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

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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

Casey’s Corner

Everyone knows the best place to get a hot dog at the Magic Kingdom is Casey’s Corner, right at the end of Main Street, U.S.A. Just the smell of the ketchup is almost enough to lure you in. And once inside, you can’t help but notice the small-town charm and all-American spirit of baseball that pervades the building.

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Step further into the seating area and you’ll be treated to a magnificent collection of historic pennants, baseball cards, photos, and other memorabilia from bygone days. You can get a real sense of the sport as it was during the turn of the century through the 1930s. Take your time to peruse the newspaper clippings and advertisements, and notice how different the equipment used to be.

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This is a great educational spot for sports fans or fans of U.S. history. And of course, fans of the hot dog!

 

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

The Hall of Presidents

When most people think of Liberty Square, they think of The Hall of Presidents. It is one of the original attractions to Magic Kingdom, and is considered by many to be the flagship and hallmark of Liberty Square. It is certainly the one attraction that immediately comes to mind when most people think about education opportunities at Walt Disney World.

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The building that houses The Hall of Presidents is modeled after Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. Inside is a beautiful rotunda that serves as a waiting area and gallery. This space is home to some impressive artifacts and paintings, both original and reproductions, from former Presidents and First Ladies.

HOP 1The theater just beyond the rotunda is where you’ll take in the 22-minute show, narrated by Morgan Freeman, that combines film and “live” action. The film takes you from the birth of our nation and the beginnings of the Presidency, through the Civil War, all the way to modern times. It also highlights notable Presidents such as Jackson, the Roosevelts, and Kennedy.

The audio-animatronics are remarkable in this attraction. And it was Abraham Lincoln who started it all. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln debuted at the 1964 World’s Fair and showed off the incredible animatronic ingenuity of Walt Disney’s Imagineers. Mr. Lincoln was perfected and moved to open The Hall of Presidents at Magic Kingdom, where he stands and delivers the entire Gettysburg Address. In fact, every U.S. President appears on stage as an animatronic, and a couple give rousing speeches.

The attraction is billed as being for all ages, but it will be most interesting for adults and older children who are studying American History. At the very least, the indoor location makes for a nice break for everyone from summer heat.

 

FL Sunshine State Social Studies Standards:
SS.K.A.2.4, SS.1.A.2.1, SS.1.A.2.2, SS.1.A.2.4, SS.5.A.5.1, SS.5.A.5.3, SS.5.A.5.10, SS.8.A.3.6, SS.8.A.3.7, SS.8.A.3.12, SS.912.A.2.1

Shadow Box Tour

Pop Century Resort is a fun place to stay with its over-the-top icons and tributes to pop culture through the years. It’s bright, colorful, and energetic – a great place for families. This resort might not come to mind first as a place to learn something, but we found an opportunity that will appeal to kids and adults alike.

IMG_3378Gather in the lobby at 3:00 to take a tour of the shadow boxes that hang on the wall. Each large display features “artifacts” from particular decades, from the 1950s through the 1990s. The collections are also themed to certain categories, such as clothing, technology, toys, or historical events. Adults will enjoy the trip down memory lane and little ones will get a kick out of seeing (and probably laughing at) some real relics of the past.

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You can find many more references to past fads and pop culture throughout the resort for your own history lesson. But the Shadow Box Tour is guided and allows the opportunity to ask questions. Be sure to check with the front desk or lobby concierge to make sure the tour is happening on the day you visit.

 

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

Liberty Square Riverboat

During your visit to Liberty Square, it’s hard to miss the stately paddle-wheeled riverboat that floats along the Rivers of America. This grand vessel is the Liberty Belle and is a replica of the historic steamboats that once traveled up and down the Mississippi River. The Liberty Belle is a real working steamboat and if you ride on the lower Main Deck, you can get a good view of the boiler and pistons that work the paddlewheel.

RiverboatNot only is the Liberty Belle a great way to unwind and catch some neat scenery, it’s full of educational tidbits. Take a walk on the second level Promenade Deck and you’ll find an enclosed salon that houses maps, photographs, and 19th century artifacts related to travel on the river.

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Be sure to listen closely to the audio narration during the tour. You’ll hear the captain and his friend, author Sam Clemens, explaining all kinds of things: engine room commands, how to measure a fathom, Native American tribes and customs, and what the term “mark twain” really means. And kids who are reading Tom Sawyer may get a kick out of seeing and hearing about the book’s famous landmarks on Tom Sawyer Island.

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Be aware that guests enter the Liberty Belle on the middle deck and exit on the bottom deck, but it is wheelchair accessible. The best places to hear the audio during the ride are under cover on the middle deck or on the bottom deck. Also note that the Riverboat usually stops running around dusk, so be sure to check the Times Guide for the day’s operating hours.

 

STEM Topic: Engineering
FL Sunshine State Social Studies Standards:
SS.1.A.2.1, SS.1.A.2.2, SS.2.A.2.1, SS.2.A.2.2, SS.5.A.2.2, SS.5.A.2.3, SS.5.A.3.3, SS.5.A.6.3, SS.5.A.6.6, SS.8.A.4.5

The Liberty Tree

When you step into Liberty Square, you are transported to a time when freedom and revolution stirred the hearts of American colonists. The attention to detail in this land is truly remarkable. And it is home to some great attractions, shops, and restaurants. But there is one area you might not notice too much, even though it’s right in the heart of Liberty Square.

The Liberty Tree stands to the left as you enter the square, directly across from the Hall of Presidents. Plaques at its base explain that liberty trees were common in American towns during Revolutionary times. They were a place for people to gather for speeches and rallies, and to organize for their causes.
The lanterns that hang in the tree harken back to the repeal of the Stamp Act. There are thirteen lanterns among the branches to represent each of the original thirteen colonies. See if you can spot them all.

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Nearby, you can also find a replica of the Liberty Bell surrounded by thirteen flagpoles representing the colonies. Each flagpole displays the current state flag and the date that each state ratified the Constitution. The Liberty Bell is cast from the same mold as the original Liberty Bell.

Liberty SquareBrush up on your American History as you wander through Liberty Square. Be on the lookout for Paul Revere’s two lanterns and for Benjamin Franklin’s four arms symbol indicating a house protected by his fire insurance company. This is a great spot for history buffs to explore.

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FL Next Gen Social Studies Standards:
SS.K.A.2.2, SS.K.A.2.5, SS.1.A.2.1, SS.1.A.2.2, SS.1.A.2.3, SS.2.A.2.4, SS.4.A.4.4