Disney in bloom: EPCOT expands International Flower & Garden Festival


Two new spring-inspired outdoor kitchens, three mischievous Disney topiary characters and an innovative musical play garden will debut during the 23rd Annual EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival.

Happening now through May 30, 2016, the popular spring festival at Walt Disney World Resort has been expanded from 75 days to 90 days this year, presenting a myriad of horticultural exhibits, concerts, demonstrations and more. Forty 8-to-9-foot-tall Disney-crafted “flower towers” and sweeping beds of multicolored blooms will adorn the park’s landscape, with some 70,000 bedding plants surrounding the Future World east and west lakes alone. On the water, more than 200 mini-gardens will be set afloat.

On the culinary side, the new La Isla Fresca and Cider House outdoor kitchens will introduce a variety and of fresh culinary offerings at 13 festival kiosks surrounding the World Showcase Promenade. Making their topiary debut this year are Huey, Dewey and Louie, who join Uncle Donald and Aunt Daisy in the park’s front-entrance garden.

Live “Garden Rocks” concerts, meanwhile, will occur each festival weekend, with a diverse lineup featuring such acts as Gin Blossoms (May 6-8), Darlene Love (May 13-15) and The Spinners (Mary 27-30).

Highlights of the 2016 festival include:

New culinary creations at the festival’s outdoor kitchens: Disney will debut dozens of new food and beverage flavors at the festival’s 13 other outdoor kitchens, including La Isla Fresca, Cider House, Urban Farm Eats, Pineapple Promenade, Fleur de Lys, Florida Fresh, Taste of Marrakesh, Hanami, THE SMOKEHOUSE: Barbecue and Brews, Primavera Kitchen, Lotus House, Bauernmarkt and Jardin de Fiestas.

A new hands-on Music Garden Melodies musical playground. With the playground’s interactive drums, chimes and xylophones, children can create their own musical sounds when they’re not enjoying the garden’s climbing systems with safe but challenging, net-based structures. Watch for music-themed plants that add harmony to the play area. The popular Cactus Road Rally play garden also returns with Disney-Pixar topiary pals from the hit film, “Cars.”

Earth Day Weekend: From April 22-24 EPCOT celebrates the planet with special appearances and activities.

New Future World topiary garden: On the south side of Spaceship Earth, Disney gardeners will paint the landscape with a floral sun garden and yellow “sunbursts” will sprout in the new topiary garden featuring Minnie Mouse and Pluto.

Frozen fun: Anna and Elsa topiaries will travel to the Norway pavilion festival landscape following their 2015 debut along World Showcase Plaza in a scene from the blockbuster Oscar-winning animated film, “Frozen.” Nearly 100 topiary characters, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Lady and the Tramp, Simba and Peter Pan, will animate the Epcot landscape surrounded by themed gardens featuring herbs, peppers, orchids and more.