Photo Credit - Gina Vercesi, Unplugged Traveling Mom

Photo Credit – Gina Vercesi, Unplugged Traveling Mom

It’s spring at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida which means that it’s time for the International Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot. A perennial favorite, the festival takes place each spring from March to May, transforming Epcot into a botanical wonderland featuring whimsical topiaries, dazzling landscaping, and delicious, garden-fresh food.

As the Unplugged TravelingMom, I am always delighted by the events and activities Disney offers that promote nature, the outdoors and environmental sustainability.  The Flower and Garden Festival is one of the best examples of this concept and Disney, being Disney, does it beautifully.

Characters in Bloom at Epcot

Photo Credit - Gina Vercesi, Unplugged Traveling Mom

Photo Credit – Gina Vercesi, Unplugged Traveling Mom

Upon entering the park visitors are welcomed by Daisy Duck, Donald Duck and Goofy in full floral splendor surrounded by a colorful bed of gerber daisies, poppies, snapdragons and sweet peas.  The display sets the tone for the entire park where you’ll encounter similar characters throughout your visit, each one both beautiful and creative in its construction and arrangement.  There are over 100 of these topiaries in Epcot during the festival, some making repeat appearances each year and others that are new for the current season, including an adorable scene featuring Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy in honor of their newest movie, “Muppets Most Wanted.”

 

Photo Credit - Gina Vercesi, Unplugged Traveling Mom

Photo Credit – Gina Vercesi, Unplugged Traveling Mom

Play and Learn in the Garden

Another hallmark of the festival is the fantastic list of special gardens, events and activities that can be enjoyed each day.  Tinkerbell’s Butterfly Garden was one of my favorites where visitors can stroll through and try to spot 11 different species of butterflies while enjoying the handiwork of different artists including delicate, glass flowers and magical little fairy houses.

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Photo Credit – Gina Vercesi, Unplugged Traveling Mom

Sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation, the Backyard Habitat garden teaches visitors how to create a natural space in their own yards where wildlife like birds and pollinators will seek refuge.  The garden features examples of birdhouses, sheltering plants and other garden structures that will encourage wildlife to visit your garden and make it their home.

Photo Credit - Gina Vercesi, Unplugged Traveling Mom

Photo Credit – Gina Vercesi, Unplugged Traveling Mom

 

In the Backyard Play Garden sponsored by GoGo SqueeZ, flowers, raised beds, comfy seating areas, a play structure and a pizza garden encourage kids to get moving, play outdoors and eat healthy, yummy foods.  Visitors can join the Backyard Fun Bunch among sunny coreopsis, edible nasturtium, fragrant herbs and flowering strawberries by reciting the pledge: I will play when I can and play a whole lot, on days when it’s cold and days when it’s hot. And when I need energy, good food I will munch, to be healthy I am part of the Backyard Fun Bunch!

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Photo Credit – Gina Vercesi, Unplugged Traveling Mom

As an added treat, after visiting the garden, kids can join a GoGo SqueeZ volunteer at shady, pint-sized picnic tables to plant magical bean plants to bring home.

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Photo Credit – Gina Vercesi, Unplugged Traveling Mom

For budding artists, the Gardener’s Palette in Future World uses brilliant flowers to teach children about Sir Isaac Newton’s color wheel.  Begonias, sunflowers, violas, ageratum and a host of other beautiful plants highlight both the primary colors on the color wheel as well as the four seasons of the year.  Children can color pictures and make their own colorful bottles of sand as an activity extension, inspired by the surrounding hues.

In the Festival Center, adults can partake in a variety of presentations throughout the Festival including seminars and demonstrations with master gardeners, Disney horticulturalists and personalities from HGTV (the Festival’s primary sponsor).

Food, Glorious Food!

Photo Credit - Gina Vercesi, Unplugged Traveling Mom

Photo Credit – Gina Vercesi, Unplugged Traveling Mom

And what would a festival be without some fabulous food offerings? While the most well-known celebration of gastronomy at Disney World is Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival held each autumn, epicurean delights await visitors at the many Outdoor Kitchens located throughout the World Showcase pavilions.  From candied strawberries and fruit sushi to pulled pig sliders with slaw and duck confit with parsley potatoes, the kitchens offer small plates to please every palate.  Specialty cocktails are also a treat and I saw many guests enjoying wine slushies, mexican sangria and the tour de force, pineapple Dole Whip spiked with rum as I toured the pavilions.

Overall, a day or two spent in Epcot during the Flower and Garden Festival is sure to delight every member of your family. I don’t believe I have ever seen Epcot looking quite so splendid.  One thing to keep in mind is that because the Festival runs for two months each year, crowds during this time period vary drastically from the quieter week or so at the beginning of March to the peak capacity hoards of spring break and finally back to the comfortable company of early and mid-May.  Regardless of when you visit, the Festival is a wonderful way to celebrate the burgeoning blossoms of the new season!