It’s that time again, folks! The annual festival of Disney florals is once again upon us. In celebration of the arrival of Spring, Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival is in full bloom. This year, the event runs daily from March 5 – May 18; and as always, it is included with standard park admission. This is the 21st year of the fanciful festival, and some notable changes have taken place!
For those who partake in ‘Flower and Garden’ each year, you may have noticed that the “wow” factor has been on a decline over the last few years. While the nearly 100 topiaries are undeniably impressive, it is a bit disappointing to see the same ones every year. New guests will still gasp in wonder, but to many of us, they have become old hat. Well, I’m pleased to report at least a little bit of “new” has arrived. I still expect more creativity from Disney than rehash, but it’s a baby step in the right direction. For starters… Snow White has received a bit of an upgrade! That’s right, repeat visitors – she has a face! I must admit, it’s a great change from the rather creepy, faceless model….
Although these topiaries are not new, the placement/theming is. Keeping with Orlando’s newly embraced obsession, you can find Goofy and Donald playing soccer on the main walkway from Future World to World Showcase. Here, you’ll also find a cute opportunity to get on the field between Goofy and the net for a photo op!
A couple new faces made their debut this year, too! Welcome Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy to Epcot!
I have not included pictures of each topiary display, and before I get a flood of eagle-eyes pointing out perceived fraudulence… no, not all of these pictures are from the 2014 event. I’ve included a few pictures from last year as well. I visited briefly on Monday, and to the best of my recollection, the rest of these topiaries remained the same. I did notice that placement differed a bit from last year on some, including Bambi and friends and Tinkerbell to name a few. Some including Sorcerer Mickey and the broomsticks from Fantasia, and Sully and Mike from Monsters Inc. were loaners from other WDW parks. Come to think of it – Sorcerer Mickey really gets around! I’ve seen that topiary at Disney Studios and The Contemporary Resort! Hmmm…! One petty, ridiculous change that left me feeling unsettled… Timon used to hold a leaf with bugs on it. This year, his hand is bare. Now he just looks as if he is “presenting” Pumbaa, and I think this looks obnoxious. Okay, maybe it’s just me on this one.
My personal favorite topiary display is Sleeping Beauty’s Aurora and Phillip. The surroundings set the scene so perfectly. It really is a stunning tribute!
Across the path from Sleeping Beauty, you will find Cinderella with her Prince. Even though I took these pics during the day, you can see in the bottom right corners that Cinderella’s dress has under-lighting. It changes from blue to pink. Well, forgive my Disney nerdiness, but wouldn’t that have been better suited to Aurora? If you’ve seen Sleeping Beauty, you know what I am referencing. I can’t help but be a bit confused by all of this.
Epcot festivals always feature a treasure trove of education, knowledge, fun and air conditioning inside the Festival Center. (Longtime visitors may remember this as the building that housed Body Wars.) The Festival Center is located between Mission: Space and Universe of Energy in Future World. Within the Festival Center, you’ll find demonstrations, presentations, shopping, and more. HGTV is sponsoring this year’s event, and they bring with them the stars of the HGTV and DIY Networks! Disney offers a complete schedule of guest appearances here.
AND… the learning opportunities don’t end there! Maybe you’re like my grandmother, an avid gardener. Perhaps you’re a walking curse to plant life, like me. Either way, you can appreciate the displays peppered throughout the park… container gardens, examples of modern irrigation, conservation tips, backyard wildlife garden arrangements. Soak up the tips and tricks of the pros, while you appreciate the aesthetic walk-throughs.
One of the most beautiful displays every year – the floating gardens, and the amazing rainbow of florals on the banks surrounding them…
Guests with youngsters… don’t miss the ‘Monstrous Playground’ on Imagination Walkway, Mater’s Play Garden on Test Track Walkway, and the Backyard Play Garden in World Showcase. Though they strictly limit the playground equipment to youngsters only, I did get to pose with a couple cool guys in one of those gardens…. Can you guess which? 😉
Guests of all ages will simply adore the butterfly garden! This used to be hosted by Bambi and his forest pals. This year, Tink took over!
Look for these handy guideposts near both ends of the garden (which is enclosed). How many can you find on your visit? How many could I find… AND find in a position to be photographed? Maybe a duplicate type here and there, but let’s see…
The butterfly garden also features tips on creating your own home garden to attract the fluttery wonders your way. Coolest thing, by far though… make sure you check out the cocoon stages on display. We saw a very freshly “hatched” butterfly, still unable to fly, on our last visit. These are quite cool to stop and gawk at, and there are a few of them around.
Drawbacks to the butterfly garden: loud and/or fumbly guests will startle away the butterflies (please control your children!). This is also an area where you’ll experience one of the worst occasions of what I call “the Disney push” – those moments when you want to pause to appreciate something, check it out, or photograph it, and a plethora of obnoxious, unappreciative bozos push you through the attraction so fast that you miss it. Perhaps this isn’t a problem for everyone, but if you’re an overly polite, petite little Southern thing like me, it’s a constant. Watch out for us little folks trying to enjoy the details, people!! (Consider this my PSA for the day… short people unite!)
Another feature I’m partial to is the English Tea Garden in the United Kingdom Pavilion. It is so so tastefully done, gorgeous, and it smells amaaaazing!! Take a stroll through here at the right time for a musical performance by British Revolution as well!
I have to admit, as I’ve been sitting here writing this up, it only now hit me just how much there is to say about the Flower and Garden Festival. This is all before even beginning to discuss the other big addition in 2014 – FOOD. The Food and Wine Festival selections are so exceedingly popular that they have essentially chosen to bring it into Flower and Garden too! That’s right… the food is everywhere, and it is irresistibly good! Problem is, there is so much of it! In fairness, it takes a day to check out all of the edibles. Mind you, on my Monday visit, I spent about four hours with a teen who was very anxious to do anything other than eat. This demands a return visit… and promptly! I did partake in the Pineapple Soft Serve with Parrot Bay Rum at the Pineapple Promenade (and I highly recommend it!!), but I cannot fairly report on something I only smelled. I will attest to the pleasant nature of those smells, however, and use this as a grand excuse for a Flower and Garden sequel blog. So stay tuned for food and merchandise from Flower and Garden. I absolutely intend to devour a Piggylicious, by the way!
Schedule of performers at the Flower Power Concert Series – an event included in the Flower and Garden Festival!
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