Worried about your kids’ brains turning to mush at Walt Disney World? Rest easy! You can sneak in some learning while still having fun when you visit the Animal Kingdom. Plan a visit to the Conservation Station at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, which is chock full of ways we can all work together to help the planet. Read on to learn how to educate your child about the environment, Disney style.
Just a short and breezy train ride separates Rafiki’s Planet Watch from the rest of Animal Kingdom, but you feel worlds away from both the heat and the crowds once you arrive. Conservation Station is a bit out of the way, but well worth the detour.
Animal lovers are guaranteed to have fun getting the opportunity to watch veterinarians at work at a petting zoo. My family loves animals, but what appealed to me the most were the opportunities to talk conservation with kids and to expose them to the work Disney does to incorporate these concepts into the park.
When entering Animal Kingdom, be sure to stop by and pick up a Wilderness Explorers Handbook, which is chock full of educational activities all throughout Animal Kingdom. Kids complete activities and earn badges from each station. (It’s very similar to the KidCot program at Epcot’s World Showcase).
At Rafiki’s Planet Watch the “Conservation Hero” badge is earned by checking out animal nutrition, chatting with the veterinarians and seeing recycling in action. Every year my kids have a unit on recycling at school. We’ve done the milk gallon bird feeders, the tin can wind chimes and many other projects designed to turn trash into treasure. However, Disney has the most creative use I’ve ever seen for a milk crate and some PVC pipe: Tamarin toys!
(Well, maybe I spoke too soon. The toys for the tamarins were clever, but the most creative use of recycling has to be the elephant poop paper on sale in the gift shop.)
Have your kids visited Rafiki’s Planet Watch? What did they get out of it? Please share your thoughts in the comments.