The Land is a pavilion located in Future World West, one of two themed areas of Epcot, at Walt Disney World Resort. It opened on October 1, 1982, as part of the Phase I features for the grand opening of what was then known as EPCOT Center. "The Land" is a 24 hectare (2.5 million square foot) facility dedicated to man's relationship with the environment with an emphasis on agriculture and our ecological impact on the Earth and a celebration of different ecosystems in general.
An Agriculture Pavilion was present in plans for Epcot from a very early stage. As things began to solidify, the pavilion would shift focus to emphasize Earth Ecosystems, with the exterior taking the form of a series of crystalline greenhouse structures emerging from the Earth. Three different entrances would lead into the greenhouse biomes, with a path underground leading to the main attraction, "Blueprints of Nature". Blueprints of Nature would begin with a carousel theater show introducing the pavilion's host, a character named the Landkeeper. Leaving the theater, guests would board suspended hot air balloon vehicles to travel through the four seasons and conclude in the greenhouse biome areas. From here, guests could access the Harvest Theater or take an elevated trail through the canopy to the main observation tower.
Plans were scaled back and an Agricultural and Nutritional sub-theme was established when Kraft picked up sponsorship of the pavilion. The balloon ride would become a boat ride and greenhouses would be focused on showcasing new agricultural techniques. Elements such as the crystalline structure and the Landkeeper would go on to inspire Journey Into Imagination's glass pyramids and the Dreamfinder. Blueprints of Nature was also the inspiration for the hot air balloons hanging from the ceiling in the main atrium.
By the mid-90s, sponsors had changed to Nestle and the entire pavilion would be updated with new attractions and an altered food court. With the addition of Soarin' in 2005, the theater that housed Kitchen Kaberet and Food Rocks would be replaced with the beginnings of the queue, which would lead into a corridor outside the main Land building and into a new showbuilding placed between the Land and Journey Into Imagination.
While "The Land" pavilion has existed since 1982, it has gone through three significant phases. The pavilion's first incarnation involved a ten-year sponsorship under Kraft Foods Inc. from 1982–1992. Kraft played a vital role in co-financing the everyday functions of the attractions, restaurants, and shops inside the pavilion. The pavilion's interior and exterior design featured earth tone colors and exotic plant life.
In 1993, plans were made to update and modernize the overall tone of EPCOT Center, including a major refurbishment of "The Land" pavilion. Kraft withdrew its sponsorship on September 26, 1993, with Nestle taking its place. Co-financed by Nestle and the Walt Disney World Resort, a gradual refurbishment of the pavilion began on September 27, 1993.
The pavilion itself was cosmetically freshened. While some of the original design elements remained, the addition of more vibrant colors and fabrics to the various restaurants and shops gave the pavilion a more modern and refreshed look. The names of certain shops, restaurants, and attractions also changed during this time. The pavilion's main attraction, Listen to the Land, which took guests on connected boats through various exhibits within the pavilion, reopened mostly unchanged as Living with the Land on December 10, 1993.
The Kitchen Kabaret Revue, another of the pavilion's original attractions featuring an Audio-Animatronics presentation about nutrition, closed on January 3, 1994. It was replaced with a new show titled Food Rocks, which featured some of the elements from the original show with an updated presentation intended to be more modern and appealing to younger audiences. Food Rocks has since closed down to make room for "The Land"'s newest attraction, Soarin'.
Symbiosis, the last of "The Land"'s three original attractions, was closed on January 1, 1995. This attraction, which was a cinematic presentation that discussed both the positive and negative aspects of human relationship with the land, eventually reopened as Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable, a new film featuring characters from The Lion King. Like the Food Rocks show, this new attraction recycled some of the elements of its predecessor, and was intended to be another refreshed and modernized feature of "The Land" that would better appeal to younger audiences.
In 2003, Nestle renewed its sponsorship of "The Land"; however, it was under agreement that Nestle would oversee its own refurbishment to both the interior and exterior of the pavilion. Between 2004 and 2005, the pavilion underwent its second major refurbishment. It received a new color scheme featuring a vibrant selection of white, yellow, and green. New foliage was added to complement the existing greenery. The walkways and stroller parking to the pavilion's entrance were redefined and widened. All of the carpeting in the pavilion was replaced, and the main food court was completely redesigned. The pavilion's signage was updated, incorporating the new color scheme, new typography, and a modernized logotype. The pavilion's original dedication plaque remained unchanged.
