It’s not really even spring yet, but this year’s EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival has debuted to perfect weather and gorgeous gardens and displays to match. A few years ago, Disney added food as one of the attractions for the festival and this year they’ve served up the best menus yet at the Outdoor Kitchens.
What the Flower & Garden Festival does not have this year is a Festival Center. That means fewer talks, demos, and celebrity guests. But Disney has stepped up their game adding more demonstration gardens and a new scavenger hunt.
If you’re planning a visit this year and want to get the best experience, here are five things you shouldn’t miss:
1) The Outdoor Kitchens. There are 15 different options for tasting the best Disney’s chef’s have to offer. If you have to pick just one, the consensus is to head to the America pavilion’s Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brew outdoor kitchen and try the Beef Brisket Burnt Ends and Smoked Pork Belly Slider with Garlic Sausage, Chorizo, Cheddar Fondue and House-made Pickle. Bring extra napkins, it’s a handful. I recommend pairing it with the Frozen Lemonade with Firefly Blackberry Moonshine.
2) The Garden Rocks Concert series. With shows at 5:30, 6:45 and 8 p.m every Friday through Monday during the festival and some of your favorite talented musicians from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, it’s the perfect way to enjoy the transition from day to night. Want to make sure you get a seat, try the dining packages. If you an annual passholder, you can also check in early to claim a limited number of seats reserved at each concert.
As a reminder, here’s the concert series lineup:
- March 2-5 – Night Ranger – “Sister Christian”
- March 9-12 – STARSHIP starring Mickey Thomas – “We Built This City”
- March 16-19 – Simple Plan – “Welcome to My Life”
- March 23-26 – Little River Band – “Reminiscing”
- March 30-April 2 – The Orchestra starring former members of ELO – “Evil Woman“
- April 6-7 – Foghat – “Slow Ride” – NEW!
- April 8-9 – Survivor – “Eye of the Tiger” – NEW to Garden Rocks!
- April 13-14 – Smash Mouth – “All Star” – NEW to Garden Rocks!
- April 15-16 – Rick Springfield – “Jessie’s Girl” – NEW to Garden Rocks!
- April 20-21 – Jo Dee Messina – “Stand Beside Me” – NEW to Garden Rocks!
- April 22-23 – Lonestar – “Amazed” – NEW!
- April 27-30 – Blood, Sweat and Tears featuring Bo Bice – “Spinning Wheel”
- May 4-7 – Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone – “I’m Henry VIII, I Am”
- May 11-12 – Village People – ““Y.M.C.A.””
- May 13-14 – Don Felder, formerly of The Eagles – “Hotel California” – – NEW!
- May 18-21 – The Guess Who – “American Woman”
- May 25-28 – The Spinners – “Working My Way Back to You”
3) Disney Photopass. From real world props to digital additions, Disney’s Photopass service is a wonderful way to let Disney add a little extra magic into your memories of the day. At the Flower & Garden Festival you can find The Orange Bird, one the icons of this year’s festival, available at a couple locations. One at the FTD Garden and the other on your way out of the park at the entrance Topiary.
4) Character Topiary. It takes Disney nearly a year to create a new topiary from conception to having it ready to move on stage for the festival. You’ll find topiary from some of your favorite Disney and Pixar movies, plus Figment gets a place of honor right in the center of Future World.
5) Demonstration Gardens. Making up for the lack of a festival center, EPCOT has returned back to its roots, so to speak, and elevated some demonstration gardens. The How-To Garden, Imagination Play Garden, and Honey Bee-Stro garden all over unique looks at what you can do in your own gardens. Take a self-guided tour thanks to signs in each garden.
Whether you’re coming for the first time or the 25th year, there’s a lot more to do than just at the flowers, but if that’s all you want to do, EPCOT has your back too. The park seemed overflowing with floral displays this year.
Be sure to check out this time-lapse video of Disney constructing the main entrance topiary display on the night before the Festival officially opened:
Will we see you at EPCOT before the Flower & Garden Festival ends on May 28, 2018?