2019 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival: First Impressions & Photos

Epcot’s 2019 Flower & Garden Festival is now underway at Walt Disney World! We were on hand for the opening day of the event, and spent a half-day wandering the park, admiring the topiaries and perfectly-manicured gardens. In this post, we’ll share some thoughts and, more importantly, photos of Epcot in full bloom.

One thing we won’t be doing is reviewing every single Outdoor Kitchen food booth. I feel like we just did that for Festival of the Arts, and I’m not ready to go down that tedious and time-consuming road again. Plus, it’s a bit disingenuous to write that food isn’t essential to enjoying the event (it really isn’t!)…and then proceed to do 20 posts about food and cover literally nothing else.

Suffice to say, we did graze our way around the new Outdoor Kitchens, and I’ll probably write a post about those, but for opening day of Flower & Garden, we put our money where our money is (so to speak, since it’s actually free) and spent the bulk of our time wandering the park and embracing the vibrant spring ambiance. That’s more or less what we’re going to share in this post…

Following this, we’ll also be updating our Ultimate Guide to the 2019 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival post over the next week or so after we’ve done a few more things.

For now, we wanted to drop in with a preliminary report covering the highs and the lows of the first day of the second event of Festival Season at Epcot.

I had been anxiously awaiting this day for a while. Well, probably more like a week, but that’s a decent amount of anticipation for me. It started when I saw the 7-day forecast, which called for cooling temperatures. This is a rarity for opening days of Festival Season, as it seems like Dionysus (first result when Googling “god of festivals”) orders intense humidity as a test of blogger devotion for these sorts of things.

My elation upon waking up to ~40 degree weather fizzled out before even arriving at Epcot. Apparently, everyone had the exact same idea as me, with bag-check and turnstiles lines worse than they were when we arrived on New Year’s Eve. Opening day for any of these events always sees a modest spike in crowds, but this was unlike anything I’ve seen. The theme throughout the day was definitely great weather, atrocious crowds.

Fortunately, we had made a couple visits to Epcot in the last week as the topiaries were going up, so I wasn’t totally out of luck in terms of getting photos without people in the background.

Here are some random images of Epcot in bloom for Flower & Garden Festival:

Lines at the Outdoor Kitchens were also really long, but nothing compared to the Citrus Blossom, where the Orange Bird souvenir sipper is being sold. This booth opened at 11 a.m., and the line began forming about 2 hours before then.

The line hovered around 45 minutes to an hour long while we were at Epcot. I’m guessing this will die down once the eBayers all purchase their inventory and move onto the next thing. (For what it’s worth, Cast Members indicated they have 45,000 of these…so they should last at least a week or so.)

The front entrance display, consisting simply of butterflies, is the weakest we’ve seen…ever? The explanation for this is probably pretty simple, and that’s the commencement of work on the removal of Leave a Legacy and the front entrance redesign.

Permits have been filed for “Project G” which is the codename for the front entrance and central spine redesign. It’s highly likely work will begin prior to June 2019 on this (it starting this month is a realistic possibility), in which case it doesn’t make sense to have a congestion-inducing topiary display in this flower bed.

One thing we intended upon doing was seeing Mariachi Cobre perform the “Story of Coco,” which started today. I showed up shortly before showtime, which was pretty naive in itself on such a busy day. I couldn’t get within 15 feet of the band, and could barely get through the area.

For what it appears, the next show was even worse:

Obviously, Disney couldn’t plan for the weather drawing out the local crowd in full force a month in advance when this was first announced on the Disney Parks Blog. Regardless, debuting this on the same day as a new special event in Epcot’s worst chokepoint was probably never the wisest idea.

It’ll be interesting to see whether the afternoon showtimes are eliminated, or if this is relocated to the meet & greet area off to the side of the pavilion. I’m not sure whether there’s sufficient space over there, either.

Given the atypical crowds, I’m not sure there are many takeaways from our experience that are applicable to those of you attending at a later date. Lines at the Outdoor Kitchens shouldn’t be this long on weekdays after the initial surge, nor should overall congestion be this bad.

We were planning on heading back to Epcot tomorrow morning for more photos and other updates, but the weather forecast is similarly good and it’s only the second day, so we’ll probably hold off. A couple weeks from now, things shouldn’t be nearly as bad.

In terms of ranking the Epcot festivals, it’s difficult for me once we get beyond Festival of the Arts (the undisputed champion) and Food & Wine Festival (by far my least favorite), it’s tough to choose. Flower & Garden and Festival of the Holidays are both really enjoyable for different reasons, but substantively lacking as compared to what they offered in the not-so-distant past.

Nevertheless, I’m glad they’re still offered, as they are both nice free offerings that are nice upgrade and change of pace from Diet Epcot. In particular, Flower & Garden is colorful and beautiful, and definitely makes Epcot feel more alive…which is definitely something this park can use.

Ultimately, this is just the opening act of the 2019 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. After the initial influx of guests during this really nice weather, we’re planning a few return trips early on to get our “fix” before the heat and humidity really get out of hand. We still have a lot more to experience during the event, and will have future posts about the festivities. From today alone, I have literally 200+ unedited topiary photos, and I’ll likely have a ton more by the end of the event. For now, we hope this post has offered you a good primer to Epcot’s 2019 Flower & Garden Festival!

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Your Thoughts

Are you planning to check out the 2019 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival? Ever done ‘opening day’ at one of these events? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment of this festival’s first day, or any other thoughts about it? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

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