Guide to Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival for 2016
(Article last updated: March 10, 2016)
There are several special events held throughout the year at Disney World. Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival is 1 of those.
In this guide, I've got details on when it's held, what takes place, how I suggest touring and my thoughts on whether or not it's worth it.
Let's get started...
In this article
What is it?
The Flower and Garden Festival is an event held at Epcot every spring that focuses on special exhibits related to gardening (hence the name). There are other activities including unique food offerings and music as well. All details are below.
How much does it cost?
There's no special ticket required to attend the Flower and Garden Festival. Your park ticket to get into Epcot will allow you to enjoy all of the Flower and Garden Festival events (except for 1 tour - more info on that below).
When is it?
The Flower and Garden Festival typically takes place from the first part of March through the middle or end of May. In 2016, the dates are March 2-May 30.
What exactly takes place during the festival?
There are several different things that take place at Epcot during the Flower and Garden Festival.
Here are the main highlights:
One of my favorite parts is that the whole park has lots of topiaries (over 100!) that have been created in the shapes of Disney characters. In 2015, Anna and Elsa topiaries were introduced for the first time, and in 2016, Huey, Dewey and Louie topiaries are in the park.
Gardening seminars and workshops
In the Festival Center (located between Mission: Space and Ellen's Energy Adventure), experts appear to answer questions about gardening on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Garden Rocks Concerts
Concerts are held during the weekends of Flower and Garden Festival and feature groups whose popularity peaked a couple of decades ago but who still sound great. Concerts take place at the American Gardens Theater on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8 p.m.
The lineup for 2016 is:
- March 4-6: The Orchestra starring former members of ELO (“Evil Woman”)
- March 11-13: Starship starring Mickey Thomas (“We Built This City”)
- March 18-20: Little River Band (“Reminiscing”)
- March 25-27: Village People (“Y.M.C.A”)
- April 1-3: Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone (“’m Henry the VIII, I Am”)
- April 8-10: The Guess Who (“American Woman”)
- April 15-17: Blood, Sweat & Tears featuring Bo Bice (“Spinning Wheel”)
- April 22-24: Brian Howe, former lead singer of Bad Company (“Can’t Get Enough”)
- April 29-May 1: Georgia Satellites (“Keep Your Hands to Yourself”)
- May 6-8: Gin Blossoms (“Hey Jealousy”)
- May 13-15: Darlene Love (“Wait ‘Til My Bobby Gets Home”)
- May 20-22: Night Ranger (“Sister Christian”)
- May 27-30: The Spinners (“Working My Way Back to You”)
Due to the popularity of the Food and Wine Festival, Disney started offering food and beverage options throughout the World Showcase.
For 2016, there are 13 different stations offering a variety of options, including two new ones - La Isla Fresca and Cider House. La Isla Fresca will have a Caribbean-themed menu, with Cider House offering a selection of fruit and cheese options.
Keep in mind that many items can be purchased with Disney Dining Plan snack credits. You can see which items are covered by looking for the DDP icon on the menus.
You can find all of the menus and see food photos on Disney Food Blog's 2016 Flower and Garden info page.
Various gardens and play areas
There are lots of gardens, play areas and exhibits throughout Epcot for the festival. A couple worth noting:
- New for 2016! A new hands-on Harmony Gardens musical playground debuted featuring Disney’s Fab Five topiaries including “band leader” Mickey Mouse (plus Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto and Donald Duck). With the playground’s interactive drums, chimes and xylophones, visitors can create their own musical sounds when they’re not scampering across innovative outdoor climbing systems with safe, but challenging, net-based structures. Also, be sure to watch for music-themed plants that add harmony to the play area.
- Tinker Bell's Butterfly House - located in Future World along the walkway that goes toward the Canada pavilion, this is a great place to stop along the way
- Mike and Sulley's Monstrous Garden - a fun and colorful place for kids to spend some time while adults relax nearby
Flower and Garden Festival Passport/Guide
Get the 2016 Flower and Garden Passport below with info on every topiary, food kiosk, concert, etc.
There are a couple of tours that are offered during the Flower and Garden Festival.
- Epcot Gardens of the World Tour - a 3 hour tour led by a Disney horticulturist. These are offered on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, from 9:00 AM to noon and cost $69.00, plus tax. You have to be 12-years-old or older to attend. You can book it by calling (407) WDW-TOUR.
- English Tea Garden Presented by Twinings of London Tea - this a free tour that lasts 20 minutes and takes place in the United Kingdom pavilion. Guests should register by signing up in The Tea Caddy in the UK pavilion.
How to plan your day
With the advent of FastPass+, everything is much more planned out in advance now so here's my suggestions for how to put your day together.
First, I'd suggest visiting on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. That's when more things are offered so you'll get to experience more with your theme park ticket.
There are really only 2 main scheduled things to plan around: the gardening workshops/seminars and the Garden Rocks concerts.
Taking my general advice for touring Epcot and adapting them for the Flower and Garden Festival, this is what I would suggest.
- Make FastPass+ reservations for Test Track, Spaceship Earth, and Turtle Talk with Crush
- Arrive 30-45 minutes before park opening
- Sum of All Thrills (this doesn’t have a FP+ option and lines build up)
- Mission: Space
- The Seas with Nemo and Friends
- Explore The Seas pavilion
- Use FP+ for Turtle Talk with Crush (suggested FP+ time: sometime around 9:30-10:30)
- Living with the Land
- Use FP+ for Test Track (suggested FP+ time: 10:30-11:30)
- Visit the Festival Center
- Gran Fiesta Tour
- Rest of the day:
Use FP+ for Spaceship Earth (suggested FP+ time: anytime in the afternoon or evening)
Explore Innoventions East
Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival
Journey Into Imagination with Figment
Explore the World Showcase
Garden Rocks concert at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m. or 8 p.m.
Explore Flower and Garden Festival exhibits and gardens
Ellen’s Universe of Energy (takes 45 minutes)
Illuminations (at night)
Is Flower and Garden Festival worth it?
I think the Flower and Garden Festival is most likely worth it for people who are a bit older. And by "older" I mean those who were young when the featured musical acts were popular.
That doesn't mean other people won't enjoy it (my college-aged daughter loves it!); I just don't think it's probably worth designing a whole trip around, but if you're there, definitely take the time to enjoy it. You'll never see Epcot looking any prettier.
So, will you be attending the Flower and Garden Festival? Or do you have questions that weren't covered here?
Please share in the comments.