One of the first big festivals of the year at Walt Disney World is the annual spring time Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. Now in its 26th year, the festival runs for 90 days from March 6 to June 3, 2019 and admission is included with the standard ticket (except for special tours). Prior to 2016, the festival ran for 75 days.
Epcot is transformed into a riot of colour with over 500,000 flowers, shrubs and trees decorating the park. At night, some of the gardens are illuminated.
There is something for everyone at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival with:
- themed flower and garden displays
- presentations, workshops and seminars on gardening, landscaping and cooking
- an interactive play areas for kids
- over 100 Disney character themed topiary displays
- more than a dozen outdoor kitchens where you can sample different food and drinks
- Garden Rocks™ outdoor weekend concert series (Friday through Monday) featuring live performances of popular hits
- children’s gardens and playgrounds
- Fun Fresh Weekend focussing on family togetherness
- special Garden Rocks dining packages
There are also two scavenger hunts, the popular Egg-stravaganza scavenger hunt and the all new Spike the Honey Bee Pollen Nation Exploration scavenger hunt.
Maps and stickers for Egg-stravaganza can be purchased for $5.99 plus tax from Disney Trader, Pin Central or World Traveler locations. The Spike the Honey Bee scavenger hunt also costs $5.99 plus tax from Port of Entry.
Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Topiaries
Not unsurprisingly 2015 saw the arrival of sisters Anna and Elsa from the hit movie “Frozen”, celebrating the films icy finale in topiary form.
In 2018, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Goofy greeted festival guests at the front entrance to Epcot and many old favourites are to be found among the 70 plus topiaries decorating the park including:
- Anna and Elsa from Frozen
- Flower, Bambi and Thumper
- Beauty and the Beast
- Bo Peep and Her Sheep with Buzz Lightyear and Woody from Disney/Pixar Toy Story
- Pandas and Bromeliad Dragon
- Captain Hook and Peter Pan
- Chip ‘n Dale and Donald Duck with Huey, Dewey and Louie
- Daisy Duck and the Floral Stars of the Show
- Lady and the Tramp
- Lighting McQueen and Mater from the Disney/Pixar Cars Films
- Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse
- Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog
- Pluto and Goofy
- Simba and Friends
- Snow White and Dopey
- The Three Caballeros Featuring Jose, Donald and Panchito
- Topiary Flowers, Sunflowers and Butterflies
- Troll Presented by Adventures by Disney®
- Winnie-the-Pooh & Friends
Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Gardens
The gardens in 2019 cover a variety of themes including Alpine Container Garden, Bamboo Garden, Barrels by the Bay, Bold Bromeliads, Bonsai Collection, Chinese Zodiac Natural Sculptures, English Tea Garden Presented by Twinings of London®, Festival Blooms, Floating Mini-Gardens, Garden Italiano, The Honey Bee-Stro, Kokedama Garden, Purple Martin Garden, Shakespeare Garden, The Goodness Garden Butterfly House Presented by GoGo squeeZ, Plant a Garden Perfect for Pollinators, Tropical Rainforest Garden and Urban Spice.
As well as the gardens there is also a Family Play Zone and a Play Garden plus a Penguin Sculpture presented by DisneyNature made from recycled rubbish taken from our oceans. You may well have seen similar sculptures at SeaWorld.
Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Events
The former Odyssey restaurant located between the Mexico pavilion in World Showcase and Test Track in Future World was refurbished and is set to be the new festival centre for the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.
In previous years the former Wonders of Life building between Mission: Space and what was Ellen’s Energy Adventure took on that role.
The Festival Center is where you can go to attend horticultural demonstrations and buy garden related merchandise. You can pick up useful tips when you watch designers and personalities at special presentations and seminars, each featuring a celebrity guest speaker each weekend.
Like previous years there are around 15 outdoor kitchens dotted around the World Showcase featuring foods from many different countries and nations, both those represented by the Epcot country pavilions and more. Many items can be purchased through the Disney Dining Plan as snack credits.
A useful tip is to pick up a Garden Passport to help track your eats.
Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Tours
There are several tours you can take whilst at the festival. Most of the tours incur an additional charge and it is recommended that you make a reservation in advance. They are all walking tours so make sure you are wearing suitable footwear and for the longer tours you should also make sure you have ample water available.
First introduced in 2017, the Royal Tea Garden Tour at the United Kingdom pavilion lasts around 45 minutes. Guests receive a guided tour through an English tea garden to learn a little of the history of growing and blending tea. The price is $20 plus tax per person and includes tea and scones after the tour.
There is also a complimentary English Tea Garden Tour on select dates which last about 20 minutes.
There is also an Epcot Gardens of the World three hour walking tour led by a Disney horticulturalist.
The tour is on select Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. It starts at 9:00 am and costs $85 plus tax. You must be at least 12 to participate.
If you enjoyed the “Living with the Land” boat ride then you might want to consider taking a Behind the Seeds Tour at The Land Pavilion which runs several times a day all year round, not just during the festival.
During the one hour walking tour you get to visit four greenhouses and a fish farm and learn about some of the fruit and plants grown at Epcot as well as various new plant-growing techniques like hydroponics. Prices are $25 for adults and $20 for children plus tax.
Garden Rocks Concert Series
Each Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday there are a series of outdoor Garden Rocks Concerts held at the America Gardens Theatre next to the American Adventure in World Showcase, featuring popular rock music bands from the 60s and 70s and beyond.
Showtimes are 5:30 p.m., 6:45 pm. and 8:00 p.m. with seating on a first-come first-served basis.
Garden Rocks Concert Series Dining Packages
If you want reserved seating at the concerts, you can purchase a Garden Rocks Concert Series Dining Package which gives you either breakfast, lunch or dinner at a select Epcot restaurant and guaranteed seating at one of three evening concerts the same day.
The meals are either a three course meal or a full buffet plus a non-alcoholic drink depending upon location.
In 2014 you could see Kermit and Miss Piggy from the Muppets promoting the new Muppets movie “Muppets Most Wanted”. As well as the Muppets, there were many other Disney favourites including Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck and Daisy, Timon and Pumba, Peter Pan, Captain Hook and the Croc.
For the second year, there was a series of around a dozen Garden Marketplace kiosks dotted around the pavilions in the World Showcase, featuring fresh food and drinks from the host nations, including muppet themed treats like Piggylicious Bacon Cupcakes.
Many items were available on the Disney Dining Plan (snacks) and typically cost around $4.00 to $6.00. You could also buy a wristlet gift card that could be preloaded with money, making purchases easier, similar to the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.