Critics may laugh at the notion that a trip to Disney is educational, but it’s not as farfetched as it sounds.
Between the rides, the shows, and the Dole Whips, there are several life skills that can sink in while visiting “The World”. For example you can learn…
#1 How to Draw
At the heart of Disney is animation. (Remember, “It all started with a Mouse.”) It only makes sense that as a guest you should be able to pick up a few art lessons while visiting.
Currently, Disney animators offer 25-minute classes in drawing characters at The Animation Experience attraction, which is located in Rafiki’s Planet Watch at the Animal Kingdom. These lessons break down the process step by step. You’ll start with two lines and a circle and at the end have something that looks pretty good.
#2 Table Etiquette
What better place to test your child’s table manners than in a place where mistakes are always forgiven? Cast members treat younger guests like equal members of the party. They are gifted at making kids feel comfortable enough to order on their own, and I always appreciate how patient they are when it takes a child five minutes to decide between chicken fingers or mac and cheese.
Disney employees have seen it all, so they are never phased by the clatter of a dropped fork or food flying to the floor during a child’s attempt to properly cut their meat. Take your kiddos to the 50’s Prime Time Café and they’ll get an extra dose of table manners from the 1950s. It’s priceless.
#3 Mapping Reading
Sneak in a lesson in map reading while waiting in line for the next showing of Festival of the Lion King (scheduled to reopen this summer). Maps are available at the front of each park. They are basic, but they do contain 4 of the 5 basic map elements; a title, a legend, a compass rose, and scale.
If you’ve been to Disney a few times, challenge your family to find a new route to your destination. Maps are also fun (and FREE) souvenirs.
#4 Money Management
Vacations are the best places to teach basic money management. Just load a Disney Gift Card with an amount your child can spend. After each purchase, their receipt will show how much is left on the card.
Bonus Lesson: Older kids can learn to calculate sales tax. (But here’s a Not-So-Fun Fact. Disney property stretches over two Florida counties. Most of the park is in Orange County, so the combined state and county sales tax is 6.5%. But if you are in a section of Walt Disney World that is in Osceola County—mainly the All-Star Resorts and some of Animal Kingdom—the combined tax is 7.5%.)
Waiting in line to eat, ride an attraction, see a show, or meet a character teaches kids a lot about patience. Yes, you’ll see kid meltdowns all around Disney, but those are usually due to hunger or tiredness.
The truth is this. The majority of kids visiting Disney are very patient human beings. The next time you are in a big line, look around. Hundreds of kids of all ages are patiently waiting their turn. Some are excitedly asking questions. Some are playing games like I-Spy or Heads Up. And yes, some are on a phone, but you know I’m okay with that. It’s a lot to ask a 4-year-old to wait 75 minutes to ride Peter Pan.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what kids (and grownups) can learn at Disney. The World Showcase is the perfect place to learn about different cultures, languages, and food. Disney park movies, like Awesome Planet (EPCOT), use stunning visuals to share information. For teens and adults, a lot can be learned on a behind-the-scenes tour.
With all its friendly visitors and cast members, Disney has given my kiddos the chance to broaden their social skills. It’s a safe space to be curious and to be different. They can’t help but ask questions. Not once have they met with unfriendly responses, even from total strangers.
Disney seems to be a place that attracts not only people who love to learn, but people who love to teach.
So yes, you can learn a lot at Disney. It’s almost impossible to avoid.
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