Epcot will bloom gardens, flavors, entertainment and more during the annual International Flower & Garden Festival March 4 to May 17.
New Disney character topiaries, including a nod to the blockbuster animated film, “Frozen,” will offer colorful selfie and family photo ops. Outdoor Kitchens will serve a fresh take on sweet and savory noshes. And guests can get “hands-on” with festival fun during Disney-led gardening seminars.
• Disney’s first Anna and Elsa topiaries will appear in a scene from the film’s finale. Other brand-new Disney character topiaries will be Chip and Dale taking a star turn in two whimsical front-entrance “Goofy About Spring” floral vignettes. Topiary Goofy and friends will be in on the fun.
• Fresh new menu items will debut at the festival’s Outdoor Kitchens where, for the third year running, guests can taste garden- and spring-inspired tapas-sized food and beverages and have their complimentary Garden Passports stamped as they stroll the World Showcase promenade.
• A Southwest desert garden will premiere as a thriving ecosystem.
• Ten new mini-gardens will surprise guests around every corner. Guests will discover a new “health garden,” a pepper garden, a dinosaur-plant garden and a Shakespeare garden, among others, each designed with a storytelling element.
• Guests can discover the story of the Monarch butterfly’s journey across the continent and see butterflies emerge from their chrysalises at Tinker Bell’s Butterfly House.
• A weekend concert series will rock audiences every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
• Disney gardeners will lead weekend how-to Gardening Seminars at the Festival Center, where guests also can pick up signature festival merchandise.
• When the sun sets, illuminated topiary and play gardens will glow brightly for an after-dark festival experience.
“This is one of our most ambitious festivals ever,” says Eric Darden, festival horticulture manager. “We’re telling stories we’ve never told before. You’ll get a fresh taste of spring — it’ll be like the first spring farmer’s market for America.”
As park guests taste inspired Outdoor Kitchen goodies, they can wander among multiple themed gardens and children’s play areas. Nearly 100 expertly crafted topiary characters, including Snow White, Bambi, Mickey Mouse, Simba and Peter Pan, will animate the landscape when Epcot transforms to a vibrant wonderland of sweeping garden beds and exhibits.
The “Frozen” topiary vignette at World Showcase Plaza will pop with color as Anna’s and Elsa’s icy world, illustrated with white and silver blooms of delphinium, alyssum and other floral varieties, transforms to a spring palette featuring Gerbera daisies, petunias, Sweet William and other flora.
A Health Garden near The Land pavilion in Future World will display ancient medicinal plants including garlic, aloe, chamomile, fennel, mint and others. Plants used to develop modern prescriptions will be papaya, periwinkle, turmeric, yew, thyme and valerian. And the new Shakespeare Garden at the United Kingdom pavilion will feature roses to represent Romeo and Juliet: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Also in the garden: rosemary from Hamlet, lavender from The Winter’s Tale, plus representations featuring poppy, lily, honeysuckle and willow.
Tinker Bell’s Butterfly House will return with hundreds of winged beauties fluttering above and lighting upon their favorite nectar-producing plants. 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.
Several special weekend happenings will include Art in the Garden Weekend (March 27-29); Florida Fresh Weekend (April 24-26); and Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, Inc. Weekend (May 8-10).
The newly named Garden Rocks Concert Series debuts to span a broader range of decades and popular artists than Flower Power. Guests can dance each festival weekend to classic tunes at the park’s America Gardens Theatre. Performances are at 5:30, 6:45 and 8 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the Flower & Garden Festival and are included with Epcot admission. Here is this year’s lineup (subject to change without notice):
• March 6-8: Gin Blossoms
• March 13-15: Pablo Cruise
• March 20-22: En Vogue
• March 27-29: Starship
• April 3-5: The Orchestra starring former members of ELO
• April 10-12: Village People
• April 17-19: Jon Secada
• April 24-26: The Guess Who
• May 1-3: Taylor Dayne
• May 8-10: Little River Band
• May 15-17: Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone
For more information about the 22nd 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.