Walt Disney World’s EPCOT is currently undergoing the biggest transformation of any Disney Park to date. Disney has a number of changes and additions planned for the park, especially in regard to Future World, which is being re-imagined into three themed areas or neighborhoods: World Celebration, World Nature, and World Discovery. What hasn’t changed at EPCOT is its festivals! On March 4, the ever-popular EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival returned for 2020 with new food, merchandise, colorful gardens, and more!
So you’ve decided to experience the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival. But what now? When should you arrive at the park? What is there to do? Where do you even start? I’m here to answer all of those questions and more in this Disney World Survival Guide for the 2020 EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival!
What is the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival?
The EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival is an annual springtime event where guests can enjoy colorful gardens and character-inspired topiaries throughout the park, as well as yummy outdoor kitchens, live entertainment, special activities, and more. The festival is not a hard ticket event–it is included with the price of park admission, and guests can experience this year’s festival from March 4, 2020 through June 1, 2020.
What Is There To Do at the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival?
EPCOT is gorgeous during the Flower and Garden Festival, and part of the fun is simply enjoying the lush, landscaped gardens and the character-inspired topiaries. Seriously, they’re works of art and scattered all throughout the park! For instance, look for a Buzz Lightyear topiary at Mission: SPACE, Elsa and Anna at the Norway Pavilion, Remy at the France Pavilion, and more.
But that’s not all this festival has to offer …
Guests can find sixteen themed outdoor kitchens or food booths mainly scattered throughout World Showcase. Each has its own unique menu and is themed after a particular country or culinary style. Upon entering the park, be sure to grab a Festival Passport that’s filled with festival information plus the menus for each outdoor kitchen. Forget to pick one up on your way in? They can be found throughout the park and at the different kitchens. For further convenience, there are huge menus outside of each booth with prices and pictures.
Garden Rocks Concert Series
The Flower & Garden Festival offers nightly performances from well-known singers and bands at the America Gardens Theatre at the American Adventure Pavilion.
The Garden Rocks 2020 shows are:
- March 4-5 – Peabo Bryson
- March 6-9 – The Orchestra starring former members of ELO
- March 10-12 – The Guess Who
- March 13-16 – Simple Plan
- March 17-19 – STARSHIP featuring Mickey Thomas
- March 20-23 – Mark Wills
- March 24-26 – The Spinners
- March 27-28 – Sister Hazel
- March 29-30 – The Pointer Sisters
- March 31-April 2 – Steve Augeri – Former Lead Vocalist of Journey
- April 3-4 – Blood, Sweat & Tears
- April 5-6 – Expose’
- April 7-9 – Berlin
- April 10-11 – A Flock of Seagulls
- April 12-13 – Atlantic Starr
- April 14-16 – Tony Orlando
- April 17-18 – High Valley
- April 19-20 – Rick Springfield
- April 21-23 – Christopher Cross
- April 24-27 – Plain White T’s
- April 28-30 – Don Felder – Formerly of The Eagles
- May 1-2 – Don McLean
- May 3-4 – Casting Crowns
- May 5-7 – Ambrosia with Peter Beckett
- May 8-9 – Thelma Houston
- May 10-11 – The Allman Betts Band
- May 12-14 – Air Supply
- May 15-18 – Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone
- May 19-21 – Mike DelGuidice & Big Shot
- May 22-23 – Claudia Leitte
- May 24-25 – Daughtry
- May 26-28 – Marshall Tucker Band
- May 29-30 – Crowder
- May 31-June 1 – Survivor
Festival Souvenir Shopping
There are several different merchandise collections available at the festival this year. Exclusive Annual Passholder event merchandise and magnets are available at the new MouseGear location. Annual Passholders can also find Passholder event pins at Pin Traders’ new location near the front of the park.
Speaking of event merchandise, the popular Orange Bird Sipper has returned to The Citrus Blossom this year; and there’s a new addition too! Guests can also pick up the Spike the Bee Sipper at the Honey Bee-stro.
