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2017 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival welcomes spring in new ways

by Brittani Tuttle
A new Belle topiary, based on the Disney animated classic, “Beauty and the Beast,” will join the Beast topiary at the France Pavilion.

A new Belle topiary, based on the Disney animated classic, “Beauty and the Beast,” will join the Beast topiary at the France Pavilion.

This year’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival kicks off on March 1, and with celebrating 24 years, the festival promises new food options and beautiful character topiaries to capture the imagination.

The festival, which runs for 90 days from March 1 through May 29, will have an array of things to do and see during your visit, including some new offerings:

  • The new generation of Disney Princess topiaries, Snow White, Anna and Elsa, will welcome an all-new Belle topiary in the France Pavilion. Joined by the Beast topiary, Belle will be designed to look as we remember her from the original animated film, “Beauty and the Beast.”
  • A 6-foot-tall topiary of Figment, the beloved mascot of Epcot’s Imagination Pavilion, perched atop a 5-foot-diameter ball made of Joseph’s Yellow Coat.
  • The Epcot front-entrance topiary garden’s theme this year is “Welcome Spring Fun, Food and Flowers” – inspired by a vintage Walt Disney animation. It will feature a floral maypole, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto and Daisy.
  • The interactive play gardens will get a redesign to include a new “Cars” theme, titled “Road to Florida 500.” This play garden will introduce the new “Cruz” character topiary from Disney-Pixar’s upcoming 2017 film, “Cars 3.” The Music Garden Melodies play area will also return with a new redesign as well.
  • Farm-fresh food and beverage options will make their debut at two new outdoor kitchens, Northern Bloom and The Berry Basket. These will join the 13 returning outdoor kitchens in the festival lineup.
    • Northern Bloom will have chef-inspired offerings such as seared scallops with fresh green beans, butter potatoes with brown-butter vinaigrette and applewood smoked bacon, and even a maple popcorn shake with added Crown Royal Maple Whiskey.
    • The Berry Basket will have tasty options like lamb chop with quinoa salad and blackberry gastrique, which would pair quite nicely with the new Founders Raubeaus Pure Raspberry Ale.
  • The Garden Rocks concert series will expand to four days a week, with three concerts each Friday through Monday. New acts this year include Simple Plan, Exposé and Berlin featuring Terri Nunn. New Garden Rocks dining packages will also be available on select days. You can call 407-WDW-DINE to make your reservation.
  • During the first week of the festival, the Festival Center will be hosting gardening seminars and DIY workshops from March 1 through March 5. For the rest of the festival, the center will be open Friday through Sunday.

Not only will this year’s Flower & Garden Festival be hosting new offerings, but festival favorites will be making their return as well, like the popular outdoor kitchen Urban Farm Eats, with sweet and savory bites and inspiration for guests to try to plant their own produce and edibles.

flower & garden monorail

Richly-hued floral beds and floating gardens adorn the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

“A lot of people, including young children, are serious foodies now, and they have lots of questions about gardening,” said Eric Darden, festival horticulture manager. “We’re getting more and more people in their 20s and 30s asking, ‘How can I grow this?’ I think we’ll be creating more gardeners because people can see what’s possible.”

Other returning offerings include:

  • Anna and Elsa topiaries are back at the Norway Pavilion to help celebrate Epcot’s newest attraction, Frozen Ever After. They will join the 70 character topiaries that include Simba, Lady and the Tramp, Tinker Bell, and more.
  • The Butterflies on the Go garden will return to tell the story of the Monarch’s epic journey of migration and feature butterflies emerging from their chrysalises.

Guests can also plan on special appearances and activities related to Earth Day during the festival, including specialists from Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment Conservation, Sunshine State specialists teaching about Florida agriculture, and more.

All of this and more is included in your visit to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, which is included as part of your standard park admission. For more information about the festival, visit EpcotInSpring.com.

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