With the 2017 introduction of the Epcot Festival of the Arts this past January and February, Epcot has now up to 4 festivals covering 9 months of the calendar year. Between Festival of the Arts, Flower and Garden, Food and Wine, and Holidays around the World, Epcot is a festival destination 9 months out of the year. Only the summer months (June, July and August) are non-festival seasons at Epcot. The summer months are when the crowds are naturally large, and you need the additional space around World Showcase. There is no room for extra kiosks.
If nothing else, the Flower and Garden Festival is the most beautiful of all; and living in the north, Flower and Garden is a sure sign that spring is just around the corner. Over 7 million trees, shrubs and flowers are all part of the “entertainment” throughout Walt Disney World. The Disney Horticulture Department is responsible for all of WDWs 25,000 acres, ranging from Magic Kingdoms Adventureland to the Oasis in the middle of Animal Kingdom and everything in between.
Some quick facts: Walt Disney World Horticulture
- Total Acreage of the Walt Disney World Resort: 25,000
- Total Acreage devoted to maintained landscapes and gardens: 4,200
- Number of interior plants used each year: 8,500
- Number of hanging baskets on show at one time: 800
- Number of hanging baskets produced each year: ~4,000
- Number of bedding plants and annuals planted each year: Over 3.5 million
- Total number of plant species represented: almost 3,500
- Number of shrubs maintained: Over 4 Million
- Number of irrigation valves that are controlled by 860 irrigation controllers: over 11,000
Some quick facts: Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival
- At 90 days, the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival is one of the longest flower and garden festivals in the United States.
- 100 individual topiaries are on display during the Festival, including more than 80 Disney character topiaries.
- 200 floating gardens adorn Future World’s East & West Lake
- The festival blooms, the floral design encircling Futures World’s East & West Lake, showcases 77,000 bedding plants.
- 40 flower towers are added to Future World, each with 250 four-inch annuals.
- Over 600 native butterflies can be found fluttering at Butterflies on the Go.
- The Dragon Topiary is the longest topiary at Walt Disney World, nearly 20 feet long.
Flower and Garden Festival is a photographers dream!!! One of the many reasons I love Flower and Garden – every time you turn around there is another beautiful picture right in front of you, ready to be taken. Be sure to check some of my 2017 favorites below.
And if the beautiful landscape along with 26 “Destination Gardens” including: Prehistoric Plants, Seed Sanctuary, Backyard Habitat, Bamboo Garden, Alpine Containers and Japanese Mini Gardens aren’t enough of a reason to walk around World Showcase, add in the “Outdoor Kitchens”.
Check out the FULL BEHIND THE SCENES DOCUMENTARY From the Garden Theater.
Located around World Showcase, the “Outdoor Kitchens” feature a variety of “Farm to Table” dishes featuring locally sourced ingredients. With 15 stops around World Showcase, each of these outdoor kitchens offers a specialty menu of creative cuisine and libations. With names like, Pineapple Promenade, Primavera Kitchen, The Smokehouse, Florida Fresh and The Berry Basket, where do I start? Start with your “Garden Passport” your guide to everything happening at the festival. You’ll find the pocket sized guide near the Flower and Garden Festival maps. It serves as a cross between a Times Guide, Event Guide and sort of checklist. You’ll find a full list of event topiaries; new for 2017 “Welcome to Spring Fun, Food and Flowers”, Farmers Market Stand and my new favorite, “Figment”.
Interested in more details? You may want to consider the Epcot Gardens of the World Tour. Offered Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9-12, “A Disney Horticulturist will be your host on a three-hour tour of special displays and award-winning international gardens”. Book in advance at 407-WDW-TOUR. Of course, the “Behind the Seeds Tour” at the Land Pavilion is always popular along with three English tea garden tours in the United Kingdom.
- Self-Guided Tour, get information at the Tea Caddy
- English Tea Garden Tour: A Complimentary Guided Tour. Note: Same day sign up and limited availability. – Sign up in the Tea Caddy
- Royal Tea Garden Tour; This VIP tour includes samplings of tea and scones for $15 – Book in advance at 407-WDW-TOUR
The Garden Rocks Concert Series has been expanded to include Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. “As the sun sets, gather with friends for some rocking tunes!” Located at the American Gardens Theater, the concert series includes a wide variety of performances from The Pointer Sisters, Plain White T’s, Night Ranger, Gin Blossoms and Starship. Check your festival passport for full schedule.
