The 17th annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival kicks off March 3, 2010 – earlier than ever (Last year’s festival began March 18.) – and continues for 75 days through May 16, 2010, with many brand-new features.
“The advantage of starting earlier is that we’ll be able to feature more brilliant color than ever, with richly hued petunias, violas, snapdragons and other hardy flowers,” says festival horticulture manager Eric Darden. “By starting earlier and going through mid-May, it allows more guests than ever to experience the festival and to plan ahead for their spring and summer gardening.”
Even before spring has sprung, Donald Duck and his topiary pals will set up camp in full floral color to celebrate the great outdoors at the Epcot front entrance. The elaborate topiary with a North American theme, live waterfall and pond will feature Goofy in a fly-fishing misadventure, Daisy Duck roasting marshmallows over a campfire and Pluto in his “pup tent.”
New This Year
• More butterflies – Up to 700 butterflies will flutter into an expanded and relocated, futuristic-themed Bambi’s Butterfly House – double the size of previous years’ Minnie’s Magnificent Butterfly Garden. The new butterfly abode in Future World West, at 3,500 square feet, allows hundreds of the winged beauties to flit among the lush foliage of a larger screened enclosure, where guests can wander and watch as multiple butterfly species light on flowers filled with nectar and as caterpillars emerge from their chrysalis in a special discovery exhibit. Bambi joins butterfly floral topiaries to welcome guests to the enclosure.
• New Victory Garden – Disney’s “fab five” topiary pals – Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto and Goofy – will gather at the American Adventure to tend tomatoes, beans, peppers, herbs and other edibles in their first Victory Garden as a salute to the history of World War II gardens, the new White House vegetable garden and the many community gardens being planted across the country.
• Newly Expanded Pixie Hollow Fairy Garden – Colorful topiaries of Tinker Bell and friends from Walt Disney Pictures’ latest DVD release “Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure” will sprinkle pixie dust over this playful, expanded garden for kids. New characters on display with returning fairy favorites are fast-flying, sharp-tongued Vidia and charming Terence, dispenser of pixie dust. Tinker Bell’s Nook has hands-on activities. In a synergistic turn, the “Lost Treasure” DVD includes a bonus feature on “The Making of the Fairy Garden,” featuring Disney cast members who designed and built Pixie Hollow, along with the movie’s producer and director, who helped plan the garden.
• American Gothic Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse – Topiary experts pull out all the stops to create a first-ever American Gothic Mickey and Minnie topiary scene based on the 1930 Grant Wood painting. The new topiaries will be seen at World Showcase Plaza.
• Pirates Adventure Zone – Peter Pan, Captain Hook and Croc topiaries will lure young swashbucklers to this interactive space designed for exploration and adventure. This will be located next to the Germany pavilion.
Festival highlights also include:
• Flower Power concerts – Popular bands will rock the open-air America Gardens Theatre every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 5:15, 6:30 and 7:45 p.m. Jose Feliciano is scheduled to kick off the concert series March 5 to 7. On subsequent weekends, the lineup is slated to feature pop favorites like Davy Jones, Chubby Checker & The Wildcats, Tony Orlando, former Boston lead singer Fran Cosmo, and other top acts.
• Flowers and Topiaries – Throughout the festival, more than 70 topiaries plus sweeping floral beds and exhibits will decorate the park landscape and showcase the extraordinary craftsmanship of Disney gardeners. A Fragrance Garden at the France pavilion will tell the “love story” of plants and perfume, and the art of bonsai will “wow” guests at the Japan showcase.
• Disney Gardening at Home – Disney horticulturists will share gardening tips and lead guests in a hands-on, take-home activity.
• Great American Gardeners – Gardening celebrities and authors from across the country will reveal their gardening secrets. Opening weekend, Robert Bowden, author and director of lush Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, kicks off the series.
• Garden Town Festival Center – Guests can shop for festival merchandise, attend speaker presentations and demonstrations and ask gardening questions of the experts.
• Special Celebrations – An Art in the Garden celebration of plein air artists is scheduled March 26 to 28; a Florida Farmer’s Market celebration is April 23 to 25, and the popular I Dig Bugs event is set for April 30 to May 2.
The festival, including all gardening programs and exhibits, is included in regular Epcot admission.