Designing Disney-Inspired Classrooms

Turning Your Classroom into a Magic Kingdom

by Howie DiBlasi, Ph.D. and Ryan Boeckman | Release Date: March 12, 2018 | Availability: Print

Teaching the Magic

Veteran educators Howie DiBlasi and Ryan Boeckman present the definitive guide to bringing Disney into your classroom, with history lessons, web quests, and over 200 learning activities that will rekindle the love of learning in your students.

Envision providing a Disney theme park as your classroom. Imagine the endless possibilities and the connections to just about any curriculum with your students. Anything can happen when you add a little faith, trust, and pixie dust to the classroom environment.

The book is filled with engaging and authentic ideas that will inspire your students, while providing to them an opportunity to dream, explore, design, create, and inspire.

The lessons and activities will scaffold into just about any project, or become a project on its own. Each of the activities is accompanied by narratives, background, multimedia, web links, and a wonderful visit to the park. It will provide ideas and resources for educators interested in applying authentic learning to curriculum standards, facilitating the ISTE standards, or even bringing Makers or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) ideas to the learning experience. Whether you use the entire book, or just specific chapters, there is bound to be some exciting and student centered magical learning brought to your classroom.

Through the use of easy-to-follow, standards-based activities, supported by a host of free, online resources, students will explore the streets, queues, and rides of every part of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom as they are inspired to learn lessons across multiple content areas. From engineering and design thinking, to American history and creative writing, there’s something here for everyone that will allow you to transform your classroom into a magical kingdom of learning and fun.

Table of Contents



Lesson 1: How to Use This Book

Lesson 2: What I Need To Know About Walt Disney

Lesson 3: What Makes Walt Disney World So Amazing?

Lesson 4: Creating The Magic-Traditions Class!

Lesson 5: A Walk In The Park: Magic Kingdom

Lesson 6: What Types Of Attractions Are At Walt Disney World?

Lesson 7: Telling Your Story

Lesson 8: How does Disney Design and Create a Disney Themed Attraction?

Lesson 9: What Is A Queue: Interactive, Themed, Immersive and Innovative

Lesson 10: Audio-Animatronics

Lesson 11: Special Effects: How Did They Do that?

Lesson 12: SURPRISE!!! We're Going To Walt Disney World

Lesson 13: Walking Down Main Street

Lesson 14: WDW Railroad

Lesson 15: Main Street Vehicles

Lesson 16: Cinderella Castle

Lesson 17: Swiss Family Treehouse

Lesson 18: Jungle Cruise

Lesson 19: The Magic Carpets of Aladdin

Lesson 20: Pirates of the Caribbean

Lesson 21: Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room

Lesson 22: Country Bear Jamboree

Lesson 23: Tom Sawyer Island

Lesson 24: Splash Mountain

Lesson 25: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Lesson 26: The Hall of Presidents

Lesson 27: Liberty Square Riverboat

Lesson 28: Haunted Mansion

Lesson 29: Prince Charming Regal Carrousel

Lesson 30: Mickey's PhilharMagic

Lesson 31: it's a small world

Lesson 32: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Lesson 33: Mad Tea Party

Lesson 34: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Lesson 35: The Barnstormer

Lesson 36: Dumbo the Flying Elephant

Lesson 37: Enchanted Tales with Belle

Lesson 38: Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid

Lesson 39: Peter Pan's Flight

Lesson 40: Astro Orbiter

Lesson 41: Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin

Lesson 42: Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor

Lesson 43: Tomorrowland Speedway

Lesson 44: Space Mountain

Lesson 45: Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover

Lesson 46: Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress

In 1955, just a few months after the opening of Disneyland, Walt Disney wrote, "(My Seventh Grade teacher Daisy Beck) gave me the first inkling that learning could be enjoyable - even schoolbook learning. And that is a great moment in a kid's life.

“She had the knack of making things I had thought dull and useless seem interesting and exciting. I never forgot that lesson. The outstanding teacher of my youth instilled in us a permanent sense of wanting-to-do rather than having-to-do.

“She saw what she regarded as potential talents and did everything she could to bring them out. The point is, she tried to understand all of us as individuals. She managed somehow to promote our personal inclinations without neglecting the formal grade requirements.”

