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I approach my Walt Disney World vacations a little different than others. For me the marvel of going to Disney World is in the performance, and I’m not just talking about Fantasmic. The performances I love the most at Walt Disney World involve the logistics of taking thousands of visitors each day and quite literally making their dreams come true. They are clothed, fed, and thrilled in a precision ballet not many other places in the world can replicate.
One of the reasons I became a scientist is because as a child I was extremely inquisitive and loved the processes that drove places like Disney World. I asked questions and sought answers and unfortunately for my parents this bled into our family vacations. Walt Disney World was not just a place for me to reminisce, but also analyze. Why is Spaceship Earth a geodesic dome? What row of seats is the most likely to be drenched on Splash Mountain given the angle of descent? Why aren’t churros served everywhere on property? (I still haven’t figured this one out.) Because of this one of my favorite rides at Epcot is Living With The Land.
For many it is a 20-minute break either before Soarin’ or after a meal, just long enough to put the kids to sleep and just slow enough to keep them that way. But for me Living With The Land is one of the last glimpses into Walt Disney’s original vision for Epcot; his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. After a short ride through simulated biomes you get to view the inner sanctum of Disney’s green mission: four greenhouses and an aquatic farm used to raise fish. The presentation is spectacular and there are hidden Mickeys abound, except these ones are alive in the form of cucumbers and pumpkins! The fish are served at restaurants on property and the produce is served steps away in The Garden Grill and Sunshine Seasons food court. Where else can you eat food you just saw on a Disney ride?
Innovative agricultural processes are also tested and used in the greenhouses such as hydroponics (growing plants without soil) and aquaponics (using fish waste in the hydroponic process). While Disney is considered a leader in innovation, many people would not consider agriculture to be one those fields. However, the scientists working in The Land Pavilion are creating ways to solve problems that extend beyond the scope of our vacation to Disney World. They are truly making a difference, and Living With The Land illustrates this beautifully.
The last word most children wants to hear at Disney World is educational. And they’re right, to a point. Only a very special few of us want to learn on our vacation instead of, I don’t know, eating our weight in Dole Whip. But Living With The Land does more than entertain the few environmental scientists who hoot and holler every time the word sustainability is mentioned (the Cast Members are actually amused by this). It teaches us the lesson to pay attention to where our food comes from and to not take it for granted. Disney World is a massive complex which generates tons of waste each year, but even they are taking necessary steps to reduce, reuse, and recycle their products when they can. We take so many things home from our vacations to Disney: souvenirs, memories, and a desire to spread a little Disney magic wherever we go. Why can’t part of that magic be the lessons of sustainability and stewardship taught at Living With The Land?
Do you enjoy the scientific aspects of Living with the Land? What things have you learned by riding this attraction? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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