Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival runs from March 4 to June 1, 2020 at Walt Disney World. This guide covers info about this spring event, everything new, our tips & tricks, what to expect, and how to maximize your time & money. (Updated February 20, 2020.)
The 27th Annual Epcot Flower & Garden Festival will run for roughly three months–90 days from early March to early June. With the 2020 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival starting in only a couple of weeks, we have some new details about what next year’s event will entail.
The first thing you need to know is that March 4, 2020 will be a very big day at Walt Disney World. Not only is it the start of Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival, but it’s also the debut of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Suffice to say, if you’re visiting WDW the first weekend or so of the event, be prepared for an influx of locals eager to experience these new offerings…
The other thing you should know is that Epcot’s Future World is a veritable construction zone right now. Entire sections of the front of the park are closed for reimagining, and it’s likely we’ll see a decrease in topiaries and flower beds up there as a result. The good news is that the mosaic flower quilt between Future World and World Showcase (pictured above) is already installed, so at least that centerpiece is returning!
If you’re looking for strategy to efficiently experience for navigating the parks amidst all of these changes, be sure to consult our Itineraries & Touring Plans for Walt Disney World. As soon as Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway opens, we’ll update that with new strategy for that, too!
2020 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival: What’s New
As an event that caters largely to locals, the 2020 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival is offering several perks to entice Annual Passholders to visit. The first is AP-exclusive magnets available at MouseGear. Passholders can receive two new complimentary magnets at this year’s festival. The Donald Duck with Spike the Bee magnet will be available March 4 to April 19, 2020 and the Orange Bird magnet will be given away April 20 to June 1, 2020.
Additionally, there’s Annual Passholder exclusive merchandise, including an all-new Orange Bird collection, plus other items featuring Donald Duck & Spike the Bee, Figment, and other characters. Annual Passholders can take advantage of their 20% discount on all Epcot Flower & Garden Festival merchandise.
For 2020, the Epcot horticulture team is working on a new Remy topiary, which will be the centerpiece of a new Ratatouille Garden at the France pavilion. This new garden will be planted with veggies used in a ratatouille recipe, and is likely to be added in the soon-to-debut expanded France pavilion area.
As you might know, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is a new family-friendly trackless dark ride being built in an expansion of the France pavilion, and is slated to debut in Summer 2020. No specific date has been set for the attraction’s debut, but progress is moving swiftly, and it very well could open towards the end of Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival!
Next, the Disney Channel Fan Fest, an interactive event featuring a trivia challenge, learn-to-draw sessions, a sneak peek at the upcoming Disney Channel Original Movie “Upside-Down Magic,” plus “Descendants” and “ZOMBIES”-themed dance parties will debut at Walt Disney World during select weekends of the 2020 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, running on May 16-17, May 23-24, and May 30-31, 2020.
Finally, Walt Disney World has confirmed that the Outdoor Kitchens, Play Garden, Family Play Zone, and the Goodness Garden Butterfly House will also all return. Additionally, returning character topiaries will include Snow White, Elsa & Anna, Belle & Beast, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Miss Piggy, and Kermit the Frog.
Here’s what else we know based upon our experience at past Epcot Flower & Garden Festivals…
2020 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival: Info & Tips
We visit Epcot for Flower & Garden Festival each year, and this guide is based upon experiences attending the event annually over the course of the last decade-plus. Every year, the highlight of Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival is the topiaries and glorious garden displays. These make Epcot pop with color and beauty, and are a wonderful enhancement to Epcot.
Obviously, there’s no additional charge to see flowers and topiaries that are arranged throughout Epcot, but it should be noted that almost everything aside from the food is included in normal Epcot admission. Most of the event is a “plussing” of Epcot at no additional charge, and this is part of why we highly recommend it.
For foodies or simply guests on the Disney Dining Plan who have snack credits to burn, the Outdoor Kitchen food booths are another incredibly popular element of Flower & Garden Festival. These make the spring event like a mini Food & Wine Festival, which is Epcot’s most popular festival of the year.
