Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Series: Educational Countdown to Disney World

 Our family is huge on Disney World.
My Husband with the Big Cheese on our Honeymoon
I've personally been three times, my oldest daughter has been twice (both before she was age 5) and my husband has been one time, for our late honeymoon. Thank God he loved it as much as I do or I might have second guessed our marriage vows. LOL  My two youngest have yet to go but they know all about it and could tell you every right they want to ride, every character they want to meet and what restaurants they want to eat at (especially the ones that serve Mickey Waffles!!). We are without a doubt a Disney family.

We've been trying to take the kids to Disney for a few years now. Alyssa is now almost 16 so its been 12 years since she's been.  We had an 8 day trip completely planned out and paid for last year but the Air Force had other ideas for us. This year it's Disney World or bust for us.

Alyssa with Aurora.. February of 2003 (I think?)
If you've ever gone to Disney World for any length of time, you know there's a lot of planning involved in the process. Disney World is not a place you can just decide to go visit and expect to have a good time.  For example: you have to make advanced dinner reservations 180 days in advance. This means you have to plan 6 months ahead as to what you might feel like eating each day or your trip - I barely know what I want to eat for dinner tomorrow night, much less half a year ahead of time.  Add to the fact that before you can even start to think about what dinners you need to make reservations for, you'll need to know what park you plan to go to, what the hours for that park will those days and will there be any limited entertainment such as the Spectromagic parade, Fantasmic on days that you'll be there.  The last thing you want to happen is you stayed up til 3am, managed to get a hard to get dinner reservation at Be Our Guest only to realize that the ONLY showing of Fantasmic for the week you are there is scheduled for that same day and time.

Statue in Japan Pavilion
Simply put:  you're going to spend at least 6 months to a year planning your trip to Disney World.  And what does a homeschooling mom do, once in Disney Planning Mode, during those 6 to 9 months? Why, use Disney World as a base for their lesson plans leading up to the trip, of course.

Or at least, so I thought......

Like any other homeschooling parent, I searched and scoured the internet looking for units or lesson plans that other homeschooling parents who came before me might have posted on the net in the hopes of making my task easier and I found very little. At best, I found reference to a book another mom self published that no longer seems to be published.

There's zilch out there......

Disney World offers so many educational opportunities on so many various levels so I am actually pretty surprised by this. The most obvious
Your host at the Mexican Mercado at twilight
being Epcot and its eleven countries in the World Showcase. Where else can you stroll around a beautiful lake and visit Morocco, Canada, Italy and France all in the same day?  You can walk up the stairs of a Mesoamerican pyramid and shop at a Mexican market at twilight with a volcano in the distance then walk outside to visit the Temple of Heaven in China.   Just the geography/cultural lessons that can be taught based on the World Showcase are endless.

But expand beyond just the World showcase and you have even more potential. Spaceship Earth is a wonderful platform for a lesson about geometry and geodesic architecture or about the history of communications and ancient civilizations. The Land Pavilion is a great launching area for discussions about resource conservation, agriculture, horticulture, and symbiosis.  The living seas opens possibilities in regards to the oceans, marine animals and even gives kids the opportunity to learn about the ocean from a 200 year old turtle who talks like a surfer from California.

Replica of the Temple of Heaven at the Chinese Pavilion
But that's just a small part of Epcot.. And there are 3 other parks with possibilities waiting.

While the parks are a great place for small impromptu lessons, let's be honest, kids aren't going to want to do school when there are rides, Princesses and giant mice to be found.  This is why tailoring lessons to include Disney World in the months leading up to a big trip are more beneficial.  A lesson about the Chinese culture and the Temple of Heaven will prepare them to know what they are looking at once they pass through the Paifang Gate. They will be more excited to see a structure they recognize from lessons before the trip then they will if you decide to whip out a handout and start a lesson about Chinese cosmogony.

If all goes well, from June 29th to July 6th we will be visiting Disney World. Starting next week and up until we leave Disney World, I will be incorporating lessons about various subjects that the kids will
encounter while there. Possible topics are endless but may include: King Arthur,  acoustics, botany and plant recognition, Aztec and Mayan civilizations, Native Americans, American flag etiquette, forced perspective, The Wizard of Oz, history of fireworks, model trains, space exploration, the American Revolution and classic literature. As I begin putting these lessons together, I will begin to include them here as well so that any other homeschooling parents who are planning a Disney World Education can have a head start.  This will not be a full stand alone curriculum and will not meet common core guidelines but will instead be a great supplement to substitute for or to add to your existing curriculum as you see fit.

So I hope that you will join with me and my family as we have fun with our Educational Countdown to Disney World. 


  1. Very fine account and well written. I am not surprised that in this day and age you can visit the "Temple of Heaven in China" at Disney but Walt had to eliminate the Main St. Christian Church because he accepted investment money early on from others.

    BTW, I heard some trivia you may be interested in about Disney, ....... , in the movie, Snow White, the witch dipped an apple in cyanide (sleeping potion) to put her to sleep. Alan Turing, the guy that built the first computers, to break the Enigma Code during WWll, was fascinated by cyanide, saw the movie and loved it. Later he committed suicide by the same method because he remembered it in the movie.
    Full circle ........ Steve Jobs (Apple Computers) made a solute to Alan Turing by choosing an apple w/ a bite out of it for his Logo. Cool huh??

    You may go see the movie "The Imitation Game" which is the story of this genius whom broke the Enigma Code by building the first computer. Side note: He was ahead of his time. He wrote a paper saying that in the future, you won't be able to tell the difference between artificial life and real life and the game is figuring out which is the imitation.

    I'm hoping you guys and the military work your "Disney or Bust" aspirations out this year.


  2. Hey Steph :)

    That was very interesting about Turing/Jobs/Apple.. thank you for sharing, I didn't know any of that..

    And hey, if all works well, then hopefully we can swing by Baton Rouge on our way back from Florida like we had originally planned last time :)


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