“This was the best Epcot day EVER!” my kids agreed as they skipped back to our van, still amazingly full of energy after a day in the park. Perhaps it was the perfect spring weather, perhaps it was the fact that I let them skip school, but most likely it was the Flower and Garden Festival that led to this joyful exclamation. We love Epcot any day of the year, but here are 10 reasons why we ESPECIALLY love Epcot during the Flower and Garden Festival.
10. Character Topiaries – As soon as we entered the park we were greeted by the sweet character topiaries that the festival has become known for. My kids loved searching for them like a treasure hunt (my seven year old is a map lover). “There’s Hook!” they’d yell. “How’d they get Peter Pan way up there?” When we found them, we’d point out all the different plants that the horticulturists had used to make the topiary realistic. “See how they used different plants for Piglet’s stripes, Mom?” Precious, fun memories.
9. Butterflies – The Butterfly tent was the highlight of the day for us, by far. We spent quite a while there since it’s very large with several different flower beds to search. When we found a butterfly near the pathway, the boys would gently place their fingers in front of it until it climbed on. We probably held a dozen different butterflies on our fingertips! Eventually some even started to land on our clothes. Magical!
8. Low Crowds – This time of year between spring break and summer break is one of the best times to visit Disney, in my opinion. We hardly had to wait for anything and the lack of crowd congestion let me ease up on the no-leaping-or-hopping-because-you-might-run-into-others rule. Test Track is currently the most popular ride at Epcot, and while we weren’t able to get a FastPass at the last minute, the wait time was down to 40 minutes. Not bad.
7. Special Tours – The Flower and Garden Festival offers several behind-the-scenes tours. Gardens of the World (a peek into the makings of the Festival) and Behind the Seeds (a backstage tour of The Land) both have an additional charge. But the 20 minute English Tea Garden Tour is complimentary.
6. Educational Exhibits – Epcot is always a great place for learning. During the Flower and Garden Festival there are new exhibits that will allow kids of all ages to learn about purple martins, backyard habitats, conservation efforts, bonsai plants, healing herbs, and even Shakespeare! That all adds up to school-skipping worthiness, if you ask me (wink, wink)!
5. Weekend Concerts – After dark on the weekends, the garden party is in full effect with retro soulful sounds in the America pavilion. Unwind with your favorite drink and enjoy the sounds under the stars. Check the on-line schedule in advance to catch your favorite artists.
4. Unique Food – The Food and Wine Fest is known for its little booths with delicious samplings of unique food. Many don’t realize that the Flower and Garden Festival offers that too! On our visit we ate dinner in Mexico, our all-time favorite pavilion. Jardin de Fiestas is the special booth there and the Taco de Camaron (including tempura shrimp and hibiscus flowers) was certainly fiesta-worthy! Other fresh offerings to entice you around the Showcase include Jerk-Spice Grouper with Mango Salsa, Watermelon Salad, or Cremoso al Pistacchio just to name a few. Portions are small, so you’ll need a couple of samplings to call it a meal. Download a special Flower and Garden passport to keep track of your favorites.
3. Lively Drinks – Flower and Garden’s specialty cocktails are the perfect compliment to the food. Each are delightfully blended to make you feel like you’re on a spring picnic in each pavilion. The Rosa Margarita in Mexico is new this year and I highly recommend it! Others recommend the Violet Lemonade and or the new Ciders.
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2. Playgrounds – Two incredible playgrounds really upped Flower and Garden’s awesome factor for my boys. Of course they LOVED the Cars theming at the Cactus Road Rally playground near Test Track. But they’d never seen anything like the Music Garden Melodies Playground where they had the opportunity to climb an intricate spider web as well as try multiple whimsical instruments. They happily swooped and drummed until the sun went down.
1. Special Merchandise – Limited time souvenirs make fun tokens to commemorate your Flower and Garden memories. And with this festival happening right before Mother’s and Father’s Days, it proved a great time for us to shop for interesting presents for grandparents with a green thumb. Disney garden stones, wind chimes, plants, or gloves could make the perfect souvenir or gift.
This year, the Flower and Garden Festival ends on May 30th, so there’s still plenty of time to enjoy it for yourself. I know that we’ll be heading back for more flowery fun soon!
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