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Disney Cast Inspire Merchandise Design for EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival

Michelle Senter

by , Communications Specialist, Walt Disney World Resort

Did you know some of the fresh new merchandise collections everyone is buzzing about at the 2022 EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival grew from the imagination of cast members? 

From graphic designers to artists, multiple teams across Disney work together to bring beloved characters and stories to life during special events.   

Character artists like Casey Jones partner with Walt Disney Imagineering to ensure every detail and design stays true to each character’s story. Casey, senior manager of character art, helped support the vision behind one of his favorite characters featured in this year’s merchandise – Orange Bird collection.

“The wonderful thing about working with Walt Disney Imagineering is how they’re able to help shape how we approach things,” he shared. “Since Orange Bird is a very small character – about three oranges high – they told us to look to characters like Chip and Dale for inspiration. So, I took a lot of inspiration from the Donald Duck short film from 1942 called ‘Donald’s Garden’ that features a hungry gopher similar in size and shape to Chip and Dale and Orange Bird.”  

Casey also looked a little closer to home for ideas and found them in the garden he and his wife tend to in their backyard. He says growing flowers, herbs and using gardening tools himself helped influence pattern designs and icons featured in the Orange Bird collection.  

Tony West, associate product design manager, also had a hand in creating this year’s festival merchandise. Tony has a rich history with Disney from his early days working as an animator on beloved classic Disney films like “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King” and brings that experience into his projects. 

“The diversity of the projects I get to work on is what I find really exciting,” he said. “We always want to give guests something new, so we’re given a lot of freedom to try different things and develop completely novel items that haven’t been seen before.” 

Like Casey, Tony also looked to home gardens to inspire his work. He says he didn’t inherit his family’s green thumb for gardening, but thoughts of gardening are deeply rooted in his memories and he’s grateful for their influence on his work. “My dad could grow anything and as a kid, I loved running around my grandparents’ garden,” he said. “I think my family was a huge inspiration when I created the pieces for this festival.”   

Adrianne Draude, associate product design manager, also found inspiration in gardening, as well as her love of pin trading, helpful when designing the limited-edition pins for this year’s festival.  

“When I’m working on designing pins, I try to keep in mind what the guest would relate to, so I try to showcase characters they have a strong connection with,” she said. 

Since beginning her Disney journey as a College Program participant almost 17 years ago, she has been grateful for every new experience working for Disney brings. “It’s the realization of a life-long dream – to be a Disney artist – that I keep close to my heart and in my mind. It’s not lost on me that I am very fortunate to get to do what I love every day.” 

To bring home festival memories and more with these garden-inspired merchandise collections, be sure to visit the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival through July 4. And for any of you busy bees looking to save time while shopping, check out Merchandise Mobile Checkout now available at Creations Shop.

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