Epcot: 2015 International Flower and Garden Festival Photo Tourby Donald and Bonnie Fink, contributing writer
Since we've been coming to Walt Disney World, we've looked forward to many of the events that are hosted at Epcot—but none are so eagerly anticipated as the International Flower and Garden Festival. We're not gardeners, but we enjoy and appreciate the presentation by Disney at this event, including the thousands of blooming flowers, dozens of themed gardens, and the nearly 100 individual topiaries, with new ones each year.
This year will be the 22nd event, which started in 1994, and has many new presentations as well as many older popular ones. It's sure to provide lots of entertainment for everyone.
One of the most spectacular transformations for the International Flower and Garden Festival is the lawn area under the monorail. This area is normally a pristine lawn, but during the festival it explodes with blooming flowers. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
Buzz Lightyear is not a new topiary, but he seems to be at home in front of Mission: SPACE.
The Festival Center is located behind the Universe of Energy building in Future World East. The pavilion houses many of the Festival's exhibits, including classes on gardening. The Intermissions Cafe is located here, too. The Festival Center is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays during the Flower and Garden Festival.
The first topiary exhibit at the entrance to Epcot is new for this year. It's titled "Goofy about Spring" and features Goofy, Daisy, Chip 'n' Dale, and Donald working in the garden in spring.
Just beyond the fountain as you leave Future World on your way to World Showcase, you see the Farmer Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse topiaries. They're standing in a vegetable and flower garden.
Spend a few minutes at the Butterflies on the Go exhibit as you leave Future World West. This garden is located in a tent just past Club Cool and Starbucks, on the right as you head toward World Showcase. There are many species of butterflies, and the exhibit includes information showing the life cycle of butterflies and their importance to our environment.
For the first time in forever, Elsa and Anna are featured in topiary form at the entrance to World Showcase. Your kids, or maybe even you, will want to pause for a picture with these great figures.
In the Canada pavilion, along World Showcase, you can see old favorites Bambi, Thumper, and Flower. Don't forget to walk behind the topiary exhibit and see the garden near Le Cellier Steakhouse. With its pond and fresh flowers, it looks surprisingly like Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC.
In the U.K. pavilion, you'll find Captain Hook and his main nemesis Tick-Tock the Crocodile in the garden, with Peter Pan overlooking them from the rooftops. There are three other exhibits in the U.K. pavilion, including two new ones. The Pollinator's Paradise with Winnie the Pooh topiary is new and located near the Yorkshire County Fish Shop. Walk behind the shops to find Shakespeare Garden, another new exhibit for this year.
There are no new exhibits in the France pavilion, but there are some old-time favorites. From the movie Beauty and the Beast, you'll see Belle, the Beast, Cogsworth, and Lumiere. If you haven't been to Epcot in a while, don't forget to walk back to the location of the old deli and visit the new ice cream shop, or into the new deli, Les Halles Boulangerie and Patisserie.
At the American Adventure pavilion, the only topiary you'll see is Buddy from the Toy Story movies. You will, however, find some great American barbecue and beer. Their offerings include a "Piggylicious" bacon cupcake in case you like mixing your protein with your pastry.
At the American Gardens Theater, you can see free concerts on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings. In previous years of the International Flower and Garden Festival, this concert series was called "Flower Power Concert Series" and featured bands representing music from the 1960s. This year, it's called "Garden Rocks Concert Series," with somewhat newer bands. Appearing this year will be the Little River Band, The Guess Who, and The Orchestra (with members from the original Electric Light Orchestra), plus many more. Of course, Herman's Hermits is still there appearing on the last weekend of May 15–17.
A favorite topiary of ours is located in the Italy pavilion. The Lady and the Tramp topiaries are just fun to view. There are two new gardens and topiaries listed in the Italy pavilion. The Miss Piggy topiary and the Tour de Fleurs Garden are listed as new, but we're pretty sure we've seen Miss Piggy before. Also, there's the Pizzeria Garden.
The Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs topiaries are not new, but judging by the amount of time it takes to get a picture without people crowding in front to get a selfie, they are a popular exhibit.
One of the very popular outdoor kitchens at the International Flower and Garden Festival is the Florida Fresh venue between the Germany pavilion and The Outpost. This kitchen features beers from several breweries around the state.
Simba and Friends topiaries are of course from the movie The Lion King. They're a favorite stop around World Showcase as a backdrop for pictures of the kids.
Disney landscaping and gardening has always been an important part of the Disney experience. Walt Disney was so impressed with the formal gardens he visited in Europe that he made gardens an integral part of Disney. Even though Disney landscaping and gardening is unparalleled, they add an additional 500,000 flowers to the gardens at Epcot during the International Flower and Garden Festival.
In the Mexico pavilion, the Jardin de Festivals is located just across from La Cantina de San Angel. New for this year is a Tequila flight of three different flavors of tequila, a blueberry pomegranate margarita, and Tecate draft beer.
One exhibit you shouldn't miss is Cactus Road Rally featuring Mater and Lightning McQueen. There's also a play garden for the children, a Purple Martin exhibit, and—as the name might imply—a cactus garden nearby. See this early though because it closes at dusk.
Epcot hosts several different festivals and events throughout the year. While they're all fun and exciting, none are so vivid with all the colors spring has to offer. If you have a chance to be in Florida in March and through the first half of May, this is certainly a place you'll want to visit.