The most significant change to "The Land" during its 2004–2005 refurbishment was the closure and entire demolition of Food Rocks, which initially occurred on January 3, 2004. Taking its place would be Soarin', a major E ticket attraction that was originally designed and built for Disney California Adventure Park. Simulating the experience of hang gliding over various landscapes, Soarin's massive movie screens and ride mechanics required the construction of a large physical addition to the pavilion itself.
"The Land" officially reopened on May 5, 2005, which coincided with the start of Disney's Happiest Celebration on Earth Campaign. While "The Land" as a pavilion has somewhat changed, its purpose has not, and it remains a positive and serious experience featuring elements from all three of its phases, allowing today's guests to experience all that "The Land" has to offer.
On February 13, 2009, Nestle pulled out of sponsorship, leaving "The Land" without a sponsor.
"Living with the Land" was closed for a vehicle update from August 2, 2009, to October 2, 2009. This update increased passenger capacity from 36 to 40 guests per vehicle. Newer, more wheelchair-friendly vehicles were also a new addition.
On July 29, 2011, Chiquita signed on as the new sponsor for the ride Living with the Land.
Circle of Life would close in 2018, with a new nature documentary film titled Awesome Planet being announced in 2019 as a replacement.
In addition to being an entertainment venue, "The Land" is also a demonstration, production, and research facility. 43,000 ft² (0.4 hectares) of the pavilion are dedicated to experimental horticulture techniques in hydroponics, irrigation methods, and integrated pest management.
- Listen to the Land (1982-1993)
- Kitchen Kabaret (1982-1994)
- Symbiosis (1982-1995)
- Food Rocks (1994-2004)
- Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable (1995-2018)
- The Garden Grill Restaurant - Family restaurant with a farm house atmosphere, rotates and offers a view of the dark ride section of Living with the Land. The food is simple, family fare with costumed characters, such as Mickey Mouse, Chip 'n' Dale, and Pluto. Please note that lunch here ended September 2008.
- Sunshine Seasons - A food court.
- Asian Shop - A variety of noodle bowls and stir-fries.
- Sandwich Shop - A variety of made to order sandwiches.
- Soup/Salad Shop - A variety of soups and salads.
- Wood-Fired Grill Shop - Rotisserie chicken, beef and fish.
- Breakfast - Breakfast here offers pasteries, and combos that include eggs, one choice of bacon,or sausage, and a drink.
- Soarin' Tour Desk - A desk, located to the left of the entrance to Soarin', where Guests may sign up for the Behind the Seeds Greenhouse Tour, which takes place in the greenhouse section of the Living with the Land attraction. Guests may also purchase Mickey's Mini Gardens, tiny plants produced through tissue culture in nutrient gel and packaged in sterile tubes.
- Green Thumb Emporium - A small merchandise area, located across from the Soarin' Tour Desk. A small assortment of Soarin' T-shirts and pins, along with disposable cameras and Mickey's Mini Gardens are available for purchase. Note that this shop has taken on the name of the former, much larger, shop at the Land which occupied the same approximate area.
- The Good Turn Restaurant (October 1, 1982 - May 1, 1986) - The original name of the present Garden Grill Restaurant.
- The Land Grille Room (May 2, 1986 - November 15, 1993) - The second name given to the present Garden Grill Restaurant.
- Farmer's Market (October 1, 1982 - October 25, 1993) - The name of "The Land's" original food court.
- The Sunshine Season Food Fair (1994–2004) - The second name given to the "The Land's" food court.
- Potato Store - A variety of potato dishes.
- Pasta - A variety of pasta dishes.
- Soup/Salad - A variety of soups and salads.
- Barbecue - BBQ chicken and beef.
- The Green Thumb Emporium - A small gift shop, focusing on food and gardening.
Pavilion facts and figures
- Pavilion capacity: 3,600 persons
- Pavilion size: 253,780 square feet (24,000 m²) Roughly the size of Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney World.
- Pavilion sponsor(s): Kraft Foods Inc. (October 1, 1982 - September 26, 1993), and Nestle (September 27, 1993 - Early 2009)
- There is a VIP room at the top of the Pavilion accessible by pressing the elevator buttons in a certain sequence. The meeting room looks down on parts of the Living with the Land attraction.