Guests Question “Shrinking” Mural at EPCOT’s Flower and Garden Festival

in Walt Disney World

Disney horticulture team trims the 'Encanto' topiaries

Credit: Disney

Since 1995, EPCOT’s annual Flower and Garden Festival has captivated Guests with its vibrant displays, stunning flower murals, and an endless supply of delicious treats. However, one observant Guest pointed out a puzzling change this year.

As with previous years, the 2023 Flower and Garden Festival kicked off at the beginning of March and is set to run through the beginning of July. It features all the Festival’s usual trademarks, including character topiaries and its iconic centerpiece – a flower mural in the hub of the Park.

Disney World monorail at EPCOT during the International Flower and Garden Festival
Credit: Disney

However, as Reddit user BZI pointed out, it’s much smaller than in previous years. 

After a recent trip to Epcot I couldn’t help but notice the iconic flower mural for the Flower and Garden festival looked different. There was more plain grass in it than I ever remember seeing.

So I looked back at old photos, and sure enough, the mural is shrinking. It is a little tough to see in these photos but if you look at the monorail beam you can see that now in 2023 the flowers end at the beam. In person it was very apparent, at least to me.

Looking back at older photos, it looks like it has shrunk slightly since 2016, but 2022 to 2023 is the biggest change I could find. Kind of crazy since this is such a big festival for epcot, and this mural is the focal point.

I’m even more surprised that this seems to have unnoticed, as that mural gets photographed so much around spring.

Comparing old and new photos, BZI discovered that the flowers now end at the monorail beam – a noticeable reduction in size. While the mural had seen slight shrinkage over the years, the most significant change occurred between 2022 and 2023.

Flower and Garden flower mural at EPCOT in 2022 and 2023
Credit: BZI via Imgur

Considering the significance of the Flower and Garden Festival to EPCOT, BZI found it surprising that the alteration had seemingly gone unnoticed. This mural – a go-to springtime photo backdrop – is a focal point of the Festival’s allure.

As for why it’s so much smaller, the most obvious explanation is budget cuts. Bob Iger is currently helming a mission to save the Walt Disney Company $5.5 billion in costs, and a move like this wouldn’t be totally out of the ordinary considering Disney Parks & Resorts’ budget-cutting moves in recent years.

“Flowers, of course, require a lot more upkeep than regular grass would throughout the festival,” pointed out Reddit user F1rstxLas7. “I’m curious if this was a budgetary decision or not.” 

EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival
Credit: Disney

Another user, ArtistBruce24, agreed that recent economic factors and staffing restrictions may have influenced the change. However, they also highlighted Florida’s current drought and watering restrictions as a potential contributing factor.

Regardless of why – and regardless of the main mural’s size – 2023’s Flower and Garden Festival is just as impressive as ever. This year saw the introduction of a Princess Tiana topiary, as well as a light-up display inspired by the world of Encanto (2021) and an updated version of Beacons of Magic on Spaceship Earth.

EPCOT’s Flower and Garden Festival runs until July 5, 2023.

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