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INTERCOT > Theme Parks > Epcot > The Land > Living With the Land

Living With the Land


Behind the brightly colored, mosaic façade of The Land pavilion at Epcot sits non-descript offices where greenhouse "magic" takes place. Horticulture and entertainment -- which some call "horti-tainment" -- blend to create some of the most visually interesting fruits and vegetables found under one roof anywhere in the world.

From Mickey Mouse-shaped food and tons of tomatoes to Cinderella pumpkins and lemons the size of bowling balls, the Epcot Science team at The Land constantly works to include produce and other foods on the pavilion's Living with the Land attraction to give guests something they can't see anywhere else. Living with the Land, a narrated, 14-minute boat ride through the farms of yesteryear as well as the greenhouses of tomorrow, showcases the team's research and work inside The Land's four greenhouses.

Some of the horticulture highlights:

Mickey Mouse-shaped cucumbers: In 2003, The Land Science team developed a special, elongated mold that is placed around a young cucumber. As it grows, the vegetable forms the familiar shape of Mickey's silhouette. The cucumbers are harvested and served atop salads inside The Land's Garden Grill Restaurant.

Mickey Mouse-shaped watermelons: Building on the success of the Mickey cucumber, the team created a similar mold for watermelons. Guests on the Living with the Land attraction often see the three-dimensional Mickey Mouse-shape watermelons growing on the vines inside the greenhouses.

Mickey Mouse-shaped pumpkins: Autumn brings the biggest harvest of pumpkins at The Land, and Mickey Mouse-shaped pumpkins have quickly become a favorite. Introduced in 2004, the Mickey Mouse-shaped pumpkins -- some which weigh nearly 80 pounds -- are harvested and placed inside the greenhouses for guest viewing. Also featured: the “Cinderella” pumpkin, named for the shape it shares with Cinderella’s famous coach.

Nine-pound lemons: While they're not Mickey Mouse-shaped, the nine-pound lemons grow to what their descriptive name implies -- a lemon that weighs nine pounds. These sour mammoths begin as young, green fruit on trees inside the greenhouse. As they mature, they take on the familiar lemony-yellow hue and preserve all of the taste of smaller variety lemons.

Thousands of tomatoes from one vine: Yong Huang, Epcot’s manager of agricultural science at The Land pavilion, is working with a new "tomato tree” that is currently growing inside the theme park's experimental greenhouses. The only one of its kind in the United States, the plant yields thousands of tomatoes at one time from a single vine. Huang discovered the plant while on vacation last year in Beijing, China.

After meeting with scientists responsible for that plant, Huang brought its seeds to Epcot and created the specialized greenhouse for the fruit to grow. The golf ball-sized tomatoes are harvested and served in restaurants at Walt Disney World. In addition to showcasing science to Epcot guests, Huang, a native of Shenyang, China, said his team’s goal is to set a world record for the most pounds of fruit grown on a single vine.

Guests on the attraction also see:

  • The Tropics Greenhouse, growing crops native to Southeast Asia, Africa, Latin America and the southern United States. Rice, sugar cane, peanuts, cacao, bananas and a 59-foot peach palm flourish under a 60-foot dome.

  • The Aquacell, showcasing crops that swim -- fish and other aquatic life including alligators, catfish, tilapia, sunshine bass and American eel.

  • The Temperate Greenhouse, featuring the concepts and technologies of sustainable agriculture, including intercropping, integrated pest management and specialized irrigation systems that reduce waste and increase crop production.

  • The Production Greenhouse, where tons of tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and other vegetables are grown for use in The Land's Garden Grill Restaurant and other Epcot restaurants. The Land scientists utilize growing systems that are kinder to the environment and improve productivity.

  • The Creative House, showing imaginative ways to grow crops -- without soil, hanging in the air, even on a space station. USDA scientists currently are working at The Land to develop dwarf pear trees for greater production efficiency.
     

     

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