This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on any of the links below, I may get a commission if you make a purchase at absolutely no additional charge to you. This helps offset the costs of running this blog & I appreciate your support. Please see my privacy & disclosure policy for more.
For a homeschooler or for traveling families on a Disney World vacation, every day is an opportunity to learn. What many people don’t realize about the Disney parks is that they have always been learning experiences.
Since the first park was “dedicated to the ideals, dreams, and hard facts that have created America” Disney Imagineers have constructed multiple theme parks dedicated to our history, our future, and our imaginations. In short, everything you learn about in school.
If you think of Disney as simply reimagined fairy tales mixed with popcorn and churros, you miss the whole point! The second Walt Disney World theme park is the most enriching teaching experience for vacationing homeschoolers on an EPCOT field trip.
The Four Realms of EPCOT
EPCOT, as we know it today, is in the midst of a massive transition. The park consists of two hemispheres that Disney is in the process of transforming into four distinct yet unified realms.
Of these four new themed areas, three are dedicated to learning while the fourth focuses on a celebration (Festivals). The new areas are simply different ways of viewing the old EPCOT you may be familiar with.
It puts each one within a framework that lets them more seamlessly contribute to the entire park’s theme of world unity. In short, they make a more cohesive EPCOT field trip day. These three areas showcase Discovery and Nature as well as various world cultures.
The eastern end of Future World has been home to the greatest number of pavilions. Not only does the east side outnumber the west 4 to 3, but it has seen the most replacements. On the horizon are two new attractions, a roller coaster themed to Guardians of the Galaxy, and a pavilion dedicated to Play.
While both of these seem open-ended at best in terms of learning experiences, Mission Space and Test Track make well-established examples of fusing attraction thrills with education. They capture the excitement of scientific discovery.
The longest-standing EPCOT attractions may seem the most dated, but they are the most enriching of all the Future World experiences. This west side of The north end of the park features pavilions dedicated to the land and seas.
Their inner workings have seen changes over the years with updates and sponsorships, but the heart of these experiences remains very much the same. Here you will be able to dive into marine biology and agriculture in ways that are uniquely Disney.
While Future World holds many secrets for homeschoolers on an EPCOT field trip to discover, The World Showcase is the best-known example of how Education fuses with family entertainment.
Each pavilion showcases a country with a hands-on, interactive environment. These 11 1/2 pockets that surround the World Showcase Lagoon highlight customs, cuisine, and distinct architectural or geographical elements for each world culture.
Science and Exploration
Right now, if you visit EPCOT hoping to teach your kids something, or reinforce lessons in science the World Discover section to the left of the main entrance holds two powerfully motivating and excitement-driven learning experiences.
Mission Space is a very thrilling attraction that may be too intense even for those old enough to ride. However, as we enter into a new age of space exploration with companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic and a burgeoning American Space Force, it couldn’t be more timely.
Normally, there are interactive experiences within the pavilion outside of the realistic space flight simulator. If you find this area closed due to COVID you can still learn from the plaques that reveal a timeline of momentous historical events in Space Travel.
Test Track is the most overlooked and undervalued learning experience. This engineering-themed ride gets overshadowed by the thrill of its top speed of 65 mph, which is really fast by Disney standards.
What people miss is that the ride is all about designing your own car with the desired outcome in mind. You can shoot for fuel efficiency, power, speed, etc.
The ride then uses MagicBand technology to run your program through the simulator and rate your vehicle’s prowess. How cool is that? Again, there are more opportunities for interactive exploration with your car design that may be temporarily unavailable.
The Land and Seas
If exploring nature is your goal, next to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, there is no better place than Future World West. While the other theme park emphasizes animals and their natural habitats, EPCOT uniquely focuses on plant and oceanic life.
There is no overlap between the two, so if you want to make a day of it, you might plan on park hopping from Disney’s Animal Kingdom to EPCOT just to finish the day at The Seas with Nemo and Friends and the Land Pavilion.
The Seas with Nemo and Friends uses Finding Nemo as a way to immerse (sorry) children in the seabase-themed environment where they can learn about reefs and various forms of aquatic life.
This pavilion also offers tours that include diving experiences with the sea turtles, sharks, and other animals in the enormous 5.7 million gallon fish tank.
The Land features Soarin’ which takes guests around the globe in an exhilarating flight simulation, but the best learning experience is the boat ride Living with the Land.
This slow-moving ride highlights the world’s ecosystems and introduces guests to unusual farming practices that use technology to farm more sustainably.
The real functioning greenhouses you see on the ride grow food used all around the resort, including the restaurants within the pavilion. For a better education on how the Greenhouses operate, take the relatively low-priced Behind the Seeds tour.
Culture and Communication
World Showcase is a cultural hotspot. For social studies enthusiasts The international section of EPCOT is the place to be. Each pavilion highlights the architecture, cuisine, and other cultural elements that you can expand on with future homework.
11 different countries showcase their finest features including plenty of historical details that make great research projects. Take lots of pictures and notes on what you see for some extra digging on the internet. One of the most underrated elements of the World showcase is the art galleries.
You will find these in Mexico, Norway, China, the United States of America, Japan, and Morocco. There are also educational shows in China, the United States of America, France, and Canada. In addition, Mexico has a ride-through experience that gives a glimpse of the many sites and customs they hold there.
At the heart of EPCOT is Spaceship Earth. This ride-through dark ride provides an excellent timeline of communication from the earliest cave drawings to the World Wide Web.
This attraction is marked for closure in the not-too-distant future to make drastic changes. There is no telling how the new experience will be different. Try not to miss it in its current state before it’s changed forever.
I hope that this article helps you as you plan your trip to EPCOT. We have been there several times and still enjoy it each time.