The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival has always been one of my favorite times to visit Epcot. Since adding the great food kiosks a few years ago (which I originally wasn’t a fan of), you can have the best of two festivals all at one time!
Spring 2015 will bloom with a fresh take on lush gardens, inspired flavors and lively entertainment during the 75-day Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival March 4-May 17 at Walt Disney World Resort. New Disney character topiaries, including a nod to the blockbuster animated film, “Frozen,” will offer colorful selfie and family photo ops. Outdoor Kitchens will serve a fresh take on sweet and savory noshes. And guests can get “hands-on” with festival fun during Disney-led gardening seminars.
- “Frozen” will melt hearts in the park’s World Showcase: Disney’s first Anna and Elsa topiaries will appear in a scene from the Oscar-winning film’s finale. Other brand-new Disney character topiaries will be Chip and Dale taking a star turn in two whimsical front-entrance “Goofy About Spring” floral vignettes. Topiary Goofy and friends will be in on the fun.
- Fresh new menu items will debut at the festival’s Outdoor Kitchens where, for the third festival year running, guests can taste garden- and spring-inspired tapas-sized food and beverages and have their complimentary Garden Passports stamped as they stroll the World Showcase promenade.
- A Southwest desert garden will premiere as a thriving ecosystem.
- Ten new mini-gardens will surprise guests around every corner. Guests will discover a new “health garden,” a pepper garden, a dinosaur-plant garden and a Shakespeare garden, among others, each designed with a storytelling element.
- Guests can discover the story of the Monarch butterfly’s epic journey across the continent and see butterflies emerge from their chrysalises at Tinker Bell’s Butterfly House.
- A weekend concert series will rock audiences every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Performers will include Gin Blossoms, Pablo Cruise, Village People and a lineup of top bands representing four decades of pop music.
- Disney gardeners will lead weekend how-to Gardening Seminars at the Festival Center, where guests also can pick up signature festival merchandise.
- When the sun sets, illuminated topiary and play gardens will glow brightly for an after-dark festival experience.
“This is one of our most ambitious festivals ever,” says Eric Darden, festival horticulture manager. “We’re telling stories we’ve never told before. You’ll get a fresh taste of spring — it’ll be like the first spring farmer’s market for America.”
As park guests nibble on inspired Outdoor Kitchen goodies, they can wander among multiple themed gardens and children’s play areas. Nearly 100 expertly crafted topiary characters, including Snow White, Bambi, Mickey Mouse, Simba and Peter Pan, will animate the landscape when Epcot transforms to a vibrant wonderland of sweeping garden beds and exhibits.
The “Frozen” topiary vignette at World Showcase Plaza will pop with color as Anna’s and Elsa’s icy world, illustrated with white and silver blooms of delphinium, alyssum and other floral varieties, transforms to a brilliant spring palette featuring Gerbera daisies, petunias, Sweet William and other flora.
A Health Garden near The Land pavilion in Future World will display ancient medicinal plants including garlic, aloe, chamomile, fennel, mint and others. Plants used to develop modern prescriptions will be papaya, periwinkle, turmeric, yew, thyme and valerian. And the new Shakespeare Garden at the United Kingdom pavilion will feature roses to represent Romeo and Juliet: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Also in the garden: rosemary from Hamlet, lavender from The Winter’s Tale, plus representations featuring poppy, lily, honeysuckle and willow.
Tinker Bell’s Butterfly House will return with hundreds of winged beauties fluttering above and lighting upon their favorite nectar-producing plants. Dozens of Disney-crafted “flower towers” and beds of multi-colored blooms will add to the floral splendor of the park’s landscape. At least 70,000 bedding plants will surround the Future World east and west lakes alone; on the water, 220 mini-gardens will be set afloat.
Several special weekend happenings will include Art in the Garden Weekend (March 27-29); Florida Fresh Weekend (April 24-26); and Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, Inc. Weekend (May 8-10).
For more information about the 22nd Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, call 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639). As the festival nears, more details will be available at epcotinspring.com. The festival, including all gardening programs and exhibits, is included in regular Epcot admission.