The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival kicked off it's 20th Anniversary on March 6th! Running through May 19th, the Festival promises something for everyone – from gardening seminars to beautiful flowers & topiaries, food booths and more. Ask for your Garden Passport during your visit, it will help ensure you won't miss anything!
We've been covering the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival for 6 years and attending it much longer – here are some tips for your day (or days!) We have posted 300 photos and a number of videos for you to enjoy!
Minnie Mouse, Front Entrance Topiary
– Plan Ahead. If you are interested in plant seminars, you could spend much of the day in the Festival Center. Our favorite is the hands-on seminar at the Greenhouse Stage at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., we always arrive at least an hour early to ensure our spots. All of our house plants come from previous year's seminars! The Festival Center also has a terrific film sharing an inside look at this year's Festival! You'll find the fab 5 of Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto and Donald in topiary form here too. In World Showcase, the English Tea Garden tour is very popular, and needs to be signed up for early in the day. We enjoy this each year.
UK Tea Tour
– Visit Garden Marketplace Food Booths Early (World Showcase). This is the first year that the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival has included food booths in a similar way to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. The booths open by 11:30 a.m., and that is when you'll find the shortest lines. The sample prices do add up quickly, it doesn't take long to match what you might spend at a sit-down meal in World Showcase (we spent $30 at two booths, and then purchased a counter service meal in the Norway pavilion on opening day). This year's most talked about booth item is the Dole Whip with Siesta Key Spiced Rum at Pineapple Promenade.
Garden Marketplace Booth
– Arrive at World Showcase Early for Topiaries – If you aren't planning on any seminars, I recommend visiting a few of the more popular exhibits in Future World (Tinker Bell's Butterfly House, Radiator Springs Interactive Playground, Land of Oz Garden) and then heading straight for World Showcase. Future World will be less busy later on, after guests have made their way to visit the World Showcase countries. It's why Spaceship Earth is always busy in the morning, but then often a walk-on by afternoon. Some of my favorite gardens and topiaries in World Showcase are Victoria Gardens in Canada, the Bromeliad Dragon in China, and Classic Couples near the International Gateway. Italy seems to have exploded with more flowers than ever, and you'll find Peter Pan above Captain Hook this year in the United Kingdom.
Victoria Gardens in Canada Pavilion
– Don't Miss the Flower Garden Concerts on Weekends! I still hope that Disney eventually brings back shows each night of the Festival, but Fridays through Sundays are still hopping at the American Gardens Theater. This year, the Flower Power Concert Series kicked off with Mickey Dolenz (from my favorite childhood band, The Monkees), and we are especially looking forward to Herman's Hermits with Peter Noone (May 10 – 12) and Starship starring Mickey Thomas (May 17-19).
– If You Only Choose One Playground… The Land of Oz Garden/Playground is a cut above the other two (in Radiator Springs and in the Backyard Play Garden between France and Morocco). There are also games here for everyone to play, with the "winnings" being a seed packet and Oz the Great and Powerful button. This area is similar to the Brave Highland Tournament Games of last year to promote the film Brave.
Land of Oz Garden
– Visit the Train Display in Germany. Epcot events around the year are celebrated in this German town! Mater, Lightning McQueen, Lotso and classic topiaries can be found here in miniature form.
Germany Train Display, Mater and Lightning McQueen
– Check out the Festival Merchandise – I think this is one of the better years for merchandise, and each booth and store seems to have a slightly different selection. We found strawberry Mickey ears in the Festival center, and a variety of garden decorations around World Showcase (my favorite is the Donald Duck with bees around his face). Three "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" garden gnomes were popular in the Festival Center as well!
– There are New Pixar Topiaries for 2013! Until a few years back, Pixar didn't have a presence at the Epcot International Flower and Festival. Now you can find Mater and Lightning McQueen in the Radiator Springs Interactive Play Zone, Buzz Lightyear in front of Mission: Space, Woody and Lotso in the America Pavilion, and new for this year are Mike Wazowski and Sully promoting the upcoming film Monsters University at the entrance to World Showcase!
– Stay Late. This year, there are Illuminated Gardens and Topiaries. The lights weren't all working on opening night and the results not always as grand as we expected, but it's definitely a nice bonus to be able to see some of our favorite topiaries after dark. I plan to take a tripod and head out later this week! The lights started turning on around sunset.
Bromeliad Dragon at Night
Mike and Sully for Monsters University
Front Entrance Topiary at Night
This is my favorite time of year at Walt Disney World (and Epcot is my favorite Walt Disney World park!) There is so much to see and do at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival – make sure to save enough time to see everything!
Fountain and Tick Tock Croc, United Kingdom