The power of the flower has returned to Orlando! If you're aching to break free of winter's cold grip and explore some fresh scenery, the annual Epcot Flower and Garden Festival is the guaranteed cure for your cabin fever.
From now through May 18, 2014, Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort celebrates the great outdoors with towering topiaries, colorful flowers, backyard habitats and tasty treats that will inspire your hibernating family to awaken and jump for joy.
Here are Visit Orlando's tips of things to do, see and taste at the festival that gets our green thumbs up:
Every year, the topiaries are the biggest draw of the festival. This year there are new elements along with your classic favorites. Each one is breathtaking and will leave you wondering, "How do they do that?"
Tip: Giant Goofy, Donald and Daisy topiaries welcome visitors at the front entrance. The morning sun is more favorable for great photos that show the details and intricate work of this scene.
Photo Op: Don't miss your chance to block Goofy from scoring a goal in this full size tribute to the upcoming World Cup Soccer Games in Brazil.
Tip: The Festival Center is where the most enthusiastic home gardeners and weekend warriors should go for helpful lectures and expert demonstrations. It's also the place to meet your favorite HGTV celebrity hosts (appearance schedule).
Tip: There are plenty of interactive play areas for the kids to get involved and burn off some extra energy. Make a pit stop at Mater's play garden for some interactive gardening fun.
And have a monstrous time on a playground straight from the campus of Monsters University.
Tip: Tinker Bell's Butterfly House is a breathtaking respite not to be missed. This walkthrough environment is filled with colorful wild flowers and glass art, along with hundreds of butterflies fluttering about.
Tip: Learn how to create your own backyard habitat in a new area presented by our friends at the National Wildlife Federation.
This is a great way to see firsthand what it takes to attract beneficial wildlife to your garden, no matter where you live.
Tip: The Backyard Play Garden is also a great stop for the kids but it's also a great place to discover some innovative urban gardening tips.
Here, you can see examples of how the whole family can get involved with growing flowers and vegetables at home.
The food experience at Epcot has been turned up a notch with the fresh tastes of the Outdoor Kitchens around World Showcase. Enjoy tastings around several of the international pavilions, as well as springtime treats that are exclusive to this festival.
Urban Farm Eats is new to the festival and offers a farm-to-table experience with their Land-Grown Eggplant "Scallop" and a Ghost Pepper dusted Tilapia. Wash it all down with a refreshing Cucumber Lemon Spa Water with fresh mint.
Florida Fresh offers the best of Florida growers with a fresh Watermelon Salad, Shrimp and Stone Ground Grits with Andouille Sausage and Sweet Corn, and a sweet Florida Kumquat Pie for desert. The Watermelon Passion Fruit Slush is a perfect pairing.
The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews (American Adventure) features the festival's blue ribbon favorite - the "Piggylicious" Bacon Cupcake with maple frosting and topped with a pretzel crunch.
Bonus Tip: There are two beer flights at the Outdoor Kitchens not to be missed. Florida Fresh features a selection of crisp and refreshing beers that'll put an extra spring in your step while The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews offers a sample of amber beers perfect for paring with smoky meats.
The Buttercup Cottage (UK Pavilion) has some of our favorite international flavors of the festival with a tasty Pork and Apple Sausage Roll and a delightful Baked Potato and Cheddar Cheese Biscuit topped with a smoked salmon tartare.
Bonus Tip: Even Epcot has joined the "Cronut" craze. These prized sweet treats from New York City can be found at the refreshment stand near the Canada pavilion. If you don't know what a cronut is, then we won't spoil it with a lengthy explanation. Just trust us and get two!
New Tip: Epcot has recently added a new type of nightcap with an Illuminations Sparkling Dessert Party. Now, for an additional fee and on select nights of the festival, park guests can enjoy front row viewing of the Illuminations fireworks show while dining on desserts and beverages from pavilions around World Showcase.
See more of photos from our visit in our Facebook album and watch our video highlights.
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