One of my FAVORITE attractions at Epcot is the Living with the Land Ride!
I’ve always loved taking this boat ride through the Land Pavillion and how they show humans’ relationship with the Earth and how we need to care for it because we need it to provide for us. The best part for me is when the boat leaves the storytelling part of the attraction and enters the beautiful Sustainable Agriculture Production & Research Center.
So when I heard there was a backstage tour of this attraction I knew it was something my family needed to try on our trip to The Walt Disney World Resort during Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival!
First my family and I rode the ride to refresh our memory of it. Then we went to the tour check in desk which is located by the Soarin’ attraction, also in the Land Pavilion at Epcot. I had made reservations for this tour (which runs every 45minutes from 10:30am-4:30pm daily) 180 days before our trip, so they were ready for us with our nametags when we arrived about 15 minutes before the start of our tour. Soon after we checked in, our tour guide, Stephen, came out and introduced himself to our group. I would say there was about 15 of us all together – my family of 5 and 10 other guests.
Stephen worked there in their pest management program, which also happens to be the first stop on the tour!
We entered the “bug” room and learned about the different ways that Disney manages farming pest problems. They don’t use chemicals as a first course of action. One thing they do is use “good bugs” to help eliminate the “bad bugs”.
We had signed up for this tour because I thought it would be fun to go behind the scenes and learn a few things along the way – but the rest of our group must have been serious gardeners because they all had very serious and specific questions, which Stephen was TOTALLY able to answer.
Next we moved on and got to peek in the window of their Biotech Lab, where they use clippings to grow more plants. We weren’t allowed in the room as it is a very controlled lab and they don’t want anything introduced into its atmosphere that could change the genetic make up of the plants.
Next we went into the areas where the boat ride passes through, so we did get to feel like VIPs for awhile. We saw how through the use of hydroponics they’ve created vertical farms which use land space much better and produce many more crops than a traditional garden. We also were able to take a taste of a fresh cucumber grown in the greenhouse. A lot of the food grown here is served at Epcot! (We got to eat even more of it after the tour as we had a reservation at The Garden Grill upstairs!)
Stephen did a great job of giving useful information to the interested adults and fun facts and experiences for the kids.
Next we explored the aquaculture area and saw alligators and fish farming! We were invited to feed the fish as well.
I really enjoyed this walking tour (yes it’s about an hour of walking so wear comfy shoes – it is also wheelchair accessible). It’s great for people who want to learn both a little or A LOT more about hydroponics. My 5 year olds enjoyed seeing everything and interacting with the plants, but my 2 year old, as I knew would be the case, had a little bit of a hard time with the length of the tour. I definitely plan on doing this tour again in a few years – it will be interesting to see if anything changes and also interesting to see the different takeaway my kids will have from it at an older age.
The Behind the Seeds Tour runs every 45 minutes daily from 10:30am – 4:30pm. Reservations are available (call 407-WDW-TOUR), but I’m told that there is usually availability on the day of. The tour lasts about an hour and costs $20/adult and $16/children ages 3-9 (plus valid park admission). I recommend this tour, however if this is your first time visiting Epcot and you only have one day, I would say you should plan to spend your day touring the park and pass on this. If you have been to Epcot before and want to try something new – this is definitely for you! I suggest doing these 3 things in a row to make it all come full circle…
1. Ride Living with the Land
2. Take the Behind the Seeds Tour
3. Enjoy a character filled meal at The Garden Grill (which is a revolving restaurant in the Land Pavilion that takes you back through part of the Living with the Land attraction) and taste some of the goodness you saw growing!
As always, please check Disney’s Official Site for the most up to date information.