This year’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival runs March 6 to June 3 and it’s set to be ‘blooming’ with new and favorite topiaries, live music seven days a week, festive photo ops, fresh eats, and more! #FreshEpcot is one of our favorite events at the Walt Disney World Resort, so we’re thrilled to share our list of must-do’s at this year’s festival.
Before you go
Start planning now! Epcot’s festivals are much easier to navigate when you plan in advance. Here’s what we recommend doing before your trip:
Purchase Memory Maker
Before we get into the specifics for this festival, I want to drop this pro-tip that you’ll be so thankful for later! If you don’t have an annual pass, this festival is the BEST time (next to Christmas) to purchase Memory Maker. With so many beautiful topiaries, and photo ops around Epcot during this event, having Memory Maker makes capturing all of your festival memories super easy.
Memory Maker is a Disney PhotoPass program that allows you to download an unlimited number of photos taken during your trip. And these photos include all of your on-ride photos, character meet and greets, select dining experiences, and all of the PhotoPass stops around the parks (including everything from the standard shots in front of Cinderella Castle to many of the topiaries and festival-specific photo ops in Epcot)!
We always recommend Memory Maker if you can swing the added cost ($169 when purchased at least three days before your trip, $199 purchased onsite). Memory Maker is a little pricey, but it’s a great value for all that’s included, and we can’t stress enough how much happier we are with our photos from Memory Maker. That being said, if the cost isn’t going to work for your next trip, don’t hesitate to ask PhotoPass cast members to take your photos using your own camera or phone- they’ll be happy to do so and you don’t need to purchase Memory Maker or anything for them to help!
Read our Guide to Epcot’s Annual Festivals
If you’re not sure which festival is right for you, where to stay, or how much time you’ll need to devote to the event, I highly recommend checking out our Guide to Epcot’s Annual Festivals. In this post we break down all of the details you need to know to make the most of your trip, AND we’ll help you decide which festival you should book your trip around. If you don’t get to the parks often and you’re planning on a festival trip, it’s helpful to check out what makes each festival different before you book!
Review outdoor kitchen menus
I can’t stress this point enough with whichever Epcot festival you happen to be attending. Each festival comes with 30+ outdoor kitchens so you can taste your way around the park. There are some fan-favorite dishes that tend to return year after year, but in general there are so many options it can be really overwhelming if you don’t take a look at what’s available before your visit.
Before I started checking out the menus in advance, I would basically order something at the first three booths and then be too full to try anything else that day. I don’t recommend this! Look at the menus before your trip to get an idea of what booths you want to prioritize, then if you have enough time for the festival or have worked up more of an appetite you can head back for seconds!
During the festival
Grab a passport
You can pick up a festival passport from the Festival Center or from basically anywhere in the park where there are maps (by the entrance, guest relations, and most merchandise locations). The passport is a must-have because it makes navigating the festival so much easier. It contains all of the menus for the outdoor kitchens, the live music schedules, and all the other festival happenings. It also includes stickers so when you try something at an outdoor kitchen you can ‘stamp your passport’!
Take your time
Flower & Garden Festival really is all about the details, so make time to take it all in! Last year we happened upon this interactive street art (and got some photos using my Memory Maker!) but this photo spot wasn’t listed on the festival website or the passport booklet. With this festival especially, you’ll find lots of little added details like this that could otherwise easily be missed.
Other easily-missed details include the gardens that don’t have the standard character topiaries. Two of my favorite gardens are in the U.K. pavilion– the Shakespeare Garden and the Royal Tea Garden. The Shakespeare Garden is made up entirely of flowers mentioned in Shakespeare’s works, and it’s so worth taking the time to go through and read all of the quotes associated with each arrangement. The Royal Tea Garden is decorated with tea leaves and tea cups, and you can even take a FREE tour of this garden (on a first-come, first served basis) from the Twinings tea shop!
Bring your camera!
… or your phone. Whatever you use, bring it and make sure it’s charged. You’re going to want photos of all the character topiaries! And speaking of topiaries- don’t miss all the displays in Future World. Years ago most of Epcot’s festivals heavily focused on World Showcase, but within the past couple of years the festivities have really been spreading all over the park.
The morning is the best time to check out the topiaries in Future World. World Showcase doesn’t open until 11:00 am, and the majority of the guests who are in the park from 9:00-11:00 are focusing on getting the most popular rides in, not experiencing the festival. If you can start early you’ll get lots of photos in Future World before the crowds set in!
Check out the merch
Each festival comes with its own unique set of branded merchandise. If you see Flower & Garden merchandise you like, get it while you’re there. Occasionally these items will end up on the Shop Disney Parks mobile app, but it’s not usually worth taking the chance since waiting for this can be hit or miss. Sometimes pieces also end up in the Disney outlets in Orlando, but if you aren’t local tracking down the items there can be a headache.
If you’re trying to stick to a budget with souvenir shopping, prioritize festival merch. Most other Disney souvenirs you can find on the app when you’re home, so you can always buy them then. (And a lot of Disney items are still sold year after year, so you’ll likely find them on your next trip.) The festival merchandise changes each season, so if you see a design you like get it asap!
Don’t miss the live music!
The Garden Rocks concert series is included with your theme park admission! Consult your festival passport or visit freshepcot.com before your visit to see what bands are playing during your visit. Each year there are usually a couple of standouts and while they may not be the most ‘current’ artists, it’s pretty cool that these concerts are all included!
Hope this guide helps on your trip to Epcot’s most beautiful event of the year! If you have any questions or tips to add leave them below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!