There is one reason I like the Flower and Garden Festival over Epcots other festivals… KIDS ACTIVITIES!!! My kids love Flower and Garden Festival, and the kids’ activities get bigger every year. The play gardens are a must do, and a perfect place for mom & dad to grab a seat in the shade. The 2017 play gardens feature the “Road to the Florida 500” and a sneak peek at characters from Cars 3, Lightning McQueen and Cruz Ramirez (a new topiary for 2017). The Musical Garden Melodies provide a fun way to interact with the gardens drums and chimes, while the Florida Fresh Garden provide a nice stop while strolling around World Showcase. Florida Fresh Garden is located near the Florida Fresh Outdoor Kitchen between Morocco and France. The playgrounds, while very memorable to my family, are really just scratching the surface.
The Purple Martins, just outside of Mouse Gear near Test Track, provides some insight into the migration of songbirds that travel nearly 3,000 miles from the Brazilian Amazon to raise families at Walt Disney World. The garden also answers the question, what are those strange looking things on top of those poles? Yes, they are Purple Martins’ houses, and they are there all year long.
Butterflies on the Go, or as we call it “The Butterfly House”, has become an annual tradition. The exhibit is filled with butterflies and gives youngsters an opportunity to get an up-close view and learn about the lifecycle of butterflies. Have your camera ready; you never know where a butterfly will land or just how close you’ll be able to get. Watch your step 😉
Kids can take part in the Egg-Stravaganza as they search for the missing eggs all around World Showcase. Once you find them all, return your map for a special “prize”. While the Easter egg hunt has been available for many years at Epcot, the new Egg-Stravaganza is available for the entire length of the festival; or as Disney puts it, “while supplies last”. It’s a nice change from previous years when the hunt was only available Easter week, one of the busiest weeks at WDW and one I try desperately to avoid – so this was the first time my family was able to participate.
Another interesting change for 2017 is the introduction of the new “Kidcot Garden Stops”. Be sure to pick up your “Kidcot Garden Stop Field Guide” at one of the Garden Stops throughout World Showcase. Developed specifically for the 2017 Flower & Garden Festival, this new booklet will allow younger guests to learn more about fruits and berries from
around the globe as they explore each of the 11 World Showcase pavilions. The Kidcot Garden Stops are actually a “re-themed”, Kidcot Fun Stop; and as far as I can tell, the first time those locations have been themed to any of Epcot’s 4 festivals. It’s a welcome change of scenery for the little ones. Could this be the beginning of a revolving “Kid Cot” theme based on the current festival or a Flower and Garden exclusive? Will Duffy and Perry return for the summer crowd? Time will tell, but I like the effort of expanding kids’ activities and getting them more tied into the overall festival theme.
To get the full Flower and Garden experience, don’t miss the Festival Center. Plan accordingly; the Festival Center is only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 5pm. Each weekend includes complimentary gardening presentations along with a variety of gardening, horticulture and outdoor specialists providing an opportunity to learn tips that can help you at home.
While festival exclusive merchandise is available all around World Showcase, the Festival Center is merchandise central. From pass holder exclusives to standard festival mugs, t-shirts, hats and garden figures and pins, it’s all in the Festival Center. You’ll also find visiting vendors that change based on the weekend’s theme.
The information desk includes information and handouts regarding “how to” including; Floating Gardens, Irrigation, Hanging Baskets and Topiaries – all scanned and available at SamsDisneyDiary.com here along with a weekend schedule and some cool “Festival and Horticulture Facts.”
Also in the Festival Center, don’t miss the “Disney Horticulture Heritage” exhibit, tracking the history of Disney horticulture from Walt himself to the history of the Flower and Garden Festival.
The hidden gem of the Festival Center has to be “The Garden Theater” featuring the “Making of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival 2017”. A wonderful behind the scenes look at the activities that happen behind the scenes, the 45 minute “show” is on a continuous loop and plays while the Festival Center is open. This the is type of behind the scenes documentary that I love, the type of television special I go out of my way to record. But there was no way for me to take it home, no way to watch it, without spending 45 minutes of my day in the theater. I tried to buy it, but it isn’t available. So I did the next best thing, and I set up my tripod and recorded the entire documentary.
And that documentary was the one little spark that led to this episode of SamsDisneyDiary. You’ll find full audio in the podcast and full video in SamsDisneyDiary.
Don’t forget to check out the photos below and thanks for watching, listening and reading.
I love the Flower and Garden Festival, and I hope you do too. Feel free to comment below or reach me at SamsDisneyDiary@mail.com !
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