A Parent's Guide to Visiting Disney's 2021 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
The 2021 Taste of Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is in full bloom just as families begin to descend on Walt Disney World for spring break. Pops of colorful flowers, fresh seasonal food, and kids' activities throughout the park make this one of Epcot's most kid-friendly festivals.
If you and your family are headed to Epcot between now and July 5, here are the best ways for kids and parents to enjoy the festival together.
Editor's note: As the pandemic persists, be sure to consult the CDC's travel guidance before choosing to travel. Also, for more on the updated health and safety guidelines at Disney World, read more about what it's really like to bring kids to Disney World during the pandemic.
1. Take in the Topiaries
Massive character topiaries are hands-down a highlight of the festival, which Epcot food and beverage project manager Chelsea Florig calls "a celebration of spring that makes the pavilions and the park feel alive." Bringing beloved Disney and Pixar characters to life in flower and foliage form requires in-depth collaboration between character artists, film studios, welders, and the horticultural team, explains horticultural director Eric Darden. Topiaries are playfully positioned around Future World and in their respective countries around the World Showcase.
Some of our favorites include Remy from Ratatouille, who stands atop a wheel of cheese over in the France pavilion; Kermit the Frog pedaling on a bicycle near the United Kingdom pavilion, and, in a clever update that pokes fun at the huge amount of construction going on around Epcot right now, Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy have traded in their gardening tools for construction equipment—see them in the photo above!
Kid tip: The festival guide booklet features a checklist of topiaries. Let your kids pick out their favorite characters then go on a hunt for them or, if you have time, see if you can spot them all!
2. Snack Your Way Around the Festival
This year's festival features plenty of kid-friendly foods, but some of the most playful choices are the frozen drinks, like a Maple Popcorn Shake, a Fruit Loops Shake, and a Honey-Peach Freeze.
3. Keep Kids Interested With Two Fun Scavenger Hunts
Adults love taking a laid-back approach to Epcot festivals, enjoying the sights and sounds as they stop for snacks and drinks. (Note: Masks must be worn at all times by guests ages 2 and up except when actively eating or drinking. Guests must also be stationary and physically distanced from other guests). But kids, who know a ride is never far away at Disney World, can be a tougher sell on the leisurely stroll. Enter Spike's Pollen Nation Exploration, a cute scavenger hunt that will keep your kids engaged as they hunt for Spike the Bee among the floral beds throughout the festival. For $7.99, pick up a scavenger hunt map and stickers and add a sticker each time you spot Spike and a featured flower. A completed map earns a souvenir prize!
Kid tip: Spike's Pollen Nation Exploration runs all festival long. Beginning March 19, a second Egg-stravaganza Scavenger Hunt also begins and features another fun sticker map. My kids love spotting the giant, Disney character-adorned colorful Easter eggs hidden throughout the World Showcase.
4. Try the Garden Graze
Who doesn't love a food challenge? If you're having trouble choosing what to eat at the festival, try the Garden Graze. Purchase five select plant-based menu items—including one of my absolute favorites of the festival, the Boneless Impossible Korean Short Rib—and get a complimentary prize at the end of your graze.
Kid tip: You can team up as a family to try all five items, some of which are more kid-friendly than others. Give kids the task of collecting the stamps from each of the booths once you've purchased the items and let them enjoy the prize: a refreshing Dole Whip in a souvenir cup.
5. Enjoy Live Music
It's been a while since many of us have enjoyed live entertainment. Remember what you've been missing with performances at the America Gardens Theatre of old and new pop songs by local Orlando bands, traditional folk music by Mariachi Cobre, and Disney favorites by Voices of Liberty.
6. Visit the Butterfly House
See countless butterflies fluttering about at the Goodness Garden Butterfly House near the Land pavilion. Inside the screened-in structure, several species fly freely among flowers, foliage, and informative displays about butterfly life cycles and habitats.
Kid tip: This is one of the many spots throughout the festival that incorporate education into the fun (read: less parental guilt if you've pulled your kiddos from school for vacation). Snap a photo of the display that explains how to create your own butterfly habitat and take the learning home with you.
7. Shop for Exclusive Festival Merchandise
Our family visits Walt Disney World regularly and we love picking up festival merch as annual souvenirs since the designs are typically unique to the season and year of our visit. Mickey, Minnie, Orange Bird, and Figment are the stars of this year's festival merchandise.
Kid tip: For an inexpensive souvenir that also helps teach kids about reducing waste, pick up a Spike the Bee reusable spork for $2.50 and forgo the disposable versions given out at the booths.