Around the World at Epcot's International Flower and Garden Festival

See your favorite Disney characters as topiaries.

It's no surprise that my favorite Disney park is Epcot. When I'm on a buget and can't afford a trip to Europe, I book a cheap flight to Orlando and walk around the pavillions at Epcot's World Showcase. It temporarily satisfies my international-travel hunger plus I get to practice my (poor) French with real French employees at the France pavillion.

Special events like the International Flower and Garden Festival through May 30 make the park even more magical. Disney characters come to life in giant topiaries. My favorites are placed throughout the World Showcase because I'm reminded that many of these beloved characters have origins from other countries. 

Here's what caught my eye in other countries.

Canada

Who knew Bambi, Thumper and Flower were Canadian?! 

Bambi and Friends Topiaries

Deanne Revel

United Kingdom

Here's the crocodile from Peter Pan.

Crocodile Topiary

Deanne Revel

France

And Cogsworth and Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast.

Cogsworth and Lumiere Topiaries

Deanne Revel

Morroco

This topiary was made from a variety of spices.

Moroccan Spices Topiary

Deanne Revel

Japan

The traditional bonsai tree garden in this pavillion was expanded for the festival.

Bonsai Tree in Epcot's Japan

Deanne Revel

Italy 

Naturally, Lady and Tramp were spotted pretty close to the pasta restaurant.

Lady and The Tramp Topiaries

Deanne Revel

Germany 

Snow White was published by the Brothers Grimm more than 100 years before the iconic Disney animation.

Snow White Topiary

Deanne Revel

The Outpost

This isn't a pavillion, just an African-themed area between Germany and China. But how could you not stop to check out Timon and Pumbaa?

Timon and Pumbaa

Deanne Revel

China 

Check out the varying textures on this dragon topiary.

Dragon Topiary

Deanne Revel

Norway 

I think we all know who this is.

Anna Topiary

Deanne Revel

Mexico

There were so many beautiful orchids draping over Mayan-inspired features.

Orchids in Epcot's Mexico

Deanne Revel

You can see all of these amazing installations until May 30. 

Skip the Lines at Epcot

Use Your Fast Passes On These Rides

Spend more time making memories and less time waiting.
What's a FastPass+?

What's a FastPass+?

There’s so much to do at Walt Disney World that you can’t do it all in one day. But you can make the most of your time by scheduling FastPass+ tickets for popular attractions to skip the long lines. Any guest with a park ticket can reserve free passes online or inside the park at FastPass+ kiosks. And if you book early enough, you can even select specific times you’d like to go to each ride. Your passes are loaded on a MagicBand so if you don't have one, the free ticket bracelet can be mailed to you before your trip. Insider Tip: You only get three passes a day but you can book a bonus pass with the free My Disney Experience app. Use our recommendations for each park and save precious park time with your family.

 

960 1280

Kent Phillips  

Magic Kingdom: Space Mountain

Magic Kingdom: Space Mountain

Grab a FastPass+ for this ride first. The Tomorrowland attraction is the most high-intensity coaster ride in the park, making it popular for adults and kids alike. If passes aren’t available, try using the single rider line to cut down on wait times. 960 1280

  

Magic Kingdom: Splash Mountain

Magic Kingdom: Splash Mountain

If you’re going to the park in the summer, definitely grab FastPasses for the whole family. It’s a great way to cool off in the Florida sun but everyone else has the same idea, making the line very long. 960 1280

Garth Vaughan  

Magic Kingdom: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Magic Kingdom: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

As thrilling as Space Mountain but without the scary riding in the dark part, Big Thunder Mountain is a great choice for your kid’s first coaster ride. But, again, the popularity makes for really long wait times, especially during peak vacation times. 960 1280

  

Bonus: Princess Fairytale Hall

Bonus: Princess Fairytale Hall

If you’ve got your My Disney Experience app handy, you can book a bonus FastPass+ ticket. We recommend Princess Fairytale Hall where popular characters like Frozen’s Anna and Elsa can push wait times to an hour or longer. 960 1280

Ali Nasser  

Worth the Line: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Worth the Line: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

You can’t skip every line in the Magic Kingdom so if you have to wait for something, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the most fun. Kids (and adults, too) can play interactive video games with gems as you wander through the mine. 960 1280

