Monday, July 5, 2010

Behind A Garden Wall - The Epcot ® International Flower & Garden Festival

Anticipation grew as we approached the entrance to Epcot ®, the 300-acre theme park inspired by the creative genius of Walt Disney.  Epcot ® is an acronym for "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow".  Disney actually envisioned a living community in a futuristic environment, but it was established as a tourist destination in 1982.  It was designed with two "worlds" of discovery: Future World and World Showcase. Future World features the land, seas, technology and imagination.  World Showcase is a kaleidoscope of nations gathered to celebrate their heritage and culture.

In 1993, Epcot ® established their annual International Flower and Garden Festival.  The Festival fit naturally into the Epcot theme for all of the Disney parks are famous for their imaginative and immaculate landscaping.  Rae Spencer-Jones included the Walt Disney World Resorts among her 1001 Gardens You Must See Before You Die.

The last time our family visited Disney, my wife and I were pushing strollers.  After 20 years, it was about time we visited again.

This visit was during the Flower and Garden Festival.  From the moment we entered, impressive gardens and topiaries excited us.  It was unmistakably Disney in style and scope.  Impressive topiaries were featured everywhere.  Colorful Disney characters entertained visitors in Future World while fanciful characters like the Bromeliad Dragon inspired gardeners in World Showcase.

Disney's Flower and Garden Festival was a treat for the mind and senses.  This year, nationally recognized garden personalities shared their insights and techniques on weekends during the Great American Gardeners workshop series.  They included Robert Bowden - expert on gardening in Florida, Jeff Gillman - author of The Truth About Garden Remedies, Lynn Coulter - author of Gardening with Heirloom Seeds, Maureen Gilmer - gardening author, designer and speaker, Douglas Tallamy - expert on native plant gardening, Debra Prinzing - garden designer, Susan Belsinger - culinary educator and food writer, Tom and Joani MacCubbin - creators of, Lee Reich - gardening author and consultant, Matt Henderson on A Fragrant Love Story, and Ahmed Hassan - host of DIY Network's Yard Crashers.  Disney's own gardening experts also shared their knowledge and provided visitors with tips they could use at home in their gardens.

One could satisfy the palate and nose in pleasant venues.  Garden Town Breakfasts prepared by Disney chefs were offered on selected days.  Menu offerings included fresh ingredients from the Epcot ® Land Pavilion.  Professional chefs and horticulturists shared their knowledge with guests.  Daily tours of the Fragrance Garden, sponsored by Guerlain, delighted visitors at the France Pavilion.

The Flower Power Concert Series was a great favorite.  During the Festival, music and recording artists from the 60s and 70s drew crowds to the concert shell.  Among them were Jose Feliciano, Paul Revere and The Raiders, David Cassidy, Starship, Tony Orlando, Herman's Hermits, The Nelsons, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Fran Cosmo - formerly with Boston, Davy Jones and Chubby Checker with The Wildcats!

The 2011 Epcot ® International Flower and Garden Festival is scheduled for March 2 to May 15.  Put it on your calendar.  You shouldn't miss it.  For the price of a ticket you can discover what grows behind Disney's garden wall.

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