How Do They Do That? – Taking the Behind the Seeds Tour at EPCOT

UPDATED December 2015

One of my favorite rides at Epcot is Living With The Land.  It’s fascinating to me to see how people keep finding ways to be innovative in how we interact with our environment.  To see all the different possibilities they’ve come up with to nurture plant life and to grow amazing fruits and vegetables is pretty inspiring.  But you can only see so much from the boat and the ride goes fairly quickly past the different things growing inside the greenhouse – the Mickey-shaped pumpkins, the tomato trees, the soil-less veggies, and so many other fascinating crops.  Thankfully, Epcot offers you a way to get a closer look at everything – the one-hour Behind the Seeds Tour.

On tour in the greenhouse
On tour in the greenhouse

Location: The Land Pavilion, Future World, Epcot
Type: Guided Tour
Specialty: Backstage and onstage at the Living With the Land attraction
Cost: $20 adults; $16 children
Craig’s Favorite: The symbiotic relationship between fish and plants

For only a fraction of the cost of other tours, this one is only $20 and you can still get a 15% discount for a variety or reasons – being a Disney VISA cardholder, Annual Passholder to WDW, or DVC member being among them.  While most tours sell out far in advance, I’ve been able to book this tour on the day I was in the park twice (although it would of course be better to plan ahead if you can).  The cost is only $20 for adults and $16 for kids.  Not all tours are age appropriate for the younger ones (the time and amount of walking are often a deterrent and there are sometimes age restrictions), but this tour is definitely doable for the entire family.

L to R: The huge lemon from my first trip and feeding the tilapia on my second
L to R: The huge lemon from my first trip and feeding the tilapia on my second

The tour takes you backstage (and onstage) at the Living With the Land attraction and both times I’ve taken it, I learned different things and got to do different things.  The first time I took the tour, I got to pose with a really big lemon and we had a close up look at the tank with both the fish and the plants and how they interacted together.  The fish swim beneath the surface of the water and the roots of the plants dip into the water.  The waste from the fish fertilizes the plants and the nutrients from the plants help to nourish the fish.  It’s pretty ingenious. The most recent tour I took, we got to feed the tilapia and pet Stanley – a Mimosa Pudica plant who is very shy.  We found out that tilapia is one of the most efficient fish to farm.  It only takes about 1.5 pounds of feed to grow 1 pound of fish.  We also found out how they come up with different color peppercorns, but you’ll have to find out for yourself.  On both tours, we were able to sample fresh cucumbers harvested right from the plants in the greenhouse, and we were told that many of the plants and even fish end up on the menus at some of the restaurants right in Epcot.

Posing with the Mickey peppercorn tree
Posing with the Mickey peppercorn tree

It’s encouraging to see that Disney is so invested in giving back to the land.  The Land was recently rated as a zero-waste facility, and they recycle 99.2% of all waste.  Food waste becomes compost, plastic gloves and bags get recycled, and nearly everything has a use.  The innovations are also pretty amazing.  The lettuce in the Land only takes 2 gallons of water to grow instead of the 12 gallons it normally takes.  And they grow nearly twice as fast.  Being able to see how Disney continues to add to conservation efforts not only with animals but in other ways is worth the price of admission itself.  Questions are encouraged and our guide was both friendly and knowledgeable.

If you have an hour and are curious about “how things work,” this is the perfect tour for you and your family.  Book in advance if at all possible, but check in by the Soarin’ attraction to see if they have spots available for that day.  And most of all, have fun!

  • Curious about horticulture at Disneyland? Take the Cultivating the Magic Tour and find out even more fascinating facts (and ride some fun attractions while you’re at it)

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