Aside from the snacking and rocking, the event offers Walt Disney World guests the ability to enjoy expert-designed flower and garden displays, Disney character topiaries, playgrounds, and more. Here’s what else you can expect…
In terms of basic info about the horticulture on display at Epcot during Flower & Garden Festival, let’s start by hitting you with some fact-bombs. First, it takes a full year and 400 Walt Disney World horticulturists to prepare for the 90-day Flower and Garden Festival.
The culmination of those efforts are 30-million blooms, 240 floating flower planters, 700 gardens, nearly 100 Disney character topiaries, 30 flower towers, and one beautiful butterfly tapestry of flowers all culminate in an incredibly vibrant time of year for Epcot.
Some of you are probably thinking, “yeah, but I loathe gardening and I much prefer barren concrete to vibrant flowers.” Well, if that’s the case, I can’t recommend visiting Epcot during the International Flower and Garden Festival. However, if your views on flowers and gardening aren’t quite that extreme, it’s a great time to visit.
I groan when Sarah turns on HGTV (just how many episodes of a show about decorating a house to resell it can one person watch?!) and I’ve been known to (accidentally, I swear!) run over portions of our own garden with the lawnmower, but I still love visiting during Flower & Garden Festival.
It bears repeating: during Flower & Garden Festival, Epcot is gorgeous, smells great, and there are a lot of unique things to photograph. Much like the Behind the Seeds at Epcot Tour (which I highly recommend), the fundamental substance of the presentations at Flower & Garden Festival doesn’t appeal to me, but the overall “feel” and ambiance of the Festival does appeal to me. It’s a really fun time to be at Epcot.
If you’re going to be in Walt Disney World during the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, here’s the full listing of special “stuff” for the event, and whether we think it’s worth your time to experience.
While we recommend visiting during the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, but it’s not something around which you should plan a trip. The good news is that there are a few low-crowd, nice-weather periods of time during Flower & Garden Festival’s run, and targeting those is a good idea. Consult our When to Visit Walt Disney World post so you can plan accordingly.
Outdoor Kitchens – The “Outdoor Kitchens” are essentially Food & Wine Festival kiosks offering food and drinks. There are 13 kiosks, with the two new kiosks being The Berry Basket and Northern Bloom
The kiosks have been moderately popular, and the items we have tried were on par with Food & Wine Festival, with some things being even better. Although we question the motive, we absolutely love Food & Wine Festival, and we blow big chunks of money at these Flower & Garden kiosks, too.
If you’ve never attended Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, it’s worth noting that grazing from these kiosks will cost you considerably more than eating an actual meal. So if you’re looking to save money, stay away from these kiosks.
If you’re looking to have a great time and are willing to spend a bit of money (we easily spend $40-60 in an afternoon at Food & Wine Festival kiosks), you should be able to spend an afternoon just wandering these kiosks.
However, if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, the Outdoor Kitchens are great. Since the price of these items is higher than the average snack at Walt Disney World, we highly recommend hoarding your snack credits until your Epcot day, and then really going nuts grazing from these booths. It’s a fun way to spend the afternoon, and stings far less than paying out of pocket for food at these kiosks.
Special Gardens & Exhibits – There is a hands-on “Harmony Gardens” musical playground with the Fab Five, including “band leader” Mickey Mouse. There’s also the “Road to the Florida 500,” which centers around racing (it’s a promo-piece for Cars 3).
Goodness Garden Butterfly House – The Butterfly House returns this year, combining butterflies and fairy topiaries. This butterfly house is always really cool, as butterflies fly all over the place and even land on guests. We recommend spending about 10-15 minutes in here to watch the butterflies and take photos.
Character Topiaries – Throughout World Showcase and Future World, there are nearly 100 topiaries, with over 75 inspired by Disney films. The highlight at is always at Epcot’s main entrance, which features a centerpiece display with multiple characters and cool design.
The arguable real highlight is the Figment topiary, which is an homage to a similar topiary that used to appear up by the dancing water fountains at Journey into Imagination. For the last 3+ years in this post, I’ve been pleading for Disney to add a Figment and Dreamfinder topiary to Flower & Garden Festival. I’ll consider this one “close enough.”
