To mark 23 years of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, Walt Disney World announced on Nov. 19. The annual spring event will expand to 90 days next year, up from 75 days, and will take place between March 2 and May 30, 2016.
When the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival returns to the theme park, the event will again offer special gardens and floral displays, Disney character topiaries, home and gardening seminars, and live concerts. The event will also continue to offer its more recent addition: Outdoor Kitchens, a small-scale food festival that concentrates on farm-fresh flavors as well as sweet and savory bites.
The Disney character topiaries, always a popular draw for guests of all ages, offer nearly 100 on display around the park. Donald Duck’s high-energy nephews – Huey, Dewey and Louie – make their debut at the 2016 festival. The trio will join their Uncle Donald and Daisy Duck at Epcot’s front entrance with designs inspired by the 1943 comic book “The Victory Garden.”
The Mickey Mouse topiary also gets a new look next year, appearing as Ranger Mickey for the first time. The topiary will honor the centennial anniversary of the National Parks Service, which was launched in 1916 to manage the U.S. national parks and to preserve and conserve some of the nation’s most scenice natural resources. Ranger Mickey will be on display in Future World, a location that will allow guests to take their photo with the topiary against a Spaceship Earth backdrop.
The Outdoor Kitchens, now in their fourth year at Epcot International Flower & Garden, Festival will add some new food and beverage offerings. Complimentary Garden Passports, similar to those with Epcot’s fall food and wine event, will encourage guests to taste their way around World Showcase.
“Adding 15 extra days to this year’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival gives park guests more time to enjoy all the variety our festival has to offer,” says Melissa Valiquette, Epcot vice president in a press statement. “The festival has become a spring tradition for many who can’t wait to try fresh flavors at our Outdoor Kitchens, dance in their seats at Garden Rocks concerts, explore stunning garden exhibits, grab photo ops with colorful Disney character topiaries and experience memory-making family fun.”
With many elements of the 2016 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival yet to be revealed, Disney did provide some early information about what to expect. Walt Disney World guests may look forward to the following:
- A Floral Sun garden, which will be located behind Spaceship Earth, sets the thematic scene for Future World. The landscape will use golden colors and yellow “sunbursts.” Twinkling lights at the festival gardens add some nighttime sparkle.
- The showcasing of festival exhibits continues after sunset. Illuminated topiary and play gardens will offer an after-dark experience and emphasize how different the park looks at night.
- A “Fab Five” play garden for children – featuring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto and Donald Duck topiaries – joins the festival. Its design will incorporate musical instruments into the outdoor climbing systems.
- The Butterflies on the Go garden returns next year and features the Monarch’s journey across the continent. The exhibit will again offer guests the chance to witness, if the timing is right, butterflies emerge from their chrysalises.
- Anna and Elsa topiaries, which debuted at the 2015 festival at the World Showcase Plaza, will relocate to the Norway pavilion next year. They will be on display in a scene inspired by their blockbuster film, “Frozen.”
- More than 10 mini-gardens, notably a new edible flower garden near the Morocco pavilion, will be on display.
- The Garden Rocks concert series, which offer free performances throughout the festival performed by well-known pop bands. Collectively, these acts represent four musical decades.
- At the Festival Center in Epcot’s Future World, Disney gardeners will provide weekend how-to Gardening Seminars, while guest experts will offer complimentary seminars on a range of gardening and outdoor living topics. The Festival Center, formers the Wonders of Life pavilion, also houses festival merchandise.
The 23rd Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is included with regular Epcot admission. More information will be available at EpcotInSpring.com as the event draws nearer. As of this writing, Walt Disney World’s website still lists May 15, 2016 as the festival’s end date.