Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World. This week we’re checking out the beautiful new hub expansion at the Magic Kingdom and taking a look at the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot.
It was a dark and stormy morning. No really, the weather was a mess last week! I went straight to the Magic Kingdom on Sunday because all weather reports showed there would only be a few cloudy hours before it started raining again. Since all the news was outdoors this week, I was a girl on a mission! At rope drop when everyone else was running for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train I was here taking photos to share with you! And wow, the new hub is looking great!
Want to see more of the new hub and Flower & Garden Festival? Be sure to click to read more!
If you’ve ever visited the Magic Kingdom I’m sure these little statues look familiar. They look gorgeous in their new home with four statues surrounding each of the two matching fountains. These new, open areas dramatically change the look of the Magic Kingdom. I didn’t take wide angle shots because I want to wait until the partners statues is unveiled and all the work is complete. I can tell you, there is much more room to navigate the parks and see castle shows. Beyond that, it’s just much prettier in the park. While I don’t think this renovation is on the radar for most people they won’t be able to miss it on their next visit.
After taking photos of the new hub for 15 minutes did I go ride some rides? Nope! Because I had a hot date with some topiaries. 😉 Joking aside, I’m often asked how I get photos without people in them. The truth is that I get there early, stay late, or just plan to be where other folks don’t want to be. In this case, that meant heading directly to Epcot before the World Showcase opened. If you’ve never taken the monorail from TTC to Epcot then I highly recommend it! The ride provides killer views of the park. I timed it and it took exactly 30 minutes from the time I left Magic Kingdom until I was walking into Epcot.
Unlike in previous years, the topiaries in this display have been turned to face World Showcase. How cool is it to capture Spaceship Earth and the Fountain of Nations in the background? I should mention that I haven’t included every, single display in the article this week but it’s a long celebration! If you don’t see your favorite please check back and leave me a comment so I know you’re looking for it! 🙂
New this year are these Anna and Elsa topiaries. While I’m not a fan of Frozen taking over the parks, these were really pretty! Over an hour before the World Showcase opened there was a line to get a photo with these. It’s obvious how popular the characters are so I’m happy to see them added to the lineup. I’m surprised there was no Olaf. I was also hoping for a BayMax in Japan, but no such luck. Maybe next year!
Of course, it isn’t Flower and Garden Festival without the obligatory monorail photo! I wish the skies wouldn’t have been to grey for you. I’m sure I’ll get another chance to take this photo with bright, blue skies before the festival ends. At least it wasn’t raining!
In Canada I was sure to get this photo of the one topiary I missed all together last year! If you can believe it, I somehow managed to walk by this one every single time I visited. Which is a shame because it’s so cute. I wanted to be sure it was one of the first I shared this year.
In the United Kingdom all the Peter Pan topiaries are in place and looking great! Pan himself is perched high up on the roof above Captain Hook, but I somehow managed to not take a picture of him. Must have been those grey skies! I think the Tick Tock topiary pictured below left might be my favorite of the entire festival. He’s so big and goofy looking!
Also in the United Kingdom is Winnie the Pooh. He’s all alone this year but I could swear he had company last year. I know I remember Piglet and I thought there were others. I’m not going to dig into my archives at the moment to confirm, but do you remember? Let me know in the comments below. What do you think of Pooh all by his lonesome?
In France, Beauty and the Beast have found a new home and they look sensational! Why weren’t they always here?? It’s such a great use of the space. I’m also a little sad for Belle because she hasn’t managed to get a face like the Frozen gals. Every year I look at that odd, empty face and wonder what Belle did to get left off the list.
In the next planter behind Beauty and the Beast you’ll find Cogsworth and Lumiere. After seeing these I realized a reason why they might not have placed them here in the past. They’re so close to the public. I hope they aren’t damaged by guests. I saw someone on Twitter joking about putting a selfie stick through Cogsworth and I’m sure it will happen!
