The 2017 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is in full bloom at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
This year the festival runs through May 29th, offers up twenty three living sculpture topiaries, twenty six Garden Destinations and fifteen Outdoor Kitchens.
See iconic Disney character topiaries in a whole new light as day turns into evening. Take in one of sixteen musical artists performing Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays at the America Gardens Theater. Garden Rocks Concerts are held at 5:30, 6:45 and 8:00 PM. I think I am most excited by the addition of Expose to this year’s lineup!
Be sure to grab a festival-themed Disney gift card at any festival merchandise location. Wear it on your wrist and load it with as little as $15. 🍊 This year it’s scratch-and-sniff orange scented and smells just like Soarin’ used to smell!
My girlfriend Lisa and I attended the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival opening weekend.
Here’s what our Saturday looked like…
I was able to snag a really good Florida resident rate at Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort. We met up around 9 AM and hopped a complementary bus to the entrance of Epcot.
I wanted to do a little bit of exploring in the Festival Center, which is located in the Wonders of Life pavilion. I love this pavilion and it is only utilized now for special events. The Festival Center didn’t open till 10 AM so this gave us some time to wander around and take photos.
These ladies were a hoot. We saw them randomly driving around in their tricked-out golf cart and interacting with guests throughout the day.
THE FESTIVAL CENTER
Over in front of the Festival Center, the Walt Disney World horticultural team has re-purposed the Fab Five topiaries which in years past, graced the entrance to the theme park.
Inside you will find the largest selection of event exclusive merchandise offered as well as specialty seminars and a nice air-conditioned spot to get out of the heat once the temperatures warm up later on in the festival.
Plus this amazing “living wall” dripping with greenery makes for a fantastic photo.
OUTDOOR KITCHENS FOOD & DRINKS
After snapping a few pics, we headed over to the Odyssey where we were able to take part in a special tasting of the Outdoor Kitchen food and beverage offerings.
Beef brisket burnt ends hash with white cheddar fondue and pickled jalapeños
Seared scallops with French green beans, butter potatoes, brown butter vinaigrette and applewood smoked bacon
La Isla Fresca
sugarcane shrimp skewer with steamed rice and coconut lime sauce
Urban Farm Eats
crabless crab cake with crispy vegetable slaw, lemon vinaigrette and Old Bay remoulade
Urban Farm Eats
urban fairy cocktail
carne asada with black bean cake and cilantro-lime sour cream
Baurenmarkt: Farmer’s Market
warm cheese strudel with mixed berries
key lime tart with toasted meringue
The Berry Basket
warm wild berry buckle with pepper berry ice cream
We were also allowed to sample something special from a tour being offered in the United Kingdom pavilion.
The English Tea Garden Tour presented by Twinings of London has three tiers. You may choose a self-guided tea tour, a complementary guided tour or the VIP guided tour with samplings of tea and scones for $15.
You get two scone flavors: cheddar cheese and raisin, as well as accompaniments of clotted cream, berries and earl gray infused butter.
Of all the small plates we sampled in the Odyssey, the crabless crab cake was my favorite bite and the urban fairy cocktail is worth noting, it was rather potent and had a strong flavor of licorice from the addition of absinthe.
After we had sampled everything there was to sample inside the Odyssey, we made our way out onto World Showcase promenade to take in the rest of what the festival had to offer.
Our first stop was in Mexico where The Walt Disney World horticulturalists have outdone themselves with this year’s presentation of orchids!
Princess Anna and Queen Elsa have been relocated to their rightful spot at the Norway pavilion.
From Norway we moved directly into China and onto playing panda topiaries and something I’d been craving from the Lotus House.
Vegetable Spring Rolls
It was at this point in the day that I also finally had the chance to meet up with two of my dear Disney Instagram friends Amy and Brian. You need to follow them both at @beautifulbeulahmagic & @briarpatchkid
Those spring rolls were crispy and delicious by the way. I would totally pony up money to buy more of them and probably will later on in the festival.
We made it to Italy at around 2 PM and it was getting a tad bit warm and crowded for us so we dipped into to the Tuto Gusto Wine Cellar, or as I like to call it the wine and cheese cave.
Our experience here, I am sad to say, was somewhat lackluster. Service was extremely slow. I didn’t care too much for the pours of wine and our tapas plate was lacking in any kind of flavor whatsoever.
Lesson learned. Stick to the festival offerings.
Well, I take it back.
Lisa and I had about an hour and a half before we were to be seated at the America Gardens Theater for our Garden Rocks Concert. It was also still in the warmest part of the afternoon so we headed out of the park and over to Disney’s Yacht Club Resort for what else? Truffle Fries!
Truffle fries and dirty martinis inside Crew’s Cup Lounge make for a perfect afternoon snack when you’re on vacation.
We sat in the air conditioning of the lounge for about an hour before heading back into Epcot for the 5:30 concert featuring Jon Secada.
The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews
3 Daughters Phantasmas Spicy DIPA
Fleur de Lys
C’est La Vie Chardonnay Sauvignon Blend & Alsacienne Onion Tart
La Isla Fresca
Jamaican Braised Beef with Pigeon Pea Rice and Micro Cilantro
After roughly ten hours touring the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival we decided to give our feet a break, walked over to Disney’s Beach Club Resort and Ubered ourselves over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge where we ended our epic Disney Day at JIKO’s Cooking Place.
Inguday Tibs in Brik
mushroom, spinach, cheese in crispy Tunisian filo, apples, curry vinaigrette
I super love dining at JIKO and my husband doesn’t care for it, so anytime one of my girlfriends is game to go…we’re there!
And before I end this epic recap post I have to give a special shout out to Captain Ron!
Captain Ron is a Conservation Dog and is a Disney Environmentality Ambassador. Ron is a four-year-old pocket beagle who can sniff out sea turtle egg nests, which allows Disney Conservationists to mark the nests near Disney’s Vero Beach Resort so they are undisturbed by unsuspecting tourists.
Captain Ron and his handler Pepe Peruyero will be making special appearances at the festival!
Be sure to follow the hashtag #FreshEpcot on social media channels and for more information visit the official Walt Disney World website. And if you haven’t already, follow @amandatinney on Instagram for live food and travel adventures as they happen. If you’ve made it this far, thank you! I appreciate each and everyone of you.
Special thanks to the team at Walt Disney World for hosting me at this unique Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival media day. As always all opinions are my own.