Disney’s International Flower and Garden Festival Recap

I don’t have any inspiring things to say running wise lately, so instead of garbage posts I thought I would put together a recap of the flower and garden festival instead!  Sounds more fun than random words right?  Yeah I thought so too! *****This is a pretty long posts with quite a few pictures…YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED*****

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Ever year Epcot at Walt Disney World plays host to the International Flower and Garden Festival.  This festival showcases some truly amazing topiaries as well as educational areas to learn more about plants, butterflies and horticulture.  Since the addition of the food booths a passport has been introduced (very similar to the one given out during Food and Wine).  This passport lists all the topiaries, educational areas, food kiosk and the food/drinks they offer and places for unique stamps.  Of course I grabbed on and got to stamping!

I haven’t been to the festival in a few years but I always enjoy it when I’m there.  In recent years Disney has expanded the festival to include a few food booths reminiscent of Food and Wine Festival but on a much smaller scale.  I think this was a fantastic idea, now guests will spend more time (ie money) in Epcot during the festival than before.  I mean, beautiful topiaries are great and all but they don’t really draw people to spend the bucks!  Side note—see that flower shaped gift card on my wrist…that is a Disney re-loadable gift card that is great to use for festivals so you don’t have to keep reaching into your wallet to pay.  Extra bonus on this gift card…its SCRATCH AND SNIFF.  Yeah, I’m not even joking, it smelled like oranges.  Pretty neat right?!

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I spent the whole day in Epcot, and for the sake of research, took pictures of every topiary and ate at every booth (ok, all but 3, my stomach can only consume so much).  In classic Epcot style, I’m going to take you around the world and share each topiary found there and what food, if any.   Let’s start off with the entrance to Epcot.  Normally the most grand of the features, this year features Daisy and her farm stand.  I love that Daisy is getting some attention, she really is the forgotten 6th member of the Fab 5!

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On the other side of the median before you pass the ball is Donald with Huey, Dewey, and Louie getting ready to till Daisy’s garden.  I love these ducks, they are so cute and all lined up in a nice neat row.  Insert ducks in a row pun here 🙂

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Moving into Epcot there are many ways you can go.  To the left into Future World, to the right into The Land, or down the center towards World Showcase.  I went to the left towards future world!  A new to me topiary was Buzz Lightyear where he is ready to blast off like so many guests at Mission Space.  How fitting right.

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Moving down towards test track you will come to cactus country where residents Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater are ready to greet you.  While you are there check out some really unique cacti and find some tips on how to landscape with them.

Walking back towards the center of the park you will find Phenieas and Ferb waiting by the start of their adventure.  You may not know this but in Epcot you can go on a scavenger hunt with Phenieas and Ferb around Epcot.  I have never done it but I see kids (and their parents) searching all over Epcot and it looks like a lot of fun.

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In the middle walkway between The Land an Future World there is a median section with another two sided topiary.  Both of these topiaries are presented by the National Parks Foundation and Disney’s Conservation Fund so they have an outdoor theme.  On the side facing the Epcot ball is Chip and Dale at a picnic, complete with giant sandwich.  So cute!

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On the opposite side is Mickey in his park ranger finest.  This makes for a great photo op with the ball in the background.  Lit up at night it looks pretty impressive as well, I didn’t stop to catch a picture at night though so you will have to use your imagination.

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Walking down towards the start of World Showcase you will find Minnie and Pluto welcoming you on your next world adventure.  How cute is Pluto with that Sunflower collar!

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Now you have a choice to either go left or right and depending on the day I will make a different choice.  For the sake of the post I’m going to go towards the left and Mexico.  When I did the actual festival I was all over the place so no clear order but I usually like to start in Canada and work my way around.  The festival passport book has you start towards Mexico so that’s what we are going to do.  First up is a food kiosk “La Isla Fresca”.  Remember I said I didn’t eat at all the booths…well this was one of them.  Nothing here looked good to me and I don’t like spicy food so I took a picture and kept moving.

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Moving on to Jardin de Fiesta.  I wasn’t ready for food when I came by this kiosk but on this hot Florida day a nice margarita was just the ticket!  I got the rose margarita and it was delicious.  Perfect mix of flavors and even better it was on the rocks.  I am NOT a fan of the frozen margaritas so this was just right.  The portion size wasn’t bad either.

