Flower and Garden Festival for the Kids
Take a look at one of the theme park maps and it’s no wonder that Walt Disney World attracts the attention of so many young guests. Daily flights to outer space, autographs from Princesses, heroic battles, and top of the line merchandise would make me jump from my bed at obscenely early hours on the mornings we would leave for WDW. I wanted constant action and constant entertainment, and the faster the plane traveled, the faster I could start my trip! I couldn’t wait for my feet to hit the park pavement so I could get to exploring all the wonders I knew were waiting for me just through the gates.
Fast-forward a just few years and I love Walt Disney World even more than I did when I was a kid. Now that I’m an ‘adult’ (I use that word tentatively), my interests haven’t changed all that much from when I was 6 years old- I’m still looking forward to the next adventure- except for one thing: my love for Epcot. It wasn’t all that long ago that I was a teenager who would roll her eyes whenever murmurs of Epcot would pass through my family, especially during Festival times. I knew my family would want to walk for hours through World Showcase, sampling the food and drink offerings I would have skipped in favor of more attractions.
Now through May, the International Flower and Garden Festival is in full swing. With a record-breaking number of Outdoor Kitchens, food offerings, special drinks, gardens, and topiaries, the 2018 festival is one you should absolutely plan on attending. But if you’re traveling with kids who moan at the mention of a “boring” afternoon spent at the Festival, that leisurely walk you were planning might quickly turn into a full blown meltdown…but not if you’re equipped with a game plan!
The Goodness Garden Butterfly House is one of the annual highlights of the International Flower and Garden Festival for me. Packed to the brim with native Florida foliage, the net-enclosed garden is home to several butterfly species just waiting for you to visit! Kids love this stop; as hundreds of colorful butterflies fly overhead, have them hold out their arms! I’ve seen more than one butterfly land on (very still) children, and the photo-perfect moments definitely put a smile on their faces!
Tip: Have your child count how many different species they find, then compare that number with how many actually habituate the garden!
Game time: Topiary Scavenger Hunt
It’s called the Flower and Garden Festival for a reason, so use it to your advantage! Get your kids pumped for the festival by letting them in on a secret: Disney goes beyond ordinary flowers. Favorites like Belle and the Beast, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Peter Pan, Stitch, Bambi, and Anna and Elsa have been transformed from animated character to living plans in the form of life sized topiaries! Lucky for you, the topiaries are located all around World Showcase Lagoon and make for a great scavenger hunt game while you sip, chew, and take your time to enjoy the festival, adult-style. Have them write down which characters they’re most excited to see, have them guess that character’s country of origin, and see if they’re right when they arrive! For example: Peter Pan (UK), Belle and Beast (France).
Move and Play, the Epcot Way
Imagination Play Garden was probably created for the sole purpose of giving kids a chance to get out of the stroller and move around a bit while parents rest walk-weary feet nearby. This all-new playground area is located on Imagination Walkway and its features are as extensive and in depth as you can imagine…come on, they have a musical play garden!
Kids can speed through Road to Florida 500 garden display featuring favorites from the Disney/Pixar classic, Cars. Not only is this the spot where Tow Mater, Cruz Ramirez, and Lighting McQueen topiaries are located, but kids big and small will have a chance to race and play through a miniature garden. You might want to warn them though, turn right to go left! This garden playspace is themed after the desert dirt racetrack where Doc Hudson famously trained Lighting McQueen for his big race! Are you fast enough?
Calling all Foodies…and Their Kids!
Let’s face it, the point of Fresh Epcot is to see the topiaries and taste the food and drink Disney chefs have worked so hard to create for you. When I was younger I was just as happy to lick a Mickey’s Premium ice cream bar as I was to ride Space Mountain, so why not let your kids in on the Festival food and beverage excitement too? True, most dishes aren’t exactly ‘kid-friendly’, but if you search hard enough, there are eats and treats your kids will be excited to taste!
You can talk up the Outdoor Kitchens and get them excited for items like the macaron chocolate lollypop (Fleur de Lys), maple popcorn shake (Northern Bloom), Dole Whip (Pineapple Promenade), Playalinda Brewing Company Violet Lemonade (Pineapple Promenade), Warm chocolate cake with/without caramel (The Smokehouse), and toasted pretzel ham and cheese (Bauernmarkt). With so many ways to make the Festival fun for kids, I want to know which activities you’ll include your children in! Let me know in the comments below!
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Special thanks to Maria Salerno for writing this article: Hiya pal! I am a NYC-based writer/musician thrilled to be bringing you all things Disney! I’m a WDW Annual Passholder, so you can find me in the parks regularly throughout the year. In addition to being a Disney Parks loving girl, I’m also a Disney toy and merchandise collector, a runDisney enthusiast, and Disney music and movie aficionado. You can follow me on Instagram: NYCtoAP and find me on YouTube: NYCtoAP. Thanks for reading, hope to see ya real soon!