Now through the middle of May, Epcot is a scene of wonderfully-themed topiaries, delicious food (in addition to the amazing food that is already present in World Showcase), and very informative educational presentations. I had the opportunity to scope out the Flower and Garden Festival this past weekend and here is my list of the five things that I loved about it (and 2 things that I wish they would change):
5 – food booths – even though the focus of Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival is on, well, flowers, gardens, and other things of the outdoor-sy variety, there are food booths similar to what is present during the Food and Wine Festival. There are not as many booths as there are during the Food and Wine Festival, but there is a great variety and selection. I was the designated driver this past weekend, so I was unable to sample some truly delicious sounding pineapple wine, but I did enjoy a delicious pineapple dog – a hot dog topped with pineapple chutney and a spicy sriracha mayonnaise (I like spicy things and have a pretty strong heat tolerance and even this was enough to make me sweat)! I also had an amazing beef brisket burnt ends hash with white cheddar fondue and pickled jalapeños and fresh brewed sweet tea! You can check the menu out on-line or pick up a Flower and Garden passport to find your new favorites. I cannot wait to head back next month to try all of the tasty beverages I had to pass up!
4 – entertainment – again, similar to Food and Wine, Flower and Garden Festival features live entertainment on the weekend. This past weekend I was able to enjoy Starship while enjoying my food from the Smokehouse booth. Disney does do a great job of balancing musical genres. For the 5:30 pm show, there was a decent sized crowd (and people already queued up for the the next showing!) of people of all ages singing along with “We Built This City” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us.”
3 – merchandise – depending on your particular viewpoint, Disney does an amazing job of providing merchandise to correspond with their events. I’ve recently started collecting pins to go along with my obligatory t-shirt during visits. I was saddened that there wasn’t merchandising to the extent that was present during this past year’s Food and Wine Festival (Disney sold INCREDIBLE platters to allow you to balance your food AND wine, so you could walk and enjoy everything, rather than using a trashcan as a dining table).
2 – educational gardens – scattered throughout the park and in various buildings, there are a lot of classes, lectures, and talks to satisfy your green thumb (or brain)! I did not get the chance to check any of these out, but browsing through the Epcot map and the Flower and Garden passport, there are A LOT to choose from with many, many times being offered. There are also arts and crafts activities for the kids to enjoy as well!
1 – the topiaries – I very much enjoyed walking around and enjoying looking at all of the topiaries that are out for the festival. There are a lot of ones that were present last year, but there are also a lot of new ones, too. I know I didn’t see them all because after we hit Germany, (we walking counter-clockwise, we made a mad dash to leave because our feet were hurting and we were stuffed) but I am looking forward to checking them out more carefully the next time.
While Disney does a lot well, there are two things that I’d like to see changed.
2 – PhotoPass photographers – I don’t recall seeing this last year, but Disney PhotoPass Photographers were additionally stationed in front of different topiaries throughout World Showcase. I noticed the issue between Germany and the African Outpost where there is a topiary of Rafiki and Simba. It caused a bottleneck of people and also made me notice that not every topiary had photographers. I was forced to ponder how it was decided what topiaries received this treatment and why. Not saying that it is negative and I want it gone, but there were no dedicated queues for the photos. I think if they addressed that issue, I’d be a fan.
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1 – costs – if you sample a dish and a drink at each kiosk, it can easily be $10 at each booth and you can easily end up spending over $100 on a trip. Disney is very skilled at combining experiences and selling packages. I’d love to see them come up with a Festival Dining Package where you can sample five food items and five drinks. You can split it up amongst the booths (or hit the same booth over and over). There is also a convenience factor to just swiping a special card or your MagicBand and not have to worry about what your credit card statement is going to look like!
The Flower and Garden Festival runs through May 17th (if you plan accordingly, you can experience Flower and Garden Festival AND Star Wars Weekends at Hollywood Studios). If you’ve been already, what is your favorite thing there? If you haven’t, what are you most looking forward to doing?
BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best price for your vacation, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!