Spring is just around the corner — at least for those of us visiting Walt Disney World next week. Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival returns on Wednesday for its 23rd year, and we can’t wait! My family and I have some perennial favorites that only can be experienced during the 90-day festival, and I’m sure you do, too. Do we share some of the same must-dos? Here’s our checklist:
** Playgrounds, playgrounds, playgrounds. During the festival, two character-themed playground-type areas are installed at Epcot. The largest is located along Imagination Walkway between Future World and World Showcase, and the other usually is situated on the walkway near Test Track. Landscape Structures has been providing — and customizing — the large play structures for the festival for years. This year, both playgrounds will be illuminated at night and have extended operating hours. Although my son now is too old and my daughter is aging out of these play areas, I will always fondly recall our visits to them and recommend them to families with young children. Yes, you really should take time out of a Disney day to let your kids play in these gardens.
** Butterfly garden. Look for a tented structure near the center of Epcot and you’ll spot the butterfly garden, where you can step inside and see butterflies in the various stages of development and many flying freely in the tent. In addition, the plants and flowers are chosen to attract butterflies, so you can learn how to grow your backyard butterfly garden. Plus, sponsor GoGosqueeZ usually has a booth nearby where employees are handing out samples.
** Tinker Bell’s house. For the last several years, the Tinker Bell topiary has been perched outside the butterfly garden and nearby is a replica of her home, which features an overturned teacup just like in the movies! The house was built by two Florida artists who have helped create several pieces in the festival each year. Years ago, the festival featured topiaries and miniature houses for all the Disney Fairies, and my young children would spend hours studying them. We wish every year they would be brought back!
** Outdoor Kitchens. Who doesn’t like to eat?! Recognizing the popularity of its fall Food and Wine Festival, Walt Disney World introduced similar food booths at its spring festival. The booths are situated around the World Showcase promenade, allowing guests to walk and sample the appetizer-size portions and sip beverages. You can peruse the full menus for 2016 here. We were happy to see some of our favorites returning: Pulled Pig Sliders; Watermelon Salad with Pickled Onions, BW Farm Arugula, Feta Cheese and Balsamic Reduction; Frushi; Candied Strawberries; and Dole Whips.
What are you looking forward to at Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival? Tell us in the comments!