The largest-ever Disney front-entrance topiary, an illuminated Haiti produce garden with marketplace and a stellar cast of HGTV design celebrities boost the flower power at the 19th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival presented by HGTV March 7-May 20 at Walt Disney World Resort. Here’s a sneak peek of this year’s festival news:
- Disney’s gardening magic goes a long way when an eight-foot-tall floralSorcerer Mickey topiary holds court in front of the park’s iconic Spaceship Earth. Standing atop a 12-foot-tall floral mountain cliff, Sorcerer Mickey directs a riot of color in the manicured shapes of dancing broomsticks, buckets, mushrooms, hippos, alligators and elephants straight from the classic Disney film, “Fantasia.” The scene pops with pink geraniums, white poppies, violet petunias, blue delphiniums and pansies.
- In the World Showcase, the new Haiti: Garden of Many Colors next to the Germany showcase is the first illuminated garden in the festival’s history. Guests can explore the rich heritage of Haitian art, culture and refreshments in this produce garden and marketplace presented by Haiti Originale, LLC, an organization formed to support sustainable Haitian economic and social development.
- Twice daily each Friday through Sunday of the festival, HGTV designers and hosts share their insights on landscapes and design with Festival Center audiences. John Gidding of “Curb Appeal: The Block” kicks off the series March 9-11 with curb-appeal design tips for homeowners.
- Music fills each festival weekend when pop music hitmakers of the 1960s and ’70s rule the America Gardens Theatre stage with performances of their greatest songs. Jose Feliciano ignites the Flower Power concert series March 9-11 with his treasure trove of tunes. Two new festival acts are in store: Chuck Negron formerly of Three Dog Night (April 27-29) and The Orchestra featuring former members of ELO and ELO Part II (May 4-6).
Thirty million blooms, 240 floating mini-gardens on two ponds, 700 container gardens of flowers, herbs, plants and vegetables, dozens of Disney character topiaries, 30 “flower towers” of impatiens and sweeping beds of original floral designs create a new tapestry of brilliant color across the 260-acre Epcot landscape. It takes more than one year and 400 Walt Disney World horticulturists to plan and prepare for the 75-day festival.
Halfway through the festival, Disney gardeners remove the cold-hardy blossoms that thrive in March and early April to plant a new crop of flowers that flourish in spring’s warmer temperatures. And throughout the event, dozens of gardening experts meet guests daily with fresh landscape ideas for 2012. Daily workshops at the Festival Center let guests dig into projects they can take home at the end of the day.
- The Festival Center– Guests can shop for festival merchandise, attend demonstrations and get ideas and tips from master gardeners. In Future World between Universe of Energy and Mission:SPACE.
- Disney Gardening at Home presentations – Disney horticulturists and local experts like Robert Bowden of Harry P. Leu Gardens will share gardening tips and lead guests in a hands-on, take-home activity at the Festival Center.
- Special Festival Weekend Celebrations – An Art in the Garden celebration of plein air artists is scheduled March 23-25; a Disney’s Animal Kingdom Specialists weekend presents indigenous insects that are part of our world; a Florida Federation of Garden Clubs gathering will be April 27-29; and a Fresh from Florida Farmer’s Market salute is slated for May 4-6.
- Bambi’s Butterfly House, three times the size of the festival’s original, is a-flutter with multiple species of brilliant butterflies. At Imagination Walkway by Innoventions West.
- Pixie Hollow Fairy Garden – Fabulous Disney fairy topiaries alight to greet young fans who enter this whimsical garden designed with play structures for children ages 2-5. At the Test Track Walkway.
- The HGTV Designers’ Stage presents HGTV celebrities each Friday through Sunday and nationally recognized garden personalities Monday through Thursday. At the Festival Center.
- Flower Power concert series welcomes back 20th century pop favorites this year when Chubby Checker and The Wildcats, Paul Revere & The Raiders, Davy Jones and eight other bands rock the America Gardens Theatre with their timeless tunes. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Performers and appearance dates subject to change.
More information about the 19th annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is available by calling 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639) or by visiting disneyworld.com/flower. The festival, including all gardening programs and exhibits, is included in regular Epcot admission.