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10 Things I Didn’t Expect to Learn at the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival

Last year I had the chance to visit the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival for the first time – I’ll be honest, I wasn’t prepared to like the flower-centric festival as much as I did. Only a few months before, I had visited during the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival, and to my surprise the floral festival gave this foodie an unexpectedly delightful experience!

I’m not outdoorsy, I’m not a green thumb, and while I like a bouquet of flowers as much as the next girl, that’s pretty much where my relationship with flowers stops. But the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival is so much more – you can lean about and experience herbs, vegetables, fruits, and displays that are truly works of living art!

So in case you’re on the fence about attending EPCOT’s signature springtime event, here are the 10 thinks I didn’t expect to learn at the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival – but boy am I glad I did!

Butterflies aren't so scary!  Photo by Stephanie Shuster.

Butterflies aren’t so scary! Photo by Stephanie Shuster.

  1. Butterflies are not scary

Now, I know that to most people a wee little butterfly is just a pretty bug flying around, and even I think they are beautiful to look at. But never having been to anything of the sort, I was nervous about experiencing Tinkerbell’s Butterfly Garden – I envisioned thousands of butterflies swarming me. Thankfully the butterflies float around uninterested in humans, allowing me to observe them in a tranquil setting!

  1. I had no idea how far topiaries have come

I’ve always loved a good topiary, and enjoy seeing them around WDW and Disneyland, but the ones created for the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival blew me away! Not only are they trimmed to the shape of beloved characters, but they are made with different plants for added depth and visual interest. They even have faces – it’s just incredible!

A living work of art!  Photo by Stephanie Shuster.

A living work of art! Photo by Stephanie Shuster.

  1. It IS possible for World Showcase to be even more beautiful

World Showcase as a whole is probably my favorite place to be at WDW, any day of the year. I love the architecture and foliage, and the sweeping views across the lagoon. I didn’t know if was possible for my most-loved spot to be even more lovely, but when it’s draped with flowers and plants as far as the eye can see it’s really something to behold.

  1. Shopping at its finest

All WDW special events have unique merchandise, but I have to say I was extremely impressed with the specialty shopping at EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival. Not only were there festival-specific, Disney-centric souvenirs, but there was a wonderful assortment of home and garden décor, food, and beauty products that I couldn’t help but fall in love with!

Even husbands like Try It menu items!  Photo by Stephanie Shuster.

Even husbands like Try It menu items! Photo by Stephanie Shuster.

  1. TRY IT items aren’t just for kids – they work on husbands too

My darling husband often needs a little persuasion to eat his fruits and veggies, but the marketplace booths at the festival made it easy to convince him to give new items a go! His favorites were the Buttercup Cottage salad and the Hanami Sushi.

  1. There is a LOT to eat

Compared to the Food and Wine Festival, there are only a few specialty marketplace booths at the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival, but I found there was SO MUCH to eat and drink! The offerings were lighter at the spring festival and easier to gobble up in the Florida heat (and provides a lot of terrific options for vegetarians too!). Less heavy cheese and meat dishes, more light and refreshing dishes focused on creative used of fruit, veggies, and flowers. YUM!

Woody welcomes you to the smokehouse!  Photo by Stephanie Shuster.

Woody welcomes you to the smokehouse! Photo by Stephanie Shuster.

  1. April is a great time to visit

Technically the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival runs March-May but I happened to attend last year in April (a time of year I would never have chosen if not for the festival). It was warm enough to swim in the daytime, but never humid (in Florida, can you believe it?!), and I even needed a light sweater at night. No sticky, sweaty, grumpy crowds to contend with either! It’s now one of my preferred times of year to visit!

See Dad’s April Crowd Calendar here!

  1. It’s not just a daytime festival

Speaking of times to visit, I assumed that the day would be when most of the festival activities happened, but night time was a great option to see the festival too! Not only are there concerts at night, but the marketplace booths make for a great dinner option. And the topiaries are illuminated at night so you won’t miss the chance to see them, and some are even more interesting at night!

Exploring the gardens in the morning!  Photo by Stephanie Shuster.

Exploring the gardens in the morning! Photo by Stephanie Shuster.

9. Park opening is a quiet time

If you’re anything like me, you’re used to park opening being a time to rush to the headliner attractions to beat the crowds later in the day. But I found that viewing the topiaries and various garden displays (especially in Future World) at park opening was a fantastic time to explore – with almost everyone else rushing to Test Track and Soarin’ it was like I had the festival all to myself.

  1. It’s not just for gardeners

Prior to attending the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival I wrongly assumed I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as a professional or hobby gardener, but I’m happy to report that wasn’t the case! The festival really appealed to my love of food and art (those flowers definitely constitute an art form!), and of course my passion for learning – which is why I love EPCOT to begin with!

For more on the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival, check out the February issue of WDW Magazine!

Have you ever attended EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival? What was your favorite part, or the more unexpected thing you learned?

 

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