You’re never going to go hungry on a trip to Disney World. Between the Mermaid Donuts, the Dole Whips, the splurge-worthy fine dining at the Grand Floridian, the colonial fare at the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Tree Tavern and Mickey Mouse-shaped pretzels, Rice Krispie treats, cotton candy, and beignets there’s no chance for a stomach to growl before it’s filled again. It's hard to go more than a few yards in the Mouse House without the deliciously sweet scent of some fried wonder. There are so many tempting food options in Disney World, it almost feels like it grows on trees and, in fact, in one corner of the park, it does.
Tucked inside of Epcot, which stands for “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow”, is the Living With The Land ride, where a futuristic greenhouse grows 9-pound lemons and Mickey Mouse-shaped pumpkins and sweet potatoes grow large without ever touching soil.
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The ride through this Willy Wonka-esque world promises a glimpse of the future of horticulture. While that may not sound like the sort of ride to lure the kids away from Space Mountain, the cruise through the living laboratories is a fascinating sneak peek of how food may be raised in the not-too-distant future.
The ride is made up of four greenhouses meant to replicate the tropics and the temperate climates, as well as a greenhouse dedicated to food production and one where the staff horticulturists can explore their creative sides. There’s also a fish farm, which raises live eels, tilapia, catfish, and freshwater shrimp. This isn’t just a solemn lecture, though, there’s a boat ride and a tour that shows the workings of this magical patch of land where massive tomato plant grows free from the constraints of gravity.
The Living with the Land exhibit is not only a welcome respite from the wilds of the theme park, but a real working greenhouse that grows food for the Sunshine Seasons restaurant and the Garden Grill Restaurant in The Land Pavilion, both of which serve produce and seafood fresh from the farm and, according to FoodBeast, they also feed the four-legged residents of the Animal Kingdom. The greenhouse is also a working food lab filled with innovative growing techniques and high-yield crops that could help feed the world, well outside of the Disney Parks. On the “Behind the Seeds” tour budding gardeners can see soil-less hydroponic systems, integrated pest management systems, and vertical gardens where plants are stacked up to the ceiling all of which may help feed the world’s population whether they ever make it to EPCOT or not.
The greenhouse is open from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. with tours running from 10:30-4:30 daily.