If you visit the World Showcase before 11am this is where you’ll be stopped. There’s a rope drop at the entrance of Morocco at 11am, but Les Halles Boulangerie & Pâtisserie in France is open much earlier than that. If you’ve made it this far then you can stop for a very special breakfast. I had the Brie Aux Pommes, which is Brie, Apples, & Cranberries on multi-grain bread, but they have an amazing dessert menu if you’d prefer!
So what’s in the space that Beauty and the Beast used to occupy? None other than Cinderella and her prince dancing under the clock. How fitting! 🙂 However, Sleeping Beauty was noticeably missing. I was hoping maybe she was just late to the party but Attractions Magazine tweeted that she won’t be part of the festival this year.
Woody is back in America this year, but I didn’t see (or smell) Lotso. Notice the food carts in the background. While I wasn’t there to try snacks this week I’m looking forward to trying some of the Festival fare being offered this year. I love the Food and Wine Festival, so I’m really hoping for a mini version of that. What do you think? Do you like the food offerings? Or would you rather that happen just once a year?
Lady and the Tramp are back in their signature spot in Italy. This is another one that’s a little too close to the public for comfort. I actually walked up on some folks touching these and remarking that they were really plants! Almost immediately a cast member appeared and asked them to not touch. I wonder if people are actually employed to guard the plants? How sad that it’s needed!
Miss Piggy is single this year with no Kermit in sight. I think it’s a little sad. He’s so little and green, how hard could he be to maintain? Not that I don’t appreciate all the other amazing flowers! The festival is absolutely tremendous and I’m so lucky to be here to see it… but I miss my Kermy. 🙁
Snow White and the seven dwarfs were back in their signature spot in Germany. This one is so popular every year! Snow White was the first princess topiary to get a real face and she still looks as lovely as ever. (Belle, I’m still holding onto hope for you girl!!)
Missing: One Panda Bear Topiary. For as long as I can remember a Panda has been featured in China, but this year it’s just this odd ram… thing. It looks like maybe it was covered in seeds? Also missing is the troll from Norway. I’m sure that’s because Anna and Elsa will be taking over next year. Overall, if you’re visiting early to see the festival I’d start on the Canada side. There’s much more to see on that half of the world.
After rounding up photos from the Flower and Garden Festival I headed back over to the Magic Kingdom for a little more fun. On the way I noticed that the Polynesian bungalows look like they’re about to open. Even soft goods have been added to the porches. The prices are crazy but these look amazing!
Back at the Magic Kingdom I had Fastpass+ for Pirates of the Caribbean and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and I’m happy to report that both worked flawlessly! I’d stopped by guest services on my way into the park and they confirmed that everything looked good. Nobody can seem to explain why they sometimes work and sometimes don’t.
You might have been wondering why I got there so early just to take photos. Well, the photo below left should explain it. There doesn’t seem to be enough seating areas in the Magic Kingdom and the new hub gardens have become a popular resting spot especially for those with little kids that need room to run. Below right you can see the bright blue skies that finally came out as I was leaving the park.
Can you tell I just didn’t want to leave this week? I lingered at the train station for a while before finally accepting it was time to exit! But it won’t be long before I’m back. Where you would you like to go next week? Let me know in the comment below and be sure to follow us on @TouringPlans for live adventures in the parks!
That’s everything for this week. Now let’s see what you can expect if you’re visiting next week.
Crowd Calendar: It’s going to be pretty busy this week! Be sure to use those Touring Plans and get there for rope drop.
Weather: The weather is going to be great! Highs will be in the mid 70s and lows in the mid 50s with the occasional shower.
Remember: Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid reopens today! I can’t wait to see if we got the same updates as California Adventure!
Here’s my top tip for this week: If you’re in the market for an apple sandwich be sure you try the one at Kringla Bakeri og Kafe in Norway first. While the one in France is good, the one in Norway is divine! Of course, try the school bread while you’re there too. 🙂
Do you have any news I missed or any requests for coverage next week? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, and thanks so much for reading! I’m wishing all of you the Best Week Ever, until next time!