the disney food blog Rotating Header Image

Disney Food for Families Review: Behind the Seeds Tour in Epcot

Disney Food for Families Columnist Erin Foster takes us backstage on on the Behind the Seeds Tour in Epcot’s The Land pavilion.

Back in the day, we pulled our girls out of school a few times to go to Disney World (shhh, don’t tell). To assuage my guilt, I tried to work some educational content into these trips. One of my attempts at intellectual betterment resulted in signing the family up for the Behind the Seeds tour at the Land pavilion at Epcot. Learning! About food!

As it turns out, we really did have such a great time learning about, and trying, the foods in the Land, we’ve been back on the tour twice more.

Behind the Seeds is an hour-long walk through much of the growing areas seen during the Living with the Land boat ride. If you’ve ever been on the boat and wondered who those rock star folks were walking around in the gardens, well, those are the Behind the Seeds people. Don’t forget to wave.

On the tour, you're actually in the attraction

Tours are lead by members of the botanical team at the Land. These are often graduate students in the agricultural sciences. Personally, I’m not a gardener, but if you did have a technical question, the guides would be equipped with answers.

Lab
The first stop on the tour is the laboratory where you watch a very short film; the guide describes the natural methods of pest control employed both at the Land and in eco-farming. There are tanks and cages with creepy-crawlies like big spiders. If you’re an arachnophobe, you might want to avert your eyes, but most will be fascinated. From my kids’ perspective, by far the best part of the lab visit was the temporary gift of a vial of live ladybugs. (More on them in a moment.)

Vial of ladybugs

Greenhouse
After the lab, the tour moves quickly into the greenhouse area. The guide explains innovative farming methods such as nutrient film technique plant feeding and hydroponics — that’s the method of growing you see on the Living with the Land ride where the plants are hanging in the air, growing with no soil. Guests are given instructions on how to grow their own plants hydroponically. Actually doing this myself seemed a little past my black-thumb gardening skills, but the information was thoroughly engaging.

Teaching about hydroponics

Then we were given descriptions of many of the crops grown at the land, including the World Record tomato tree and the nine-pound lemons.

Record breaking tomatoes

A bumper crop

Nine pound lemons

Once the basic science and general exploration are out of the way, then comes some really important stuff: info on how they make those cooler-than-cool Mickey-shaped veggies. Guests are allowed to hold the molds that contain those special crops and, if one is in the proper growth phase, you can even hold a Mickey-shaped Cinderella pumpkin. My girls like to wonder what would happen if the Fairy Godmother waved her wand at one of those!

Growth mold for a Mickey pumpkin

Rocking the Mickey pumpkin (a favorite family photo)

In addition to simply holding a Mickey crop, guests are given the opportunity to actually eat some of the bounty of the Land. Sometimes this is just a regular cucumber, but if you’re having a pixie-dusted day, you’ll be given a chance to try a Mickey-shaped cucumber grown right there at Epcot.

Growing cucumbers at the Land

Mickey cucumber salad

A tiny snack is part of the tour

After the snack, and a quick squirt of hand sanitizer, the children on the tour are instructed to open their containers of ladybugs. These insects are friendly to humans, but are predators of many creatures that are harmful to plants. They are used as a natural, non-toxic from of pest management. My kids ADORE this part of the tour. They have a wonderful time exploring the plants and deciding which are most in need of ladybug attention.

Choosing just the right plant

This lucky pepper gets a ladybug protector

Aquaculture Center
Moving on from the greenhouses, the next stop is the aquaculture center of the Land. Again, the guide introduces the area with basic descriptions of safe and sustainable farming, but this time they’re taking about fish farming. And yes, some of the fish raised here are served in Walt Disney World restaurants.

The interactive element of the aquaculture area involves feeding the animals. Guests, including children, are given a handful of nutrition-filled pellets. The first time we took the tour, the pellets were for feeding the alligators. Even though they are little alligators, housed behind a nice glass wall, I found myself to be more than a little jumpy around them. On more recent tours, guests have been instructed to feed their pellets to the fish. This is somewhat like feeding fish in a tank at home, only much, much bigger.

MANY alligators

Up close and personal with the fish (the jars are filled with food pellets)

Fish in the aqua center

Feeding the fish

Back to the Greenhouse
The tour wraps up back in the greenhouse area with some hands-on exploration of some of familiar spices, as well as the seeds and pods of some more unusual plants. You can smell the rosemary and ginger, feel the newly harvested cotton balls, and handle the heft of a cassabanana.

Cotton balls

Hidden Mickeys!
A final bit of fun I should note is that the Behind the Seeds tour includes many Hidden Mickeys along the way, some of which are not visible during the regular Living with the Land ride. Challenge your kids to see if they can find them.

Where's the Hidden Mickey in the lab?

Overall Review
At just an hour long, the Behind the Seeds tour packs in a lot of information and a lot of fun. There are no age restrictions for this experience. While all are welcome, my girls first experienced Behind the Seeds when the youngest were about six years old. Depending on the temperament of your children, my feeling is this is about the lowest age that will truly enjoy the tour. On the upper end, we’ve been on the tour with my 60+ year old parents and they were even more fascinated than the kids.

The Behind the Seeds tour can be booked in advance by calling 407-WDW-TOUR. Or if you’re looking to get worked in at the last minute you can stop by the tour registration desk which is located near the entrance to Soarin’. Behind the Seeds is one of the most reasonably-priced in-park add-on experiences around. Currently the cost is just $12 for children ages 3 to 9 and $16 for ages 10 and up. Kids under the age of three are free. There are often price discounts available for Disney annual pass holders, DVC members, and Disney Visa card holders. Be sure to ask about this when you book your tour.

