Remembering the Magic: The Land Pavilionby Jonathan Heigl, contributing writer
The Land Pavilion wasn't originally the place where most park guests darted to at "rope drop." Previously, a lot of guests would either walk right by it without wanting to go in or they would just go in and visit some or all of the attractions because they felt they needed to try and see everything there was to offer. Of course there were some that actually visited the pavilion because they liked what it had to offer, but unofficially, that group was the minority. However, something happened in 2005 that would make this pavilion arguably the pavilion to go to in all of Epcot. Let's take a journey back as we explore the history of The Land…
The Land Pavilion (1982 – Present)
The Land is an original pavilion, opening on Epcot's first day of operation (October 1, 1982). The pavilion has a focus on agriculture, food, and how humans interact with the land. It was sponsored by Kraft Foods from 1982 until the end of 1992. The pavilion originally held three attractions—Kitchen Kabaret, Symbiosis, and Listen to the Land.
Kitchen Kabaret (October 1, 1982 – January 3, 1994)
This was a 13-minute musical show using audio-animatronics presented as meats, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and grains. The purpose was to get across the benefits of healthy eating. The show was located on the left side of the lower level.
The host, Bonnie Appetite, a female audio-animatronic, opens the show by singing the "Mealtime Blues." She is sitting on a few large books and has another large book opened in front of her.
After her song, the main stage curtain raises. The backdrop is a kitchen and in the foreground are numerous Audio-Animatronic kitchen items (mayonnaise jar, parmesan cheese container, mustard bottle) playing kitchen cookware (they are named "Kitchen Krackpots"). The Kitchen Krackpots begin playing a ragtime type song and Bonnie Appetite returns on her side stage, but this time standing and in ragtime attire. They play and sing "Chase Those (Meal Time) Blues Away."
When the song is finished, Bonnie Appetite introduces Mr. Dairy Good (a milk carton), who comes out of the refrigerator holding an old-style microphone on a pole and introduces us to a few dairy characters by crooning the introduction named "The Stars of the Milky Way." The first character he introduces us to is Miss Cheese. She sings a few lines about cheese and its delicious taste. Next he introduces us to Miss Yogurt, who sings about how yogurt can be eaten every day. After, he introduces us to Miss Ice Cream who sings about ice cream's coldness and how it is a tasty treat. Mr. Dairy Good closes the song by saying that "we all can agree, the taste is heavenly." The lights dim as the refrigerator door closes.
Bonnie Appetite, once again, is shown on the side stage and introduces us to "The Cereal Sisters" (containers of Oats, Rice and Corn), who are shown on a side stage further right to the audience. They are singing "Boogie Woogie Bakery Boy" in a swing style. There is also a loaf of bread playing the bugle. They sing about breads and cereals and their benefit.
Bonnie Appetite is once again shown on her stage and the audience hears some arguing in the background. She apologizes and introduces us to the next act (who were the ones we heard arguing), "The Breakfast Buddies – Hamm and Eggz." They perform "Meat Ditties" which is a vaudeville comic act wiht a few lines of singing between the jokes. Their act is about protein and its benefits. Near the end, Hamm gets mad because of Eggz lame jokes and decides to join another group.
Immediately after their act, the next group is shown (Colander Combo and Fiesta Fruit) singing "Veggie Veggie Fruit Fruit." THe act begins with low lighting, night sounds and percussion, then the various fruits and vegetables start signing "veggie fruit fruit veggie veggie fruit fruit." They act as the latin band and backup singers as Bonnie Appetite (who is in latin inspired attire and sitting on a crescent moon) sings about how a meal has to be balanced with the vitamins vegetables and fruits have.
The show ends by Bonnie Appetite and the cast singing "Kabaret Finale" which includes a medley in their song styles giving tips on healthy eating. The curtain comes down and Kraft, who sponsored it from open until September 26, 1993, was projected onto the curtain.
Symbiosis (October 1, 1982 – December 31, 1994)
This was an 18-minute, 70mm projected film based on technological progress on the environment and how people interact with the environment, including how we damage it and what we do to repair it. This film was shown in the Harvest Theater, which was on the upper level (same level guests entered the pavilion on) towards the back-right side.
