Yesterday the 2012 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival began. From now until May 20, Epcot guests can enjoy presentations by HGTV personalities and the Flower Power Concert Series, which features acts from the 1960s and 1970s. Even if guests don’t seek out the festival-related events, they can’t help but notice the Disney character topiaries that can be found throughout Future World and World Showcase during the event.
Here are a few of my and my friend’s photos of the topiaries from the 2010 and 2011 festivals.
If you love gardening, this festival is clearly for you, but if you don’t happen to be in Disney during the event, you can find gardening-related activities in the parks all throughout the year. Here are seven things to do in Walt Disney World if you love gardening.
1. Plaza Rose Garden
While beautiful flowers and foliage can be found all over Walt Disney World, one often overlooked spot is the Plaza Rose Garden in Magic Kingdom. It’s located just off the bridge to Tomorrowland from the Hub. Wander through and enjoy looking at the wide variety of species of roses.
As I mentioned earlier, topiaries are a big part of the annual Flower & Garden Festival in Epcot, but they can also be found throughout the year scattered throughout the theme parks. Here are a few examples.
3. Living with the Land
If your garden features produce rather than flowers, you’ll love Living with the Land. This boat ride is all about agriculture, and it takes you through greenhouses where you can see a variety of growing techniques. The food grown there is actually served in the restaurants in the Land Pavilion. Keep an eye out for pumpkins and other fruits and vegetables that are “earning their ears.”
4. Behind the Seeds at Epcot
If you want to learn more after experiencing Living with the Land, sign up for the Behind the Seeds walking tour, which takes you through the greenhouses you rode through on the boat ride. You’ll get to see the plants up close and even release some lady bugs. The tour lasts an hour and currently costs $18 per adult and $14 per child.
5. Gardens of the World tour
This is the one item on today’s list that is only available during the Flower & Garden Festival. This tour, led by a horticulture expert, takes you through the countries of World Showcase, showing the unique landscaping in each. Your guide also talks about horticulture techniques used throughout Walt Disney World and provides gardening tips you can use back home. This tour lasts about three hours and is $60 per person.
6. Wild by Design tour
If you prefer your gardens a little more naturalistic and less orderly than those in World Showcase, you might enjoy the Wild by Design tour of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. On this tour, you learn about how the Disney team transformed Florida wetlands into the lush jungle and grassy savannah areas you see in the park today. This tour is three hours long and is $60 per person.
While you’re in Animal Kingdom, you’ll want to try to spot the “plant” that comes alive: DiVine. I’ve mentioned her on several posts (on street theater and costuming), so I won’t go into detail here, but it’s worth seeking her out.
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The number of tours on today’s list makes it impossible to have all of these experiences in one day, so you can pick and choose which ones are most essential for you or stretch your gardening-themed vacation over a few days. (I vote for the latter!)
Before your trip, you’ll need to consider the tour times and make your reservations by calling (407) WDW-TOUR. Wild by Design is usually offered on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 8:30 a.m. During the Flower & Garden Festival, Gardens of the World is normally offered Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 9 a.m. Behind the Seeds is offered much more frequently. You can sign up for same-day tours at the desk located near Soarin’.
Your tours will determine which park you go to when. Just make sure you stop off in Magic Kingdom to see the Plaza Rose Garden and look out for DiVine while you’re in Animal Kingdom. Keep your eye out for interesting topiaries wherever you go.
If you could go on any of the tours I talked about today, which one would you pick?