Springtime has arrived at Epcot in blooms of vibrant color. The entire park has blossomed into a beautiful garden of sights, sounds, and smells. The 2015 Flower and Garden Festival features exquisitely crafted topiaries of our favorite Disney characters, a variety of themed gardens and play areas, tantalizing farm to table style dishes at the Outdoor Kitchens, and during the weekends, celebration amongst the flowers at the Garden Rocks Concert Series and informational sessions at the Festival Center. The festival runs through May 17th.
Disney’s expert team of horticulturists work year round to create beautiful landscapes for Walt Disney World. The Flower and Garden Festival exhibits their talent with incredible life size recreations of beloved Disney characters like Goofy, Donald, Daisy, Chip and Dale, Mickey and Minnie, Disney princesses and princes, and everyone’s favorite royal sisters, Anna and Elsa of Arendelle. Look for the topiaries throughout the park, at the entrance and future world areas and all around the World Showcase. Stunning in the daylight, the topiaries take on a whole new life at night as the gardens and sculptures are illuminated when the sun goes down.
This year’s festival features a number of themed gardens from the hot pepper garden with peppers ranging mild to very spicy to the artist’s palette full of flowers every color of the rainbow. There is also a trial garden describing the agricultural process of creating a new breed of plant. Strolling through the exquisite orchid garden depicts hundreds of orchids of different varieties in lovely shades of yellow, purple, white, and pink.
A festival favorite, the Butterfly Garden, returns this year full of colorful blooms and a flurry of several species of butterfly. Explore the life of a butterfly from its emersion from chrysalis to adulthood and watch as the fully-grown butterflies flutter around the garden from flower to flower. You might even find a butterfly has alighted on you, especially if you’re wearing a flowered dress or shirt.
The stars of Cars, Lightning McQueen and Tow-mater, appear in floral form at a Route 66 themed play area near MouseGear and Test Track. Walk along a trail of desert cacti and succulents to this play area with jungle gyms and slides for kids to enjoy. Another play area across the park near the Urban Farm Eats booth and a backyard haven near the entrance to World Showcase features Mike and Sully and the monsters from Monster’s University. Both play areas are at least partially covered, providing shade from the Florida sun and shelter during spring showers.
My favorite addition to the Flower and Garden Festival is the return of the Outdoor Kitchens. The booths serve small plates and sampling size drinks in the theme of springtime and farm-to-table tastes. Favorites from previous years like the innovative Urban Farm Eats and locally grown Florida Fresh booths, Frushi in Japan’s Hanami booth, and boozy Dole Whip at Pineapple Promenade, have returned along with the much loved Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews booth featuring pulled pork sliders, brisket, and maple bacon cupcakes. New this year, Botanas Botanico serves fresh, Latin American flavors like a tangy seafood ceviche, sweet corn cakes (cachapa con queso), and a savory white corn arepa with braised beef and chayote slaw. Many of the festival dishes are gluten free and/or vegetarian. Be sure to pick up a passport to collect stamps as you taste your way around the festival.
Onstage at the America Pavilion on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings, dance and sing-a-long to classic songs by everyone from Starship and En Vogue (new this year!) to the Village People.
Here’s the list of performances at this year’s festival:
March 13-15 Pablo Cruise
March 20-22 En Vogue
March 27-29 Starship
April 3-5 The Orchestra
April 10-12 The Village People
April 17-22 John Seceda
April 24-26 The Guess Who
May 1-3 Taylor Dane
May 8-10 Little River Bend
May 15-17 Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone
During the day, keep an ear open for the beat of another musical treat. The JAMMitors perform daily in the Future World area near Test Track and Mission Space. Dance along to their lively rhythms as the JAMMitors play on spring themed instruments like flower pots, wheelbarrows, and garden tools.
The Festival Center is a gardener’s haven with special demonstrations and information sessions throughout each weekend from 10am – 5pm. The Festival Center is located between Mission Space and Ellen’s Universe of Energy. With representatives from botanical big-timers like the Harry P. Leu Gardens, Simple Living Institute, and others, the Festival Center is the place to go for all things green-thumb from tips and tricks to how-tos. Visit the Garden Theater for a video presentation of how Disney’s horticulture team brought the festival to full bloom. Special demonstrations and presentations take place daily throughout the weekend at the Greenhouse Stage, Fresh Epcot Stage, and IFAS at the University of Florida Stage with all the information you’ll need to help your garden grow.
In addition to demos at the Festival Center, cooking demonstrations will be held each weekend at 3pm at the Port of Entry merchandise location directly across from the Pineapple Promenade booth near the entrance to World Showcase.
Special festival merchandise can be found throughout the World Showcase as well as at the Festival Center, including a limited edition Dooney & Burke collection of springtime themed bags and wallets.
Springtime celebrations have made their way into the Flower and Garden Festival this year throughout Epcot and the World Showcase. See the many shades of green as the American Adventure celebrates St. Patrick’s Day March 16th and 17th. From March 27-29, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., experience the art of nature with one-of-a-kind pieces throughout the World Showcase. The Flower and Garden Festival celebrates Earth Day from April 17-22 with opportunities to meet specialists from Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park from April 17-19, learn about conservation efforts to protect sea life at The Seas with Nemo and Friends on April 22nd, and see the grand reveal of a sand sculpture based on the new Disneynature film Monkey Kingdom on April 22nd. Epcot highlights the state of Florida at the Festival Center during Florida Fresh weekend April 24-26.
With the Festival Center only open on the weekends as well as the concert series and special events falling mostly on weekends as well, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are sure to be much busier this year than the rest of the week. The Outdoor Kitchens are open daily as well as merchandise shops in the World Showcase and the gardens, topiaries, and play areas can be enjoyed throughout normal park hours.
If you’re headed to Epcot this spring, be sure to stop by the Flower and Garden Festival for fresh tastes, gorgeous gardens, and all the information you need to have a bounteous spring. The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is included with regular park admission.
Related: Disney World Special Events for 2015
-- Mommy Frog
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