The Behind the Seeds at Epcot is a guided one-hour tour through The Land pavilion greenhouses that house the Living with the Land attraction at Epcot. The tour costs $18 per person, with a 15% off discount off to Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club owners, and Disney Visa Cardholders, among other groups.
Unsurprisingly given the name and location, the Behind the Seeds tour focuses on the forward-thinking agricultural techniques utilized in The Land pavilion. During the tour, you’ll release lady bugs, see gators up close, feed fish, sample cucumbers, and learn more about the growing techniques and nutrient cocktails utilized in Epcot.
Sarah had wanted to take this tour for a while, and given that it was only around $15 with our discount and only lasts an hour (ours was more like an hour and thirty minutes), I could offer little reason to resist. While I love Livin’ with the Land, my interest in a more thorough explanation of what goes on behind the scenes in the pavilion was very low.
Despite that, I loved the Behind the Seeds tour. It was interesting without being dry and pedantic and balanced the practical applications of these techniques at home (something that doesn’t interest me at all–actually, it scares me, as Sarah trying to utilize some of these techniques likely means more work for me!) with the broader scientific studies and theory behind some of what is being done at The Land. As mentioned, I know very little about gardening (and science, for that matter), so I have no idea if the experimental techniques utilized in The Land are still experimental, or if they were experimental in 1992. In either case, it was fascinating and new to me. I’m not sure that a botanist or alligatorologist would find the tour quite as interesting. For all I know, it might actually be quite superficial to someone actually involved in these fields.
To the casual theme park guest, though, the tour is outstanding. The tour is engaging rather than a typical lecture, as guests are allowed to touch things, release bugs, and sample foods, and our tour guide was great. On that note, a word of caution; the tour guide is pretty make or break for Behind the Seeds. Our tour guide was exceptional. She had extensive knowledge of the different areas of the greenhouses, was articulate, personable, and wasn’t afraid to admit when she didn’t know the answer to a question (which was rare). I much prefer that than someone making up an answer that sounds good.
She was a college student in the Professional Intern program (not College Program) who was relatively new at Epcot, and obviously was enthusiastic about what she was doing. As we finished our tour, we passed another group with a tour guide who seemed less articulate than ours. Had we taken the next tour, the tone of this review might be totally different. But we didn’t, so it’s not. Others have reported very negative experiences thanks to disinterested tour guides, which is something to keep in mind when considering this tour.
The content of the tour was interesting and kept my attention. If you have wondered whether this is an appropriate tour to hold the interest of your child, the fact that it kept my interest might be a good litmus test. Normally my eyes glaze over and my mind begins to wander at the first mention of things like “horticulture” or “hyproponics.” Not the case here, as the tone was light enough that it kept my attention throughout.
I found this in itself to be quite fascinating. Critics contend that little remains of the EPCOT Center that opened in 1982. They claim that Journey into Imagination is now the antithesis of imagination. The Living Seas aren’t nearly as alive now that cartoon characters inhabit some of their waters. World of Motion and Horizons are gone, replaced by thrill rides. Wonders of Life (not a 1982 attraction, but still…) is now the Wonders Retreat, a seldom used home for hard-ticket events during Food & Wine Festival and Flower & Garden Festival. Spaceship Earth now wants guests to “thank the Phoenicians” and play with touchscreens.
While I disagree with much of this (and think many changes were necessary to hold the interest of contemporary guests), I think it’s unquestionable that Epcot has captured the spirit of “edutainment” with the Behind the Seeds tour. Resist as I might, I found myself accidentally learning while having loads of fun on this tour. Going in, I fully expected it to be nothing more than an opportunity to take some cool photos while Sarah learned about gardening techniques. I was shocked to enjoy this tour so much.
Overall, Behind the Seeds is probably the best way you can spend $15-18 at Epcot. Even if your hobbies include deforestation, littering, and casual animal sacrifice, there’s a good change you’ll enjoy Behind the Seeds.
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