For the past 25 years, Walt Disney World in Florida has hosted the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival each spring. The theme park’s already beautiful gardens are made even more fun with the addition of dozens of character topiaries, and special exhibits and behind-the-scenes tours give flora fans even more of what they love.
My mother and I are both Master Gardeners, and this was our second girls’ trip to attend the festival. Our first was in 2012, and we’ve been excited to return ever since. This time we were joined by my mother’s cousin, Helen, for a week of fun and flowers.
In addition to favorite rides, restaurants, and other fun, we’d booked two special festival activities. The first was the Behind the Seeds Tour at The Land Pavilion in Epcot. This one-hour walking tour gave us a glimpse into four of Disney’s greenhouses and an aquaponic fish farm, where horticulturists study natural pest control techniques, cultivate unusual plant species from around the world, and develop more efficient ways to grow food.
The Behind the Seeds Tour is $25 USD for adults, $20 USD for kids, requires Epcot park admission, and lasts about an hour. Our tour group had all ages, and everyone had a good time with the scientifically-based, factoid-style information our guide presented.
The following day we set out on the Gardens of the World Tour. This walking excursion takes you through the Cars-themed exhibit near Epcot’s Test Track, through an enclosed butterfly garden next to Spaceship Earth, past a pollinators exhibit just beyond The Land, and into the international gardens of the World Showcase.
During the three-hour Gardens of the World Tour, you learn about using color and texture to create different garden moods, as well as tricks for creating internationally-themed gardens with lookalike plant substitutions that work in your growing climate. You also learn Disney’s tips for installing and maintaining planting beds, container gardens, hanging baskets, and even fanciful topiaries.
The tour is $85 USD per person and also requires Epcot park admission. It is a three-hour walking tour, so dress appropriately for the weather and don’t forget your sunscreen.