Every spring Epcot plays host to the Flower & Garden Festival, a visually stupendous display of bright flowers, creative planters, and impeccable topiaries of all your favorite Disney and Pixar characters. The festival runs this year from March 6 until May 19 and features tons of fantastic things to see, experience, and taste. I was lucky enough to be able to see this year’s festival in April and had an amazing time (minus the allergies!). I thought it would be great to map out a must do list of things to experience at this year’s Flower & Garden Festival as there are some wonderful things waiting to be seen- both classics and new introductions!
Party with Mickey & Friends Topiary– This massive topiary is located right at the entrance to the park with Spaceship Earth looming in the background. It features Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Donald, and Daisy all having a picnic to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Flower & Garden Festival. Look for the special nod to 20 years on the cake Goofy is holding.
Tinkerbell’s Butterfly House– This year the butterfly house is themed around Tinkerbell and all of her fairy friends. As you walk through the house, there are fairy topiaries scattered throughout the swooping butterflies. Unfortunately when I visited in April there weren’t a ton of butterflies. However, there were hundreds of cocoons on display waiting to hatch, so if you are visiting later during the festival there are sure to be lots of beautiful butterflies.
Land of Oz– New this year to the festival to promote Disney’s movie Oz, this section features carnival style games such as a bean bag throw and attempting to knock over milk cartons. As you walk further into the area, you come across the giant red poppies from the movie, a playground for the kids, and even Oz’s hot air balloon.
Radiator Springs– This section features massive topiaries of both Lightning McQueen and Mater. It also features an interactive game in which guests have to help Mater figure out what piece of mechanical equipment is exactly what he is looking for.
Topiaries– At this year’s festival there are more topiaries than ever scattered all throughout Epcot. New to the festival this year are the Illuminated Topiaries, select ones which now light up at night creating great ambiance throughout the park. While there were so many great topiaries, some definitely stood out as my favorites. In the UK, be sure to look for Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and the hungry crocodile. Can’t find Peter? You might just have to look to the skies to find him. Buzz Lightyear is also perfectly in front of Mission:Space making him look truly ready to blast off. The Monster’s University topiary features a huge archway flanked by both Mike and Sully. This one is a center piece of this year’s festival at the entrance of World Showcase and works very well to promote the upcoming movie. The Classic Disney Couples topiaries near the World Gateway are also gorgeous. They feature Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty with their respective princes dancing. There are also other beloved characters featured in topiary form throughout the park including Snow White and the seven dwarfs, Winnie the Pooh and friends, Woody, Simba, Nala, and Rafiki, and Lady and the Tramp. There are even some topiary which pay tribute to the World Showcase pavilions they are located in. My favorite one of these is a troll in Norway, be sure to look for him when you visit!
Festival Center– The festival center is once again located in the old Wonders of Life pavilion and features both merchandise and a place to sample food and drinks. It’s a great place to cool off while browsing, but keep in mind that it closes at 5pm.
Flower Power Concert Series– This year there have been some great acts performing in the American Gardens Theater located across from the American Adventure. Those still scheduled to perform in the upcoming weeks are Tommy Roe, Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone, and Starship starring Mickey Thomas.
Garden Marketplaces– Also new this year to the festival are culinary marketplaces in the style of those usually showcased throughout the International Food & Wine Festival in the fall. There are 12 marketplaces in total and here is a quick list of all of them: Fruits by the Glass, Pineapple Promenade, The Cottage: Savories, Trifles & Teas, L’Orangerie, Taste of Marrakesh, Hanami, The Smokehouse: Barbeque & Beer, Primavera Kitchen, Bauernmarkt: Farmer’s Market, Lotus House, Jardin de Fiestas, and Florida Fresh. They have some great offerings, I would recommend the Waterkist Farms heirloom tomatoes with house-made mozzarella, Minus 8 vinegar, and basil from The Cottage: Savories, Trifles & Teas.
Presentations by HGTV– Finally, there are numerous presentations throughout the festival featuring stars from HGTV themed around how to create and maintain your beautiful garden at home. Presentations range in topic from Raising Roses Organically to Landscaping Disney Horticulture Style to Topiary Through the Years.
So there you have the list of all of the things to see and experience at this year’s Flower & Garden Festival. I had an amazing time getting to finally be able to visit Epcot during the festival and take in all of the beautiful flowers. And when I saw all of the flowers, I mean it! They are literally everywhere and displayed in such creative and imaginative ways!
Has anyone visited this year’s festival? What is your favorite topiary? What is your favorite food or drink item sampled from the marketplaces? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!
Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.