It’s been an annual event at Epcot for decades, and once again The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is in full bloom. Running March 1 – May 29–an incredible 90 days–the event takes you on a stunning tour of topiaries and gardens along with treating you to some fantastic food and music. There is a lot to cover, though, and it is good to have a basic understanding of what to expect if you want to hit all the highlights.
WATCH OUR OVERVIEW OF THIS YEAR’S EPCOT FLOWER AND GARDEN FESTIVAL:
The “passport” is pretty standard for Epcot’s events, and there is a reason for that. The little booklet really serves as a guide to everything offered, and we do mean everything. To stay on track, it’s best to pick one of these goodies up first thing. You won’t regret it.
As a side note, it also serves as a cute souvenir. Small stickers (provided in the pages) can be applied, marking that you experienced a particular section of the festival. It’s a small but meaningful memento for recalling good memories.
It’s the real reason we come back every year. These are the masterpieces of the festival–true works of art crafted out of organic matter. Simply put…they fascinate. The event for 2017 has brought back many of the most-loved plant pieces, but it has also introduced a couple new ones which are already a hit even just a few days into the event. The first, and most popular, is the Belle topiary, located at the France Pavilion along with her Beast.
Belle and Beast are not new in themselves, but Belle got a “makeover” this year, joining the collection of princesses to be given faces with features.
Joining her at the festival, a 6-foot tall Figment sitting atop a gigantic ball has debuted this year. While he was a fixture at The Festival of the Arts earlier in 2017, the area around him has been dressed up for Flower & Garden in a new way. He sits behind Spaceship Earth with a colorful layout beneath him. It’s almost as if he is riding on a rainbow of “imagination,” and it is rather endearing.
These new additions are rather fantastic, but the “festivities” actually begin right at the park entrance. The new topiary garden set just beyond the turnstiles of Epcot is the first to catch your eye. In an elaborate scene (inspired by a vintage Disney short film), Mickey, Minnie, Daisy and Pluto gather around a Maypole of sorts to get this party started right.
And in a rather amusing pose that seems to reference The Seven Dwarfs’ hike to the Diamond Mine, Donald, Huey, Dewey and Louie trek through a garden with tools in hand just behind Chip and Dale. This area is close to the International Gateway and provides a cute opportunity for guests who want an #FreshEpcot photo.
Not to be forgotten, a new Cruz topiary has been added to Disney-Pixar’s Lightning McQueen display. The “Cars 3” character features bright eyes and a gleaming “grill”as he stands opposite of Lighting in Future World East.
Remember when we mentioned The Seven Dwarfs? Well, they are still around and as cute as ever.
As always, they stand near Snow White (close to the Germany Pavilion), but this year a fun Photopass opportunity inside the garden area is available to guests–complete with diamond mine props.
A couple years back, food was introduced to the Flower & Garden festival, and it absolutely makes sense. Plants are the main thing that from which we derive so much of our dietary nutrition. Why wouldn’t we acknowledge their critical role in our diets as well as delighting our tastebuds?
Fifteen “outdoor kitchens” are featured this year with two entirely new booths: The Berry Basket (in Showcase Plaza) and Northern Bloom (in Canada). Both are incredible additions to an already amazing line-up of food choices.
WATCH OUR PREVIEW OF THIS YEAR’S FOOD:
One of Epcot’s missions as a park has always been to educate, and they definitely follow through on that during the Flower & Garden Festival. The number and variety of gardens planted throughout the park are informative as well as beautiful.
Flower gardens, water gardens, butterfly gardens, container gardens…the list goes on, and we love them all.
At each stop, the horticulture teams have posted a variety of informative facts at each garden. They’ve also posted tips so that guests can possibly recreate similar gardens of their own at home.
This year two new gardens have been introduced to the festival: a Geranium Garten and Alpine Containers Garten in Germany.
It’s had different names over the years, but the Garden Rocks Concert Series is a fun line-up of performers each and every time.
The concerts run Fridays through Mondays (5:30pm, 6:45pm and 8pm) and feature performers that have spanned decades–many of whom were HUGE sensations once upon a time.
There are four new acts joining the Garden Rocks Concert Series this year: Simple Plan, Plain White T’s, Exposé and Berlin featuring Teri Nunn. They are have been added to a list of some the festival’s most popular annual acts.
