The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival for 2017 has now begun and will last through May 29th. Each year is a little different, and it's always fun to watch the buildup to the Festival over the weeks prior to the kickoff. Here are my tips for 2017, and I'll link to a larger photo article once I have that up. This is our 11th year covering the Festival! I always say how this is my favorite time of year at Walt Disney World, it's also the most beautiful time at Epcot.
1 - Pick up a Garden Passport. This small booklet holds a lot of information, including locations of topiaries, concert information and outdoor kitchen menus. Stickers are included inside the passport, allowing guests to mark off where they've visited. There is a lot to see around the Festival, starting with the topiaries but so much more.
2 - Enjoy an early breakfast in France. Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie opens at 9:00 a.m., earlier than most of World Showcase (Norway now is open with the ride Frozen Ever After at that time too). Les Halles offers a nice assortment of pastries, breads, sandwiches and more. The new Belle topiary can be photographed at that time, as can other topiaries stretching from France to the UK, and then on in that direction to Norway - all that before World Showcase officially opens and before most guests have gotten anywhere close to World Showcase (unless heading to Frozen Ever After).
Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie
3 - Hunt for eggs around Epcot with the Egg-stravaganza. For just $5.99, guests can explore Epcot's World Showcase in an egg hunt that includes a prize! Passholders receive a discount. The hunt is a little more involved this year than previously, with eggs inside and out (and not always easy to find). But we did find them all and had a great time doing it.
Figment egg for the Egg-stravaganza
Guests can choose one egg as a prize per purchased map in the Egg-stravangza
Here is our video with full spoilers of the Egg-stravaganza. If you plan to participate, I don't suggest watching it - but if you aren't playing, it is fun to see where the egg locations are this year.
4 - Visit topiary displays with bonus photo opportunities. New this year are a couple of fun photo ops within the topiary displays! Stop by the Chip and Dale display and the Snow White topiary display to have these unique photos taken. And there is a Glidden butterfly photo op as well not far from Butterflies on the Go butterfly tent.
Chip and Dale photo opportunity within the display
Photo with props at the Snow White and Seven Dwarfs topiary display
5 - Take a complimentary Tea Garden Tour in the United Kingdom (or a VIP tour with tea and scones included for $15.00). We have taken the free Tea Garden Tour many times through the years, but this is the first year that a paid version has been offered. The free tour needs to be booked at the Tea Caddy when World Showcase opens, and the VIP Tour is booked through 407-WDW-TOUR. We will be reviewing the latter in a few days.
English Tea Garden
Royal Tea Garden Tour information
6 - Take in a Garden Rocks (formerly Flower Power) concert, available Fridays through Mondays in 2017. Concerts have been extended from the last number of years. Instead of just Friday-Sunday, Monday is now added as well. Concerts include Night Ranger, Gin Blossoms, and Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone. The concerts were known as Flower Power concerts for many years.
Garden Rocks concerts
7 - Check out the new Belle topiary with sculpted features - In 2014, Snow White was the first topiary princess to receive a more lifelike appearance. She wasn't the first topiary character with a face, but her new sculpted features changed the game for what could be done with topiaries. Anna and Elsa followed in 2015, and Belle is the newest princess with this detailing. She can be found in the France pavilion (as you can see in this article, I like to spend a lot of time there).
New Belle topiary with Beast
This is our video of the new Belle topiary with Beast, Cogsworth and Lumiere.
8 - Purchase food samples at Outdoor Kitchens. This is the fifth year that Epcot has offered food booths in a similar fashion as the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival has had for many years. There are two new booths for a total of 15 this year. We usually visit a few booths and then dine at a table service restaurant for a full meal. I do recommend the Macaron Chocolat Framboise at Fleur de Lys in the France pavilion - it is a fantastic dessert!
Fleur de Lys Outdoor Kitchen food and drinks (including the raspberry macaron with chocolate fudge!)
Baked Chicken with Crawfish served with Rice Pilaf
9 - Take a break midday with a table service meal. Epcot World Showcase has some wonderful dining options, and I just mentioned the table service option in tip #8. We often make reservations for Via Napoli on long Festival days. The first day of the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival this year was pushing 90 degrees, and it was nice to have a lengthy break during the afternoon.
Pizza from Via Napoli
10 - Visit the Festival Center from Friday - Sunday. The Festival Center includes merchandise, gardening seminars and more. It's worth making a stop, and there are topiaries of Mickey, Goofy, Donald and Pluto outside of it as well.
Topiaries outside of the Festival Center
11 - See a new Cars 3 character in the Road to the Florida 500 garden. New character Cruz Ramirez from Cars 3 makes her debut in topiary form at the Festival, alongside Lightning McQueen.
New Cars 3 character Cruz Ramirez
Here is our video of the new Cars 3 topiary.
12 - Stay through evening and enjoy Illuminated Gardens. The lighting packages on the topiaries improve every year, and we recommend staying until the end of the night and enjoying the topiaries at night.
Snow White topiary illuminated
Figment topiary display at night
13 - Purchase Festival Merchandise. Each year brings a new variety of Festival items to buy. This year, Figment has made his way onto many t-shirts, a garden rock and even a garden sculpture (among other items). Mickey and Minnie are also a big part of the merchandise.
Sorcerer Mickey garden rock
Have a great time! There is a lot to see and do during the Festival, it's a wonderful way to spend a day (or more) at Epcot.
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