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The Land is the name of a pavilion that sits on the western side of "Future World", one of two themed areas of Epcot, a theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida USA. 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 human interaction with the land itself. It explores how humans can both use the land for their benefit, and how they can also destroy it. Future Technology in better preserving the land is also explored in the pavilion, along with a focus on the celebration of the land itself.
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.
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.
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