12 March 2012

Topiaries are all around

Since the 2012 edition of the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival started this week, I thought I would go ahead and give you my first thoughts of this year’s festival. For starters, I should tell you that I ventured through the various grounds yesterday during intermittent rain showers, so I don’t really have photographs to show off.The past couple of years the main topiaries of the festival have tied into upcoming or recent animated releases, with the remaining figures being filled out by figures that seem almost identical to previous incarnations. This year there are plenty of favorites, such as Peter Pan and Captain Hook, the princesses, and Mickey and the gang, but there are also some new figures as well as some figures that have been removed. The same can be said for staple exhibits of the festival where the butterfly garden, playgrounds, sand sculpture, and speaker series are all still thriving.So, what has changed? Well, Aladdin is no longer in Morocco, instead a collection of ball topiaries dedicated to the renowned and well utilized spices of Morocco. The bonsai are still present in Japan, but the staging of them throughout the pavilion seems familiar, but the placement of each plant appears to allow them much more space. This means that each carefully cultivated bonsai is given its own vista and requires dedication on the part of guests to really see each one. There also seems like a movement towards topiaries of real creatures in the place of animated creations. That doesn’t mean there is an overwhelming number of animal topiaries, but they are definitely more present than I have seen in the past several years. The only thing that would make this feel more like early Walt Disney World was if he topiaries were primarily comprised of shrubs as opposed to sphagnum.From the festival poster, designed by Randy Noble, to the selection and placement of plants, gardens, and lectures, every corner of this festival feels fresh and new. The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is, far and away, my favorite annual event in Epcot, quite possibly in Walt Disney World. Yet, even I’ve felt it was beginning to become complacent and redundant. This year, guests will see plenty of returning favorites and some fresh buds and blooms to make this spring something exciting to behold!

The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is running now through May 20, 2012 throughout Future World and World Showcase.

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