The unimpressive light-up topiaries that debuted a couple years ago are returning (hopefully with improvements) as are the Muppets topiaries. Other topiaries around Epcot will include Pixar characters, Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Princesses, Lion King characters, and other classic favorites. Hopefully we will see a few new ones besides Ranger Mickey, too.
For us, the topiaries should be the highlight of Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival, but they quite often disappoint. The topiaries are recycled from year to year and season to season (you can see some of the exact same topiaries in different locations at Christmas…we have photos of them from about 10 years ago and they look the same) and are often shoe-horned in places they really don’t belong.
It would be nice to have new topiaries each year, especially since in the late 1980s and early 1990s, new topiaries regularly appeared when there wasn’t even a special event (as reflected in one of our favorite Walt Disney World books, Gardens of the Walt Disney World Resort). Still, there are some new topiaries each year, and it’s great to see them added to enhance the park.
Garden Rocks Concert Series – This concert series features live music from the 1960s and 1970s during the Garden Rocks Concert Series (formerly the “Flower Power” concert series). Famous artists rock Epcot’s America Gardens Theatre in World Showcase (near the American Adventure) every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.
The Garden Rocks Concert Series at Epcot will be held at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., and 8 p.m. each evening; concerts are included with standard Epcot park admission. As noted, these concerts will be nightly (for the first time), so other resources indicating they’re only performed on weekends are outdated.
For our short, weekend trips lining up for these shows and watching an entire concert is too big of a time commitment for us, but locals and others really seem to love these shows. Now, if Elton John and Billy Joel were to appear together in a show as part of the concert series, we’d be the first ones in line at park opening to see them!
Other Stuff – Other exhibits include the Festival Center (in the former Odyssey pavilion), featuring merchandise, one of the Outdoor Kitchens, and other activities.
One of the cooler aspects of the Flower & Garden Festival is that you can visit multiple times and have a totally different experience each time. This is not only because the presenters and bands change, but because halfway through the festival, Disney gardeners remove the blossoms that thrive in early-spring to plant a new crop of flowers that flourish in late-spring’s warmer temperatures.
This is great for those guests visiting during the concluding weeks of the Festival, as they don’t have to worry about seeing a bunch of wilted flowers. It’s beautiful during the Festival’s entire run.
Although there are new offerings each year, generally not a ton differs from year to year. The same character topiaries are used year in and year out (with a few exceptions), and most of the new content consists of thinly veiled promotional pieces for upcoming Disney films.
Personally, we think it would be nice to see investments in changing the topiary designs that haven’t changed in the last 10 years or so, but if you’re a first-timer, these will obviously still be fresh to you.
The Outdoor Kitchens are another highlight, and while these are an obvious attempt to capitalize on the colossal success of the Food & Wine Festival, so what? Food & Wine Festival is incredibly popular with guests, so why not incorporate elements of it into other times of the year?
The best things Disney does are mutually beneficial for it and guests. We love the food booths at Food & Wine Festival, so we think these are a solid addition to the Flower & Garden Festival. If you disagree with us, you can simply ignore the food booths. No harm, no foul.
Overall, Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival is a really lovely event. There’s a decent amount to do at the Flower & Garden Festival, and something that will appeal to everyone. It’s our third favorite time of year to visit Epcot, after the Festival of Holidays and newer Festival of the Arts (but ahead of Food & Wine Festival).
Whether you’re a first time guest or a seasoned veteran of Walt Disney World, visiting during Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival is a lot of fun. Epcot is at its most beautiful during Flower & Garden Festival, and you can enjoy much of what’s offered during the event without spending anything extra. Epcot smells and looks wonderful, and there are a lot of unique offerings, displays, and photographic opportunities.
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Have you ever been to Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival? What do you think are the highlights? Are favorite foods, demonstrations, or other aspects of the event? Do you agree or disagree with our advice for the event? Are you considering attending the 2020 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival? 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!