Moving towards Norway I came across the first topiary of World Showcase featuring Anna and Elsa.  Now I’m not a fan of Frozen and honestly these topiaries were the least impressive of the bunch, but they sure did draw a crowd.  Oh Frozen when will your popularity ware off….sorry…tangent…ok I’m re-focused 🙂

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Moving on to China where there is food and topiaries!  I have seen the food from Lotus House all over instagram and knew which menu item I had to try…the Beijing-style candied strawberries.  From the photos I’ve seen they look like they are covered in a wet glaze but nope these are hard candy shells and oh man are they yummy!  The strawberries are delicious and the sesame seeds on the outside really add a nice toasted flavor.  The topiary in China is very unique created by water plants in the shape of a dragon it makes for another great photo op.

Take your strawberries and head on down to the outpost…or as some people call it “Africa”.  Here you can see the Lion King topiaries.  I love the Lion King so this is one of my favorites and I’m glad they keep bringing it back.

Right next door is Germany  and another spot for food/drink and topiaries.  I didn’t stop for food at the Bauernmarkt because again nothing sounded good and I’m not a beer drinker.  The topiary here hasn’t changed in I don’t know how long but its still cute.  Snow White and her seven dwarfs.

After Germany head over to Italy where they have some many drinks to choose from it might make your head spin.  Similar to Food and Wine festival the food here leaves much to be desired but today I tried the Rossini from the Primavera Kitchen.  Drink in hand head over to check out Lady and the Tramp.  I love how they do Lady’s ears, so interesting and creative!

By now you are getting pretty full and possibly tipsy but keep going you have made it half way through!  Woody marks the entrance to The Smokehouse and another great photo op with the kiosk in the back ground.  America is the middle of the World Showcase and has arguably the best food at The Smokehouse.  For once I had a hard time narrowing down the food I wanted to try and ended on the brisket burnt ends hash with white cheddar fondue and pickled jalapenos.  I have to say these aren’t burnt ends…like at all…these are pieces of brisket.  Tasted wonderful but not traditional burnt ends.

Now you are officially full right?!  Well get yourself a seat in the American Theater, watch the uber talented Voices of Liberty perform then take a nap…I mean enjoy the American History show in the theater after the performance.  Feel better?  Ok lets keep moving we have more countries to visit!  Next is Japan and this is actually a great place to burn a few extra calories by walking through the various stores in the back of the pavilion.  When you feel you can stomach (see what I did there…stomach) some more food head over to the Hanami kiosk.  Another favorite of instagram is the frushi and now I can see why.  Its refreshing, light and flavorful.  This is one of the few items I would get again if I had more time.  No topiaries here just food.  There is a bonsai display but those you can actually see year round.

The last skip kiosk for me is Taste of Marrakesh.  I’m sorry but I am just not a fan at all of Moroccan food.  I don’t enjoy curry in any form and the spices are unpleasing to the nose.  I have heard great things about the food though and if you like middle eastern food definitely give this a try.  No topiaries here but you can meet Aladdin and Jasmine in the back of the pavilion along with some pretty cool stores.

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In between Morocco and France is a pretty decent size empty space.  Rumor is this space is for a potential future country but it has been vacant since the beginning for World Showcase so take that with a grain of salt.  In this space is the Florida Fresh kiosk offering some tasty Florida wines and local cuisine.  I still had my drink from France (remember I went in the wrong order) so I ordered the Shrimp and Grits.  I was pretty excited about this dish but sadly it was too spicy for me and I didn’t finish it all.  The flavor and texture of the grits were well done, the shrimp cooked very well and the corn relish a nice touch.  The flavors complimented each other nicely but I don’t dig spicy sadly.  Its time like these where having a husband who will eat pretty much anything comes in handy, I hate being wasteful.

Moving right along to a strong contender against America for the best food kiosk is Fleur de Lys in France.  The instagram favorite here is the macaron but I was more interested in trying the duck and a drink.  Your shocked I know, how could I pass up a macaron!?  I had plans to try ice cream at the new place on the Boardwalk sand didn’t want to enter a sugar coma.  The food…I had the Cassoulet au Confit de Canard (pulled duck with beans) and the La Vie en Rose Frozen slush.  The duck was meh and sad looking I was pretty disappointed but the slush and size of said slush more than made up for it.  Like the rose margarita this was light, cool and delicious.  It felt like a bigger portion size than the margarita and the price was bigger as well.  Make sure and add this delicious seasonal slush to your list.  In addition to the food kiosk there are 2 different topiary displays.  The first being Belle, Beast, Cogsworth and Lumiere.  These are in the middle of the France pavilion before the ice cream shop.  Off to the side is Cinderella and Prince Charming complete with the clock at the stroke of midnight.  I was sad to see Sleeping Beauty and Prince Phillip were not back this year, instead their former space was empty (right by the bridge leading to France).  Sad day people!

