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Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival returns with new look, new food, new name

And Sunday marked the return of the Blizzard Beach water park.
The Taste of Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival has opened at Walt Disney World. The springtime festival runs through July 5  with creative Disney character topiaries, lush gardens and Outdoor Kitchens.
The Taste of Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival has opened at Walt Disney World. The springtime festival runs through July 5 with creative Disney character topiaries, lush gardens and Outdoor Kitchens. [ DAVID ROARK | David Roark, photographer ]
Published Mar. 8
Updated Mar. 8

With the addition of more food kiosks, Disney World has opened Epcot’s annual springtime festival as the newly named A Taste of Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. And Sunday marked the return of the Blizzard Beach water park, which had yet to reopen since being shut down last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This year the festival, running now through July 5, aims to showcase a variety of springtime’s “flavors and florals.”

The park has added 20 outdoor kitchens, some of them offering ciders, beers and wines produced in the Tampa Bay area.

“We have a pink lemonade drink based with a great cider from 3 Daughters Brewing (St. Petersburg), a watermelon/mint ale from 81Bay Brewing (Tampa) and an orange blossom honey wine from Florida Orange Groves Winery (St. Petersburg),” said Rick DeCicco, proprietor of festivals.

In an effort to tempt guests to visit the festival more than once, Disney chefs have also decided to test out different menus during the festival. The Farmers Feast kiosk will feature three different menus that will rotate throughout the weeks. Also, foodies can purchase five select food items and receive a complimentary commemorative keepsake.

Flowers and topiaries are still a feature of the festival, with Disney characters recreated in floral form.

A member of Disney's horticulture team trims a topiary of Tigger in this year's A Taste of Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.
A member of Disney's horticulture team trims a topiary of Tigger in this year's A Taste of Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. [ KELLY A. STEFANI | Times ]

“This year we have close to 100 topiaries,” said Debbie Mola Mickler, area manager of Walt Disney World Nursery. “Depending on the topiaries size, it takes hundreds and hundreds of hours to create a topiary. When we do topiaries, most of it is live materials such as green plants and flowers with dried mosses.”

Disney is also bringing back live concerts. On Friday through Monday evenings, guests can find entertainment by the Vintage Vinyl Band and other popular Orlando-based musicians.

Health is a big emphasis at this year’s festival. AdventHealth has created the Health Full Trail where families can gather comfortably in the safety of their own 6-foot circle to learn ways to stay healthy on a playground that is studded with educational tips.

There are also scavenger hunts for family entertainment. Gardeners of all ages can purchase a map and follow Spike the Bee along his pollination trail. Starting March 19, guests can also hunt for giant Easter eggs hidden throughout the park.

The Summit Plummet at Disney's Blizzard Beach water park in Orlando. The park reopens on March 7 after nearly one year of closure.
The Summit Plummet at Disney's Blizzard Beach water park in Orlando. The park reopens on March 7 after nearly one year of closure. [ HO | Walt Disney World ]

Disney also reopened Blizzard Beach waterpark on Sunday. The park’s backstory – a freak blizzard turning Florida into a melting Alpine village – remains the same.

Like other Disney parks, Blizzard Beach’s safety measures include reduced capacity, temperature screenings and physical distancing markers. Face coverings are required for ages 2 and up at the park entrance and exit, retail areas, and food and beverage ordering areas. However, face coverings will not be permitted in the pools or water slides.

The biggest change to the park is the addition of a covered dining area offering up to 160 guests a place to eat and escape sun or rain.