Despite the overcast skies, Sunday, March 23, was a beautiful day to visit Epcot. But it wasn’t the first park I tried that day. At 8:30am I was rolling up to the parking plaza for Magic Kingdom, but it looked more like a parking lot. The crowds were unreal, with bumper to bumper traffic several lanes deep. I chose to stay in the left lane and head straight for the exit with my fingers crossed crowds would be more manageable at Epcot. Luckily, they were, and I have lots of fun to share! For starters, check out these flower beds!
But, I’m getting ahead of myself! I took several photos of the deep lines at bag check and entrance gates. I’m guessing those aren’t as fun to look at as the topiaries at the park entrance. Sorry for the odd angle, but this was just mobbed with folks taking photos! (Don’t worry – there are lots more coming!)
Here is a quick video of walking into the park. You can see it wasn’t too busy, but it certainly wasn’t a slow day, either! Of course, this seems like a good time to mention that my YouTube “channel” is just for posting videos here, but you can subscribe to the TouringPlans Youtube channel for all the latest new videos! All the cool kids are doing it!
Stepping just past Spaceship Earth you’ll find this group of topiaries. Aren’t they pretty? I love that they kept Mickey and Minnie together. Even in the dreary weather, the flowers in the bed were so bright and pretty!
From looking at the topiary above, you’d never guess what madness was directly behind me. This is one of the first FastPass+ stations that guests come across in the park, and it’s always PACKED! I don’t know if you can tell from the photo below that the line just wraps and wraps. I would guess the line is a minimum of 30 minutes long. If you need help first thing in the morning, be sure to head to a different FastPass+ station.
From here I back tracked a tiny bit and did some touring through Innoventions. I’ll save that for another blog, but next I checked out The Art of Disney. I walk through this shop just about every time I visit Epcot. This time I decided to stop by early so I could take you with me! Do you see anything you want to add to your collection?
By now it was 9:40am,and the lines were starting to grow. I took a video of the times board so you can see for yourself. At this hour things were still reasonable as long as you didn’t want to ride Test Track or Soarin’.
I was impressed by the short line over at Mission: SPACE, so I headed that way for a quick rid (orange, of course!) It isn’t really a camera friendly ride, so I thought I’d share a photo of Buzz out front. Seems sad he’s so far away from Woody!
Next I walked over to Test Track, but the single rider line was already up to 20 minutes. I decided to save it for another day and check out the topiaries in the area instead. Lightning was ready for his closeup, KA-CHOW!
Of course, no trip to the Flower & Garden Festival is complete without visiting Mater!
After visiting the guys from Radiator Springs, it was time for more shopping! Anyone want to take a look around MouseGear? Now this gift shop is huge, so this doesn’t even cover half of it. If you have any specific requests, let me know in the comments, and I can focus on that next time. I’m always looking to bring you the things you want to see!
Below is one of my favorite sections of MouseGear, the Duffy wall! I know I’m in the minority, but I really do like Duffy, and I’m dreaming of going to Tokyo to claim a Shellie May. Below you can see the new outfits they’ve released and even the new Steam Boat Willie Duffy Bear.
Stepping away from shopping and looking back towards the World Showcase, you can see the topiary beside the Fountain of Nations this year. Is it just me, or does it look like Disney has created a topiary for our friends from Brazil? These same topiaries were ice skating in December… but they have been repurposed well.
It was still a bit early to head toward the World Showcase, so I stopped by Tinkerbell’s Butterfly Garden. While the location is beautiful, the butterflies didn’t really show up for me. I might just be spoiled by the Jacksonville Zoo, where there are just butterflies everywhere!
Walking back towards Future World, I finally found some butterflies! I feel like the photo doesn’t do them justice. These are huge! I bet they are 6+ feet tall. This would be a great spot for a family photo.
Next, I wondered over to Journey Into Imagination With Figment. Just like everyone else on the Internet, this ride makes me crazy because I remember how amazing it used to be before they changed it. But I don’t hate this version, and with all the rumors that it might be going away, I thought it was time to add some HD video of the attraction!
When I left the ride I stopped by one of my favorite spots in the park. This will sound strange, but it’s the stroller parking area outside The Land pavilion. Everyone is in such a hurry to get to Soarin’ in the morning that they just chuck their strollers in this parking lot and run. The squirrels are very aware of this and show up for the “buffet” every morning. They unzip bags and rifle through the contents. I often think about the parents who come out later in the day and are horrified to find their bags unzipped, and then are confused to find only goldfish crackers missing. The lesson here is to not leave your bags unattended in your strollers!
