This is the 8th year we are covering the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, my favorite event at Walt Disney World. The Festival changes a little from year to year, and there is always so much to see and do!
We already have 240 photos to peruse, that article includes links to previous years. Here are some tips for enjoying the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival, which runs through May 18th, 2014.
– Read the Festival Guide Map Before Your Visit. It will give a lot of great information! You may want to see a concert, take a tea tour, enjoy a seminar or just wander the Festival – a plan of attack will help make the most of your day. Download the Festival Guide at the official Disney site.
– Pick up a Garden Passport at Epcot. The passport is pocket sized, and keeps basic information about the Festival at your fingertips. The Outdoor Kitchen booth offerings are all here, and guests can have passports stamped at the booths and other Festival destinations.
– Where Will You Begin Your Day? Future World can get crowded early, including Mike and Sulley’s Monstrous Garden and Tinker Bell’s Butterfly Garden. On our perfect day, we would head to a few popular areas in Future World before they do get crowded, and then to World Showcase before 10:00 a.m. While World Showcase itself isn’t open, the Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie in the France Pavilion is. The walk to the bakery offers a view of about two dozen topiaries without crowds (including Sorcerer Mickey, Bambi and Captain Hook). World Showcase opens at 11:00 a.m., and we’d head to the United Kingdom to book our free Twinings Tea Tour (space is very limited). Later in the day, we’d go to Future World. What is your perfect day?
– Plan Your Food Budget. Garden Kitchens are back this year, leading many to coin the Festival “Food and Wine Festival light”. We kept to a budget of around $20 on opening day for the special Festival samples, and we supplemented the food with a shared sandwich at the Intermissions Cafe in the Festival Center and a $2 half baguette in France. My favorite sample? The Caprese shooter at Intermissions Cafe. It cost a buck, and the most delicious item I tried. We didn’t try the Frushi last year in Japan, we remedied that for 2014 and the flavor combination was delightful, as was the Piggylicious Cupcake in the America pavilion (with bacon and maple frosting). We will try more samples at a leisurely pace through the season. The least “bang for the buck” item we tried was the Harissa Chicken Kebab with Couscus Salad in Morocco. Yummy yes, but a small chicken sample for $5.00 was too high priced for my taste.
– Soccer Goofy Allows Guests to Be Part of the Topiary Display. Festival guests can be part of the action in this topiary display! Soccer Goofy is about to kick the ball, and you can get in the net for a photo.
– Take the Twinings Tea Tour. We have learned quite a bit about tea through the years, taking this free tour through the English Tea Garden. I ended up becoming a customer of Twinings as well through this tour, after sampling the refreshing cold brew teas. The space for this tour is extremely limited, sign up early in the day!
– Purchase Festival Merchandise. There are a lot of great souvenir ideas – our favorites this year include the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival calendar; a vintage-look green Festival t-shirt; and a wider variety of Disney character wind chimes. This is a great time to pick up gifts for the gardeners on your gift list (or yourself!) While at Epcot, check out the World Showcase shops as well, they offer a lot of unique merchandise (the Sportsman’s Shoppe offers quite a bit of Doctor Who merchandise now).
– See a Flower Power Concert. Unlike at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, the Flower Power Concert Series is only available on weekends. We always enjoy seeing Starship starring Mickey Thomas and Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone. New acts this year are Gary Lewis and the Playboys and the Alan Parsons Live Project.
– Illuminated Gardens Light Up The Night. Many of the topiaries light up after dark – unfortunately I didn’t get to see all of them as the timers seemed to be off the first night, but I enjoyed the sparkling Cinderella and Prince Charming topiary (the tree next to the display sparkles too!), and the sparkling Lady and the Tramp display. Miss Piggy and Kermit also are nicely lit. I found other topiaries – like Bambi and Mickey behind Spaceship Earth – a little too harshly lit for nighttime photos, casting a lot of shadows. The flowering plants in the water between World Showcase and Future World also sparkle for the first time ever! Check the Festival Map to find the Illuminated Gardens.
Check out our video of the Illuminated Gardens:
Kermit and Miss Piggy Topiaries Are New This Year – Two new topiaries debuted this year, Kermit and Miss Piggy in promotion of “Muppets Most Wanted”. You can find them waiting for a train at the Bahnhof Train Station setup between Germany and Italy.
Germany Pavilion Train Display Celebrates Festival Too – Just steps from Miss Piggy and Kermit, you can follow the Romantic Road to the expansive train display that always changes themes with events. Small Epcot Flower & Garden banners, miniature topiaries that include Buzz Lightyear and Lightning McQueen, and villagers celebrating the spring season are all in the village square!
Snow White Has a Beautiful Face. Across from the train display, the Snow White topiary has a face for the first time ever. Princess topiaries have traditionally had no features (same with fairy topiaries and some other characters). This year, Disney is trying out something new – and we hope it spreads to other characters next year!
– Check out a Seminar! All of our house plants come from Epcot seminars at the Greenhouse Stage. Spots are very limited, but we have enjoyed taking care of the palm trees, caladiums, and other plants we’ve brought home. Other seminars offer knowledge as a takeaway. HGTV Network show hosts are found leading seminars at the Designer’s Stage on weekends.
Sand Sculpture is Back This Year – This year’s sand sculpture is near the Canada Pavilion is in promotion of DisneyNature’s “Bears”.
Kids Are Included Too! – There is plenty of fun for kids, from Mater’s Parts, Plants & Play Garden to Mike and Sulley’s Monstrous Garden!
Enjoy the Flowers & Plants of the Festival – There are not only dozens of topiaries, but beautiful flowers and plants to discover throughout Epcot. Two flower quilts create gorgeous photo opportunities, and roses are now blooming along the Imagination walkway. Orchids climb the trees in the Mexico pavilion, and Italy nearly bursts with flowers. Victoria Gardens in the Canada pavilion always is a sensory experience, and Bonsai trees can be found throughout Japan.
Special Events – There are several special events during the season, including a perennial favorite, “Art in the Garden Weekend”. We always enjoy watching artists creating works of art in front of us!
Here is our video from the first day of the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival:
The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is Always Changing. If you visit Epcot at the beginning of the Festival season, you haven’t seen everything! The Festival continually evolves, and a second major planting mid-season changes the look of the Festival as winter flowers and plants make way for spring.
Enjoy the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival! It’s a beautiful time of the year to be at Epcot.