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by Fancy Free Diva

If you’ve been on Disney blogs like ours, or if you live close enough to Walt Disney World, you may have noticed that every spring Epcot begins beautifying itself for the International Flower and Garden Festival.  If you are a gardener, springtime is the time to be at WDW, as the International Flower and Garden Festival provides visitors with chances to tour themed flower and garden displays, learn tips and tricks for their home gardens, and listen to educational design presentations.

Epcot really is beautiful all year round. This photo was taken in July!

Epcot really is beautiful all year round. This photo was taken in July!

Diva Tip: If you’re ready to learn more about Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival, read what Florida Diva and Jayship Earth had to say about the festival in past years.

Even though the International Flower and Garden Festival has been expanded to 90 days this spring (2016), what if you cannot plan a trip during that time, but you still love gardening?  Well, there’s still at least one terrific option for you that’s offered year-round: Epcot’s Behind the Seeds Tour in the Land Pavilion.

Fancy Free Daughter is ready to live with the land!

Fancy Free Daughter is ready to live with the land!

Unlike some of Disney’s tours, the Behind the Seeds Tour is really affordable.  At just $20/adult and $16/children, this hour-long walking tour is designed to please everyone in your party. While this tour is handicap accessible, guests must be able to transfer to a wheelchair.  Also, strollers are not allowed, so I wore Fancy Free Son (15-months) in our Ergo for the entirety of the tour.  Note: You do need admission to Epcot on the day you plan to do this tour.

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The Behind the Seeds Tour lets you get up close and personal with the plants in the Land Pavilion, like this hanging watermelon!

Diva Tip: If you’re an annual passholder, a Disney Visa holder, or a DVC member, you’ll be able to get a discount off these already low prices!  We qualify for all 3 categories, but you only need 1 to get 15% off (as of July 2015).

When it’s time for your tour, you’ll need to make your way to the check-in desk.  Note: You should check in 15 minutes prior to your reserved tour time.  You’ll find the check-in desk in the lower part of the Land Pavilion, over near Soarin’ – it’s next to the little gift shop kiosk.  You’ll really get the most out of the tour if you ride the Living With the Land boat ride before your tour.  Jayship Earth does a fantastic job describing all of the ins and outs of this fun and educational attraction.

Beautiful bananas!

Beautiful bananas!

Diva Tip: You will be on your feet for the entire hour.  My 4-yo who accompanied us on our tour was fine, but got tired toward the end.  After the tour, we had dining reservations at the Garden Grill, one of our favorite character dining experiences.  Incidentally, the restaurant serves food that is grown in the greenhouses below and features a slow rotation so that you’ll be able to see into the Living With the Land ride while you dine!

Once you check in, you’ll meet the rest of your touring party, usually a group of 12-15 in total.  There were 9 of us in our family group, so we were joined by only one other couple the day that we went.  The first step in the tour relates to pest management.  There are lots of bugs here!

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All of these cases have plants and tiny bugs. The plant scientists study the effects of the insects on the plants.

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This plant has been affected by a bug infestation, but the plant scientists introduced another bug, the parasitoid wasp, to eat the first bugs and keep the plant healthy.

The pest management part of the tour was very scientific, and some people might think it could be boring, but the 4-yo, 5-yo, and 8-yo on our trip were fascinated by the bugs and asked our guide lots of questions.

Our next stop in the tour was the greenhouse.  On our way, we passed the Mini Mickey Gardens.  They are all cultivated in the Land Pavilion, so guests can take a little bit of Epcot home with them!

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You can bring a little piece of Epcot home with you!

Even though it was a balmy 90-degrees outside, the greenhouse did not seem especially warm or humid.  For the most part, you can’t touch most of the plants in the greenhouse, but you do get some amazing opportunities for up close photos.

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When you’re on the tour, you really get to see the plants up close. See where the ride boat is in the background?

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Growing the plants vertically increases the number of plants you can grow in a small space.

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A close-up of some of the beautiful flowers we saw in the greenhouse.

While you can’t touch most of the plants in the greenhouse, there is at least one you can touch and one you can taste!  That’s right, we got to sample a Mickey-shaped cucumber on our tour, fresh from the garden.  While we were taste-testing the produce, we got to see the molds they use to shape the cucumbers into the classic Mickey shape.

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Here is Fancy Free Daughter munching a Mickey cucumber – delicious!

This part of the tour was also focused on hydroponic growing, and our tour guide had photocopied handouts with instructions for building your very own hydroponic gardens at home using PVC pipes.

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This lettuce is grown using the hydroponic method. See the hidden Mickey?

The plant we got to touch is not native to our home state in the Northeast, so our girls were fascinated by the morivivir (mimosa pudica).  This plant is related to the Venus fly trap, and when you touch its leaves or shake its branches, it closes right up!

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This is the plant with its leaves open.

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Here’s what it looks like once the leaves close up after it’s been touched.

The “scaredy plant,” as my daughter called it, was one of the highlights of our tour, but it certainly wasn’t over yet.  We left the greenhouse for the aquaculture area where we got to see the baby alligators and fish close up.

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Baby alligators sunning themselves under the heat lamps.

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Keep a look out for hidden Mickeys everywhere – even in the fish tanks!

While some reviews of this tour report a ladybug release (the official Disney website also mentions it), we were not offered that opportunity (despite the presence of four children aged 8 and under!)  Even without the ladybugs, this tour wa

s well worth our time and money.  We learned a lot, and my mother, who is the gardener in our group, thought that this was one of the best things she had ever done at Walt Disney World!  Our tour guide was knowledgeable, and it was really fascinating to see the flora and fauna of the Land Pavilion up close and personal.

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Another hands-on educational experience.

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Fancy Free Daughter and the Fancy Free Nieces had a great time on the tour!

To book the Behind the Seeds Tour, you can call 407-WDW-TOUR.  You can also typically make same-day reservations by walking up to the check-in desk near the souvenir kiosk by Soarin’ in the Land Pavilion.  Tours begin every 45-minutes or so and run from 10:30am-4:30pm every day.  Of course, if you’d rather take the hassle out of your vacation planning, you can let Patricia of All for Dreams Travel take care of everything for you.  Click here to find out how to get a quote.

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A gorgeous view from “behind the seeds”

***Disclaimer – We at Tips from the Disney Divas and Devos hope you enjoy reading our articles, and encourage you to share any you feel may be of interest to someone else. We do ask, however, if you choose to share the photographs attached to our articles, you give credit to the photographer. Thank you for your cooperation and sharing our love of Disney!

Hi! I'm Stephanie, aka the Fancy Free Diva. I'm a mom from Maine, and when I'm not in the classroom teaching irony using clips from Frozen and Mulan, I can be found playing with my own kids and planning our next Disney trip. I'm an Annual Passholder at WDW and a DVC member, and on cold winter nights I'm usually dreaming about summer vacation when I can take my family back to Florida and be fancy free!