Next weekend, Palm Beach Happening will dive head first into Walt Disney World fun, experiencing the wilds of Pandora, the grasslands of sub-saharan Africa, the wintry majesty of Norway as well as the only ski resort in Central Florida turned waterpark.
However, the primary focus of our trip is exploring the food, flowers, and fresh festival fun during the 25th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Thirty million multi-hued blooms, 70-plus whimsical topiaries, nearly 1,000 native butterflies and dozens of new Outdoor Kitchen food and beverage tastes add multi-sensory festival fun to the “Fresh Epcot”-themed Walt Disney World Resort event.
Among this year’s fun festival facts:
30 million blooms blanket the park throughout the festival, which runs 90 colorful days and requires two complete crop rotations to keep floral displays fresh and seasonal.
15 Outdoor Kitchens include the new Honey-Beestro Outdoor Kitchen and garden hosted by the National Honey Board. Each Outdoor Kitchen features a garden planted with select produce and herbs to represent more than 70 overall beverage choices and more than 40 featured food items.
The festival’s front-entrance welcome garden with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto and Goofy features more than 30 varieties of flowers, plants, and other garden materials used to create the scene.
The new Imagination Play Garden brings a themed playground for children of all ages with its musical maze, net play climber and lush natural landscape – it is one of the largest festival gardens created at nearly one-third acre.
Anna and Elsa in cool floral splendor return to grace a wintry topiary vignette straight from the hit Disney film, “Frozen” and the Norway pavilion attraction Frozen Ever After. In the scene that’s wired to sparkle by night, Elsa works her magic to conjure a snowy garden filled with flowers of lavendar, white and silver. More than a dozen varieties of flowers evoke the scene and include white Dianthus, Diamond Frost Euphorbia, Dichondra Silver Falls, lavender Pentas, blue Delphinium and white Cleome, Pentas, Alyssum and Nicotiana. Anna and Elsa topiaries are each about 6-1/2 feet tall and are created with plants that include variegated Ficus, green Ficus and the succulent Sedum Coral Reef.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs topiaries bring their classic country charm to the Germany pavilion. Belle and Beast topiaries are ready for ballroom magic at the France pavilion. Snow White, Belle, Anna and Elsa are all next-generation topiary stars that replaced, in the past several years, earlier “leading-lady” topiaries which had undefined facial features.
At least 25 different plants, grasses and mosses of various colors, including pink and red begonias, dusty miller, palm fiber, palm seeds, ficus and lichen, are used to create and define facial and other features of festival character topiaries. The topiary team uses about 200 one-pound boxes of hairpins to attach plants and flowers to the topiaries.
Nearly 1,000 native butterflies represent up to 10 species at the expansive Goodness Garden Butterfly House presented by GoGo squeeZ. Among the garden’s two dozen nectar plants are passion flower, lantana, butterfly bush, blue porterweed, scarlet milkweed and canna lily.
More than 500,000 plants, trees and shrubs are planted for the festival; 250,000 of those are annual blossoms installed for the festival.
Festival plants include 60 different species of trees, 25 types of palms, and 48 varieties of bedding plants.
More than 20 8-to-9-foot tall, multi-hued “flower towers” make colorful statements across the festival landscape.
More than 140 floating mini-gardens, each three feet in diameter, of multi-hued New Guinea impatiens provide splashes of color on two ponds that border the walkway between Future World and World Showcase and in the Canada pavilion pond.
Nearly 800 container gardens of flowers, herbs, plants and vegetables in clay pots, barrels and urns enhance the landscape throughout Epcot.
400 Walt Disney World horticulturists are needed to install the festival landscape, topiaries and many exhibits; 100 Epcot horticulturists maintain topiaries and other festival displays.
It takes more than one full year and about 24,000 cast member hours to prepare for the annual festival.
The festival’s weekend Garden Rocks Concert Series includes 17 bands known for their Top 40 hits across five decades. This year’s musical hit-makers from the 1960s through 2000s include new-to-the-festival acts Foghat and Lonestar!
Guest information for the 25th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is available at EpcotInSpring.com or at 407/W-DISNEY. Check out the #FreshEpcot tag on Twitter and Instagram for more fun facts.
We’ll also be exploring the trend of special lounges in the parks, including the expansion of Club 33 to the east coast, the DVC Lounge, and more. Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Twitter as we explore the “world.”