Got Culture? Five Ideas for Family Travel at Disney

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Small_World_LanguageSay the name “Disney” and most families think Mickey, Goofy, and a host of “made in the USA” characters. Sure, when it comes to American icons Walt Disney World in Orlando has got its share. But, there’s more to the Magic Kingdom than just Americana. Check out these five fun ways to learn about world cultures while you’re there.

Taste International Flavors

Want to try the champagne of choice of Nelson Mandela and Michelle Obama? Then head over to Jiko at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and order a glass of “Graham Beck,” which was selected by First Lady Obama for the 2010 inaugural festivities. If it’s wine you prefer, choose from the restaurant’s large selection of South African vintage. Then get ready to take your taste buds on a whirlwind tour of African, Indian and Mediterranean cuisine. During our three-hour feast at Jiko we stuffed ourselves on vegetarian, meat and seafood dishes like shrimp curry, grilled lamb, and an appetizer of wild boar meat. Sorry, Poomba!

Quench your Family’s Thirst

Looking for a change from bottled water? Then pop into the snack area near the Imagination Pavilion at the Epcot theme park and let your family choose a beverage from the free soda fountain stocked with soft drinks from around the world. Fanta Colita, anyone? Or stop for a drink and a snack at one of the restaurants in Epcot’s World Showcase area, a collection of pavilions that represent the culture and cuisine of 11 countries.

Breathe in Evocative Aromas

Spicy curry, sweet jasmine, buttery croissants. Some scents are strongly associated with a particular place or country. Follow your nose to Epcot’s World Showcase area to discover some intoxicating aromas. My favorite? The Moroccan bazaar where wafts of incense mix with the smell of rose water.

Expedition_EverestUse your Hands

Hands-on, interactive activities are a great way for kids to learn about cultures. Whether it’s marching with the Fife and Drum corps in front of the American Adventure Pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase, digging for fossils in the Boneyard ® in the Animal Kingdom theme park, or tracking the elusive Himalayan Yeti on the Expedition Everest attraction, there is so much for little hands to explore at Disney. Does your child need some downtime? At the Kidcot Fun Stops scattered throughout the World Showcase preschoolers can create their own souvenir crafts.


Listen and look

Throughout Walt Disney World, you can see and hear the music and languages of world cultures. See how many languages you can identify on the wall display in the It’s a Small World attraction in the Magic Kingdom theme park. Or watch artists play international instruments in the World Showcase at Epcot.

So, when you’re on a family vacation at Disney in Orlando, encourage your kids to use their eyes, ears, nose and hands. They’ll get a cultural experience fit for all five senses.

Disclosure: My visit to Walt Disney World was sponsored in part by Disney.

Justine Ickes writes about culture, travel, education and people making a difference.


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3 Replies to “Got Culture? Five Ideas for Family Travel at Disney”

  1. I thought it really neat that while walking through or standing in the various countries at Disney, I met folks who had traveled from other places across the globe to be here. It made me feel like a world traveler, too!

  2. So true about meeting folks from other countries at Disney. I heard lots of different languages while walking around the theme parks or waiting in line for some of the attractions.

  3. Loved that champagne!

    I can’t wait to return to Disney World with my family and explore all the cultures represented at Epcot. Such an amazing, magical place!

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