Garden Rocks Concert Series Keeps on Rockin'

By
Samantha Kern
Simple Plan
Photo Credits
Photo courtesy of Samantha Kern

 

The Garden Rocks Concert Series happens every day, but for those not from the area, it’s not going to be the number one thing on your mind. But it should be.

There’s a lot of things that go on all throughout the year at any of the Disney theme parks but this one is particularly unique because of its length. The Garden Rocks Concert Series, which takes place at the same time as The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival at Disney’s Epcot. The event runs for three consecutive months; 2019 dates span from March 6-June 3, and there will be a total of 270 concerts throughout the duration. 

What was originally known as the Flower Power Concert Series until 2015, the Garden Rocks Concert Series hosts multiple performances from many different musical artists.

Not all the same performers, though. In fact, there’s quite a variety of performers, from rock to country to jazz and even an orchestra performance. The genres are all spaced out but there’s definitely something here for everyone. Some of the 2019 performers include Simple Plan, Rick Springfield, The Spinners, Dennis DeYoung (original member of Styx), Lonestar, The Guess Who, and Blood, Sweat and Tears. These are also names from previous years but there’s a lot of new faces for the concert series as well since they expanded to seven days a week. The stage is welcoming Ambrosia, Magic Giant, The Smithereens, Sister Hazel, Peabo Bryson, and Eddie Palmieri, just to name a few. 

Check the full 2019 lineup here.

My Experience:

Following bands on social media is something I do, I have to keep up with them. I want to know when they are going to be performing and if they will be near me. Simple Plan is one of those bands, so when I found out they would be playing the Garden Rocks Concert Series for the third year in a row, I was beyond ecstatic. It was the first year I was in the area while the event went on, so I was super stoked to see an awesome band on the long list of performers for the series. 

Buying a ticket that was just regular admission price to the park, March 18 had just been marked as busy for me. 

Visiting any of the Disney theme parks is a pretty crazy experience. There’s a lot of cars, a lot of kids and half-frustrated parents, and lines that seem never ending. Epcot is no different, particularly when the Garden Rocks Concert Series is in full effect, complete with a big band like Simple Plan. The morning wasn’t so bad, I can even say it went pretty smoothly. Cars weren’t backed up but with all the workers guiding the traveling cars, parking was simple. The first major line was bag check simply because some people had big bags that needed checking. It’s okay, I wasn’t in a hurry and it was still pretty early. 

It’s important to mention that I haven’t actually been to Epcot for 10 years, so I was pretty excited to experience it all over again as an adult instead of a 13 year old girl. Walking through the gates and seeing the huge Epcot icon in front of me just reminded me how much I missed being in Disney. 

Being here during the International Flower and Garden Festival gave me something to do during the day, and I highly recommend it. Everything was so fresh and pretty. Many Disney characters made their debuts in the bushes around the parks, the characteristics of each quite clear and detailed, from Beauty and the Beast in France to Pooh Bear in the United Kingdom to Elsa and Anna in Norway. 

Pierre Bouvier - lead singer
Pierre Bouvier belts out the lyrics to "Summer Paradise."
Photo courtesy of Samantha Kern

 

The Garden Rocks Concert Series takes place in America, at the American Gardens Theatre. It’s an outdoor amphitheater that seats more than 1,000 people and guests are always welcome to stand in the aisles if they do not get a seat. I noticed that walking through there really wasn’t a bad place to see the performance. 

There’s three performances a night: 5:30, 6:45, and 8:00, each 30 minutes in length. For the first show, guests could pretty much sit anywhere they wanted, so I chose to sit up front, wanting to be as close to the stage as possible. For the second and third show, the reserved seating filled in first and then after getting in line, you could still pick wherever you wanted to sit, just minus the reserved seating. 

Have you ever been so excited that you could barely breathe? And not just because there’s mindless chatter of hundreds of fans in your ears, waiting for the band to start their performance. Not just because the band you’ve been listening to since you were in the elementary school was about to perform. And not just because you know you’re about to witness an amazing performance. All of these things combined and so much more is what I felt as I sat in the crowd, waiting for the band to come on stage. I’d seen them before, but every concert is like this for me.

Can you feel it? The excitement, the nerves, the adrenaline rush that comes when silence falls over the crowd because everyone knows something epic is about to happen when the lights start flashing on the stage.

I love this feeling. Crave it, even. 

Sebastien Lefebvre bass guitarist
Bass guitarist Sebastien Lefebvre really loves his job.
Photo courtesy of Samantha Kern

 

The excitement builds. And it grows until I can hardly contain anymore. Then the bands comes onto the stage, picking up their instruments and welcoming the crowd. The first show was kind of sparse, but most seats were still filled. The crowd yelled back when the lead singer, Pierre asked how everyone’s day was at Epcot. The beats started on the drums, the crooning of the guitars started and my soul was happy again. 

The first song they played was "I’d Do Anything," one of their biggest hits and an obvious crowd pleaser. The song got the whole crowd pumped up and jumping to the beat as well as singing along. Throughout the performance, band members would make jokes and make sure we were enjoying ourselves. During one song, “Boom!” Jeff Stinco’s guitar strap broke and Sebastien, the bass guitarist, joked, “His guitar strap went boom!” The crowd chuckled and Pierre said Jeff rocked too hard during that song. 

They played seven songs total, ending with “Perfect” and wishing us a good rest of the night.

The second and third performances were much the same, although different songs had been played. The most memorable song during the second performance was the old theme song from “What’s New Scooby-Doo?” I grew up watching current episodes of Scooby-Doo with Simple Plan singing the theme song so it pretty much made my night and many other’s nights too judging by the screams. For the song being unrehearsed, the band fell into the melody perfectly. Also during the second performance was when the drummer, Chuck, decided he needed a little switch up. So he took center stage as the front man and Pierre took the seat behind the drums. It was super cool to see the guys switch places, and because they’re super talented, Pierre did a drum solo while Chuck ran through the crowd, slapping fans hands as he did to come back and finish the song himself. 

Chuck Comeau - drummer
Chuck Comeau came out from hiding behind his drum set to sing and see the fans up close.
Photo courtesy of Samantha Kern

 

It was completely dark for the third performance, so all the lights on stage were used during this one. I got the same feeling every time the band came on stage, excitement and calmness at once. Starting with their hit, “Shut Up!” and ending once again with “Perfect,” they played seven songs total. They got the crowd jumping the most during this session and even threw in another unpracticed song, “Untitled.” After the last song, they encouraged everyone to stay for the fireworks after their show and wished everyone a good night, throwing out a few guitar picks to the crowd. And they were right, the fireworks were a great way to end a perfect day at Epcot. 

Overall, I would highly recommend the Garden Rocks Concert Series. Not just because it was a band that I love, but because of the overall experience. The cast members at Disney are super helpful when asked any questions and if you’re a fan of music, it’s just a really good time. I went by myself and I enjoyed it but I’m sure it would be even better with friends or family members. You get a chance to get up and dance to some awesome tunes, adding another magical experience to your visit at a Walt Disney World theme park.

Jeff Stinco
Lead guitarist Jeff Stinco strums away during "The Worst Day Ever."
Photo courtesy of Samantha Kern

 

Check out videos of their performance here and here