A decade later in 1965, Walt wrote, “The way to get an education is to do something. You get yourself into a problem, and you’ll do the research to solve it. I have a feeling that’s what’s missing in our schools — the tackling of the hard job, then the series of ‘Ahh…I see now where I was off’. That’s how you learn.”

Walt Disney’s mother Flora was a certificated teacher who came from a family of teachers (and her father was a school principal in Florida), so Walt was homeschooled for his earliest years.

Walt was almost seven years old before he entered Park School in Marceline, Missouri, a two-story red brick building with 200 students ranging from grade school to high school crammed inside its walls.

Walt was later enrolled in Benton Grammar School in Kansas City, Missouri where he earned average grades at best because he did not feel engaged and was so tired from his morning and evening paper routes that he had difficulty paying attention.

Walt attended McKinley High School in Chicago but barely finished one full year before he ran off to join the Red Cross Ambulance Corps in France at the age of 16. When he returned, he had gained so much practical experience of the world, that he didn't feel it was necessary to return to finish school.

Of course, over the decades he received many honorary high school and college diplomas. In 1938, Walt received an honorary Master of Science degree from USC on June 4, an honorary Master of Arts degree from Yale University on June 22, and an honorary of Master of Arts degree from Harvard University on June 23.

Walt was not impressed with college graduates who he suspected may have had some exposure to theories, but little hands-on experience to the real world or exposure to other disciplines to get a better perspective but he always held teachers and education in high regards.

I have been a Disney historian for over forty years with published work that has received some recognition for its accuracy and insight into the many worlds of Disney. It has been utilized by the Disney Company and the Walt Disney Family Museum among other places and has resulted in my writing over twenty books about Disney.

I also spent nearly two decades of that time as a public middle school teacher balancing innovative approaches to learning with the necessities of dealing with formal testing, grades, and school bureaucracy.

To enliven lessons on diagramming adverbs, presenting public speeches, spelling vocabulary and a host of other topics, I often incorporated elements of Disney resulting in students feeling less of a sense of drudgery with these required assignments. I wish I had had the lessons that appear in this book so I could have pushed things even further.

Walt Disney stated, “There is an urgent need for a professional school which will not only give its students thorough training in a specific field but will also allow the widest possible range of artistic growth and expression. I like the workshop idea, with students being able to drop in and learn all kinds of different things. A school should offer a kind of cross-pollination that would develop the best in its students.”

California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California was one of Walt’s final dreams and became a lauded approach to this interdisciplinary, hands-on education and is one of the most prestigious art colleges in the world. Many of the imaginative thinkers of Pixar Animation got their start at Cal Arts.

I had the pleasure of attending two seminar classes taught by Howie and Ryan at EdcampMagic in Orlando in 2016 where I had been invited to be a guest speaker.

EdcampMagic is an annual event held in the Walt Disney World area where teachers from all over the world can gather and share. It was founded by a group of educators who were inspired by Walt Disney’s ability to encourage people to dream using creativity, innovation and the art of storytelling.

I was fortunate to be able to get a seat for Howie and Ryan’s seminars because both were completely full and nearly two dozen other educators gratefully stood pressed together tightly in the back of the classroom just to hear what was being shared.

I was immediately impressed by Howie and Ryan’s knowledge of Disney, passion for education and their ability to communicate effective educational lessons that could be utilized in any classroom.

Their approach mirrored Walt Disney’s own philosophy that education should excite, challenge and stimulate students. In the following pages, you will not find vague philosophical “gobbledygook” or a relentless string of popular “buzz words” so familiar to those of us who have read books about education.

This book contains actual lesson plans that can be used and even adapted and enhanced for the specific needs of students. While the 21st Century offers new communication tools and greater access to information to engage a modern generation of learners, the basic foundation of good education remains the same as it has for centuries and those solid tenets underpin the material that is presented here.

In LOOK magazine (November 2, 1954), Walt explained his overall concept for Disneyland. He was not thinking merely of an innovative outdoor entertainment venue. He said, "I want this to be a place for parents and children to spend pleasant times together: and for teachers and pupils to discover greater ways of understanding and education."

