Preparing for Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival

flower garden festival

My favorite Disney theme park is Epcot. While some may question my sanity, one visit to Epcot during the annual Flower and Garden Festival will change your mind. Walt Disney World has done a wonderful job with the Flower and Garden Festival, especially the last few years, and it is now something people plan their trips around, just like the Epcot Food and Wine Festival in the Fall.

While you can just show up at Epcot during the Flower and Garden Festival and enjoy the park, you really should know what is available to you so you can plan ahead.

90 Days!

For the first time ever, the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival will run for 90 days, from March 2 – May 30, 2016.

Flowers, Flowers and more Flowers

buzz lightyear topiary

Springtime comes alive in Epcot with the Flower and Garden Festival, must more so than any other park. Just check out what Disney does with flowers just for this one festival:

  • 30 million blooms blanket the park throughout the festival, which runs 90 colorful days and requires two complete crop rotations to keep floral displays fresh and seasonal.
  • The festival’s front-entrance Fresh Food, Fun & Flowers topiary scene, inspired by a 1943 Donald Duck comic book called The Victory Garden features three new Disney Character topiaries — the first-ever Huey, Dewey and Louie topiaries in a comical gardening scene. More than 30 varieties of flowers, plants, and other garden materials are used to create the scene.
  • The new Floral Sun topiary scene behind Spaceship Earth paints the landscape with golden colors, and 15 yellow “sunbursts” of red and yellow Joseph’s coat pop up in a Future World topiary bed.
  • Music Garden Melodies with Fab Five topiaries, a themed playground for children complete with innovative play systems featuring interactive musical gadgets, is one of the largest festival gardens created at nearly one-third acre. The garden includes a collection of plants with features that resemble musical instruments as part of the ambiance.
  • Anna and Elsa in full floral splendor appear (new in 2015) move to a fresh topiary vignette straight from the hit Disney film, “Frozen.” In the Norway pavilion scene that’s wired to twinkle by night, Elsa works her magic to conjure a colorful spring garden. About 25 varieties of flowers are planted to evoke the scene. Florals including hot pink, red, and orange Gerberas, blue and yellow Violas, violet Petunias and purple Dianthus blanket the spring transformation. Anna and Elsa topiaries are each about 6-1/2 feet tall and are created with plants that include variegated Ficus, green Ficus and the succulent Sedum Coral Reef. But Elsa will look taller because she’s standing closer to guests than Anna by about 8 feet.
  • At least 25 different plants, grasses and mosses of various colors, including pink and red begonias, dusty miller, palm fiber, palm seeds, ficus and lichen, are used to create and define facial and other features of festival character topiaries. The topiary team uses about 200 one-pound boxes of hairpins to attach plants and flowers to the topiaries.
  • At least 25 different plants, grasses and mosses of various colors, including pink and red begonias, dusty miller, palm fiber, palm seeds, ficus and lichen, are used to create and define facial and other features of festival character topiaries. The topiary team uses about 200 one-pound boxes of hairpins to attach plants and flowers to the topiaries.
  • Nearly 1,000 native butterflies represent up to 10 species at the expansive Butterflies on the Go butterfly house. Among the garden’s two dozen nectar plants are passion flower, coral honeysuckle, lantana, butterfly bush, blue porterweed, scarlet milkweed and canna lily.
  • More than 500,000 plants, trees and shrubs are planted for the festival; 250,000 of those are annual blossoms installed for the festival.
  • Festival plants include 60 different species of trees, 47 types of palms, and 48 varieties of bedding plants.
  • 78 hands-on gardening demonstrations and seminars will be presented.
  • Forty 8-to-9-foot tall “flower towers” in an orange-and-green sunburst theme make colorful statements across the festival landscape.
  • More than 200 floating mini-gardens, each three feet in diameter, of multi-hued New Guinea impatiens provide splashes of color on two ponds that border the walkway between Future World and World Showcase.
  • 700 container gardens of flowers, herbs, plants and vegetables in clay pots, barrels and urns enhance the landscape throughout Epcot.
  • 400 Walt Disney World horticulturists are needed to install the festival landscape, topiaries and many exhibits; 100 Epcot horticulturists maintain topiaries and other festival displays.

