This week, the curtain has gone up on Walt Disney World’s biggest springtime tradition: the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. As usual, one of the top draws at the event continues to be the various Disney topiary placed around the park, including one display near the “IMAGINATION!” Pavilion featuring characters from Walt Disney’s 1940 masterpiece “Fantasia.” While it’s no surprise to see Mickey Mouse reprising his role from “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” as part of this garden, it’s nice to see topiary representations of characters from some of the film’s other segments here as well. Perhaps the most striking of these is the group of ostrich ballerinas from “The Dance of the Hours.”
Inspired by Amilcare Ponchielli’s familiar musical score, “The Dance of the Hours” acts as a loving parody of ballet with a cast comprised entirely of anthropomorphic animals. Many remember the iconic duet between Hyacinth Hippo and Ben Ali Gator, but the ostriches also play an important role in the piece. Lead by Madame Upanova, the long-legged birds are the first dancers to appear on screen, beautifully setting the stage for the most humorous segment of “Fantasia.” They may not be quite as graceful as their human counterparts, but the animal stars of “The Dance of the Hours” sure are a sight to see, both on film and as topiary.