Today is the opening of the 20th Annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival! Running through May19th, the festival is a treat to the senses with plenty to see, smell, taste, and hear. But what is the real star of the show? Topiaries! More than 100 Disney themed topiaries will be on display at this years festival.
It can take about a year or more to get the topiaries into shape for the festival. Disney horticulturists begin with an intricate wire frame, which is then filled with a base. Different green and blooming plants are then planted on top. They grow fill out to become the outer layer of the form guests see. The different plants such as ficus and reindeer moss, that are used on the topiaries give the sculptures varying colors and textures that bring the characters to life with personality.
Some of the topiary displays have appeared in previous Epcot International Flower & Garden Festivals, but many are making their first appearance this year. Party with Mickey & Friends Topiary display is new this year and will greet guests in the front of the park as they enter. A brand new Phineas & Ferb Topiary will mark the entrance to Future World. Another new topiary featuring Disney-Pixar favorites from this summers upcoming Monsters University will stand before the entrance to Epcot’s World Showcase.
Beauty and the Beast, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Lay and the Tramp, Buzz Lightyear, and Whinnie the Pooh & Friends are a few of the many favorite topiary displays that will return to the festival this year.
Many of these topiary gardens will twinkle and glow as the sun sets to create a fresh experience for guests at night – a first for the Flower & Garden Festival. Others include areas where kids can play and explore such as “The Land of Oz,” themed after the upcoming Disney film Oz the Great and Powerful, and a butterfly garden featuring Tinkerbell and friends.
Another especially exciting first this year is a special small plates menu developed specifically for the festival. Different dishes featuring fresh produce will be available throughout the World Showcase at spots called “Garden Marketplaces.” Each location will have unique menu items influenced by the flavors of the hosting country. I personally would head to Mexico’s Jardin de Fiestas for Crab Tostadas with Chipotle Mayo and Valentina Salsa and a strawberry-infused Rosita Margarita. Yum. Italy’s Primavera Kitchen is offering a Limoncello flavored Pana Cotta with wild berries would make for a tasty sweet treat in my opinion! Three Garden Marketplaces outside of the World Showcase: Pineapple Promenade, Florida Fresh, and Fruits by the Glass are showcasing culinary delights such as Shrimp and Grits, spiced rum Dole Whip, and Tomato and Carrot wines that are calling my name. Loudly. Actually it’s more like they are screaming my name into a megaphone saying “I am delicious! Try me!!!”
The fun doesn’t end with topiaries, gardens, and culinary delights. There are also concert series with bands such as The Guess Who and The Village People, presentations on gardening topics, and appearances and presentations from HGTV stars such as Chris Lambton and Egypt Sherrod.
Any day at Epcot is full of fun, education, and international flavors. The Flower and Garden Festival provides an opportunity to really embrace Spring and celebrate many of the treasures mother Earth offers us.