By Carol Cain, on December 13, 2013

Wanderlust at Walt Disney World

A visit to Walt Disney World is as American as apple pie. But I have found that beyond the rides and light shows, there are several opportunities where families can instill some wanderlust in their little ones and expose them to different cultural trends and flavors. 

These are experiences that help bring the world a little closer and awaken that sense of adventure and curiosity in a child to want to see what else the world has to offer.

Here are some of the best places to find wanderlust at Disney:

Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

I know what you are thinking: a food and wine festival with kids? Normally, I would be hesitant to encourage you to bring them along to a drinking fest, but this is Disney and rarely is anything done without kids in mind.

Enjoy flavors from all over the world

What’s great about Epcot any time of the year is that it is like touring the world in a span of a day or two. From France to Japan and everywhere in between, visitors get to absorb some of the local culture and flavors of the regions. When the food and wine festival is held, that immersion is taken to the next level. 

Visitors are encouraged to taste ethnic dishes and pair it with drinks from different parts of the world. This is the perfect opportunity for families to expose children to different foods because not only does the menu include food items that appeal to more sophisticated palates, but they also include kid-friendlier dishes that remain true to the region, but aren’t intimidating to a child. 

Viewfinder Tip: Staff name tags show their names, as well as where they’re from, making for a great chance to ask questions.

Get a taste of Africa with friends

There are few things better than food to get someone excited about another culture. Just remember to get there hungry.

Animal Kingdom

We love everything about the Animal Kingdom, from the Animal Kingdom Lodge to the park itself. Whether you dine at the resort (Jiko Restaurant is our favorite) or at the parks’ restaurants (the character breakfasts at Tusker House is our top choice), you will have the opportunity to taste traditional African dishes, greeted and served by a team representing different parts of Africa, and enjoy music from the same.

It’s the one park in Walt Disney World that had my children completely wide-eyed the whole time and curious about the various parts of the African continent represented throughout. Of course, it also added Africa – anywhere – to my little one’s growing list of “must-visit” destinations. 


Awaken the desire to travel to far away places

Granted, if you travel to Orlando to visit Walt Disney World during the winter holidays, there will be a lot of Santa and Christmas trees. But there are also events that showcase how the holidays are celebrated in different parts of the world. Epcot hosts Holidays Around The World, a beautiful display of different traditions and customs. 

Other holidays that totally envelope the visitor with unique cultural traditions includes St. Patrick’s Day, where Downtown Disney hosts a series of events that includes Irish dancing, Celtic music, and Gaelic food.

When you get to Disney, take advantage of the various cultural elements found throughout its parks. You might walk away with a magical desire for adventure and exploration of the world.

What unique Disney experience do you most look forward to?