Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival 2009


The 16th annual springtime event will run for seventy-five days, or nearly eleven weeks, from March 18 – May 31, 2009. All festival events are included with regular Epcot admission. This year's festival theme of "Celebration" (to go with the "What Will You Celebrate?" promotion) has resulted in the featured topiary at the main entrance borrowing its concept from a former Castle Stage show at the Magic Kingdom: "Cinderellabration." The topiary depicts Cinderella's coronation, with special guests Prince Charming, Snow White and the seven dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty and Prince Phillip, and Belle and Beast.

The festival features such returning activities as the Great American Gardeners lecture series, the Flower Power Concert Series and Disney Gardening at Home presentations, as well as many floral displays and dozens of the topiaries that at one time could be seen all over Walt Disney World.

Here's a rundown on what's going on at the Festival in 2009:

General information | Festival Center events | Great American Gardeners series | Child-focused events | Flower Power concert series | Other Festival Events | More Information

Captain Hook's pirate ship welcomes visitors to the 2007 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Photo by Cathy Sowa.

General information

  • In addition to the front entrance topiary display, 70 other topiaries, including Lady and the Tramp, the Fab Five and characters from The Lion King, are installed across park grounds for the festival;
  • Festival landscaping includes 30 million blooms, 300,000 bedding plants and 750 container gardens of flowers, herbs, plants and vegetables in clay pots, barrels and urns;
  • At least 25 different plants, grasses and mosses of various colors are used to create and define features of the festival topiaries, including pink and red begonias, dusty miller, palm fiber, palm seeds, ficus and lichen;
  • More than 15 floral, herbal and spice ingredients of ten popular perfumes are revealed in the Fragrance Garden presented by Guerlain at the France pavilion, including lemon, Arabian jasmine, vanilla, mimosa, magnolia, rose, nutmeg and vetivergrass;
  • 45 "flower towers" of impatiens line Innoventions Plaza;
  • 100 floating mini-gardens of multi-hued impatiens, each three feet in diameter, provide splashes of color on the two lakes that border the walkway between Future World and World Showcase, and are joined this year by 15 larger gardens, eight feet in diameter;
  • More than 500 native butterflies representing up to 10 species reside in Minnie's Magnificent Butterfly Garden, a gazebo-type enclosure filled with lush plants and measuring more than 40 feet in diameter. Guests can stroll through the screened habitat to view the colorful butterflies. Among the garden's two dozen nectar plants are Cape Royal plumbago, passion flower, coral honeysuckle, blazing star, butterfly bush, scarlet milkweed and canna lily;
  • 300 horticulturists from the Walt Disney World nursery are needed to install the festival landscape, topiaries and many exhibits; 100 Epcot horticulturists maintain topiaries and other festival displays.

Festival Center events

Several events take place daily inside the Garden Town festival center inside the Wonders of Life pavilion.

  • Great American Gardeners series (see below)
  • Ask an Expert – get your questions answered by "Master Gardeners" from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
  • Garden Guides – gardening experts from the University of Florida IFAS present gardening ideas at 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. daily
  • Disney Gardening at Home – Learn tips and secrets that you can use from Disney horticulturists at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday.
  • Festival Blooms – the blooms featured in festival displays are all identified for your purchasing convenience
  • Festival Store – anything that you might want to purchase as a souvenir from the event can be found here

The Guerlain fragrance garden at the France pavilion featured perfume bottle topiaries during the 2007 Flower & Garden Festival. Photo by Cathy Sowa.

Great American Gardeners series

Many expert gardeners from past years return for the popular series of seminars at this year's Festival. The sessions run at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the festival as some of the most respected gardeners and nature experts in the country reveal tips and entertaining stories at the Garden Town festival center in the Wonders of Life pavilion.

