OpEd: Living with the Land is EPCOT’s Last Surviving Classic Attraction

in Epcot, Walt Disney World

Living with the Land greenhouse at Epcot

Credit: Disney

Living with the Land is like Marmite, you either love it or you hate it and often when I’ve encouraged someone to go on the attraction for the first time, they’ve never ridden it before because “it sounds boring”.

One can certainly be forgiven for thinking that an attraction with plants wouldn’t be that interesting. However, I’m putting it out there that Living with the Land is the last remaining attraction at EPCOT that holds true to the Golden Age of the park.

So what do I mean by Golden Age? Well, think of a time when we had Spaceship Earth, Living with the Land (Listen to the Land as it was originally known), Journey into Imagination, Maelstrom, Horizons, and World of Motion, all in the park at the same time.

Living with the Land
Credit: Disney

What Makes Living with the Land so Great?

Living with the Land combines education, fun, great (okay average) animatronics into an almost 15-minute boat ride where you can see some of the awesome work the team at EPCOT does daily. On paper, it shouldn’t work as an interesting theme park attraction that keeps you engaged for the time you are on board for, but it somehow it works.

The first part of the attraction does a great job at getting younger fans hooked into the ride, combining the sights and sounds of a thunderstorm with audio-animatronic figures of dogs, buffalo, goats, chickens and more (there are 35 in total).

It is then that Guests enter the living laboratory where the ride tends to be more appreciated by older Guests. On a busy day at the parks, Living with the Land can always be relied on to not have a long wait time and to be a relaxing experience where you can sit back, relax, and take in the attraction. You know what, that’s okay!

Living with the Land greenhouse at Epcot
Credit: Disney

What About the Original Vision for EPCOT, Surely Change is Good?

I know what some of you are thinking, what about when Walt Disney himself first introduced us to EPCOT with the following quote:

EPCOT will be an experimental prototype community of tomorrow that will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing and testing and demonstrating new materials and systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world for the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise.

Let’s be honest for a second, this original idea was changed quite dramatically between Walt Disney passing away in 1966 and EPCOT opening in 1982. While it is fair to say that many of the announced changes coming to EPCOT in the coming years are going to improve the park for the better, the changes reflect a new way of thinking.

Most of the additions come from an existing IP (i.e. Guardians of the Galaxy, Moana, and Ratatouille) whereas when you think back to the 80s and 90s, EPCOT was more focused on exploring technology and learning while also having fun. Many of these new experiences are certainly going to be fun but do they strike the balance of also being educational? It seems unlikely.

The injection of IP into the park is going to change EPCOT forever (no pun intended). Living with the Land sits as the only attraction in the park that has changed very little since it first opened and holds true to being both fun and educational.

Wait, You’ve Forgotten Spaceship Earth?

spaceship earth
Credit: Disney

I know some of you are likely already thinking about jumping into the comments to mention Spaceship Earth but stick with me for a second…

Spaceship Earth remains a truly wonderful attraction and one of my favorites that I’ve enjoyed since I first visited the park when I was 3 — almost 27 years ago now.

That being said, we know that the vision for this attraction is going to be changing quite significantly in the years ahead. While the refurbishment has been put on hold, it will be coming at some point in the future as Disney never completely scratched these plans, only delayed them.

The ride vehicles are dated and the building itself can leak significantly during bad weather, it’s only a matter of time before the classic EPCOT attraction moves forward again and there’s a large part of me that thinks the attraction will see the inclusion of IP.

Are All The Changes Bad?

Of course not. EPCOT has an exciting future ahead of it and Disney has a real challenge ahead to try and attract new Guests into the park while also keeping fans of the original park happy.

The new entrance is a prime example of how to keep classic EPCOT fans happy vs the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy attraction, which will attract a huge number of new people into the park.

cosmic rewind
Credit: Disney

EPCOT has (and will likely always be) my favorite theme park on the planet, I just hope we continue to see attractions such as Living with the Land at the park into the future.

What do you think about Living with the Land? Let us know in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Inside the Magic overall.

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