The Casual Runner

Must Dos: Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival 2017

Must Dos: Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival 2017

Casual Runners know that while running is a part of our lives, it is not our entire lives. Better yet, as Casual Running allows us to be healthier and live more active lifestyles, it allows us to experience new and wonderful adventures. In this special series, we will look at fun Casual Adventures that our Team takes on when we are away from our training, even if its only for a day or two! And remember, adventure is out there!

Check out other installments in our Casual Adventurer Series by clicking here.

At Walt Disney World, Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival will be returning to March 1st, 2017 and running thru May 29th, 2017. We here at Casual Adventurer could not be more excited!  I may also be extra excited because my birthday happens to be during the festival. We felt it was necessary to bring back a “Must Dos” article so everyone knows what they can enjoy (and should not miss) this spring.


The topiaries are truly the highlight of the Flower and Garden Festival.  All throughout Epcot you can find over 100 of your favorite Disney characters in topiary form. Some past favorites will still be around such as, Anna and Elsa in Norway and Captain Hook and Tic-Toc Croc in the United Kingdom.  

New this year you will be able to find Belle in France, Buzz Lightyear at Mission Space, Figment behind Spaceship Earth (if you went to the Festival of the Arts you were already lucky enough to see this one), Phineas and Ferb located near the Odyssey Bridge, and The Three Caballeros in Mexico.


There are so many Gardens to visit throughout Epcot during the Flower and Garden Festival. Last year by far my favorite was Butterflies on the Go, which will be returning this year along with; Bonsai Collection, Floating Mini-Gardens (another favorite), Health and Healing Garden, Illuminated Gardens, Pepper Fire Garden, Prehistoric Plants, Purple Martins, and Shakespeare Garden.  New this year you will also be able to visit Alpine Containers, Geranium Grandeur, and Nature Works Everywhere.


By far the number one thing we are looking forward to is another “friendly” competition of Egg-stravaganza!  Last year this event only ran during the month of March, but this year it is going to run the entire length of the festival.  Game boards can be purchased at Pin Central, Disney Traders, or World Traveler at the International Gateway.  From there you will navigate around World Showcase looking for eggs decorated as Disney characters and place a sticker on your game board once you have found him.  When you finish finding them all you can take your board to the designated merchandise locations to select your prize.  Last year you were able to get your prize before completing the challenge so you wouldn’t forget to come back to get it, which was your choice of a plastic Easter Egg at the end.  This game sounds simple (because it is), but be warned, it is highly addicting and tons of fun.  Also a hint from last year, these eggs can be found anywhere in the countries not just on the main walkway.

For more details on the Egg-stravaganza, check out our full review now!

Outdoor Kitchens

The highlight of every Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is the various food kiosks located throughout Epcot where you can purchase food inspired by cultures and cuisines from around the world. Borrowing from that model, the Flower and Garden Festival now features a scaled down version of those kiosks, called the outdoor kitchens. 

Returning outdoor kitchens this year include: Bauernmarkt: Farmer’s Market, Cider House, Fleur de Lys, Florida Fresh, Hanami, Jardin de Fiestas, La Isla Fresca, Lotus House, Pineapple Promenade, Primavera Kitchen, Taste of Marrakesh, The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews, and Urban Farm Eats .  It looks like these booths will have the same food and drinks that they had the previous year.  We did not get to try many foods last year, but we have it on good authority from our friends at Disney Good Eats you cannot miss out on spiked pineapple dole whips!

New kiosks this year include the Northern Bloom and the Berry Basket.  The Northern Bloom can be found in Canada where I cannot wait to try the Maple Popcorn Shake with Crown Royal Maple Whiskey.  The Berry Basket will feature Lamb Chop with Quinoa Salad and Blackberry Gastrique, here’s to hoping the Lamb Chop is as good as it is in Australia during the Food and Wine Festival.

Don’t forget to pick up your marketplace discovery passport to place stickers from every kiosks as you try different offerings!

Garden Rocks Concert Series

The Garden Rocks Concerts will return to the Flower and Garden Festival this year, bringing back past bands such as Plain White T’s, Blood, Sweat and Tears featuring Bo Bice, and Night Ranger.  New to the lineup this year are Expose and Berlin featuring Terri Nunn.  These concerts take place at the American Gardens Theater and are free to guests with valid park admission to Epcot on the day of the concert.   

Typically there are three shows a night performed by each band.  Seating is first-come, first-served for the standby entrance. Another option for guaranteed seating to a show is to book a dining package on My Disney Experience.

runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend (10K, 5K, Half Marathon, & Challenge)

So technically this is not part of Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival, but I do feel it is important to mention for two reasons.  Reason number one – if you plan on visiting the Flower and Garden Festival April 20th-23rd expect larger than normal crowds.  Reason number two – if you are running any of these races even if you do not plan on going to the parks we will be running through Epcot in all three races and you will get to view some of the topiaries.  Great photo ops!

Check out our coverage from the Inaugural runDisney Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend:

Final Thoughts: 2016 Star Wars Dark Side Weekend
2016 Star Wars Dark Side Challenge Weekend Recap & Overview
2016 Star Wars Dark Side 10k: Candace’s Race Recap, Jennifer’s Race Recap, & Event/Course Preview
2016  Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon: Candace’s Race Recap, Jennifer’s Race Recap, All Along the Course Video, & Event/Course Preview
2016 Star Wars Dark Side 5k: Event/Course Preview
Star Wars CosRunning Concepts: Tangled Up, Beauty & The Bounty Hunter, Admiral Piett

Annual Passholder Perk

Last year Disney Annual Passholders were treated to a free commemorative sketch each month of the festival.  In March it was Donald Duck, April was Goofy, and May was Mickey.  No word yet if any free commemorative gifts will be given out.

There is, however, plenty of official Annual Passholder Merchandise that can be purchased this year. There is a passholder t-shirt, tervis wine goblet, collectable coins, and a few passholder only trader pins.

Check out other installments in our Casual Adventurer Series by clicking here.

If you see Candace celebrating her birthday at this year’s Festival, be sure to stop and say hello!

Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!

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Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!