As you may have read last week if you were following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we spent a little time hop-hop-hopping around Epcot on the opening day of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. The blooms were spectacular, and after an icy winter around the Frog Pond, we were so thankful for the color. Lily and Tad especially loved this year's festival, and not surprisingly because there were plenty of tadpole (and kid) friendly activities for them.
If you're planning a visit to the Walt Disney World Resort between now and May 18, you definitely should plan to spend at least one day at Epcot (two if you're hoping to meet Elsa & Anna in Norway). With Tad and Lily's help, I have compiled a list of the top Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival activities for kids.
1. Spotting Topiaries
Seeing the topiaries is, of course, one of the primary reasons for visiting the festival, and they are scattered throughout the park. The majority of the topiaries are devoted to beloved Disney characters, and when little ones spot one of their favorites, the joy on their face is worth the price of admission. While we like spontaneous topiary spotting, parents may want to note the locations of their little ones' favorite characters, so they can make sure not to miss them. Peter Pan and Captain Hook were at the top of Tad's list this year.
This year, Kermit and Miss Piggy made their topiary debuts on account of the new Disney film "Muppets Most Wanted" (opening March 21), so they were on our not-too-miss list! You'll find them between Germany and France.
The topiaries make for great photo ops with the kids, so make sure to have your camera ready.
2. Getting Stamps in the Passport
After Lily got the hang of it, getting her passport stamped became one of her favorite things to do at the festival. For each garden, area or outdoor kitchen you visit, you can ask the cast member stationed at it for a passport and to stamp it. The passports make great souvenirs, and best of all, they're FREE. Parents may find it easier to have one shared "family" passport, since we're already have to keep track of so many other things while we're in the parks, let alone a separate passport for each family member. We let Tad and Lily take turns collecting the stamps at each location.
3. Exploring Tinker Bell's Butterfly Garden
This should definitely be on the not-too-miss list. We love visiting the butterfly garden. This large garden area inside a mesh tent offers the perfect opportunity to see one of nature's most beautiful creatures -- the butterfly -- up close and in large quantities. There are hundreds of butterflies from up to 10 species inside the space as well as the gorgeous flora.
One of the delightful touches inside the tent are fairy creations, houses, outdoor sitting areas and even a pirate ship -- fashioned from wood, moss and "found objects" such as a tea pot, measuring cup and lantern. Having seen all of the Tinker Bell movies, Lily recognized Tink's masterpieces right away.
4. Burning off steam at the play areas
For toddlers especially, who spend a lot of time at Epcot in the stroller because of the sheer size of this theme park, the play areas are welcomed retreats. New this year is Mike & Sulley's Monstrous Garden on Imagination Walkway between Future World and World Showcase. From the moment Lily hoped in, she was absolutely amazed by the springy "grass" surface and the monstrous playscapes that were painted Sulley blue and Mike green.
Of course, everyone's favorite monsters are also there in topiary form. At 4,300 pounds, Sulley weighs in as one of the heaviest topiaries in the park. For nature lovers, the playscapes are surrounded by elephant ears, rubber plants, banana plants and other monstrous plants.
5. Sampling new tastes at the outdoor kitchens or the World Showcase pavilions
At the 11 outdoor kitchens spread throughout World Showcase, parents and kids alike can sample small bites. Older children especially will enjoy the new tastes in experiences in places like Fleur de Lys (France) and Taste of Marrakesh (Morocco) and Hanami (Japan).
Definitely not to miss is The Smokehouse in the good ol' U.S. of A. -- home to the very popular "piggylicous" bacon cupcake. We suggest Jardins de Fiestas (Mexico), Lotus House (China) and Primavera Kitchen (Italy) for those with pickier palates.
These are our Top 5 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival activities for kids. Now it's your turn. Tell us your favorite festival activities for children in comments below -- and let us know what you're most looking forward to at this year's festival!
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