Almost exactly one year after the global pandemic shuttered Orlando’s theme parks, Walt Disney World is once again in full bloom, and we’re bringing you an Unofficial Guide to celebrating this special springtime at the 2021 Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival.
As you are undoubtedly aware, last year’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival was forced to make an early exit in 2020, when Walt Disney World suspended operations shortly after the event’s March 4 opening.
This year, the Flower & Garden Festival returned on March 3 in a modified “Taste of” format that will be familiar to anyone who has attended the recent Festival of the Arts, Festival of the Holidays, or Food & Wine events. And the great news for gardening groupies is that the celebration will continue all the way through July 5, 2021, making this 28th annual event the longest in EPCOT’s history.
If you’ve already checked out our recent preview of the 2021 Flower & Garden Festival’s arrival, then it’s time to grab your free Passport at the park entrance, and join us on a virtual stroll around EPCOT with this video featuring highlights of this year’s event:
Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of the 2021 Flower & Garden Festival, let’s dig into some details. Much like its sibling events, EPCOT’s annual floral festival features delicious dishes and drinks from outdoor kitchens arrayed around Future World and World Showcase, as well as live musical performances and exclusive event merchandise. And, of course, the amazing topiary displays and lush landscaping that truly set Epcot’s springtime celebration apart are back in full flower.
Although continued social distancing restrictions mean that hands-on educational experiences and kids’ playgrounds have not returned, there’s still plenty to see and do around the park. Just keep in mind that while the Festival is included with regular admission, Park Pass reservations are still required to visit any Walt Disney World theme park, as capacity remains restricted.
2021 Flower & Garden Topiaries and Exhibits
The parks of the Walt Disney World resort are horticultural havens in every season, but springtime is when EPCOT’s expert landscapers truly pull out all the stops. From intricately planted flowerbeds fit for a royal garden, to inspirational “How-To” displays suitable for a suburban backyard, the Flower & Garden Festival’s topiaries and gardens are guaranteed to make your appreciation of nature blossom.
This year, Sorcery Mickey and his fellow Fantasia stars grace EPCOT’s recently redesigned entry plaza.
You’ll also find these Chinese mushrooms from Fantasia’s Nutcracker sequence (complete with caricatured slanted seed pods for eyes) right outside the park entrance, a curious choice given the increasing sensitivity about ethnic stereotyping in classic Disney films.
Farther into the park, we noticed a distinct deficit of brand-new topiaries at this year’s Festival, although many fan favorites can be found in new arrangements and locations around EPCOT.
Beyond the character topiaries, you’ll also find cultural and educational exhibits all around the park.
The Festival’s usual educational seminars are suspended, but there are still self-guided experiences like the Twinings English Tea Garden walk.
Grab a map to guide you through the tea garden at the U.K. pavilion, then stop inside the Tea Caddy shop for some complimentary samples.
If you are interested in the mulch, sweat, and tears that go into EPCO’’s floral displays, don’t miss the horticulture exhibits at World Showplace between the Canada and U.K. pavilions. You’ll get a peek at some of the tools used by Disney’s world-famous gardening team, along with a better appreciation for the effort it takes to assemble this event.
As always, my personal favorite exhibit is the Goodness Garden butterfly tent between The Land and Imagination, which was slightly redesigned to promote socially distanced crowd flow.
Enjoy a stroll through the 2021 EPCOT butterfly garden with this point-of-view video:
Right next door, the Living with the Land boat ride has installed some temporary displays showcasing the edible flowers grown inside The Land’s greenhouses to supply the Flower & Garden Festival’s outdoor kitchens.
Get a front-row seat for a cruise through the Living with the Land greenhouses in this point-of-view video:
2021 Flower & Garden Outdoor Kitchens
Foliage may be at the center of the Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival, but food and beverages come in a close second. This year’s event features 19 different Outdoor Kitchens, in addition to special menu items at some permanent food kiosks.
This year, there’s a bigger emphasis than ever on plant-based options, with a Garden Graze tasting stroll highlighting five menu items that are sure to please vegans and omnivores alike.
The prize for completing the Garden Graze is an exclusive flavor of Dole Whip frozen dessert from Pineapple Promenade, so don’t forget to collect all five stamps!
Festival Live Entertainment
Like so many live shows over the past year, EPCOT’s traditional Garden Rocks concert series featuring nationally recognized musicians has been canceled for 2021. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of live entertainment to enjoy at this year’s Flower & Garden Festival.
On Fridays through Mondays, you’ll find cover bands from the Orlando area playing pop, R&B, and Latin hits on the American Gardens stage.
During the rest of the week, that same stage continues to host the Voices of Liberty and Mariachi Cobre. Guests can also enjoy gardening-themed performances by the JAMMitors on Canada’s Mill Stage, as well as live pianists like Carol Stein inside World Showplace.
2021 Flower & Garden Merchandise
Take home a souvenir from the 2021 Taste of Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival’s merchandise collections, which again feature Mickey and Minnie, the Orange Bird, and Spike the Bee, along with Figment.
The playgrounds formerly found around the Festival are off-limits for safety reasons, but you can still get the kids into the event by picking up a Spike Pollen-Nation scavenger hunt map for $7.99. A similar Easter Eggstravanza hunt is also available for the same price starting March 19.
Will you be visiting the 2021 Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival, and which features are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments below!
For all there is to see and do at Walt Disney World, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, or to plan your family’s trip to Orlando, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter here. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.