From the earliest days Walt Disney World's Epcot was seen as a sort of permanent world's fair. The World Showcase area especially was designed to introduce different nations of the world to an American public that might never get to visit them. Enhancing that mission over the years have been a number of annual festivals held in the park that highlight specific aspects of those cultures. The International Food and Wine Festival is probably the most famous, but you should not sleep on the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival which began March 3 and runs through July 5.
As the name indicates, the focus of the Flower and Garden Festival is on creating beautiful visual displays through plants and flowers, but there's a lot more going on than just pretty floral displays. At the same time, because of the way Walt Disney World is currently functioning, the Flower and Garden Festival is working differently in 2021 than it has in years past. Whether you've attended the festival in the past before or not, here's what you need to know about this year's event.
The Topiary Work Is Still Amazing
If there's a single element of the Flower and Garden Festival that is most representative of the festival as a whole, it's the topiaries. Each year a number of different topiary creations are put on display, showing off your favorite Disney characters, built out of plants and flowers. They're all over the park, with many near the parts of the park, that are related to them. The Three Caballeros can be found near the Mexico pavilion. Snow White is in Germany. They're brilliant without exception and it's worth wandering every inch of Epcot just to be sure you don't miss one.
Really, It's All About The Food
It may be called the International Flower and Garden Festival, but that doesn't mean that flowers are the only things there to enjoy. Like all the great Epcot festivals there are special booths set up all over the park with unique food offerings. Each one has a particular theme to the food, a special ingredient, nation of origin, or style, and offers a couple of small bites and a drink or two, both non-alcoholic specialties are available as are other more adult selections. Now you can not only eat and drink your way around the world, but around the entire park. Epcot has by far the best food of any Walt Disney World park, and now it's just that much better.
The Festival Has Been Paired Down For 2021
Epcot was in the middle of the International Flower and Garden Festival last year when the park was forced to close down following the beginning of the global pandemic in the United States. While the festival is back for 2021, it, like the rest of the park, it is not back to normal. While the lovely displays and the food and drink are there, traditionally, we see a lot more from the festival, like tours of the gardens with knowledgable Disney Cast Members, and other events that bring more people together, and of course, much of that is not happening.
The Music Is All Local, And Socially Distanced
One element that is usually part of every Epcot festival is live music and this year's Flower & Garden Festival is no different. The one thing that will be different is that rather than the music providing a taste of different cultures and nations like the food does, the musical acts will all be local to the Orlando area. At the end of the day, unless you yourself or local, it's still new to you. And since Epcot is a theme park, it's all outdoors, making social distancing a bit easier. Even iuf tou don't stop and listen to a whole set, it's just nice to see people playing and others enjoying the experience.
Epcot Is Under Going Significant Construction
One item to be aware of that is not specific to the International Flower and Garden Festival in 2021, but is important to know if you're planning to attend, is that Epcot is in the middle of a major construction effort. Nearly the entire front half of Future World is being reimagined into several smaller showcase pavilions and that includes the destruction of the two current Innoventions buildings near Spaceship Earth. No major attractions are closed, but the construction walls are certainly less attractive than everything else you'll find on display and they make navigating the front of the park a bit of a chore.
The Flowers Really Are Amazing
While you can eat your way around Epcot tasting some pretty remarkable food and never even notice the flowers around you, the fact is that those flowers are really something special, so you should not overlook them. While there are a number of established gardens throughout Epcot to see as part of the festival, there are also just well designed flower arrangements nearly everywhere you look. If you're a fan of flowers at all this is obviously the festival for you. Everything at Epcot just feels bright and alive.
The 2021 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival isn't quite as big a show as it has been in years past, but it's still a festival worth checking out if you're planning a Walt Disney World vacation. After a year where so many of us have spent a lot of time at home, being out in a massive garden is a refreshing change, and with the addition of Disney magic, this is one garden you might not want to leave.
The 2021 Epcot International Garden Festival is scheduled to run until July 5. It's possible that even more could be added to the festival over the next couple of months if its believed it can be done safely. Certainly, in 2022 the festival will likely be back to its full strength, and with much of the new Epcot likely to be completed by then, next year's festival will be better than ever.