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Epcot 2014 International Flower and Garden Festival-Opening Day Overview

Epcot 2014 International Flower and Garden Festival-Opening Day Overview

This is a great Festival!  I just returned from the first day and I was really blown away by the scope of this event.  I have been to the Festival before but I feel like this one is especially geared to the home gardener and families.  Now you may not have thought this was something your children would like to attend, but I would ask you to reconsider taking them to some of the Festival attractions.

Upon entering Epcot I was expecting a sign welcoming guests to this year’s International Flower and Garden Festival, but I did not see that.   You will see a whimsical set of topiaries in Goofy with his butterfly net held above his head, with three butterflies on his back.  There is a Daisy Duck holding a beautiful bouquet of Gerber Daisies and a butterfly on her finger. Donald has a bumble bee under his hat and another on his back. Behind them is a waterfall and pond feature complete with water lilies.  Guests are enjoying having their photos taken with the Disney character topiaries.  There are 79 character topiaries in the Festival so you are bound to find at least one you would like your photo with.  Walking up toward the large FastPass+ location behind Spaceship Earth I am surprised that I don’t see any Festival merchandise, or Passports yet.  I asked at the desk and was told to go back to Guest Services as they did not have any there.  I did not want to back track so I turned left, at the elephant topiary holding the sign with an arrow pointing toward the Festival Center.  On my way there I came across the Gardeners Palette area where there is an actual color wheel made with flowers.  This is a learning garden with suggestions for seasonal gardens, blending colors, and even a children’s activity where kids can color their own color wheel. The children I saw here looked like they were enjoying the activity.

The Festival Center is located in Future World next to Ellen’s Universe of Energy.  Inside you will find a café, learning stages, and a movie studio, tons of gardening merchandise, beautiful flowers, and a booth with Master Gardeners who are ready to answer your questions, and also HGTV celebrity cards that has their photo perfect for autographing and some of their story on the backs. You will also see the Festival edition of Duffy where he is dressed as a garden gnome.

Moving on through Future World I found the Lightning McQueen and Mater topiaries along with another great play area, shaded seating, and a scavenger hunt for children.  This is located near Test Track.  There are more shaded and somewhat quiet garden areas spread around the park to give guests a nice respite.  Isn’t that why we make gardens at home? With all the gardens to escape to here you may find one that is just what you would like at home.  There is an area specifically about how to attract Hummingbirds to your yard, and a Tinker Bell Butterfly Garden.  There are miniature versions of natural houses for the fairies inside, including one for the newest Pirate Fairy!

Staying in Future World you will see expansive flower gardens with butterflies and flower shapes, an area with all you need to know about irrigating your yard and garden, even with specialists on hand to help you out with that.  There are some great examples of raised bed gardening that I really enjoyed and took away some great ideas from.  On the Promenade area are several merchandise locations selling a wide variety of items from apparel to gardening items.  There is a soccer field where the cranberry bog is usually located during the Food and Wine festival, it has Goofy ready to kick a goal and it is also a photo op! Block his kick, or set up to steal the ball! Moving on down toward World Showcase Lagoon are topiaries from Fantasia: Sorcerer Mickey, dancing brooms and buckets are there but not as topiaries, mushrooms, hippos, and dancing ostriches.

The Outdoor Kitchens have added a delicious element to this Festival over the years.  The first one you come to, should you choose to head in the direction of Mexico first, is the Urban Farm Eats that serves food grown right here at The Land pavilion. There is even a display next to it that reveals Aquaponic gardening and fish farming. I did eat at one of the Outdoor Kitchens today: The Smokehouse that is located at the American Adventure pavilion.

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This is a fun location complete with a Woody topiary, and yes, checks his back for the pull string.  He tips his cowboy hat to you as you check out the large smokers, the kitchen, and be sure to eat here.   I had the Smoked Beef Brisket with Jalapeño Cornbread and Collard Greens ($6.75).  I asked what beer was recommended to go with it and was told the Fat Tire, which I ordered (6 oz. $3.75). I also purchased a Piggylicious Bacon Cupcake with Maple Frosting and Pretzel Crunch featuring Nueske’s Applewood-smoked Bacon. ($3.50). This food was cooked perfectly. It was a generous offering and the Fat Tire beer was indeed a great match.  The only thing I have to say is I wish they would have made sure they had some trays as I had to balance all these items, and my camera, etc. and the juice from the greens leaks out through the bottom of the cardboard dish. I was disappointed that it was all over my shirt by the time I got to the table. (I am not one of those people that always gets food on them, in fact, I almost never do. I shared my delight with the food with the manager, and also my suggestion to please tell people about the leaking, or get trays.

He was happy to hear that the food was perfect, but did not really care about the other part. Not even an attempt at an apology.)  There were a lot of people enjoying this Barbeque location. Other locations that I found to be very busy serving today was Florida Fresh, Taste of Marrakesh, and the Buttercup Cottage were very busy and Fleur de Lys in France had a very long line as well.  I hope to hit those the next time.  The Watermelon salad from Florida Fresh was beautiful and I was told delicious.  Take your time visiting the garden areas in each country because they are unique and beautiful.  Japan has several Bonsai trees, United Kingdom has a “Tea Cup Garden”, the formal gardens in France, the container gardens in Italy, and they are all so beautiful.

I hope that you will have a chance to visit the 2014 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival this year.  It runs from March 5 through May 18, 2014.  There are special events throughout this time period featuring many HGTV stars so get a guide and start learning.  It is fun!

By Cassie

About Cassie

Cassie L. I am a lifelong Disney fan. I attended Walt Disney World in 1971, and was there during the opening week of EPCOT, and have visited the Disney Parks for than 30 times. I have had the privilege of visiting Disneyland as a child, and then again with my children. My family recently moved from the northeastern United States to the Walt Disney World area. I now have cast members in my family and enjoy hearing the magical stories at the end of a shift. I love visiting all of the parks and getting to try more Disney food and being able to share it with you to help you plan your own magical day at Disney.