If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World with your family, you know that you’ve got tons of amazing rides, character experiences, and themed attractions in store. If you’re a homeschool family, you’ve got even more to look forward to on your trip.
There’s a lot to see at each of the parks, but there are also lots of opportunities for learning fun. That’s why I’m sharing my ten must-dos for homeschooling at EPCOT with you today.
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The best part is that you don’t have to hijack your Disney vacation and turn it into a bonafide field trip to experience them. EPCOT is full of hands-on learning fun for all ages and none of it looks like your standard homeschool field trip.
Here are 10 ideas to help you make the most of those learning opportunities while visiting EPCOT:
Homeschooling at EPCOT:
Future World Ideas
1. Spaceship Earth
Don’t let this EPCOT landmark fool you! It may look like a cool backdrop for photos, but there’s more to it than that. This slow ride allows you to travel back in time and witness significant advances in communication through the years. Regardless of what you’re studying in history, it probably won’t be too hard to find something on this ride that reinforces a recent homeschool history lesson.
When the ride is over, be sure to explore the interactive games and displays before exiting. They allow guests to explore the future of energy management, medicine, and transportation. Between the ride and the post-show, learning with Spaceship Earth happens by default.
Innoventions is another fun spot to enjoy if you’re homeschooling at EPCOT. In a nutshell, it’s a small children’s museum tucked away in Future World (and a nice place to take a break from the Florida heat).
If you don’t have time to do all of the Innoventions exhibits, be sure to check out The Power of Color. It starts with an overview of the psychology of color, moves on to digital color mixing, and finishes with a chance to paint a digital mural with fiber optic brushes. This quick and colorful stop is a lot of fun, but is also a great chance to work some STEAM learning into your day.
3. Living with the Land
I think I took a hundred pictures the first time I experienced Living with the Land. This slow ride is one of my favorites for homeschooling at EPCOT because of its agricultural science focus. It spotlights specific biomes and the impact of weather and human life on those biomes, and then takes riders through a fascinating greenhouse tour to show how scientists are looking for new ways to approach agriculture.
I get it. A greenhouse tour may not sound like an exciting way to spend your time at EPCOT, but there’s lots of interesting stuff to see. Between the Mickey-shaped fruits or veggies, the hydroponics, vertical growing methods, and aquaculture, you’ll see why it’s a great learning opportunity for a homeschooling family.
4. Journey Into Imagination with Figment
The Journey Into Imagination ride is a must-do for homeschool families for a couple of reasons. One is that the ride itself takes a playful look at the connection between imagination and the five senses. It’s definitely kid-friendly and one that your kids will likely ask to do more than once (mine always do!).
When this imagination-themed ride is finished, your kiddos will get to use their imaginations in the What If? Labs. The lab contains several interactive musical and creative exhibits that your kids are sure to love.
5. The Seas with Nemo & Friends
If you’re already familiar with Finding Nemo, you may be tempted to skip this one. However, The Seas with Nemo & Friends is much more than a shortened version of the movie.
This ride empties into an aquarium with some incredible sea life, including sharks, jellyfish, and a pair of rescued manatees.
6. Test Track
I didn’t expect to find much educational value at Test Track, but I was wrong! This ride starts in a design studio where riders design their own cars by customizing appearance, capability, efficiency, power, and responsiveness.
After that, riders get to test their car designs on the track and compare results. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also a STEM experience you don’t want to miss while you’re enjoying the park.
Homeschooling at EPCOT:
Future World has tons of learning opportunities, but the World Showcase is definitely a must-do if you’re homeschooling at EPCOT. It features architecture, streetscapes, shops, restaurants, and landscaping representing 11 countries: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom, and Canada.
Just walking through the World Showcase makes for a great day of funschooling, but there are several ways to make the most of this trip around the world. Here are my favorites:
1. Visit the Kidcot Stations
Visiting the Kidcot stations in each of the countries is a must-do for homeschoolers. You can find fans at each station and have cast members stamp them or write special messages on them. The best part is that these fans make a cool souvenirs and give kids a chance to learn more about these countries and their traditional greetings.
We love the Kidcot fans, but a passport is another great way to learn while exploring the World Showcase at EPCOT. You can purchase them in the shops at the park or buy them online before your trip, like we did.
We bought this Passport to the World for our trip and found there’s a bit more to it than the ones found in the park. It contains spots for the stamps and messages from cast members, but also includes information about the countries and the pavilions. While I did notice that Germany’s flag is wrong inside the book, it’s a nearly perfect book to help with homeschooling around the World Showcase.
2. Eat Around the World
This one probably goes without saying, but it would be a shame to be homeschooling at EPCOT without sampling the food at the World Showcase. I mean, it’s not every day that you can choose between fish and chips, Brie aux Pommes, Lamb Shawarma, Nudel Gratin, and countless other international menu options in one location, right?
I know that eating meals at a park like this can be expensive, but even snacking around the showcase can go a long way in introducing your kids to foods enjoyed by different cultures. That said, you may even find that snacking around the world is more affordable than purchasing hard-to-find ingredients and trying to duplicate international recipes at home.
3. Shows, Films, & Pavilions
There’s no shortage of shops and restaurants throughout the World Showcase, but the learning opportunities in each of these countries don’t stop there. Each of the 11 pavilions is full of architectural details found in the represented countries.
These pavilions also have several shows and movies that happen throughout the day. Check your Disney World app for show times and locations so that you don’t miss these chances to learn about the countries and their cultures as you work your way around the showcase.
In addition to the shows and streetscapes, the showcase also features several galleries and museums that are great for homeschooling at EPCOT. For example, you can learn how Norway’s culture inspired Frozen in the Stave Church Gallery, spot Pikachu or Hello Kitty while exploring Japan’s Kawaii culture in the Bitjutsu-kan Gallery, or see stunning Moroccan jewelry and crafts at the Gallery of Arts and History.
4. Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure
My family loves Disney’s Phineas and Ferb, so we were thrilled when we found the kiosk for Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure on our first trip to EPCOT. This interactive adventure allows you to explore the World Showcase while using your smartphone to work with Carl and Major Monogram to keep Dr. Doofenshmirtz from successfully pulling off one of his usual plots.
Worth noting, these fun missions can take a while. Since they help you explore a World Showcase country to its fullest, it may be difficult to pull off more than two or three missions if you’ve got FastPasses, dinner reservations, or some other commitment.
Even so, do your best to squeeze in one or two so that you can take advantage of this unique learning opportunity. After all, if you can work Dr. Doofenshmirtz into your funschooling, you absolutely should. 😉
What about you? Do you have a list of must-dos to help you make the most of all those learning opportunities at EPCOT? If so, leave a comment and let me know!
Lastly, if you enjoyed this post, you’ll also want to take a look at these:
- Walt Disney Unit Study
- Homeschool Disney (It’s my go-to spot for all the Disneyschooling fun!)
- 8 (Nearly) Screen-Free Ways to Occupy Kids While Traveling
- Filmmaking with the Force: George Lucas Unit Study