By David Sibila
The 2016 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival officially welcomes spring to Orlando with all new gardens, larger-than-life topiaries and edible delights. If you're aching to enjoy outdoor fun while nibbling on some fresh bites, you don't want to miss this 90-day celebration of all things that bloom at Walt Disney World, through May 30, 2016.
See our top tips of what's new and not to be missed at this year's festival.
The festival's front-entrance which features three new Disney character topiaries is inspired by a 1943 Donald Duck comic book called "The Victory Garden." It's the first-ever Huey, Dewey and Louie topiaries in a comical gardening scene.
The Ranger Mickey topiary celebrates the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service and offers the perfect selfie spot with Spaceship Earth as the backdrop.
A new Music Garden Melodies playground makes its festival debut with topiaries of the Fab Five. The themed area made for children of all sizes includes a collection of plants with features that resemble musical instruments as part of the ambiance.
The garden includes innovative play systems featuring interactive musical gadgets, is one of the largest festival gardens created at nearly one-third acre.
Nearly 1,000 native butterflies represent up to 10 species at the butterfly house. Among the garden's two dozen nectar plants are passion flower, coral honeysuckle, lantana, butterfly bush, blue porterweed, scarlet milkweed and canna lily.
Each weekend at the Festival Center, guests can dig in for a complimentary hands-on Gardening Seminar experience and create a take-home souvenir or grab a seat to hear tips from experts on a broad range of topics.
This year there are 13 Outdoor Kitchens wich include the new La Isla Fresca serving up flavors like Jamaican Braised Beef with Pigeon-Pea Rice and Jerk-Spiced Grouper or Chicken with Mango Salsa.
There is a frozen tropical treat to taste, served with our without Cruzan Mango Rum, along with the Red Stripe Jamaican Style Lager.
At the new Cider House try a variety of fresh tastes with a British twist including a Field Greens salad with greens harvested from The Land pavilion, heirloom apples, Stilton cheese and dried blueberries.
There's a variety of hard ciders and local lagers that are perfect pairings. Our favorite is the "Snakebite" - Cigar City Brewing Tampa-style Lager mixed with McKenzie's Black Cherry Hard Cider.
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Written by David Sibila, Senior Manager of Content and Social Media for Visit Orlando. He's a TV producer turned content and social media strategist, hands-on dad and a casualty of four rescued pets.