I spent the last three days at the Flower and Garden Festival. I wanted to actually take my time and smell the roses (I know, a really rotten pun!) so to speak and to see the differences from last year’s festival. The 2011 Festival seemed much brighter and vibrant this year, with a host of new character topiaries and a new sponsor: cable’s popular HGTV. Of course, the “Flower Power” concerts are still here, and the butterfly pavilion is much larger also. It’s located behind Club Cool, and it’s themed after the classic Disney film, Bambi.
The one thing many guests forget about or maybe just don’t know is the Festival Center. This is right next to Ellen’s Energy Adventure in the old Wonders of Life Pavilion. Inside are many exhibits and demonstrations by HGTV, the festivals new sponsor. There are also many items for purchase, all garden related. In the center, you will see and hear some of HGTV’s gardening and designing experts. Some of the celebrities you will see are Vern Yip, Genevieve Gordo, John Gidding, Lisa LaPorta, and Frank Fontana. These popular experts will appear onstage every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the 75 day festival to share tips and advice and some of their “Secrets” you will not want to miss. At the Greenhouse stage in the center, you can hear Disney Gardening experts who can help your “Garden Grow.” They will be available weekdays at 11:00am and 2:00pm.
Don’t forget that at many of the Pavilions, there are additional exhibits and tours. England is again giving tours of the Tea Garden. These tours are available Monday-Thursday at 4pm and 6pm and Friday-Saturday at 2pm, 4pm and 6:30pm. France again is hosting the “Lift and Sniff” garden tour by the perfumers Guerlain where you can smell the flowers used in making the scents. The tour will help you make “Scents” of it all! (I know, I can’t help myself) Tours are given every day at 2pm, 4pm and 6pm. Other interesting exhibits are the Chinese Zodiac exhibit, where small topiaries representing the signs of the zodiac are scattered about. If there is one exhibit you should not miss it’s the tribute to Disney’s new movie, “African Cats.” This stunning sculpture is made entirely out of sand, it’s really breathtaking. It’s located along the Rose walk path. Another great exhibit is Rapunzel’s Tower, located between Germany and Italy. The tower is amazing and is actually a nod to Disney’s Movie “Tangled”
For the kids, there is a “Sounds of Nature” exhibit next to the Pixie Hollow Garden. You approach different stations, and you can hear different nature sounds. There is also a cool music device where you can play your own tune. There is also a large “Jungle Jim” on the Rose Walk path back to Spaceship Earth where the kids can climb and get rid of excess energy. Check in at the Festival Center for other activities.
One of the big hits of the Festival is the “Flower Power” concert series held at the American Gardens Theater. You can listen to free concerts from some of the classic groups of the 60s and 70s. Here is a tentative list of the performances (Remember, this list could change at any time)
- 3/25 – 3/27 Melissa Manchester (new in 2011)
- 3/4 – 3/6 Jose Feliciano
- 3/11 – 3/13 The Guess Who
- 3/18 – 3/20 Chubby Checker and the Wildcats
- 4/1 – 4/3 Starship starring Mickey Thomas
- 4/08 – 4/10 Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. (new in 2011)
- 4/15 – 4/17 Juice Newton (new in 2011)
- 4/22 – 4/24 Ricky Nelson Remembered featuring The Nelsons
- 4/29 – 5/1 Paul Revere & The Raiders
- 5/6 – 5/8 Davy Jones
- 5/13 – 5/15 Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone.
It was originally touted that there were going to be many “new” character topiaries. Although Buzz Lightyear and Woody were at the entrance, I did not see that many additions. There was also supposed to be characters from the Disney hit “Cars,” but I saw none. The festival had its beautiful flora displays, and with the addition of HGTV’s celebrities, this is growing (Another bad one!) to be one of EPCOT’S best Flower and Garden Festivals yet. Over the past three days, other than the missing character topiaries, I think Disney did a bang-up job this year, and I am already looking forward to seeing what surprises await us next year.
No matter how anyone tries to explain the Festival, nothing can do it justice except a visit in person. Next to that, pictures! I have uploaded some I believe will give you an idea of just how beautiful this festival is…
Contributed by: Bill I. (NDH #35). Bill is our resident historian.