- March 3-4: Jon Secada
- March 5-6: Dennis DeYoung: The Music of STYX
- March 10-13: The Pointer Sisters
- March 17-18: Simple Plan
- March 19-20: Plain White T’s
- March 24-27: Night Ranger
- March 31-April 3: Little River Band
- April 7-10: Blood, Sweat & Tears featuring Bo Bice
- April 14-17: Gin Blossoms
- April 21-24: The Orchestra starring former members of ELO
- April 28-29: Exposé
- April 30-May 1: Berlin featuring Terri Nunn
- May 5-8: STARSHIP starring Mickey Thomas
- May 12-15: The Guess Who
- May 19-22: Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone
- May 26-29: The Spinners
For those that want to ensure they have good seats for their favorite acts, dining packages are available on select dates that provide reserved seating. Those packages can be purchased by calling 407-WDW-DINE.
THE KID STUFF
In today’s society, we normally associate kid activities with You Tube, tablets and iPhones. From my experience, though, kids can really get into the exhibits at Flower & Garden too. The topiaries in particular tend to catch their attention, but some of the other aspects of the festival grab them as well like The Butterflies on the Go tent.
There are also a few hotspots for kids at the event–the play gardens. These cute and creative playgrounds are great places for parents to get off their feet while kids get out any pent-up energy, and there are three of them this year. The new one that has been added to the event, the Florida Fresh Garden, is set between Morocco and France in The World Showcase. It’s even lit up after dark so kids can still play after the sun sets.
For an extra cost, the EGGstravaganza Scavenger Hunt can also prove to be a really fun activity for the family. After purchasing a map and stickers for $5.99, everyone can get in on the fun of searching for hidden eggs throughout the park. Once all the eggs have been found and your map is completed, correctly notating your discoveries, a small prize can be redeemed at Disney Traders. It’s a small but fun way to enhance an already fantastic event.
The merchandise put out for the festival this year is vibrant and charming. Most of the event specific stuff will be found in the Festival Center, so that is where you will want to head if shopping is priority for you. Otherwise, there are any number of small booths set up around Showcase Plaza where you can purchase t-shirts, art, garden supplies, and more.
WATCH OUR PREVIEW OF THIS YEAR’S MERCHANDISE:
This year there is an English Tea Garden Tour offered at the UK Pavilion in World Showcase. The tour takes you through a garden dotted with plants in large tea cups. By each potted herb, informative signs explain which teas are made with those ingredients.
The tour can be experienced in three different ways. A Self-Guided Tea Tour allows guests to walk at their own pace and absorb the information at their own leisure. However, there is a complimentary guided tour available as well in which guests can learn about the history or Twinings and the art of tea blending from an educated guide as they walk the garden path. Space for this tour is limited, and to sign-up, guests must inquire in The Tea Caddy shop at the pavilion. The third option is a VIP experience, the Royal Tea Garden Tour. This particular tour costs $15 and includes samplings of tea and scones. Reservations can be made by calling 407-WDW-TOUR.
THE FESTIVAL CENTER
Veterans of this event know that The Festival Center is a hub of sorts for information and merchandise for the Flower & Garden Festival. The Center is located in the old Wonders of Life Pavilion 10:00am-5:00pm on weekends.
In addition to merchandise and information, there are a number of complimentary presentations for those that have time and show interest. This year there are three:
- CONNECT WITH DISNEY’S HORTICULTURE–It’s exactly what it sounds like. Disney’s horticulturists share tips for growing and maintaining the gardens on Walt Disney World Resort’s property.
- GARDEN THEATER HORTICULTURE–This is a simple presentation on a screen titled “Making the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.”
- HORTICULTURE HERITAGE–This presentation focuses on the horticulture in Disney parks, but approaches it from a chronological angle, reaching back with Walt’s original vision to the one we see today. This one sounds incredibly similar to a presentation recently made at D23’s Orlando event last November and may have some of the same content (a gift for those who were unable to attend the D23 event).
Additionally, there two more experiences you can be a part of at The Festival Center, depending on the day you visit. On March 31-April 1 and April 28-30, Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment Team will be joining Disney’s Conservation Specialists will be speaking with guests about how to connect and protect nature. On April 21-23 special guest speakers will be leading discussions in celebration of Earth Day.
Don’t be surprised if you see Captain Ron, Disney’s adorable Animal Ambassador, at these events. I assure you that he is worth making the effort to see.
This year’s festival is on point in every respect. From the topiaries to the merchandise, activities and tours to the food, it is something you don’t want to miss.