First-ever Projection-Mapped Topiary Debuts at Epcot
First-ever Projection-Mapped Topiary Debuts at Epcot

First-ever Projection-Mapped Topiary Debuts at Epcot.

As the topiary displays bloom around the park for the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival, we’re excited to share a few secrets about the latest additions. Collaborating with Disney Live Entertainment, Walt Disney World Horticulture, and the skilled artisans of the welding shop, our Disney Imagineers have seamlessly blended nature and technology into three new topiaries — Asha, Valentino, and Star, Miguel and Dante, and Groot. Let’s take a look!

First-ever Projection-Mapped Topiary Debuts at Epcot
First-ever Projection-Mapped Topiary Debuts at Epcot

Related: 5 Secrets Behind Disney’s Stunning Princess Tiana Topiary

Incorporating Lighting and Textures

At the entrance of EPCOT, guests will be greeted by Asha, Valentino, and Star from the Walt Disney Animation Studios film “Wish.”

To authentically represent these characters, the team hand-wove Asha’s braids and incorporated lighting effects for Star’s celestial dust.

“For Asha, it was very important to the team that her hair had the texture and moved like braided hair,” said Brittany Smith, Production Designer for Senior Specialty Design with Walt Disney Imagineering. “The new focus on hair texture stemmed from the team continuing to find new ways to tell stories and create the ‘illusion of life’ much like we do with Audio-Animatronics figures.”

We’re continuing to innovate in a way that’s unique to Disney by pushing the boundaries of the topiaries and bringing them from day to night.

For this all-new topiary, Star leaves behind a trail of twinkling stardust. “We have been evolving the process of adding lighting effects to the topiaries, consistently pushing ourselves to enhance them even more,” shared Josh Harrison, Senior Illusion Integrator with Walt Disney Imagineering.

Groot’s Musical Presence

For the first time, Groot, the flora colossus from the “Guardians of the Galaxy” trilogy, has taken root near Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in World Discovery. The design draws inspiration from the entertaining “I Am Groot” short featured on Disney+, titled Groot Takes a Bath, where the lovable character discovers his topiary powers.

As part of the innovative evolution of topiary production, the team has seamlessly integrated 3D models into the complete development and production pipeline for the second consecutive year. Leveraging 3D modeling goes beyond ensuring visual accuracy; it plays a crucial role in integrating special effects and lighting presentations for the topiary. The team utilized 3D modeling and printing, enhanced with traditional sculpt material and paint, to ensure the depiction of Groot was as precise as possible.

“The focus on maintaining the integrity of the character, while continuing to streamline the design and construction process, has motivated us to improvise and evolve on how the EPCOT International Flower & Garden topiary team creates and builds these incredible pieces of living art each year,” explained Steven Montalvo, Industrial Designer with Disney Live Entertainment.

In true Guardians of the Galaxy fashion, Groot is holding a dynamic mix tape titled “Green House Mix Vol. 1” with his own soundtrack playing — it’s the first time a musical element has been incorporated into a topiary at EPCOT!

First-ever Projection-Mapped Topiary Debuts at Epcot

First-Ever Projection-Mapped Topiary

In Mexico, guests will get to see our first-ever topiary enhanced with special projection effects, featuring Miguel, from the Pixar Animation Studios film “Coco.” Miguel can be seen here in his mariachi attire with his great-great grandfather’s guitar and Dante, in his alebrije form, flying over a marigold bridge.

“With the bright and vibrant colors we see from this realm in ‘Coco,’ it seemed like an obvious choice when Josh and Brittany proposed the idea of using projection mapping technology to enhance Dante’s look during the evening hours,” added Steven.

First-ever Projection-Mapped Topiary Debuts at Epcot
First-ever Projection-Mapped Topiary Debuts at Epcot

Brittany explained, “Once we decided to create Dante, I immediately began testing glowing materials, like solar-charged paint, and various effects to portray his ethereal glow. During the day, Dante looks like the rest of the topiary family. As the sun begins to set, guests should start to see hints of the solar-charged paint beginning to glow. At night, Dante’s glow will shine even brighter through the use of projection-mapping technology. Pushing contrast between day and night allows us to incorporate more lifelike elements into these characters, providing guests with an unexpected element of surprise in the evening.”

It takes a talented team of people coming together from various disciplines to bring these topiaries to life. “The collaboration between the teams has made it possible to push the envelope of creativity that allows us to produce these new innovative topiaries and help give that little added magical touch that we are known for,” Josh highlighted.

At this year’s EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival, guests are not just witnessing nature’s beauty; they are immersed in a technological wonderland where Disney characters come alive in ways they’ve never imagined. Are you planning to visit the festival this year? There’s so much to discover from a concert series to interactive fun, plus we can’t forget the food.

First-ever Projection-Mapped Topiary Debuts at Epcot