Even on our “how many attractions can we do per hour” days, I still enjoy talking to the cast members in the parks, especially people who can tell me about countries and places I’ve never visited myself. If you get an opportunity to really talk to the cast members who are working at the parks as cultural representatives from their home countries, I can’t recommend it highly enough. We learn something new every time we take a moment or two and really listen to what they have to say.
My daughter and I were spending the day at Animal Kingdom recently and we saw a table set up in Africa, near Mombasa Marketplace/Ziwani Traders. Two cultural representative cast members were there, watching as most people hurried past them on their way to Kilimanjaro Safari or to their reservation at Tusker House. We were there, in fact, because I had just gotten us fastpasses for the safari.
We stopped at the table and the cast members greeted us and introduced themselves. They were both from South Africa, and while Thuso taught my daughter how to play a game called Mankala (and he was a good enough teacher that she still remembers how to play) I learned a bit about South Africa from the other cast member. (I wish I’d gotten his name.) We talked about the current South African flag and he told me what each color in the flag stands for. I also learned that there are three capital cities in South Africa, each one playing a different role in the way the government is run.
All in all, we were probably at the table visiting with those two cast members for about ten minutes, but what we learned there has stayed with us. We’ve played Mankala on a homemade board many times since then, and I can still recall the things I learned about the South African government post-Apartheid era that I didn’t know before.
Another wonderful place to learn about other areas of the world would obviously be Epcot’s World Showcase. If you have children, perhaps you can talk them into visiting the Kidcot stations at each World Showcase pavilion to ask someone at each of them at least one question about life in their home country. You can learn a lot in just a few minutes. It’s an opportunity you really shouldn’t pass up.