With the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival starting in just a couple of week, I've got Disney gardens on my mind. But the most lovely thing about the gardens of Walt Disney World is that you don't have to wait for the festival to experience them. 365 days a year s Disney's horticulture team works hard to maintain some of the most impressive environments its guests can dream of. From creating lush tropics of the Jungle Cruise, to the arid savanna looks in on the Kilimanjaro Safari, the Disney gardeners help to create the living sets guests move through on their travels. The following list just may be the best 5 themed garden settings at Walt Disney World.
Tree of Life Garden at Animal Kingdom
Newly opened after a lengthy closure, the Tree of Life Gardens are bustling with life once again. Guests can stroll amongst the lush greenery on Discovery Island and encounter several animal species, such as lemurs, flamingos, and kangaroos, that make their home in along the garden path. The path takes you on a beautiful walk beneath the Park's Iconic Tree of Life where they will get an excellent view of the sculptural masterpiece the tree is. In addition to the imagineered tree, its surrounding rockwork, and refreshing waterfall, the winding pathway is planted with a huge variety of verdant exotic plants.
Water Garden in Epcot's China
There's something elegant and enlightening about the water gardens in Epcot's China Pavilion. Placed with honor in front of the Temple of Heaven, it's difficult for guests entering this space to miss the large ponds graced with lotus and reeds of papyrus as they walk across the carved white stone bridges. This peaceful area includes a weeping mulberry tree that is over 100 years old, guests who pay attention may also be able to spot orange, plum, and pomegranate trees within the landscape. Of all the gardens of Walt Disney World this one may be the most serene.
Tangled Rest Area Gardens in the Magic Kingdom
I know, I know. You're thinking "Kristen, you're nuts. It's a bathroom!" Well that is true, but if you take some time to linger you'll discover that are some really lovely garden spaces there. Spend a little time refreshing yourself my having a seat in the little grove of trees, "tree stumps" hide electrical outlets so that guests can recharge electronics while they rest their feet. Scattered about the area kids of all ages can go on a scavenger hunt to find Pascal and his friends tucked within the landscape. Then of course there is the waterfall, and poised high above it all is Rapunzel's tower. It's a genuinely pleasant spot for the whole family to slow down and get refreshed out.
Uzima Springs and Samawati Springs Pool Areas at Animal Kingdom Lodge
These two areas are popular with most people because they're pools, but they are also lush gardens designed to express the lushness of an Oasis on the African Savanna. At both locations sparkling blue waters are surrounded with a dense landscaping of exotic flowers, towering bamboo, banana trees, thick ferns and date palms. The rich texture of this garden tapestry enhances the experience at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and Kidani Village and helps elevate it to a genuine luxury resort.
Japanese Gardens in Epcot's Japan Pavilion
It could easily be said that the entire Japan Pavilion at Epcot is a grand Japanese garden. From the Torii gate, to the stone moat, from the carefully pruned pines, to enticing Koi pond, the pagoda, bridges, and the exquisitely balanced landscaping that just happens to have a couple of restaurants, a museum, and shopping to boot. For fans of Japanese gardening techniques Epcot's pavilion is a lovely place to spend some time. I'm particularly fond of the waterfall behind Katsura Grill.
This list is by no means exhaustive, because Disney's horticulture team is always working on keeping up the beautiful property, and the vast landscape is always changing with the seasons. Honorable mentions to the list include Port Orleans French Quarter where Spanish moss hangs off the old oak trees and the scent of jasmine fills the night air; and the Polynesian Village Resort, where the entire property is so lush and transporting it's easy to think you've really headed to the Islands.
Everyone has things that they love most in a garden, what are yours? Leave a comment and share the location of your favorite Disney garden in the comments below!