WW GOES TO WDW at Yesterland.com
Photo of 2007 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival
An Epcot Food & Wine Festival Fan
Visits the 2007 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

 
Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, visits the
14th Annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

 
June 1, 2007

The 2007 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival will end this weekend on Sunday, June 3, after a 60-day run—and then the 2007 edition will be history. That’s my excuse for writing about it at Yesterland.

Although my wife and I have been to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival each fall for eight years, this year was our first visit to the Flower & Garden Festival. I couldn’t help but make mental comparisons between the two festivals.

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Flowers and Topiaries

There’s a lot of impressive landscaping at Epcot all year long, but for the Flower & Garden Festival, they kick it up a notch (or actually several notches). According to a Disney press release, “In all, there will be more than 70 topiaries—plus 30 million blooms, artfully designed floral beds, expertly crafted bonsai trees and lush rose gardens gracing the 300 acres of Future World and World Showcase.”

I didn’t count the flowers to make sure there were really 30 million blooms.

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The Crocodile from Peter Pan is one of many pirate-themed topiaries.

Guests can pick up a free Flower & Garden Festival Guide booklet. It’s 24 pages, with a map highlighting dozens of locations for plant displays, tours, events, and other festival features.

Photo of 2007 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival
Spectacular flower beds slope down to the ponds of Future World.

Using the booklet, you can make sure you don’t miss a thing. Or you can just walk slowly, open your eyes, and look for the many large and small features of the Festival.

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Delicate flowers surround Tinker Bell in her Fairy Garden.

There are small, temporary signs everywhere explaining what you’re seeing. Most signs are on temporary exhibits for the Festival. But there are also temporary signs on permanent Epcot landscaping.

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Growing Future Gardeners had a playground for kids and tours for adults.

There were several playgrounds at the Festival. It made me wonder why Epcot doesn’t have a permanent playground for its young guests.

Photo of 2007 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival
Minnie’s Magnificent Butterfly Garden...
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...is a walk-in butterfly house.

Each country in Epcot’s World Showcase has one or more temporary exhibits for the Flower & Garden Festival

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The art of Penjing is the Chinese counterpart to the Japanese art of Bonsai.

I wonder how many people just run past all the extra touches in World Showcase?

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Colorful Italian container gardens give Italy a festive look.

The container gardens in Italy are right up front, while the orchids in Mexico are hidden along the side entrance path.

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The Guerlain perfume company gives tours through the Fragrance Garden in France.

Many of the temporary exhibits are sponsored. For example, Rain Bird teaches you about sprinkling and Guerlain teaches you about the flowers that go into perfume.

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Flower Power Concert Series

If you’ve been to the Eat to the Beat concert series during the Food & Wine Festival, the Flower Power concert series will seem familiar. In both series, the performers are almost always popular music acts who had big hits several decades ago. An act appears three times each evening at the America Gardens Theatre for three or four days before there’s a new act. There’s no charge for the concerts beyond Epcot admission.

Photo of 2007 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival
José Feliciano is still a great performer almost 40 years after Light My Fire.

I caught three acts. José Feliciano proved that his vocal and guitar skills are still in top form; he was so good that we attended José Feliciano concerts two nights in row (and they were both different, except for the obligatory Light My Fire). Regrettably, 75-year old Petula Clark no longer has much of a voice, but the audience gave her a standing ovation anyway. Davy Jones (who will always be stuck with the name “Davy Jones of the Monkees”) is a skillful performer who knows how to work a crowd and never stops moving. I tried to take pictures of Davy Jones, but they all turned out blurry.

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The Festival Center

Epcot old-timers will remember a large counter service restaurant called the Odyssey between the Mexico pavilion and Future World. The building is still there, but it’s closed to guests much of the year, giving the appearance of a defunct restaurant.

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Flower child Mickey Mouse on a sign at Epcot’s Odyssey Center.

In reality, it’s now the Odyssey Center for special events and it’s used intensively during the Food & Wine Festival and Flower & Garden Festival. (It’s also used for catered events throughout the year.)

During the Festival, Epcot’s Odyssey Center is the Garden Odyssey Festival Center.

Photo of 2007 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival
Author and radio host Tom McCubbin discusses edible landscaping.

Every week, the Festival Center presents a “Great American Gardener” (who appears twice a day for three days) and a “Disney Gardening at Home” presentation (twice a day for five days). We saw a presentation on edible landscaping by Tom McCubbin one week and a 45-minute sales pitch for Guerlain fragrances by Guerlain’s Raymond Western another week. Both men have excellent presentation skills, so we enjoyed them.

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Special Weekends

Every weekend is a “themed weekend,” with themes such as Garden Party Weekend or I Dig Bugs Weekend. The descriptions on the official Walt Disney World website and in the Festival Guide made them sound promising. We were there for Cinco de Mayo Weekend and part of Mother’s Day Weekend.

For the Cinco de Mayo Weekend, Disney promised the following:

“Discover the history behind the holiday. Visit the Mexico Pavilion to find fun-filled activities for kids and special beverages to commemorate this Mexican celebration!”

I saw the KidCot table where kids could make paper flowers, but it didn’t look any different than a regular KidCot activity. I went inside the Mexico pavilion to look for the “special beverages.” After seeing nothing unusual inside, I started asking cast members. They weren’t aware of any “special beverages.” Finally, one of them directed me to the margarita stand that’s always there outside the pavilion—selling exactly the same drinks they always sell.

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The always terrific Mariachi Cobre group performed against a Cinco de Mayo background.

Actually, as the picture above shows, there were some festive piñatas and a Cinco de Mayo sign outside the pavilion. They were nice decorations, but, in my opinion, it takes more to make a special “themed weekend” than a few decorations—especially when there are so many ways that Disney could have celebrated Cinco de Mayo.

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Mother’s Day weekend featured creative floral displays in the Odyssey.

For the Mother’s Day Weekend, Disney promised the following:

Celebrate Mom’s special day! Don’t forget to make your reservations for the Mother’s Day Brunch in World ShowPlace. Space is limited, so call (407) WDW-DINE today! Stop by the Festival Center and see beautiful floral arrangements in the Mother’s Day floral display. And since this is her day, Moms are treated to a beautiful wearable flower, exclusively on May 13th.

We left Saturday night before the actual Mother’s Day, but the whole weekend was themed around Mother’s Day, right? Not really. We found the floral displays in two corners of the Odyssey Center. Some of the arrangements were quite striking, but they hardly made for a “themed weekend.”

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Conclusion

If I lived in Central Florida or I happened to be there during the Flower & Garden Festival, I’d make it a point to check out the flowers and topiaries. However, I wouldn’t plan a trip specifically to see the Flower & Garden Festival.

The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is a different story. Talented chefs and winemakers who share their knowledge... Delicious foods paired with the perfect wines... The opportunity to broaden ones knowledge and try new foods and beverages... That’s why we’ve gone eight year in a row. (See 2006, 2002, 2002 page 2, and 2001.)

Oh, and they even have some great flowers and topiaries during the Food & Wine Festival.


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© 2007-2008 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks
 
Updated December 19, 2008.
 
Photographs of Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival by Werner Weiss, 2007.