Behind the Seeds tour guide holding up peppercorns

Go Backstage on EPCOT’s Behind the Seeds Tour

Living with the Land is one of Disney’s most underrated attractions. Part dark ride, part classic Disney “edutainment”, this slow-moving boat journey is the best of EPCOT. We ride it every day we’re in the park, and not just because it’s peaceful and offers beautiful scenery. Wait, that’s exactly why.

If you love Living with the Land as much as we do, consider booking Behind the Seeds. This one-hour guided tour will take you backstage into the greenhouses you’ve floated through many times while on the ride. You’ll learn more about the innovative ways Disney is growing plants in the Land Pavilion.

Checking in

Behind the Seeds sign in The Land Pavilion

We checked in for Behind the Seeds at the desk beneath the sign in the photo above. You’ll find it downstairs in the Land Pavilion, between Soarin’ and the exit to Living with the Land. Disney asked that we show up 15 minutes early. Cast Members passed out name tags before our tour guide led us backstage.

Integrated Pest Management System.

The tour began in the bug room. I’m sure that’s not the official name. Our guide handed out listening devices with earpieces. They worked perfectly, allowing us to spread out during the tour. Since I’m a fan of crowd-less Disney, I was very happy with the setup.

We first learned how farmers use syphid flies in pest management. It was fascinating! The flies lay eggs on plants infested with pests. The larvae hatch and feast on said pests. Natural pesticides.

Living with the Land fly habitat

Once we left the fly larvae, we had a brief stop outside a USDA growing lab. Guests are not allowed inside that sterile environment.

The Greenhouses

The flies and lab were cool, but the tour felt like it started once we entered the greenhouses. We were asked to stay on the concrete and not venture into the sandy areas as that would contaminate the growing environment.

Our guide began teaching us about hydroponics and the many ways Disney is embracing that science to grow food. Simply put, hydroponics is the system of growing plants using nutrient-rich solutions and water. As I mentioned, the greenhouses are filled with sand. All of the plants in the Land’s greenhouses are raised without their roots ever touching soil.

Hydroponics farming also requires much less water than the traditional variety. This technique is vital to growing in arid conditions. Our tour guide did a great job explaining the science.

Click any image for a larger view.

Behind the Seeds tour guide
Hydroponic plants in Living with the Land greenhouses

Aeroponics is one of the techniques being used in the Land’s greenhouses. The system delivers nutrients and water to hanging plants via a mist.

Kale being grown hydroponically in Living with the Land's greenhouses
Behind the Seeds tour guide explaining hydroponics

Snacks!

At this point, our guide prepared cucumber slices for everyone. These cucumbers are grown in the greenhouses. Unfortunately, ours weren’t the Mickey variety, but they were delicious. Well, my son wasn’t a fan.

Tour groups aren’t the only people who get to enjoy these crops. If you’ve ever eaten at Sunshine Seasons or Garden Grill, you’ve enjoyed produce from the Land’s greenhouses.

Behind the Seeds tour guide preparing cucumber slices
Cucumber bushes and a photo of Mickey-shaped cucumber slices in the Living with the Land greenhouses
Mickey-shaped cucumbers
Behind the Seeds tour guide explaining hydroponics

Look at the photo below and you’ll notice all the tomatoes are growing at the bottom of the plant. This is by design and allows for easier harvesting. I don’t remember how this is accomplished. Go and the tour and report back!

Hydroponic tomatoes growing in Living with the Land greenhouses

One of the highlights of the tour was seeing the Living with the Land boats float past. I know that’s a little thing, but it offered a new perspective on one of my favorite rides.

Boat passing through the Living with the Land greenhouses
Coffee plant in Living with the Land's greenhouses
Coffee plant
Mickey-shaped bougainvillea bush in Living with the Land's greenhouses
Mickey-shaped bougainvillea bush

Without soil, hydroponic plants need nutrient solutions to thrive. Each plant in the greenhouses receives the same nutrients but in different quantities.

EPCOT's Behind the Seeds tour guide
Hydroponic nutrient delivery system in EPCOT's Living with the Land

Aquaponics

After enjoying the bright sunshine in the greenhouses, our eyes had to adjust to the bright red glow coming from the aquaponics area. Here we learned about the symbiotic relationship between fish farming and growing plants. Everyone was given a scoop of fish food to toss into the tank. It was a feeding frenzy.

Living with the Land's Aquaculture section
Feeding fish in the Aquaculture section of Living with the Land
Living with the Land's Aquaculture tanks
Living with the Land boats traveling past fish tanks

The final stop on the tour is the most beautiful area in Living with the Land, the Tropics Greenhouse. This is where Disney grows tropical plants like bananas and papaya. Our guide told us that banana trees only grow one stalk of bananas at a time. I inspected and found that to be true.

Living with the Land's Tropics Greenhouse
Tropics Greenhouse
Living with the Land bananas
Unripe bananas in EPCOT's Living with the Land's greenhouses
Behind the Seeds tour guide holding up peppercorns
Behind the Seeds tour guide holding up peppercorns
EPCOT's Living with the Land

The last stop on the tour is a photo op with a Mickey-shaped pumpkin in front of a Mickey-shaped pepper tree. Our guide took multiple photos of each group.

Photo opportunity with a Mickey pumpkin in front of a Mickey-shaped pepper tree on the Behind the Seeds Tour

Our guide couldn’t have been better. She made complex farming techniques accessible to non-scientists. Our group was quieter than most, so she had to put in extra work to keep up the energy. She was excellent. 10 out of 5 stars.

Behind the Seeds Tour Details

Behind the Seeds is a great way to see backstage Disney and learn about these incredible growing techniques. It might not appeal to all Disney guests, but if you’re a fan of Living with the Land, I can’t recommend this tour enough. The cost isn’t prohibitive, but it has risen a decent amount in the last few years. As of writing, it is $39 – $45 per person before tax. There is an Annual Passholder discount available.

Unlike most Disney tours, demand for Behind the Seeds isn’t high. You might be able to snag a same-day reservation, but it’s safer to book ahead of time during peak seasons. Your window opens 60 days before your vacation begins.

Need help knowing when you can reserve backstage tours? Our reservation calculator will make sure you’re ready when your booking date arrives.