Top Ten Happenings at the Flower and Garden Festival
By Molly Elias
It’s that time of the year again! The snow is melting, the birds are singing and the topiaries are being assembled-I mean, the flowers are blooming…. That’s right, it’s time for EPCOT’s Flower and Garden Festival! Maybe you have a countdown going already-March 5th is really soon, that’s all I’m saying. Or maybe you’re like me and you’re crying because you’re stuck in New England taking classes and exams. Either way there’s lots to be excited about at this year’s Festival!
10 Garden Passports: These are super fun for the whole family! The Garden Passports are very similar to the Food and Wine Festival Passports. They can be picked up in the Festival Centers, Disney Vacation Club kiosks or any Outdoor Kitchen. Each Outdoor Kitchen has a unique stamp and design that can be collected in the Passports. This is a great way to get the kids involved and interested in the World Showcase aspects of the Festival.
9 Artisan booths: While these are never front and center on the agenda for most people, the artisan booths around World Showcase are severely underappreciated. These booths feature local artists who are truly amazing. The Festival has it all from home and garden flags, to lawn ornaments, to fine art. These booths often get passed by to get to the next food item or photo ops, but they’re a great opportunity to get unique Festival items.
8 Festival center– Previously known as Wonders of Life, the Festival Center is more than just a giant gold dome. Inside, guests are able to learn some of the secrets of the Festival along with tips on how to make your own home as springtime ready as the Park. Between the HGTV Theater, the Greenhouse Stage and the Designer’s Stage, there is plenty to learn within the Center. Here you also have the opportunity to ask experts about all your gardening questions. And if after all that learning you’ve grown an appetite, there’s the Intermissions Café where you can dig into fine wines, cheeses, wraps and salads.
7 Play areas: Here’s another reason I wish I was a little kid again. The play areas around the park during the Festival are amazing. This year there are three separate areas for kids to explore. The Backyard Playgarden is a place where kids of all ages can get into the action with a bunch of different outdoor activities to promote fun, healthy living. There’s also Mike and Sulley’s Monstrous Garden where kids can play with the Monsters University crew! Last is Mater’s Parts, Plants and Play Garden located near Test Track. Here kids can let loose with the Cars gang. These spots are great for families to take a break from the EPCOT march but still be together in a beautiful, fun place.
6 Tinker Bell’s Butterfly House: Who doesn’t love butterflies? The Festival has included the Butterfly Garden for years now and it’s always a big hit. While the exhibit itself is pretty small, it is filled with life. There are flowers from top to bottom with plenty of opportunities to learn. The entire cycle of a butterfly’s life can be seen and explored within the house. The coolest part is that the butterflies just fly all around you and sometimes even land and rest on you!
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5 Flower Power Concert Series: Here’s a concert series unlike any other. This event allows you to “eat to the beat,” if you will (and yes, for all you wracking your brains, this is the title for the Food and Wine concert series). The concerts take place every weekend in the America Gardens Theatre right across from the American Adventure pavilion. Notable artists appearing at the Festival this year are Paul Revere and the Raiders, Chubby Checker, The Village People and many more. This certainly isn’t for everyone, but some people really get into it. While the concerts are free, the line to get into the theatre can be outrageous. I’ve seen people lined up at noon for the 5:30 show, so stock up on churros!
4 HGTV Designers: Throughout the Festival there are several opportunities for guests to see popular HGTV and DIY personalities in the park. Within the Festival Center there is the Designer’s Stage where several of these celebrities host a 30-minute demonstration on their designated specialty. Here you will be able to see hands on tips from your favorite designer on how to make your home come to life this spring! The list for guest speakers is up on the Festival website, so make sure to check it out!
3 Outdoor Kitchens: Returning to the Festival this year are the food booths, or “Outdoor Kitchens.” These are very similar to the Food and Wine Festival booths with a springtime twist. Although there will be significantly fewer booths here than at Food and Wine, they make up for it in uniqueness. Several national pavilions will host Kitchens with awesome foods particular to their countries. While Disney has been fairly quiet on the specific menu items, they’re sure to be nothing but fantastic and fresh.
2 Topiaries: An insanely cool part of the Flower and Garden Festival is the topiaries that surround EPCOT. There are over 100 of these magnificent floral sculptures. These topiaries feature everyone’s favorite Disney characters including Phineas and Ferb, Mike and Sully, Beauty and the Beast and new this year: Kermit and Miss Piggy! In addition to these character topiaries, there are seasonal topiaries spread around the park like a giant butterfly, pandas and a Norwegian troll.
1 Flowers-I know what you’re thinking: “Well, duh.” But I’m not talking about just any old flowers. During the Festival, EPCOT turns into a park-wide garden. The topiaries are definitely the center point of the Festival, but the magnificent array around them really stands out to me. From the Bonsai Tree Collection at Japan to the Orchids in the Mexican Pavilion, special gardens pop up all over. The typical rose garden along the path from World Showcase to Future World blooms during the Festival. I’m pretty sure this is also where one of the kids play areas is located. My personal favorite is the floating planters in the Future World East and West Lakes. They’re so beautiful and magical and practically perfect in every way.