The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival may not seem like an event that appeals to kids (or adults lacking a green thumb). But chances are it will quickly grow on kids (and those young at heart) as they scout out the festival’s Disney-themed topiary displays, interactive exhibits, outdoor kitchens and live entertainment throughout the park. The annual, kid-friendly festival also features Mike & Sulley’s Monstrous Garden, Butterflies on the Go exhibit and various children’s play areas. This year the festival runs through May 17.

Guests can scare up some fun in Mike & Sulley's Monstrous Garden, a vibrant play area on Imagination walkway created specially for the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. The festival, which runs 75 days March 4-May 17, 2015 at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., features dozens of character topiaries, stunning floral displays, gardening seminars and the Garden Rocks concert series - all included in regular Epcot admission. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

Photo Credit: Matt Stroshane

If a flower show brings to mind a quiet, sectioned area filled with tidy, colorful blooms, think again.

Better yet, step into the magical world of the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, which feels more like a huge outdoor party decked out with elaborate topiary displays, freshly prepared food and live entertainment throughout the park. It’s less about gardening and more about fun and festivities.

And as you marvel at the creative floral displays on land and in waterways, keep your eyes open for baby rabbits and ducklings (real ones, not Disney creations!). After all, it’s spring time.

Here are six reasons why families flock to the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival each year.

 

Disney-Themed Topiary Displays

It’s really quite spectacular to see the detailed topiary displays and gardens throughout World Showcase and Future World. Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Tinker Bell, Anna and Elsa, Belle and Beast and Bambi are among more than 100 TMOM Travel DisclosureDisney-themed topiary displays.

Before setting off on a trip around World Showcase and Future World, grab a garden passport. This small, handy booklet contains detailed information about the topiary displays, gardens, activities and seasonal menus.

Think of it as a party planner that doubles as a scavenger hunt tool to help you find all the topiaries, peruse outdoor kitchen menus and see the entertainment line-up. A special map for preschoolers can be printed at home.

Mike & Sulley’s Monstrous Garden

Epcot Flower festival

Photo Credit: Mimi Slawoff, Los Angeles TravelingMom

Featuring Disney•Pixar Monster’s University characters in topiary, Mike and Sulley’s Monstrous Garden also has an interactive play zone that includes tunnels, slides and interactive games for children ages 2 to 5, and a net climber for older children ages 5 to 12. Meanwhile, there’s a shaded area for mom and dad to kick back and relax.

Butterflies on the Go Garden Presented by GoGo SqueeZ

At this serene, interactive exhibit – located inside a tent where butterflies flutter about freely – kids can learn about the butterfly life cycle, see up to 10 species of butterflies and get the scoop on how to grow a butterfly garden at home. If you hold still long enough, one of these gentle Monarch butterflies may even land on your hand. Note that the exhibit closes at dusk.

Tasty Food Samples for all Palates and Ages

As you wander through World Showcase, you’ll find numerous outdoor kitchens serving seasonal beverages and savory dishes. It’s a great way to introduce kids to international dishes from Marrakesh, China, Japan and France. Also, learn about natural foods at Urban Farm Eats, where you can sample a quinoa vegetable “naanwich” with arugula pesto and oven dried tomatoes. Those following a gluten-free or vegetarian diet will find plenty of options as well.

A popular spot is the Pineapple Promenade, which serves a spicy pineapple dog with pineapple chutney and sriracha mayo. But the big attraction is the super tasty pineapple soft-serve available with and without rum (Sammy’s Beach Bar Red Head Macadamia Nut Flavored Rum or Captain Morgan Parrot Bay Coconut Rum). More virgin drinks include a frozen desert violet lemonade that tastes as good as it looks.

Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney World Resort

Be sure to pace yourself, there are many more goods along the way in many of Epcot’s international pavilions. Among them: kung pao chicken bun at the Lotus House, seafood ceviche at Botanas Botanico, and beef brisket burnt ends hash with white cheddar fondue and pickled jalapeños at The Smokehouse. Beer and tequila flights, and specialty drinks round out the sumptuous offerings.

Garden Rocks Concert Series

Although kids may not be familiar with the music of legendary bands such as The Guess Who and Little Riverband, the America Gardens Theatre is a lively area of the park where you can dance, sing along or just sit back and enjoy a show. Find seats in the theater or grab a meal and enjoy the performances from nearby, outdoor tables. Concerts take place at 5:30 PM, 6:45 PM and 8:00 PM every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

IllumiNations:Reflections of Earth

This is no ordinary fireworks display. In typical Disney wonder, the spectacular show depicts the story of earth with flames, laser lights, music and fireworks over World Showcase Lagoon. People line up early for the nightly show, so be sure to find a good viewing spot for your family well before the fireworks extravaganza begins. It’s a good idea to have food and drinks handy while you wait.

Beautiful flowers, great food, and fun music draw my family to the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. What are your favorite things about this annual event?