Originally published in Attractions Magazine..November 29, 2016
The 2017 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival starts on March 1 with new character topiaries, entertainers, food offerings, and other recently announced additions for 24th annual event.
The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, which expanded to 90 days in 2016, will run March 1 through May 29, 2017, and will feature the following new attractions:
• Fresh, farm-market food and beverage flavors will debut at two new Outdoor Kitchens that will join 13 returning Outdoor Kitchens. Guest can sip and savor their way around Epcot, enjoying chef-inspired noshes and refreshing libations with or without a kick.
• The new generation of princess topiaries (Snow White, Anna and Elsa – the first to be designed and created with topiary facial features) will welcome a brand-new Belle topiary as fans remember her from the Oscar-winning Disney film, “Beauty and the Beast.” Located outside the France pavilion with the Beast topiary, Belle will come to life with sculpted facial features and her yellow ball gown created with golden blooming Joseph’s Coat plants.
• Another festival first will be a 6-foot-tall topiary of Figment, the feisty dragon mascot of the park’s Imagination! pavilion, perched atop a 5-foot-diameter ball fashioned from yellow Joseph’s Coat.
• The brand-new Epcot front-entrance topiary garden inspired by a vintage Walt Disney short film will spring to life with a floral-festooned maypole featuring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Daisy and Pluto.
• The popular Garden Rocks concert series will expand to four days each week, with three concerts each Friday through Monday presenting pop musicians that span multiple genres over four decades.
• New Garden Rocks Dining Packages will be available on select days at a number of Epcot restaurants.
• Reimagined interactive play gardens will include a new take on the “Cars”-themed garden introducing a new character topiary from the June 2017 release of the Disney•Pixar sequel, “Cars 3.” Music Garden Melodies play area will return with new garden and topiary elements.
• For the first time, the event’s Festival Center will extend operating hours from Wednesday, March 1 through Sunday, March 5. Throughout the rest of the festival, the center will be open each Friday through Sunday with an entertaining mix of gardening seminars and DIY workshops.
• One of the popular Outdoor Kitchen gardens, Urban Farm Eats, will return with savory bites, sweet treats and ideas for planting produce that can inspire growing numbers of guests who want to learn to grow their own edibles.
“A lot of people, including young children, are serious foodies now, and they have lots of questions about gardening,” says Eric Darden, festival horticulture manager. “We’re getting more and more people in their 20s and 30s asking, ‘How can I grow this?’ I think we’ll be creating more gardeners because people can see what’s possible.”
Returning favorites at the 2017 Flower & Garden Festival will include:
• Topiaries of Donald Duck and nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie will share Future World space in front of Spaceship Earth with Chip and Dale for a “Fresh Epcot” selfie and family photo opportunity.
• Anna and Elsa topiaries will return to the Norway pavilion festival landscape in celebration of the park’s new Frozen Ever After Nearly 100 festival topiaries in all will include up to 70 character creations such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Lady and the Tramp, Simba, Timon and Tinker Bell.
• Guests will encounter garden surprises and special appearances related to Earth Day and other spring activities.
• The Butterflies on the Go garden will return with the story of the Monarch’s epic journey across the continent and featuring butterflies emerging from their chrysalises.
• On the way to the new Soarin’ Around the World film at the Soarin’ attraction in The Land pavilion, guests can discover gardens featuring edible flowers, plants that benefit health and healing, and a pollinator paradise.
• Dozens of Disney-crafted “flower towers” and beds of multi-colored blooms will transform the park’s landscape. At least 70,000 bedding plants will surround the Future World east and west lakes alone; on the water, 220 mini-gardens will be set afloat.
The festival, including all gardening programs and exhibits, is included in regular Epcot admission. For more information about the 24th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, call 407-934-7639 or visit epcotinspring.com, and watch this episode of Attractions The Show featuring the 2016 Flower & Garden Festival:
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