Festival Events and Tours
Several tours are offered during the festival, such as the Gardens of the World, Royal Tea Garden Tour, and the complimentary English Tea Garden Presented by Twinings of London. EPCOT also offers the Behind the Seeds Tour year round. Keep in mind these tours are only offered at select times, there are age restrictions, and advance reservations are encouraged by calling (407) WDW-TOUR or (407) 939-8687 for availability. Guests interested in the English Tea Garden tour can sign up at The Tea Caddy at the United Kingdom Pavilion. However, since space is limited, sign up as early as possible! Guests can also take their own self-guided Tea Tour by picking up a brochure at The Tea Caddy.
For some extra festival fun, check out The Goodness Garden Butterfly House – Presented by GoGo squeeZ. In this exhibit, guests can encounter butterflies floating to and from the variety of flowers.
For young and old alike, there’s also Spike’s Pollen Nation Exploration scavenger hunt. Maps are available for $6.99 plus tax at Port of Entry, MouseGear, Disney Traders, World Traveler, and select Festival Markets. Guests who return their completed scavenger hunt map receive a surprise! Also, beginning March 27, EPCOT will offer the Egg-Stravaganza Scavenger Hunt where guests can hunt for Easter Eggs.
Guests feeling especially hungry can try out the festival’s Garden Graze scavenger hunt. If guests purchase five menu items displayed in the festival passport and get the necessary stamps, they get a prize!
Lastly, little ones can run and play at two interactive playgrounds for the festival: Bo Peep’s Playtime Training Grounds near Test Track and the Play Full Garden on the Imagination walkway.
Things to Know
Hours of Operation – Epcot’s Future World, which is currently under construction to become themed neighborhoods, opens with the park. However, most of World Showcase and the festival outdoor kitchens don’t open until 11:00 A.M. and close down at 9:00 P.M. Guests can still walk through some of World Showcase, even if this part of the park isn’t open since the Norway Pavilion’s Frozen Ever After and Akershus Royal Banquet Hall open with the park. This is also true of the France Pavilion’s Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie. The area between France and Norway will remain closed until 11 A.M., however.
Portion Sizes – Don’t expect a meal-sized portion at the festival’s outdoor kitchens. What you’re getting ranges from small plates or individual appetizers to shareable snacks. If you intend for the festival to be your answer to lunch or dinner, be prepared to visit multiple booths!
Trash Can Tables – EPCOT sets up tables during the festivals for guests to eat at; however, there’s never enough. Therefore, many guests through the years have taken to using trash cans as tables or as the perfect surface for those necessary Instagram pics. Unsanitary? Kinda gross? Yes. But even Disney seems aware of this festival tradition as park trash cans have been included in festival merchandise in recent years. Anyway, be aware that finding a place to enjoy your food from the festival may be a challenge.
Transportation – There are several ways to get to EPCOT to enjoy the Flower & Garden Festival. Along with driving to the park, guests can take advantage of Disney’s free bus transportation or take an Uber or Lyft. Guests can also use Disney’s Minnie Van service through the Lyft app; however, expect to pay more than an Uber or Lyft for that Disney touch and extra convenience.
Note: Minnie Van service operates from 6:30 AM to 12:30 AM daily. Hours of operation are subject to change; guests cannot currently make reservations in advance.
Guests can also take the Monorail from the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) to Epcot, or the Disney Skyliner to the International Gateway between the France and United Kingdom Pavilions. Those staying at the Swan and Dolphin Resorts, Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, and Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club can walk or take a Friendship to the International Gateway as well.
Visit for Lunch – While many guests and locals prefer to tackle the Flower & Garden Festival for dinner, the lines for the outdoor kitchens will be shortest at 11:00 A.M. when World Showcase opens. Also, this is the best time to get those crowd-free photos of the topiaries!
Visit on a Weekday – Crowds are often lower on weekdays as opposed to weekends. If you’re looking to beat the crowds, a weekday is your best bet.
