This has been a very busy spring. Hubby and I finally got to spend a half day at Epcot to check in on the Flower and Garden Festival. I hope to get back again next month so that I can really enjoy myself and walk all the way around World Showcase! It was a short visit but 5 hours in Epcot is better than zero! Thankfully, this year the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is 90 days long so we have until May 30 to go back and visit again!
What’s New at the 2016 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival?
The new La Isla Fresca and Cider House Outdoor Kitchens will introduce fresh variety and flavor to the culinary offerings at a record 13 festival kiosks surrounding the World Showcase Promenade. Donald Duck’s mischievous nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, make their topiary debut with Donald and Daisy in the park’s signature front-entrance garden. Xylophones, drums and chimes will take child’s play to tuneful levels at the new Harmony Gardens play area featuring “leader-of-the-band” Mickey Mouse topiary.
- 30 million blooms blanket the park throughout the festival, which runs 90 colorful days and requires two complete crop rotations to keep floral displays fresh and seasonal.
- 13 Outdoor Kitchens include the new La Isla Fresca and Cider House kitchens and gardens. Bauernmarkt: Farmer’s Market returns at Germany pavilion. Dozens of new sweet and savory food and beverage menu items add tasting fun and variety to the festival. Each marketplace will feature a garden planted with select produce and herbs to represent more than 50 overall beverage choices and more than 30 food items featured.
- The festival’s front-entrance Fresh Food, Fun & Flowers topiary scene, inspired by a 1943 Donald Duck comic book called The Victory Garden features three new Disney Character topiaries — the first-ever Huey, Dewey and Louie topiaries in a comical gardening scene. More than 30 varieties of flowers, plants, and other garden materials are used to create the scene.
- The new Floral Sun topiary scene behind Spaceship Earth paints the landscape with golden colors, and 15 yellow “sunbursts” of red and yellow Joseph’s coat pop up in a Future World topiary bed.
- Music Garden Melodies with Fab Five topiaries, a themed playground for children complete with innovative play systems featuring interactive musical gadgets, is one of the largest festival gardens created at nearly one-third acre. The garden includes a collection of plants with features that resemble musical instruments as part of the ambiance.
- Anna and Elsa in full floral splendor appear (new last year) move to a fresh topiary vignette straight from the hit Disney film, “Frozen.” In the Norway pavilion scene that’s wired to twinkle by night, Elsa works her magic to conjure a colorful spring garden. About 25 varieties of flowers are planted to evoke the scene. Florals including hot pink, red, and orange Gerberas, blue and yellow Violas, violet Petunias and purple Dianthus blanket the spring transformation. Anna and Elsa topiaries are each about 6-1/2 feet tall and are created with plants that include variegated Ficus, green Ficus and the succulent Sedum Coral Reef. But Elsa will look taller because she’s standing closer to guests than Anna by about 8 feet.
- At least 25 different plants, grasses and mosses of various colors, including pink and red begonias, dusty miller, palm fiber, palm seeds, ficus and lichen, are used to create and define facial and other features of festival character topiaries. The topiary team uses about 200 one-pound boxes of hairpins to attach plants and flowers to the topiaries.
- Nearly 1,000 native butterflies represent up to 10 species at the expansive Butterflies on the Go butterfly house presented by GoGo squeeZ. Among the garden’s two dozen nectar plants are passion flower, coral honeysuckle, lantana, butterfly bush, blue porterweed, scarlet milkweed and canna lily.
- 240 extra playground hours add extra festival magic for children and their families with the illuminated garden playgrounds staying open through park closing.
- More than 500,000 plants, trees and shrubs are planted for the festival; 250,000 of those are annual blossoms installed for the festival.
Festival plants include 60 different species of trees, 47 types of palms, and 48 varieties of bedding plants.
- 78 hands-on gardening demonstrations and seminars will be presented.
- Forty 8-to-9-foot tall “flower towers” in an orange-and-green sunburst theme make colorful statements across the festival landscape.
- More than 200 floating mini-gardens, each three feet in diameter, of multi-hued New Guinea impatiens provide splashes of color on two ponds that border the walkway between Future World and World Showcase.
- 700 container gardens of flowers, herbs, plants and vegetables in clay pots, barrels and urns enhance the landscape throughout Epcot.
- 400 Walt Disney World horticulturists are needed to install the festival landscape, topiaries and many exhibits; 100 Epcot horticulturists maintain topiaries and other festival displays.
- It takes more than one full year and about 24,000 cast member hours to prepare for the annual festival.
- The festival’s weekend Garden Rocks Concert Series includes 13 bands known for their Top 40 hits across four decades. This year’s musical hit-makers from the 1960s through 1990s include four new-to-the-festival acts Blood, Sweat & Tears, Georgia Satellites, Darlene Love, and BRIAN HOWE, former lead singer of Bad Company.
Have you visited the festival this year, or in years past? Will you be visiting later this spring? What is your favorite part of the festival?