  • March 20–22 – Jon Carloftis, Integrating Nature Inside and Out -- Author of "First A Garden" and "Beyond the Windowsill," Carloftis offers insightful tips to integrate plants and nature in every aspect of life -- from interior spaces to urbanscapes;
  • March 27–29 – Shirley Bovshow, "Out of the Box" Garden Design -- TV host and garden designer Bovshow presents gorgeous edible gardens that not only provide food but offer style and function in the garden;
  • April 3–5 – Susan Belsinger, Culinary herbalist, author and photographer Belsinger informs about the magic of herbs from garden to kitchen in a sensory experience of fragrance and flavor;
  • April 10–12 – Felder Rushing, Slow Gardening -- Renowned horticulturist, NPR host and author of award-winning "Passalong Plants," Rushing shares practical tips for all-year beauty using tough shrubs, flowers, herbs and even "designer" vegetables grown in containers and flower beds;
  • April 17–19 – Joe Lamp'l aka joe gardener, National TV host, author and gardening expert Lamp'l talks about some of the best tools and accessories around today that make your gardening life easier;
  • April 24–26 – Jeff Lowenfels, America’s longest-running garden columnist and author of Teaming with Microbes: A Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web, Lowenfels will explain the science behind organic gardening and teach practical applications to eliminate the need for chemicals in yards and gardens;
  • May 1–3 – Joe Washington, Landscaping enthusiast and TV host Washington talks about the new focus in your landscape, water-smart designs and tools for overcoming drought conditions;
  • May 8–10 – Tom MacCubbin, Florida garden writer, media personality and Extension Agent Emeritus with the University of Florida, MacCubbin shares how to make your landscape pay its way by growing foods you can put on the table;
  • May 8–10 – Raymond Western, Guerlain’s director of education and perfume expert Western offers insights into the history of fragrances and explores the relationship between plants and perfume.
  • May 15–17 – Melinda Myers, Saving Space -- TV host and nationally known gardening expert Myers shares simple, creative ideas for saving time, energy and money while being kind to the environment and growing a beautiful landscape; and
  • May 22–24 – Robert Bowden, Maximizing Weekend Gardening -- Gardening expert, author and director of lush Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Bowden discusses plants with unusual textures, habits and colors for weekend fun with the home landscape; and
  • May 29–31 – Rita Randolph -- Speaker, plant collector and famous for Randolph’s Greenhouses, Randolph demonstrates how to create unusual and eye-opening plant combinations with her canvas of choice – containers.

Child-focused events and features:

  • Pirates Adventure Zone – Peter Pan, Captain Hook and Croc topiaries appear in this interactive play area located between the Germany pavilion and the Outpost;
  • Minnie's Magnificent Butterfly Garden – More than 500 butterflies representing approximately 10 species inhabit a screened-in gazebo (hint: go early in the morning while the butterflies are still drowsy, and one might sit on your finger);
  • Pixie Hollow Fairy Garden – Replacing last year's Pluto's Play Zone, located behind MouseGears, this garden has topiaries of Tinker Bell and friends, along with special hands-on activities for kids and a play structure. There's also a daily Fairy & Princess Processional at 2 p.m. for kids to show off their costumes (or rush into MouseGears to buy one). Children can also get their face painted with fairies, flowers or insects. A special event will take place on the Saturday of the Festival's opening weekend, as the director and producer of the upcoming fall release “Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure” will be available for meet-and-greets on March 21 at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m;
  • Let’s Get Moving – This recreational garden area along the Rose Walk between Future World and World Showcase features topiaries of Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy and Donald taking part in their favorite outdoor activities. There will be climbing structures and other plaything for kids;
  • Green Garden – In this unique garden, located between the France and Morocco pavilions, guests can learn how to create an environmentally friendly, low-input garden of their own. There's also a playground;
  • Character Topiary Scavenger Hunt – This family-oriented activity challenges you to locate your favorite Disney character topiaries throughout Epcot. You can get your scavenger hunt materials behind Spaceship Earth;
  • Earth Station – In this area, along the Test Track Walkway and adjacent to the butterfly garden, kids can discover fun activities and how to positively impact Earth.

David Cumbie's steel Kinetic Playground attracts much attention during Art in the Garden weekend at the 2007 Flower & Garden Festival. Photo by Cathy Sowa.

Flower Power Concert Series

Concerts take place three times nightly at the America Gardens Theatre, at 5:15, 6:30 and 7:45 p.m. These times are 30 minutes earlier than last year.

