Animal Kingdom Lodge Lobby

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is full of things to explore and learn. We bring you bite-size pieces of all the Lodge has to offer, such as the beautiful artwork found in the lobby. Animal Kingdom Lodge is home to one of the largest collections of African art in the country. You’ll find it all over the resort, but in this article, we focus on the lobby.

IMG_4775There are display cases behind every sofa showing artworks of different materials, like wood, beads, metal, or clay. You’ll spot sculptures of humans and animals, as well as pieces used for adornment during special ceremonies. All are handmade, and they come from many different African cultures. Even the chandeliers that hang high above in the lobby are made from authentic shields and spears.

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One of the most impressive pieces in the lobby collection is the towering Ijele mask. This massive piece is worn by a single dancer during traditional ceremonies of the Igbo people in Nigeria. You can read more about how it is created, who gets to wear it, and what it represents.

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Be sure to ask the lobby concierge for information on the African art collection. The front desk can usually supply a small booklet explaining more about the pieces.

FL Sunshine State Visual Arts Standards:
VA.K.H.1.1, VA.K.H.2.1, VA.K.H.2.2, VA.1.H.1.1, VA.1.H.2.2, VA.1.H.2.3, VA.2.H.1.1, VA.2.H.2.2, VA.3.H.1.1, VA.3.H.2.2, VA.4.H.1.3, VA.5.H.2.1, VA.68.H.1.3

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Once Upon a Toy

This fun store at Downtown Disney’s Marketplace is a dream stop for any kid. There are tons of toys to browse and play with, and several themed rooms to delight the senses. But it’s also worth noting that some of the offerings here are, in fact, good educational choices.

IMG_4261For preschoolers and little ones, there is a great selection of learning toys, such as shape sorters, puzzle blocks, and alphabet toys. There is plenty to keep little hands busy and help build fine motor skills.

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For older kids, there’s an array of puzzles and word games like Scrabble. Why not add a little Disney flair to your learning games?

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Spaceship Earth

This is one attraction you simply cannot miss. Literally. Spaceship Earth is the giant, 180 foot tall geosphere that is so iconic to Epcot. (Did you know that science fiction author Ray Bradbury helped design it?) The attraction inside it is a slow-moving ride through the evolution of communication and technology, from the dawn of civilization to our modern age.

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Dame Judi Dench narrates as you pass by scenes depicting ancient Egyptians pounding papyrus for paper, Romans spreading information by their system of roads, and monks copying religious and secular texts in the Dark Ages. We learn that communication and learning really took off with the invention of the printing press. You’ll see just how quickly humankind raced toward the 20th century with all the new technologies: telephones, film, radio, television, computers.

IMG_4752As you “return to Earth,” you get the chance to explore what technologies might await us in the future. Using a touchscreen in your ride vehicle, you can answer a few questions about your preferences in different areas, such as home, leisure, health, or work. And then, with a bit of Disney magic, you can see exactly what your future might look like!

IMG_4763Spaceship Earth is great for all ages. It’s a classic, and it does provide a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the park. It is dark inside, so that could be a consideration for younger children. However, this is one attraction that really embodies the spirit of Epcot.

FL Sunshine State Social Studies Standards:
SS.1.A.2.1, SS.1.A.2.2, SS.5.A.6.3, SS.6.W.2.5, SS.6.W.3.1, SS.6.W.3.14, SS.6.W.3.5, SS.912.W.4.3

The Firehouse

When you step onto Main Street U.S.A., you’re transported to a different time and place. The music in the air and the architecture around you signal that you’ve entered turn-of-the-20th-century, small town America. Look to your left, past City Hall, and you’ll see the quaint Firehouse. This home of Engine Company 71 (named for the year Magic Kingdom opened) has a lot of history inside.

IMG_4715The Firehouse has gone through a few changes over the years, and now it is a headquarters for the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom interactive game. But it hasn’t lost its original charm as an early 1900s firehouse. The walls are covered with photos and props that reflect those early firemen that might have called this place home. And at the back of the Firehouse are the stables for the horses that would have pulled their fire wagon.

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Perhaps most interesting are the glass cases that display hundreds of real patches donated by city and county fire departments from all over the United States. These patches serve as a memorial to the brave men and women who put their lives in danger to make sure others stay safe.

IMG_4713Next time you visit, stop inside the Firehouse to glimpse at history and maybe find your hometown fire department’s patch.

 

FL Sunshine State Social Studies Standards:
SS.1.A.2.1, SS.1.A.2.2, SS.1.A.2.4

Raglan Road

You don’t often expect to find learning opportunities in a gift shop. But if you look carefully, you just might. We’ve featured gift shops several times as part of our Bookstore Series, but this location is a unique find that goes beyond interesting reads.

IMG_4244The Shop for Ireland is just inside Ragland Road Irish Pub. The food is a terrific reason to visit, but pop into this gift shop and see just how Irish proud this place is. You can also learn a lot about Irish history and culture as you peruse the shelves and displays. You can search for your own family history or crest, and find out what your last name means. Maybe you’ll find you have some Irish heritage in ye.

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There is also a display of notecards and drawings featuring Gaelic phrases with English translations. You can use these to teach yourself a few basic words. There are plenty of books and knick-knacks to round out the collection. See what you can learn about Irish culture, new and old.

Native American Art

One of the wonderful things about visiting a Walt Disney World Resort hotel is exploring the visual art and architecture there. The Wilderness Lodge really captures the feeling of being in the Pacific Northwest with its towering timbers and totem poles inside and its relaxing brooks and trails outside.

If you want to explore Native American art and artifacts, you’ve come to the right place. Choose any floor of the Lodge, and you’ll find recreations, artworks, and crafts inspired by 18th and 19th century Indian tribes and the artists who painted them.

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The lobby has a great collection of headdresses, moccasins, and other accessories. Many of the upper floors display paintings and prints inspired by the works of Charles Bird King, who painted many portraits of significant American Indian leaders during the early 1800s.

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Looking at these works, you can get a real sense of the pride those early people felt for their tribes and their land. See how many works of art you can spot during your next visit.

FL Sunshine State Social Studies Standards:
SS.1.A.2.2, SS.2.A.2.2, SS.5.A.2.2
FL Sunshine State Visual Arts Standards:
VA.K.H.1.1, VA.K.H.2.3, VA.1.H.1.1, VA.1.H.2.3, VA.1.H.3.1, VA.2.H.1.1, VA.2.H.2.2, VA.3.H.2.1, VA.4.H.1.1, VA.4.H.1.3, VA.5.H.1.1

DinoLand Animal Viewing

There are lots of animal viewing areas in Animal Kingdom park. And some are better marked than others on the guide maps. There are a few hidden gems in DinoLand U.S.A.

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If you make your way toward Restaurantosaurus, look around the small island of greenery you’ll pass. The guide maps do show that this area has an American Crocodile, and it’s pretty spectacular to see up close. But keep going! You may also spot an Asian Brown Tortoise or some large Abdim Storks.

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Placards will teach you all about where each animal comes from, their diet and habits, and what makes them special to our planet. Keep your eyes peeled for even more interesting animals throughout the park.

FL Sunshine State Science Standards:
SC.K.L.14.3, SC.1.L.17.1, SC.2.L.17.1, SC.2.L.17.2, SC.5.L.17.1