1997
Flower and Garden Festival
Barrett Nichols


Barrett and Dorothy Nichols toured the 1997 Flower and Garden Festival extensively.  Major aspects of the Festival have not changed and their comments remain very relevant for anyone planning to visit Epcot during the Flower and Garden Festival.

*******************

For the past 4 years Epcot has been hosting the International Flower and Garden Festival. This years festival was supported by "Southern Living" Magazine and Sta-Green. Previous festivals have added the Rose Walk which connects West Future World to the World Showcase, and the Bavarian Railway Garden located between Germany and Italy in the
World Showcase. 

If you have any interest in gardening, or just love looking at flowers this is a must see. I'd heard about the festival in the past and finally made it down to see it this year and my only regret is that I didn't allow enough time to take it all in. I would recommend at least two days to do a good job. 

More than 30 million blooms set the stage for the festival. Disney's horticulturists put out an additional 100 topiaries, many dressed up with cut flowers for additional color. There isn't any portion of Epcot where it isn't apparent that a special event is taking place. 

The Festival is composed of a number of parts which encompass all of Epcot. There is the Festival Center located along the Rose Walk where there are a number of workshops, displays, information and a market place. In both of the Future Worlds there are numerous displays and demonstration areas. Around the World Showcase are lots of Topiaries and two additional demonstration tents. (see the end of this article for a complete listing of attractions). 

All through the Festival there are special weekend events coinciding with Earth Day, Mothers day, a Kids weekend and an Art in the Garden weekend. Every weekend they also have experts come in on Friday and Saturday to put on demonstrations. When my wife and I were there,
Roger Swain was the guest speaker and was available to autograph his most recent book. 



Personal Favorites


Italian Surprise Water Garden - or as I call them, "The Italian Attack Garden" - perhaps the best innovation since talking Garbage cans and water fountains. Italy has always impressed me with the effect created by the use of multiple planters to totally change the atmosphere. Now add to the planters a few special ones armed with water pistol type sprays artfully concealed. The only thing that gives them away is the puddles of water and the screams. 

The Chip Topiary at France - features soap bubbles coming from it. 

The Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs topiary - Snow and the boys arranged around the entrance to their mine. At night the jewels glowed. Nicely done. 

The Lion King Topiaries at the Outpost - I just hope the photos come out - especially liked Scar. 

The Chinese Flying Dragon Topiary made entirely or Bromeliads. Approximately 20 feet long, not your standard creeping fig topiary. 

Big Bugs Display in East Future World - shades of Jurassic Park, these guys could compete. The giant insects are made entirely of wood, either formed of artfully bunched sticks, or smoothly carved wood, the diameter of telephone poles. Look for other stick fauna around the park, such as graceful swans and deer in the Canadian exhibit. 

Mexico - Exotic Flowers of the Rain Forest - the flowers around Mexico are usually very good, during the show they are even better. A number of special plantings on the walkway to the south of the main entrance (where the parrots are located). Many Orchids, plants that being from "up North" we just never see. Spectacular. 

TOURS


There are three tours offered that are associated with the Garden Festival. The first is offered year round, and having taken it in December, the most un-exciting time for plants, I can assure you it's worth it. The other two are offered only during the festival. 

EPCOT Garden Discoveries - Get the "inside" information from the experts who helped create the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. A Disney horticulturist will be you host on this guided tour of the special displays and award winning international gardens of Epcot. $25 (This tour gets you into the World Showcase before the general public is allowed in, if you want to take some special pictures this is the tour for you). Offered every day of the week in 1997.  

Backstage Garden Magic - Take a fascinating excursion behind the scenes! This information-packed tour will give you a first hand look at the backstage greenhouses and growing areas that support the gardens of Walt Disney Resort. $25 (Took this tour in 1997, great!). Offered on Friday and Saturday in 1997. Read the First Hand Report of this Tour by the Nichols.  

 

Special for Kids


Kid Zones at the Future World and World Showcase 
Pooh's Garden Party at the United Kingdom 
Butterfly Garden at East Future World 
Surprise Water Garden in Italy 
Dinosaur Topiary in East Future World 
Wildlife Discovery in Canada and More Wildlife in Canada 
Backyard Habitat Garden in East Future World 



When I go next time...


I would try to find out who was speaking on the weekends ahead of time and would potentially plan the trip around a speaker that I wanted to hear. I have not run across any web locations where this information was available, maybe from Disney? 

I would allow more time for attending workshops and presentations. I was not able to attend any of the presentations, walked by a couple in progress, they looked wonderful. 

The 12 rolls of film just weren't enough...... 

I'd spend more time wandering around in the areas closest to the water and back in the exhibits. I noticed that even with heavy crowds, the area in the back of the exhibits (behind the cutting garden in France, back in Morocco, Italy and China to name a few) and right along the water tend to be very quite. A lot of detail that gets missed unless you take the time and look. 

If you are staying at a Disney Resort, take advantage of the early opening times available to you. I went in early one day for a tour and had a very enjoyable time wandering around.