With character topiaries, themed gardens, food kiosks, and educational signage, EPCOT’s International Flower & Garden Festival easily wins as my favorite of the four festivals (with the Holiday Festival in second, the Festival of the Arts in third, and Food & Wine in fourth). This year seemed even more lush and colorful than my last visit in the spring of 2019. Visitors to the park during this time can spend just a bit of time enjoying the scenery, or dive into a full day’s activities, including Spike’s Pollen-Nation Exploration Scavenger Hunt, and the Garden Rocks concerts.
Topiaries & Themed Gardens
Nearly every large space in World Celebration is also filled with Mickey & friends, Pixar characters, and many others. One of the most magical displays was the Encanto-themed garden at the main entrance to the park. The Scent Garden included both fragrant plants and signage interpretation that recreated other smells. Cast Members were giving away mint seeds here and in other places around the park. This section also provided a dramatic view of the colorful gardens along the banks of the pond in front of Imagination! Pavilion.
I purchased a one-day photo pass to document my trips through the four parks, and to see what new magic shots were offered. Epcot had some that were associated primarily with the festival, including the Orange Bird and Encanto.
With Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind being the hot new thrill ride, the Family-Friendly Garden playground was perfectly situated in the World Discovery showcase, so parents could ride swap and the kids could be easily entertained in an interactive compact setting.
Most of the merch this year includes the aptly (though perhaps unoriginally) named Orange Bird, which is one of my favorite Disney branding themes. Kiosks around the park sold both Disney ware and arts and crafts from visiting vendors.
World Nature & the Imagination! Pavilion
While the butterfly house was nice in prior years, it was INCREDIBLE this year. Native butterflies were nearly everywhere I looked and the color palette of the nectar plants was vivid. Succulent topiaries outside the entrance and the exit added to the theming.
The Land Pavilion
The Land Pavilion is already known for its plant-theming with the Living with the Land Ride. There are additional displays within the greenhouse to compliment Flower & Garden Festival. The Behind the Seeds Tour was sold out well in advance, so I wasn’t able to snag a last minute spot. Outside the Pavilion was planted with bromeliads, and included signage celebrating the diversity and ecological importance of the plant family.
I was actually disappointed that Disney provided so much good food for my Annual Education Training, because it didn’t give me as much of an excuse to eat at the many kiosks around Epcot. As part of my 4-Park in One Day challenge, I did create a rule that I had to see entertainment/ride a ride or eat/drink from each World Showcase Pavilion. I was on a time crunch, so the easiest vegetarian snacks included a potato latke with applesauce from Germany, fried ravioli with pomodoro sauce from Italy, and a chocolate lava cake with bourbon maple glaze from Canada. Sadly none of the food options from the New Orleans themed Magnolia Terrace kiosk in the America Pavilion were vegetarian, but it did give me an excuse to have a Louisiana-brewed double IPA in the Tiana themed garden.
Many of the topiaries in the World Showcase feature the characters whose stories are set there. Some of themes include Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs lining the water across from Germany; Elsa, Anna & friends in Norway; and Beauty and the Beast characters throughout France.
Mexico Pavilion Gardens
A hidden garden with bromeliads, orchids, and other plants surrounded the walkway ramp leading to the right side entrance of the Mexico Pavilion. The brochure also mentioned a Mexican desert garden, but I missed its location.
Japan Pavilion Gardens
Instead of character topiaries, traditional Japanese gardening was featured in the Japan Pavilion. These included a bonsai display and Shishi-odoshi water gardens.