Listen to the Land (October 1, 1982 – September 27, 1993)
Listen to the Land was a 15-minute slow boat ride through the greenhouses of The Land pavilion. The focus of the ride is agriculture, the different methods and how plants survive in the various climates. The boats are green, canopy covered boats. Each boat has 10 rows and can fit about 4 people per row, along with a Cast Member who narrated and explained the scenes. Some boats differ if they are the handicap accessible boats.
The ride began with the "Symphony of the Seed" scene. In this scene, the theme song, "Listen to the Land" was heard and light projections and sculpted props helped to illustrate the illusion of seeds and growing into plants.
Next was a tropical rainforest. It was explained how plants can grow and survive in such a humid and wet environment and also provide food for the animals of the rainforest.
Following this was the desert scene, where it was explained how the little vegetation life present can survive and thrive in the sandy, hot desert with very little water.
The next scene was the American Prairie. There are a few Buffaloes shown, as well as some prairie dogs. The Cast Member explained how the prairie was exposed to very unpredictable weather, brush fires, and other natural phenomena, but the land withstood all of these and was fertile enough to regrow and provide for the animal life.
After this, you entered a scene about the American Farmer. It showed a farm house with chickens, a dog, tractor, etc. The boat proceeded and entered through the "doors of the barn" and inside the barn were large projection screens on the left side (the right side of the boat being props you might find in a barn, like rakes, shovels, etc). On these screens were video projections of various techniques and technologies farmers were using and learning to help keep their land fertile and produce healthy vegetation.
The boats then proceeded to the greenhouses, where various vegetation and techniques were displayed. In order, the greenhouses were: Tropics House, Aquacell, Desert House, Production House, and Creative House.
The last scene was the Biotechnology Lab, which showed how scientists used science, technology, and labs to grow and produce foods, as well as make them more resistant to droughts, pests, etc.
The pavilion also held a food court, on the lower level. It was named "Farmer's Market" and had eight different counters, which sold barbecue, bakery, cheese, Disney Handwiches, ice cream, potato, sandwiches, and soup, and salad. There was also a sit-down restaurant, called "Good Turn Restaurant" (1982–1986), which served regional American breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes. This would revolve so guests could see the food court (or inside of the pavilion) and then eventually some of the scenes in the inside of Listen to the Land. The name was changed to "Land Grille Room" (1986–1993), which served American breakfasts and regional American pizzas, sandwiches, steak, chicken, and seafood for lunch and dinner.
In October 1992, Kraft's 10-year sponsorship agreement ended, at which time Kraft did not renew. Disney began arranging for a new sponsor, and found one in Nestle. On January 1, 1993, Nestle became the official sponsor of The Land Pavilion.
Throughout 1993, plans were made to refurbish and modernize the pavilion. The changes were to be gradual and began in September 1993. A lot of the changes were cosmetic, such as repainting the hot air balloons that were inside the pavilion. Others were a little bit more meaningful. The Farmer's Market was renamed Sunshine Season Food Fair. Most of the same food was served and for the most part, the area remained unchanged except for a darker coat of paint, additional hot air balloons, removal of roosters, and other smaller changes. The Land Grille Room was changed to The Garden Grill and changed to a homestyle buffet. Listen to the Land was renamed Living with the Land and remained largely unchanged, with a few exceptions.
The opening scene was changed to a rainforest storm scene. In the greenhouses, there were some new crop growing techniques. The Biotechnology Lab was relocated from the end tunnel to the Creative Greenhouse, and in its place was the Integrated Pest Management Lab (which cannot be seen from the boat). The theme song, "Listen to the Land" was removed as well.
In January 1994, Kitchen Kabaret closed and was replaced with Food Rocks. Food Rocks was similar to Kitchen Kabaret in terms of the characters being food items that sang about nutrition. However, this time around, as the name suggested, it was more rock and pop. Debuting on March 26, 1994, Food Rocks was just over 12 and a half minutes. The main character, Fud Wrapper (pronounced Food Wrapper), was voiced by Tone Loc.
The concert was an "all-star benefit for nutrition," in which each act was a pun of the original artist (in terms of sound and style) and the songs were parodies. The show began with colored lights moving around and the stage curtain rising as the voice over the speakers asked the audience to welcome The U-tensils, who sang "We'll Make It Count In The Kitchen," a parody of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." The U-tensils were a few kitchen utensils (butcher knife, cheese grater, some wooden spoons, etc).
