EPCOT’s Flower and Garden Festival is an annual event which takes place in 2023 from March 1st all the way through July 5th. The celebration includes all sorts of amazing flower displays, topiaries, and, of course, amazing dining opportunities! It is easily the most beautiful time of the year to visit, and makes the entire park feel like a luscious garden. All in all, it’s probably the best time of the year to visit the park. Here is a run-down of what you can expect during your visit to EPCOT during the Flower and Garden Festival!
Before You Begin, Get the Festival Passport
Before exploring what the Flower and Garden Festival has to offer, you’ll need to make sure that you know what to do as you enter the park: grab a festival passport! This handy booklet will provide you information on all of the festivals offerings, including where and what each food location serves, where all of the exhibits are located, and additional information that will improve your visit. It’s a great reminder of what there is to see and do and can be easily pulled out of a pocket to help plan while you make your way through the park. The festival passports are located in stands immediately after you scan into the park.
Flowers & Topiaries
Every year, EPCOT brings in thousands of flowers to fill the park from head to toe in beautiful colors. Beyond just the amazing flower arrangements throughout the park, Disney craftsman construct intricate topiaries of all your favorite Disney characters. A new (and sure to be popular) addition is the entire family from Encanto. You can check out Mirabel, Antonio, Isabela, and Luisa right at the main entrance to the park. Others include favorite Toy Story characters, Tiana, Anna & Elsa, Mickey and his friends, and, of course, Figment, the park’s mascot! My favorite is probably the dragon located down by the water in the Japan pavilion. Be sure to check out all of the topiaries throughout the park! A list of each can be found in the Festival Passport you can grabbed upon entering the park.
Beyond just having flowers to look at, there are also butterfly areas where you can see and learn about the pollinating creatures. The butterfly enclosures feature hundreds of butterflies to watch and are incredibly beautiful. If you are visiting Disney World from a city and haven’t been out in nature recently, the butterfly areas are definitely something you’ll enjoy!
Blossoms of Fragrance
Finally, the festival also features multiple walkthrough fragrance stations, usually located near the butterfly topiaries. These stations offer you the chance to enjoy multiple natural scents through special exhibits, as if the amazing smells from all the flowers wasn’t enough!
As with all of the festivals at EPCOT, special food options and stands will be available to guests throughout the park, most notably in World Showcase. This year, there are 15 outdoor kitchens, including 2 new kitchen additions. Brunchcot near test track will feature all sorts of fine brunch favorites like avocado toast and fried cinnamon roll bites, while Florida Fresh near Disney Traders will offer up grilled street corn, a blackened fish slider, and Florida strawberry shortcake. If these sound appetizing to you, you are sure to be excited at the offerings from all of the other stands since these are just the tip of the iceberg! Other notable food offerings include Braised Oxtail with pigeon pea rice and coconut tres leches at La Isla Fresca near Morocco, fruit sushi “Frushi” in Japan (which is a wildly popular dish), and the “Beignet Caramélisé, Fourré Crème Vanille, Glacé au Caramel Fleur de Sel” caramel beignet in France. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for something salty or sweet, there’s always a fresh offering somewhere in EPCOT during the Flower and Garden Festival.
All stand locations offer different items, each with a somewhat small portion size. This allows you to try more things as you go without getting too filled up at one stop. Prices for the offerings are a relatively good value for Disney, ranging from around $5 to $10, depending on the item. Each stand also has beverages that pair well with the items! Instead of planning a sit-down meal for lunch or dinner, it’s usually better snack on foods from multiple stands so you can try out multiple things.
Food from the stands is sure to impressive in terms of aesthetic, too. Many of the dishes created are absolutely beautiful and decorated with floral elements to match the Flower and Garden theme. As you explore all that the festival has to offer, be sure to plan out which stands you want to visit! The Festival Passport you snag on the way into the park will provide you will all the food information you need to know where you might want to stop. If you’re not sure about what to get, just take a peek at what others come out of the stand with to assess whether it’s something you will enjoy!
Garden Rocks Concert Series
If all of the flowers and dining wasn’t enough, the Flower and Garden Festival also features music performances daily as part of the Garden Rocks concert series. Over the entire festival length, over 30 musicians will perform, often staying for a couple of days at a time and performing multiple times in the afternoon and evening. These acts include many noteworthy bands and musicians, including former lead singers of Chicago and the Eagles, Blue Oyster Colt, Smash Mouth, Rick Springfield, Plain White T’s, and Simple Plan, who I’m most excited for. When you’re planning which day to visit EPCOT, be sure to keep an eye on which artist you want to see!
The concerts are located in the American Adventure pavilion, at the far end of the park in World Showcase. Typically, show times are at 5:30, 6:45, and 8:00pm, though times can vary depending on the artist availability. In general, later shows are a little less busy, but it’s still a good idea to show up early to guarantee yourself a seat in the crowd. Many of the artists clearly enjoy their free trip to Disney, and have great crowd interaction. If you want to get up close, you’ll need to arrive even earlier. The theater holds about 1,000, though you can still hear the music and view the performance from far away even if you don’t get in.
Another big part of the Flower and Garden Festival is the merchandise. Many of Disney’s fan favorites (like Orange Bird and Figment) will be featured on all sorts of merchandise available to purchase. Whether you’re looking for limited edition ears, plushies, Loungefly bags, or spirit jerseys, the festival is sure to have something that catches your eye. Note that many items sell out quickly, but are available to purchase in multiple locations. If you’re looking for a specific item, a Disney Cast Member can always search for inventory resort-wide to see if it’s available. Just ask a Cast Member with a tablet nicely, and they’ll usually be happy to help!
Spike the Bee Scavenger Hunt
For an additional cost of $10, you can purchase the Spike’s PolleNation Exploration Scavenger Hunt map. This activity gives you and your family something to do as you traverse the World Showcase pavilions as you keep an eye out for the Festival’s mascot, Spike the Bee. He will be hidden among the flowers and topiaries in each country, for a total of 12 to find. The activity is a great way for kids to enjoy the festival. Once you find all of the Spikes (or even if you don’t), you can go back to the merchandise location you bought the map from and receive a special prize. This year, the prize will be a choice of plate or cup featuring Spike, Orange Bird, Figment, or Snow White. Even if you don’t buy the map, you can still make an effort to find the hidden Spike the Bee in each country while walking around the World Showcase.
Additional Festival Information
Though the festival runs throughout the months of March, April, May, and June, offerings can change depending on the time you visit. Disney wants to keep locals coming back for more, and will change up the food and entertainment offerings so that people can have something different to try out if they’re visiting multiple times. Each day, EPCOT will be open from 9am to 9pm, and function like it normally does. This means despite the festival going on, all of the normal rides and shows will be open. It is a great time to visit with so much to see and do! It is also an amazing opportunity to get tons of beautiful pictures, so keep an eye out for spots that are worthy of capturing on film.