Moving on this way, The Seas with Nemo & Friends was next. You can see from the photo below that it was still pretty grey out, but the temperature had shot up to 80°F, making it pretty humid out. It wasn’t our best day for weather!
I’ve been working on my camera settings, and I think I finally nailed my dark ride configuration. So for your enjoyment here is the complete attraction ride through! Are there any other videos you’d like to see? Let me know in the comments below – I’d love to get them for you.
After this, I came across a big line around a planter. It didn’t seem to be near anything, and I was curious what was going on, so I asked the cast member. It was another FastPass+ help location! Wow, if you can make your FastPass+ reservations in advance, you really should. These help stations in the parks seems to be a nightmare.
By now it was around 10:40am, so I stopped back by the wait times board again. You guys can see what a difference an hour makes on wait times! (Sorry – it was sunny you’ll have to squint a little.)
I noticed that the Character Spot still had a really short line, so I stopped over for some stock photos. Normally, this isn’t something I would even mention since I was just grabbing images for later use, but something special happened. Whenever I’m photographing characters I explain that I’m going to take a closeup and a full body shot so they understand what type of poses makes sense. Well, Goofy decided to get REALLY closeup! It cracked me up and resulted in the below photo that’s too good not to share!
After playing with the characters, I took a quick trip through Club Cool for a sugar rush. As an added bonus I got to see a family take their first shot of Beverly! That just never gets old!
From here I started my tour around the World Showcase, taking photos of all the different topiaries along the way, starting with Phineas and Ferb.
Next were the enormous and beautiful Fantasia topiaries marking the entrance to the World Showcase this year. Remember, you can always click on the below images to see larger sizes.
I decided to head toward Mexico, where I couldn’t find anything special for Flower & Garden Festival. I decided to pop in for a quick ride on Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros. Of course, here is ride-through video for you guys!
Next was Norway! You’d never guess from looking at this photo that there was a massive line of people just in front. Those folks were kind enough to sit on the ground for all of us taking photos. What were they waiting for, you ask? They were in line to meet Anna and Elsa! There was a massive line in front of the actual meet and greet location, with a secondary line wrapping all the way from Norway to China! When I asked, I was told the wait was 4 hours! Unreal! I can’t wait for them to move to Magic Kingdom next month.
Next were the standard panda bears in China. I wonder how many years they have been using this same display? (Seems like forever!)
Next were the characters from The Lion King in the Adventure Outpost. These looked great! I think it’s because they really look like they are in the jungle.
In front of Germany you’ll find the prettiest princess this year. For some reason Snow White is the only princess topiary with a face! All the others are just flat and blank. You’ll see what I’m talking about in later photos, but Snow White is the big winner for sure this year!
Next is the new topiary for 2014: The Muppets featuring Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. Not only is it pretty, but they also play awesome Muppets music in this area. I found myself lingering because I wanted to listen to the music!
In Italy you’ll find Lady and the Tramp and this lush garden! The only thing missing is one really long strand of spaghetti!
Moving onto America, you’ll find Woody very, very far away from Buzz back at Mission: SPACE. He’s just in front of the The Smokehouse stand, which is one of the new food booths this year. Would you guys like to see some food photos next time? Goodness knows we’ve tried most of it! The Piggylicious Bacon Cupcake (with maple frosting!) is one of the best things at this stand!
I mentioned back when we were touring the World Showcase that the zen garden in Japan would host bonsai trees during the festival. Sure enough, here they are! This spot is so much prettier with the trees! I wish they would leave them year-round. But you can check out the link and see what you think.
Next on the tour is France and its lovely Beauty and the Beast topiaries. If you click on the photo of Belle, you can see that she has no face! Like I mentioned earlier, she could use a Snow White makeover!
Again, Cinderella and Aurora didn’t get faces, but they look lovely twirling along the bridge that connects France to the United Kingdom. I was also lucky enough to catch the tree blooming this year. Even on a dreary day, these are beautiful!
Speaking of the United Kingdom, that pavilion has quite a few topiaries to finish off our tour. The first features most of the Winnie the Pooh characters. I keep hoping one of these years they will add more of them. Owl, Kanga, Roo, Gopher, and who else am I missing?
Lastly, and a quite fitting finale, are characters from Peter Pan! Once again, this year Peter is perched high on the building. Remember, you can always click on the images to see a larger size.
That’s everything I have for you today. I hope you enjoyed this trip around Epcot. Did I miss any topiaries? Is there something you’d like to see next time? Please let me know in the comments below. I’d love to bring it to you next time! Thanks so much for reading!