Palais du Cinéma

The France Pavilion is one of the more immersive pavilions in Epcot’s World Showcase. The beautiful buildings, fountains, winding alleys, and delicious bakery smells make you feel like you really are in some quaint French village or hidden corner of the City of Light.

IMG_4001As you head into the pavilion, you will see the Palais du Cinéma, which is home to the film Impressions de France. The 18-minute film is a delight to watch and listen to, with its staggering views of France and beautiful musical score. But before you even enter the theatre, there is plenty to see and learn in the waiting area.

A small gallery toward the front of the waiting area showcases four distinct collections of information about the famous Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral. Each collection highlights one aspect of art in architecture: Gargoyles and Chimeras, the Western Façade, Rose Windows, and Flying Buttresses. There are even some replicas of gargoyles, including the famous “Spitting Gargoyle” that was cast from the original in France.

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Read through the placards and you’ll learn some interesting facts. Why were the statues on the Western Façade beheaded during the French Revolution? What is a flying buttress anyway? And how many Rose Windows did stonecutters and glaziers actually attempt to make?

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You don’t have to watch the film to experience the gallery, but it does make for a relaxing break. Next time you’re stopping by France for an éclair, step inside the Palais du Cinéma to learn a thing or two about one of France’s most famous landmarks.


STEM Topic: Engineering
Florida Sunshine State Social Studies Standards:

Florida Sunshine State Visual Arts Standards:
VA.4.H.1.1, VA.5.H.1.1, VA.68.H.1.1, VA.912.H.1.1, VA.912.H.1.9

Stave Church Gallery

We know most guests are probably lamenting the loss of the Maelstrom and thinking there’s nothing else to do in the Norway Pavilion. But if you’re in search of an educational opportunity, look no further than the Stave Church Gallery.

Many guests don’t even realize that they can enter this replica of the Gol stavekirke (stave church). And if you’re still on the Frozen bandwagon, you won’t be disappointed by what’s inside. The Stave Church Gallery is currently hosting an exhibit that features artifacts, clothing, photos, and instruments representing Norwegian locales and culture that inspired Disney’s hit film.

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Learn about Norway’s indigenous people, traditional costumes, folk art, and architecture. There are also notes on the making of the film, including how computer technology helped the animators create thousands of individual and unique snowflakes.

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The collection of authentic Norwegian artifacts is on loan from several cultural centers, museums, and universities across the United States and Norway. The “Norsk Kultur” exhibit is likely to remain for quite some time, so check it out!

it’s a small world

This is definitely one of Magic Kingdom’s most popular attractions, and it has a rich history. It was originally created for the 1964 World’s Fair in support of UNICEF. It was a huge success there, and has been a hit at Disney Parks all over the world ever since. Each Disney Park worldwide has its own version of the attraction.

IMG_3574Besides it being a cute and fun experience for all ages, it offers a terrific introduction to world cultures and global social studies for young children. As you float down the Seven Seaways Waterway, you’ll encounter bright and colorful landscapes and traditional costumes from all around the world. Each room represents a different continent or region. And although it may be hard to tell, the language in which the famous song is sung changes to match.

As you ride you can encourage children to point out famous landmarks they might know, or the countries they are associated with, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, or the Egyptian pyramids. And before you disembark, you can practice saying “good-bye” in different languages.

Many people know that Mary Blair, known for her particular visual style, was behind the design of “it’s a small world.” But you may not realize that the costume designers used authentic materials and fabrics from each region for all 300 costumes in the attraction. Talk about attention to detail!

Caribbean Beach Bus Stops

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is a beautiful, tropical, and fun retreat. There’s no shortage of recreation here among the pools, beaches, boat and bike rentals, fantastic jogging path, and picnic areas. But you might not realize that there are educational opportunities here, too.

This resort consists of six themed island villages: Aruba, Barbados, Jamaica, Martinique, Trinidad North, and Trinidad South. Each village sports vibrant Caribbean colors and architecture similar to what would be found on that island.  There are bus stops at each village where Disney transportation will pick up and drop off. And it is here where we find our learning moments.

IMG_3339Each bus stop has a poster with fun facts about that island. They might describe the climate, location, natural resources, languages, or history. They are all different so take some time to seek out all six.

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FL Next Gen Social Studies Standards:
SS.K.G.1.4, SS.2.G.1.4, SS.3.G.2.4, SS.3.G.3.1, SS.3.G.3.2, SS.3.G.4.2, SS.912.G.2.1

Morocco Pavilion

The Morocco Pavilion always seems to be abuzz. Its waterfront areas are usually busy with shoppers and people looking for a bite to eat. The marketplaces are colorful, the food is delicious, and the music makes you want to dance. But as you continue into the pavilion, you’ll stumble across some often-overlooked areas.

Make your way toward the back of the pavilion and you’ll find more shops, Restaurant Marrakesh, and maybe even a Disney character or two. Look for plaques in archways and on walls explaining the architecture. For example, the main archway that leads you further into the pavilion is modeled after the real Bab Boujouloud [sic] in the city of Fez.

Morocco ArchNear the front of the Morocco pavilion, just across the courtyard from the Tangierine Café, is a terrific spot to get out of the heat and learn something new while you’re at it. The Gallery of Arts and History is one of those spots you might walk right by if you didn’t know it was there. Inside are rotating exhibits that highlight elements of Arabic culture. Currently on display is “Moroccan Style: The Art of Personal Adornment.”
This exhibit shows traditional dress and accessories for men and women. You can also learn about the art of henna and why it is important to the culture.

Morocco Gallery Morocco Gallery 2The gallery is small, but the artifacts and even the wall carvings are definitely interesting to spend some time with.


FL Next Gen Social Studies Standards:
SS.K.A.2.3, SS.6.G.2.4, SS.912.G.2.1, SS912.H.1.1, SS912.H.1.3