Flower Power

Chip-and-DaleCelebrating 24 years this spring, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival jump-starts the season with blooms aplenty and gardens of edibles through May 29. The 90-day festival features an irresistible array of new gardens and character topiaries, popular entertainers and tasty food and drink offerings.

For example, fresh, farm-market food and beverage flavors debuts at the new Northern Bloom and The Berry Basket Outdoor Kitchens that will join 13 returning outdoor kitchens. Chef-inspired bites from Northern Bloom include Seared Scallops with French Green Beans and Butter Potatoes with brown-butter vinaigrette and Applewood smoked bacon. A Maple Popcorn Shake for sipping can become an adult libation with the addition of some Crown Royal Maple Whiskey.

One of the popular Outdoor Kitchen gardens, Urban Farm Eats, will return with savory bites, sweet treats and ideas for planting produce that can inspire growing numbers of guests who want to learn to grow their own edibles. “A lot of people, including young children, are serious foodies now, and they have lots of questions about gardening,” says Eric Darden, festival horticulture manager. “We’re getting more and more people in their 20s and 30s asking, ‘How can I grow this?’ I think we’ll be creating more gardeners because people can see what’s possible.”

The new generation of princess topiaries welcomes a brand-new Belle as fans remember her from the Oscar-winning Disney film, “Beauty and the Beast.” Located outside the France Pavilion with the Beast topiary, Belle comes to life with sculpted facial features and her yellow ball gown created with golden blooming Joseph’s Coat and Creeping Jenny plants. And this year’s front-entrance topiary garden, “Welcome Spring Fun, Food and Flowers,” inspired by a vintage Walt Disney short film springs to life with a floral-festooned maypole featuring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Daisy and Pluto.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Anna and Elsa topiaries return to the Norway Pavilion festival landscape in celebration of the park’s new Frozen Ever After. Nearly 100 festival topiaries in all include up to 70 character creations such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Lady and the Tramp, Simba, Timon and Tinker Bell. Topiaries of Donald Duck and nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie share Future World space with Chip ‘n’ Dale for a “Fresh Epcot” selfie and family photo opportunity.

Three-Amigos-in-Pepper-GardenThe Garden Rocks concert series Garden Rocks concert series expands to four days each week, with three concerts each Friday through Monday presenting pop musicians that span multiple genres over five decades. Acts on the 2017 lineup include: Simple Plan, Exposé and Berlin featuring Terri Nunn, Jon Secada, Dennis DeYoung featuring the music of STYX, and Night Ranger.

Dozens of Disney-crafted “flower towers” and beds of multi-colored blooms transform the park’s landscape. At least 70,000 bedding plants surround the Future World east and west lakes alone; on the water, 220 mini-gardens will be set afloat. The festival, including all gardening programs, exhibits, concerts, complimentary English Tea Garden tours and special appearances, is included in regular Epcot admission.

For more information about the 24th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, call 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639) or visit www.epcotinspring.com.