Fun New Experiences Mark the 20th Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Spring may still be waiting around the corner according to the calendar, but if you are lucky enough to make your way to Epcot in the next few weeks, you may swear that it's already here!

Flower and Garden Festival BannerFlower and Garden Festival Banner

The 20th Annual Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is underway at Walt Disney World. And while we always enjoy this enchanting special event highlighting the unparalleled talents of the Disney horticultural team, this year's festival is like nothing we have ever seen before. New for 2013, Epcot has introduced three brand new experiences guaranteed to enhance guests' pleasure long past the daylight hours that festival goers usually enjoy.

2013 Topiary Tableau2013 Topiary Tableau

Garden Marketplaces

The news that's receiving the most buzz in 2013 is the addition of Garden Marketplaces. Inspired by the gardens around World Showcase, these special kiosks feature culinary offerings with an international flair as well as beverages showcasing delicious farm fresh flavor. Guests can choose from twelve distinct stops as they make their way around the World, ranging from a beverage stand specializing in Fruits by the Glass, to local Florida Fresh Flavors.

Elderflower Cocktail - GermanyElderflower Cocktail - Germany

Chef Jens Dahlmann, Executive Chef for Epcot, said that the staff was very excited about the undertaking. Chef Dahlmann agreed that it was a natural progression with the current hot trend of farm-to-table. They wanted to distinguish the event from the super popular Food and Wine Festival, however. To that end, the culinary team created a completely new menu of items for the Garden Marketplaces. One of the most exciting offerings at each booth is the "Try It!" menu items, which are highlighted in green. In Disney's quest to combine education with entertainment, these foods "encourage kids and families to TRY fun foods and TRY simple ways to be their best."

Pulled Pork SliderThe Smokehouse Pulled Pork Slider

So, after sampling all of the foods at the Garden Marketplaces, what were our favorites? Hands down, The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews cannot be missed. The beautiful spot, located in the America Pavilion, offers the best pulled pork and brisket that we've tasted outside of North Carolina and Texas, respectively. The Italian Beer Flight offers some interesting craft beers straight from Italy, a rare offering. And for dessert, we absolutely adored the Trio of Trifles at the UK Pavilion's The Cottage Marketplace. We especially love the Green Tea Trifle.

Elaborate Flower BedsElaborate Flower Beds

Illuminated Gardens

While guests really enjoy the Flower and Garden Festival, organizers were aware of the fact that it was a mostly daytime event, and that they were missing out on offering a really special guest experience by not offering enhancements for evening time. Michael Jenner, Epcot Park Event Content Development Manager, currently discussed the development of the new Festival enhancements during a recent interview with Disney Food Blog. "It's been a daytime festival, so even though the parks stayed open at night, the festival kind of shut down. By adding the food and beverage component, as well as lit topiaries this year, the festival can continue after dark." Officials are also hopeful that the new offerings may entice out of town visitors to plan trips for spring, with the Flower and Garden Festival as a primary destination.

Cinderella TopiaryCinderella Topiary

Festival Farms

With a continuing emphasis on combining entertainment with education " Edutainment in Disney-speak - Epcot staff also planned elaborate Festival Farms. Surrounding each of the Garden Marketplaces throughout World Showcase, guests will discover elaborate gardens designed around the plants that make up the delectable food and drinks that make up the festival offerings. We loved the pineapple and coconut plants available at the highly anticipated Pineapple Promenade. Guests can sample fan favorite Dole Whips spiked with Florida-produced Siesta Key Rum, and can sample a decadent Pineapple Upside Down Cake featuring coconut. At the Bauernmarkt in the Germany Pavilion, be sure to search out Elderflower, which is growing in honor of the Hugo-Elderflower Sparkling Wine Cocktail. It's made with an organic sparkling wine " and it's delish!

Coconut and Pineapples in Festival FarmsCoconut and Pineapples in Festival Farms

Other Fun Finds

If you are a big fan of Disney horticulture and topiaries, be sure to take in all the attractions that are new for 2013. In celebration of the release of Disney's blockbuster hit: Oz: The Great and Powerful, you'll want to walk through The Land of Oz. Breathtaking gardens (complete with poppies!) surround a play area and midway with carnival games reminiscent of carnivals from days gone by. Be sure to check out the breathtaking garden of glass poppies as well, made exclusively for the garden by Michigan glass artisan Craig Mitchell Smith.

Oz MidwayOz Midway

Beautiful Oz Glass PoppiesBeautiful Oz Glass Poppies

Fans of the crew from the Cars films will want to check out Radiator Springs, a fun interactive play area combining car parts, road signs, and some of your favorite Cars characters captured in topiary splendor.

And in anticipation of Monsters University, due in theatres in June, the gateway area to World Showcase features brand new topiaries of stars Mike and Sully " along with some of the cuddly friends immortalized in greenery.

Lightning McQueenLightning McQueen

Whether you are interested in food, gardening, or both, there has never been a better time to visit Epcot than right now during the 20th International Flower and Garden Festival. Come for the breathtaking topiaries and gardens, and stay later for the fun food and spirits.

Just Follow The Yellow Brick RoadJust Follow The Yellow Brick Road

A big WDWFG thanks goes out to our friend Brook Fehr over at for heading out to the festival for us and sharing this great review and photos! DisZine is an online magazine dedicated to bringing Disney fans the latest news every day. Why not head on over and see what Brook and her team have going on.

What's New at Flower and Garden you're most looking forward to? Let us know in a comment below!

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