Over the bridge and to England and almost the end of our journey.  England actually had quite a bit going on.  First there was a tea garden tour where you could tour the small garden and learn about the different plants that go into Twinings teas.  I did not take the tour because I’m not that interested in tea.  Across from Rose and Crown you will see Captain Hook angrily fighting with the crocodile.  This topiary also comes back year after year but this year the first time I walked through I actually missed Peter Pan!  He is hiding on top of one of the shops and can be easily missed (I mean I missed it!).  Keep walking through England and you will come to a new kiosk the Cider House.  There were some really interested food options here but I was saving room in my stomach and went with the cider flight instead.  This was a sample of the Pear, Black Cherry and Blueberry ciders.  I wasn’t that impressed and thought the flavors were pretty weak to other ciders I’ve had in the past.  I was actually wishing I would have gotten the scone but se la vie.  At the end of England you will find Winnie the Pooh and Friends in topiary form.  So cute to see the 100 Acre Woods friends.

On the way over to Canada see if anyone is performing on the stage.  I’m sure your feet could use a little break and these quick performances are typically very good.  A new act has replaced a crowd favorite Off Kilter and I haven’t heard the new band yet but I’m sure they at least decent.  No food kiosk in Canada but you can stop and see Bambi and Friends by the DVC pavilion.  Awww Bambi!

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Before you head towards The Land, the last kiosk and a few more topiaries stop by Pineapple Promenade and get the violet lemondae.  Its the desk drink I had all festival and actually got it twice.  I wanted to try the sparkling pineapple wine but the violet lemonade was too good to pass up.

In the above picture you can see the food dish I got from Urban Farm Eats.  Our last food kiosk and the best food I had all around the world.  The pork was cooked perfectly and paired with mushrooms and carrots was heavy but not enough to feel gross.  This kiosk also had a very cute set-up in a space that often remains empty.  Good job Disney on making great use of this space.

On the way up the lane back towards the front of the park you will walk past Music Garden Melodies.  There are a few musical themed topiaries here but the main attraction is a play area of children.  Sadly Im not a child and there are signs posted so adults dont play here but I did get to enjoy the topiaries.

Follow the path and let it lead up to the Butterflies on the Go habitat.  Enter the tent and be surrounded by butterflies.  It was pretty neat to see them all flying around.   When you exit the kiosk and walk back to the middle area (by where the Ranger Chip and Dale topiaries are) you will see butterfly topiaries and a great photo op for the color that is Epcot at Flower and Garden Festival.

One last set of topiaries to see and that is the Fantasia themed ones.  Located in a strange section inbetween the walkway from The Land to World Showcase you will find Sorcerer Mickey, Hyacinth Hippo, Ballerina Ostriches and the dancing mushrooms.  I love those little dancing mushrooms they are so cute.

That’s it, you’ve seen everything there is to see!  A few extra notes—each Joffery’s Coffee and Tea cart had their own specialty drink just for the festival.  That’s way too many drinks for me so I didn’t get any but they had some interesting concoctions this year.  The quick service location at Sunshine Seasons also had 2 limited time menu offerings but neither sounded good to me so I passed on those as well.  Since this wasn’t a festival kiosk I didn’t feel bad about it, we’ve eaten here before.  At almost every country there are some specially marked floral exhibits and vignettes available during the festival.  They weren’t anything spectacular so I didn’t take note of them but they are all listed in the passport. Last but not least and certainly the most colorful is the flowers that line the lake in-between the Epcot ball and World Showcase.  There are a few different spots to take great photos but the best ones in my opinion are ones with the monorail.  Don’t you just love all the colors?

Alright, you have made it to the end congratulations!  I wish I had a extra cool special surprise for you but I’m not that fancy.  Thanks for sticking with me and I hope you enjoyed it.

CHIME IN!!!  Ever been to Flower and Garden Festival?  Do you like middle eastern food?  Which was your favorite topiary?

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