It’s #FreshEpcot time again and the 2019 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is in full swing. With lots to eat, drink, experience, buy and Instagram, the festival can be overwhelming for first-timers (especially those visiting on a weekend). This year, the festival runs from March 6th all the way to June 3rd! Our 2019 Flower & Garden Festival Guide will give you the highlights of the festival, as well as some tips for navigating the park to make sure you maximize your time.
First things first – Pick up a Festival Passport near the Epcot entrance or at any one of the festival booths. You can’t really miss them within the park, but you definitely will miss out on some of the highlights without one. Inside, you’ll find a list of gardens & topiaries, merchandise, the Garden Rocks concert series and, of course, the outdoor kitchens!
The Passport is the quickest way to identify your must-see and must-do items at-a-glance. Lauren and I tend to study the passport meticulously the night before our Epcot day(s). We plan out which kitchens we want to visit and what treats we want to devour at said kitchens.
Okay, so it’s called the Flower & Garden Festival, but it may as well be called the Food & Flower & Garden Festival because of the incredible palate-pleasing morsels scattered throughout the park. There are 17 outdoor kitchens, which mimic the layout of the Food & Wine Festival in the Fall. Each kitchen has at least 3 delicacies that are small-portioned items for you to try. In addition, there’s usually a few specialty drinks to try at the kitchens as well.
Unfortunately, the food and drinks are an added cost, but good news for guests on a Disney Dining Plan…you can use a snack credit for almost all of the food available, and even some of the non-alcoholic drinks! This is one of the best ways to use a snack credit, as you’re almost always getting something that would cost more than your typical Disney snack.
Every year, the Festival seems to add a few new outdoor kitchens to keep things #FreshEpcot. This year, we see these new arrivals (along with some recommended snacks):
- Arbor at The Gardeners Terrace – try the Smoked Salmon Stack with Avocados, Tomatoes, Sour Cream, Caviar and Focaccia Crostino & we would always give the cider flight a go
- Flavor Full Kitchen – go for the Mickey Tart Peanut Butter Mousse with Strawberry Jam and Boba Pearls
- The Citrus Blossom – while it might seem adventurous, we’d pick the Tuna Tataki with Spicy Yuzu Glaze, Mango, Avocado and Pappadam Crisp
- Trowel & Trellis – It’s a brilliant concept…get the Chocolate Pudding Terrarium
To be honest, you’d be hard-pressed to find an outdoor kitchen where you wouldn’t want to try at least one thing on the menu.
The Garden Rocks Concert Series
This is the first year that Epcot has expanded the concert series to run 7 days a week. That means that over the course of the festival, over 270 performances will be seen onstage at the American Gardens Theatre (in the American Pavilion). Shows run nightly at 5:30pm, 6:45pm and 8:00pm with most performers setting up shop for a 2-to-3-night stint in the park. The full list of performers can be found here:
There are even dining packages available for the concert series, bookable at 14 different participating restaurants in Epcot. Packages can be reserved for breakfast, lunch or dinner and give you guaranteed seating to one of the 3 performances that night.
Combining both flower and garden, the topiaries are a mainstay of the festival. Each year, displays go up all over Epcot to showcase the incredible, creative work that the Disney horticulturalists put together. This year, 25 topiary installations are set up, but each one has an elaborate surrounding garden to compliment the characters.
Lauren and I really enjoy taking our time to see each and every character topiary, because they’re so magnificent. Plus, there’s almost always one or two new topiaries that we have never seen before. This years new addition is Bo Peep and her sheep from the upcoming Toy Story 4.
If it were just topiaries around the park, I feel like the Festival would be missing something. Every year, the entire park comes alive with some of the most vibrantly coloured flowers you have ever seen. Huge gardens full of gorgeous tropical and international flowers cover the landscape, making for one of the absolute best times to take pictures in Epcot. It’s an Instagrammers dream out there with a pop of colour so bright, you don’t need a single filter on your photos!
Every year, the Flower & Garden Festival has a new selection of branded merchandise that is exclusive to Epcot. Brand new designs keep refreshing the Festival each year. There are almost always one or two items that really stand out.
This year, there are two stand-outs. First, for all the Violet Lemonade lovers out there, Epcot has a pair of purple ears with your name on it (the flowers are a nice, new touch this year). The second popular item is the popular Orange Bird sipper cup. You can get it filled with Orange Cream Slushy over at the Citrus Blossom or at some shops around the park.
For kids (and the young at heart), there are two scavenger hunts in which to participate. Running through the entire length of the Festival is (the Bee) Spike’s Pollen Nation Exploration, taking you around the World Showcase to find him hidden in some very unique flowers.
Also, from April 5 – 21, guests can participate in the popular “Egg-Stravaganza” scavenger hunt. Disney hides character “eggs” throughout the World Showcase. Once you return to a redemption location, you’re eligible for a sp-egg-tacular surprise (Disney’s words, not ours).
The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is a perennial favourite (pun absolutely intended, for all you green thumbs out there). For Lauren and I, it’s one of the best times of the year to visit Epcot – and Walt Disney World in general. It’s the perfect combination of striking colours, beautiful topiaries, lots of extra entertainment, and of course, great food.
If I had to choose only one of Epcot’s yearly festivals to visit, Flower & Garden would be my pick, without any hesitation.
If you want to see how this year’s festival compares to last year, take a look at our 2018 Flower & Garden Festival guide.