On October 1, 1982, Disney Introduced us to a new, cutting edge theme park. EPCOT Center or Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow was an idea dreamed up by Walt himself as a self contained utopian city. It was to be a place where a person could live, work and play in a Disney created environment. Although we never got to see Walt’s idea as a whole, we did get a glimpse of the universe he intended to create. But this isn’t an article on the history of EPCOT Center, instead it’s about an often overlooked attraction in the park. One that has operated since opening day and for the most part is still in its original state. So sit back and relax as we pleasantly drift on “Living with the Land”.
Located in the 24 hectare pavilion known as “The Land”, Living with the Land is a slow moving boat ride that showcases how technology makes agriculture more efficient and environmentally friendly. The boat ride was originally called “Listen to the Land” and had a classic Disney theme song of the same title written by Bob Moline, who also wrote “Golden Dream” for The American Adventure.
The ride had a cast member at the head of the boat who narrated the ride for the guests. The beginning scene was know as the “Symphony of the Seed” and this is where you would hear the song written by Moline. In 1993 this scene was dropped along with the song and was replaced with a thunderstorm scene which illustrated how nature can change the outlay of the land. The boat then continues through various biomes which uses wind, heat, and misting spray to simulate various conditions in weather. The final scene showcases the relationship between man and environment and the way the land has been revolutionized to better serve man’s purpose in agriculture.
The second half of the boat ride brings you through the greenhouse. The Land’s “Living Laboratory” showcases 5 different areas that demonstrate the future of agriculture. The areas are the Tropics Greenhouse, the Aquacell, the Temperate Greenhouse (formerly the Desert Greenhouse), the String Greenhouse (formerly the Production Greenhouse), and the Creative Greenhouse. It also has what is know as the Biotechnology Lab and the Pest Management Lab.
The Tropics Greenhouse features the crops from the more tropical regions of the world such as bananas, dragon fruit and pineapple. The Aquacell focuses on “fish farming” and has tanks and tubes with fish such as tilapia, catfish, and bass. The larger sized crops such as the prizewinner pumpkins and nine pound lemons can be found in the Temperate Greenhouse. Guinness World Records has recognized the “tomato tree” located in the String Greenhouse as the largest and most productive tomato plant in the world. One which produced over 32,000 tomatoes in a 16 month period. There are other examples of growing plants in vertical techniques. The final Greenhouse on the ride is the Creative Greenhouse. Here is where the use of Aeroponics is showcased. This type of agriculture uses a fine mist sprayed directly onto the root of the plants. The plants are suspended with the roots hanging freely and not hindered by soil.
The Biotechnology Lab is where USDA scientist are working on research for crop improvement and the Pest Management Lab is where beneficial insects such as stingless wasps and ladybugs are raised for use in The Land and all over the Walt Disney World resort property.
And after the ride is over guests can head over to The Garden Grill or Sunshine Seasons which both use produce grown in the String Greenhouse. Some of the fish that are harvested in the Aquacell are served in the Coral Reef restaurant loctate in The Seas Pavilion also at Epcot. If you have time to spare the next time you’re in the Land pavilion, a “Behind the Seeds” tour takes one hour tour and costs around $15, it takes place backstage and gives guests a more personal glance at what goes on behind the scenes.