There is a really nice fringe benefit when you are staying in one of the hotels near the Boardwalk at Walt Disney World. You see, there is a rather unused back entrance at Epcot for the guests at those hotels. It is called the International Gateway. Every time we have been there, we just walk right up, get our bags quickly checked, and then go right on into the park with no waiting whatsoever. So early on Sunday morning we took the leisurely walk from the Yacht Club to Epcot’s back door.
You can see how few people were there.
(Three of those folks are part of my family.)
When I was a child, the first things I noticed as we rode the monorail over to Disney’s Magic Kingdom were the topiaries sculpted to look like animals and Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters. I wanted my dad to get out the hedge clippers when we got home and turn our front yard boxwoods into Mary Poppins.(It didn’t happen.) Even as an adult, I am still blown away by the gardens at Disney. So when our son told me that his birthday weekend at Walt Disney World would be during the opening weekend for Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival, I was thrilled! Those topiaries I remember from my childhood days at Magic Kingdom? Well they don’t hold a candle to the ones at Epcot for the festival!
Just take a look…
The Frozen display at the World Showcase Pavilion
(Yes, those are topiaries!)
Epcot is set up with two distinct areas bordering a lake…Future World and World Showcase, and World Showcase is set up as pavilions representing different countries. Each country has buildings full of shops, some restaurants, and some attractions for you to see (rides or films.)
If you enter the park through the International Gateway you come into World Showcase between Great Britain and France. I am going to take you on a tour around that area first, but I am backtracking just a little and starting with Canada. Oh, and I want you to enjoy the flowers and the architecture in each of these “countries,” so you will see buildings and other things as we go. Got all that? Alright, let’s start with Canada.
Complete with a waterfall.
Loved these hanging baskets with their red geraniums.
Canada’s topiary was this cute one of the animals from Bambi.
The next region we came to was Great Britain. It was by far my favorite with its English tea garden complete with tea cups!
Now just look at those amazing topiaries designed to look like characters straight out of Peter Pan.There was the evil Captain Hook…and Peter Pan himself – up on the roof.
Now we will travel into my daughter’s favorite area – the French Pavilion. Here is a view of it from the water.
And now some of the charming architecture (with wonderful places to dine there.)
The topiaries for this region were of characters from Beauty and the Beast.
Moving on around the circle of countries in World Showcase, you pass through Morocco and Japan and then enter the American Adventure. I did not photograph much from those, but I did get a shot of the cute topiary in the American area. If you are a fan of Toy Story, you will love this one.
Another great thing about the Flower and Garden Festival is that there are great food carts set up in all the different countries. (There is a very good barbecue cart behind Woody up there.) You can purchase snack size servings of many different things to try out. In fact, you can graze your way all the way around the World Showcase area. (Check out all the food cart menus here.) Grazing is precisely what our sons did, but because my husband is not much of a “snacker,” he and our daughter and I opted for a sit-down lunch in the next country… Italy.
There are two dining choices in that region, the casual Via Napoli Pizzeria and the more formal one – Tutto Italia. We chose the more formal one since my husband had previously eaten at the pizzeria.
They brought us an assortment of breads with fresh olives and olive oil before our meal. yum.. Then we tried three different entrees between us, and I believe my daughter’s ravioli was the best.
For dessert we shared an order of tiramisu and this fabulously rich chocolate gelato.
Is your mouth watering yet?
Italy had two topiaries:
(Do you suppose that one was chosen for all the food that is consumed there??)
and Lady and the Tramp.
After that heavy meal we needed to walk some of it off. So we headed on around to Germany.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs were standing around in that country.
And the characters from The Lion King were between Germany and the China pavilion.
The last country we toured was Norway.
And then it was time to walk over to Future World.
Here are just a few of the gardens from there.
Buzz Lightyear outside Mission Space
Cars near Test Track
Farmer Mickey and Minnie between Future World and World Showcase
And that completes our tour of Epcot. All those flowers made me wish that spring would hurry and arrive for good so that I could get busy in our yard, (but I am sure there won’t be any Disney topiaries popping up in our flower beds!) Weren’t they amazing?! Which one was your favorite?
We’d love to know.