Channel 9 got a rare glimpse behind the greenhouse doors of the 2017 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival.
It’s not unusual to see a tourist taking a picture of a plant at Epcot, and the people that plan and plant the plants wouldn’t have it any other way.
“A lot of our work is transparent to guests. That’s when I feel like we hit a home run, when I see a kid taking a picture of a topiary or a hanging basket,” horticulture manager Patrick Zusack told Channel 9's Jamie Holmes.
There are more than 7 million plants at Disney’s four parks. Another 200,000 are brought in every year just for the Flower and Garden Festival.
It takes more than 450 local horticulturists to care for the plants, making Walt Disney World one of the largest employers of plant experts in the country.
“As soon as the park closes, we’re in here. We’re in here bringing trucks in, bringing beds in,” said Patrick.
Disney is also busy test growing plants in huge greenhouses kept far from public view near Animal Kingdom.
It’s where they grow plants to see if they’ll make it in Florida’s harsh climate. “It gives a good opportunity to see disease, insect resistance. We look at it all, before it goes on show,” said horticulture manager Heather Will-Browne.
It’s also where they thread, by hand, the topiaries known around the world and where they grow more than 1,000 hanging plants used across the parks.
Whether they are done for the festival or for everyday use, it’s all done behind the scenes by an invisible green army. “We like to consider ourselves the guardians of the first impression,” said Patrick.
The Flower and Garden Festival is now 90 days long, which means tens of thousands of plants have to be rotated out halfway through because of the season change.
Workers have already begun designing the gardens for next year’s festival.
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