Walt Disney World has announced details and dates for the 2021 Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival. In this post, we’ll share everything we know thus far, plus the extent to which this “taste of” event resembles the normal full festival.
As you might recall, this year’s EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival debuted on the same day that Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway has its grand opening back at the beginning of March. Even then, hand sanitizer stations had already popped up around the parks and Disney’s Asia parks had already begun indefinite closures. Still, none of that had much impact on Walt Disney World; guests were largely unfazed.
One week later, Tom Hanks made the announcement heard ’round the world and the NBA abruptly stopped its season. By the next day, the national mood had changed considerably as event after event was cancelled and things closed, including Walt Disney World. In total, EPCOT’s Flower & Garden Festival ran for less than two weeks…
Making up for lost time, this will be the longest EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival ever. The event will run from March 3 to July 5, 2021, starting a day earlier and ending over a full month later than this year’s event was intended to run.
While we’d caution against reading too much into the longer duration, that’s exactly what we did immediately upon seeing the end date. Here’s some idle and futile speculation. (Skip down to the troll photo if you don’t want to waste your time with it.)
Our immediate reaction is that Walt Disney World wants to buoy attendance at a time of year that’s normally slow for EPCOT. Extending the end date from the beginning of June until July will help accomplish that.
However, it also suggests that perhaps Walt Disney World won’t have anything else to help bolster attendance, like Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure or Space 220 Restaurant.
Although we have nothing to support this, it’s our belief that Walt Disney World will not open anything big until things are close to normal, with minimal limits to capacity, physical distancing, etc. As we’ve noted repeatedly, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure could’ve been open by now–it’s not a matter of construction delays, it’s a deliberate choice.
Running the modified “Taste of” event until early July and not revealing an opening date or even season for new additions to EPCOT coming next year could mean that Walt Disney World doesn’t think things will be back to normal by Summer 2021.
It’s also possible that we’re reading too much into this. That Walt Disney World does have a Spring 2021 target in mind for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure but isn’t ready to announce yet “just in case” or for whatever other reason.
It’s also possible that extending the EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival to overlap with the potential opening of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is a deliberate choice being made to capture more of that sweet, sweet food & beverage money during a time when attendance is likely to surge.
It’s worth noting, however, that the same calculation was not made this year–EPCOT’s Flower & Garden Festival would’ve ended shortly before Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure was slated to open. This is part of the reason why we think the festival’s protracted duration is a signal that Walt Disney World does not currently plan to open Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure by July 5, 2021.
Hopefully we’re wrong about all of that, though. (Hey, don’t say we didn’t warn you that this was idle and futile speculation!)
As for concrete details, Walt Disney World has announced that fan-favorite character topiaries are coming back. Ones mentioned include Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Remy, Anna & Elsa, Lady & the Tramp, Figment, and more.
Walt Disney World’s Horticulture team is busy planting, pruning and planning now for the kaleidoscope of bright blooms and floating gardens scattered throughout EPCOT, with each one making a perfect backdrop for family photos.
With more than 20 stops, World Showcase will play host to the Taste of EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival’s Outdoor Kitchens and other food & beverage locations, offering a smorgasbord of flavors and beverages.
For comparison, this year’s event had 13 Outdoor Kitchens, which was the most ever. It sounds like another increase for next year, although it’s unclear how many of the 20 “stops” will be Outdoor Kitchens and how many will be existing snack stands with special menu items.
Additionally, gardeners of all ages will be invited to participate in Spike’s Pollen Nation Exploration — a springtime scavenger hunt starring Spike, the buzzzz-iest honeybee at Walt Disney World.
There will also be festival-specific merchandise throughout EPCOT. Perhaps even some from this year’s event, as there’s still a ton of unsold inventory. (Too bad it’s dated!)
What was announced today sounds like the bulk of the event minus the Garden Rocks concert series. In a normal year, classic rock bands take to the stage in America Gardens Theatre in World Showcase (near the American Adventure) for three concerts each night.
Given that this is held in the same venue as the previously-cancelled Candlelight Processional and Disney on Broadway, and involves singing, our expectation is that this will also be cancelled. However, it also doesn’t help sell dining packages, so it might still be cut for budgetary considerations.
Ultimately, we’re reasonably satisfied with the tentative lineup for the 2021 Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival. Without question, the 2021 event will be scaled back as compared to this year or any previous incarnation of the event, but the losses are mostly no big deal since the heart of the event revolves around the horticulture. So long as there aren’t cutbacks to those displays (and there’s no guarantee on that front), it should come pretty close to resembling the full event.
While an announcement right now would be premature, our biggest hope is that this is the last “Taste of” EPCOT event. We’re optimistic and eager to resume normalcy, and even July 2021 is a later timeline than we’d like to see for that. (Although it’s probably a more realistic one than what we’d like to see.) Regardless, here’s hoping that Walt Disney World has more announcements to come for Spring and Summer 2021 at EPCOT.
Did you attend Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival in the week or so it ran this year? Are you excited to experience the 2021 Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival, or will you be sitting this one out? Think the Garden Rocks concert series will happen? Any tips you want to share to make the most of the experience? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!