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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Our Top 5 Things To See (and Do) At Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival


by: guide4wdw - Collin

With spring quickly approaching and the near perfect Florida weather starting to show itself for our local friends down south, that can only mean one thing, Flower and Garden Festival is almost here! In just 20 days, the Festival will be unveiled to guests of all ages to enjoy an array of colors, foods, and unique experiences. To me, it's the best time of year at Walt Disney World and one of the many reasons we're making the journey down to the parks for a short stay March 14th - 18th at none other than Disney's Boardwalk Villas (Where else would you stay? .... You've got to stay close to the food! lol). So, if you want to meet up and say hello, feel free to reach out to us or say hello if you see us in the parks!  

Over the years, the Festival has grown into my favorite time of year at Epcot for so many reasons. The weather is typically near perfect (in my opinion) and the Florida climate is a welcomed changed from the cold we're experiencing further north. We typically tend to do  Epcot a little differently than some guests as we shared in our Our Tried and True "Epcot in a Day" Touring Plan and the festival simply enhances those plans and offers an incredible array of opportunities that aren't available throughout the rest of the year. 

This years Flower and Garden Festival will take place beginning in just 20 days (February 28th) and will run through May 28th. Of course, Disney will unveil a few new surprises this year in the realm of culinary offerings and topiary displays, but will also bring back many classics of the event which many guests have developed into a tradition. We've developed a bit of a tradition among our family to take part in a few particular staples of the event which is a large part of what we're sharing with you today.  

But before we get started, here's a quick hint if you're traveling this Spring/Summer. If you're looking to buy third party tickets (or any tickets for that matter), do so before February 11th. There's is a strong trend and expected increase in ticket prices coming on that day. If you buy your tickets before that day, if the historical trends hold true, you will escape the price hike. If you need tickets that are discounted even beyond the current prices from Disney, we recommend the Official Ticket Center. Personally, we've already locked our tickets into a package rate but if you're not traveling in that way, this is probably your best option before the prices increase.  

So, with that little tip for the weekend out of the way (we'll update you when the new price structure is unveiled) we'll jump right into our list.    

1. The Outdoor Kitchens
Outdoor kitchens are inevitably a highlight of our time at the festival. Personally I'm a huge proponent of the America Pavilion's Smokehouse outdoor kitchen. The food is excellent and the prices are fairly reasonable for what you get. I always order the pulled pork slider. It's simple, tastes great, and is one of the very best snacks I've found that can easily be stretched to a small meal out of all the pavilion offerings. Of course, that is simply my opinion and with the vast array of little walk up kitchens covering the entire realm of pavilions exhibited throughout the World Showcase there really is a little something for everyone. If you want to make a day of it, you can go on a culinary adventure around the promenade and with a few hours and a little bit of extra money you can taste the flavors of so many places that you may never have the opportunity to travel to. It's a sensory experience and one that should be a grand part of any day at the Flower and Garden Festival. As a bit of a side note, if you're looking for a fun surprise for your family, buy gift cards for each member of your party to dine around the showcase. Not only are the gift cards a fun treat but also are incredibly convenient and oftentimes sold on little lanyards so that you don't have to dig for a wallet to pay.       

2. The Butterfly House 
The butterfly house is one of the more unique aspects of the festival. As you enter a fairly sizable garden, through a series of drapes, you're instantly surrounded but butterflies of all colors and sizes, many of which completed their metamorphosis right in that very garden. Of course, this isn't an open air experience but rather occurs in a large vaulted tent, but the experience is excellent and one of those things that only Disney could pull off on such a grand scale for a non-permanent event. It's a simple addition to the magic of Epcot, but an experience you'll want to take a few minutes to enjoy nonetheless.  

3. The Bonsai Collection 
This intricate display takes place in certain portions of the Japan Pavilion and tends to amaze guests on a day to day basis. Bonsai trees are interesting miniature trees which many recognize best from the Karate Kid films. While the trees themselves remain rather small, they age in a similar way to full scale trees and at a smilier rate. Just as the full size iterations, vines grow and the trees branch out as they age. However, a well taken care of bonsai tree can be carefully and intricately shaped into some truly magnificent displays and Epcot's yearly showcase unveils some of the most intricate in the World. It seems like a quite rudimentary and simple concept but the level of devotion it takes to grow one of these trees into its prime and elder years is something you have to see in person to truly appreciate and there's no better place to do that than at the Flower and Garden Festival. 

4. Exploring the Topiaries
The topiary displays are perhaps the most recognizable and iconic element of the festival. Ranging from well known characters to intricately designed welcome setups for pictures as guests arrive, the yearly debut is an interesting process. Behind the scenes, cast members spend countless hours picking designs and the perfect arrangement of plant types to gradually grow and develop into the grand designs that unfold for guests during the festival. It's a truly painstaking process but one that yields yearly results that exceed expectations and always offer guests a new experience and a new picture to add to their vacation experience.   

5. Taking a Morning Stroll Around the Showcase
As the simplest item on our list, this is perhaps the one things most guests overlook. Take some time and make a quick walk around the World Showcase in the morning (before the crowds build) and wander through the pavilions. I understand it's hard to leave the hustle and bustle of your morning vacation plans to do this but its worth the time and effort. As you walk the promenade when the crowds are lower, you can pick up on so many subtle details that tend to get overlooked in the more crowded portions of the day. Look left, look right, look up, and look down and you may be surprised at what you stumble into that isn't always a portion of the Epcot experience. As you end your stroll, pick up a time guide for the day and a free "passport" for the festival to track what you've done and then head back around to capture a whole new aspect of the journey with the passport in hand and a list of events and special offerings to go to and enjoy on your second (or third, or fourth .... yeah, we know we have a problem lol) trip around. 

Your Thoughts
As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are! 

Ready to Plan?
Need help planning your vacation? Let our friends over at Destinations to Travel (FREE - no obligation quote request form below) help you out at no additional cost to you! Their services are free and a great way for you to help out the site at no extra cost to you! 

Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips, 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets, check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections!

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