We’ll begin our discussion of Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival with a peek inside the Festival Center. The Festival Guide for March is available here. That guide lists where everything is and includes show schedules for the month. These guides are available all over Epcot, including the Festival Center.
Formerly the Wonders of Life Pavilion, you’ll find the Welcome Center in Future World East in between Mission: Space and Ellen’s Energy Adventure.
Unlike the Food and Wine Festival Center, Flower and Garden’s only operates from 10am – 5pm.
Upon entering, you’ll see “The Festival Patio” on your left, which is half advertisement, half comfortable place to sit.
Last year, this area sat completely empty, so “The Patio” is a welcome addition.
Continuing clockwise around the Festival Center, you’ll come upon the Greenhouse Stage next.
There are two presentations daily, one at 11am and an identical presentation at 2pm. The Festival Guide for the presentations is kind of confusing in that it lists dates in a handy table, but skips certain dates. For example, the Greenhouse Stage lists 3/6 and 3/7, but then skips to 3/11. The presenter for 3/8 – 3/10 (and other dates not listed in the table) is listed at the bottom along with a picture and explanation of who they are.
These popular presentations are included with admission. At 10:20am, there were already 30 or so people waiting in line. By 10:40am, the seating area was full and people were standing in back. I noticed that Disney only had plants and presentation materials for about half the seats, but everyone in attendance should receive a free pink Flower and Garden Festival tote. Hopefully they have more presentation materials in the future, but if it’s really important to you, plan to arrive 45 minutes early. If you’d just like to listen, you can watch for a minute or for the whole presentation by standing outside the seating area.
Horticulture Heritage is a new exhibit this year. There’s a continuously playing film in a theater behind us.
On the left side of the exhibit, displays explain the five steps that go into creating the topiaries:
I found the display to be somewhat amusing because the real “Disney topiary process” is:
- Open storage box with last year’s “topiaries.”
- Dust off.
- Remove ice skates from Goofy and other winter items attached for the Holidays Around the World topiary displays.
- Place “topiaries” in the same spot as last year’s Festival. Or if we need to spread them out further, split displays up and find a spot that kinda makes sense.
Maybe the topiaries are just so perfect after so much thought went into the design that they don’t want to tinker with them.
The opposite side of the exhibit describes the evolution of Disney horticulture:
It’s an interesting synopsis, but I’m not sure we’re going to see hundreds of topiaries around Epcot.
The Designer’s Stage is up next. On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, this is where you’ll find the HGTV personalities presenting. They greet guests and sign books after their presentations. Other presenters are on stage on weekdays.
Roger Swain, who you may recognize from The Victory Gardens on PBS, was presenting at 12pm and 3pm.
Spotlight Stage is the last of the three presentation areas.
Conducted by students, these presentations are a lower priority and are mostly unadvertised. You should be able to walk right over and take a seat after the 12pm or 3pm presentations at the Designer’s Stage if you’re not interested in meeting the presenter.
Intermissions Cafe is again set up with a Festival-specific menu. The poor cast member working looked to be bored out of her mind.
The wines and New Planet 3R Raspberry Ale are the same ones available outside at the “Fruits by the Glass” kiosk, but this would be another opportunity to try one. The Poema Cava Brut Rose is available at The Cottage kiosk, but this is the only opportunity to order a Spring Fling as far as I can remember. The Beet Lollipop for less than a dollar sounds interesting – I’ll have to try one next time.
The Mango and Blueblerry Wines are available by the bottle for around $17, along with the Rib Shack Red that’s served at The Smokehouse and the 40 Karat Carrot Wine and Hot Sun Tomato Wine that are served at Florida Fresh.
As one might expect, a lot of Festival merchandise is available. Prices follow the item when tags were attached:
$26.95 I think.
That’s nearly all of the merchandise that was available on the first day. Don’t forget to use your Annual Pass for a discount. They usually add some additional items as the Festival progresses and I’ll update when those are available. Expect key chains, miniature topiaries, a pen, and that sort of thing. Check out what was available in 2012 here.
Never fear if you don’t make it over to the Festival Center, additional kiosks are set up around World Showcase. Most of them are located on your left before you arrive in Canada. Another kiosk is in the Morocco/Japan area.
Non-Disney merchandise is also available.
Three for $15 sounds a little more compelling.
Garden Treasures houses most of the same merchandise.
We’ll take a look around Future World next before heading up to World Showcase.