This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Our family moved to Orlando 25 years ago, and I remember the very first festival. It’s my favorite compared to Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts or its Food & Wine Festival. That’s because it not only offers great food, but a beautiful park during a great season of the year. The weather is usually idyllic–it’s simply a time of year where you want to be outside in Florida.
If you’ve never seen the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival, or it’s been a few years–this is a must see! The flowers are beautiful. The gardens are beautiful. The topiaries are beautiful. Everything is beautiful–far more than what you typically see if you visit the park any other time of year.
If you’ve been before, then the good news is all your favorites will be there. There’s the butterfly garden.
There are the beautiful floral carpets between Future World and World Showcase.
There are children’s playgrounds and interactive exhibits.
There are educational exhibits such as this water wise garden.
There are also topiaries. Several dozen topiaries. The unfortunate thing is that there are no new topiaries. Here is Tinker Bell. She’s been moved all over Epcot depending on the particular festival. But there isn’t anything new. Still, it’s very beautiful.
And then there is food. While there aren’t as many food kiosks and options as the Food & Wine Festival, there are more than the Arts Festival or the Holiday Festival. And there are certainly enough to find something to satisfy your palette. I loved these potato and cheddar cheese biscuits with a smoked salmon tartare. Delicious.
I was really excited to try Frushi. It’s sushi made with fruit fillings. I tried one last week when I visited the Food & Wine Festival at Disney California Adventure. Made only with strawberries but soaked in a sweet greek yogurt, it was incredibly delicious. So I wanted to try it here. This one had different fruits, but it was dry and not as tasty, even with the whipped cream and the raspberry sauce on the side.
I also tried this dish at The Berry Basket and it was wonderful. It is a warm berry buckle with pepper berry gelato. It was a great dish to end on.
There are many aspects of the festival I love. The display of treasured bonsai trees in Japan is a big favorite.
Count me in on the container gardens in Italy. I have tried to repeat this at home. It isn’t as colorful, but it works. This display always inspires me to try something new for my front entry.
You always want to catch the train garden. They spruce it up a bit for the Flower & Garden Festival.
I also looked for the topiaries of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Usually they are out on the promenade in front of Germany. In the festival booklet they are listed between the Lion King and Lady and the Tramp, so they ought to be here. But they weren’t. I enlisted a manager. He was clueless as well. Never did see them, so I don’t know if they will be making an appearance.
I like the colors of the Lion King topiaries here, but such topiaries are not the same as the kind you saw in the original years of Disneyland and Walt Disney World. These are better sculpted, but the use of moss and other elements allow them to grow the topiaries in a few months as opposed to traditional topiaries (found at it’s a small world at Disneyland) that require several years. Sometimes they seem more like something found on a Pasadena Rose Festival float rather than in a garden. Still, they are somewhat impressive.
The pandas have been in China for some years. They are lovely. But they aren’t anything new–unless you’ve never visited the park this time of year.
The same can be said for Norway. There has always been a troll as long as I can remember. This year’s troll has been somewhat updated. I’m not sure it was worth updating. With Princess Anna and Queen Elsa added, they should have retired the troll altogether.
What would have been huge would have been to have Coco done with a topiary or two. Imagine a bridge of marigold leaves with the spirit animals in bright topiary colors. That would have really attracted people to check it out. Alas, there is nothing really new in topiaries, gardens or exhibits.
I should note that the Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe is temporarily closed for a refurbishment. The kiosk below has been set up to handle the sale of some of those favorite bakery goods. But it wasn’t open, nor were any cash registers set up.
Returning to Future World, Buzz Lightyear graces the entrance to Mission Space.
Surprisingly, there is no Festival Center in the old Wonders of Life pavilion. This has led to speculation that the space may be overhauled for a new attraction. Well, one can dream, can’t they?
Loved the souvenirs. I especially should have given you a close up of the salt and pepper shakers in the shape of the Disney trash receptacles. Got to get one of those.
There is an open kitchen and stage area. The set is staged here for the Steve Harvey show.
All in all, it’s a great festival. If you’ve never seen it, or you haven’t seen it in a while, definitely check it out. Enjoy all the other Epcot attractions while you are there. It’s just disappointing that the festival–really focused on the local annual pass holder market–doesn’t really offer something really new to those who visit each year. I left feeling no compelling reason to re-visit before it’s over. As locals, we’ll be back, but it will be because our kids want to do an attraction like Soarin’ or Frozen Ever After. The festival itself really has no new “wow” to bring you back.
Have you visited this year or recently? What do you think? Share with us your thoughts.