Use a Disney Gift Card – Each year, Disney offers festival-themed gift cards attached to a bracelet which guests can use to pay with at the festival. While these gift cards are convenient, they’re also great for keeping to a budget. All the yummy small plates and treats can really add up if you’re not paying attention. However, if you purchase a gift card for the amount you budget for your festival eats, it can help prevent overspending. The gift card also makes a great souvenir for your Flower & Garden Festival experience!
Know the Symbols – The outdoor kitchen menus have little icons or logos representing dietary-friendly or kid-friendly items, as well as kid-approved items. There’s a key inside your festival passport for these icons, and they’re clearly visible next to their respective dishes on all menus. Note: If you’re concerned about a food allergy, feel free to talk with a Cast Member or chef. However, Disney notes that they don’t have separate kitchens to prepare allergy-friendly items or separate dining areas for guests with allergies or intolerances.
Make a Plan – Take a look at the outdoor kitchen locations and their menus before your visit and make a list of what you want to try. The EPCOT festivals can be overwhelming due to the number of options, people, and things to see. Without a plan or idea of where to go, you may find yourself trekking back and forth across the park or missing your favorite booths completely.
Rope Drop for Attractions – If EPCOT attractions are on your to-do list, consider rope dropping the park to experience EPCOT’s most popular rides before the festival kicks off for the day and draws in the crowds. Another reason to rope drop? EPCOT has a tiered FastPass+ system with the most popular attractions, Frozen Ever After, Soarin’, and Test Track, all belonging to the top tier. What does that mean? You can only select one of these top tier attractions to start with along with two other attractions from the bottom tier.
Work the Disney Dining Plan to Your Advantage – You may notice the Disney Dining Plan logo next to certain items on the festival’s outdoor kitchen menus. This means certain items are eligible as a Disney Dining Plan snack credit! However, you should try to be strategic. Not every item is a good use of a snack credit and you want to get as much for those credits as possible. If a particular item is a little pricey, can’t be found anywhere else, and is large or possibly shareable, that’s an item worth using your valuable credits on.
Know Where to Relax and Refuel
There’s a lot to see and do at the Flower & Garden Festival and at EPCOT in general. Also, since this is a springtime festival, that infamous Florida heat and humidity is still a factor. You and yours need to know where to go to relax and refuel during your day.
Traveler’s Cafe/Starbucks – EPCOT’s Fountain View Starbucks location closed last year for the park’s transformation. Fortunately, a temporary location serves the full Starbucks menu for guests in need of a caffeinated boost. Traveler’s Cafe is located between Future World and World Showcase and right before the Canada Pavilion.
Joffrey’s Coffee Kiosks – EPCOT has A LOT of Joffrey’s kiosks, perfect for all those treks around World Showcase. Along with a variety of coffees and teas, Joffrey’s kiosks also offer pastries and specialty drinks for the Flower & Garden Festival! For reference, there’s a Joffrey’s at the EPCOT Monorail station, near Test Track, at the American Adventure, between the Canada and United Kingdom Pavilion, and near the entrance to World Showcase.
The American Adventure – This 29-minute audio-animatronic show covers historic moments from American history in a massive, indoor theater with excellent air-conditioning and comfortable seats. It’s the perfect place to get off your feet, cool off, and recharge while being entertained and maybe learning something too!
Spaceship Earth – EPCOT’s icon is also an attraction! Here guests board slow-moving vehicles for a 16 minute trip through time to learn about communication. This attraction is somewhat dark, indoors, and perfect for when you need a break from the heat and crowds. Note: Beginning May 26, Spaceship Earth will close for a refurbishment as part of EPCOT’s transformation.
The EPCOT Experience – Located inside the Odyssey Pavilion is the EPCOT Experience, a preview center for all of the changes and new experiences coming to the park. The EPCOT Experience is indoors, cool, rarely crowded, and even has a place to grab food and drinks.
Did I answer all of your questions about the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival? What’s your favorite thing about Flower & Garden?