Park Hopper's Flower & Garden Festival Trip Report


#1

DW and I just adore the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. The F&G Festival and the Food & Wine Festival in the fall are our two favorite events of the year. Every year I say F&G is bigger and more beautiful than the previous year, and 2006 is no exception. The park is alive with the color of millions of beautiful blooms accented by numerous displays of charming character topiaries.

Friday was the opening day of the Festival, and the first thing that greets you as you pass through the turnstiles is the stunning Tunnel of Love topiary “Crazy Over Daisy” featuring Donald and Daisy sailing through heart-shaped arches. It’s truly amazing what the Disney folks can do with flowers and plants.

Before everyone starts asking for pictures, we didn’t feel like being burdened with a camera on our first day (a wise choice since it later rained quite a bit) but we’ll be back out numerous times during the coming weeks and will be sure to post some photos.

We got to Epcot about 1:30 and headed straight to see Paul James, the Premiere Weekend’s special guest in the Great American Gardeners series. Paul James is the host of HGTV’s “Gardening By The Yard,” and he’s just as down-to-earth and funny in person as he is on his TV show. He did an hour-long Q&A with the audience in sweltering 90-degree heat but still managed to make people forget how uncomfortable the outdoor venue was.

In past years the Great American Gardeners series has been held inside the Festival Center at Innoventions West, but much of that space has been taken up by the new Character Connection that replaced the Character Caravan bus. If Friday’s heat was any indication, moving the Gardeners series outdoors was a really bad idea. Paul James even mentioned that WDW officials were contemplating either moving the venue indoors or setting up big fans outside for the next day’s shows.

After listening to Paul James, we went inside the Festival Center and checked out the gardening merchandise and artwork. Every year we find something we like – this time it was a pair of beautiful bas-relief colored tiles with flowers and butterflies.

We had planned on going to the 5:45 Flower Power Concert with Nelson (Rick Nelson’s children) and began a slow walk around World Showcase to look at all the beautiful displays. We got as far as France when the skies opened and delivered the first significant rain Orlando has seen in a couple of months.

We took shelter in the Guerlain perfume botique (how fortunate for DW) and had to wait quite a while for the rain to let up so we could at least walk between the raindrops. We struck out again but now everything was wet and sticky, including us.

Walking towards the America Gardens Theater, we debated if we wanted to sit on wet seats (if we couldn’t get seats under cover) to listen to Nelson. We’ve seen them several times before, and although they do a great job of paying tribute to their dad’s music, they’re not on our must-see list.

As we approached the theater, the long line of people standing in the rain waiting to be admitted sealed our decision. Sorry Nelson, but it was off to an early dinner at MGM’s Hollywood & Vine.

We continued to circle World Showcase, taking in the beautiful sights, but with the weather so nasty we did a rush job and will examine things more closely on another visit.

We rarely bother with Advance Dining Reservations before we head to the parks. Usually we just check with Guest Relations after we arrive and most times we don’t have a problem getting close to what we want. Friday was no exception as we stopped by Epcot Guest Relations on our way out around 5:15 and secured two ADRs for Hollywood & Vine for 7:20.

When we arrived at Epcot it was quite crowded until the rain chased a lot of people away. It must have done the same thing at MGM because the park wasn’t crowded at all. We went to the Tune-In Lounge for a drink before dinner and were seated immediately upon checking in at 7:10.

Hollywood & Vine had its usual great buffet, but the delicious turkey pot roast no longer is on the menu. It’s been replaced by a traditional beef pot roast – very tasty, to be sure, but not quite the same. Our server also warned us that management likely is going to take the corn spoonbread (another of my favorites) off the menu, too.

MGM was open until 10 p.m., so we still had some time available after dinner. We went on one of our favorites, the Great Movie Ride (our first and only real attraction of the day), and for the first time in our experience the gangster who commandeers the guest vehicles was played by a female. It was an interesting change. It’s funny, though, because of all the times we’ve been on the ride, we’ve seen the cowboy version only once.

After GMR we just wandered around for awhile, stopping in at Tatooine Traders to look at Star Wars merchandise, and then ended up at The Write Stuff, one of our favorite shops. There, much to our surprise, we found the Mickey tape dispenser that completes the office set we bought at Christmas at World of Disney.