If you love Flowers, there isn’t anywhere better to be in the Spring than in Epcot.

Garden Rocks!

garden rocks

Yes, my garden is full of rocks too, but we are talking about a different kind of rock. Rock and Roll! Each year during the Flower and Garden Festival, Disney puts on weekend concerts from classic rock groups, included in the price of admission. Yes, free concerts! For 2016, check out this line-up!

  • March 4 – 6 – The Orchestra starring former members of ELO
  • March 11 – 13 – Starship starring Mickey Thomas
  • March 18 – 20 – Little River Band
  • March 25 – 27 – Village People
  • April 1 – 3 – Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone
  • April 8 – 10 – The Guess Who
  • April 15 – 17 – Blood, Sweat & Tears featuring Bo Bice
  • April 22 – 24 – BRIAN HOWE, former lead singer of Bad Company
  • April 29 – May 1 – Georgia Satellites
  • May 6 – 8 – Gin Blossoms
  • May 13 – 15 – Darlene Love
  • May 20 – 22 – Night Ranger
  • May 27 – 30 – The Spinners

Performances are at America Gardens Theatre in the World Showcase at 5:30, 6:45, and 8 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the Flower and Garden Festival. Admission is included in your Epcot admission, though show up early, the concerts fill up quickly.

Food, Food and more Food

maple bacon cupcake

One of my favorite things about the Epcot Food and Wine Festival are the food booths scattered throughout the World Showcase that feature food from countries around the world that are not represented in the World Showcase, and a few booths the enhance the food offerings of some of the represented countries. What a great way to spend an afternoon or evening, strolling around the World Showcase snacking on fantastic cuisine. Finally, someone at Disney got smart and they added the food kiosks to the Flower and Garden Festival a few years ago. While there are not as many as in the Fall, there are plenty to enjoy.

There will be two new kiosks available for 2016 guests: La Isla Fresca will feature flavors like Jamaican Braised Beef with Pigeon-Pea Rice and Jerk-Spiced Grouper or Chicken with Mango Salsa. At the new Cider House, a Field Greens salad with greens harvested from The Land pavilion, heirloom apples, Stilton cheese and dried blueberries will pair well with a blueberry hard cider from Plant City, Fla. Dozens of new food and beverage flavors will debut, as well, at the festival’s 11 other Outdoor Kitchens: Urban Farm Eats, Pineapple Promenade, Fleur de Lys, Florida Fresh, Taste of Marrakesh, Hanami, THE SMOKEHOUSE: Barbecue and Brews, Primavera Kitchen, Lotus House, Bauernmarkt and Jardin de Fiestas.

Most food items at the outdoor kitchens can be purchased using a snack credit from your Disney Dining plan. Most places also offer some sort of drink option as well (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) which are usually not available with a snack credit.

Fun, Fresh Weekends!

Something new for 2016, Fun, Fresh Weekends. During some of the weekends, Disney will offer themed events that may be of interest to you, especially for locals who can plan a day at Epcot just for these special weekends.

  • April 1 – 3 — Art in the Garden Weekend spotlights nature through the works of plein air artists
  • April 8 – 10 – The new Family Fun Weekend presents outdoor activities for everyone to enjoy and a Festival Center focus on bugs with Disney’s Animal Kingdom specialists
  • April 22 – 24 – Earth Day Weekend celebrates our planet with special appearances and activities
  • April 29 – May 1—Florida Fresh Weekend features the state’s edible bounty from Apalachicola to Zellwood.

If you are going to be at Disney World during the Flower and Garden Festival, DO NOT miss Epcot. If you are planning a Disney World vacation either for 2016 or 2017, consider planing it during this festival, it does not disappoint.

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