this “land.” Your kids will be totally grossed out to find that this is meant to represent the raw sewage that ran in the streets during this time. My children actually didn’t know what raw sewage was so we had to have a lively discussion about that subject as well and they were in fact grossed out!
Of course, we couldn’t have an educational discussion about Liberty Square without including The Hall of Presidents. This attraction is FULL of education! Before you even enter the doors, if you look up you will see two lanterns glowing in the windows. These are in reference to a line from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Paul Revere’s Ride.” When you enter the queue area of the attraction there is so much to see, but take a moment to focus on the Presidential Seal that is gated in the middle of the floor. There are only 3 of these in the United States; one in the Oval Office, one at the Liberty Bell in Liberty Hall, and this one. It took an act of Congress to make this happen for Walt Disney World too! This replica is not exactly like the one in the Oval Office because it is unlawful to present the seal without the President. So instead of it saying “The Seal of the President of the United States” it says “The Great Seal of the United States.” Either way unless you have some connections, this is your chance to see this seal! Another fun fact about this seal, it is rumored that White House staff comes to clean this! Lining the queue area are paintings and artifacts that your children may find interesting as well.
We had high hopes for the Hall of Presidents. My daughter was excited to ‘see’ George W. Bush and Barack Obama. I was excited for both of them to ‘see” all of our presidents and experience some history. However, it was warm outside and cool inside, it was bright outside and dark inside, we had been walking all day and there were warm cushy seats. About two minutes in, my daughter leaned her head on my shoulder and promptly fell asleep. She slept through the whole thing, explosions and all. When it was over, we woke her up and she cried because she had missed it! The moral of this story is that if you just need an educational break or a just a break at WDW, the Hall of Presidents may be your place!
Come back next month for more education at Walt Disney World!
Sarah Garner was born, raised, and continues to live in Central Illinois, which is a very long way from the Mouse’s home in Florida. A former public school teacher, turned homeschool Mom, she enjoys reading, quilting, and cooking (but really only has time for the last one). She has been to Walt Disney World 17 times and her family recently took their first Disney Cruise. She has been married to her high school sweetheart for 11 years and they have a 7 year old son and a 6 year old daughter.