Fun and Educational Things To Do at Disney World

by Sandra Foyt on January 22, 2012

in Travel Ideas

Epcot Disney WorldOne of the reasons I love Disney World is that kids learn while they are having fun, without even realizing that there might just be an educational component.

Spaceship Earth at Epcot in Disney World

The Spaceship Earth attraction at Epcot is a 16-minute omnimover ride through history that “depicts the stirring story of human connection and collaboration over 40,000 years—from the dawn of recorded time to the 21st century’s Internet age.” All hype aside, I found myself seeing the connection between communication and the development of civilization in a fresh way.

For the young ones in our party, the ride provided a multi-sensory experience: the acrid smell of burning at the ancient Library of Alexandria,  hearing the TV coverage of the first landing on the moon, all the while inputing data on the ride’s touchscreen. I’m not sure how much of the history the 4-year-old absorbed, but it was obvious that she loved the ride from the smile on her face.

Even my teen wasn’t too cool to enjoy the ride, and she certainly picked up on the history lessons.  Currently, she is reading Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel for her AP World History summer assignment, and she just finished Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451for Honors English.  (Methinks that it’s no coincidence that her teachers chose these books given related themes.) Well, it turns out that Ray Bradbury “helped design the geodesic sphere and pen the original story of the attraction.” At a minimum, this ride gave her food for thought regarding the role of written history and communication, and perhaps some fodder for the written assignment.

Behind the Seeds at Epcot

Although billed as being appropriate for all ages, I wasn’t sure if my kids would enjoy the Behind the Seeds at Epcot walking tour of the greenhouses at the Living with the Landattraction. There was no denying that this was an educational program. However, the agricultural facilities are so incredibly high tech, that even my hard-to-impress children were amazed. Even so, I think that the reason this program was so appealing was that there were multiple stops with hands on activities.

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The tour guide, a recent graduate of a UVA botanical science program, first took us to the Biological Control Lab where she introduced the small group to beneficial pests. Some of the participants received bottles filled with lady bugs that they would later release among the crops. Along the way, we goggled at the hydroponics fields where they’re growing a wide variety of vegetables, much of which is served at resort restaurants.

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The tour guide handed out instructions for The Land Hydroponic Gro-Tank so that we could try this at home.  I think we may add this project to our Homeschool Biology curriculum this year. My son will learn a little about plant biology, and we can reap the benefits with homegrown herbs in the winter.

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We didn’t just see the produce, we tasted it as well as each participant received a slice of burpless cucumber.  They were sweet, but my daughter preferred to use hers for an on-the-spot facial.

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Those Disney folks like to exceed expectations.  It wasn’t enough to just grow incredibly delicious cucumbers.  No, they had to do something truly unusual.  Get a load of the Mickey Mouse-shaped cucumbers:

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I didn’t see one, but apparently, they also have Mickey Mouse-shaped pumpkins! Go figure.

There was more to the tour.  We saw the tanks where they “farm” alligators and many different kinds of fish, and we even fed the Tilapia. That was interesting, but not as cool as the hydroponics.

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The whole tour only took an hour. We discovered a new (to us) way to grow tasty produce, and we still had plenty of time to play in the park. Definitely, a win/win!

More Disney World Education Programs in Florida:

The Epcot tour and rides just begin to skim the surface of all the fun and educational things to do at Disney theme parks. To learn more, visit Disney Youth Programs.


And to book Epcot Behind the Seeds and other exciting tours, go to Tours and Experiences at Disney World. 

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| Sandra Foyt is a storyteller, photographer, and road trip junkie. A veteran of six cross-country road trips, she drove Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, the fossil freeway, the extraterrestrial highway, and even “the loneliest road in America.” Find her on GetawayMavens.com, an award-winning destination guide to extraordinary travel in and from Northeast USA, on her portfolio site at SandraFoyt.com, and in freelance gigs on Family Travel 411, Minitime, Huffington Post, and Matador Network. Email: sandrafoyt@albanykid.com, Twitter @SandraFoyt.

Steve January 22, 2012 at 5:38 pm

My kids really enjoyed Spaceship Earth as well, although I suspect a good share of that was the fact that they were sitting down and not in the blazing sun anymore. It was a little long, but they really seemed to like the interactive dash on the ride car.
Behind the Seeds looks pretty interesting, but I have to ask…What is burpless cucumber?

Jessica January 22, 2012 at 11:58 pm

I will always remember Spaceship Earth fondly because the peaceful soundtrack inspired me to write an essay for which I won a scholarship in college. 🙂 Good ride, to when it is hot.

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