I’ll admit it: I unabashedly love the Living with the Land boat ride at EPCOT. I find the trip through the greenhouses fascinating, and I enjoy seeing the different growing techniques in action (I’m also sure there’s a healthy dose of nostalgia thrown in). My wife, though, finds the experience a bit boring.
On our last visit to the park, my wife and I decided to go beyond the boat ride and take the Behind the Seeds tour. It would be a way for me to see even more of the attraction, and maybe it would help her gain an appreciation of it as well.
This roughly hour-long walking tour takes guests through the Living with the Land greenhouses, giving them an in-depth look at the processes Disney uses to grow the plants seen on the boat ride. It turns out that the tour is inexpensive as well; when we went last year it was only $20 per person (though of course prices can fluctuate). We had booked our slots ahead of time, but it looked like some people were walking up to the tour desk and were able to get into the tour right then. Granted, it was February, so things were a bit quieter than they would be during a busier season, so I’d still recommend reservations if this is something you want to do. Also, it was pouring outside, so the tour gave us something to do that didn’t involve getting soaked.
After we checked in at the tour desk–located near the entrance to Soarin’ in the Land pavilion–and the rest of our group had arrived, we were escorted into a small room by our tour guide. The young woman, August, explained the basics of what we’d be seeing and went over the safety rules. Then it was time to really get going!
The tour started in a small area filled with glass tanks for various types of insects. The guide talked about some of the different kinds of beneficial bugs, and then asked for a volunteer. A young boy was chosen, and given a small container with some ladybugs inside. The guide explained that, when she asked him to later on in the tour, he was to let the ladybugs go so they could help keep harmful bugs away from the plants.
Moving on, August led us into the greenhouses.
Early on, we got to see inside some of the labs (through thick windows).
As we moved further into the greenhouses, we got to see all sorts of plants and the tour guide stopped frequently to talk about them. What’s particularly cool is that most of the food that’s grown in the attraction is used in the Sunshine Seasons restaurant in the Land.
Not far into the tour, the volunteer from earlier was asked to open the vial and release the ladybugs onto a nearby leaf. The ladybugs would eat harmful bugs, which help to keep the plants healthy.
We also got the opportunity to try a sample of something grown right there in the greenhouse. The tour information suggests that this sample can change, and on our tour we were offered seedless cucumber slices. I’m not that big on cucumbers, but I tried one anyway, and it turned out to be not too bad. For a cucumber.
We walked on, passing from one greenhouse to the next and learning about many of the different plants that were being grown there. Our tour guide really knew her stuff and was able to share cool information about what we were seeing and answer many different questions from the group.
One really cool part about the Behind the Seeds tour was getting to see things that are visible on the boat ride but tough to really appreciate because you pass by them without stopping.
We moved from greenhouses into an aquatic area where we got to see fish farming facilities.
After passing through the aquatic area, we walked back into another greenhouse.
Shortly after this last section of greenhouses the tour came to an end, and we were escorted by our guide back into the main area of the Land pavilion.
To me, EPCOT has always been about science and education, so seeing those themes in action was very cool. The walking tour was a really great way to get a much more in-depth look at what’s going on in the Land greenhouses, seeing things that aren’t necessarily as visible from the boat ride or may not be explained on the recorded narration. I really enjoyed getting a closer look at everything and learning more about what’s happening behind the scenes at the EPCOT park, and even my wife had a good time and found it interesting.
So if you’re someone who’s interested in plants and growing techniques and you want to go beyond the Living with the Land boat ride, the Behind the Seeds tour could be worth checking out.