Epcot is a beautiful park to visit and enjoy, but during the time of the Flower and Garden Festival, it reaches a new level of beauty. It is simply amazing how much the event has to offer in terms of experiences and that’s even without taking into account all of Epcot’s year-round attractions. The stars of the event are the topiaries themed to the famous Disney and Pixar movies and characters, which are just gorgeous to look at and create wonderful photo opportunities and the outdoor kitchens offering cuisines with selections from the different countries around the world such as Morocco, China and others. The best time to visit however is during the ‘Fun Fresh Weekends‘ (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) as the Festival Center is open with a verity of gardening presentations and that’s where you can meet gardening, horticulture and outdoor specialists and find really nice exclusive merchandize items. In the weekend you can also enjoy a concert with world famous bands. This experience is called Garden Rocks.
I took the time to enjoy the Flower and Garden Festival last weekend and these were the highlights for me.
My recommendation is to make the Festival Center- the first stop of your visit. Pick up Garden Passport and the Times Guide for the day.
The Garden Passport is used collect different stamps at specific locations scattered around the park. The stamps look terrific and I was excitied to discover which stamp I would get for each venue. It was so nice that I kept on looking to complete my Garden Passport (and I did!). The Garden Passport is also very useful to keep track of what you’ve already seen and tried during the event – a nice memorabilia that you can take with you after the event.
Speaking of memorabilia, you can find exclusive merchandize at Garden Gifts. I’m not really a fan of merchandize items, but I loved the selection there. Got one of the Mickey the Farmer pictures for my place (couldn’t resist…).
To get a good idea about the magic behind the event and how these magnificent topriaries are made there is a nice video that plays at the Garden Theater or you can look at the different displays in the gallery at the back of the center. The video was a more enjoyable and faster way for me to learn about the topiaries and they even teach you how you can do some of those things at home.
Some of the presentations at the Festival Center are open and for some of them you will need a reservation card that cast members give away prior to the show (at the location of the show), so I suggest picking up the card before anything else. I attended a presentation called ‘Step Up the Plate with Vegetables‘ with Robert Bowden. As someone who managed to kill ever single plant that he tried to grow- I wouldn’t call myself a gardening enthusiast, however the presentation was just wonderful and very interesting for me. Robert spoke about growing your own food and it was great to understand the importance of that and getting some great tips. In the end everyone got to plant and received a nice flowerpot to get them going with their own yammy vegetable garden! Nice touch!
Topiaries and Play Areas
Robert Bowden said it best ‘Every year they say: this is beautiful, this is gorgeous they can’t possibly improve on this, and what do they do? every year it’s better and better’. The 2016 Topiaries are indeed gorgeous. The ones that stood out for me for were the Cars topiaries and the play area called Cactus Rally and Ranger Mickey & Friends. There is another play area called Music Garden Melodies with Mickey and friends. These play areas seem to be a hit with young kids.
I’m a fan of Epcot Food & Wine Festival. While the selection at Flower and Garden Festival is not as big, the assortment of cuisine and food selection is wonderful and it looks like there are much more options for vegertarians (and suitably so for a garden and outdoor based event). My first selection was the Watermelon Salad (with Pickled Onions, B&W Gourmet Farms Baby Arugula, Feta and Balsamic Reduction- hah!) at Urban Farm Eats. The watermelon salad was exquistely fresh and very tasty. A good tip for Urban Farm Eats is to skip their beverages and get the Frozen Desert Violet Lemonade at neighboring Pineapple Promenade. What can I say about this beverage? It looks fantastic, the color is amazing and the taste is very unique and ‘violet-like’. Highly recommended!
The two other sample offerings which I can heartily recommend are the Gaoli Beef Bun at China Pavilion which was unbelievably tasty and the Baklava at Morocco Pavilion was one of the best Baklavas I’ve ever eaten (and I love Baklavas…).
Gardens – Butterflies on the Go
Butterflies on the Go is a special tent that is home to some beautiful colorful butterflies. I wish I took my professional DSLR camera as these butterflies fly fast and are hard to get close to. It’s a fantastic place to learn and see a variety of glittery butterflies.
Tours- English Tea Garden Tour
During the time of the Flower & Garden Festival you can learn about the history and art of tea blending at the English Tea Garden (United Kingdom Pavilion) and more specifically about Twinings tea blends. It’s a nice tour and the Tea garden is just beautiful and looks like it came straight from a fairy tale book, which kind of makes sense since you can meet with Alice in Wonderland next door! This is just one of three tours available for you to experience at the Festival.
and last, but not least-
Garden Rocks Concert Series at America Gardens Theatre
One of the things that’s nice and special about visiting the Flower and Garden in the weekend is the Garden Rocks Concert Series playing at America Gardens Theatre. A perfect way to end your day with by relaxing and enjoying the music of these wonderful bands and musicians, in my case – The Orchestra starring former members of ELO! They were great, the theatre was packed and the crowd was really enjoying the show and sang along!
Visiting the Flower and Garden Festival
It was a blast visiting the Flower and Garden Festival. Even if you’re just the casual gardening person, the presentations are super interesting, you can get lots of nice photos of these beautiful topiaries and try wonderful uique food! I think it’s one of the best events at Epcot and if you’re thinking about going to the theme park this is probably one of the best times as the park looks absolutely amazing. Can Disney ever top this? Can’t wait to find out next year!!