At least in 1982, you simply couldn't miss The Land. Covering more than six acres, the pavilion was by far EPCOT Center's largest, with a glass greenhouse tower as a visual "weenie" drawing guests in. Otherwise, the enormous pavilion was pleasantly disguised behind rolling hills and gentle landscaping.
Inside, The Land is perhaps the truest "pavilion" in EPCOT Center in the sense that it sincerely contains multiple rides, shows, attractions, and restaurants all centered around the pavilion's theme... A pleasant task, given that the sponsor – Kraft – has shaped a pavilion ostensibly themed to the planet (a broad focus, to be sure) into one specifically focused on... well... food.
Which is why entering into the pavilion, we find ourselves standing on a balcony overlooking a food court below. The Farmers Market features warm, earthy colors with guests dining under umbrellas alongside an iconic white fountain. "Hot air balloons" are suspended overhead, representing the food groups (which, in 1982, were four: cereals and breads, fruits and vegetables, milk, and meat).
Meanwhile, the Good Turn Restaurant is the pavilion's signature dining experience. The dining area is physically placed on a giant turntable, slowly rotating as guests eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner. As the restaurant turns, it aligns with windows looking out over the pavilion's signature attraction.
Listen to the Land is the headliner here – a live-narrated boat ride through the musical "Symphony of the Seed," past simulated habitats, and into the actual greenhouses and production facilities where many of the fish and plants served in EPCOT Center restaurants are grown. There's also Symbiosis, an 18-minute film in the Harvest Theater, an inside look at the relationship between people and the land, and the technological progress of harvesting and environmental protection.
Like many of EPCOT Center's early attractions, there's no denying that The Land was self-serious, grounded, and educational. But at least one attraction let loose. Located on the lower level of The Land just alongside the food court (fitting) and under a glowing red neon sign, we'll find the entrance to Kitchen Kabaret! As the twinkling theater lights pulse toward the automatic doors, the jazzy swing music signals something spectacular is about to happen...
Please move all the way to the end of your row, filling in all available seats.
Seated in the opulent theater, all eyes are fixed on the royal blue curtain ahead, marked "KRAFT GENERAL FOODS." The voice of a vaudevillian announcer begins: "Ladies and gentlemen, Kraft proudly presents the show that has the whole town cooking... Kitchen Kabaret! Here's your hostess, Bonnie Appetit!"
At far right, a portion of the blue curtain pulls away revealing Bonnie in her own box seat, reclined among open cookbooks, her hair pulled into a messy bun. Clearly, she's had a rough time of it. And dinner is the last thing she'd like to get involved with. "Oh dear," she sighs, "it's time for another meal."
And indeed, she's got a case of "The Meal Time Blues:"
Yes, there are days when I feel downcast And get the meal time blues; If I don't plan a proper meal, Then my menu will be bad news!
But her toe begins to tap.
Oh, so on those days when we feel downcast, I'll give you all some clues To work magic in our kitchen And chase away the meal time blues!
Now the timing's right; the show's prepared. Let me serve it on up to you!
As Bonnie's curtain seals her off, the lights up come center stage, where a kitchen has appeared! "Okay, Krackpots... let's get cookin'!" An island rises, with a band of condiments – the Kitchen Krackpots – warming up. A jar of mayonnaise plays the can-drums, a tomato tickles the ragtime ivories, mustard plays the brass, and it's a bottle of barbeque sauce on the whisk! The jazzy band kicks in as Bonnie returns, but this time, our host is ready to entertain in a bedazzled suit. She's ready to "Chase Those (Meal Time) Blues Away!"
Thank you folks for coming to my kitchen As I sing the praise of good nutrition! Eating balanced meals can keep you fit; feeling grand! A variety at your three meals can only improve the way you feel!
The basic food groups make the perfect team, But balanced they are held in high esteem! Dairy, bread and cereals; meat, fruit and vegetables! They'll help you chase those blues – those low-down meal time blues – They'll help you chase those blues away!
Bonnie invites our first act – Mr. Dairy Goods and the Stars of the Milky Way – on stage. The refrigerator opens, bellowing fog as a milk carton emerges, crooning into a 1930s microphone.
It's time to meet some beauties and this I'll rendezvous, We come from the dairy with moving words for you. With grace and ease, here is Miss Cheese – a delightful array of curds!
The va-va-voom of Miss Cheese is apparent enough by her feather boa and hat, but the block of Swiss sings like Mae West herself, promising "Your taste buds, I'll appease... I know how to please." Miss Yogurt – a European sex kitten by the sound of it, offers "Your palate is assured and really quite coutured!" Miss Ice Cream, meanwhile, is an Eartha Kitt soundalike, reminding you that she's cool through-and-through.
As Dairy and his Milky Way Stars return to the fridge, Bonnie announces "direct from the silos of the Midwest, the Cereal Sisters!"
A cabinet opens and a drawer extends, introducing Mairzy Oats, Rennie Rice, and Connie Corn and their rendition of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" accompanied by a trumpet-playing slice of bread.
Next emerges our third food group, represented by "those breakfast buddies: Hamm and Eggs." The duo are a comedic vaudeville act singing a comic rendition of "The Meat Group Can Help You Get Strong." As Eggs presses on his unfortunate, protein-related puns, Hamm loses his cool.
"Mr. Eggs, whatever happened to that tuna you used to work with?"
"Ooh, sad story," Eggs winks, "She was caught being fresh... and was canned!" As Eggs' bowtie wiggles, he dips his hat.
"Mr. Eggs, you're the first egg I've ever seen lay an egg! Let's finish up before you get us real trouble!"
At meals our act is very keen, We're chock full of high protein, The meat group can help you get strong!
"One more crack outta you and this act is finished!"
"One more crack outta me and the yolks on you!"
As Mr. Hamm threatens to join another Proten act (cheese, beans, or even nuts), the two exit.
Now, it's time for the signature number and the most beloved of all of Kitchen Kabaret's acts. As the lights fall, night sounds and Latin percussion awaken the produce that's been on the kitchen counter all along. Bonnie Appetit returns as a Carmen Miranda Carnivale dancer descending on a crescent moon.
It's "Veggie Veggie Fruit Fruit" by the Colander Combo and Fiesta Fruit!
My friends are exciting, just like fireworks igniting; they're incredible! Sparks always fly each and every time you try fruit and vegetables! They're inviting and delighting, anytime you're with them, it's a treat. Like a carnival, it's nice to dine with fruit and vegetables.
The produce joins in:
There are no substitutes for we! Veggie, fruit fruit. Veggie veggie, fruit fruit. You see a balanced meal always wins with our vitamins, A and C. Sí sí, fruit fruit. Veggie veggie, fruit fruit. Veggie, fruit fruit.
With the entire kitchen awake, Bonnie, the Krackpots, and the food groups join together for a rousing Kabaret Finale:
Proper foods each time you dine Can keep you fit and feeling fine Eating right's a healthy sign, And feeling good makes each day shine and shine!
As the music crescendos, the curtains fall and the audience applauds. "Goodbye! And thank you for helping us chase away the meal time blues! Remember: you're always welcome at the Kitchen Kabaret!" And to make sure the kitchen is always open for you, here's a point of view video of the show in action:
A classic fan-favorite from EPCOT Center's earliest days – and earliest philosophy – Kitchen Kabaret was a showstopping animatronic "dinner" show like none the world had seen... And decade later, it was gone. On the last page, we'll dissect what happened to this storied classic and explore its follow-ups... You may be surprised just how "hip" its successor would be...