17th Epcot Flower & Garden Festival Shifts Dates Earlier Than Ever – March 3-May 16, 2010

New: Characters Camp Out for Topiary Photo Op; Pixie Hollow Expands

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The 17th annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival kicks off March 3 – earlier than ever – and continues for 75 days through May 16, 2010, with bold strokes of seasonal color and brand-new topiary whimsy. Last year’s festival began March 18; now Walt Disney World guests get a head start on the gardening season as they explore exhibits and activities geared toward discovery and outdoor fun.

Even before spring has sprung, Donald Duck and his topiary pals set up camp in full floral color to celebrate the Great Outdoors at the Epcot front entrance. The elaborate topiary with a North American theme, live waterfall and pond features Goofy in a fly-fishing misadventure, Daisy Duck roasting marshmallows over a campfire and Pluto in his “pup tent.” It’s a must-stop photo op for guests as soon as they pass through the park turnstiles. Packing more floral punch this year, the festival showcases more than 100 expertly crafted topiaries – including a new Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse topiary among a bed of flowers and vegetables in an “American Gothic” parody located at World Showcase Plaza.

“The advantage of starting earlier is that we’ll be able to feature more brilliant color than ever, with richly hued petunias, violas, snapdragons and other hardy flowers,” says festival horticulture manager Eric Darden. “By starting earlier and going through mid-May, it allows more guests than ever to experience the festival and to plan ahead for their spring and summer gardening.”

New This Year!

Special gardens, events and children’s play areas throughout the park offer more reasons to visit the 17th annual festival:

New Community Garden
– Disney’s “fab five” topiary pals – Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto and Goofy – gather at American Adventure to tend tomatoes, beans, peppers, herbs and other edibles in their first Community Garden for a salute to the many community gardens being planted across the country.

Newly Expanded Pixie Hollow Fairy Garden
– Colorful topiaries of Tinker Bell and friends from Walt Disney Pictures’ latest DVD release “Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue” will sprinkle pixie dust over this playful, expanded garden for kids. New characters on display with returning fairy favorites are fast-flying, sharp-tongued Vidia and charming Terence, dispenser of pixie dust. Tinker Bell’s Nook has hands-on activities. In a synergistic turn, the “Great Fairy Rescue” DVD includes a bonus feature on “The Making of the Fairy House,” featuring a child’s fairy house design brought to life by Disney’s horticulture team, along with the movie’s producer and director, who helped plan the garden. 

Fawn’s Butterfly House at Pixie Hollow
– Formerly known as Minnie’s Magnificent Butterfly House, the butterfly garden this year is part of the Expanded Pixie Hollow and named after fairy Fawn from the popular Tinker Bell films. Hundreds of butterflies will flit among the lush foliage, and guests can wander and watch as winged beauties of multiple species light on flowers filled with nectar and as caterpillars emerge from their chrysalis in a special discovery exhibit.

Princess Tiana’s Wedding Bayou –
This picturesque garden tucked into a corner of Future World near the Test Track walkway features full-size images of Tiana, Prince Naveen, Mama Odie, Louis the alligator and other animal friends gathered beneath a stand of trees.  Disney gardeners created a pond with water lilies nearby, and bright bottles dangle from the trees as in the movie’s bayou scene.  Coloring and rubbing stations are set up for children.

-Ever American Gothic Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse – Topiary experts pull out all the stops to create an American Gothic Mickey and Minnie topiary scene based on the 1930 Grant Wood painting. At World Showcase Plaza.

The Art of Green Living Garden
– This Tuscan-themed garden is located between the France and Morocco pavilions and shows guests how to create an environmentally friendly garden that showcases the beauty of Tuscany.  Olive and loquat trees, bubbling fountains, a “green” wall, a patio kitchen and a kids play area are just some of this large garden’s features.

Throughout the festival, more than 100 topiaries plus sweeping floral beds and exhibits will decorate the park landscape and showcase the extraordinary craftsmanship of Disney gardeners. A Fragrance Garden at the France pavilion will tell the “love story” of plants and perfume, and the art of bonsai will “wow” guests at the Japan showcase. 

Festival highlights also include: 

Flower Power concerts
– Popular bands will rock the open-air America Gardens Theatre every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 5:15, 6:30 and 7:45 p.m. Jose Feliciano is scheduled to kick off the concert series March 5-7. On subsequent weekends, the lineup is slated to feature pop favorites like Davy Jones, Chubby Checker & The Wildcats, Tony Orlando, former Boston lead singer Fran Cosmo, and other top acts.

Disney Gardening at Home presentations
– Disney horticulturists will share gardening tips and lead guests in a hands-on, take-home activity.

The Great American Gardeners series
– Gardening celebrities and authors from across the country will reveal their gardening secrets. Opening weekend, Robert Bowden, author and director of lush Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, kicks off the series.

The Garden Town Festival Center
– Guests can shop for festival merchandise, attend speaker presentations and demonstrations and ask gardening questions of the experts.

Special Festival Celebrations
– An Art in the Garden celebration of plein air artists is scheduled March 26-28; a Florida Farmer’s Market celebration is April 23-25, and the popular I Dig Bugs event is set for April 30-May 2.

More information about the 17th 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.

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