This series features artists popular back in the "Flower Power" days of the 1960s and 1970s. The exception to this would be the Nelsons, but they make up for that by playing the hits of their father, Ricky Nelson, who was of that period. New to the lineup this year are Harold Melvin's Blue Notes ("If You Don't Know Me By Now"). In a concession to the economic downturn, performances have been cut back to weekends-only, leaving the theater dark Monday-Thursday nights.

  • March 20–22: Davy Jones
  • March 27–29: Paul Revere and the Raiders
  • April 3–5: The Turtles Featuring Flo and Eddie
  • April 10–12: Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone
  • April 17–19: The Ventures
  • April 24–26: Harold Melvin's Blue Notes
  • May 1–3: Chubby Checker and the Wildcats
  • May 8–10: Ricky Nelson Remembered featuring The Nelsons
  • May 15–17: Jose Feliciano
  • May 22–24: The 5th Dimension
  • May 29–31: Tony Orlando

Note that, as always, entertainment is subject to change without notice.

The parterre helps to frame Minnie's Magnificent Butterfly Garden at the 2007 Flower & Garden Festival. This year, the parterres will spell out a message in nautical flag designs. Photo by Cathy Sowa.

Other Festival Events

Still more events await Festival attendees:

  • Garden Town – Start your day here with festival information, demonstrations, shopping and more, and enjoy tips on how to get the most out of your visit in the Wonders of Life pavilion;
  • Minnie's Magnificent Butterfly Garden – More than 500 butterflies representing approximately 10 species inhabit a screened-in gazebo (hint: go early in the morning while the butterflies are still drowsy, and one might sit on your finger);
  • Fragrance Garden – Breathe in and let your senses take over at this intoxicating garden, featuring the radiant and sensual fragrances of Guerlain. Discover the "love story" between plants, fragrance and perfume and enjoy a complimentary 20-minute tour with a Guerlain Representative at 2:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. daily. Sign up at the Guerlain Shop in La Signature;
  • Peter Pan's Neverland Garden – See some of your favorite characters from "Peter Pan" in topiary; most appreciated by children ages 2-5 years;
  • The Key to Outdoor Living – (New) Presented by DuPont;
  • Dynamite Vegetable Garden – Discover the fabulous freshness of growing vegetables as children learn to plant tomato plants using proper fertilizer to help them grow;
  • Cup of Tea Garden – (New) Presented by Twinings More information to come;
  • Green Garden – (New) Discover how you can create an environmentally friendly, low-input garden of your own as you explore Disney's;
  • Amore nel Giardino (Love in the Garden) – Feast your eyes on bouquets of blooms as they tumble down the side of classic Italian containers. Collect planting ideas on how to combine colorful flowers, textured foliage and beautiful pots for dazzling and dramatic results;
  • Water Garden Wonders – (New) See this creative and beautiful water garden which uses rainwater. Learn how you can use this ancient idea of a cistern to save water at your home;
  • Lush Xeriscapes – (New) That's Xeriscapes not ZEROscapes! Stroll through this garden and see how you can create a beautiful garden and minimize your use of water at the same time;
  • Perennial Garden – (New) More information to come;
  • Sculpture Garden – Wander through a wondrous garden setting and explore works of art on loan from some of Florida's most prestigious collections;
  • Spices of Life – Explore the sizzling, smoky and savory world of spices that add pizzazz to food from around the world;
  • Bonsai Collection – Discover the elegant, ancient art of bonsai showcased throughout the serene Japanese garden;
  • Penjing (Chinese Bonsai) – Explore the unique art form of sculpting dwarf trees in an ancient technique that predates its Japanese counterpart by hundreds of years;
  • Topiary Chinese Zodiac – It's the Year of the Pig! What's your sign? Discover the Chinese Zodiac and see the signs presented in topiary;
  • Norway Troll Trek – Forest and rock trolls are around every corner. Test your skills and track down the trolls as you explore the gardens of Norway.

More information

For more information, you can see last year's park guide page here, 2007's park guide page here, 2006's park guide page here, or the official Flower & Garden Festival page on Walt Disney World's web site here.