As a blogger, I may be compensated in some way (either pay, product, or experience) for sharing the post below All opinions are my own. ~Heidi
Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Green. Enjoy the ride as we share how you can have fun and learn while you are at the Disney Parks This month, we are sharing about the Educational Aspects of Disney (and why it’s ok to take the kids out of school to go!)
I’m a homeschool mom and we’ve been homeschooling since my oldest daughter Ashley was in kindergarten. She graduated from our homeschool two years ago – and, in fact, she and I are planning a trip to Disney in a few weeks to celebrate her 21st birthday! Where has the time gone?! In any case, one of the great things about homeschooling is that we have the freedom to travel during times of the year when most families tend to stay home because their kids are in school. Crowds and prices both tend to be lower during these times, so it’s a great time to visit Walt Disney World.
I’ve often told friends to go ahead and take the kids out school because Disney is a very educational vacation! I know for a fact that my kids learn (and retain) more when we’re vacationing than they ever do from reading a textbook. In fact, my daughter Ashley will be sharing later in the loop about some of her favorite educational aspects of Disney, having experienced them as a homeschool student!
Did you know that Disney actually CATERS to homeschoolers? They do! They have some fabulous programs in place for them! My friend Penny from Our Crazy Adventures in Autismland was recently invited to be a guest on Disney property for a few days and experience these programs up close and personal, so I’ve asked her to share about that with you . . .
Today we get to talk about the amazing Youth Education Series at Walt Disney World. I was blessed recently to have been invited to partake of a few of them by Disney Public Relations. Not only are the classes extremely educational but the staff is well trained and delightful. Disneyland has a similar program, but I have not witnessed those first hand. I’m sure that, as with all things Disney, they are just as great as the Walt Disney World ones. The Exploring the Golden State class looks like a phenomenal way to study state history if you happen to be a Californian. It would be a great educational activity even if you were on vacation.
Walt Disney World has classes in all parks. I took part in the Discovering the American Spirit, Backstage at La Nouba, Energy and Wave Physics 101 (which involves the Haunted Mansion), Sustainable Practices in Wildlife Conservation, and Disney Leadership Strategies.
Each class is geared toward middle elementary and up. Some are more for the older kids (like the leadership one) but all are doable in that age range. There are some across the board observations that I was able to make :
- The classes are very hands on and participatory. The teachers wait for the children to make discoveries on their own and guide them in that direction. No one is forced to participate but are highly encouraged to do so.
- No textbooks or other books are used to show anything . It’s all experiments and showing how things work or behind the scenes to give kids a different perspective or understanding of key principles.
- The teachers are well trained and truly love their work. How could you not love teaching at Walt Disney World?
- The classes revolve around attractions in the parks. The kids get to learn all about it then ride the actual ride. Some even let them go behind the scenes (like the Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain classes).
- They are special needs friendly. This is important for us in Autismland. You can stay with your child if necessary, put them in a different age group (think developmental age vs. chronological age here), or leave them knowing that the teachers all have experience with special needs and are highly trained.
- Your child can take the class but not ride the attraction if necessary. This sounds crazy , I know. In our case, my child with autism is interested in how Space Mountain or Splash Mountain works but will absolutely not ride them. The teacher will stay with the child who doesn’t want to ride at the exit to wait for the others. No one is forced to ride but they are not left unattended either.
The classes are 3 hours long. Long enough to be fun but not so long that the child gets bored or weary. After the class, you are free to explore whatever park you are in for the rest of the day . Therein lies the only problem I have with these classes. Here in Florida, you are required to buy a one day ticket in addition to the class. This makes the class less than affordable for people who already have tickets like annual pass holders or guests with a vacation package. In California, you can buy just the class. I’m not sure if Disney is aware of how many more people would take these classes if they didn’t need to purchase a ticket as well. When I asked about it, the answer was always “it’s not cost effective. We offer discount tickets with the class so it doesn’t make it financially feasible to just offer the classes.” I sure wish they would reconsider that because these classes are beyond amazing.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my experiences with the Youth in Education series at Walt Disney World. This month over on my blog, Our Crazy Adventures in Autismland. I am doing a series on Homeschooling Using the Disney Parks.
What is your favorite educational activity at Walt Disney World?
Thank you for joining me (and Penny) today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is My Dreams of Disney.
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:
1st Stop ~ Heidi’s Head – Disney for Homeschoolers
(you are here!)
2nd Stop ~ My Dreams of Disney – Education at Liberty Square
3rd Stop ~ For the Love of Disney – Discover the Animal Kingdom as a Wilderness Explorer
Final Stop ~ Ashley Aspires – Educational Attractions at Disney World