Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival is a ‘Fantasia’ For the Senses

Gardeners and Lovers of Springtime, rejoice!  Just as foodies find pleasure and giddiness in Epcot’s annual feast for the senses, the Food and Wine Festival, so do armchair horticulturalists find a paradise of inspiration every spring, as the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, presented by HGTV, rolls around for another glorious installment.

The gardening team at Walt Disney World work tirelessly to bring the annual event to life, which runs this year from March 7 through May 20.  Visitors to the popular park will find more than 75 topiaries, celebrating some of Disney’s most endearing characters, as well as special gardens and displays, designer presentations, and the popular Flower Power Concert Series!

As a huge fan of Epcot in general and the Flower and Garden Festival in particular, I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to roam around the park recently and take in all the magic of the annual event.  This year, the characters and scenes from the Disney classic film Fantasia grace the front bed, greeting guests as they arrive in the park for the day.  Sorcerer Mickey appears alongside “helpful” bucket-wielding broomsticks, as well as dancing elephants and prancing ostriches.

Robert Bowden, discussing how to tell if your watermelon is ripe

Once through the entrance and beyond Spaceship Earth, guests can visit Festival Center.  Open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., the space hosts programs from gardening experts, and is also home to the HGTV Designers Stage.  Festival goers can also stroll through the Festival souvenir shop, stop into Intermissions Cafe for a glass of wine or a light snack, and take in informative presentations all in one convenient location.  During my visit, I learned some fantastic tips for penny saving and green friendly gardening in Florida from Leu Gardens’ expert Robert Bowden, who was entertaining, knowledgeable, and informative.  Afterwards, John Gidding from HGTV’s Curb Appeal took the Designer’s Stage for an energetic, fun, and interactive discussion about improving the first impression that your home makes.  Gidding was warm, funny, and quick!  Snapping pictures of the popular host

John Gidding of HGTV's Curb Appeal

proved to be difficult because he rarely stood still!

After my enjoyable time at the Festival Center, I made my way through the park, taking in the panoramic flower gardens that always mark the Flower and Garden Festival.  These displays are truly breathtaking in their scope and impact, and never disappoint.

Heading into World Showcase, I was excited to see so many of my favorite characters immortalized in green.  There was Peter Pan, battling Captain Hook, with the Tick Tock crocodile following close behind.

Mickey, Minnie, and friends tended a beautiful garden just beyond, surrounded by rows and rows of breathtaking color.

I took the path to the left around World Showcase (owing to a mean craving for a margarita), and stopped in Germany to take in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

When I reached Japan, Lightning McQueen and Mater were awaiting me!

It was raining the day I visited, making the blooms and blossoms even more vivid, but the Flower Power Concert Series went on with the show!  The small, hearty crowd weren’t disappointed, as Jose Feliciano took the stage and performed some of his most beloved hits.

I wrapped up with what has become one of my favorite attractions at each Flower and Garden Festival:  the sand sculpture celebrating the latest DisneyNature release.  This year’s feature, Chimpanzees, will arrive in theaters April 20.

Visitors to this year’s Flower and Garden Festival will be delighted with all of their traditional favorites, and many new additions as well.  Have you visited the Festival yet this year?  Leave us a comment and tell us about your favorite feature!

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