The EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival is one of my favorite annual events at the Walt Disney World Resort. The festival is an exciting celebration of spring, filling the park with gardens and Disney character topiaries, live music, outdoor kitchens, and more.
This year’s EPCOT International Festival of the Arts runs March 1-July 5, 2023, and along with new specialty eats and returning favorites from years past, some of the highlights of the 2023 event will come with the character topiaries, especially the ones featuring characters from Encanto (2021). If you plan to visit EPCOT this spring or summer, or are just getting some inspiration for next year’s Disney trip, this guide covers the topiaries and specialty gardens that you can’t miss during your trip.
The most exciting additions to this year’s topiary and garden lineup include several topiaries of characters from Encanto, and the first-ever inclusion of Tiana from The Princess and the Frog (2009).
The Encanto topiaries can be found right at the main entrance to EPCOT, so you can easily stop by to see them on your way into the park from the parking lot, buses, or monorail station. Included are Mirabel, Luisa, Isabela, and Antonio. (If you enter EPCOT from International Gateway, you’ll need to walk all the way toward the main entrance on the other side of Spaceship Earth to see this one.)
In World Nature, Woody, Bo Peep, and her sheep from Toy Story are located by the Land pavilion this year. It’s easy to rush inside for the highlight of this pavilion, Living with the Land (fine, or Soarin’ Around the World) but you’ll definitely want to take your time walking in to check out the topiary first.
Next to the Land pavilion, heading toward World Showcase, Figment returns to his spot outside the Imagination! pavilion. (As an aside, did you know a Figment walk-around character is coming to EPCOT later this year?!)
This year, all of the topiaries featuring characters from The Lion King (1994) are located between the Imagination! and the Land pavilions. These include Rafiki, Simba, Mufasa, Sarabi, Timon, and Pumbaa.
Before leaving World Nature, note that this year Bambi, Thumper, and Flower are located between the Imagination! pavilion and Refreshment Port.
Across the way in World Discovery, the Buzz Lightyear topiary has returned to the garden area outside of Mission: SPACE.
Donald and Daisy are another pair of topiaries who return to the festival each year but may pop up in different locations. This year, both Donald and Daisy can be found in the community garden outside of Connections Cafe & Eatery in World Celebration.
Moving toward World Showcase (from World Celebration), the next topiaries you will likely spot are some of the most classic Disney characters, including Mickey, Minnie, Chip ‘n’ Dale, and Pluto. If you have visited Flower & Garden Festival in years past, you may have seen these topiaries, though their location and specific arrangement tend to change yearly. Goofy is also located near the entrance to World Showcase.
Onto World Showcase, the first topiaries will be the Three Caballeros (because I’m assuming you are going to start in Mexico, aka the correct direction to start your walk around World Showcase. These topiaries are sort of easy to miss as they are ahead of the Mexico pavilion and if it’s busy they can be difficult to spot in a crowd, but they should be just before the restaurants.
The Norway pavilion is home to two sets of topiaries, one featuring Anna and Elsa from Frozen and the other being a troll, which just gives me classic EPCOT Center vibes. (R.I.P. Maelstrom…)
In China, the Panda topiaries have returned from years past. The Born in China signage was a promotion for the DisneyNature film, more recent topiaries have included multiple pandas with no film advertisement.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs are back in the Germany pavilion. (And Biergarten is back as a buffet, if you haven’t visited since last year’s festival.)
One of my favorite topiaries every year is the Lady and the Tramp design located in the Italy pavilion. I love how Disney’s horticulture team used the moss in this topiary, and I always make a point to stop and check it out (and to grab a limoncello margarita…)
If there is one character/movie that has not been featured enough in the theme parks, it’s Princess Tiana from The Princess and the Frog. I’m expecting to see more of Tiana in the parks over the next year as the Magic Kingdom prepares for the opening of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, the replacement for Splash Mountain, but for now, you can find this topiary in the American Adventure pavilion near the Garden Rocks Concert Series, which takes place at the America Gardens Theatre.
The dragon that has often been seen in the China pavilion has been moved to the Japan pavilion for the 2023 festival. You can find this topiary near the Torii Gate.
In France, the Ratatouille topiary that has been quite popular since the opening of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure has not returned for the 2023 festival, but the pavilion does have some old favorites to see. One of the most beloved topiaries in the festival, Beauty and the Beast, is back in the center of the France pavilion and Lumiere and Cogsworth have been added nearby as well.
The Muppets do not have much of a presence in EPCOT normally, but for Flower & Garden Festival you can find topiaries of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy between France and Morocco.
The UK pavilion has several favorite character topiaries including Winnie the Pooh with Rabbit, Eeyore, Piglet, and Tigger, Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and Tick Tock Croc, along with a full garden inspired by Tinker Bell. Next to the UK pavilion, the Canada pavilion this year is home to a couple of geese topiaries.
Disney‘s list of themed gardens around the park for the 2023 festival include:
- Bamboo Garden – China Pavilion
- Blossoms of Fragrance Presented by Scentsy – World Showcase Bridge
- Bold Bromeliads – The Land Pavilion
- Bonsai Collection – Japan Pavilion
- Bouquet Garden – France Pavilion
- Butterfly Landing Presented by AdventHealth – World Nature Near Imagination!
- China Zodiac Garden – China Pavilion
- The Community Garden – World Celebration
- Connections Conservatory Garden – Connections Eatery
- Desert Garden – Mexico Pavilion
- English Tea Garden Presented by Twinings® – United Kingdom Pavilion
- Family-Friendly Garden Presented by OFF!
- Festival Blooms – World Celebration
- Floating Gardens – World Nature
- Garden Italiano – Italy Pavilion
- The Honey Bee-stro Hosted by National Honey Board® – Rosewalk Near Imagination!
- Kokedema Garden – Japan Pavilion
- Miniature Garden – Germany Pavilion
- Prehistoric Garden – World Discovery Near Mission: SPACE
- Shakespeare Garden – United Kingdom Pavilion
- Shishi-odoshi – Japan Pavilion
- Spice Garden – Morocco Pavilion
- Songbird Meadow Presented by Wild Birds Unlimited® – World Discovery
- Topiary Heritage Garden – United Kingdom Pavilion
- Tropical Rainforest Garden – Mexico Pavilion
The topiaries are the highlight of the festival to be sure, but I really recommend taking the time to check out the gardens, too. My favorite gardens are the Shakespeare Garden, which shows all kinds of flowers and plants seen in Shakespeare’s works, and the English Tea Garden, but they are all really fascinating and worth the stop.
As you plan your trip to the 2023 EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival, you can find complete information on FreshEPCOT.com, and remember to pick up a festival passport on your way into the park for a rundown on topiaries as well as the Garden Rocks Concert Series, outdoor kitchens, photo ops, and more.