For its 23rd year, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival will expand from 75 to 90 days and run from March 2 to May 30, 2016 at Walt Disney World.
Fresh farm market flavors at the festival’s Outdoor Kitchens, new Disney character topiaries, interactive play gardens and live rockin’ music will shower spring surprises on park guests.
“Adding 15 extra days to this year’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival gives park guests more time to enjoy all the variety our festival has to offer,” says Melissa Valiquette, Epcot vice president. “The festival has become a spring tradition for many who can’t wait to try fresh flavors at our Outdoor Kitchens, dance in their seats at Garden Rocks concerts, explore stunning garden exhibits, grab photo ops with colorful Disney character topiaries and experience memory-making family fun.”
Donald Duck’s mischievous nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, will make their topiary debut with Donald and Daisy at the park’s front entrance garden, and Ranger Mickey Mouse in topiary form will appear for the first time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service launched in 1916 to conserve the country’s natural scenic treasures.
Fresh garden produce, savory bites and sweet treats will be abundant at the festival’s Outdoor Kitchens, returning for a fourth year with guest favorites and new food and beverage offerings. When they’re not noshing along the World Showcase promenade, festival guests can dig in for a hands-on experience during Disney-led gardening seminars or grab a seat for pop musical performances during the Garden Rocks concert series at the outdoor America Gardens Theatre.
The forecast for 2016 festival fun includes:
• In a horticultural nod to the brightest star in Earth’s orbit, Disney gardeners will paint the landscape with golden colors that will begin with a Floral Sun garden behind Spaceship Earth and yellow “sunbursts” that pop up across the Future World landscape. By night, twinkling lights will shine across festival gardens.
• New culinary creations will star at the festival’s Outdoor Kitchens where, for the fourth festival year, guests can taste garden- and spring-inspired food and beverages and have their complimentary Garden Passports stamped.
• The first-ever Huey, Dewey and Louie topiaries will feature floral characteristics of Donald’s nephews inspired by a 1943 Donald Duck comic book called “The Victory Garden.”
• The Ranger Mickey topiary garden in Future World will offer a guest selfie and family photo opportunity featuring a Spaceship Earth backdrop.
• A new “Fab Five” play garden featuring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto and Donald Duck topiaries will debut with musical instruments built into children’s outdoor climbing systems.
• Anna and Elsa topiaries will travel to the Norway pavilion festival landscape after their 2015 debut along World Showcase Plaza in a scene from “Frozen.” Nearly 100 topiary characters, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Lady and the Tramp, Simba and Peter Pan, will animate the Epcot landscape surrounded by sweeping garden beds and exhibits.
• The Garden Rocks concert series will present pop bands with music spanning four decades.
• More than 10 mini-gardens will surprise guests around every corner. A new edible flower garden near Morocco pavilion will showcase petals with flavor.
• The Butterflies on the Go garden will return with the story of the Monarch’s epic journey across the continent and will feature butterflies emerging from their chrysalises.
• Disney gardeners will lead weekend how-to Gardening Seminars at the Festival Center, where guests also can pick up signature festival merchandise. Guest experts will conduct complimentary seminars on a wide range of gardening and outdoor living topics.
• When the sun sets, illuminated topiary and play gardens will glow brightly for an after-dark festival experience.
“We work hard every year to bring new features and fresh fun to our festival,” says Eric Darden, festival horticulture manager. “We’re telling new stories with our flowers and plants, and every year there are surprises for our guests including new Outdoor Kitchen tastes.”
Dozens of Disney-crafted “flower towers” and beds of multi-colored blooms will add to the floral splendor of the park’s landscape. At least 70,000 bedding plants will surround the Future World east and west lakes alone; on the water, 220 mini-gardens will be set afloat.
For more information about the 23rd Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, call 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639). As the festival nears, more details will be available at EpcotInSpring.com. The festival, including all gardening programs and exhibits, is included in regular Epcot admission.