Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival: An Annual Celebration of Spring
Larger-than-life topiaries, vibrant flowerbeds, floating gardens, spice and herb gardens, a butterfly house, culinary experiences, and Garden Rock Concerts await guests at the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival.
For 90 days, the park welcomes spring in a most spectacular and festive way. In front of Spaceship Earth, Pluto, Mickey, Daisy, and Minnie greet guests and instantly become the “must-do” photo op.
Topiaries—Stars of the Festival
There are more than 100 topiaries to be found throughout the park; every year a few new topiaries are added or re-invented. Look for the new Belle topiary at the France Pavilion, Figment near Spaceship Earth, plus Phineas and Ferb near the Odyssey Bridge.
Among our favorites are Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, and the Fairy Houses from Pixie Hollow at the United Kingdom Pavilion; The Three Caballeros at the Mexican Pavilion; and the Fantasia topiaries, located at Future World. Frozen fans will want to check out the Anna and Elsa topiaries at the Norway Pavilion.
A Perfect Time to Introduce Kids to Epcot
Children love to visit Epcot during the Festival. For one, the topiaries provide an easy way to talk about their favorite Disney characters while learning about the countries in which they are located.
Butterflies on the Go, located in Future World, is a tent filled with different species of butterflies, fluttering around flowers, plants, and visitors. The butterfly tent is a favorite with families. Kids can observe cocoons in several different stages of development, and photographers will go to great lengths to capture a monarch butterfly resting on a beautiful flower.
The Outdoor Kitchens are a delicious way to introduce young children to new culinary experiences. You can talk about Morocco while tasting Home-Made Falafel with Pickled Beet and Turnip, Tomato Salad, and Tahini Sauce!
At Hanami (Japan Pavilion) try Frushi: Fresh Pineapple, Strawberry and Melon rolled with Raspberry Coconut Rice.
Interactive Play Gardens—An Opportunity to Let Off Steam
Kids will love the Music Garden Melodies Playground. The playground includes drums, chimes, and xylophones built into children’s outdoor climbing systems.
The Road to the Florida 500 garden and playground is the home of Lightning McQueen and Cruz Besouro. While parents relax on benches, kids race around the desert-themed play area and enjoy the canopied jungle gym. The garden has been spruced up to celebrate the release of Cars 3.
Nature Works Everywhere is a project presented by The Nature Conservancy. Here, kids get tips on how to create gardens that will help their schoolyards filter water, provide welcoming habitats, and improve soil quality.
There are special family-friendly weekends offering eco-friendly activities. Here are the topics and the dates:
- Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment, and Conservation Specialists: March 31st-April 2nd and April 28th-30th
- Celebrate Earth Day: April 22nd-24th
- Discover the Bounty of Florida Agriculture: May 5th-7th
- Florida Federation of Garden Clubs: May 12th-14th
There are 15 Outdoor Kitchens scattered around World Showcase; they serve small plates of food and specialty drinks, much like a mini Epcot Food and Wine Festival. If you are on a Disney Dining Plan you can use one snack for each small plate.
New this year is The Berry Basket, offering Lamb Chop with Quinoa Salad and Blackberry Gastrique; Field Greens with fresh Strawberries, Blue Cheese, Strawberry Vinaigrette, and Spice Pecans; and Warm Wild Berry Buckle with Pepperberry Sorbet/Ice Cream. We enjoyed the lamb chop and quinoa salad but felt that the dish was too heavy on the sauce. Skip the field greens dish, and go for the dessert!
Also new is Northern Bloom, tempting guests with Seared Scallops with French Green Beans, Butter Potatoes, Brown Butter Vinaigrette, and Applewood Smoked Bacon; Beef Tenderloin Tips with Mushroom Bordelaise Sauce and Whipped Potatoes with Garden Vegetables; and a Nanaimo Bar Trifle. The scallops are tasty, but the beef dish is by far the better choice.
From the returning kitchens we recommend Jardin de Fiestas (Mexican Pavilion), where we enjoyed Chile Relleno de Picadillo: Battered Poblano Pepper filled with Ground Beef, then covered with Tomato Sauce and Garnished with Queso Fresco and Toasted Almonds. Another goody is Shrimp and Stone-ground Grits with Andouille Sausage, Sweet Corn, Tomatoes, and Cilantro served at Florida Fresh. The House-made Potato and Cheddar Cheese Biscuit with Smoked Salmon Tartare from Cider House is really delicious, and you can’t go wrong with the Chile Relleno from Jardin de Fiestas.