They were out of the tape dispenser when we bought the items, and we found out later that the set was being test-marketed. The dispenser wasn’t expected to be offered when the set was marketed to the general public. At any rate, it was a very pleasant way to end our day.


#2

Sounds like you had a wonderful day, even with the rain! I also love all the flowers at Epcot. Thanks for telling us about your day trip. :happy:


#3

Excellent report as always PH. I look forward to seeing some pictures the next time you and DW go. Thanks for sharing. :wub:


#4

I can’t wait to see everything! Thanks for the report! Great, as usual, PH!


#5

It sounds like you had a wonderful day. We are going to be at Epcot for the F&G festival for the first time next month. I can’t wait to see it, it sounds so beautiful.


#6

Thanks for the report! I envy you being able to visit Epcot during the Flower & Garden Festival. That’s been one of my dreams for a long time.


#7

Don’t forget to pick up a Flower & Garden Festival guide when you go. The way the guide is organized makes it woefully lacking when it comes to being able to quickly and easily find exactly where events are taking place but at least it gives you the basics so you can form a game plan of what you’d like to do.


#8

Thanks for the report! I had a day trip to Epcot a week or so ago and I got surprised by the F&GF… I didn’t know it was going to be there! The flowers were gorgeous, but we didn’t get to look around at much. Reading your report about all the booths and things they have set up makes me want to go back and explore it more.

I’m curious… do you know if it has a certain theme each year? I don’t get to hit it every single year, so it’s hard for me to tell if they’re using the same designs each time or if they come up with all new ones.


#9

Hi Hopper… Your reports are great! I wanted to mention that we had the endive and grape salad at H&V this year, and we loved it! I have now made it for guests at our home several times, and they think I am a genius! I may never tell them I stole the idea from H&V!


#10

There’s certainly no reason to spill the beans . . . or grapes. :dry:


#11

There’s not really a different overall theme each year to the entire festival but instead each weekend has its own theme. Epcot uses some of the same topiary characters each year but their locations change. There also are new topiaries every year, too, highlighted by the signature display that greets guests after they pass through the turnstiles.

Here’s the lineup of this year’s themed weekends:

April 21, 22 & 23 – Premiere - Be among the first to see the 13th annual Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival!

April 28, 29, & 30 – Party in the Garden

May 5, 6, & 7 – Art in the Garden - Get a unique look at nature through the eyes of “Plein Air” artists (May 6 & 7) and see one-of-a-kind works of art by Art in the Garden artists. Be sure not to miss the “Kid’s Paint Out.” (Future World West)

May 12, 13, & 14 – Mother’s Day

May 18 - 21 – Teddy Bear and Doll

May 19, 20, & 21 – Characters in Bloom - Bring the whole Family to experience a weekend full of character. More Disney Characters than ever will be springing up all over the park!

May 27, 28, & 29 – Memorial Day (Saturday, Sunday, Monday) - Don’t miss the chance to take part in an old-fashioned “field day” complete with fun games. Celebrate nature and the great outdoors and discover the joys of gardening!

June 2, 3, & 4 – I Dig Bugs - Bugs are cool! Get a close-up look at unusual critters, beneficial bees and join in a “good bug” release. Learn about garden friends who help keep our plants healthy.

June 9, 10, & 11 – Festival Farewell - Mark your calendars! Don’t miss the last chance to enjoy the Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival!

There also are many special events and activities presented throughtout the festival’s run: Great American Gardeners series, butterfly garden, fragrance garden, kid’s activities, etc. And then there are the Flower Power concerts (3 every night) featuring various oldies groups.

The F&G Festival is well worth it if you can manage a return trip.


#12

Which other concerts do you plan on going to,PH?


#13

Hey, Hopper! Thanks for the report, I LOVE reading them!

I just went to EPCOT for the first time a few days ago - and that Daisy/Donald Topiary (Crazy For Daisy?) is absolutely MAGNIFICENT!

The Lady and the Tramp and Bambi and Thumper Topiaries were amazing, too - I’m not sure what I expected, but I was in AWE over how beautiful they were!

:c)

Thanks for sharing your day with us! :heart:


#14

Thanks, Park Hopper… I didn’t know they did it that way. Very cool. :slight_smile:

All your information has me SO excited to go!!! :happy: