I’ll be the first to admit that there isn’t a lot of educational learning to be had at a place like Walt Disney World’s the Magic Kingdom. There are rides and well, there are rides (along with scores of places to shop and eat at along with entertainment pursuits like character greetings and shows). Is it fun? Of course it is. Is it educational? Not really…But that’s not the reason you go to a place like the Magic Kingdom now is it?
However, for all the Disney haters out there who decry everything about “the Mouse,” but most notably the fact that Walt Disney World offers children nothing in the form of “learning,” clearly they’ve not been to the World Showcase which is located in Epcot.
The World Showcase is a large area that is reminiscent of the famous event of times past, the world’s fair. It contains eleven pavilions, each themed and dedicated to represent a specific country which include Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom, and Canada.
Many people in the travel industry (writers and bloggers mainly) push parents to resist the urge to take their children to a place like Disney World and instead expose them to the history and culture of Europe, the wildlife in Africa, or the Great Wall of China. Yes, Disney World is ridiculously expensive when you add up all the costs associated with a trip there (airfare, lodgings, food, tickets). But I’m pretty sure that for many families, international airfare for a family of four to South Africa or China or even France in the height of the summer vacation isn’t in the financial planning cards either.
But keep in mind all of the unique things parents can expose their children to when visiting the World Showcase:
Practice speaking in another language
All of the staff at each of the eleven pavilions is from the country they are representing. As someone who has been studying languages for over a decade, I can tell you that speaking with a native is the best form of practice. For me, I always loved visiting the Mexico pavilion so I could practice my Spanish with the workers there.
Even if you or your child doesn’t know any words in another language, just talk with the staff at the pavilions (ask them what their home country is like, what foods are popular where they come from, what are the differences between a place like Florida and their home). Instead of having to go to a source like Encyclopedia Britannica to find out information, you have primary sources right in front of you! And one of the things that Disney does best is train its staff to be the best in customer service. You will always find the workers with a smile on their face and always willing to have a chat with the guests.
Try new foods
What I love most about the World Showcase are the incredible culinary options. Each of the 11 pavilions has a table service restaurant, along with counter service eateries including unique items like France’s L’Artisan des Glaces. Maybe your child has eaten Italian and Mexican food before, but I’m going to venture that most children have never eaten Norwegian or Moroccan food.
See a country come alive
France, China, and Canada all offer stunning films that showcase the natural beauty and popular sights of each of these countries. They’re all around 20 minutes in length and even if your little ones are not that impressed, it’s a nice way to rest and if you’re visiting during a Florida summer, a way to escape the heat and humidity.
A visit to the World Showcase may instill a desire to travel
As a child I visited Disney World fairly regularly with my family and once I entered the early teenage years, the World Showcase became my favorite spot to visit. Around this time, I was dying to travel somewhere internationally and while I would have that opportunity once I turned 16, the 11 pavilions of the World Showcase were a worthy substitute in the meantime. Seeing the replicas of famous buildings like the Eiffel Tower, St. Mark’s Square in Venice and the torii gate in the Japan pavilion definitely made me want to visit all of those famous sites one day.
When people hear the words Disney World, many people envision nothing more than large amounts of money being spent, long lines, and adults dressed in costumes. It is that but truly at Epcot’s World Showcase, it’s so much more. If you want to make your child a citizen of the world, a truly worthwhile visit to the World Showcase is a good place to start!