Although Epcot is gorgeous any time of year, adding hundreds of thousands of additional plants to the landscaping takes it to the next level, and beyond. New gardens are planted, Disney Character topiaries that have made the festival famous take their places, and there are plenty of scrummy food and beverage options to enjoy.
Let’s take a look at what’s new this year, from the Gardens and Topiaries to the Entertainment, the Garden Rocks concerts, and the Outdoor Kitchens.
Topiaries & Gardens:
It is the job of Dave Kesting, Food and Beverage Manager at Epcot, and his team to make the International Flower & Garden Festival the most beautiful time of the year to be in the park, and Dave told us this year’s festival will have “a new front entrance that will be totally different than what guests have ever seen up front.” He also said his team has been moving established topiaries into new locations, which keeps it all fresh and appealing for return guests.
Kermit the Frog is an excellent example, with his new location in the France pavilion. This topiary features Kermit on a bicycle, whose baskets are filled with French baguettes and flowers, and it’s a topiary that begs a closer look. Take the time to notice Kermit’s bicycle is made from bamboo, heavy vines, tree bark and other natural materials. Pure genius!
A much-anticipated new topiary will be on display in advance of the upcoming Disney-Pixar movie, “Toy Story 4”, which opens in U.S. cinemas on June 21. Bo Peep and her Sheep will be located in the new Bo Peep’s Playtime Training Grounds garden, near Test Track’s walkway, along with her pals Buzz Lightyear and Woody, in a playground setting children will love.
Also new this year are the Play Full Garden hosted by AdventHealth, an interactive play area with a focus on healthy choices, and Plant a Garden Perfect For Pollinators that helps guests take what they’ve learned at the Festival and apply it to their own gardens.
Garden Rocks Concert Series:
David Baldree, Producer, Disney Parks Live Entertainment (including the Garden Rocks concert series), told us, “The biggest thing we’re excited about is the Garden Rocks concert series is now seven days a week. Last year we had 17 artists, this year we have 36 artists, from a wide variety of genres. There is certainly something for everyone in the family.”
You’ll find the full Garden Rocks concert schedule on the Walt Disney World website, and we recommend watching at least two of each day’s three concerts (5.30pm, 6.45pm and 8pm), as the play list changes each time. Concerts last 30 minutes and are free with your Epcot theme park admission.
If you want a guaranteed seat at the concert, check out FreshEpcot.com, where you’ll find everything you need to know about the festival’s special Dining Packages.
Another of our favourite experiences is the Royal Tea Garden Tour, which takes place at the United Kingdom pavilion. It’s a fascinating look at where tea comes from, how it’s made, and the history of Twining’s as you wander through the pavilion’s beautiful gardens, where 12 large “tea cup” displays introduce you to various tea plants.
Cultural Representative tour guides keep it light, interesting, and humorous so that children and adults will enjoy the experience. You can also take a Self-Guided tour of the gardens. Simply stop in at The Tea Caddy and pick up a brochure.
Royal Tea Garden Tours begin at 9.30 a.m. and last for 45 minutes, ending with a lovely tea and scones “reception” in the Rose & Crown Pub. Afterwards, don’t miss the chance to browse The Tea Caddy gift shop and perhaps take home a few Twining’s tea selections.
Child-orientated fun can be had with the popular Flower & Garden Festival scavenger hunt, Spike’s Pollen-Nation Exploration. Purchase the map and sticker kit ($6.99+tax), search for special flowers in World Showcase gardens that feature Spike the bee, place the correct sticker on its corresponding place on your map, and when you complete the entire hunt you’ll receive a prize.
Along with stunning visual treats, Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival features creative culinary treats, and this year there are 17 Outdoor Kitchens to choose from, with 4 of them being brand new for 2019.
Our favourites from last year were the Florida Fresh kitchen’s Carne Guisada with Black Bean Cake and cilantro-lime sour cream, and the Northern Bloom kitchen’s superb Maple Popcorn Shake with Crown Royal Maple Whiskey, both of which are on the menu again this year.
This year we sampled a delicious From the Garden vegetarian option that featured roasted beetroot, cashew cheese, micro-herbs and lemon-oil dressing, served at the new Flavor Full Kitchen; yummy Fried Green Tomatoes with Blue Crab-fennel salad, mildly spiced remoulade and smoked paprika oil from Arbor At The Gardeners Terrace kitchen; Citrus Shortcake (orange chiffon cake, lemon curd, mandarin orange sections, whipped cream, citrus crumble, and apple cider sorbet) and Tuna Tataki with spicy Yuzu glaze, mango and avocado in a parmesan crisp, both from The Citrus Blossom kitchen; and a showpiece Chocolate Pudding Terrarium with avocado cream, matcha crumb, pomegranate and baby herbs, from Trowel & Trellis kitchen.
Our standout favourite this year was the mildly spiced Farmhouse Meatball wrapped in lentil bread, with spinach, marinated vegetables and creamy herb dressing, from Trowel & Trellis kitchen. It was so delectable we went back for seconds, and you’ll want to do the same!
Whatever you try food-wise, definitely save room for The Citrus Blossom kitchen’s Orange Cream Slushy, served in an adorable Orange Bird Sipper Cup that will become a treasured souvenir.
The Epcot International Flower & Gardens Festival takes place from March 6 through June 3, and is free with park admission.
Have you been to Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival? Are you attending for the first time? Share your comments or ask all your questions on Attraction Tickets Direct’s discussion forums.
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