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10 Tips for Tackling Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival at Walt Disney World

Shhhh, I have a secret. This is just between you and me, I don’t want it to get out to too many people. Are you ready? I like the Flower & Garden Festival at Epcot better than the Food & Wine Festival. Now, don’t spread it around or it will get just as crowded as weekends at the Food & Wine Festival. What’s not to love about the Flower & Garden Festival? Epcot is absolutely gorgeous decked out with flowering plants everywhere. And the topiaries! So much artistry in each topiary it is amazing. If you are traveling to Walt Disney World during the Flower & Garden Festival, here are 10 tips to get the most out of it:

10. Go at opening

There is a lot to see and do in both World Showcase and Future World—not to mention the Epcot attractions (Test Track anyone?). Get to Epcot early so you can see some of the Flower & Garden attractions without too much of a crowd. In Future World you can visit the butterflies or go play on Mater’s playground before heading into World Showcase when it opens at 11. Because the Outdoor Kitchens are such a big draw you will do well to get to those as early as possible.

9. Get a Passport

At the first location where you see them, pick up one of the Festival “Garden Passports.” Inside you will find locations for each topiary so you don’t miss any, a check list of the kids’ playgrounds, all of the outdoor kitchens and their menus, and the special garden destinations. The fun part is that you can get your Passport stamped at many of these locations, particularly the Outdoor Kitchens. I also found the passport helpful to have a wish list of food and drink items with me as I made my way around World Showcase.

8. Weekend Concerts

If you are at Epcot over the weekend, check out the Garden Rocks Concert Series on Friday, Saturday & Sunday nights. These are the actual artists and include groups like the Village People (“YMCA”), Gin Blossoms (“Hey Jealousy”—and very appropriate for the Flower & Garden Festival), and Night Ranger (“Sister Christian”). Not that these are necessarily bands that are going to sell out a coliseum, but they are fun acts and a nice way to enjoy some of your evening (with no extra cost involved).

7. The Festival Center

Unfortunately the Festival Center is only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-5pm. Located in the old Wonders of Life Pavilion between Mission: Space and Universe of Energy, it is a really neat space with a lot to offer. There are exhibits (the topiary exhibit is really interesting), a café, a merchandise shop, demonstrations, opportunities to talk with professional garden designers and Disney Cast Members in the horticulture and Animal Specialist areas, and Hands-on presentations. If you are visiting over a weekend check out the “Fun Fresh Weekends” schedule in your passport—there may be some demonstrations on the stages you will want to see. Even if you aren’t able to fit those in I would recommend stopping by just to check it out.

6. Tours

During the Flower & Garden Festival Epcot offers a couple of special tours to highlight the horticulture of the park. The “Gardens of the World” Tour requires advance reservations and has a cost associated with it in addition to Epcot admission—you will get a behind the scenes look at what goes in to making those amazing topiaries and how they use landscaping to help tell stories at Walt Disney World. In the UK pavilion you can take an “English Tea Garden” tour. This one is short, only 20 minutes, and you sign up on the same day in the tea shop. And of course there is the “Behind the Seeds” tour at the Land pavilion. This tour is offered year round, but may be of particular interest during the Flower & Garden Festival. Going through the greenhouses is always interesting.

5. Bring your Camera

As I said, there is no time of year when Epcot is more beautiful than during the Flower & Garden Festival. You will find yourself reaching for your camera constantly whether it is to photograph a topiary or the sweeping fields of flowers in Future World. I also noticed that there were a lot more PhotoPass photographers around to take your photo with the topiaries, so it might be an even better time to invest in Memory Maker as part of your vacation package to have all of those family photos to download.

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4. Merchandise

While there is a large merchandise shop in the Festival Center you don’t have to worry if you are not there on a weekend because you can find the Festival merchandise in many locations throughout Epcot. This year in particular the Flower & Garden themed merchandise was really spectacular with great designs featured on great products. You can definitely find something to commemorate your visit during the Festival. In addition to the Disney merchandise you will find vendors along the World Showcase promenade selling all kinds of things from Bonsai trees and kits to Hawaii flowers that will bloom anywhere to botanical soaps to art prints. This is a great time of year to shop at Epcot. And if you are an Annual Passholder there is a free print you can pick up over behind Club Cool—you don’t want to miss that.

3. The Playgrounds!

Need to let your kids run off a little steam? There are two adorable play areas in Future World that will have your kids begging for you to build them in your backyard. Near Test Track there is the Cactus Road Rally themed after the Cars characters, and on the other side of Future World near Imagination on the way to World Showcase you’ll find the Music Garden Melodies. This really cute area is themed on music and has several favorite Disney character statues. They can play & make music. Two great things about this one: it is open after dark because it has lighting, and it is located very close to the Pineapple Promenade kitchen so you can pick up your Pineapple Soft Serve with Coconut Rum or a Violet Lemonade and then let your kids go play. Both areas have some nice seating areas for grown-ups too.

2. Come Hungry

There are 13 Outdoor Kitchens at the Festival and each one has multiple tasty offerings for you to sample. My recommendation is to skip the dining reservation at Epcot (I know it is hard to do with so many great restaurants in World Showcase). Go from kitchen to kitchen and buy a couple of dishes at each place to sample with your traveling party. There is such a variety from smoked Barbecue to ethnic dishes representing several of the World Showcase countries to locally sourced foods (the shrimp and grits at Florida Fresh was so good). I promise—there will be more food at the booths than you are able to eat.

1. Give yourself plenty of time

Remember, Epcot still has all of the great attractions that it always does. You may want to plan 2 park days at Epcot during the Festival so you can experience all of the “normal” attractions plus have the extra time to visit all of the Flower & Garden topiaries, playgrounds, and other special areas (you don’t want to miss the butterflies). It is almost like visiting a huge park during this time of year (and I don’t mean theme park), you just want to have time to walk around and enjoy being outside with so much to see. And, this gives you even more time to experience all of the Outdoor Kitchens.

What are your top tips for Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival?

About Sarah Chapman

I am a long time Disney fan since I was hooked on Walt Disney World with my first trip in 1987. Since that time I’ve tried experiencing everything I can in the parks, with a total of 30 visits and counting (I’m always planning my next trip) to Walt Disney World—not to mention Disney Cruise Line and even (shhh!) Universal Orlando and Sea World. I’ve turned my Disney obsession into a profession helping others plan their magical vacations as a Dream Vacation Maker at LBAC Travel. I am a work at home mom to three wonderful boys, and each one has been properly indoctrinated with all things Disney. Walt Disney World is definitely our “Laughing Place.” Look for me on Facebook at Facebook.com/SarahLBAC for updates, discount announcements, tips, tricks and planning advice for your next vacation. You can also find me on Instagram (sarahdreamvacationmaker) and Pinterest (sarahlbactravel).