In our many years visiting Walt Disney World we have never attended the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival… until now! We had the pleasure of visiting the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival the first week in April and it was absolutely stunning! EPCOT is always gorgeous but the festival takes it to a new, otherworldly level. I will be sharing tons of images of the amazing, beloved Disney character topiaries (70!) as well as a few of the merchandise pop-up vendors. As you know, i’m all about the food plenty of outdoor kitchen images and food reviews will be shared as well in this post. Yay food!!
EPCOT’S International Flower & Garden Festival is held each Spring. This year the dates are March 2nd-May 30th, that means there is still plenty of time to pop in and get your flower fix. The festival is seen as a celebration of Spring and, like many things at Disney’s EPCOT, an educational opportunity. The festival hosts seminars from leading gardening experts, exhibits to help inspire home gardeners, and how-to demonstrations. This year the festival also has concerts on the weekend (much like EPOCT’s Food & Wine Fest) and 2 playgrounds for children!
So let’s check it out!
First Stop: The beautiful topiaries along the way
The character topiaries are truly incredible and can be found sprinkled throughout EPCOT, not just in the World Showcase area. This gives the opportunity for characters to be in areas that go along with their theming. For instance, Buzz Lightyear can be found at the entrance to Mission Space and Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater are close to Test Track. So if you are visiting with the sole purpose of seeing what the Flower and Garden Festival has to offer don’t forget to do a little exploring! Disney horticulturists are so talented and start working on the following years Flower & Garden Festival once the current festival starts. That hard work and dedication really shines through in these living works of art. It is worth noting that i am absolutely not a gardener… in fact, I have a bit of a black thumb and kill most plants that enter our home. Moral of the story: you do not have to be a gardener/plant enthusiast to have a great time at EPCOT’s Flower and Garden Festival. Appreciating beauty, craftsmanship, and Disney will do just fine!
Tow Mater is located in front of the smaller of the two new playgrounds. This playground is Cars themed with tires to climb on alongside the slides. It is also decorated with oil and gas cans to add to the atmosphere. This playground was pretty quiet and off the beaten path. It seemed ideal for the age 4 and under group.
Woody from Toy Story can be found in the America portion of the World Showcase, adjacent to some top notch festival food… but we’ll get to that part (my favorite part) in a sec. How cute is that little duck enjoying the flowers? Bonus!
Taking the path from The Land area and Journey into Imagination (yay Figment!) to World Showcase will lead you past these beauties…
Now onto our son’s favorite part of the festival, a playground! This is new for 2016 and the playground is themed around music and has several musical elements children (and adults if you are so inclined) can interact with as well as a large climbing area.
The Fab Five are there to greet everyone…
A HUGE bonus of this play area is the tented lounges! Complete with comfy chairs and relief from the sun it is a hit and a great relaxation spot for parents. Two lounges are in the play area.
And an even bigger bonus is the playground is mere steps from our first outdoor kitchen!!
Here we go folks… the food at the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival. It’s basically Epcot’s Food and Wine Fest but with flowers.
The most talked about item at this outdoor kitchen is definitely the watermelon salad. I was in dire need of some healthy food to balance out the cronut i knew i was about to eat… so salad seemed like the perfect choice.
I absolutely loved this salad and i even made it for dinner our first week home! And if i say a salad is good… it’s good. I live by a sort of inverted food pyramid, fruits and veggies don’t make it in nearly as often as they should. It’s a very simple arugula, feta, watermelon, balsamic, and pickled onion salad. If you hate onions don’t worry too much, the pickling process really cuts down on the bite and these are practically sweet. The portion was surprisingly larger than i expected and at a price tag of 3.75 i was very happy!
Next to the salad is my Flower & Garden Festival Passport- just like the Food & Wine Fest held in EPCOT guests can receive stamps at all the outdoor kitchens to remember their food escapades. These are free! So you should absolutely grab one at your first outdoor kitchen stop, they can be found right next to the register.
Minnie and Pluto topiaries mark the start of the World Showcase portion of EPCOT where guests can find the outdoor kitchens, special merchandise from outside vendors, and more gardens and topiaries.
First stop, La Isla Fresca. Jamaican Food! These outdoor kitchens are to the left (toward mexico) as you enter World Showcase.
David LOVES island food. He opted for the jerk chicken with mango. It had a little kick but really i think anyone could handle it and the mango was wonderful! The extra long cuts of the slaw made it a little difficult to eat but we managed to survive that hardship 😉 I of course opted for the Red Stripe and it was a light, easy drinking beer and paired well with the chicken. It’s hard to go wrong with beer in my book.
Let’s keep this tropical feel going! Onward to the Pineapple Promenade outdoor kitchen.
Here we got the Spicy Hotdog as well as the Desert Violet Lemonade.