Vegetarians will find plenty of good choices, such as Potato Pancakes with House-made Apple Sauce at Bauernmarkt: Farmer’s Market (German Pavilion); Tarte à l’Onion Alsacienne: Alsatian Onion Tart with Sautéed Onions, Fresh Thyme, and Rosemary on a Flaky Puff Pastry Crust at Fleur de Lys (German Pavilion); and Crabless Cake with Crispy Vegetable Slaw, Lemon Vinaigrette, and Old Bay Remoulade from Urban Farm Eats.
For those with a sweet tooth, it can’t get any better. Try Warm Wild Berry Buckle with Pepperberry Sorbet/Ice Cream from The Berry Basket, Freshly Baked Lemon Scone with Crème Fraîche and Mixed Berries at Cider House, or Key Lime Tart with Toasted Meringue from The Florida Fresh booth nestled between the France and Morocco Pavilions. The Key Lime Tart could have used a bit more lime, but we really enjoyed it.
Guided Tours During Epcot Flower & Garden Festival
If you want to carry the educational part of your visit just a tad further, we recommend the Behind the Seeds Tour, a one-hour tour, through the Land pavilion greenhouses at the Living with the Land attraction. The tour costs $20-$25 for adults and $16-$20 for kids. Discounts are available for Annual Passholders, DVC owners, and Disney Visa Cardholders. If you do not want to spring for the behind-the-scenes-tour, make sure you ride Living with the Land to emphasize the fact that vegetables grown there are served in some of the Epcot restaurants and Outdoor Kitchens during the Flower & Garden Festival.
Free of charge is the English Tea Garden Tour presented by Twinings of London®. The English Tea Garden tour lasts approximately 20 minutes and is held Monday-Thursday at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., and 6:30 p.m. Same-day registration is available in The Tea Caddy gift shop at the United Kingdom Pavilion. For $15 you can sign up for Royal Tea Garden Tour, a VIP guided tour with samplings of tea and scones. For reservations contact 407-WDW-Tour.
Gardens of the World is a 3-hour walking tour throughout Future World and World Showcase. A Disney horticulturist explains what goes into creating and maintaining the Festival’s landscape and displays while sharing behind-the-scenes tales. Guests will also learn about various plant materials, gardening techniques, and how they can apply Disney landscaping techniques at home. The price for this tour is $85 plus tax per guest. The tour is offered Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon. Guests must be at least 16 years of age to participate. Visit Guest Relations or call 407-WDW-TOUR to make reservations.
Free Horticultural Presentations and Lectures at the Festival Center
The Festival Center is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, offering complimentary presentations, seminars, and demonstrations. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Hands-on presentations at the Greenhouse Stage are at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., demonstrations at the Fresh Epcot Stage are at noon and 3 p.m., gardening tips are given at the Spotlight Stage at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., while conversations with gardening specialists take place at the Festival Stage 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Garden Rock Concerts Fridays through Mondays
Performances are at the America Gardens Theatre every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., and 8 p.m. The concerts are included in park admission.
New This Year Garden Rock Concert dining packages are now available. Guest can reserve breakfast, lunch, or dinner at select Epcot restaurants and enjoy guaranteed seating at one of the performances later that day. Dining reservations must be made at least 2.5 hours prior to showtime. Call 407-939-3378 to book a Garden Rock Concert dining package.
Here is the lineup for the concerts through the end of this year’s festival:
March 17th-18th: Simple Plan*
March 19th-20th: Plain White T’s
March 24th-27th: Night Ranger
March 31st-April 3rd: Little River Band
April 7th-10th: Blood, Sweat & Tears, featuring Bo Bice
April 14th-17th: Gin Blossoms
April 21st-24th: The Orchestra, starring former members of ELO
April 28th-29th: Exposé*
April 30th-May 1st: Berlin, featuring Terri Nunn*
May 5th-8th: STARSHIP, starring Mickey Thomas
May 12th-15th: The Guess Who
May 19th-22nd: Herman’s Hermits, starring Peter Noone
May 26th-29th: The Spinners
*New this year
Epcot Easter EGGstravaganza
Held throughout the duration of the festival, the Epcot Easter EGGstravaganza is a great family activity. You can purchase the EGGstravaganza map and stickers for $5.99 at the Pin Trading kiosk in Future World, at Disney Traders at the entrance to World Showcase, or at World Traveler at International Gateway. When touring World Showcase, be on the lookout for a dozen hidden (1-and-a-half-foot-tall) Easter eggs.
Once you complete your hunt, you can claim your prize—a choice of one Disney character-themed egg at the Disney Traders shop.
At night, select gardens are illuminated, and it is wonderful to stroll once more around World Showcase before getting ready for IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. The Epcot Flower & Garden Festival runs now through May 29th. The festival, the Garden Rock Concerts, and all gardening programs are included in your park admission.
For more information on family travel to Walt Disney World check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids.