Roaring Fork

We love finding unexpected places to learn something new, and sometimes dining locations provide just that. Roaring Fork at the Wilderness Lodge is a snack bar with plenty of history to show off. Every wall in the seating area is adorned with fishing gear and photos from a by-gone era. Incidentally, the Roaring Fork in question refers to a fork in a river, not a dining utensil. But it’s a nice play on words, don’t you think?

Spend some time perusing the frames and you’ll see what a fishing excursion was like in the early 1930s and 1940s. See the types of rods and flies and other equipment that were popular then. And get a load of what those sport fishermen wore! There aren’t many labels, but look closely. The fish artwork identifies species of fish found in the Pacific Northwest, and some of the photos are marked with place names and dates, or brief descriptions. It’s a fun trip down history lane.


FL Social Studies Standards: [using sources] SS.2.A.1.1, SS.3.A.1.1, SS.5.A.1.1, SS.8.A.1.2; [historical knowledge] SS.1.A.2.1, SS.1.A.2.2

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The BOATHOUSE

As part of the first wave of Disney Springs expansion, this unique restaurant has been drawing more attention, not only for its great food and drinks but also for its atmosphere. The BOATHOUSE offers some spectacular water views and something quite different from the average seafood joint – a floating museum.

Step through the doors, past the raw bar, and outside onto the boardwalk to find the docks lined with vintage boats. Each one is accompanied by information explaining what year it was built, who built it, and what its special features are. You’ll see boats styled like everything from spacecraft to motorcars. And don’t miss the replica 19th-century steamboat – properly furnished to match any Victorian sitting room, of course. The boat museum offers a glimpse into the history of maritime design and how “California Crazy” personal watercraft could get!

While you take in the views and learn about some of these fun, sea-faring vessels, you can also brush up on your Maritime Signal Flags. Two masts, one in front of the restaurant and one on the docks, illustrate the alphabet in signal flags and invite you decode the flags flying overhead. It’s certainly a lovely place to learn something new.


FL Social Studies Standards: [historical knowledge] SS.1.A.2.1, SS.1.A.2.2, SS.8.A.1.7
FL Visual Art Standards: [historical trends] VA.912.H.2.1; [architecture/design] VA.912.C.2.8
P21 Skills: Creativity and Innovation

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

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.

Bead Outpost

Walt Disney World is full of interesting, sometimes hidden, educational opportunities. Even shopping can prove to be a chance to learn something new! Next time you wander through Epcot’s World Showcase, be sure to stop by the Outpost mini pavilion to learn about a unique merchandise offering.

IMG_4272The Bead Outpost sells beaded jewelry, but these aren’t ordinary beads. They are made from recycled paper from Walt Disney World maps and other paper material. African artisans roll carefully selected pieces to make each bead. The kiosk provides pictures and information about the process.

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You can purchase necklaces, bracelets, earrings and more, and feel good about wearing these special pieces. They’re a cool way to recycle and they help support African communities.

FL Sunshine State Visual Arts Standards:
VA.K.H.1.1, VA.K.H.2.2, VA.K.F.2.1, VA.2.C.2.2, VA.2.H.2.2, VA.3.H.2.1, VA.3.F.2.1, VA.68.H.1.3

Carousel of Progress

Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress is a classic attraction with a rich history. It was created for the 1964 World’s Fair and features Walt Disney’s signature state-of-the-art Audio-Animatronics. Its unique revolving theater, in which the audience travels around the stage, is what gives it the name “carousel.” And progress through history is what it’s all about!

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During the 21-minute show, the audience sees a family progress through the 20th century. John, the father in this family, shows us how life has changed through the years, referencing everything from advances in electricity to new modes of transportation.

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The attraction is a great learning opportunity for all ages. Kids might get a kick out of seeing all the old appliances and hearing differences in the way families used to talk. Adults will appreciate the humor that gets sprinkled throughout. There is also a short video that plays outside the attraction in the queue area. The video shows Walt Disney during interviews about the World’s Fair and gives us a glimpse into how the attraction came to be.

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FL Sunshine State Social Studies Standards:
SS.K.A.2.1, SS.1.A.2.2, SS.912.A.3.6, SS.912.A.5.4

Mitsukoshi Department Store

The Japan Pavilion at Epcot has something for everyone, from great food to art to peaceful gardens. And, of course, shopping. The Mitsukoshi department store has famously been in existence since 1673, when it was a door-to-door operation selling kimonos. But this isn’t just a shopper’s paradise. You can actually learn some interesting things about Japanese culture here.

IMG_4202The shop has two entrances and spans several rooms. One room showcases (and sells) those famous kimonos. Another displays authentic Japanese snacks and beverages. The brave can purchase and try freeze-dried squid or fish crackers. Yet another section of the store has bonsai trees and books about their care and significance, authentic music, art, and calligraphy.

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Japan is a country steeped in spiritualism. As you peruse Mitsukoshi, you’ll see this in the number of lucky charms and talismans available. One of the more interesting designs is the Daruma doll. A display of them explains that these dolls originated out of Zen culture and are used to focus wishes.

IMG_4204Guests can also visit the pearl counter near the east entrance to learn how oysters form pearls. You can choose an oyster and see it shucked to find out if you’ve chosen a pearl. The cast members make a bit of a show out of it, so it’s fun if you happen to catch them at work.

You never know what new things you’ll encounter in the huge Mitsukoshi store. Next time you wander through, keep an eye out for a chance to learn something new!

FL Sunshine State Social Studies Standards:
SS.912.H.1.2, SS.912.H.1.3, SS.912.H.1.4