From now until July 4, Epcot’s international flower and Garden Festival will be held in Walt Disney World Resort. (photo: Terri Peters)
Anyone who has visited Florida will tell you that the temperature in sunshine state has always been very hot, especially in spring and summer. Therefore, the team of horticultural experts at Walt Disney World Resort (WDW) has a difficult task during the Epcot international flower and Garden Festival – an event to celebrate all flowering and flowering things, from early March to early July.
How many flowers and plants are there in the theme park during the festival? Epcot adds more than 200000 flowerbeds to their gardens each year and produces 170 floating gardens to decorate Epcot’s world celebration West Lake, each containing 50 4-inch annuals. Then there is the “flower tower”, the style is designed to add vertical color to Epcot, and 250 plants are planted in each style.
About 100 pruning areas can also be found throughout the park, which look like popular Disney characters such as Bambi, Asha and Mickey Mouse.
Captain Hook’s nemesis crocodile tick tock is one of the 100 pruning plants that appeared in Epcot during the festival. (photo: Terry Peters)
Truman Anderson, who works for WDW’s Horticultural Services Department, said the pruning areas could take years to complete.
“Depending on whether it is a new trimmer, when we work with our WDW visionaries and character artists, it may take nearly two years to prepare one to really ensure that we get the right framework and make some small adjustments and changes,” Anderson told Yahoo life. “This is an incredible process, and our forest farm team (WDW cultivates plants until they are ready to plant in a nursery somewhere on the property) can spend years developing them.”
According to WDW horticultural experts, it may take up to two years to complete each pruning of plants participating in the festival. (photo: Terry Peters)
This year’s festival has a 20 foot long dragon trimmer and a 14 foot tall Gaofei, which is composed of three independent parts and needs a crane to install. One can spend a whole day in the gate of Epcot just to find every gorgeous work.
But there is more flower fun in this 125 Day Festival – making it the longest flower and Garden Festival in the United States. Anderson and his team must keep up with it.
“We spend a lot of time studying and making sure what we have is always right and up-to-date,” he said. “Plant names change every year – [taxonomists] can’t make up their minds. They say, ‘Oh, it’s okay, it’s in this family now’, so we always check that everything we launch is always up-to-date.”
Tiger, piglet and Eeyore can be found in the British Pavilion in Epcot. (photo: Terry Peters)
Then the weather. In spike bee’s treasure hunt alone, Anderson said that plants may not survive a rainy or hot day and may temporarily disappear from the map.
“Every sign should have a matching plant. We should have such flowers in bed, but something happens occasionally,” Anderson explained. “The worst is always white daisies. In midsummer, it’s almost impossible for white gerbera daisies to survive in Florida, so we’re like, ‘Oh, yes, there were daisies.'”
Summer downpours in Florida are also a challenge. Anderson said that due to the damage caused by excessive rainfall, many flower beds need to be replaced accidentally. Nevertheless, some weather related wear is expected or even planned. “We actually change with the seasons,” he said. “Due to the length of [Festival], we have three complete rotations.”
Anderson explained that there is a “dedicated staff will constantly adjust [the showroom], so if something is out of date or something goes backwards in the season, they will deal with it.” For example, he said, “if you come here in March, Miss pig and Kermit’s pruning always looks like Miss pig and Kermit, but their flower beds don’t look like you came back in July.”
“You need to visit many times so that you can track what we do,” he joked.
Barbecued buffalo ribs at the festival farmers’ feast pavilion are part of the early spring menu. (photo: Walt Disney World Resort)
In this year’s festival, not only plants will be changed. In the farmer’s feast outdoor kitchen, the holiday food menu will be changed three times during the event.
“Now we are in early flowering, which will last until early April,” said Kevin Downing, deputy chef at WDW, referring to the menu, which includes goat cheese, cream stick soda and charcoal roasted buffalo rib eye “Then we’ll transition to the spring menu, and then around the end of May, we’ll transition to the summer solstice menu again, offering real season themed specialties and what’s available at that time of the year“
Butterflies abound in the Encanto theme garden. (photo: Walt Disney World Resort)
Downing told Yahoo life: “flowers and gardens are really the best things nature can provide us as chefs.” “This festival is very long: it has actually gone through nearly three periods since the beginning of March, so we want to play this in our menu items.”
Menu items also “play” with the holiday’s focus on plants. Eat grass in the inner garden – stroll through the park, festival participants go to different outdoor food kiosks and collect stamps to try plant-based menu items, such as avocado toast, potato pancakes and baked baby vegetables – guests exchange their stamped holiday passports for special prizes.
The garden graze of the festival is a plant-based food scavenger hunting activity around the event. (photo: Walt Disney World Resort)
Other holiday highlights include an Encanto themed garden, next to a food kiosk, offering a variety of arepas, night entertainment for local and national artists, a garden rock concert series, and festival exclusive merchandise, including rare characters such as segment and orange bird.
Epcot’s international flower and Garden Festival has been included in Epcot park tickets and will last until July 4, 2022.