Teaching Small children about Countries of the World is as easy as a trip to EPCOT

By: Scott Ames


EPCOT is short for “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow” and as Walt Disney had envisioned was supposed to be an actual city where people lived and worked. It didn’t turn out that way. Walt died in 1966 and the vision changed a bit. No longer was a city planned, but a theme park was put on the drawing board.

While the entrance to EPCOT called “Future Word” has many wonderful rides such as Test Track, Mission Space, and Spaceship Earth, the truly educational part of EPCOT is what is known as “World Showcase”. Here you can find a lake rimmed with various pavilions each themed as a different country.

Your kids will want to stay in Future World and enjoy the rides. Most kids think World Showcase is boring. It has very few rides but is full of culture. You’re going to have to be inventive to keep the little ones interested. Bribe them with candy, promise you’ll go on Mission Space, or make a game out of learning words from each language. However you do it, make sure they partake of the rich learning experience.

When you enter World Showcase from Future World it just seems natural to turn right and walk all the way around the lake in that direction. At least that’s what I do 90% of the time.

The first country you’ll come to is Canada. In Canada you see a large building known as “Hotel du Canada”. Canada has a wonderful show called “O’ Canada” which is a 17-minute Circle Vision 360 film showing the culture of Canada.

Each country you visit has shops and these shops have authentic goods imported from that country. It’s over the top that these shops are staffed with people from the country. These are usually students who have come to Disney World to work for a bit of time and see our culture. It’s amusing to me that we are watching them, but they are watching us as well and learning how Americans behave. I hope that’s a good thing.

Your next country is the United Kingdom with its shops and pub. You can get real fish n’ chips here.

On to France with its replica Eiffel Tower. In France you’ll find French restaurants, shops and if you are lucky, mimes teasing guests with their show. Make sure you see “Impressions de France” another fantastic moving film.

Just right next door to France is Morocco and its shops. You feel like you’ve transported back in time.
Now we go to the Orient, Japan and a large shop with wonderful goodies from the orient. The Bijutsu-kan Gallery there always has interesting displays in its changing exhibit.

After Japan we are suddenly back in America at the American pavilion. Here you can watch an animated show with Mark Twain and Ben Franklin. I almost forgot the most import part. Between Japan and America is a little stand selling funnel cakes. Oh the kids will love them.

Now to Italy. The music, the shops and chocolate, all tease your senses. Italy is relaxing and wonderful.

Each of the World Showcase countries has a special "KIDCOT" area that provides an opportunity for your child to interact with a native of the country you are visiting. Make sure you take advantage of that.

Now we travel away from Italy and on to Germany in just a few steps. In Germany you’ll find Hummel and Goebel collectables as well as German steins and cuckoo clocks. If you like German food, this is the place to stop and eat. The Biergarten is a German style buffet with entertainment and good times. You’ll eat German style which means you sit with other people at the same table.

China is next and not to be missed is “Reflections of China” another 360 degree movie. The shops at China are fun too.

Tired yet? Just a few more countries to go. Norway is next on the tour. Here your kids will love one of the best rides in EPCOT. “The Maelstrom” is a boat ride through the history of Norway. After you’ll be treated to a film about Norway. The shops of Norway are full of trolls. Big Trolls and small Trolls can be purchased. Your kids will like this country.

The last country we come to is Mexico. Featured is an Aztec Temple of Quetzalcoatl and inside you’ll find a wonderful Mexican restaurant, shops, and another boat ride. This time the ride takes you through Mexico’s culture. I doubt you can stop from smiling as you ride trough.

EPCOT can be a rich experience for your children and as you leave World Showcase there is one more learning adventure to be had that is fun for you and for the children. Soarin is a film/ride that makes you fly over California’s changing landscape. You feel, you hear, you see, and yes, you smell California. This is not to be missed.

Enjoy teaching your children about the world. It’s only a trip to EPCOT away.

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Scott Ames owns a vacation home near Walt Disney World and has been going to Disney Theme parks since 1971. His vacation home is for rent by the week and more information can be found at: www.orlandogatherings.com

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