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 Spice and Tea Exchange

Downtown Disney can be an unexpected spot to find learning opportunities, but there are a few hidden gems.

If you’re doing a little shopping at Mickey’s Pantry, be sure to stop by the Spice and Tea Exchange inside the store. This is a specialty shop with other unique locations throughout the United States. They carry fine spices, herbs, and tea blends and have a huge selection.

There are placards explaining the history and origin of popular spices, such as nutmeg and cinnamon. You can also read about how spices were used and traded and the importance they played in famous explorers expeditions.

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Young children and adults alike will enjoy using their senses to learn more about different spices, salts, and teas. You are more than welcome to open the jars and take a whiff. Have fun exploring the different aromas!

Mexico Folk Art Gallery

Most guests look forward to visiting the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot for its wonderful food, to take the obligatory photo with a giant sombrero, or to ride the Gran Fiesta Tour boat ride.
But just inside the doors of the great Mayan pyramid is a gallery full of cool things to learn about Mesoamerican culture.

This gallery is officially known as the Mexico Folk Art Gallery and is home to rotating exhibits. Currently on display is “La Vida Antigua – Life in Ancient Mexico.” (Fans of classic Epcot will appreciate the opening wall quote, taken from the previous boat attraction, El Rio del Tiempo.)
“La Vida Antigua” presents in dioramas, artifacts, wall plaques, and models the architecture and culture of ancient Mesoamerica.

Mexico GalleryVisitors will learn about the Maya, Aztec, and Toltec civilizations. You’ll find information on clothing and how a certain type of dress identified a person’s rank. You’ll learn about farming techniques and how important the dibble stick was. You can also find out how Ancient Mexicans followed their own hoop dreams, playing one of the oldest ball games in history.

Ancient Mesoamericans followed a complicated calendar system. A great replica of the Aztec Calendar Stone rests in the middle of the gallery, providing a terrific photo op. The Kidcot Fun Stop is located just behind the stone, so this also might be a good place for kids to pause and talk to a cultural representative from Mexico!

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FL Social Studies Standards:
SS.1.A.2.1, SS.1.A.2.2, SS.3.G.4.2, SS.5.A.2.1