The Land Pavilion in Epcot’s Future World offers Disney World guests a cornucopia of experiences with its multiple attractions, a fantastic food court, a table service restaurant (that rotates!), and a behind-the-scenes tour. Even better is that many of these experiences are an excellent way to appreciate the original goal of Epcot—for guests to have fun while they learn. For these reasons, my family recently decided to complete a Land Pavilion Triple Play. Come along as we ride, eat, and tour at the Land Pavilion!
Creating a Touring Plan for a Triple Play
I decided that creating a personalized Touring Plan would be an excellent way to test the timing of spending an afternoon in Epcot experiencing the Land Pavilion’s attractions, taking its Behind the Seeds tour, and eating dinner at the Garden Grill Restaurant.
This plan would include a FastPass+ reservation at the Land’s Soarin’. To round out our allotment of three FastPass+ reservations per day, we would start our plan with just enough time to use FastPass+ at Spaceship Earth and the Seas with Nemo & Friends before heading to the Land Pavilion.
My first step was to book the Behind the Seeds tour. Booking the last tour of the day—at 4:30 PM—seemed like the best way to maintain a relaxed pace throughout the rest of our day. At the very latest, we would arrive at the Land Pavilion with enough time to experience the Living with the Land attraction before the tour. Living with the Land is a boat cruise through the same greenhouses where the in-depth Behind the Seeds walking tour takes place. This makes it a perfect way to get excited for the tour.
Once the tour was booked, I needed to determine the timing for experiencing the rest of the attractions and for our dinner reservation. Here is my Land Pavilion Triple Play Touring Plan, including attractions, the tour, and dining.
By trying a couple of different scenarios when creating this Touring Plan, I found that we would need to arrive at the pavilion about 45 minutes before the tour if we wanted to experience Living with the Land first and be at least 15 minutes early to check-in for the tour. I also planned for the tour to run up to a ½ hour late.
Based on how long the plan indicated it would likely take to experience Spaceship Earth and Nemo with FastPass+ in the late afternoon that day, I determined that we would need to be in the park by 3 PM.
Then, based on how long the plan indicated it would likely take to experience Soarin’ (with FastPass+) and the Circle of Life movie after the tour, I made our reservation at the Garden Grill for 7:00 PM.
I realize this seems like a lot of planning, but the Touring Plan tool made it easy. The one limitation would have been if we were too close to our trip to make FastPass+ or dining reservations at ideal times based on the plan. If we were closer to our trip, some more flexibility would likely have been required. In this case, however, we were early enough to take maximum advantage of the in-advance planning for FastPass+ and dining that has become a major aspect of vacationing at Disney World. By the way, this plan is for a day with a crowd level of 5 at Epcot (visit TouringPlans.com for more information about crowd levels and creating personalized Touring Plans.)
Behind the Seeds Tour
The inexpensive and information-packed 1-1½ hour Behind the Seeds tour is one of the best values in Disney World. During our tour, an enthusiastic Kansas State University water culture major participating in the Disney’s Professional Internship program led 11 guests through the labs, four greenhouses, and aquaculture section that guests view while on the Living with the Land boats.
Our tour guide provided tons of details on the many innovative methods that Disney horticulturalists use to grow crops. Here are some of the highlights from our tour:
► We sampled cucumbers grown using hydroponics (no soil needed) and learned that the greenhouses have Mickey molds to shape cucumbers, watermelons, and pumpkins.
► We met a Mimosa pudica (sensitive plant) named Stanley whose leaves responded to touch by immediately closing and then opening a few minutes later for another “meet and greet.” Stanley can be seen in the first photo of this article.
► We saw a tomato plant with a 30-foot root stalk. Our guide told us that at one time the greenhouse had a single tomato plant that produced 32,000 tomatoes in 16½ months.
► We got the opportunity to hold a 50-pound winter melon. We also saw some 200-pound watermelons that are supported in hammocks as they grow.
► We got to see a Carolina reaper plant, which grows the world’s hottest pepper.
► Several of the kids were given a vial of lady bugs at the beginning of the tour, and they released them in the final greenhouse to eat bad bugs.
► We got to see the fish and alligators in the fish farm up close. I hear you get to feed these critters on some tours, but we must have missed feeding time.
► All-told, the greenhouses feature a total of about 150 different plants and 8 or 9 Hidden Mickeys at any one time.
We found the tour to be a great experience. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and excited to answer questions from curious kids and adults. Toward the end of the tour, a rain storm pounded on the greenhouse windows (man, was it loud!), and our guide did a great job keeping us interested even though she had to yell to be heard.
If the Behind the Seeds tour sounds like an experience for you, here’s what you need to know:
► The tour is a great value at $20 for adults and $16 for children. A 15% discount is available to Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club members, Disney Visa cardholders, and military personnel.
► Theme park admission is required and not included in the price of the tour.
► The tour runs daily every 45 minutes starting at 10:30 AM, with the last tour at 4:30 PM.
► Check-in is at a tour desk near the entrance to Soarin’, and you are asked to arrive 15 minutes before your tour.
► The tour is wheelchair accessible.
► Reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance by calling the Walt Disney World Resort Tours Department at 407-939-8687. There is a 2-day cancellation policy. You can also check for same-day availability by visiting the tour desk near Soarin’.
Garden Grill Restaurant
A character dinner at the Garden Grill was the perfect way to cap off our afternoon at the Land Pavilion after enjoying its attractions and Behind the Seeds. Not only does the Garden Grill serve lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes grown in the Land’s greenhouses, but it features a window that looks down into the Living with the Land attraction as the restaurant slowly revolves through different scenes.
Food is served family style as Chip n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast, with warm bread and salad followed by lots of comfort food and dessert. Although the meats (beef, turkey, and fish) were all a bit dry, the sides were good and the seasonal skillet dessert (ours had blueberries and raspberries) with vanilla bean whipped cream was delicious.
In addition to indulging in Chip n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast, guests get to meet them as well as Mickey and Pluto. Mickey looked great in his farmer garb.
Seating at the restaurant is on two levels. We were seated on the upper level, which is the same level as the kitchen. We found the lighting on this level to be a bit bright, almost giving it a cafeteria feel. The lighting on the lower level was pleasantly dimmer, and Living with the Land can be seen and heard better from there, so I would recommend asking to be seated there when checking in.
The Garden Grill is open for dinner from 4:00 to 8:00 PM. Current pricing is $44 for adults and $26 for kids. Prices can vary according to season.
Along with the Garden Grill, the Land Pavilion features Sunshine Seasons, a fantastic counter-service restaurant that offers one of the best and most diverse menus in Disney World. It’s a great option if you can’t get a reservation at the Garden Grill or would prefer counter service.
With its open and airy atmosphere, the Land Pavilion is one of my favorite places to hang out at Epcot. The diversity of attractions and dining here plus the Behind the Seeds tour is definitely worthy of a Land Pavilion Triple Play.