One final note, cameras and video equipment are allowed on the tour, a real rarity for a Disney behind-the-scenes experience. This is a great opportunity to capture some unique shots for your vacation scrapbook.

Have you been on the Behind The Seeds Tour, or are you planning a visit on your next trip? Let us know in the comments section below!

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

17 Comments

  1. Allison says:

    this is one of my favorite things in epcot. I’ve done it a handful of times. Its SO neat!

  2. Kelly says:

    We did the tour last October. Thought it was wonderful! Definitely an inexpensive way to try something different!

  3. Alan says:

    I have never been on the backstage tour at this attraction, but this ride is one I make sure I do on every trip. There is something absolutely fascinating about watching these foods being cultivated. It must go back to the basic human need for food and the fact that our ancestors had to develop these techniques. I know that there is an old joke about watching grass grow, but this tour or at least the ride through is well worth the time. You can take it while waiting for your Soarin’ fast passes to time out.

  4. Allison says:

    Thanks for the review, Erin! My husband and I are considering this tour for our December trip, and we can’t wait to get our hands on the hydroponics info! Looks like a really neat tour.

  5. Michele says:

    I adore this ride!

    I haven’t done the tour like this but I did do the Segway version, which contained many of the same aspects. I did want to do this last trip, but it didn’t happen.

    Thank you for the review!

  6. MouseMisers says:

    My favorite tour at WDW, cheap and entertaining. Plus, I love Living with the Land, so the opportunity to spend time just standing in the greenhouses is a big plus. If you have never done this tour, plan it your next trip!

  7. John Grigas says:

    We did the tour last year, and it was a terrific experience.

    My wife loved the gardening facts and aspects. I loved being in the Land while the ride boats drifted past where we were standing. (I miss the narrators on the boats, but they are probably easier to hear/understand now.)

  8. Heather says:

    Oh my gosh! We LOVED this tour, it actually inspired my husband to come home and turn our back patio into a pretty serious hydroponics garden. We’ve grown tons of veggies and some fruits and herbs (only legal ones!!!) too.

  9. Sarah says:

    I have been wanting to take this tour for quite some time now. I’ll have to soon before it gets to hot in the green house! I need to start some seedlings this weekend, as well. All this talk is gearing me up for the Flower and Garden Festival!

  10. Amanda says:

    My fiance and I were planning on taking the tour when we were in Disney this past January. We were expecting one price, but on the day we went they listed the age 10 and up price as $18 per person. We didn’t do the tour then, but we will be back to try it. Just thought I would let you know that the price was listed differently than what you posted in the blog. But maybe they have lowered it! :)

  11. Rose says:

    We had been wanting to take this tour for many years and there was never time. Until Dec when we had 10 days. We are so glad we did it! Very interesting. We ended up having our guide hurry us towards the end because we were running late. Our tour lasted about 1hr and 20 min! We are going to do it again in March. Loved it! BTW we got a discount with out APs!

  12. Pudge the Fish says:

    I like that the Land is “old school” EPCOT. A ride like Living with the Land would probably never be built in today’s world. The educational value of the boat ride, the walking tour and the movie upstairs make it the last of the original all-ages learning pavilions. Then when they created a world class ride like Soarin’ and the market fresh food of Sunshine Seasons and it became the best place to be in Future World. (One of these days I will need to find the time to try Garden Grill).

  13. AJ says:

    Allison — I hope you love it! Let us know :-)

    Kelly — I’m hoping to do it this October; thanks for your review!

    Alan — This is one of my favorites as well. Ever since I was a kid I’ve found it interesting to float along the waterway and learn about what Disney’s doing in the greenhouse these days…

    Allison — Stay tuned! We might have an upcoming post about how to do a hydroponics garden at home!

    Michele — Do they segway through the greenhouse?! That would be awesome!

    Keith — Thanks for the review!

    John — I miss the narrators, too. At least you still have a cast member who does a LITTLE bit of narration.. sort of..

    Heather — I can’t wait to come to your house and have a nine pound lemon!

    Sarah — We should totally do this tour together in March! With margaritas!

    Amanda — Thank you for the pricing info! Would love to hear your review when you do the tour!

    Rose — Yay for AP discounts! Thank you for the review!

    Pudge — You and me both. I haven’t been to the rotating restaurant in its recent incarnation yet.

  14. Dana says:

    I’ve taken this tour only once (and admittedly- I only signed up because of it’s inexpensive price) but I was blown away by how much fun it was. It’s been about 5 years since I’ve been on it, and I think it’s definitely time to go again. I too love how you can take as many pictures as you wish backstage!

  15. AJ says:

    Thanks for the great review, Dana!

  16. Nine Pound Lemon Fan says:

    Thanks for the great review! I grow normal lemons in my greenhouse here in the UK and I would absolutely love to grow the Nine Pound Lemon! Could someone please tell me where I could buy some seeds or cuttings from the Nine Pound Lemon? I’ve searched the net but had no luck, any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  17. Chrissy says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful post. My kids loved the Living with the Land boat ride and the Garden Grill was their favorite meal, so I think that this tour will make our next trip just that much better, plus even at $20 per person it’s a great price.
    Glad that you can take pics, I love the one of your daughters with the Mickey Pumpkin.

Leave a Reply

Current month ye@r day *