Behind-the-scenes: Toy Story topiaries and fun facts for Disney’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival 2011

in Disney, Movies, Walt Disney World

Each year, Walt Disney World transforms its Epcot theme park into a wonderful world of color, packed with ornate character topiaries and flowers as far as the eye can see. It’s all part of the annual Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival and this year the Toy Story gang, led by Buzz Lightyear and Woody, will be leading the show.

With less than a week until the festival premieres on March 2, Disney’s cast members begin to put the finishing touches backstage on what will soon become eye-catching and often-photographed displays throughout its 75-day run, concluding on May 15, 2011.

It’s the ultimate event for photographers, allowing time to slowly walk through the park, taking in all the added scenery and sculptures.

The festival’s weekend Flower Power concert series includes 11 artists and groups with 133 Top 40 hits, including 16 No. 1 songs. This year’s musical hit-makers from the 1960s and ’70s include Jose Feliciano, Paul Revere & The Raiders, Melissa Manchester, Starship featuring Mickey Thomas, Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone, Ricky Nelson Remembered Featuring the Nelsons, Davy Jones, Juice Newton, The Guess Who, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. and Chubby Checker & The Wildcats.

In addition, HGTV is sponsoring the festival for the first time this year, bringing many of their experts and design stars to the park for presentations and to meet with fans.

In anticipation of the event, Disney has released a set of interesting and surprising fun facts summarizing the scope of the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival:

  • 30 million blooms blanket the park throughout the festival, which runs 75 colorful days.
  • Dozens of Disney character topiaries represent the largest collection of Disney character topiary in the world and include classic film stars like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto, Cinderella and Tinker Bell.
  • 1,000 native butterflies represent up to 10 species at the larger-than-ever Bambi Butterfly House. Among the garden’s two dozen nectar plants are Cape Royal plumbago, passion flower, coral honeysuckle, blazing star, butterfly bush, scarlet milkweed and canna lily.
  • More than 500,000 plants, trees and shrubs are planted for the festival; 250,000 of those are annual blossoms installed for the festival.
  • Festival plants include 60 different species of trees, 47 types of palms, and 48 varieties of bedding plants.
  • At least 25 different plants, grasses and mosses of various colors, including pink and red begonias, dusty miller, palm fiber, palm seeds, ficus and lichen, are used to create and define features of the festival topiaries. More color has been added to the topiaries than in any previous topiary presentation.
  • More than 15 floral, herbal and spice ingredients of 8 popular perfumes are revealed in the Fragrance Garden presented by Guerlain at the France pavilion. Guests can sniff the enduring fragrance Shalimar to discover botanical notes that include lemon, Arabian jasmine and vanilla. Some components of the other Guerlain fragrances include mimosa, magnolia, rose, nutmeg and vetivergrass.
  • 198 hands-on gardening demonstrations and seminars will be presented.
  • Thirty “flower towers” of impatiens line Innoventions Plaza.
  • 240 floating mini-gardens, each three feet in diameter, of multi-hued impatiens provide splashes of color on two ponds that border the walkway between Future World and World Showcase.
  • 700 container gardens of flowers, herbs, plants and vegetables in clay pots, barrels and urns enhance the landscape throughout Epcot.
  • 400 Walt Disney World horticulturists are needed to install the festival landscape, topiaries and many exhibits; 100 Epcot horticulturists maintain topiaries and other festival displays.
  • It takes more than one full year and about 24,000 cast member hours to prepare for the annual festival.
  • While Epcot gears up for this year’s festival, look back at photos from the 2010 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival in the slideshow below, then check back here soon for a new gallery of this year’s displays.

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