Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival, running now through May 30, is one of our favorite times of the year to visit this Walt Disney World theme park. In addition to the normal Epcot attractions, there are stunning Disney character topiaries throughout the park, special garden displays, yummy Outdoor Kitchens (food booths), and the Garden Rocks Concert Series on the weekends.
While many of these elements sound more catered to adults, Disney definitely didn’t forget the kids! Here are our favorite toddler-tested and -approved parts of the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.
The Flower and Garden Festival features two play areas (recommended for ages 2 – 12) that were specially installed for this event: the Music Garden Melodies and the Cactus Road Rally.
The Music Garden Melodies play area was the highlight of Tater’s day. This play area is located behind Journey into Imagination on a path on the way to the World Showcase and features traditional playground equipment like slides and climbing areas, as well as larger instruments for the kids to play and some recognizable Disney friends in topiary form. Additionally, this play area is illuminated after dark, and the ground is child-friendly synthetic turf.
The playground is divided into two sides/areas: one more geared toward younger kids and one for the slightly older group.
For the younger kids (to the left when you enter):
For the older kids (to the right when you enter):
Then in the center area are a few large interactive instruments, which kids of all ages were enjoying.
This is a very popular play area, but luckily for parents, there are plenty of benches, chairs, and YES, even shaded, tented areas (so take a break and let your kids get some energy out). There are also cast members at the entrance to make sure every kid that enters is with a supervising adult, as well as to monitor the area.
The Cactus Road Rally is the second (and smaller) play area, which is located on the walkway behind Mouse Gear near Test Track.
This play area is Cars themed with nearby Tow Mater and Lightning McQueen topiaries, and it features a double slide and climbing structure, as well as tires and steering wheels.
There are cast members at the entrance making sure all children entering have adult supervision, as well as monitoring the play area. There are also a number of seats available for adults, but no shaded, tented areas like at the Music Garden Melodies play area. Also, please note that this play area closes at dusk.
There are a number of incredible Disney character topiaries spread out throughout Epcot during the Flower and Garden Festival.
While we (as adults) very much enjoyed seeing these – and I am sure older kids would have fun spotting them – they were hit or miss with our toddler. The hits were definitely the more colorful topiaries, and he was able to recognize many of the characters.
The park map (pick up a copy by the front entrance) also identifies where the topiaries are located, so make sure you don’t miss your child’s favorite character.
The Flower and Garden Festival also features a number of special gardens, like Butterflies on the Go and Backyard Habitat.
I think many of the kid-friendly gardens are more for the kindergarten-plus crowd, but Tater was mildly interested in Butterflies on the Go, which is located behind Club Cool and closes at dusk.
When we were there (the first weekend of the festival), the majority of the butterflies were still in their cocoons in wooden boxes. I imagine when they hatch, though, it will be a bigger draw for toddlers (make sure you read The Very Hungry Caterpillar before you go!).
Garden Rocks Concert Series
These concerts take place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the festival at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8 p.m. in the America Gardens Theatre by the American Adventure pavilion in the World Showcase.
You can find the list of bands here, and we saw about two dozen people lined up almost two hours early for the 5:30 p.m. show of The Orchestra starring former members of ELO. Our toddler doesn’t have the patience for that (or even sitting through a concert), but if there is a band you can’t miss, you can still hear them from the American Adventure pavilion area outside of the actual theatre (so at the very least you can catch a song or two without having to wait or sit in the theatre).
The Epcot Flower and Garden Festival features 13 Outdoor Kitchens (food booths), similar to Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival, but more focused on farm fresh or inspired foods. Think of it as Food and Wine light.
While there are tons of delicious options for adults (including adult beverages), we were also very impressed with the number of toddler-friendly foods.
Check out my post on Outdoor Kitchen food reviews!
The Verdict: Take your infant, toddler or young child to the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival and have a great time! Make sure you visit the play areas, as well as find the topiaries of their favorite characters.
Tip: Pick up a Garden Passport by the maps at the front entrance (or at numerous spots throughout the park). These free booklets provide lists of food and beverages available at each Outdoor Kitchen, locations of each Disney character topiary, and spots for stamps from each festival location. You can also download a copy of the passport here.