This was my husband David’s pick. He liked it but wouldn’t get it again and would instead use that money on a more unique snack. But if you really love hotdogs and spicy food this would be a good choice.
The Desert Violet frozen lemonade was so good! I ended up sharing quite a bit of it with the rest of the family because they loved it too and it’s impossible to say no to those adorable faces!! The little man and i got adventurous and ate a flower each. He was very excited about that. This drink is refreshing on a hot day and really beautiful (it’s my favorite color).
The high tables next to Pineapple Promenade were great and the view is spectacular! Definitely take a little time out, grab a table and enjoy the moment. We sure did!
Next we passed a few vendors. This was by far the most interesting to me. Grow your own leis. So neat! I wanted to purchase these but i kill everything and we had a 9 hour drive home. It would have been a death sentence for them so i decided to be kind and admire them from afar.
Next we grabbed a little snack in Mexico. This place was buzzing with people!
We tried the Corn Tortilla Quesadilla. It was very small… really only about 3 bites but it was good. I think for the price i would choose something else next time… i’m looking at you Flan!
As we snacked on our teeny-tiny quesadilla i wanted to check for the Donald meet-and-greet in Mexico. Unfortunately, he wasn’t there but we did stumble upon this gorgeous orchid display.
Next on the list was China.
I have seen bubble tea on instagram and it looks so interesting but i have never had the opportunity to try it! So I decided to seize the moment and try the Peach Bubble Tea while the menfolk explored China. My first sip was one of the balls at the bottom of the drink and it caught me off guard… not sure what I was expecting, haha! The best way I can describe it is a spherical fruit gummy. The tea was good, the perfect amount of sweetness for me. When the guys got back it was a HUGE hit! To my surprise our 7 year old loved it! Although, it’s a sweet milk drink with gummies so I shouldn’t have been too shocked- it’s basically all his favorite things rolled into one.
Next visited the Africa area. No food here but lots of fun!
Timon and Pumba are right across from Rafiki and the gang.
Next i stopped at Bauernmarkt: Farmer’s Market which is new for this year! THE “Egg-battered bread with cherry” caught my eye. Basically, it is french toast. But i will say it’s super yummy! I would still get it again.
The time for fireworks was quickly approaching so we decided to divide and conquer. Something to note is once the fireworks start all the outdoor kitchens close up shop. So if you want something be sure to grab it BEFORE illuminations.
I hopped on over to the Florida Fresh booth.
By this point in the night i consumed way too much sugar and wanted some protein/stick to your ribs kind of food. The Shrimp and Grits from the Florida Fresh outdoor kitchen really hit the spot. The portion was large as were the shrimp. It did have quite a kick to it but i really liked it. If you can handle medium hot wings, you can handle this shrimp and grits. This was my favorite dish of the night!
David loves Japanese food so he headed to Japan and got the Frushi (this stuff has a huge following and is beloved by many) its fresh fruit with raspberry coconut rice, toasted coconut and whipped cream.
David and the little man loved it! He also got a pork bun with edamame and spicy sauce- small, probably two bites, but good.
We couldn’t forget about the little man! We grabbed desert from France the Macaron Chocolat Framboise. It’s raspberry with chocolate fudge and raspberry jam filling. Yep, it’s as good as it sounds and it’s big enough to share! Or not 😉
Epcot Flower & Garden Festival is even beautiful at night. We snapped these images as we headed toward the front of the park.
The Fun isn’t over yet! If you head to the right as you enter World Showcase this is what you will find…
The NEW Cider-House booth can be found in the United Kingdom pavilion as well.
The biscuit comes topped with salmon. I LOVE salmon and the Hubs loves cheddar biscuits (but hates fish) so we asked for the salmon on the side and our wish was kindly granted! The salmon was good, i tried a bite of the biscuit and didn’t like it. The husband wasn’t super impressed either. We would probably pass on this next time.
We did however get an amazing cider! The Black Cherry Cider was so good it made up for the lackluster biscuit. It was apparently so good we drank it before snapping a photo 😉
Next it’s off to America where we visited The Smokehouse and Sheriff Woody!
This brisket dish was amazing!! Brisket covered in queso and jalapenos is right up my alley. The jalapenos weren’t overwhelmingly hot. This was my favorite of this visit! The Orange Blossom beer was also very good. Picnic tables are readily available in this area so it’s the perfect spot for a rest and some beer!
So that was our experience at the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival, AKA Mini-Food and Wine Festival. If you’d like to see the full menu list of the outdoor kitchens click here. If you go we’d love to hear about it! Are you a Flower and Garden Festival seasoned pro- we would love to hear your tips in the comments! Also be sure to subscribe below to stay up to date with our Disney World adventures, tips, and reviews.
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