Every year the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival attracts visitors with and without green thumbs, but will children like the annual celebration of flowers and gardens? Liliane Opsomer, coauthor of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids 2020, is sure they will. She explains how to make it a memorable visit for the entire family.
More than 100 larger-than-life topiaries, most of which are shaped like beloved Disney characters, are sure to fascinate kids of all ages. They are perfect for a game of guessing the name of the movie in which they appear, and they make great photo opportunities. (All pictures by Seth Kubersky.)
Don’t try to see them all, but do make a list of favorite characters and try to combine them with a fun ride or be on the lookout for the Disney character the topiary represents. While the characters are back out in the park, prepare your children to meet them at a distance, and let them know that there is no hugging. However, there is still a way to get great pictures with them.
Princess Anna and Queen Elsa—both in person and in topiary versions—can be found at the Norway Pavilion. Make sure to ride Frozen Ever After.
Snow White and Dopey, plus his dwarf friends, can be found at the German Pavilion. Princess Snow White herself meets guests, starting shortly after noon, at the wishing well at the pavilion.
The Beauty and the Beast topiaries are at home at the French Pavilion. Belle can usually be found down along the water’s edge toward the front of the pavilion. At times, Princess Aurora also visits with guests at this spot.
Don’t miss Woody, Bo Peep, and Her Sheep near the Land Pavilion.
For a full list of all the topiaries, click here.
Kids can let off steam and play in the playground along Imagination Walkway, and there is plenty of seating for parents.
Outdoor Escapes near World Discovery offers tips on how to create your own garden at home, and several seating arrangements give tired feet a rest.
At the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival, Kids Can Hone Their Culinary Skills
With a little guidance, parents can get kiddos into trying out new foods at the many outdoor kitchens throughout the park. Skip the sit-down restaurants that would only provide one experience, waste lots of time, and try the patience of smaller children. The Festival food is served in small portions, and prices won’t break the bank. Dishes are priced $4.50-$8 (exceptions are the prices at the Italian Primavera Kitchen, where dishes cost $12-$14). Most portions are eligible as a snack item if you are on the Disney Dining Plan, making this grand tour of world cuisines fun and affordable.
If becoming a culinary expert sounds good to you and your children, pick up a free Festival Passport and travel around World Showcase. The booklet has stickers for all activities and outdoor kitchens.
As kids apply the stickers to all the gardens and outdoor kitchens visited, parents can help with checking off which foods they’ve tasted. Kids can collect a matching stamp in their Festival Passports for each specially noted menu item purchased, and—when you’ve collected 5 stamps—bring the Festival Passports to Pineapple Promenade to redeem a Festival-exclusive treat!
Don’t start with something that’s too much out of your child’s comfort zone; instead, aim for a familiar taste. As you travel World Showcase, the different pavilions provide a great opportunity to talk about travel and the food and culture of the countries represented.
MEXICO Most children are familiar with Mexican food, and we recommend Chipotle Chicken in a Corn Tortilla with Mole Negro, Avocado Mousse, Crema Mexicana, and Queso Fresco.
While you are here: Ride Grand Fiesta Tour inside the pyramid, make sure to take in a performance of Mariachi Cobre, and admire the Three Caballeros topiary. Donald Duck often comes out to the right of the pyramid.
CHINA Chinese food has become a staple in our country, and children will love House-made Cheesy Crab Wontons ($7.75) and even the Spicy Mala Chicken Skewer ($6.75).
While you are here: Be on the lookout for Mulan, and find the Dromeliad Dragon and Panda topiaries.
GERMANY Kids will love Potato Pancakes with House-made Apple Sauce at Bauernmarkt. The portion costs $4.75. Adults may enjoy some of the great beers served at the German Pavilion.
While you are here: Visit with Snow White, and take a look at the amazing Miss Piggy and Kermit topiaries.
ITALY I think that the offerings here are the least appealing of all the festival booths and, as mentioned above, the most expensive! If you decide to go Italian, though, try the sweet sausage ravioli with sweet corn, spring vegetables, and cream sauce ($13).
While you are here: Admire the Lady and the Tramp topiary.
MOROCCO More adventurous kids will enjoy Lamb Kefta with Carrot-Chickpea Salad and Garlic Aioli from the Tangierine Cafe: Flavors of Medina ($5.75).
While you are here: See if Princess Jasmine is walking around the Bazaar.
Just past Morocco, enjoy the Vibrante & Verde: An Encanto Garden. Encanto fans can be on the lookout for the lush and colorful flowers reminiscent of those surrounding the family Madrigal’s home in the movie.
FRANCE Bonjour! You are in the right place to be adventurous or go for a delicious thin pancake that is sure to please. Unfortunately, my favorite dish, Canard Confit a l’Orange, is not offered at the Fleur de Lys booth this year.
While you are here: Make sure to ride the brand-new Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
UNITED KINGDOM If all else fails, there is always Fish and Chips at the Yorkshire County Fish Shop.
While you are here: Catch Alice in Wonderland and Mary Poppins. Alice usually is in front of her cottage, and Mary Poppins can be found in a gazebo toward the back of the pavilion or in the garden. The following topiaries are also found here: Peter Pan, Captain Hook, Tick Tock Croc, and the lovely Tinker Bell’s Fairy House Garden.
Family-friendly Activities at the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival
Making your way around World Showcase while playing one of the scavenger hunts is also sure to please the kids. The Egg-stravaganza game is offered late March through mid-April. Armed with a map and stickers, tour World Showcase and be on the lookout for a dozen hidden Disney Character-themed eggs. You can’t miss them: The eggs are 1½ feet tall!
Every time you locate an egg, put the corresponding sticker on the map. Once you’re done, claim your prize—a choice of one Disney character-themed egg at the Disney Traders shop. The Egg-stravaganza map and stickers cost $7.99 plus tax.
Spike’s Pollen Nation Exploration: In this scavenger hunt, Disney’s favorite honey bee, Spike, has been pollinating his way around the festival. Just pick up a garden map and stickers at Port of Entry. Then, it’s time to follow Spike’s trail!
Be on the lookout for Spike as he pollinates EPCOT’s gardens. In each garden, search for the plant Spike has pollinated, identifiable by Spike himself and a Spike’s Pollen Nation Exploration plant stake. Kids will love to look for Spike and add a corresponding sticker to the map. After the journey is complete, return the map for a special treat. Spike’s Pollen Nation Exploration runs for the duration of the festival; maps and stickers can be purchased for $9.99.
Wait, there’s more! Free of charge are the Kidcot Fun Stops located at the 11 countries represented at World Showcase. The activity is fun and educational. At each country, kids receive stickers and an activity card that they can color. The backside of the card provides information on the country visited. Upon your first stop, cast members hand out a small zip-top plastic bag that looks like a suitcase.
After you have eaten your way through World Showcase, take the kids to the Land Pavilion and ride Living with the Land. Tell them that the vegetables grown here are served year-round in some of Epcot’s restaurants and in the outdoor kitchens during the festival.
Another must-visit is Bambi’s Butterfly House, where kids can walk among hundreds of colorful butterflies and learn about the several developmental stages of these amazing creatures.
Every evening at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., and 8 p.m., the American Gardens stage is home to the free Garden Rocks Concert series. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Check out the lineup here. Guaranteed seating is available with the Garden Rocks Dining Package.
The EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival runs now through July 4th.
For more family fun when visiting Walt Disney World, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids. The guide has all you need to plan a successful visit, including touring plans specifically geared towards families visiting with children.
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