After they did their short parody, Fud Wrapper is introduced, who, in turn, introducef The Peach Boys (consisting of various fruits singing "Good Nutrition," a parody of "Good Vibrations" sung by The Beach Boys). After their song, the show is interrupted by a punk rock band named Excess. They represent junk food and try to tell everyone that they don't want to eat healthy food and they should eat junk food instead.
After being told to "cool it" by Fud Wrapper, Excess goes away and the next group, The Refrigerator Police sing "Every Bite You Take," a parody of "Every Breath You Take" from The Police. The Refrigerator Police are a group of things you might find in a refrigerator. An interesting thing to note here is that the carton of milk is actually Mr. Dairy Good from Kitchen Kabaret but now he has sunglasses and an updated microphone (as well as a new voice).
When they are done with their short rendition, Fud Wrapper reminds us not to forget about our breads, cereals, and grains. He introduces Pita Gabriel who sings "High Fiber," which is a parody of Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer." After his short parody, Excess returns to once again talk about junk food. Fud Wrapper tells them to go away again and then he breaks out into a rap song, which is a parody of (Tone Loc's own) "Wild Thing," which is called "Always Read the Wrapper."
After his rap, the Sole of Rock and Roll is introduced by the voice over the loudspeaker and begins to sing her song "Just Keep It Lean," a parody of Cher's "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)." This song was about eating fish and keeping food lean. Fud Wrapper comes out after the song and introduces the next act, Richard, singing "Tutti Frutti." Richard was actually voiced by Little Richard signing his own song, but with slightly changed lyrics.
Immediately after Richard finishes his few lines, the next act comes out—Neil Moussaka singing "Vegetables Are Good For You," a parody of Neil Sedaka's "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do," which sang about how vegetables are good for you.
Fud Wrapper then introduces Chubby Cheddar, who sang "Let's Exercise," a parody of Chubby Checker's "The Twist." This was an animated shadow of a block of cheddar cheese holding a cheese grater above his head and doing the twist. Excess shows up again afterwards. Fud Wrapper gets upset with them and they begin singing "Give Us Junk," which is an original composition. After a couple minutes, Fud Wrapper unplugs them and the Get-the-Point Sisters come on and sign "Just a Little Bit," parody of Aretha Franklin's "RESPECT."
When that is done, Fud Wrapper reminds us to eat right and exercise, and say no to excess. Then, The U-tensils and the rest of the cast come back out and sing "Choose Before You Chew," another parody of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."
In 1995, Symbiosis in the Harvest Theater was closed and replaced with Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable. This new show would include Simba, Timon, and Pumba from The Lion King. This was another 70mm film and is about 12 minutes long. This film shows the many dangers the environment faces and emphasizes what responsibility the people have in maintaining the environment. It uses live shots as well as the animated sequences with the characters. This is still present today in the pavilion.
in 2004 through 2005, the pavilion went through another refurbishment, but this time, it brought something entirely new. The main purpose for this renovation was to bring a brand new attraction, originally opened in Disney California Adventure park. Florida visitors finally got a version of Soarin' in Epcot. Food Rocks was closed and the area repurposed to put Soarin' in its place. The ride is a simulation of a hang glider flying over various scenes in California. I won't go on any further as anyone who is reading this has probably ridden it already, or if they haven't are looking forward to it on their next visit and I don't want to spoil the experience for them by giving it away.
In order for Soarin' to fit in the pavilion, a hangar-like building was added, and a tunnel from the original pavilion to this building was built (the current Soarin' queue).
In August 2006, Living with the Land was updated to no longer require cast members to ride along and narrate the second half of the ride, the greenhouses. Instead, riders now hear an audio recording. There have been other smaller closures, for paint refreshing, queue work, and so on, but nothing noteworthy.
At this point, Soarin' is the main attraction, with Living with the Land and Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable being the other attractions in the pavilion. The restaurant and food court are still in the pavilion as well.
Jonathan's verdict – revert, update, leave alone, or re-imagine?
This is a tough call for me. While Soarin' is great and is still a hugely popular ride, and I really like Living with the Land, I think the pavilion needs some major updating to modern times. Therefore, my verdict will be update it. It is rumored that Soarin' will soon be getting a new film, and that is necessary. Living with the Land could use a facelift in some sort, and Circle of Life definitely needs to be updated.
Have any ideas on how to improve this pavilion? Want it to be left alone? Want the whole pavilion demolished for something different? Let us know what you think about this, as well as any other thoughts you have on the pavilion in the comments! Thanks for reading!