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2014 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival filled with fun activities for kids

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The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is filled with plants, of course, but it's also filled with fun activities for youngsters, too.

If your elementary-school-age children are like mine, they will gravitate toward three separate play areas that are only available during the festival. And, who could blame them? These hands-on gardens are filled with interactive fun. And by interactive, I mean the old-fashioned kind that includes climbing and playing.

The largest is Mike & Sully's Monstrous Garden, which is located along Imagination Walkway between Future World and World Showcase. Inside the "garden," families will find play equipment from Landscape Structures. This company has been providing -- and customizing -- the large play structures for the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival for years.

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On one side, younger kids will find a "Monsters University"-themed play structure just for them, complete with monster footprints leading up ramps, interactive games and tunnels to explore, and slides to make a quick getaway. The set is intended for children for ages 2 to 5.

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At the other end of the nearly one-third acre garden is a new play structure -- a net climber -- for older kids ages 5 to 12, and even adults. Be aware: The monsters have an eye (or several) on you from above, and parents can watch from shaded chairs along the perimeter.

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In addition to the unique play areas, this garden features monstrous-size Mike and Sully topiaries. Sully is one of Walt Disney's World's largest, weighing in at 4,300 pounds. It took almost 4,000 small plants to fill his frame. Although Mike is lighter at about 1,000 pounds, engineers had to incorporate the stack of books behind him to balance that weight.

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A collection of large, leafy plants, including elephant ears, rubber plants, sea grapes, fiddle leaf fig, banana plants and colorful bromeliads and hibiscus, create the garden's ambiance. These plants were chosen not just for their appearance, but also for their ability to withstand their location bathed in full sunlight.

"We have a lot of color, but it's not flowers," said horticulture manager Heather Will-Browne. "We have texture and foliage."

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Kids will find another interactive area in Mater's Parts, Plants & Play Garden on the walkway near Test Track. "Cars 2" stars Lightning McQueen and Mater are represented as topiaries overlooking another play structure from Landscape Structures that includes a pair of climbing rocks. There also are related car-parts games on the walkway to engage young guests. This section is geared toward ages 5 to 12.

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Finally, don't miss the Backyard Play Garden between Morocco and France. Sponsored by GoGo squeeZ, the area offers outdoor fun designed to keep the young and young-at-heart active and is a third separate area with play equipment from Landscape Structures.

Even though the area is a fun place to play, it also has a more-serious aspect, as well.

"There is a lot of concern in America about kids not getting enough time with nature, so what we're trying to do is give families lots of different ideas of fun, cute, interesting things that the parents and their children can do in their yard," said Eric Darden, festival horticulture manager. "The best way to get children eating vegetables is to have them grow it. If they grow it, then they're going to be much more likely to eat it."

To that end, the Backyard Play Garden offers displays of unusual fruit, plants that make “green juice” and a special planter that shows carrot roots growing. Guests are encouraged to eat a rainbow full of vegetables, grow their own pizza toppings, and plant pollinator and sensory gardens.

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One of the more unusual new ways to garden is to plant vegetables in hay bales, said Will-Browne.

"It's really a neat concept, because if you do this in your yard, once you're done -- about the same timing as when the vegetables are finished -- the bale starts to decompose and you can just spread it around. You get a really great compost or mulch from the straw," she said.

In addition to the play areas, families will find kid-friendly activities incorporated into other gardens throughout the theme park. There is a coloring activity at the Gardener's Palette area, a plant-guessing activity at the Florida Fresh outdoor kitchen, and a fairy house search at Tinker Bell's Butterfly House (including a new pirate fairy house in honor of the new Tinker Bell movie). Plus, guests can take home Wocka Wocka Wocka Watermelon Seeds at the Florida Fresh garden.



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The previous post in this blog was What's new at 2014 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.

The next post in this blog is Audubon presents new Hummingbirds at Home garden at Epcot's Flower & Garden Festival.

Comments (1)

Alana:

Great post! Do you know whether the play equipment in Mike and Sully's garden is considered part of future world and, thus, opens early when future world has morning extra magic hours? Thanks!

KRISTIN: Mike & Sully's garden opens at 9 a.m. daily, but it is not part of Extra Magic Hours.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 4, 2014 1:32 PM.

The previous post in this blog was What's new at 2014 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.

The next post in this blog is Audubon presents new Hummingbirds at Home garden at Epcot's Flower & Garden Festival.

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