Now, decades later, that experience is finally available to all teachers and students thanks to this book.

Howie DiBlasi, Ph.D.

Dr. Howie DiBlasi is a former educator, business owner, and CIO. He holds degrees from Western Pacific University, Northern Arizona University, and Florida State University. His work as an educational technology consultant has been praised by thousands of educators for his work in professional development from Boston to Bannock. He is best known for his development of the YouTube Series “Did You Know” with over 700,000 views. His bestselling e-book “Imagineering Classrooms-Unofficial Training Guide for "Disney EdMagineering Educators" is in use at hundreds of classrooms around the world. He teaches two Disney graduate classes at Buena Vista University: PD Magic: Edmagineering The Future of Professional Learning and PD Magic: Unlocking The Magic of Disney Theme Parks.

His recognitions and awards include the Pinnacle Award for outstanding Professional Development Programs, Arizona Teacher of the Year, Top Secondary Leaders in America, and the Outstanding Young Educators of America.

He has been a Disney enthusiast for over 50 years and has made over 150 visits to parks at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Disneyland Paris. He has traveled on nine Disney cruises, owns two DVC units at the Beach Club and Bay Lake Towers in Walt Disney World, and his Disney library includes over 200 books.

Howie lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife of 50 years and no dogs or cats. But he does have two children, six grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

Ryan Boeckman

Ryan Boeckman is happily married to his beautiful wife, Kari, and they have three adorable fuzzy faces. He has an older sister and younger brother that have given him three nephews and two nieces. He is a middle school science teacher that loves inspiring students with real-world passion based content. He has received several awards for his teaching, including the St. Louis Science Center Loeb prize for excellence in teaching science and mathematics, SPARK incuba-tor for educators, and member of the University of Missouri St. Louis Talented Teacher Institute.

His teaching continues in the professional community as he is active in several educational insti-tutions. He currently sits on the board of directors of EdcampMagic, the planning committee of EdcampStl, a member of S.T.O.M. (Science Teachers of Missouri) and N.S.T.A (National Science Teachers Association), as well as actively participating in several other local educational institutions.

His passion for Disney started at a young age when he was asked by one of his teachers to do a research project on a famous person. He fell in love with the creativity, passion, and work ethic of Walt Disney and set out to learn everything thing he could about the science and wonder of this magical kingdom Walt had created. The passion hasn’t stopped, and Ryan continues to meld the magic of Disney with the awe-inspiring profession of education.

About Theme Park Press

Theme Park Press is the world's leading independent publisher of books about the Disney company, its history, its films and animation, and its theme parks. We make the happiest books on earth!

Our catalog includes guidebooks, memoirs, fiction, popular history, scholarly works, family favorites, and many other titles written by Disney Legends, Disney animators and artists, Mouseketeers, Cast Members, historians, academics, executives, prominent bloggers, and talented first-time authors.

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Theme Park Press Books

The Unauthorized Story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion The Ride Delegate 501 Ways to Make the Most of Your Walt Disney World Vacation The Cotton Candy Road Trip The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney Disney Destinies Disney Melodies The Happiest Workplace on Earth Storm over the Bay A Historical Tour of Walt Disney World: Volume 1 Mouse in Transition Mouseketeers Down Under Murder in the Magic Kingdom Walt Disney and the Promise of Progress City Service with Character Son of Faster Cheaper A Tale of Two Resorts I Saw Ariel Do a Keg Stand The Adventures of Young Walt Disney Death in the Tragic Kingdom Two Girls and a Mouse Tale Ears & Bubbles The Easy Guide 2015 Who's the Leader of the Club? Disney's Hollywood Studios Funny Animals Life in the Mouse House The Book of Mouse Disney's Grand Tour The Accidental Mouseketeer The Vault of Walt: Volume 1 The Vault of Walt: Volume 2 The Vault of Walt: Volume 3 Who's Afraid of the Song of the South? Amber Earns Her Ears Ema Earns Her Ears Sara Earns Her Ears Katie Earns Her Ears Brittany Earns Her Ears Walt's People: Volume 1 Walt's People: Volume 2 Walt's People: Volume 13 Walt's People: Volume 14 Walt's People: Volume 15

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