Matt Stroshane  

Worth the Line: Peter Pan's Flight

Worth the Line: Peter Pan's Flight

This queue features a tour through the Darlings' home and interactive moments with Tinkerbell in Wendy, John and Michael’s play room. 960 1280

Mariah Wild  

Epcot: Test Track

Epcot: Test Track

There’s a reason this one always has a line: It’s fast. At nearly 65 miles per hour, it’s one of the fastest Disney park rides ever built. And you can zip right to the action with a fast pass. If you’ve never been on this one, you may want to wait it out in the slow lane. There’s an interactive experience you’ll miss, like designing a car and seeing how your car would perform after the ride. 960 1280

Kent Phillips  

Epcot: Soarin'

Epcot: Soarin'

With the ride's new revamp scheduled for summer 2016, guests will soar over the world, not just California as in the previous ride. That mega overhaul means mega lines of fans ready to see the new experience. Definitely schedule this pass before you even get to the park. 960 1280

Disney Parks Public Relations: 407-566-6397  

Epcot: New Frozen Ever After Ride

Epcot: New Frozen Ever After Ride

RIP, Maelstrom ride. But hello to a new Norway pavilion and an expansion into the world of Frozen for summer 2016. Do we even need to say why you’ll want a pass? It’s Frozen. Be prepared for crowds. 960 1280

  

Bonus: The Seas With Nemo

Bonus: The Seas With Nemo

On the height chart, this ride is OK even for the little ones, making it extremely popular for large family groups. 960 1280

  

Hollywood Studios: Tower of Terror

Hollywood Studios: Tower of Terror

Rides like this are polarizing for a family. Somes kids love thrill rides. And others might not be 40 in. tall yet. Book fast passes so the kids who aren’t riding don’t spend an hour of their precious park time waiting on siblings. 960 1280

  

Hollywood Studios: Rock 'N' Roller Coaster

Hollywood Studios: Rock 'N' Roller Coaster

This is another one like Tower of Terror. You have to be 48 in. tall, OK with fast drops and turns in the dark, plus the ride is presented by Aerosmith so it’s fun but loud. Really loud. If that doesn’t sound like everyone in your bunch, get passes for the rockers so they don’t keep the group waiting. 960 1280

  

Hollywood Studios: Toy Story Mania

Hollywood Studios: Toy Story Mania

This interactive ride has, without a doubt, the longest wait time in the park, at two hours plus in peak times. But it’s so much fun. Grab passes for the family as soon as you can. 960 1280

  

Bonus: Star Tours

Bonus: Star Tours

With the recent blockbuster film and revived Star Wars frenzy, this 3-D adventure is hot at Hollywood Studios. The ride has been revamped with more scenes and more characters. Storylines are randomized so you never know what combination you'll get. The mystery draws second and third-time riders every day. Cut down on your wait time at least once with a pass.  960 1280

  

Animal Kingdom: Expedition Everest

Animal Kingdom: Expedition Everest

Starting Memorial Day weekend, Animal Kingdom will stay open at night. And you can ride rides like this coaster in the dark. The extra time won’t dilute the lines too much, though; it’s still a super popular ride. Grab a pass as soon as you can. 960 1280

  

Animal Kingdom: Kilimanjaro Safari

Animal Kingdom: Kilimanjaro Safari

Yes, even the safari will be open at night. In the dark. With lions. The nighttime safari allows guests to see new animals and animals featured in the daytime safari not active during the day. Both perspectives offer totally different experiences and chances to see animals so it’s worth doing the ride twice. Use a pass for day or night so you don’t wait in line twice. 960 1280

  

Animal Kingdom: Kali River Rapids

Animal Kingdom: Kali River Rapids

You’ll get soaked on this one. But during the hot Florida summer, it’s welcomed and a popular choice for guests beating the heat. Try to schedule a time early in the afternoon that will give your family time to dry out before the nighttime fireworks and shows. 960 1280

David Roark  

Bonus: Adventurer’s Outpost

Bonus: Adventurer’s Outpost

Sure, you could wait to see Mickey and Minnie at the Magic Kingdom. Or you could book a pass to get autographs and have photos taken with them in safari gear. If you can, schedule this one during the hottest hour of the afternoon for a break from the sun.   960 1280

Kent Phillips  

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Minnie and Mickey on a float during holiday parade at Disney World in Orlando
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