Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival runs from March 3 to July 5, 2021 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 January 26, 2021.)
The 28th Annual Epcot Flower & Garden Festival will be the longest ever, starting a day earlier and ending over a full month later than this year’s event was intended to run. With the 2021 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival just around the corner, we have some new details about what next year’s event will entail.
The first thing you need to 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. Here’s hoping the centerpiece mosaic flower quilt between Future World and World Showcase (pictured above) returns, as it’s always a highlight!
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!
2021 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival: What’s New
Walt Disney World has only released a few details thus far, which are covered in our 2021 Taste of Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Preview. The first, as hinted at by the post title, is that it’ll continue the “Taste of” branding for Epcot’s post-reopening events, which suggests another scaled back lineup.
That’s disappointing, but the good news is that the 2021 Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Arts is pretty close to the full/normal event. We’d say it’s about 85%, which is a significant improvement over Food & Wine and Festival of the Holidays. Our expectation is the same for Flower & Garden.
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 2021. 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!
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…
2021 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, 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 2021 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendars & When to Visit so you can plan accordingly.
Outdoor Kitchens – These are essentially Food & Wine Festival kiosks offering food and drinks. Here are the Outdoor Kitchens you’ll find at the 2021 Taste of EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival:
- Bauernmarkt: Farmer’s Market – Venture to Germany for Bavarian bites sure to sate foodies of all ages—every dish is köstlich.
- Cider House – Behold buzz-worthy ciders and artisanal provisions that are sure to hit the spot in World ShowPlace.
- Citrus Blossom – Treat your taste buds to the subtleties of lemon, orange and lime—turning delicious dishes even more delish!
- Festival Favorites – Discover Walt Disney World fan-favorite dishes, microbrews and other beverages in World ShowPlace.
- Flavor Full Kitchen – Find flavors of healthy cuisine in this delightful eatery, featuring vegetables straight from the garden!
- Fleur de Lys – Indulge in haute cuisine and boissons that’ll make you fall in ooo-la-la-love with this palate-pleasing Parisian pop-up!
- Hanami – Journey to Japan for innovative plates crafted with culinary Zen.
- Jardin de Fiestas – Take a food-tastic tour of the Mexico Pavilion… these tantalizing tastes will add some spice to your day!
- The Honey Bee-stro – Quell cravings with an incredible menu of all-natural food and drink infused with the nectar of the gods!
- La Isla Fresca – Nibble on Caribbean-seasoned dishes that’ll send appetites swaying to the island beat!
- Lotus House – Sink your teeth into authentic Chinese eats filled with morsels of good fortune!
- Magnolia Terrace – Get a nice, cozy feeling with some comfort food inspired by the Gulf region.
- Northern Bloom – Discriminating palates will enjoy the fantastic fare from our Great White North neighbor… O Canada!
- Pineapple Promenade – Get your tropical fruit fix from tart ‘n’ tangy to the sweetest frozen treats!
- Primavera Kitchen – Mangiare hearty helpings of Old-Country dishes served with a glass of vino… now that’s amore!
- Taste of Marrakesh – Intoxicate taste buds with the exotic flavors of this North African mecca—mysterious Morocco!
- Trowel & Trellis – Delight in some of your favorite foods—created from innovative recipes by Impossible Foods
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.
Special Gardens & Exhibits -There will be 20 different garden areas all across EPCOT, including floating gardens on the waters of Future World, a bamboo garden in China, a tropical rainforest garden in Mexico and the English Tea Garden by Twinings in the United Kingdom, where you can also take a Self-Guided Tea Tour. At Outdoor Escapes, you can unwind in refreshing spaces that show you just how easy it is to create an outdoor escape for family and friends
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 dozens of topiaries inspired by Disney films. The highlight for 2021 is at EPCOT’s newly-reimagined main entrance, which features a centerpiece display with Sorcerer Mickey.
The light-up topiaries that debuted a couple years ago are returning 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.
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.
Concerts – In normal years, EPCOT’s Flower & Garden Festival features live music from the 1960s and 1970s during the Garden Rocks Concert Series. Famous artists rock the America Gardens Theatre in World Showcase every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., and 8 p.m. each evening. That will not be occurring in 2021.
Instead, the 2021 Taste of EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival will feature live music every day: the Voices of Liberty perform an all-American a cappella showcase, celebrating the landscape, heart and human spirit of America, and Mariachi Cobre takes the stage for a performance of world-famous Mexican folk music.
You can also tap your toes to the sound of the Jammin’ Gardeners, performing rhythmic beats with inspired backyard percussion, and head into World Showplace, where the EPCOT Pianist will be playing a selection of songs of the season.
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 2021 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!